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Learning to DJ: Your Guide to DJ Software
21st February, 2022

Learning to DJ: Your Guide to DJ Software

As part of your journey into the DJ world and the music industry, you will need to become familiar with different types of DJ gear, including software. There are a number of different DJ software options out there with each one showcasing unique benefits and different features.

There are many online workshops and videos that offer crash courses in DJ software and how to use the different interfaces, as well as digital DJing techniques. While some of the courses on offer are free, others are not. 

Whichever option you choose for your DJ booth, it’s most certainly worth the time, effort and (potentially) money invested to ensure that you learn to mix and create the music you want.

In this helpful article, we’ll introduce you to some of the most popular DJ software and industry-standard options, including the big four: Serato DJ Pro, Rekordbox DJ, Traktor and Virtual DJ.

DJ Software: An Introduction

DJs use DJ software as a powerful tool to manipulate and mix music during performances. 

There are a number of different ways in which one typically uses DJ software.

Importing and Organising Digital Music Files

DJs start by importing their music library into the software itself. They organise their tracks into playlists or folders based on genres, BPM (beats per minute), or other criteria to make them easily accessible during a performance.

Preparing Tracks and Digital Music Files

Before a performance, DJs may analyse their tracks within the software to detect BPM, key, and other metadata. This information helps DJs in beatmatching, harmonic mixing, and creating seamless transitions between tracks.

Beatmatching and Mixing

During live performances and DJ sets, artists use the software to match the beats of two or more tracks, ensuring smooth transitions between songs. They utilise features like pitch adjustment, tempo sync, and waveform visualisation to align the beats and maintain the flow of the music.

Adding Effects and Manipulating Sound

DJ software often includes built-in effects like reverb, echo, flanger, and filters. DJs use these effects creatively to enhance transitions, build energy, and add variety to their mixes. They may also manipulate the equalisation (EQ) settings of individual tracks to adjust the frequency balance and blend sounds seamlessly.

Looping and Sampling

DJs can create loops of specific sections of a track to extend or repeat certain elements, such as beats, vocals, or instrumentals. They may also trigger samples or sound effects in real-time to add flair and personality to their mixes.

Performing Live Remixing and Mashups

Advanced DJ software allows DJs to perform live remixing and mashups by layering elements from multiple tracks simultaneously. This involves combining different songs, acapellas, and instrumental sections to create unique and dynamic arrangements on the fly.

Interacting with Hardware Controllers

Many DJs use hardware controllers, such as Pioneer DJ hardware, MIDI controllers, or turntables, to interact with the software more intuitively. These controllers often feature jog wheels, faders, knobs, and buttons that map to various functions within the software, providing tactile control over mixing and playback.

Reading the Crowd and Adjusting DJ Sets

Experienced DJs constantly monitor the crowd’s response and energy levels, adjusting their setlists and mixing techniques accordingly. DJ software enables them to quickly browse and select tracks, adjust tempo and volume, and experiment with different effects to keep the audience engaged and entertained.

Overall, DJ software serves as a versatile tool that empowers DJs to unleash their creativity, express their musical style, and deliver memorable performances to audiences worldwide.

Choosing the Best DJ Software for You

At the end of the day, just about every DJ software option has the features and capability you’ll need for DJing. Of course, there are always personal preferences that might make one more suitable than another. 

Fortunately, many of the leading software manufacturers offer free versions so you might be able to even try them before you buy. We also recommend watching YouTube videos on any software under consideration so you can see them in action. 

It is also a good idea to research and settle on the right software before you choose a DJ controller, as the different interfaces and compatibility levels might affect your choice of controller.

The team here at DJ City is always on hand; if you need more guidance or advice regarding software or any type of DJ gear make sure to reach out today.

When comparing different options and finding the best DJ software, it’s essential to consider several key factors to ensure you choose the one that best fits your needs and preferences. Here’s a breakdown of what to look for:

User Interface (UI) and Ease of Use

Evaluate the UI design for intuitiveness and user-friendliness. Consider how easy it is to navigate through the DJ software, access features, and perform common tasks. Consider as well whether it comes with a DJ app, if you’re planning on accessing the software on your smartphone or tablet.

