Beatport DJ review – Where’s the rest?

What is Beatport DJ?

Beatport DJ is software for DJs to perform gigs with digital music.
You can use the software with or without a controller, although I would strongly recommend a controller.

The company that sells music via their website builds a DJ app.
The company who has a website that is slow, laggy and doesn’t play tracks 50% of the time that they are actively selling.
What could go possibly wrong with a DJ app?
A lot!

When I look at the user interface:
The music you are currently playing in the player decks, is displayed on top. (yes, tracks actually play, so they know it is possible!!!)
The library is on the bottom.
And the playlists are on the left.
So far, a pretty standard layout

Throughout this article I use screenshots, you can click on these screenshot to enlarge (only works on desktop).

User interface and usability

The user interface is pretty uncluttered and looks nice.
The Cue and Play buttons are a decent size, also the track height of tracks in the playlist are a decent size (maybe even too big).
Big buttons allows you easy navigation with sticky surfaces.
But the Hot Cues, and EQ buttons in contrast are fairly small.

Flicker, flicker

The Play -and Sync-buttons of both decks keep flashing for no reason, which is incredibly distracting.
Even when I’m typing this text, I have to minimize the software on my other screen because it keeps flickering in the corner of my eye.
It absolutely drives me mad!

Flicker, flicker.
Flicker, flicker.

Waveform

The user interface is sometimes a bit unresponsive and laggy.
It always a few milliseconds to too late, which is a bit annoying.

I have some problems with the waveform: I miss details!
The waveform on top is way too rudimentary.
The detailed waveform in the middle doesn’t make a good distinction between frequency ranges.

The waveform is monochrome.
I like the multi-colored modern waveforms in Rekordbox and Engine DJ a lot better.

Loops

When you set an in and out point for a loop.
It is not really clear that you set a loop.

In EVERY other DJ software a piece of waveform seems selected, not here.
A part of the single-color waveform becomes white.

The right tool for the job

Technically, you could hammer a nail in the wall with a screwdriver.
But is it the right tool for the job?
Absolutely not!

Technically, you can make DJ apps with web technology.
But is it the right tool for the job?
Absolutely not!

Web Apps are great for non “expensive” tasks that don’t suffer from a lot of overhead like filing your taxes.
The central server approach outweighs the downside of being laggy and unresponsive.
A 500ms response time for filing taxes is totally acceptable.
But for DJing …

You don’t write a video editor in Java.
You don’t write music production software in Delphi, because then you have to write the tough parts in assembly … *cough* … FL Studio.

Beatport DJ suffers from every bit of web-app-weirdness you can get:

  • laggy and unresponsive
  • Responding to typical web input. Pressing the space bar results in the track list scrolling, instead of stopping the players. (for the developer: e.preventDefault();)
  • It only works on Chrome, brought to you by privacy invader Google
  • You need an internet connection at all times.
    Venues are places with spotty WiFi because there are a huge amount of people with interference machines in their pockets, called: phones.

Although I don’t like the web app approach for DJ software, it is very impressive how much functionality they managed to squeeze out of a web app.
The EQ’s, the effects, the controller support is really impressive!

I have a background in software engineering, but I can’t think of a single reason why you ever want to make a DJ app a webapp.

One thing that the cloud does offer is collaboration with other DJs.
They call it the “party mode”.
Not sure when you will ever need it, but it’s fun … I guess??
But I would have preferred other basic features over fun gimmick you will never use.

Importing & analyzing

Here is where things get really annoying:
You can’t use your own tracks!
You can only use tracks that are on Beatport!

I get it, otherwise Beatport would have to host a gazillion “grey” music tracks on their server, it is a copyright lawsuit waiting to happen, but still.
Then they shouldn’t have developed a server-side app.

But wait, doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose of DJing?
I want be able to pre-pitch my tracks or pre-edit my tracks for my gigs to make my life easier.
I have also pre-mixed tracks that are 10 minutes long so I can go to the toilet.

Flicker, flicker.
Flicker, flicker.

That gets us to another problem: the beatgrid.
You can’t change the beatgrid!

What if the beatgrid is wrong?
Let’s say the counter beat is detected as the first beat, or the first beat is the fourth beat?
I haven’t encountered that yet, but what are the chances that every single one of the 10 million tracks on beatport is correct?

I noticed that not every track is exactly 100% on the beatgrid, it is ever so slightly too early or too late.
I don’t know any software that does that 100% perfect, b.t.w.!
That is no problem, because we can nudge the track forward and backwards, right?
No, you can’t!
So, you only beatmatch with the tempo slider, which is annoying!

Flicker, flicker.
Flicker, flicker.

Controller support

I was pleasantly surprised that DJ controllers are supported!
Technically … somewhat … a little bit … at least my controller.

I tried my very old DDJ-RB from 2016 (yes, I’m that old).
Some of the functions worked, like play, cue, EQ and scratching.
But the hotcues didn’t, they were loops.
And the loop buttons didn’t work.

You know what else didn’t work?
Nudging the tracks with the Jog Wheel so you can beatmatch!

