When you are only getting into DJing, it’s easy to lose track with all the gear you have to get for your DJ setup – and that’s important. However, a lot of the times inexperienced DJs overlook one of the essential parts of every DJ home studio – software.
Luckily, my guide will help you find the best DJ software for beginners that will suit your needs! From the main features to the best uses of each particular piece of soft – we’ll go over the top DJ software programs developed by the world-famous companies.
Without much talking, let’s get to the list already – you can find commonly asked questions and things you should consider when looking for the best beginner DJ software just below it!
1) Serato DJ Pro
That’s incredibly odd if you’ve been looking into DJing and completely ignored Serato DJ Pro – it’s one of the best DJ software apps out there. Starting strong in the early 2000s with digital vinyl, they are still staying on the track with new hardware and software updates continuously released.
It’s probably also worth mentioning that currently Serato DJ Pro is considered the most popular DJ software for beginner and professional DJs all around the world – and this title is hard to make up. While having a few issues back in the early 2010s, Serato has rebranded itself entirely and has been on the top of things since then.
Speaking of plug-and-play function, it has made it incredibly easy to use various mixers and turntables without the hassle of installing drivers – more time to be creative and less time worrying about the technical aspects you don’t really care about! Moreover, now it’s easier to use digital vinyl than ever – Serato DJ Pro takes care of everything for you.
The DJ application also comes in a Lite version for beginners to try it out – it’s usually bundled-in with another piece of DJ setup – a controller, for example. The Lite version can’t really be used professionally because it’s been stripped of a lot of functions – effects, sync tools, sampling, and a lot more. If you like the interface and workflow of the DJ app Lite version – go for a Pro and unleash your creativity without any limits.
2) Rekordbox DJ by Pioneer DJ
Pioneer DJ is one of the world-famous brands every DJ will recognize from far away – the Pioneer brand has been around for over 5 decades, while Pioneer DJ’s been prospering since 2014. To put it shortly, you can be confident that the products coming from Pioneer are reliable and lasting – otherwise, they won’t be in business for so long!
Besides releasing one of the best and world-famous CDJ controllers, Pioneer is also known for their intuitive and powerful DJ software – Rekordbox DJ. It’s one of the best DJ apps out there with a ton of effects, sampling, mixing, and analytics capabilities, and more – getting ready for a set has never been easier!
Speaking of the performance of the DJ software applications – it comes with a ton of various effects that can be applied to any track in the mixer slots (pretty much identical to digital audio workstations), tagging, tracks recommendations, and auto-mixing. The last function is especially favoured by younger DJs who are just starting – now you don’t even need to prepare a set – Rekordbox DJ will mix the tracks according to the BPMs, rhythms, and genres.
If you happen to have a party coming up or an easy DJ gig – you are pretty much set – with a few buttons you can prepare a set that will sound great and professional. Designed by Pioneer, it works seamlessly with all CDJs and most turntables, controllers, and mixers out there – Rekordbox DJ is one of the best DJ software apps out there after all. If you want to try it out without long-term commitment – they give you a 30-day trial, and you can simply pay a small monthly fee after that.
3) Traktor Pro by Native Instruments
If you’ve been into music production at all – you probably recognize Native Instruments – they develop one of the best synth VST plugins out there! Therefore, you can expect quality products from these guys – such as the Traktor DJ app. While already loved by thousands of DJs from all over the world, Traktor Pro gets updated and worked on very often to make sure all the users are satisfied.
The interface is intuitive, and the workflow is incredibly easy-to-follow. While it may seem that is was designed specifically for beginner DJs, don’t get it twisted – Traktor Pro is full of perks and functions that will please even a picky old-school professional. No matter how creative you want to be – you now have a tool to unleash as much of your creativity as you want.
While Native Instruments isn’t as prominent in the hardware market as Pioneer, you shouldn’t worry about their DJ software not connecting to a controller or a mixer – it’s supported by the majority of hardware developers on the market! You can even upgrade to digital vinyl if you will.
