As a DJ, you probably know how difficult it is to get the best DJ software.
To help you locate the best DJ software, we’ve tested the best of the best DJ software and narrowed the market down to our top seven picks. Out of those top seven, we recommend Ableton Live as the best DJ software today.
From our run-throughs of Ableton Live, we’ve found it to be innovative and intuitive. We were also impressed by how it gives you three versions of the app to choose from.
However, if Ableton Live isn’t for you, we’ve also reviewed six other great DJ software. These include our pick for Best Visuals (Native Instruments Traktor Pro) and our pick for Best Free DJ Software, Mixxx.
Read on to find out more about our top picks for the best DJ software!
Our Top 7 Picks for Best DJ Software
- Ableton Live – Best Overall
- Native Instruments Traktor Pro – Best Visuals
- Serato DJ Pro – Best for Pros
- VirtualDJ – Best for Beginners
- Pioneer Rekordbox – Best for Livestreaming
- Mixxx – Best Free DJ Software
- Algoriddim Djay Pro – Best Mobile DJ Software
#1 Ableton Live – Best Overall
Ableton Live is an intuitive composing app that gives you the ability to compose and perform live music.
Ever since it was launched in 2001, Ableton Live has become one of the most popular DJ software for music lovers. With its clip-based approach to constructive music tracks, Ableton Live differs from most digital audio apps in terms of its approach to arrangement and composition.
There are three main versions of this app:
- gives you 16 MIDI and audio tracks
- Four simultaneous inputs for recording
- Two sends and returns
- Eight scenes
- Five GB instrument set with four virtual instruments
- 21 effects plugins
- Unlimited track counts
- 256 inputs
- 12 sends and returns
- audio-to-MIDI conversion and capabilities
- Five instruments
- 10 GB of sounds
- 34 audio effects
- Max sonic creation environment
- Sample packs for orchestral emulation and analog synthesizer
- 70 GB of sounds
- 15 instruments
- 55 audio effects
Read on to find out why it is our pick for Best Overall DJ software.
- No subscription fee
- 90-day free trial
- Great user interface
- Amazing new Wavetable synth
- Great automation
- Easy and efficient to navigate
- Inspirational sample material comes with the suite version
- Unlimited audio tracks
- Offers support for MIDI Polyphonic Expression (MPE)
- No pitch correction
- No notation view
- No track comping
- Mixer could be fancier
Ableton Live is our pick for the best overall DJ software because it is flexible, intuitive, and innovative. We recommend it for all DJs, particularly those who have a pre-planned set of vocals, loops, and others. It is also a great choice for those who have a lot of hardware MIDI and focus primarily on looping, producing, and combining multiple elements.
If you’re more interested in the live aspect of being a DJ, however, Ableton Live may not be your best bet. It works best for DJs who don’t need or want to change their sets on the go. If you want to DJ at a club using Ableton Live, you would have to warp all of your MP3s first, which is incredibly time-consuming.
What makes Ableton Live stand out is its user-friendly and fine-tuned user interface, Live. Not only are the fonts easy to read and the design scalable, but it also offers two main views: Arrangement and Session.
You can fit everything on one screen, making editing easier than ever. Here is a YouTube video showing how to use Ableton Live.
What’s more, you can write directly to clips in Live. Any format can be turned into MIDI. Live’s MPE function will also give you nuanced control over many instruments, in addition to the ability to bend the pitch of individual notes.
However, the mixer could be fancier. If you buy the Suite version, you will get more effects to make an exciting mix, including a great Glue compressor. There are also some other cons you should look out for. Live has a plugin delay compensation, so this means that transport-synced plugins such as Cabelguys Sharperbox will be de-synced when inserted after-effects that introduce latency.
Furthermore, unlike some of its competitors, Ableton Live does not offer pitch correction, notation view, or track comping. Its surround and video facilities could also be stronger.
#2 Native Instruments Traktor Pro – Best for Live Performers
Native Instruments Traktor Pro may be a familiar name to a lot of you. As one of the most popular options on the market, it’s been the preferred DJ software for many over the past 20 years.
In 2019, Traktor finally got an update after a long while. Traktor Pro 3.1, as this new version is called, is much like its predecessor. The browser’s at the bottom, the mixer is in the middle, the effects are at the top, and the decks are on the left and right.
Native Instruments has made some great improvements with the most recent release of Traktor Pro. Overall, Traktor Pro is a great bang for your buck. It’s reliable, has great sound, and is easy to learn to use.
