Over To You: What’s The Best Software For Mobile DJs?

PCDJ's OOVJ video DJing system costs thousands... but what is the best mainstream DJ software for mobile?

PCDJ’s OOVJ video DJing system costs thousands… but what is the best mainstream DJ software for mobile?

Reader DJ Malarkey writes: “I have been a DJ since 1983 (you can imagine :D ) and now as a mobile DJing business owner I ask my DJs what software they like to use (since all of them use laptops for their shows). They all like something different, and that’s OK to me – I am a ‘whatever works for you’ kind of guy. Do you feel the same way, and what are your suggestions and opinions with regards to software and the mobile DJ?”

Digital DJ Tips says:

Unless you’re providing the gear, I think I agree with you – let them use what they want. If they’re comfortable and competent with what they use, why ask them to change? However, if you are providing the gear, it makes sense to standardise. But it’s true that for mobile DJ use, other factors rather than great effects or powerful sample decks take precedence – like ease of use, library controls, automations functions and so on.

For mobile DJs who want to beatmix, Virtual DJ seems the most popular, perhaps because it is easy to use, powerful, and it doesn’t have the same stigma in mobile circles as is sometimes attached to it by electronic dance music DJs. For non-mixing DJs, MegaSeg and PCDJ Red have their fans due to their automation functions, simpler controls and compatibility with rack-mounted DJ controllers.

Traktor Pro is really overkill for simple mobile use, being unneccessarily complex for this style of DJing (although Traktor LE isn’t) but Serato ITCH might appeal because there are some good hardware / software combinations available including the rack-mounted Denon DN-HC5000, for easy plug and play.

Mobile DJs: Would you advise DJ Malarkey to steer his DJs towards one type of software? What software do you use? Why? Any advice would be very welcome in the comments.

Comments

  1. Get Native Instruments Audio 2 DJ and a simple midi controller or simply just get a complete solution like Numark Omni Control… Traktor LE is more then enough and not overkill at all! :)

    • Phil Morse says:

      Not got good iTunes integration or automation options though, unlike dedicated mobile installation software (I?m thinking of MegaSeg, for example).

  2. Virtual DJ when playing out Mobile, it does what it says on the tin – and then Traktor for the Club

  3. I use Traktor Pro for my mobile work just because I was started off on Traktor 3. At times I think it is way more complicated than it needs to be especially in organising the collection. Never use more than 10% of it’s mixing tools and have often thought about going over to Virtual DJ which seems a little more suited to Mobile DJ work. Then again I like the multiple tabs for playlists and I am kinda scared of moving over and having a nightmare with 300gB plus of music!
    What I really need is some one to one tuition with the Traktor Pro… You guys recommend anyone in the Northeast for that?

    • djandyfuentes says:

      You might want to check out the Traktor 2 Bible by Rainer G Haselier. Is a book aim at Traktor Pro 2, T Scratch Pro 2, Traktor Duo 2 and T Scratch Duo 2. The tittle says it all. $39.00. It works for me. Hope this helps.

  4. DJ Malarkey answered his own question – “Whatever works best for you”

    That’s why I chose Torq when Serato and Traktor dominate it all. It just works best for me.

    In terms of mobile, I’ve noticed many DJs will have a good laptop running a preferred DJ software for mixing, and iTunes for most of everything else.

  5. I agree with d-jam. I use Torq for mixing/dancing portions of the night and ITunes for dinner non mix portions of the night for most of my gigs.

    • Phil Morse says:

      Lots of love for iTunes going on here, I guess it makes sense – after all, it is excellent music library software.

    • I was curious about the itunes for dinner or non mixing portions of the event. Why not just use the software? Isnt it the same as putting a playlist together and letting it play? Thats how virtual dj is used. This is simply a question, since I dont know that much about Torq and whatever is meant by serato and traktor dominate it all per D-Jams’s comments!!!

      • During dinner/announcements/event phases it’s easier to set a playlist and let play while you attend to those duties so the music doesn’t stop if you get busy. VDJ may do that for you. Torq does not. However, I love Torqs workflow for mixing that’s why I chose it.

  6. I’ve never used ITCH, so my opinion is definitely biased. But my vote would go to Traktor Scratch Pro 2 with an Audio 6 or 10 interface. I think this way you have the advantage of having a setup compatible with pretty much every equipment you’ll encounter, and that’s very important both for mobile and club DJ’s, since you have to be ready for a lot of situations.