Flicker, flicker.
Flicker, flicker.

But what made is the software utterly unusable?
The lag, the terrible lag.
Making loops (with the hot cues) is impossible with lag.
Starting, stopping and tapping Cue is impossible with lag.

Now, it could be that only my controller is the problem.
After all, it’s on old controller.
So my experience might not be very representative for all controllers.
But still, Rekordbox, Virtual DJ and DJay Pro have not problems with the controller.

Flicker, flicker.
Flicker, flicker.

Sound card

For DJing, you need 2 sound cards, or a dual channel sound card:

  • The master: audio for the crowd
  • Headphones to preview songs

However, Beatport DJ only supports a dual channel sound cards, not 2 sound cards.
There are not many sound cards out there that have that feature (read: only expensive sound cards).

My trusty old 2i2 for example I show above, won’t do the job.
Your built-in sound card on your laptop won’t work.

Setting up the sound card is pretty weird and cumbersome.

Flicker, flicker.
Flicker, flicker.

Cloud sync and streaming

You might have a feeling where this is going…

Beatport DJ only supports …. only tracks on Beatport, not other streaming services.
There is the possibility via the 3rd party webapp Tune My Music to import your playlists from Spotify and Apple Music.
I didn’t test it, but I guess, that only works when the music is present on Beatport.

Flicker, flicker.
Flicker, flicker.

Missing features

Needless to say, there are some features missing here and there:

  • Smart lists. That’s a feature I really miss.
  • Key lock or transpose feature
  • Key sync
  • Beat jump. Would be nice to have to correct a mistake.
  • Search for compatible tracks based on key and tempo would be useful.
  • Slip mode. I couldn’t find it.
    I hardly use it, so not a deal breaker in my book
  • Phrase detect. Nice to have, but you don’t need it
  • Stem tracks. Playing multiple tracks at 1 track the same time. Or stem separation which is standard in most DJ software. Not a deal breaker, but nice to have.
  • Lighting. Its a luxury, I know
  • Video. It doesn’t support it

Is Beatport DJ free?

No regretfully not.
There is only a paid subscription via Beatport.
It is included when you have a subscription to beatport link.

A complete comparison list with other software you can find in my article on the best DJ software.

Information

Price: $10 a month
Manufacturer: Beatport
Website: dj.beatport.com
Try demo: dj.beatport.com

Performance tests

I tested how Beatport DJ performs on my computer.
These tests were done on a freshly rebooted Intel Core i9-X 10th gen processor with 64GB RAM memory, NVidia RTX 3080 and a PCIe Gen 3 NVME SSD:

CPU normal5%
GPU5%
Memory600 MB
Startup speed3 secs.

Beatport DJ does take up some system resources.
The CPU usage of 5% is on par with Rekordbox‘s 6% (which is pretty heavy).
The memory usage is pretty low compared to other DJ software.
But it is by far the laggiest and most unresponsive software I’ve tested.

System requirements

What do you need for Beatport pro?

OSWindows, Mac (iOS, Android)
CPUIntel Core i5, i7, i9
Ryzen 5,7, 9
Apple M
Memory8GB RAM
Storage
Monitor1280×800
MiscInternet connection

Supported file types: none 😉

Pros and cons

ProsCons
✔️ Collab with other DJs❌ Unresponsive
✔️ Camelot Key notation❌ Laggy / latency
✔️ FX pad is pretty interesting❌ Limited controller support
❌ Flickering buttons
❌ Only on Chrome
❌ Can’t import songs
❌ No smart lists
❌ No track suggestions
❌ Huge-ass playlist icons
❌ Spacebar scrolls tracks
❌ limited sound card support
❌ loops not clear
❌ coarse waveform
❌ can’t nudge track
❌ missing features
❌ need internet connection
❌ can’t edit beatgrid
❌ can’t disable quantization
❌ license only with subscription

Conclusion

Is Beatport DJ any good?

Absolutely not! It is awful.
Beatport DJ is a nice first draft for DJ software, it is 70% there.
But that is also what is makes it unusable.

Because you can only use it with Beatport and not your own tracks, it makes it unusable for me.
I can’t take the software seriously because you can’t nudge a track to beatmatch easily.

There are so many hoops you have to jump through, and things you have to swallow, that I can’t recommend this software to any DJ.
It is by far the worst DJ software that I have reviewed.
I’ve seen them all by now.

For this review I tried hard to come up with some positive sides of the software.
But I’m really struggling here.
I don’t like Rekordbox and Serato, but at least I could say that these software packages are complete when it comes to functions, but I can’t even say that about Beatport DJ.
And Rekordbox is free on top of that.

Just stay away from Beatport DJ.
Not worth your time or money.

Is Beatport DJ good for beginners?

No, just skip it.
It’s not that it is difficult to learn.
The lack of features might be working in its favor.

Just stay away, use Virtual DJ for the easy of use to start.
Use Rekordbox to be future proof, you can grow with industry standard software.
You can use Rekordbox for performing with a DJ controller.
When you become a pro you can export the same library to USB to use it on Alpha Theta industry standard DJ hardware.

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