Many people believe that the job of a DJ is to bob their head, wear dark sunglasses, and vibe with the audience. The truth is miles away, as DJs need to create music out of thin air, find the “golden” beats, using beat making software, before everyone else, layer the track with dozens of effects, and ensure that the composition makes sense.
Although some may think that a quality MIDI controller makes the difference between a rookie and a veteran, it’s the software that makes or breaks most DJs. It needs to be compatible with the rest of the gear; it needs to be versatile enough to allow the DJ to experiment to their heart’s content, and it needs to have a reasonable learning curve.
If you’re on the market for the best DJ software, you’ve come to the right place. Today, you’ll learn everything there is to know about the top 9 DJ programs and why you should start using them.
9 Best DJ Software
Here is my list of the 9 best DJ software programs. Most DJ software tools in this list are paid but we also mentioned some of the best free DJ software programs out there. Read on to learn more!
Native Instruments TRAKTOR Pro 3
As the most popular DJ software program in Native Instruments’ catalog, the TRAKTOR Pro has served both professionals and rookie DJs for years.
It is a 4-deck software featuring an array of loops and deck presets, a polished FX mixer, exceptional audio software, as well as a comprehensive track library that was recently redesigned to make it more intuitive to use for beginners.
The feature that drew veteran DJs to TRAKTOR Pro is the patented Haptic Drive™ technology behind their DJ controller that works seamlessly with TRAKTOR Pro. Essentially, it refers to a set of motorized DJ wheels that offer unparalleled responsiveness, allowing DJs to fully immerse themselves in the music creation process.
This software is also one of the leading DJ programs for harmonic mixing and music production. From soft tweaks to heavy changes, TRAKTOR Pro was designed with versatility in mind without trading ease of use in turn.
The ‘Sync’ function has helped TRAKTOR Pro surpass the boundaries of genres, presenting disc jockeys with a simple tool to blend different beats, tempos, and mixes with a click of a button.
Innumerable Beatjumps, hot cues, loops, as well as a well-rounded suite of effects are some of the other prominent features DJs can use in Traktor Pro.
- Freshly polished UI – easy on the eyes, intuitive to use, and customizable user interface
- Professional audio quality – top-tier sound provided by advanced signal processing
- Flexible time-shifting features – users of Traktor Pro can seamlessly shift between different tempos and BPMs
- Patented HapticDrive™ technology – a set of motorized jog wheels offering superior responsiveness in TRAKTOR hardware
- DVS-compliant – Traktor Pro allows DJs to edit media from turntables and CD players, provided they have an external soundcard
- Native instruments also sells DJ hardware in the form of DJ controllers for those who want a seamless experience of hardware and software compatibility.
The latest Traktor Pro 3 costs $99.00. However, if you already own any previous version of this software, upgrading to the latest version costs $49.00.
What I Like/Dislike About Native Instruments TRAKTOR PRO
What I liked the most about Traktor Pro 3 is its combination of high audio quality and beginner-friendliness. Greenhorn DJs can mix and create like professionals while veterans could benefit from the phenomenal versatility it has to offer.
The main issue with Traktor Pro is that Native Instruments’ DJ controller (Traktor Kontrol) only works with the latest versions of Windows, leaving macOS users out of the picture.
Who Is This For?
The TRAKTOR Pro software is a well-rounded program that fits experienced and professional DJs the most. It could be great in the hands of a beginner, but the sheer number of available features might make it confusing for such users.
Serato DJ Pro
The Basic Serato DJ Lite was an instant hit among advanced-level DJs, and when the Pro version came to the scene, it improved all of its highest points and patched most tiny imperfections up.
With a dozen cue points and 32 built-in sample players, the ability to record live, remap MIDIs, a variety of beat jumps, and streaming capabilities, the Serato DJ Pro is easily one of the best DJ software programs available on the current market.
It rocks a highly advanced built-in audio engine that supports a broad frequency range, allowing DJs to experiment with tones and pitches with more flexibility.
Some of the new features that aren’t available in any previous Serato DJ software include the slip mode, quantize, slicer, key analysis, and day mode.
- Robust built-in audio engine – supports a broad frequency range and delivers premium-quality sound
- Free two week trial of the pro version for Serato DJ Lite users
- Practice mode – allows users to simulate a mixing session without attaching their hardware
- A massive track library – the latest Serato DJ software supports 64-bit audio and offers plenty of storage space for tracks and mixes
- Streamlined UI – innovative and self-explanatory functions perfectly suited for new users
Serato DJ Pro can be bought for $199, or subscribed to at $9.99 per month. A free trial is also available on Serato’s official website while all DJs owning a Serato software license can upgrade to Pro for free.