- Free demo
- Low CPU usage
- Very simple and user friendly
- Easy-to-use controller options
- Excellent updates to user interface
- Comes with free remix sets and 2 GB of performance sounds
- Free Stems from various genres, including techno, house, funk, trap, and dubstep
- Preparation mode gives you a single-deck view that allows you to see and use the entire screen
- Introduction of parallel waveforms, which work for both Stem Decks and track and can support up to four decks at a time
- Allows you to map specific features of the Kontrol D2 and Kontrol S8. You can choose any S8 button or knob and assign it to a custom function without changing the default mapping
- Can use the mixer without a laptop if you have the Traktor Kontrol S4 MK3 connected
- Demo only lasts 30 minutes every time you start the app
- You need to pay to upgrade if you are an existing Traktor user
- Lack of Smart Playlists
- No custom tags
- Deck level meters could be better
Traktor Pro is our pick for Best for Live Performers. Unlike Ableton Live, Traktor Pro has fewer special effects and auto-syncing parameters. In short, Traktor Pro is more of a classic DJ tool than a producer tool, while Ableton Live is a mix of the two.
Traktor Pro’s newest update gives you a less cluttered user interface. The Cup, Flex, Cue, and Rev buttons are easier to press, and the Hot Cues are easier to recognize. Moreover, the colors of the track waveforms are simply stunning.
Prepare to be stunned by the immersiveness of Traktor Pro’s colorful interface and visuals. Not only do the colors make the process of making music more fun, but it also helps you to organize your thoughts and think about what you want to achieve. As you build your track, the program will show you how you’re changing the track through color changes.
#3 Serato DJ Pro – Best for Pros
Serato DJ Pro is a versatile software that is easy on the eyes and has some great sound effects. It is one of the most stable choices on this list.
While Serato DJ Pro is not free, a stripped-down version of it, Serato Lite, is free. You can try it before trying out Serato Pro’s free trial or buying Serato Pro.
- 14-day free trial for Serato Pro
- Great for pros due to a wide range of features and abilities but also great for beginners due to its simple user interface
- Can get it with a supported controller, accessory, or mixer, or get it as part of a monthly subscription
- Can buy six expansions that will give you more features
- High-resolution interface
- Practice Mode that lets you mix and blend with two decks
- Hardware-free crossfader
- Stable and runs smoothly
- Sampler has four banks that allow you to load eight samples each
- Amazing effects powered by iZotope
- Has fewer functions compared to other options
- Focus on stability means Serato usually has fewer updates
- Does not have full MIDI mapping, so you will not be able to map shift buttons and jog wheels
- Cannot use with hardware that is not natively compatible
Serato DJ Pro is our pick for Best for Pros because of how many advanced features it offers. Serato is built to function effectively and efficiently, and it comes with some powerful tools too. You have eight saved loops, key shifting, Slip mode, eight colored hot cues per track and deck, great effects powered by iZotope, sampler, and much more.
Unfortunately, Serato does not have full MIDI mapping. You will also be unable to use non-Serato hardware with Serato, so Serato may not be your best pick if you’ve already invested in non-Serato hardware.
#4 VirtualDJ – Best for Beginners
VirtualDJ is not as popular or well-regarded as Serato or Traktor Pro, but it is very flexible and offers quite a bit.
Unlike the other options on this list, Virtual DJ is completely free for non-professional use. This means it’s a great starting point for beginners and those who want to try new ways of mixing before deciding to get the paid version.
- Free for non-professional use
- Comes with optional paid subscription models if you want to upgrade and learn more about DJ’ing
- Real-time stem separation
- Automatic key matching
- Many tutorials available
- Great for beginners, kids, and people who want to experiment with DJ’ing
- 99 deck capacity
- Compatible with many different DJ controllers
- Great video mixing function
- Can use without getting expensive hardware
- Seamless transition between songs
- Instant Beats Per Minute (BPM) detection
- Does not come with a DJ controller specifically for VirtualDJ
- Does not offer good support for a turntable
- Not recommended for pros or people who want to make DJ live
In general, VirtualDJ is a great piece of software for aspiring DJs and people who want to try out DJing at a party or wedding. With a highly customizable interface, VirtualDJ is easy to master and can help you create good mixes.
Recently, VirtualDJ has shaken up the game by adding real-time stem separation. Stem separation is separating drums, bassline, or any other element of the track without having an official instrumental or acapella. Before VirtualDJ’s stem separation update, only Traktor had the stem function.
Not only does VirtualDJ allow you to separate stems and parts from tracks and make them fade in and out, but it also gives you solo and mute five different stems: Bass, Hi-Hat, Vocal, Inst, and Kick. As you work on the stems, you will see the waveforms in different blues and reds, so you will know which stems are muted and which are active.
