Looking Back On 2018: The DJ Year In Review

Joey Santos | Read time: 3 mins
Club/Festival DJing Pro Year in review
Last updated 8 March, 2021


This article is from of our extensive DJ Gear Guide – get yours here.

From powerful new hardware to DJ apps that continue to push the envelope, this piece locks in all the biggest news and developments in DJ technology from the past year. Let’s dive right in…

Though their layouts remained similar to their predecessors, there’s a lot to love about the new Traktor controllers: the Kontrol S4 Mk3 in particular has kinetic Haptic Drive jogwheels that move on their own and give you gentle nudges when DJing to signify hot cue points, to guide you during beatmatching and so on.

Motorised jogwheels are in vogue

Motorised jogwheel platters seem to be a defining feature for recent flagship devices: the Rane Twelve controller for Serato DJ features a 12” platter that spins, giving you the authentic feel and physics that spinning with a full-size turntable platter gives. Denon DJ also released its SC5000M Prime media player that has a 7” spinning jogwheel, again emulating the feel of DJing with vinyl. Noticeably absent from the motorised platter category is Pioneer DJ – could the Japanese giant have something in the works?

DJ apps continue to improve

Serato also had a massive year: Serato DJ is now split between Serato DJ Pro and Serato DJ Lite, and both apps have refreshed high-resolution interfaces (finally!), the ability to spin without any DJ hardware connected (again, finally!) plus built-in streaming thanks to Tidal and SoundCloud integrations.

Virtual DJ also received a spec bump, moving from Virtual DJ 8 to Virtual DJ 2018, with an emphasis on video mixing, visuals and livestreaming, alongside the usual quick compatibilities with new DJ controllers.

Rekordbox DJ continues to grow in strength and popularity, bolstered by the sweet new kit Pioneer DJ put out in the past year. The DDJ-1000 packs built-in displays, CDJ-style jogwheels and Beat FX like those found on the DJM-900NXS2 mixer. The entry-level DDJ-400 takes the basic controls and layout of a CDJ / DJM set-up and puts them in the hands of new DJs, with the aim of making the transition from bedroom to main room simpler.

Algoriddim’s djay For iOS app also received a hefty update this past year, as well as being simplified and folded into just one version. It enjoys a wide range of hardware compatibilities, including the excellent Reloop Mixon4, Beatpad 2 and Pioneer DJ DDJ-WeGO4, and a new Looper feature can be found in the djay Pro subscription version.

DJ/producers have it better than ever

On the music production front, DJ/producer-favourite FL Studio finally arrived on Mac marking the first time the popular DAW has become available on both Windows and macOS. The first controller for FL Studio was also released in the form of the Akai Pro Fire. Expect to see FL Studio duke it out with Ableton Live as both apps continue to be the DAW darlings of the EDM, electro and techno / house scenes.

Native Instruments made one more huge move, this time in the studio, with the release of its Komplete 12 bundle that packs its most famous soft synths and samplers (eg Massive, Kontakt, Battery). It also released affordable new keyboard controllers in the form of the Komplete Kontrol A-Series, making it easier and cheaper than ever to integrate these synths and plugins into your DAW.


2019 is set to be a huge year for digital DJing because of all the developments in both DJ software and hardware, and we can’t wait to bring you all that goodness over at the Digital DJ Tips site as the months roll by.

What do you think was the biggest development in digital DJing this past year? Let us know in the comments.

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