1324 DJs voted: The Best DJ software 2024 + feature comparison

I asked 1324 DJs on my email list: What is the best DJ software for beginners?
I asked the same thing on the community tab of my YouTube channel (you can vote yourself).
Here are the results.

Table of Contents

#4. Traktor

The User interface of Traktor is nice and clean, with big buttons for easy clickability.

Traktor has an extremely customizable interface, but not in a good way.
There are tons of deck types (menu), views (menu), deck-type-views (double-click) and a space bar view which all change the look of the software.
The CUE button for example isn’t displayed in every view (or was it deck-type? or deck-type-view? … I don’t remember…)

When you first start the software there are 100 questions of which I don’t know how to answer them.
After that, an overcrowded settings screen shoved in your face.
It all feels very intimidating as a first-time user (and I’ve used a lot of DJ software over the years).

Traktor is super light on system resources, which I see as a big thumbs up.
However analyzing the music is one of the slowest of all software I mention in this page.

The software doesn’t support stem separation of existing tracks, but it support playing stem-tracks.
Which is a feature I don’t see very often in DJ software.
I see this a positive, because the audio quality of all auto-stem-separation in pretty much all DJ software sucks.

Another thing I noticed is that Traktor uses the Open Key Notation (CM = 1D) instead of the Camelot notation (CM = 8B).
It’s not an impossible hurdle to overcome, because it works basically the same as Camelot, but things are named differently.

I really like the software, and would recommend it for existing DJs.
For beginners, I would look at something else (like Virtual DJ) that is more user-friendly.

I have to say that price is very reasonable for DJ software.

An in-depth look at Traktor you can find in my extensive Traktor review.

Price: $99 – check latest price on Amazon (affiliate link)
Manufacturer: Native Instruments
Website: native-instruments.com
Download demo: native-instruments.com/en/products/traktor/dj-software/traktor-pro-3/demo-and-downloads/
Personal rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

ProsCons
✔️ reasonable price❌ User experience
✔️ Nice UI❌ Open key notation
✔️ Light on resources❌ Crash on first run
✔️ Playing stem tracks❌ Limited controller support
❌ “Customizable” layout
❌ Laggy playlist section

#3. Virtual DJ

Virtual DJ software

Virtual DJ is the software that probably every DJ looked at when they started out.
Certainly I have.

Virtual DJ is the software that is known to “work with everything”.
From controllers to other software

But Virtual DJ also an image problem: it is known as cheap software for the bedroom DJ.
Before writing my extensive Virtual DJ review, I thought this way also.
I came around: the software is very user friendly, very powerful, fast and ideal for the beginner DJ.

The software looks really nice and you can even choose your own UI in the options screen.
I have to give props to the visual album art that is spinning and the arm that is moving towards the center of the virtual record.

The software supports stem separations on existing tracks (separating kick from vocal and drum), but it just doesn’t sound good.
The old fashioned EQ mixing (which you can luckily switch to) sounds much better.

I also miss an easy Camelot or Open key notation, for easy harmonic mixing.
But it shows the steps in key difference between tracks, which I haven’t seen in a lot of software.
You can easily match the key and BPM with the click of a button.

Virtual DJ supports a slew of streaming services like Tidal, Deezer, iDJ Pool (their own platform), Beat source, Beatport and Soundcloud.
I’m not a fan of streaming DJ music, but a lot of DJs care about it.
But doesn’t have proper integration with Dropbox, Google Drive, or Microsoft One Drive to store your own music in the cloud.

You can use the software for free without a controller in a “home”-setting.
You don’t need a controller, but it is very useful.

A full review of Virtual DJ with screenshots you can find here.

Price: free, $49, $99 or $299 perpetual license – check latest price on Amazon (affiliate link)
Manufacturer: Atomix
Website: virtualdj.com
Download: virtualdj.com/download/index.html
Personal rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

ProsCons
✔️ Easy to use❌ No easy key notation
✔️ Nice UI❌ Bad quality of stems
✔️ One time purchase❌ VDJ’s image problem
✔️ Tons of skins❌ Hand holding
✔️ Wide controller support❌ Partial dual display support
✔️ 1 sec startup❌ No Dropbox support
✔️ Light on system resources
✔️ Reads Rekordbox, Serato & Traktor libs
✔️ Extensive streaming support

#2. Serato DJ

Serato DJ Pro has an OK user interface, but nothing to write home about.
There is a free version avaliable (lite) which looks completely different.

