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The Best DJ Software
18th July, 2021

What Is The Best DJ Software (Free & Paid)? A Guide For 2024

What is the best DJ software?

With so many options out there and most DJ software offering unique features and functionalities, each artist you talk to might give you a different answer altogether.

Unless you’re DJing the traditional way with a set of vinyl turntables and a way-too-heavy amount of wax, you’re going to need some software.

A lot of DJ software differences come down to personal preference, but the best choice for you might come down to a number of things including your hardware choice, as well as your long-term goals as a DJ.

Are you a mobile or wedding DJ?

Want to headline at nightclubs and festivals and join the ranks of club DJs?

Or maybe you want to take home the next scratch title at the DMC Championships?

Each of these factors will play a role in your decision for which DJ Software you decide is best for you. In this article, we’re going to break down the top contenders so you know exactly which software route to take.

DJ Software 101

DJ software, or digital DJ software, is one of many music production tools used by artists and musicians in the industry.

It is a type of computer program that allows DJs to mix and manipulate audio files in a digital format. It has become a popular tool for modern DJs, replacing traditional vinyl records and physical mixing equipment in many cases.

As technology evolves, this industry continues to evolve as well, with open source DJ software being one of the most recent developments changing the way many artists mix and interact with their DJ software applications.

DJ software offers a range of features that enhance a DJ’s ability to create seamless and dynamic DJ mixes during live performances or studio sessions.

Key Features of the Best DJ Software

Track Management

DJ software allows users to organize and manage their music library digitally. This often includes features such as playlists, categorisation, and search functions to easily locate and load tracks. For best track management opt for the most user friendly interface.

Waveform Display

The software typically displays a visual representation of the audio waveform, allowing DJs to see the structure of the music, including beats, breaks, and transitions. This visual aid helps DJs in beatmatching and cueing.

Beatmatching and Syncing

Beatmatching is the process of aligning the beats of two songs so that they can be mixed together seamlessly. DJ software often includes tools to assist with beatmatching, and some even have automatic syncing features to match the tempo of two tracks with a single click.

Mixing Controls

DJ software provides controls for mixing and blending different tracks. This includes volume faders, EQ (equalisation) controls for adjusting the bass, midrange, and treble, and crossfaders for smoothly transitioning between tracks. Once again, a user-friendly interface is important here to provide adequate mixing control.

Effects and Processing

Many DJ software platforms come with built-in effects like reverb, echo, and filters. These effects can be applied to individual tracks or to the overall mix to add creative elements and enhance the sound.

Looping and Sampling

DJs can create loops of specific sections of a song and use samples to add additional elements to their mixes. This allows for creative manipulation of the music during a performance.

Cue Points and Hotkeys

DJs can set cue points at specific locations in a track for quick navigation during a performance. Hotkeys or keyboard shortcuts provide fast access to various functions, enhancing workflow efficiency.

Compatibility and Hardware Integration

The best DJ software often integrates seamlessly with a variety of DJ controllers and hardware. This includes MIDI controllers, turntables, and CDJs, providing a tactile interface for DJs who prefer physical controls.

Finding the Best DJ Software For You

When determining the best DJ software, it often comes down to personal preference and the specific needs of the DJ.

Factors to consider include the user interface, feature set, stability, compatibility with equipment like a hardware controller, and whether the software aligns with the DJ’s preferred workflow and style.

Some popular DJ software includes Serato DJ, Traktor, Virtual DJ, Rekordbox DJ, and Ableton Live. Each has its strengths and may appeal to different types of DJs based on their preferences and requirements.

Paid vs Free DJ Software Options

The decision of whether to use free software, such as Serato DJ Lite, pay for software, such as Serato DJ, or upgrade to a better version, such as Serato DJ Pro, depends on several factors, including your specific needs, budget, and the features offered by the paid version.

Here are some considerations to help you make a decision:

Features and Functionality

Free Version Features

Assess the features provided in the free version of the software. Determine if they meet your current requirements. Some free versions offer essential functionalities, while others may have limitations.

Paid Version Enhancements

Consider the more advanced features and improvements offered in the paid version. If the upgrades align with your needs and enhance your user experience significantly, it might be worth considering.

Professional or Personal Use

Professional Work

If you are using the software for professional purposes or if it’s a critical tool for your work, investing in the paid version might be a wise decision. Paid versions often come with advanced features and better support.

Personal Use

For casual or non-essential use, the free version might be sufficient. Evaluate whether the paid features are essential for your personal needs or if the free version fulfills your requirements.