With Traktor Pro 3 release date a ton of things have changed for the better – from the interface to workflow to flexibility and functionality – everything to keep the users away from switching to other DJ software applications with more potential. And it worked – Traktor Pro 3 was like a new app – faster, more flexible, and more powerful! If you own any NI gear – going for a Traktor Pro is your best bet!
4) Ableton Live DJ
If you’ve seen my list of best digital audio workstations for music production, you already know that Ableton is one of my top choices when it comes to making beats, mixing, and mastering. Surprisingly for a lot of producers out there, it’s also one of the top picks for DJs worldwide.
While the price tag is higher than most DJ applications, Ableton Live also lets you create your own music – add your own samples, MIDI clips, effects, and more. You have a lot more creative space when you work with Ableton. Full-on music production experience combined with DJing really fades the lines between the two.
The best part is that you don’t have to use tracks from SoundCloud or Tidal anymore – you can come up with your own! If you aren’t a producer, you can at least add some samples and transitions, with a sprinkle of virtual drums and instruments on the top. Cover all that with a million effects and VST plugins that can only be used with DAWs and you are unstoppable!
Ableton is full of fantastic features – it’s an all-in-one DJ software application. While the learning curve might be a bit steeper for those who haven’t produced music in the past, it’s carrying a higher lifetime value – you have a lot more control over your sets and a much deeper understanding of music production, mixing and mastering processes. If you were to ask me, Ableton Live is worth every penny if you are serious about your passion.
5) VirtualDJ Pro by Atomix
Every DJ knows that there is never too much potential and flexibility when it comes to a DJ software application. While some may cheap out and go for the free one, others who feel incredibly passionate go for the powerhouse – Atomix VirtualDJ Pro. It’s not as well known among beginners as Traktor, Serato DJ, and Rekordbox, but it’s respected in the world of professional DJs.
A unique feature of the DJ app is that it integrates with pretty much all digital audio workstations on the market which means there are infinite opportunities out there for you to create a masterpiece. VirtualDJ Pro comes with tons of features – amazing filters, samplers, effects, and more.
If after researching all its mixing and performance features you still aren’t satisfied, you will be really excited about another add-on the developers’ introduced lately – direct broadcasting to major social media platforms, auto-scratch, and enhanced visuals.
Atomix has been going above and beyond for years, being two steps ahead of everyone else most of the time. Why? Because it’s pretty much their bread and butter! While Pioneer and Native Instruments develop new DJ gear, all Atomix developers do is working on their DJ software application to make it stand out – for the price, of course. Luckily, you don’t have to pay upfront if you don’t want to – just subscribe for a month to see what it has to offer for only $19/month – that’s peanuts for what you are getting!
6) Deckadance by Image-Line
If you know a thing or two about me – you already know I am a big fan and supporter of Image-Line products. I’ve started getting into music production a few years back, and my first ever digital audio workstation was FL Studio (which was called Fruity Loops at that moment). That’s why I am also a little bit sentimental when it comes to Image-Line.
Anyways, let’s talk about Deckadance – one of the most popular DJ software applications in the DJing industry. It’s full of amazing tools and features an easy-to-follow workflow that’s perfect for beginners. You can do your mixes on 2 or 4 decks, depending on what works best for you, add effects to each channel, and even use it as a VST plugin inside a DAW.
It supports pretty much every single MIDI controller out there, and the sound quality is top-notch no matter what audio interface is being used. The cool thing about this DJ software that you likely won’t find anywhere else is the drop-and-play option – now you don’t have to prepare a set. If you and your friends are just hanging out you can keep dropping new tracks as you go – it’s a lot of fun, and you’ll feel like a DJ a lot sooner.
Deckadance comes with 12 effects that will help you easily step up your game. The only drawback I can see is the lack of constant updates (which is similar to FL Studio). When the new version is being released, however, it’s always top-notch in terms of performance – Image-Line developers always go above and beyond to please the fans!