Supported Platforms

Check which operating systems the DJ software is compatible with (e.g., Windows, macOS, Linux etc.). Look for cross-platform compatibility if you plan to use the software across different devices.

Feature Set

Assess the range of features offered, such as beat matching, looping, effects, sample triggering, and mixing capabilities. Consider whether the DJ software supports additional hardware controllers or MIDI devices.

Music Library Management

Evaluate the DJ software’s ability to organise and manage your music library efficiently. Look for features like auto-analysis of tracks, customisable playlists, and compatibility with various file formats.

Performance and Stability

Check user reviews and testimonials regarding the DJ software’s performance and stability during live performances. Look for any reported issues like crashes, latency, or audio glitches.

Integration with External Services

Consider whether the DJ software integrates with popular streaming services, such as Spotify or SoundCloud, for accessing a broader range of music. Look for compatibility with DJ hardware and software ecosystems, such as Serato, Traktor, or Pioneer DJ.

Price and Licensing Model

Compare pricing options, including one-time purchases, subscriptions, or free versions with limited features. Evaluate whether the DJ software offers a free trial period to test its functionality before committing to a purchase.

Updates and Support

Look for a track record of regular updates and ongoing development to ensure the DJ software stays current with industry standards and technology advancements. Consider the availability and quality of customer support, including online documentation, forums, and direct assistance channels.

Community and Resources

Explore the user community surrounding the software, including forums, social media groups, and tutorials. Consider the availability of third-party plugins and extensions to broaden the DJ software’s functionality.

Workflow and Personal Preferences

Ultimately, choose the DJ software that aligns with your workflow preferences and DJ style. Consider factors like visual aesthetics, customisation options, and workflow efficiency to find the best fit for your needs.

By thoroughly evaluating these factors, you can make an informed decision when comparing different types of DJ software and choose the one that best suits your requirements and preferences.

A Brief Guide to Different Types of DJ Software

To help you we’ve put together a brief guide to the different types of popular and best DJ software available in the market.

Serato DJ Pro and Serato DJ Lite

Serato DJ is among the most commonly used DJ software options for DJs. With a smooth interface, Serato DJ software is designed to work well with tons of third-party hardware. If you’re looking for tight compatibility and seamless integration with little to no setup, then Serato is a good option.

Like many software developers, the team behind Serato DJ have also made a free version, called Serato DJ Lite. This intuitive software allows for two-channel mixing and works with a variety of controllers as well. It can be a good idea to try the Serato DJ Lite version to see if it works for you

With the Serato DJ Pro version, you get access to many more features and a full professional suite of options. If you’re after the Serato DJ Pro version but not sure you have the budget, there are free trial versions available. Plus, some licensed hardware can come with Serato DJ Pro included for free as well. 

The software interface of Serato DJ is designed to allow for digital music mixing and digital vinyl mixing. The visual interface offers waveform beatmatching and additional information about the system’s sound production.

Uniquely, Serato DJ Lite and Serato DJ Pro can be used through a mobile app called Pyro which offers some stellar features including automatic song fading and access to a huge list of collected songs and tracks from other artists. 

Virtual DJ

Virtual DJ has been around and used in the industry for a long time. Thanks to a series of software upgrades, the current version is excellent. Don’t worry though, when you purchase Virtual DJ, you get the upgrade for free. This isn’t always a given for DJ software so it’s a real bonus.

There are multiple versions of the software including personal and professional versions, which cost different amounts. Many DJs who are just beginning or are new to DJ software, in general, opt to use Virtual DJ for several reasons, one of the main ones being that they offer over 100,000,000 downloads.

In fact, the layout of the interface includes two turntables for mixing vinyl or CDs, a view bar for the multiple audio tracks and a central mixer. The graphical display on the screen visualises the live sound in waveforms allowing you greater management of your music. 

