Serato just announced its biggest new piece of software in many years: Serato Studio. It’s a streamlined standalone music production app for Mac and PC, aimed at DJs who want to make beats quickly. It combines a Serato DJ-style interface with easy-to-use production tools. You make a beat by adding drums, sounds and loops from Serato Studio’s library, which you can then arrange into a full-on tune.
All sounds sync to your project’s tempo and musical key, increasing the likelihood that Serato Studio’s sounds and loops will “work” with each other. You can even enable the “Play In Key” keyboard mode so all of your piano key presses are in the same musical key as your project – great for DJs who don’t have much music theory knowledge just yet.
How does it work?
You start off by building your beat using sounds from Serato Studio’s library: for example, you can choose a drum kit, and then you can then select drum patterns for a particular style of music such as trap, hip hop or house at the click of the “Make Beat” button. You can also draw in your drum hits using the step sequencer, or play the drum hits using your computer keyboard or a connected Midi controller.
Once you’ve got your drums, you can load other elements like basses, synths, percussion and even vocals. These can come in the form of audio sample tracks, which Serato Studio can automatically adjust the tempo and musical key of, or instrument tracks where you can draw in your own notes using the piano roll sequencer.
Serato Studio works with just your laptop’s keyboard and trackpad, but one of its key features is that if you’ve got a Serato DJ-compatible controller handy (eg the Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB3, DDJ-SX3) Serato Studio turns that into a music production controller: The left jogwheel lets you scrub through the sample waveform on the left side of the screen, and the left deck’s performance pads control the individual sample slices that have been set. The right deck’s performance pads turn into Scene triggers so you can jump around your arrangement.
It looks like an awesome app for DJs who want to get into beatmaking but are daunted by the entire music production process and having to learn a digital audio workstation from scratch. We’ve had a chance to play with the beta (check our First Look video above) and we love just how simple it is to use, and we also like the included sounds and instruments. It’s not trying to be a full DAW (at this point, anyway) – but it’s much more than a simple sample sequencer.
We haven’t had a chance to try it out with a connected Midi or DJ controller yet, but we think it’s a clever feature that lets your DJ controller double up as a piece of production hardware. A nice touch, especially since a lot of Serato DJ users already have DJ controllers anyway.
Check out our First Look video above, along with the Promo Video from Serato.
• Serato Studio is now in public beta. Check the Serato Studio site to join.
What do you think of this new beatmaking app? Think it’s cool? What kind of music would you make? Let us know below.