What I Like/Dislike About Serato DJ Pro
Flexible pricing and a free update to the latest version are great, but what I loved the most about Serato DJ Pro is the practice mode. DJs of all skill levels can remain in top form while touring or traveling even without using their controllers.
The biggest drawback of Serato is its incompatibility with non-native hardware. On the upside, the brand’s controllers are some of the best on the market.
Who Is This For?
Just like Native Instruments TRAKTOR Pro, Serato DJ Pro is highly versatile DJ software designed by professionals for professionals. Although its UI is fairly intuitive, its learning curve is fairly steep, as it features dozens of unique features and settings.
Virtual DJ is advanced DJ software that is rivaling Traktor Pro and Serato Pro in several ways. Offering unlimited sample playback, one-click blending with the Sandbox mode, compatibility with original vinyl records, and a powerful integrated sound engine, this is one of the most competitive DJ software out there.
Although its engine supports ‘only’ 32-bit audio, its customizability is what makes it so powerful. The simplified UI greatly helps newcomers learn more about the vast array of available features, although there are so many effects that it would take days to try them all.
Multiple editors are available with the Virtual DJ software, including the Automix, the Track Cleaner, and POI editor, as well as sampling and video editors. Overall, the versatility of Virtual DJ combined with its excellent sound quality is the reason so many professionals are drawn to it.
- Timecode Vinyl – Virtual DJ is compatible with nearly all vinyl records
- Dozens of effects – many effects are available in the basic package, and hundreds of others can be purchased or downloaded
- Compatible with numerous controllers – DJs can use this software with non-native controllers and hardware
- Sandbox mode – in-track mixing and simplified navigation between tracks have been provided by this mode
- Strong audio engine – the 32-bit engine offers great customizability and audio performance
As the brand states, all DJs that are not planning on using the Virtual DJ software professionally can download and use it for free. Professionals are required to pay a $19 monthly license fee, or buy the software for $299.
What I Like/Dislike About Virtual DJ
The Virtual DJ subscription is fairly affordable, and I love the fact that amateurs can use the free version for their personal use. Its sound quality is also formidable while the software offers numerous unique features, such as the Sandbox mode and Automix.
Serato and Traktor programs are slightly more affordable in the long run while offering superior audio engines, though.
Who Is This For?
This program is easily the best DJ software for amateurs that want to enjoy high-quality sound and experiment with different mixing setups. I would recommend it to professionals as well, as it offers a range of exquisite effects and functions.
Pioneer’s Rekordbox is professional DJ software that boasts superb versatility and a seemingly infinite library space provided by Cloud storage and connectivity. Furthermore, the library can be accessed by a smartphone through the CL sync feature.
An array of visual effects lends itself to DJs that use videos in their shows. With customizable lighting and seamless editing capabilities, Rekordbox blends audio and video with ease.
One of the prominent features of Rekordbox is accurate track analysis. Utilizing cutting-edge algorithms, the beat detection capabilities of this DJ software are phenomenal.
- Cloud-connected – Rekordbox allows DJs to upload entire playlists and individual tracks through Dropbox, requiring almost no physical storage on computers and laptops
- Smartphone-compatible – the libraries can be accessed on a Smartphone, provided that the user has downloaded the Dropbox app
- Numerous streaming opportunities – Rekordbox supports Beatport Link, Beatsource Link, SoundCloud, and Tidal mixing
- Colorful waveforms and user-friendly UI – the preview of each track features a colorful waveform, allowing for easy distinction
Pioneer DJ offers its Rekordbox software in three subscription plans. The Core package costs $9.99 per month; the Creative package costs $14.99 per month while the Professional plan costs $29.99 per month. A free version with limited features is also available.
What I Like/Dislike About Rekordbox
The Rekordbox is unparalleled when it comes to using visuals in a DJ set. Whether it’s editing and creating music videos or leveraging tweakable lighting sequences and visual effects, Rekordbox does it a bit better than contemporary programs. Smartphone compatibility is a huge plus for DJs that don’t want to waste a beat while commuting or traveling.
The one thing that may not appeal to everyone is the lack of support for non-native controllers. Even though Pioneer’s DJ controller models are some of the finest, they’re also too bulky to be considered practical for intermediate-level touring DJs.
Who Is This For?
