Last updated 16 November, 2017

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Serato DJ
Prepare for takeoff – Serato DJ is splashed across the company’s website, and is scheduled for November 1.

Serato today announced Serato DJ, the successor to its Serato ITCH controller software and the long-awaited upgrade path for Serato DJ Intro users. Headline features include Midi mapping, and all-new effects powered by iZotope.

The first DJ controller to be bundled with Serato DJ in the box will be called the Pioneer DDJ-SX, launched to coincide with the software on November 1. Meanwhile, the software will be made available to users of current Serato ITCH controllers in a rolling programme throughout winter.

Main features of Serato DJ

Here are the important new features of Serato DJ, which build on the features of Serato ITCH:

  1. Midi mapping. Finally, Midi mapping comes to Serato. Want to map your SP-6 sample player to external hardware? Feel like adding a pad controller for your FX? It’s all now possible. While Midi mapping will only be possible for secondary controller initially (ie you won’t be able to remap your main controller), the second part is coming down the line
  2. New FX from iZotope. Delay, echo, ping pong delay, reverb, phaser, flanger, distortion, HP filter, LP filter, combo filter
  3. Combo filter. Just to draw your attention to that last effect, now there is a combo filter. This means if your controller doesn’t have a one-knob filter, you can select it in the FX section and use it from there
  4. Double the cue points. There are now eight cue-points available for jumping to different sections of your tracks
  5. New user interface. Serato wouldn’t let us see any screenshots at this stage, so we’ll have to take their word that the “greatly improved software layout” is just that

First thoughts

An upgrade path for users of Serato DJ Intro was of course a gaping hole in Serato’s strategy that had to be filled. Now, controllers like the Numark N4 and Reloop Terminal Mix 4 can finally control four decks in Serato. Also, things like the new FX and the one-knob filter are long-wished for improvements. But overall, this release is less about features, more about acknowledging that the Native Instruments approach (Midi mappability, one piece of software with variations to cover all bases) makes the most sense.

“Serato DJ brings us a step closer to a unified customer experience across our entire product range.” says Serato CEO Sam Gribben.

That quote seems to suggest the company’s longer-term plan is indeed to have just the one piece of software that works with everything, including digital vinyl.

So I think we can expect Serato Scratch Live to become “Serato DJ Scratch” at some point. Like with Native Instruments, however, I suspect you will always pay a premium on top if you want to use the software with digital vinyl solutions (ie as with Traktor / Traktor Scratch). That’s not to say this is copycat stuff, though. Serato’s unique selling points continue to mark it apart. It has true plug and play, and offers video DJing as an option, for starters. (Virtual DJ has the latter as standard, but is still not as easy to set up as Serato. Ease of set-up is a major bug-bear for DJs switching to digital, and something Serato has always addressed well.)

Also, Serato DJ still retains a more traditional mix of DJ-oriented features. Primarily, the new software doesn’t try to walk a route similar to that trodden by Traktor’s 2.5 and the Traktor Kontrol F1 (and indeed in the delayed Virtual DJ 8).

So far, this “Ableton Lite” tack has had a mixed market response for Native Instruments, and could yet prove to be a courageous but ultimately niche path for the company. While Serato Scratch Live has The Bridge for Ableton, there’s no sign of its integration here.

Meanwhile, if Serato’s changes mean some of the objections to the platform are judged to have been answered, the company may have just repositioned itself into a space where it can grow far more rapidly among controller DJs.

So, you’ll now be able to Midi map your Serato software to extra control surfaces without hacking. Does this and the other improvements above signal a strong repositioning for Serato among controller DJs? I’d love to hear your thoughts below.