Traktor vs Serato vs Rekordbox. Which DJ software is best?
Updated: Feb 4, 2019
Spoiler alert: this post or any other post out there debating DJ software WILL NOT MAKE YOUR DECISION so please read on but understand that in the end, this is going to be a "personal preference" decision.
I point this out to save you countless hours of research and trying to find a magic formula of which one "is best". The best one is the one that you like and that works for your needs and style. The best advice I can give is to not let this slow you down from progressing. Don't get caught up on making "the perfect" decision because "the perfect" decision is the one you actually make and stick with. Once you understand the basics of mixing and phrasing, you'll be able to use any software.
The short: you'll see a lot of house music DJ's use #Traktor and you'll see more scratch DJ's and open format/hip hop using #Serato. There isn't a golden rule of which one you have to use or why but this is a general rule that you can use to begin your research on. To really help make steps in the right direction, here are a few things you want to decide and figure out:
1. What is your goal with becoming a DJ? Where do you want to take it? If you just are doing this as a hobby or doing an occasion party; pick the controller like a Pioneer DDJ SB3 or the Traktor S2 mk3 and use traktor or serato and don't even read the rest of this article.
2. Do you plan on playing in a club or festival, on CDJ's? If you start on Traktor using the Traktor s4 and you are asked to do a gig on CDJ's at a bar, can you do that?? Know the industry standard gear out there and if you think you are going that route, then prepare yourself to learn what the pros are using. Most likely Pioneer gear that are compatible with Serato and #Rekordbox. Traktor is a bit of a closed system meaning it may be tough for you to start on Traktor on Native Instruments gear and switch over to #Pioneer without notice.
3. What equipment do you plan on using or want to stick with? Keep in mind that not all controllers are compatible with each software platform. There are custom mappings out there but if you're in the beginning phase, you don't want to count on mapping because you might not have enough resources out there to learn what you need to learn.
4. What are your friends or mentors using? This is crucial because if you can learn from someone firsthand, you will be lightyears ahead of someone trying to watch videos and learn online.
I think the 4th item I put should have a lot of weight and I'll share a personal example:
The first controller I bought was the Numark Mixtrack Pro 2. I was so pumped to have that and it's a great starter controller to see if this is something you would stick with before spending more money on other gear. I found a local DJ and booked a few lessons with him. I brought my Mixtrack Pro 2 and I was running #Serato but he was using a #NativeInstruments #Kontrol #S4 and using Traktor. He was dialed in on that controller and software and I immediately went and bought a used S4 and got #Traktor Pro 2. I loved that controller and that software but that was only because I was learning from this guy and he showed me firsthand some tips and tricks--things I wouldn't have picked up on just relying on youtube videos out there. Moral of the story: if you know a DJ and are cool with that person, ask them and use what they are using because that will be your lifeline.
Once you can figure out and decide what you are looking to do, I think this will really help narrow your decision down.
As I mentioned, this article isn't meant to give you an answer, it's hopefully to help you ask yourself the right questions because there are a lot of options out there and believe me-you don't want to waste time deciding on your equipment and software. The more time you spend doing this means the less time you spend honing your DJ craft and less likely you will ever get booked for a gig.
Please leave a comment to share your 2 cents on how you chose "the right" software.