    For example, if your controller fails, you can easily set up Traktor with the equipment the club has, or always have the club equipment as a backup. Also, by doing beat gridding homework in Traktor, you can sucessfully mix with just your laptop.

    But I share the opinion of the others. If you can try them before you buy, why not go for whatever works for you? ;)

  7. I’ve tried them all! Our company prefers Virtual DJ do to any given time we could be doing a DJ gig or karaoke with music videos. Just a very versatile program. Easy to use with great features.

  8. ehm..what about Deckadance guys?

  9. I use traktor pro 2 + s4 controller. Never know when u need more

    • dj distraction says:

      I use the same too, TP2 + S4. But I switch the sample decks to track decks, because, depending on the program, I need to have tracks ready to play anytime!
      Then, as always, during the disco/dance part of the program, S4 & TP2 (even the older TP is fine) does it job well.

  10. Might i humbly sugest free open-source solution, Mixxx?
    The community is great, the developers are always there to help and often implement suggested updates.
    The new version is due out very soon, and adds many exiting features.
    Check it out at http://www.mixxx.org/

  11. mostapha says:

    For mobile DJing, I HONESTLY suggest iTunes. It’s entirely possible that I’ve just never heard a good one, but I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a mobile DJ mixing the way I’ve seen and a mobile DJ re-arranging and tailoring a playlist while having more fun playing with lights or drinking or something.

    I’m not trying to be a dick…and I did say it’s possible I’ve just never seen a good one…but every time I see a mobile DJ using anything more expensive than iTunes, I laugh and then cry a little inside because of how much money they all waste just to do nothing.

    • Phil Morse says:

      For non-mixing mobile DJing it might make sense, but you’d still need a way of incorporating your microphone, and even for non-mixing DJs, it’s nice to have a crossfader and instant cue start at least.

    • Wow, where to begin lol. Simply playing music from itunes is not being a DJ. With regards to the cost of anything in life, you get what you pay for. Same as with a DJ. If a very specific client simply wanted someone to just sit there and do nothing but play itunes, then I guess they could hire a 4 year old…..or you!!! Having the ability to manipulate music and remix it on the fly via your software and controller or simple 1200′s and a mixer is the beggining steps in calling yourself a Dj. The ability to controll the crowd with a seamless blend of fresh grooves can only be achieved by using some form of tool to controll the music. I’m sorry you never “seen” a good one, maybe you should just open your eyes and listen. DJ Malarky out. PS. “not trying to be a dick”

    • Chris Argueta says:

      Mostapha,
      You must not get out much. Or, you aren’t really paying attention. Or, your a club DJ trying to diss mobile DJs.

      I can definitely tell the difference between some clown who just let iTunes do the whole thing and a real DJ working the room.

      I can tell you another thing. You’ve never heard me play. I get gigs based solely on the dinner music alone. That blows my mind every time.

      It’s what you play, when you play it and how you play it.

      You are holding mass.

      You are in control.

      iTunes could never do that.

      And only real DJ software programs can give a digital DJ the tools to do it.

    • dennis parrott says:

      Letting iTunes crossfade the tunes? No thanks.

      There are plenty of times that songs need to be mixed out of because of over-long, non-dance-able sections. If you play requests, this can happen to you and if you don’t have the control to make a graceful exit you will clear the dancefloor.

      If you go this way, your MP3s better be properly prepared — no 2 second silences at the beginning and ending — or the crossfade will just be “dead air”.

      As to which kit to provide I would ask this: who is buying it? You or the DJs you hire? If they are buying the software, I would make sure that you have the right interfaces to accept what they are passing off to you and call it a day.

  12. Adriatic Blue says:

    This is a good question.

    I like that as the owner of the Mobile DJ company, you’re open-minded, flexible and empower your DJs by allowing them to use what’s ideal for them in DJ software.

    Also, since this setup is working for all of you at this time, I say too, leave it be. I’m not a professional DJ, though on the most basic level I’ve tried Traktor, Virtual DJ, Torq and a few others not as well known as these.

    Traktor has a lot of nice features though it can indeed be overkill for general DJ use. Also, for a DJ not tech-savvy, Traktor has a high learning curve. As for Virtual DJ, I found it the easiest to use immediately after installing it. Torq was decent as well though would not be the first software I’d recommend (if you feel you want to standardize).

