Our DJ Gear & Software Wishlist For 2024

Last updated 17 January, 2024

It’s a new year, but some of the old frustrations are still there in the DJ world for both hobby and working DJs. And of course, we’re always all dreaming about other improvements we’d like to see in our DJ gear, software, and systems in an ideal world.

So as the manufacturers set their priorities for this year and plan their next steps, in a spirit of constructive criticism (and acknowledging the fantastic gear, software, and workflows that we’re regularly treated to by our favourite brands as it is), here is the official Digital DJ Tips school wish list for 2024.

Some of these things are simple to do, some of these things are but dreams at this point, but all of them are things which would improve the lives of DJs. So let’s go….

Our DJ Gear & Software Wishlist

A standardised way of saving DJ data

If you are an athlete, then you know that the data your running watch records or the sensors on your bike (and so on) is reported to your fitness software in a standardised format that you can export and use in any platform you want. Why not for DJ software as well?

Why do we have to have a separate beatgrid, cue, loop, key and playlist system for every single piece of DJ software? Right now, if we want to take our data and switch to another piece of software, we need to use third-party apps or jump through ridiculous hoops. A lot of the time we just give up. There’s no reason why we can’t have a standard way of this happening, and I think it’s long overdue.

Just think, if there was a standard way, then stores like Beatport could sell pre-gridded and pre-analysed songs. How much better would that be for DJs? So come on industry, someone come up with an open source way of doing this that you can all accept and let’s switch to a common standard.

Fuzzy keymixing adopted industry-wide

Digital DJ Tips invented something called Fuzzy Keymixing, which is a way of approaching keymixing that moves past the standard way of doing it. The standard way of doing it uses something called a Camelot Wheel (which is itself based on a music theory called the Circle of Fifths) and works great, except it’s too restrictive. This has led to a problem, which is that when you press the key sync button in DJ software, it can move your track way beyond where it sounds good, up or down. And there’s absolutely no need for it with a better interpretation of musical theory.

With “fuzzy keymixing”, it’s possible to mix ANY “next track” into your current track, to do it in key, and to have it sound great, practically every time.

In fact, with today’s key shifting algorithms and a better interpretation of the theory, you can move a track up or down by one or two notes and it will be in a compatible key with any other track. Far more useful! This is how we’ve always taught keymixing here at Digital DJ Tips and in fact, it’s already being adopted by the industry:

Pioneer DJ CDJs and Rekordbox software now use it (although curiously CDJs don’t use it in the track filter key area, but they do use it when you press the key sync button). Algoriddim’s djay Pro software also now uses our Fuzzy Keymixing approach, as does Engine DJ. But if you’re a Serato or a Traktor user, you need to do it manually.

We have an article on how to do this here on Digital DJ Tips (it isn’t hard), but it would be nice if the key sync buttons on these platforms just worked, because they’re currently useless, as you never know if it’s going to sound good or not.

Pioneer DJ to launch a pro next-gen standalone all-in-one unit

Basically, Pioneer DJ’s standalone gear is a little bit behind the times. It’s Opus Quad is the exception. The Opus Quad is a thoroughly modern DJ system, which we believe over time will get most of the features that DJs are screaming for on this kind of gear. However, hardware-wise, and we’re talking inputs and outputs and the ability to use Pioneer DJ’s Pro DJ Link, it lacks.

We think a next-gen XDJ-XZ would be a massive success.

What a lot of DJs want, and what we would like to see, would be an update to Pioneer DJ’s XDJ-XZ. This is an incredible unit as far as the hardware goes, but it’s hampered by last-generation standalone capability. Combining the technology that’s inside the Opus Quad with the physical ins and outs and other controls of the XDJ-XZ would produce a controller that we think would be a runaway success. And frankly, it’d be the one that a lot of DJs were expecting Pioneer DJ to make instead of the Opus Quad. Make no mistake, we love the Opus Quad, but we think this is a big gap in Pioneer DJ’s current product range.

Oh, and speaking of Pioneer DJ’s product range, we want to see Rekordbox software get stems that actually sound good. Their first go is a little bit ropey and doesn’t sound anywhere near as good as any of the other software platforms. So come on, let’s get that improved please, too!