Pioneer DJ’s Rekordbox is one of the few DJ programs on this list that is great for both DJs and video editors. Given that it offers a host of unique visual effects atop audio-based ones, it’s great for people that create, mix, and edit their own tracks.
Ableton has, so far, launched 11 versions of its acclaimed Live software. With each new iteration, the brand worked on the program’s strongest and weakest points, with the Live 11 being their best-rounded flagship.
This DJ software features MPE compatibility, multi-track editing, a range of MIDI effects, robust MIDI sequencing, as well a sophisticated audio engine. Some of the most exciting features brought to the Live 11 include the chorus ensemble, redux, and phaser-flanger effects, making it more appealing to rock and metal DJs.
What separates Ableton Live from contemporary DJ programs is the set of ‘Chance’ tools; with Note and Velocity Chance functions, DJs can define the probability of notes and beats occurring at random intervals.
- MPE compatibility – each note can be realistically tweaked with bends or slides as if they were performed with a real instrument
- A broad range of effects – the program features multiple versions of phasers, flangers, shifters, redux effects, ensembles, and more
- Chance Tools – define probability values for unpredictable effects and experimentation
- Numerous built-in samples – Ableton offers a range of digital, vocal, and instrument samples
- Automatic tempo adjustments – Ableton Live can automatically tweak the tempo of tracks when needed
Ableton Live is available in three subscription plans. The Ableton Live 11 Intro costs $99; the Ableton Live 11 Standard costs $499 while Ableton Live 11 Suite costs $749.
What I Like/Dislike About Ableton Live
The audio quality and versatility of Ableton Live are outstanding. This program allows DJs to fine-tune each note and add a realistic touch to their sound. With it, professionals can emulate a full-fledged orchestra or completely digitalize their sound.
Its main downside is its cost. The Intro subscription is too basic for veteran DJs while the Standard edition costs nearly twice as much compared to the leading DJ programs.
Who Is This For?
Ableton Live is best-suited for professional DJs. It can be argued that its learning curve is among the steepest, as each version brought even more features for newcomers to learn. In terms of performance, it’s rightfully counted among the best DJ software.
Djay Pro offers a highly customizable experience, allowing DJs to tweak the layout of the app with a click of a button. The oversized faders, sliders, and menus, as well as the extra space provided by the ability to shift between different layouts make this program fairly easy to use.
Some of the most prominent features of the Djay Pro include batch track analysis, accurate key detection, and customizable beat grids. The normalize, equalize, and auto-gain features serve as a safety net for beginners that are still learning how to mix sounds at different frequencies.
Beat and tempo detection features, as well as key detection, are as valuable to beginners as they are for professionals. Furthermore, Djay Pro natively supports more than fifty MIDI controllers while offering support for various USB-based audio interfaces.
- Advanced editing and mixing features for music production – sync, loop, scrub, and cue tools atop beat-grid editing and Slip mode
- Cutting-edge Auto-mixing capabilities – automatic beat-matching and automated playlist queuing
- Customizable layout – DJs can switch between horizontal and vertical layouts, as well as choose from a broad palette of color templates
- Automatic waveform generation – this feature offers a clear overview of each track
- Compatible with numerous MIDI controllers – Djay Pro natively supports more than fifty controllers
Djay Pro can be purchased on the Mac App Store or Microsoft Windows App Store for $49.99. A free trial is also available.
What I Like/Dislike About Djay Pro
Djay Pro is a well-rounded software that offers great sound quality, numerous built-in effects, a range of professional tools, and it’s decently easy to use. Audio processing and unique effects combined with support for nearly all prominent MIDI controllers translate to exceptional versatility.
The only downside of Djay Pro is that it doesn’t excel in any particular field of performance. It can do pretty much everything Traktor Pro can do, but not as great. It’s as easy to use as Rekordbox, but it’s not as customizable. It can emulate real-life tones, but Ableton Live does it much better.
Who Is This For?
As a decently affordable professional DJ software, Djay Pro is perfect for emerging DJs with a certain degree of skill and experience.
Mixxx stands out among the best DJ software as a program that is constantly being updated by a community of professional and enthusiast programmers and DJs. It’s also the first free DJ software program on the list.
This is a 4-deck software that features cutting-edge beat looping functionalities, a broad master sync segment, and advanced quantization, but it also provides a broad range of options in terms of customizable equalizers, faders, pitches, and keys.
Supporting lossless FLAC, MP3, WAV, as well as Ogg Vorbis, Mixxx DJ software is compatible with nearly all audio formats that are used in the world of digital music.