    One suggestion (indirectly related) is to have your hired DJs document all hardware & software that they use on gigs and provide you with a copy.

    This is not only good for knowledge & record-keeping, but in the event one of your DJs has an unfortunate experience with theft of their setup and need to know what to list for recovery if they file an insurance claim, or, if a bride-to-be asks what the DJ would use at her wedding, you have immediate and accurate information on it.

    It may also help for trending & statistics in the event that in the future, you desire to standardize on hardware and/or software.

    AB

    • Thank you very much for you comments as I will take your advice and start to document and record all of the software played events moving forward. I think this will be a good idea as you stated. I personaly use Virtual DJ 7 pro edition and it seems to be a very stable and simple to learn software using a basic hp purchased at walmart lol. I have Dj friends who use different software and they all love or hate it for some reason or another. Back to D-Jam, whatever works for you. Regards. PS. My wife is my insurance agent lol.

  13. VDJ because it has video & Sync.

    You can do Karaoke or visuals = good job.

    ;)

  14. Djay for sure. Simple , elegant and powerful.

  15. background music … itunes or a playlist in traktor on autocruise
    during the dance … traktor pro 2 with a Xone4D to control 2 decks and the sample banks & effects, when I know a lot of dance will be involved a maschine controller is added for extra fx and samplebank control.
    Why traktor – Flexibility of the mapping, ease of use (you can make it as complex as you want of course), I like the interface. Itunes integration is OK for me … although autocruise from Itunes playlist would be handy.

    Out of the box traktor might not be the best … but the midi-mapping flexibilities are endless, but you have to put some effort in programming it for your needs.

  16. am i the only on using deckadance here?

  17. I started out using VDJ because it was free with my controller. I’ve become very proficient with it over the years and found no reason to switch. In the beginning I was only doing mobile events but now I have two club residencies a week along with publishing my own mixes.

    I love all the features of VDJ and make use of them every time I spin. I tried Tractor a few years back and thought it was overkill. I there’s some DJs out there who really make use of ALL the features of Tractor but for me it was way too much. I’ve got just what I need in VDJ to be very creative and expressive without my screen being too cluttered.

    Depending on where I play, I use an all-in-one controller or an analog mixer with turntables. VDJ with my MacBook Pro is super stable. Midi mapping with any device is unbelievably easy.

    The bottom line is party people don’t care what software you use. They just want to have a good time. I use VDJ because it’s easy, does what I want, and don’t see myself outgrowing it any time soon.

  18. Eky metal says:

    There are heaps of programs to choose from , that’s because we all
    Prefer something different !!!!!!
    So don’t pay out on each other .
    After all we are all djs .
    Cheers

  19. Chris Argueta says:

    DJ Malarky, I suggest Virtual DJ. I’ve used it 2 years for mobile work. It is robust. It is easy to use. It does what it says it does.

    When I bought it (vers 5.2.1, I believe, I’m at 7.0.4 now) the GUI was two turntables and a mixer. Exactly what I was familiar with. You can still use the old skins. oh yeah, you don’t have to wait YEARS for updates. They come out almost every three months or so. New controllers are constantly added, bugs are removed, new features implemented.

    The transport controls, pitch, loop and cues are easy to see and use. Library browser is easy to use. ITunes is supported. Samples are easy to use. Effects are easy to use. Audio routing is powerful and almost limitless, but extremely easy to configure. Playlists are a breeze to use and easy to populate. Wedding dinner music? I have playlists in VDJ. The whole night, for me, is on VDJ. Dinner music included. I don’t want to be switching gears (i.e softwares: ITunes to VDJ) in the middle of the event. That is a recipe for disaster.

    Audio quality? transparent. I’ve done ABX testing with VDJ and vinyl on unsuspecting guinea pigs. They could not tell me when it was vinyl and when it was the program and my laptop! This was using only the internal soundcard of the laptop.

    The customization available is light years ahead of the rest of the pack. You can simplify your GUI (called “skins” in VDJ) to basic transport functionality and track info, or make it as complicated or feature rich as you want. There are so many skins available, some are just blatant eye candy that make other software users drool. I make my own skins.

    For MOBILE work, where there are a million things to worry about; Virtual DJ is a perfect fit.