VirtualDJ’s stem separation technology is impressive. It sounds great, particularly for free software. You can barely hear any ghosting or artifacts as you remove the stems, particularly for older music from the 70s and 80s. On more modern tracks, however, it is easier to hear more artifacts.
VirtualDJ also stands out for its automatic key matching feature, which allows you to make some great music by throwing tracks together. This makes VirtualDJ a great way to experiment with new ways of making music.
Despite these amazing features, it can be hard to create amazing mixes with VirtualDJ. It does most of the work for you with its background automation, which can prevent you from diving deeper into the world of DJing.
Further, VirtualDJ does not have native hardware. While it can work with a variety of DJ controllers, the track quality will naturally not be as good. In contrast, most DJ software has hardware that was specifically designed for the software.
#5 Pioneer RekordBox – Best for Livestreaming
Pioneer RekordBox is pay-to-play DJ software that is ideal for livestreaming on Twitch, YouTube, and other online platforms. If you pay for its subscription plan, you will have access to its cloud syncing function.
It’s pay-to-play, so you get to decide which subscription tier is best for you:
- Most basic version
- $9.99 per month
- Comes with a free 30-day trial
- $14.99 per month
- Comes with a free 30-day trial
- Lets you cloud sync between four devices, including iOS and Android devices and Mac and Windows computers
Of course, it’s a good idea to take a closer look at why this is the best software for livestream.
- Perfect for online DJs who stream on Twitch, YouTube, and other platforms
- Mobile Library Sync function is free for all tiers and lets you sync playlists to your iPhone
- Cloud Library Sync function for paid tiers allows you to move your playlists and tracks seamlessly from device to device
- Ableton Link support allows you to lock tempos between different apps such as Ableton Live
- Light UI theme option
- Auto relocate files
- Some of the functions seem like luxuries and may not be worth paying for
- Scratching could sound better
- User interface could be slicker and less busy
- Could be more stable
We have nominated Pioneer RekordBox as our pick for Best for Livestreaming due to its powerful cloud syncing abilities. RekordBox allows you to prepare and manage playlists and tracks on different devices through Dropbox. You can then use RekordBox’s iOS app to perform on XDJ/CDJ gear.
You can turn on the Auto Upload function for any playlist on RekordBox, making it easy to access any songs on any playlist on all of your devices. All of your track’s metadata will be uploaded and stored on RekordBox servers, which updates every 30 seconds to make sure all records are up to date.
Overall, Pioneer RekordBox is a great pick for those who DJ online due to its mobile- and cloud-friendly design. Since 2020, an increasing number of DJs have started livestreaming online since many clubs are no longer open. This has contributed to RekordBox’s rising popularity.
One thing to look out for is RekordBox’s relative lack of stability. Unlike Serato, which is the most stable pick on this list, RekordBox uses the Pioneer framework, which is not known for being stable.
#6 Mixxx – Best Free DJ Software
Mixxx is the largest free and open-source DJ software. It features some great functions, such as RGB waveforms, FX chaining, and harmonic mixing.
- Totally free
- Simple click and drag gestures
- Comes with a free mixer and timecode vinyl control, so you can operate the program from your CDJ or turntable
- Open source, so you can improve the design of the software yourself
- Very polished and resizable user interface, particularly for beginners
- Device compatibility is great, particularly compared to other beginner-friendly DJ software like VirtualDJ
- Stable and reliable for the most part
- Easy broadcasting. You can use Shoutcast and Icecast servers for livestreaming
- No mobile support
- User interface could be more cohesive
- FX chaining is not on all skins
- FX selection is limited
- MIDI mapping is too complicated and time-consuming
- Only a handful of effects
Mixxx is our pick for Best Free DJ software because Mixxx stands out from the other choices on this list for being free and open source. It has accurate BPM detection, good time stretching effects, a polished user interface, and is stable and reliable.
Further, Mixxx can help you reach a greater audience by giving you the ability to use different servers and live broadcasting for your tracks. This is where Mixxx stands out from similar competitors such as Serato Lite and VirtualDJ.
Unfortunately, Mixxx does not have a mobile version of their program, so it may not be the best for DJs who are always on the go.
#7 Algoriddim Djay Pro – Best Mobile DJ Software
Finally, let’s take a look at Algoriddim Djay Pro, which is available on every platform, from Android to Windows to Mac.