If you are looking for the best entry-level DJ software and don’t feel like spending a dime – try Mixxx. It’s understandable if you aren’t sure whether DJing is “your thing” and you don’t want to pay upfront. Instead, you can easily take your time and see what a DJ software application essentially is – it’s rarely as much fun as the movies portray it to be, especially in the beginning.
That’s when MIxxx comes to rescue – it’s open-source and free for everyone – no hidden fees or ads. You can surely call it the best free DJ software – there is no better alternative out there. Even though it’s free of cost, Mixxx is equipped with many cool perks that you can use – effects, beat matching (more well-known as BPM detection and sync), support for a variety of formats, Auto DJ function, and more (if you really need much more when starting)!
The workflow wasn’t the best when first released, but improved over time to match the regular and premium DJ apps! If you haven’t picked a software yet – it’s worth a shot trying MIxxx – there is nothing to lose at the end of the day. Learn and master your skills for a week or so and see if DJing is as much fun as you thought it was when you went to Coachella last year.
It’s a steep learning curve, and most beginners give up on their DJ app soon after trying it for the first time. It’s clearly not the best and will never be – it’s free after all – Mixxx is an excellent headstart for those who don’t have a sufficient budget or dedication to get a paid DJ software.
Things To Consider When Picking The Best DJ Software
Picking a DJ application software that will suit your needs is a tedious process – and there are a few things to look at and think about – here is the list!
1) What’s Your Budget?
Keeping an eye on your bank account and the credit limit is a general rule in life that also applies to picking the best DJ app for yourself. You have to consider that besides the software itself you’ll likely need a few pieces of DJ gear to complete your DJ setup – a powerful enough laptop to support the running application with plugins and effects, a good controller that will be comfortable, flexible, and most importantly compatible with your DJ software, etc.
After all the accounting you may actually notice that DJ software is one of the least expensive pieces of a DJ setup – you should worry a lot more about quality hardware gear that isn’t cheap at all. Therefore, make sure you account for everything. The last thing you want is to spend your last money on the best DJ software and have none left for other equipment.
2) What Features Are You Looking For?
Every DJ software app comes with different features and perks – after all their primary goal is to get as many users, fans, and influencers in the DJ community as possible. That’s why you’ll see them continually coming up with so-called authentic features that only their application will have available. Clearly, the main focus is always on the beginners – they’ll be the ones posting about it on social media and referring their friends because professionals usually settle down with one and rarely switch.
With features, there is no such thing as “the best.” It’s all about accuracy, details, complexity – the last thing you want is spending months learning how to put a simple set together. Or just imagine spending 5 minutes looking for the right song because the tracks are not organized properly. That’s why more isn’t better – oftentimes you’d rather have less stable features and clean workflow than a thousand popups and millions of options to choose from.
3) Do You Care About Quality?
The answer here is always “yes.” Who would say that they don’t care about the DJ software quality? However, the quality here is more complicated than if you were to buy a laptop because the product is digital. It won’t rip break after light usage. So how do you determine whether the product is high-quality or not? Essentially, the program has to be stable, to say the least. If it crashes on you constantly – don’t waste your time – it will fail you when you need it the most.
You should also see how fast the software application is – free ones have a muddier code and tend to be a little laggy, especially when you load them with many plugins and effects. Also, make sure it’s being updated regularly – you’d much rather have 10 mini releases throughout the year than one major one at the end of it – bugs are hard to find and fixing them as you go shows that the developers care about their product. Lastly, go ahead and read reviews on the one you’ve picked – most DJs take their time to review the software, either good or bad, to support the community.
4) Do You Prefer a Certain Layout?
DJ software is similar when it comes to layouts and interface. However, just like digital audio workstations, you can tell one apart from another by where the tabs are located and how they are designed. Some users prefer horizontal layouts, other favor vertical ones. Pick the one that pleases your eye and makes you work in the most efficient way.