    Why anyone would want to complicate the situation is beyond me.

    Oh someone mentioned Mixxx. I am sorry. But that software has a a way to go. It is not intuitive. It feels very sophomoric. It should NOT be considered for professional mobile work.

  20. I do a fair bit of mobile stuff and would argue that people these days do seem to notice and appreciate good mixing and the odd bit of controlerism. Sure not everyone does, but I think more people than we realise actually enjoy hearing a good transition/ a live mashup/ cue point juggling/ reworking of songs live.

  21. I’d like to toss in another nod for MegaSeg.

    I’ve been using it since about version 1.2 and it’s perfect for most real-world mobile situations. Once I have an organized library with their in/out points set, I can focus on serving the needs of the crowd. MegaSeg lets me dynamically stack up a playlists and also note requests. It never fails.

  22. I have Virtual DJ, Traktor 2, PCDJ DEX and a few others….. In the club and mobiles I tend to use Virtual DJ and DEX. I wish i could combine the 2 into a perfect (for me) program. I like the Sync (but don’t really need it) options…as well as video from VDJ. PCDJ DEX works perfect with my Denon hc4500…..control of 3 effects and the levels all from the controller is fun. VDJ lacks there for me personally. I play around with Traktor, but it is very expansive…way more than i have time to really learn right now…but fun.

    My vote is Virtual DJ, then PCDJ DEX

  23. I use numark Cue, My friend uses VDJ. They basicly the same. It offers full visual of music library on left, album contents in middle, and playlist on right keeping it very simple to navigate. You don’t have to close any screens out,everything is in full view at all times. Search engine is fast. Auto mix is great with stored playlist. Both programs are simple with turntable type platforms. The program is not reccomended for scratching. We hard wire our conections whith a DJIO to the mixer so we can cue in our headphones. I think this set up is easy to use for a beginning DJ or experienced jocks.

  24. DJ JAhlove says:

    i have never use another program beside virtual dj cause its been areound since the 90s i figure its the first dj softwear..so it should hav all the features or better than all the other dj softwear out there just sayn..an how can surato be beter when surato is a knock off of virtual dj?

    • Mike Sinclair says:

      DJ JAhlove: Serato (not Surato) is NOT a knockoff of virtual dj. I have tried almost everything on the market and vdj is my LEAST favorite DJ software. It crashed all the time on my Macbook Pro so I now use Serato ITCH with absolutely no problems at all. I love ITCH. It kicks vdj’s butt up and down the street.

  25. Hugues says:

    Hi all,

    I actually thing the best mobile app is the up coming Cross DJ for iPad.
    Really the most serious looking one of all the ones out there.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kMLcvU_P48c
    I tried it at the musikmesse in frankfurt and it is truely a killer app!

  26. DJ Parabal says:

    I started djing in High school, with 2 home cd players, and and a stereo. I eventually worked for a Mobile DJ company, and used real equipment. Now I play clubs, with 2 regular nights, and an intermittent 3rd,(1 is a Goth/Industrial, one is EDM, disco, whatever, and the other is Retro dance) everyone I play with at the club uses Traktor, I on the other hand have found VDJ to be the most intuitive. I picked my controller based on the software. I can tweek tracks live, and I can straight up beat mix. The genius dj in VDJ is as good, or better than itunes, and organization and searching is so easy. When you have a bridesmaid asking you for that one song, the wedding planner is demanding an announcement, and your track is running out, having the simple organization is crucial, as you know. Honestly, any program will work, as long as it is well mapped for your hardware. VDJ home is free, so jocks can practice at home, and if the library is on an external drive, they can save the playlist and settings, and it transfers to the pro version on your rig. I would add that if you are not using a controller with the software, then I would likely suggest tracktor, I work with a lot of jocks that don’t use a controller, and really are just letting Traktor handle the fade, which is a pain in the backside with a mouse. I did have VDJ glitch on me at a show, with 2 other djs playing in 2 other locations in the same club, they both had issues with Traktor the same night, so go figure.

  27. I use traktor pro 2.6 for all my djing regardless of the venue. Not overkill at all, it can be either basic or advanced depending on your needs. I use it to its full potential including remix decks and grouped fx. Some people would say going to the shops in a Bugatti veyron was overkill but what a way to go to the shops !

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