But I do think that the buttons are quite small.
This is software you need to operate in a crowded club with sticky mouse surfaces, a big hit-box would make things a lot nicer.

Serato supports stem separation (vocal separated from instrumental), it would be a cool feature if it actually worked.
The sound quality is very poor, it sounds like a badly compressed MP3 played under water while strangling a cat that is violating a violin that needs to be tuned.
Also the instrumental sometimes ‘bleeds’ through the vocal.
I wouldn’t feel comfortable using this in a club.

Serato is a real memory hog. When you choose Serato, make sure you have a enough memory.
I’ve seen it use 5GB without any hesitance.

However the beatgrid of tracks is very often wrong.
I say often, but literally every track I loaded into Serato was wrong.
Some tracks where dead-wrong, others were shifted ever so slightly back in time.
Meaning that cue points (it sets automatically) and loops you can set are also set incorrectly by default.

I’ve tested the same tracks in Traktor, Rekordbox and Virtual DJ, they were analyzed correctly.

Using the software with a controller unlocks some extra features (like stem separation for drums).
It also changes the UI a bit.

There are 3 versions: Lite (free), Pro and Suite.
Suite includes essential features like EQ mixing, effects, tempo sync (time stretching), key sync
DVS and video and nice extra’s in the Suite-version.

Serato is the most expensive software out there and it can’t even get the basics right of analyzing a track.
Stay away!

A detailed look at Serato (with screenshots) you can find in my Serato Review.
A detailed comparison between Rekordbox and Serato you can find in my article: Rekordbox vs Serato.

Price: free, $10/m, $15/m, $250 perpetual license – check latest price on Amazon (affiliate link)
Manufacturer: Serato
Website: serato.com
Download: serato.com/dj/pro/downloads
Personal rating: ⭐⭐

ProsCons
✔️ wide controller support❌ Small buttons
✔️ automatic Hot Cues❌ Beatgrid often wrong
✔️ drag BPM up/down❌ CPU, GPU, memory intensive
✔️ streaming support❌ SSLLOOOWWWWW
❌ No cue button
❌ No cloud storage support
❌ Expensive
❌ No metronome when editing beatgrid

#1. Rekordbox

Rekordbox is where it all begins, because Pioneer is the industry leader in DJ equipment.
Look at any random club, 90% chance you will find Pioneer equipment, which is … powered by Rekordbox.

Rekordbox let’s you prepare and organize your tracks (export mode) and also perform (performance mode).

Overall Rekordbox feels kind of slow and sluggish, especially compared to other software out there.
I’ve put that to the test, and indeed, Rekordbox uses a lot of memory and CPU compared to the rest.
Later in this article I’ve included a handy performance comparison table.

The UI in Rekordbox is cluttered and crowded with very tiny buttons

But in return, there is nothing more compatible with DJ hardware than Rekordbox.
You can manage and use the same library for your DJ controller to play at your friends birthday, but also export it to USB to use it on a professional DJ player in a club.

There are 3 versions:
1. free version which is extensive enough to be useful DJ software
2. hardware unlocked version – unlocks some features like the ability to record your mix
3. monthly subscriptions – for features like Syncing with Dropbox and Google Drive

An extensive look at Rekordbox (with screenshots) you can find in my article: Rekordbox Review and overview.
A detailed comparison between Rekordbox and Serato you can find in my article: Rekordbox vs Serato.

Price: free (payed subscription for expansions)
Manufacturer: AlphaTheta (aka: Pioneer DJ)
Website: rekordbox.com
Download: rekordbox.com/en/download
Personal rating: ⭐⭐⭐

ProsCons
✔️ Widely supported❌ SLLLOOOOWWWW
✔️ Dropbox, Google Drive❌ Tiny buttons
✔️ Tidal, Soundcloud, Beatport, Beatsource❌ monthly subscription
❌ cluttered UI

Honorable mentions

Engine DJ

Just like Pioneer has Rekordbox for managing your library, Denon has Engine DJ.
But Engine DJ is preparation only (music library management), so you can’t perform with Engine (like you can with Rekordbox(.

