Best DJ Mixing Software

This is a big question and an important question because you want to find the DJ Mixing Software that suits you best. Whether you want the easiest to learn, the most intuitive, or the most complex, you want a software that you can master and unleash your sounds and creativity. There are actually far too many programs out there to weed through but there are only three that are taken seriously by the pros. The Best DJ Software programs are Traktor, Serato and Ableton.

Dimitri from Paris DJing with Traktor

I started off using a DJ Mixing Software Program as a learning tool. This is a great way to hear how tracks mix together and develop an understanding of BPM and Tempo. The software I began with is called Traktor. With the latest release of Traktor Pro 2 and the reasonably priced Traktor Duo 2, Traktor is more user-friendly and accessible than ever. What I love about Traktor is that it’s simple enough for a beginner to get started mixing right away, and at the same time, feature-rich and powerful enough for Pro DJ’s! Here’s what some of them have to say:

The interface is set up to work just like you have turntables or cdj’s and a mixer. Everything is on one screen, decks, mixer and a music library browser. You can import tracks into you Traktor collection, or you can access tracks from your iTunes library, an external hard drive, USB device, CD, or even from your iPod. Actually with Traktor’s music browser you can access anything on or attached to your computer and then it’s as simple as click, drag and drop.

Find the track you want to play by opening a playlist or you can use the search box to instantly find the track you are looking for… so much simpler than digging through a CD case when you have a large music collection. Click on the track and drag it into the deck you want to play it in, click the play button and you’re rolling. You can adjust the speed/BPM, equalize the sound, add effects, adjust the deck volume with the fader slider or just about anything you want to do with just a click or two. To mix in another track, click on it in the browser, drag and drop it into the deck you want to play it in and click sync. Click play and use the fader sliders or cross-fader to mix the track in. Boom, well that’s the simplest way to do it and even if you’re just starting out, you’ll feel like a DJ right away.

Traktor Pro 2

You can use Traktor on it’s own with your laptop, or if you’d like to preview tracks in your headphones while mixing, you will want an audio card. The Native Instruments AUDIO 2 DJ Interface is a new product that looks great and is very reasonably priced. I have the Echo AudioFire2 that I purchased a few years ago. Had the AUDIO 2 DJ been available then, I surely would have gone with it, the price is better, it’s very compact and packs enough punch to blast a club sound system.

In the past few years Native Instruments has developed some really exciting hardware for DJs! I’ve seen many DJ’s using the Traktor Kontrol X1 Performance DJ Controller and what I see and hear is cool, great sounding effects and one more piece of lit up equipment to have fun with!

By far the best piece of hardware you can use with Traktor is the Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S4 which ships bundled with Traktor Pro software. What I love about this is that now you’ve got it all! Your music library can be quickly accessed in you computer, search for tracks you want to play by typing in the title or browse your playlists rather than digging for minutes through your cd bag, drag and drop it into the player and then mix it in from the controller just like you would do with cdj’s and a mixer but quicker and easier.

Now you’ve got control, accessibility and lots of action. Check it out! Dennis Ferrer and the Martinez Brothers rocking it:

See it here: Traktor S4 Controller

Many DJ’s love Serato Scratch Live. It’s not as easy for beginners to use as a learning tool right away as it doesn’t have the beatmatching sync button that Traktor has. However, for many experienced DJ’s this is preferred. When you see a DJ playing on Serato you know that he or she is mixing without the sync button. Serato is all about giving a ‘real feel’ experience while have your music collection quickly accessible while at the same time, giving you the tools to creatively work with your music. The user interface is similar to Traktor in that you can browse your entire music library and pop tracks into the decks but otherwise has a very different look and feel.

The main advantage here is that you don’t have to burn cd’s and you have your full computer music library at your fingertips. Serato is not a standalone software program but comes with audio interface hardware and is controlled by the cdj’s or turntables and mixer or with the use of a controller.

I should also mention that Pioneer has recently released a controller for Serato bundled with Serato Itch as well as a controller for Traktor that ships bundled with Traktor software.

For more about DJ Controllers, check out: Best DJ Controllers

Last but not least, I’ve got to mention Ableton Live! The people at Ableton will say that it was not originally intended to be a DJ software program, rather, it’s a music production software that DJ’s have found so user-friendly and so packed with capabilities that many DJ’s love to utilize it for live performances. Another big advantage is that once you learn Ableton Live for DJing it’s a gradual step to moving into remixing and original music production. Ableton is about making music, it’s a virtual music studio packed full of instruments and effects including a drag and drop drum-rack for making beats easily, a non-linear editing suite with massive capabilities, and a live performance tool all wrapped into one.

Ableton Session View

Ableton Arrangement View

I’ve seen and heard DJ’s that really know how to rock Ableton, especially with the Novation Launchpad Ableton Live Controller. DJ Mamsa in Bali is one of them. He uses the Novation Launchpad paired with a 15-inch MacBook Pro for hardware. If you’re wondering what computers are best for DJing, MacBook Pro is the way to go!

For me, Traktor was a great way to learn on my own just how mixing should sound and what mixes well together. It’s also a great way to get on to recording your own mixes right away that you can share online, on sites like soundcloud or mixcloud, with friends or even with other DJ’s and Club Promoters. All of the programs mentioned above will save you the time of burning cd’s plus you’ll have quick access to your entire music library and playlists. If you want to get into music production, learning Ableton is essential. Computer mixing can be cool, fun and is a great way to learn and stay organized.

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