- Free version is on the app store and comes with
- Two virtual turntables
- Five essential effects
- Auto-mix mode great for house parties
- Computer paid version has monthly or yearly subscription model
- Compatible with over 50 controllers
- Four-deck view great for combining with four-channel controllers
- Two-deck view
- Library focused like Redkordbox and Serato
- Many free sample packs
- Video mode on handheld devices like mobile phones and iPads
- iPhone and iPad apps have access to the looper
- iOS version has no subscription option
- One of the most powerful mobile DJ software out there
- Includes video DJ mode
- Compatible with a lot of hardware and MIDI support
- Android version is extremely affordable, although it is very limited
- Subscription model only for computer paid version
- Cannot load own samples or loops, so you won’t be able to trigger voiceover tags or personal one-shots
- Windows version is not as good as the Apple equivalent
- Video DJ mode is not present, and the interface is not as clean
- Android version lags far behind the iOS equivalent
- No video DJing, single deck mode, customizable views, or four-deck DJ’ing
We have chosen Algoriddim Djay Pro as our pick for Best Mobile DJ Software since it has the most features out of all the mobile software we’ve covered so far. We are particularly impressed by the iPhone and iPad app’s video DJ mode and the sleek and lag-free interface.
All in all, Algoriddim Djay Pro is a great piece of software, although what it can offer differs greatly depending on what platform you will be using it on. While its Apple versions, including and especially its iOS app, are powerful and intuitive, its Windows and Android apps are sadly lacking.
How to Buy the Best DJ Software
Before you decide to buy one of these DJ software, you should read this buying guide to determine what DJ software is best for you.
You need to ask yourself the following questions before getting the best DJ software:
Are You New to DJing?
If you are new to DJing, you should look into getting DJ software that is easy to learn to use, such as VirtualDJ.
Beginner-friendly DJ software has the following attributes:
- User-friendly design interface
- Easy to locate buttons
- Customizable interface
- Simple GUI
- Easy-to-use two-deck interface
- Great tutorials and third-party extensions
Look for free software like Mixxx, Serato Lite (the free version of Serato DJ Pro), or VirtualDJ that allows you to use it for as long as you want without having to pay. If you want to get more functions and effects, you can pay for expansion packs or the paid versions, or if you want, buy DJ software aimed at pros such as Serato DJ Pro.
What Kind of DJ Are You?
How would you describe your DJing style? Do you like performing live in person or online? Do you use pre-planned tracks, or do you prefer a more spontaneous DJing style?
You should also ask yourself if you want to do live performances at clubs, parties, and the like. Some DJ software, such as Traktor Pro, is much better at handling live performances than software like Ableton Live. If you like using pre-planned tracks more, we suggest Ableton Live.
If you want to perform live in person, you should also look into getting DJ software that comes with native hardware, such as Serato and Traktor, which work best with house systems at the big clubs.
What Platforms Do You Use to DJ?
In other words, what kind of platform will you be playing your music? If you want to play music from your Windows laptop, you would need to look for DJ software that works well with Windows. Some DJ software, such as Algoriddim, have better features on Apple than on Windows.
Some DJ software does not offer mobile app versions, such as Mixxx. This may make music production harder for DJs who are always on the go.
You need to also ask yourself if you will be livestreaming. Some DJ software is not good for livestreaming, while others, like Pioneer RekordbBox, are designed specifically for livestreaming on platforms such as Twitch and YouTube.
What Is Your Budget?
In other words, how much money do you think you want to invest into this DJ software?
Some software on this list is free, such as Mixxx, while others come with hefty subscription fees.
Ask yourself what features and functions you need from DJ software. Some subscription models include a lot of features you don’t need if you’re a beginner or someone who only DJ’s once in a while. Think about when and where you plan to DJ and how many times you will be DJing per year.
While all of our picks here are great DJ software, Ableton Live is our pick for Best Overall DJ Software.
Highly versatile, fun, and easy to learn, Ableton Live will give you the ability to make all kinds of remixes and tracks. Its warping feature is powerful and allows you to detect the beat of a track and lock it with your desired BPM.
We recommend it for DJs of all levels, particularly those who have a lot of hardware MIDI. It’s also a great choice for DJs who focus on pre-planned tracks and work primarily on combining multiple elements and looping.
Ableton Live also comes with a 14-day trial, so you can try it before you decide to throw yourself into it. You can try and buy Ableton Live here!
As the Head Editor at Music Grotto, Liam edits content produced from over 30 professional music/media journalists and contributing writers. He works closely with journalists and other staff to format and publish music content for the Music Grotto website. Liam is also the founding member of Music Grotto and is passionate in disseminating editorial content to its readers.