Nevertheless, I like the software very much.
Engine has a very clean interface with big buttons that are easy to click.
On top of that, it is super fast.

It has Dropbox support.
And you can import your library from iTunes, Serato DJ, Traktor and Rekordbox.

More information about Engine DJ, you can find my extensive Engine DJ Review.

Price: free

ProsCons
✔️ Dropbox support❌ library management only
✔️ big buttons❌ minimal hardware support
✔️ clean UI
✔️ fast
✔️ Tidal, Soundcloud, Beatport, Beatsource

Ableton Live

Ableton Live is not your typical run-of-the-mill DJ software, because it is technically live-performance-software.
You don’t mix the newest track Martin Garrix in the Laidback Luke’s.

In the live-section of Ableton Live you create a track on-the-fly with samples and loops.
The focus is on track-creation rather than letting Track A flowing seamlessly into Track B.

Features compared

Let’s look at some features:

RB = Rekordbox (=free)
RB$ = Rekordbox subscription
NGDJ = Engine DJ (=free)
SRP = Serato Pro (without controller)
SRPC = Serato Pro with controller
SRS = Serato Suite
TRA = Traktor DJ (=free)
TRA$ = Traktor Pro
VDJ = Virtual DJ (=free)
VDJ$ = Virtual DJ payed

RBRB$NGDJSRPSRPCSRSTRATRA$VDJVDJ$
Perform (not lib. man.)✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
EQ mixing (via controller)✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
EQ mixing (on screen)✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
BPM/Grid/Key detect✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
Phrase detect✔️✔️
Tempo Sync / time-stretch✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
Key Sync✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
Active loop✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
Auto stem separation✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
Play stem tracks✔️
Quantize✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
Slip/flux mode✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
Beat jump✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
Digital Vinyl (DVS)✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
Video✔️✔️✔️✔️
Lighting✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
Album art✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
Smart playlists✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
Max player decks4422*2*2*2444
Key notation **CCCOCOCOCOONN
Record mix✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
Sampler✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
Hot Cues✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
Cue Points✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
Tag list✔️✔️
Tidal✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
Soundcloud✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
Beatport✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
Beatsource✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
iDJPool✔️✔️
Deezer✔️✔️
Dropbox✔️✔️
MS OneDrive
Google Drive✔️
.MP3✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
.WAV✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
.AAC/MP4 (M4A) ***✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
.AIF/.AIFF✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
.ALAC (M4A)✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
.FLAC✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
.OGG✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
Audio CD✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
* depends on controller, if controller supports 4: it is 4
**Camelot or Open key notation (C = camelot, O = Open key, N = Normal/classic)
*** Non-DRM AAC
**** Mac only

Performance compared

I’ve looked at the average CPU and memory usage of DJ software.
The tests were done on a freshly rebooted 10gen Intel Core i9 with 64MB of memory, a NVidia RTX 3080 on a Windows PC, and a PCIe-3 NVME SSD

softwareRAM RAM AnalyzeCPUCPU AnalyzeGPUStartupAnalyze 1000*
Rekordbox1300 MB1800 MB6%65%12%9 sec13m 50s
Engine DJ600 MB800 MB2%46%14%5 sec4m 26s
Serato Pro5000 MB3000 MB3%96%19%17 sec6m 3s
Traktor Pro900 MB1000 MB1%26%1%5 sec22m 58s
Virtual DJ1800 MB730 MB1%40%9%1 sec4m 0s

* 1000 songs were analyzed (10x AIFF files, 4x WAV files, 986 mp3 files)
Not every software analyzes the same data however:
Rekordbox: Key, BPM, beatgrid, phrases
Engine DJ: Key, BPM, beatgrid
Serato: Key, BPM, beatgrid, cue points
Traktor: Key, BPM, beatgrid, gain
Virtual DJ: Key, BPM (additional beatgrid/cuepoint analyzing is going on in the background when loading individual tracks in a deck)

Concluding that Engine DJ takes up the least amount of resources and on top of that, is the fastest of them all.
I think this is because Engine DJ is a little bit the new kid on the block, was probably programmed from the ground up and has less old code to bloat the program.

Relevant articles

All the do’s and dont’s for DJ software, check out my DJ software buying guide:

https://www.deejayplaza.com/en/articles/dj-software-buying-guide