Budget Considerations

Financial Situation

Consider your budget and financial situation. If the cost of the paid version is reasonable and fits within your budget, and the benefits outweigh the price, it may be worth the investment.


Explore if there are alternative software options that are free or have a lower cost. Sometimes, there are comparable tools available that may better suit your budget.

Trial Periods and Refunds

Trial Versions

Check if the paid version offers a trial period. Some software allows users to test the premium features for a limited time before making a purchase decision.

Refund Policies

Review the software provider’s refund policies. If there is a money-back guarantee or a reasonable refund policy, it may reduce the risk of trying the paid version.

Updates and Support

Regular Updates

Consider whether the paid version provides regular updates and improvements. Paid versions often receive more frequent updates, bug fixes, and security upgrades.

Customer Support

Evaluate the level of customer support offered with the paid version. Most DJ software comes with some basic level of support which can be crucial if you encounter issues or need assistance.

Ultimately, the decision to pay for software or upgrade to a paid version should be based on a careful assessment of your specific needs, the value offered by the paid features, and how well it aligns with your budget and intended use.

The Best DJ Software – paid and free version

To help you find the best DJ software for your needs, here’s our list of the top six options, including both the best free DJ software and paid options.


Rekordbox DJ

Rekordbox was originally created for Pioneer DJ as a music library and track preparation tool before its significant upgrade to Rekordbox DJ in 2015. This change brought with it an expanded performance version with full mixing, effects, and sampling capabilities.

Offering up to four decks of track control, an intuitive library browser, and a convenient tagging and track system; Rekordbox DJ has everything you need. Not to mention, effects, loopers, beat slicers, and an eight-slot sampler.

Unsurprisingly, Rekordbox DJ works best with Pioneer hardware which is its biggest appeal for many DJs, given its workflow and track library system is shared across Pioneer DJs standalone DJ Controllers and industry-standard CDJs and mixers.

It’s a great option whether you’re DJing using Rekordbox DJ with your laptop and a controller, Rekordbox DJ with your laptop in the DJ booth, or via USB the “standard” Rekordbox way, computer free.

In fact, even if you’re DJing from just your keyboard, all your cue points, grids, loops, and info are embedded into your tracks, providing the smallest gigging footprint and an easy transition no matter what you’re using.

So, who should use Rekordbox?

Well, if you’re an aspiring club DJ, or you already own a piece of Pioneer DJ hardware, then Rekordbox DJ might be for you! With Pioneer DJ still setting the industry standard across the world, you’ll never step up to a DJ booth and be unfamiliar with the software at your disposal.

Rekordbox can be downloaded as a 30-day trial, comes packaged with Pioneer hardware, and is also available in monthly subscription plans.

If you don’t use a Pioneer DJ controller, or if you don’t intend on hitting the clubs, then you might want to look at some other options.

Serato DJ Pro

Serato DJ Software

When people talk about the most popular DJ software, the two biggest names to pop up in conversation are Rekordbox and Serato DJ. 

So if Rekordbox wasn’t for you, then Serato might be the next best option. 

Responsible for the birth of Digital Vinyl Systems (DVS), Serato has quickly become one of the major players in all aspects of digital DJing.

It offers everything you’d expect from professional DJ software including solid music organisation, effects, mixing and sampling capabilities, not to mention that it comes bundled with plug ‘n’ play support for a number of popular DJ controllers.

If you just want to test the waters of different DJ software options, you can use the free version of Serato DJ Lite to wrap your head around the workflow.

So if you’re someone who doesn’t plan on hitting the stage at nightclubs, Serato DJ is a great option. If you’re someone into sampling, Battle DJing, or scratching, you’ll love some of the benefits that Serato DJ has to offer.

Likewise, if you want to keep the turntables and dip your toes into digital with a DVS system, Serato comes out on top here as well! There’s a reason Serato is the main sponsor at the DMC Championships. If you plan on scratching your way to fame, this is a great choice.

There’s even a bunch of expansion packs you can get to expand the potential of professional DJs including Serato Video, Serato FX, Serato Play, and many more.


Native Instruments Traktor DJ Software

While Serato DJ and Rekordbox are both amazing pieces of DJ software, they aren’t your only options. Traktor DJ is another piece of software that’s been at the forefront of digital DJing since the early 2000s, originally gaining notoriety with its Final Scratch Digital Vinyl System.