Importantly, as well, Virtual DJ can be used with a variety of controllers, generic or custom. 


Mixx is one of the only DJ software options that are completely free in its full version. While there might be other software better suited to your needs and music-making ambitions, Mixx is an excellent choice for cutting your teeth and getting started and is compatible with heaps of DJ hardware, but you will need to buy the control vinyl. 

In terms of its interface and features, Mixx is fairly standard with a display/control at the top for easy access to waveform displays, decks, mixers, effects, and your inputs. Over the years, developers have helped to enhance this free software by including things like harmonic mixing and beatmatching. Additionally, Mixx can read just about all the commonly used audio formats, so this free software is a good starting point for just about any DJ. 

djay PRO

djay PRO software is available in both a free and paid version, including a free downloadable app for iPhones and iPads. What’s the difference between the two versions? 

The free one is quite basic in its features but does offer an auto-mix mode and five foundational effects. While it might be good for house party playlists, a serious DJ will probably be looking at an ongoing subscription (there is no once-off fee option) to access the full range of performance features. Fortunately, djay PRO is very affordable as far as DJ software goes. 

What does the full version of djay PRO offer? In addition to the basic loops, hot cues, and rolls of the free version, you can plug and play the software with dozens of DJ controllers and access a variety of settings and mixing features.

As far as interfaces go, the two virtual turntables come with a working motor stop/start and a tonearm. There are two deck view options including a four-deck and a two-deck view. While good for preparing a single deck with an easy-to-use interface, this piece of software doesn’t allow you to load any of your own loops or samples. 


Ableton Live offers a lot of benefits but it’s not for everyone. Why? Ableton, unlike other software such as Serato or Traktor, requires a significant amount of track preparation. This means that if you’re the type of DJ that focuses on your mixing, Ableton will work great. If, however, your set is emphasised by the tunes you choose to play, Ableton might be too restrictive. 

For the creative mixers amongst you, Ableton has plenty to offer with two main screens as part of its interface, dubbed the Arrangement View and the Session View. The Arrangement View displays a horizontal timeline of your music clips and tracks like more traditional types of software. Whereas the Session View is arranged in grids to represent all the tracks that make up your live set. These two viewing options make for convenient and intuitive production of remixes and other exclusive tracks. 

Ableton also allows you to exercise flexibility in the arrangement of your tracks on the interface and connection with a range of DJ controllers. 


Rekordbox is up there with the most popular options for DJ software on the market. Excellent for music management including importing music, playlist creation, setting cue points and other set preparation work, you have the option of using the digital interface to virtually mix your music or connect it with a compatible hardware device. The interface includes 2-channel audio for easy music control and scratching.

The best part is that all of that can be done in the free version. While there is a paid version with extra features like cloud sync, performance features and DVS support, there’s plenty you can do with the free version. 

A product of Pioneer DJ, one of the largest manufacturers of hardware for DJs, Rekordbox is a reliable and reputable option for mobile, home, and professional DJs.  


Traktor, along with Rekordbox and Serrato, rounds out the most used DJ software. Particularly popular for techno music mixing, this piece of software offers excellent features for performing DJs.

While you will have to pay for the Traktor Pro, the demo version is free and available for you to try. Once you do upgrade to the Pro, the software can work without hardware or in conjunction with compatible controllers and the like. 

Traktor does have some limitations thanks to its tight software-to-hardware compatibility, and while some features that are ubiquitous to other software are missing, it has a range of excellent FX and innovative features. All of this is accessible through an excellent interface of four virtual decks, track alignment in grids, phase alignment options and waveform display to help with visual mixing. 

Find the Most Popular DJ Software

If you’re still unsure which of the best DJ software options or interface is best suited to your needs, we’re here to help. Apart from being a stockist for a wide range of DJ gear and equipment, we’re enthusiasts as well!

Just get in touch and we’ll not only talk you through your options but also help you find the right online courses and video tutorials to get you up and mixing as soon as possible!

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