Its customizable mapping engine is one of its most prominent features; custom functions and keys can be assigned to all supported controllers. Furthermore, a total of 64 sampler decks and 3 chain-able effects can be utilized in a single session.
- A comprehensive audio library – streamlined organization and simplified search function are some of its main functions
- Customizable layout – Mixxx features 4 unique UI skins
- Live broadcasting – live streaming and recording to WAV, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis or MP3 in separate libraries
- Fully compatible with all controllers – Mixxx can be used with any DJ gear natively
- Up to 3 chain-able effects – pick from a broad palette of available effects and use up to three in one track
Mixxx is a free open-source DJ software, although the brand accepts donations.
What I Like/Dislike About Mixxx
For a free DJ software program, Mixxx is surprisingly versatile; from a great-quality audio engine, over dozens of sample decks that can be loaded into a session, to unlimited support for practically all DJ controllers.
There are no major drawbacks to this software other than the fact that its BPM detection could benefit from increased accuracy.
Who Is This For?
Mixxx is an excellent solution for beginner and intermediate-level DJs on a cash-strapped budget not just because it’s one of the best free DJ software solutions, but because it’s packed with excellent features. Although all the programs listed so far would have no problems outperforming it, it’s among the best DJ software for rookies.
Mixvibes had recently released the fourth iteration of their flagship Cross DJ Pro software, improving its integrations, audio quality, and several key features. With enhanced autoplay that could rival Virtual DJ’s Sandbox, and detailed track analysis offering a level of accuracy resembling Djay Pro, the latest Cross DJ Pro’s competitiveness became undisputed.
Although its native support for MIDI controllers was great with previous versions already, the Cross DJ 4 Pro pushed the envelope by providing compatibility with over eighty controller types. Additionally, it can be run on Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android.
The Cross DJ 4 Pro is a 4-track DJ software, and each track can be customized with a unique waveform and up to three chained audio effects. What separates this program from the others on the list is the Tweaker tool, which allows DJs to create custom effects.
- Full compatibility – natively supports more than eighty MIDI controllers and DJ gear.
- Customizable user interface – shift between different layouts, views, and segments with a click.
- Tweaker tool – create custom effects to use in Mixvibes Cross DJ.
- Easy-to-use sampler pads – click, customize, and use sampler pads faster than loading individual samples.
- Ableton integration – synchronization with compatible apps on the same network with the Ableton Link feature.
The original cost of Mixvibes Cross DJ 4 is $70 while Cross DJ 4 Pro costs $150. The company is frequently offering discounts, offering Cross DJ 4 at $49.90 and Cross DJ 4 Pro at $99.90.
What I Like/Dislike About Mixvibes
It’s decently affordable, convenient, and easy to use, as well as equipped with a number of customizable effects. The Cross DJ 4 Pro is a qualified alternative to Ableton and Traktor, but it’s still inferior to both.
Who Is This For?
If you’re searching for a high-quality DJ program but can’t afford the top-tier ones, Mixvibes Cross DJ 4 Pro may be an excellent choice. It’s best suited for moderately experienced DJs.
DJUCED is the ultimate DJ software for newcomers and newbies. It’s featured with an integrated ‘academy’ full of learning resources, including a pre-programmed music assistant, various guides, as well as comprehensive tutorials.
Equipped with a modular UI, a broad range of effects, loops, hot cues, beat jumps, and multi-layered samplers, DJUCED offers professional results while being a dedicated beginner DJ program. This is free software that offers integrations with various platforms, including Beatport, Beatsource, Qobuz, Soundcloud, and more.
- Modular UI – custom, changeable layouts and design of the user interface.
- Compatible with several streaming platforms – From Tidal to Soundcloud, DJs can upload their music libraries from various sources.
- Compatible with popular DJ controllers – DJUCED works with Hercules and DJControl hardware.
- DJ Academy – this software features a range of learning resources and an intelligent music assistant.
DJUCED is a free DJ program.
What I Like/Dislike About DJUCED
Although it may lack the advanced features of paid DJ software, DJUCED is decently versatile, easy to use, and suitable for professional mixing, editing, and beat-creating processes.
Who Is This For?
DJUCED is an ideal DJ mixing software tool for beginners with little or no knowledge of mixing whatsoever. The DJUCED Academy greatly helps teach the basics to newcomers.
This list of the best DJ software was created to help you find the right tool to create timeless music and beats. Each of the nine suggested programs offers something unique, so we hope that this article has helped you decide which software can cater to your needs the most.