Today, DVS is still a part of Traktor DJ’s makeup. However, the software features and integration with dedicated Native Instruments hardware is what draws in a majority of its users.

Initially, Traktor might seem like a lot to get your head around. But it can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. With a completely customisable layout you’re able to really personalise your experience.

Where Native Instruments really sets Traktor DJ apart is in the creativity. The innovative Stems file format separates your tracks into the main vocals, bass, and melody components.

From there, you’re able to manipulate these sections to create mashups, layer acappella, and do so much more. They also have their own waveforms giving you a visual guide to each component.

Traktor will work and can be custom-mapped to most DJ Controllers, but it goes without saying that you’re going to have a much more seamless workflow if you are using a controller by Native Instruments.

Nevertheless, if you like the look of Traktor DJ, there are some really great DJ Controllers by Native Instruments that you’re sure to love.

Virtual DJ

Virtual DJ Software

We’ve spoken about the “Big 3” when it comes to DJ Software, now let’s talk about the one that’s competing with all of those. Virtual DJ.

One of the biggest advantages to Virtual DJ is the fact it’s compatible with virtually any piece of DJ hardware you can get your hands on. While the recent addition of Stems is widely considered as the added feature that just might make Virtual DJ an even more popular version than Serato.

Stems is very similar to what we just spoke about on Traktor, however Virtual DJ takes it one step further. Traktor required you to add in special stem tracks with the stems “pre-separated”. Whereas Virtual DJ does everything automatically. Yes, some tracks are going to work much better than others, but when it does work well it can really open up some possibilities for creating DJ mixes.

The full version can be pricey to jump right into but there is also a free version available that’s perfect for learning the ropes and seeing if it’s right for you.


Ableton Live

You might be thinking, “but Ableton Live isn’t DJ software?”. No, it’s technically not DJ software but is actually a fully-functional Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). Thus, it is meant to be used in a live setting–hence the name. In particular, DJs tend to love the “warping” or beat gridding feature found in Ableton Live.

It does mean you’ll have to ditch the traditional “two decks and a mixer approach” but if you work out what you’re doing you can get incredibly creative with it.

Again, with Ableton Live, you’ll have to throw out everything you knew about DJing the traditional way. But it can be especially fun if you’re producing your own originals inside the software as well. You could probably figure out ways to beat-match and scratch in it but I wouldn’t want to. (Most people who scratch with Ableton solve this by running Serato or Traktor separately and beatmatching/syncing with Ableton.)

When it comes to price, it does cost significantly more than the aforementioned software titles, but for good reason. Obviously being a fully-functional DAW you’re opening up endless opportunities of creativity for yourself.

When it comes to controllers, your typical DJ controller won’t do the job. But products such as the Push 2 or Novations range of Launchpads are both great options for getting hands-on and triggering clips with your hardware.

Algoriddm Djay Software

If you’re someone who prefers to DJ on the go and would rather use the flexibility of your smartphone/tablet than a laptop then Algoriddm’s Djay software might be for you. It works flawlessly with DJ controllers such as the Reloop Buddy and means you can DJ just about anywhere.

If you’re a professional, this DJ software probably isn’t going to be for you but that’s not to say you can’t get some truly professional results.

If you’re someone who’s just starting out or you just see DJing as a hobby, then it’s a great option that’s worth looking into.

Check out our demo of the Reloop Buddy below where we exclusively use the Djay software and achieve a professional mix!

The Best DJ Software – The Final Say

Above all, you can’t go wrong with any of the DJ Software in this article, it’s just a matter of deciding which one is right for you.

If you’re a Pioneer DJ fanboy who plans on making an appearance at clubs and festivals, I recommend you use Rekordbox DJ. If you’re someone who puts more emphasis on scratching and sampling, and you’re looking at using a controller such as the Roland DJ-707M then Serato DJ will be your best bet.

Obviously if you’re using a Native Instruments controller, Traktor is going to have everything covered, while Virtual DJ and Algoriddim Djay both offer some great alternatives for mixing.

Then, if you want to get really creative and are okay to ditch the decks all together, Ableton Live DJ software will have you experimenting for hours on end.

DJ City – we’re here to help with all things DJ mixing software

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With DJ City, rest assured you’ll receive top-notch advice and the most competitive prices – it’s a guarantee!

Whether you’re among the more seasoned club DJs gearing up for your next gig or a novice seeking guidance on DJ equipment purchases, we’re here to help. If you would like our expert assistance finding the right DJ software for you, speak to our team today.

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