Your DJ hardware and software is your spaceship. You have to know how to fly it with your eyes closed if your aim is to level up as a DJ. Learning new DJ software isn’t always easy, but thanks to some astoundingly good design, DJing has become accessible to even the functionally challenged. Get to grips with this quick overview of the most universally endorsed DJ software on the market.
Native Instruments has created an absolute beast in Traktor. It’s the household name and first on the list for any aspiring DJ. Well designed interface, easy to use and powerful in its interpretation of digital files. Innovative features include Sample Decks, Remix Decks and Loop Recorder. Built with hardware controllers in mind. It’s hard to praise this software’s contribution to DJing enough.
Ableton Live is pure innovation. A total shapeshifter, able to perform as both a fully functioning DAW and a DJ tool. It’s all about the vertical Session View, which allows you to selectively launch clips of any length for highly creative sets and clean looping. Unbeatable for collaborations between controllerists and live musicians.
Serato DJ Pro
For integration with any kind of vinyl playback or turntablism, Serato DJ Pro leads the way. Serato’s mission has always been to make scratch DJ culture thrive by accommodating playback of digital files using special vinyl platters. The software has gone through a number of iterations, all aimed at making the experience reliable and reducing the inevitable latency ever further. Sampling effects, four-deck mixing, sync and analysis tools are also on the table with Serato
Pioneer Rekordbox DJ
With its origins in music library management, Pioneer Rekordbox DJ is capable of large and simple-to-navigate track collections and an expanded version designed for performance-oriented mixing, effects and sampling. Recordbox has the ability to control light shows and stage effects and hosts compatibility designed for karaoke. Cross-platform compatibility is another win, given that it shares its workflow and track library with the industry-standard CDJs and mixers spearheaded by Pioneer.
By paid download, Virtual DJ is the most popular software on the planet. Atomix Productions’ flagship software has kept its place in the industry by remaining up to date with design and usage trends. Notably, their additional subscription service allows you to stream tracks absent from your library directly online. Their functionality includes video as well as the usual sampler and effects. Their ease of use, ubiquitous product support and ‘VDJScript’ language allows you to tweak functions to your preference.
Truth be told, it matters far less which software you use than what tracks you play. But having an all-round knowledge of these products is a quantum leap towards learning to DJ like a pro. Pro tip? Get on top of a few of these programs if you’re serious about your art.
John Bartmann is a music producer and DJ