Virtual DJ recently got a big upgrade and is now called Virtual DJ 2020, and Serato DJ Pro has also added several new features and improvements. We decided to take another look at the new versions of both of these DJ platforms, and see how they stack up against each other.
The most visible change to the 2020 version of Virtual DJ is the new user interface. Unlike previous versions of Virtual DJ, which opted for skeuomorphism and colourful elements, the 2020 interface is much more modern with its muted colours and flat design, and gives the entire software a significantly more professional feel. You can still customise many different aspects of the interface, choose between different layouts like Pro and Performance, change the colour and position of the scrolling waveforms, and even select different types of jogwheel displays.
Serato DJ Pro maintains its signature interface design, which is still clean and easy to navigate. There are panels for FX, sampler, and recording DJ sets. Laptops with higher resolution displays can take advantage of the high-res display option, which delivers a sharper interface.
One new feature that both Virtual DJ 2020 and Serato DJ Pro share is a Day Mode. This is perfect for when DJing outside in bright sunlight, which can make it difficult to see a dark themed DJ program on a glossy screen. In Day Mode, the software essentially inverts its colours, which makes it much easier to see the interface.
2. Library management
Library management is a crucial part of successful DJing, and both Serato DJ Pro and Virtual DJ have several tools for organising your digital music collection. Serato DJ Pro users can make ‘crates’ of tracks, or ‘smart crates’ that automatically add all tracks in the library that match the set criteria. Crates can be nested inside each other to organise into subcrates, and a track can appear in more than one crate without making copies of the file.
Virtual DJ delivers essentially the same functionality with their virtual folders and filter folders. It also includes tools like GeniusDJ and LiveFeedback that suggest tracks to play next, based on what you’re currently playing. If you have Serato crates saved on your laptop, Virtual DJ can also read them. Both programs save your set histories, and allow you to record your sets. Virtual DJ can also broadcast your set live over the Internet using Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, a radio server, and other live broadcast services.
3. In-app music streaming
Streaming has come to DJ software, and both Serato DJ Pro and Virtual DJ have support for it. If you have a subscription to SoundCloud Go+ or Tidal, you can search the massive online music collection directly from within Serato DJ Pro, and load a track the same way you would a track saved on your computer.
Virtual DJ has supported streaming for a while with services like Deezer, iDJPool, and Digitrax, and now SoundCloud and Beatport Link are also supported.
4. Hardware support
When it comes to DJ hardware compatibility, Virtual DJ and Serato DJ Pro handle things differently. Virtual DJ strives to make their software compatible with as many different mixers, media players, and controllers as possible. Serato DJ Pro adopts more of an ecosystem model, where only officially supported hardware will plug and play with the software. Still, both platforms have a wide range of compatible hardware produced by multiple manufacturers.
They both also support Digital Vinyl Systems (DVS) which allows DJs to mix with turntables by using timecode control vinyl.
5. Harmonic mixing
Harmonic mixing is when DJs mix tracks that are in compatible or matching keys, which makes for a more pleasing sounding mix or transition between two tracks. Virtual DJ 2020 adds an advanced harmonic mixing mode that can automatically match the key of a loaded track to a currently playing one, as long as it’s within one semitone of the playing track. Serato DJ Pro users can use the Pitch n Time DJ expansion pack to shift and sync the keys of two tracks.
6. Video mixing
Video mixing is available in both programs for DJs who incorporate music videos and visuals in their sets. Video tracks are loaded into the virtual decks the same way that audio tracks are, and DJs can apply video effects and transitions to their tracks. The video output can be sent to a connected external display or projector.
Recently, the Serato Video expansion pack was updated to a 64-bit version for Mac users, which allows for improved video performance. Virtual DJ has added new video transition effects to its already impressive list of video features.
7. Other new features
A new feature unique to Virtual DJ 2020 is the new Event Scheduler. This lets DJs schedule an action to occur at a specified time, like playing a playlist, a sample, a file, or displaying a slideshow. This can be a helpful feature for mobile and wedding DJs who want to scheduled automated actions for later in their sets.
Other new features and improvements recently added to Virtual DJ are the ability to move the horizontal waveforms below the virtual decks, being able to change the zoom level of the horizontal and vertical waveforms independently, and various built in color schemes for the new interface.
In Serato DJ Pro, play counts have been added to keep track of how many times a track has been played, there is more functionality when using SoundCloud or Tidal, and improved performance in waveform rendering. Most importantly, both Serato and Atomix Productions stay committed to fixing bugs and glitches, and improving the overall performance of their software with each update they deliver.
Pricing for these platforms come with some different options. The license for Serato DJ Pro is US$129 USD, or if you prefer the subscription model, US$9.99 a month. Extra functionality is unlocked with the purchase of Expansion Packs. The Essentials Package includes several of these Expansion Packs for US$11.99 a month, or you can get the full suite of features for US$14.99 a month. Expansion Packs can also be purchased individually, so if you just need DVS support, you can buy that single pack. Many DJ hardware products come with a Serato DJ Pro license bundled, and Serato’s hardware chart on their website shows which hardware come bundled with which licenses.
The Lite version of Serato DJ can be downloaded for free so you can test out the basic features of the software. Virtual DJ is free for non-professional use at home. The Pro license is US$299 US, or a monthly subscription of US$19. The Pro license includes all the features of the software, including video mixing, DVS support, and key shifting and matching, so there’s no need to purchase extra licenses or expansion packs.
Both Virtual DJ 2020 and Serato DJ Pro are excellent DJ platforms, and their latest versions have brought some great new features and upgrades to the DJs who use them. The updates are free to existing users and available for Mac and Windows users. Your choice between the two will depend on the gear you want to use and whether or not you want to hop aboard the music streaming bandwagon – if you do, Virtual DJ 2020 offers more streaming choices (you can even stream video and karaoke files). That said, Serato DJ Pro continues to build on the enduring Serato legacy of simplicity and dependability.
If your gear is compatible with either of the two, why not try both now for yourself and see which one you end up liking? Don’t forget to let us know in the comments.
Which of these two apps do you prefer? Why? Are you thinking of switching? Let us know your thoughts below.