A lot of beginners also debate whether aesthetic appearance is important or not. Well, if having a “cooler-looking” DJ software app will make you want to work harder – then go for it.
5) How Important Is Compatibility To You?
Luckily, most DJ apps are compatible with pretty much any gear out there. However, it’s still important to make sure your soft will integrate with the DJ setup you may spend $100s on. If you already own hardware – make sure your DJ software application works on it. If you need a specific sound card – see whether it’s possible to install one on your laptop or if it has a built-in alternative already.
Some of the applications are exclusive for Windows or Mac, so that’s another thing to keep an eye for. Essentially, just make sure you won’t regret the purchase.
Commonly Asked Questions
What’s DJ Software?
We spent so much time discussing what DJ applications are the best and overlooked the most common question – what exactly is a DJ software? Some beginner DJs can confuse it with digital audio workstations and other apps with a similar interface – so let’s take a closer look.
Essentially, it’s 2 turntables and a mixer in between, but in a digital format – simple as that. Most of the stuff a DJ has to do to prepare a set is automated – the software detects tracks BPM and the key it’s in – all you have to do is to get the tracks ready for a set with a few mouse clicks here and there.
Even though auto-mixing functions and sync features take the creativity out of DJing, it also lets a lot of beginners to enter the race without significant financial investments. As a result, it’s definitely better in the long run because more talented people can try DJing now – it’s not a private and exclusive circle anymore – and free DJ apps are proof of that.
You’ll clearly still need a DJ setup with a controller, mixer, and a computer to get the hands-on experience, but compared to $1000s DJs had to invest in their gear in the past, you are only spending a tiny fraction of it – and it’s completely worth it if you are passionate and serious about DJing.
When DJing, the last thing you want to do is to keep switching tempo back and forth all night long. While it makes sense to start playing slower tracks towards the end of the night, it’s the best bet to keep the tempo transitions to a minimum.
Beatmatching is picking the tracks with similar or identical BPM and layer them one onto another as the night goes on to provide the best experience to the audience.
What’s Auto-Beatmatching a.k.a. Sync?
For those who are new to DJing, auto-beatmatching is nothing more than an automated process of mixing tracks together. You press the button, sit back, and relax – it’s almost as easy as that. Is it right or wrong? No one will tell you for sure – it’s surely convenient, but it may diminish the whole creative process.
That’s something for the DJ to decide on – add a few fun and interesting twists to it, add something special on the top – and you are good to go – as original as it can be!
What’s The Best DJ Software?
As mentioned earlier, there is no such thing – everything depends on what features you are looking for, how powerful your laptop it, and how much are you willing to spend. The most popular ones are definitely Serato DJ, Rekordbox DJ, and Traktor Pro – after all, they are developed by the top DJ gear companies.
If you are looking for a free DJ software application, it’s worth giving Mixxx a shot – it’s the best DJ freeware out there and despite being free still being worked on a lot. And once you get to a certain level you should try VirtualDJ Pro – it’s easier to wrap your head around it if you already have an understanding of the workflow and main features.
DVS stands for a digital vinyl system – and it’s getting more and more popular every year as more and more DJs choose convenience and flexibility over authenticity – why would you keep buying new vinyls over and over while you can get DVS and keep reusing it for years?
You simply timecode the digital vinyls, and they act as the authentic product – without spending $100s on vinyls every month or so. Make sure they will work with your DJ software application – that’s crucial.
What’s The Easiest DJ Software To Use?
To be completely honest, there is always a steep learning curve when learning something as complex as DJing and music production. If you were to ask about the most intuitive interface and smoothest workflow, I’d probably go for Serato DJ – with Tidal and SoundCloud integrations it’s easier than ever to use for every event.
Conclusion: Best DJ Software For Beginners
To sum everything up, picking a DJ soft is a tedious process and there is a lot to consider. I really hope my guide helped you learn a little more. Remember – the hardest part isn’t picking a DJ application – it’s learning all ins-and-outs, mastering it, and getting places!
Last update on 2020-01-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API