Stems on standalone gear

Speaking of stems, they’re the one thing that separates the very best laptop-free standalone DJ systems from laptop DJ systems at the moment. Until stems arrived, standalone gear had pretty much caught up with software DJing. But now stems are a glaring omission in all standalone systems.

Get the course: How To Mix With Acapellas & Stems

We get it, they’re hard to implement (they’re hard to implement even on a powerful laptop) – all you need to do is take a look at the beta attempt on the Prime 4+ that Denon DJ has implemented to see that the tech isn’t really up to scratch yet. So we want to see a generation of all-in-one standalone gear powerful enough to have really convincing sounding stems separation built in, allowing it to catch up with the best software platforms right now.

Watch the show

Prefer me to talk you through this? In this video, a recording of a live show from the Digital DJ Tips YouTube channel, I talk you through everything in this article, and we take questions from our community on the subject.

Serato to rethink its pricing

It’s a hard one to say, this, because we love Serato, and personally, it’s always been my software of choice when I DJ. But I think its software is priced opaquely and is poor-to-disastrous value right now. For instance, the Serato DJ Pro package doesn’t even include key shifting! This is in an add-on called Pitch n’ Time, which you can’t officially buy any more, unless you buy something called the Serato DJ Suite package, which costs hundreds more again.

This is a basic function of DJ software nowadays, and it’s wrong to charge extra for it. At the very least, Serato should go back to selling this plugin separately. It is something that they’ve acknowledged, because with some high-end DJ controllers that come with Serato DJ Pro, there is also a coupon code to get this extra add-on.

A few things we’d like to see from Serato this year: roll Pitch n’ Time into Serato DJ Pro, allow duplicate tracks inside playlists, and add 3/4 beat echo effects.

But to expect new DJs to its platform, who maybe get a Serato DJ Lite controller and then upgrade to Serato DJ Pro thinking they’re getting everything they need, to then shell out the huge amount of extra money for Serato DJ Suite – to get just one extra missing feature – is plain wrong. I’ve raised this with Serato, and for me the answer is simple: scrap Serato DJ Suite, fold it into Serato DJ Pro, or if not that, move Pitch n’ Time into Serato DJ Pro as a standard feature.

And while we’re talking about Serato, let’s have the ability to have duplicate tracks in a playlist, more than one streaming service activated at a time, and also a 3/4 beat echo on the basic echo that you get with the software – pretty please!

Algoriddim’s djay Pro software to up its game

This is another frustrating one for us because djay Pro software is brilliant, but it’s just got a few things that separate it from the class leaders. And the two main ones are universal controller support, like VirtualDJ has – so you just know when you plug a laptop or tablet running Algoriddim’s djay Pro into a controller, it’s going to work – and parity of features across Windows and Mac.

Read this next: 5 Ways Algoriddim Could Improve djay Pro

Get these two things right, and we think djay Pro will jump forward in leaps and bounds. It’s nearly there, but not quite.

Traktor to add the things people are screaming for

Is this the year Traktor gives us proper stems and flexible beatgridding?

Traktor software is yet another frustration to us because it moves so glacially slow. I’m going to guess it’s a decade now that we’ve been asking for flexible beatgrids, so that you can DJ in Traktor properly with music that has got slightly varying BPMs. And yet here we are…still waiting at the beginning of 2024. Also, Traktor is conspicuous by not having stems in its software.

Unfortunately, the Traktor team is good at saying they’re working on such features, but bad at delivering them within a reasonable timeframe. Of course, we’re not party to what’s going on behind the scenes at Native Instruments, the company that owns Traktor, but we would absolutely love to see more resources put in so that these things can arrive on a platform which is languishing due to, partly at least, the lack of such expected features nowadays.

Performance grade wireless built into DJ gear

We’re doing pretty much everything wirelessly nowadays, right? So why not have wireless DJ gear? Why not have headphones that don’t need to be connected by a wire to the equipment, and speakers which don’t need to be connected by a wire to the controllers and mixers?

We’re actually getting close. A system called SKAA is already built into Soundboks speakers, for instance. And SKAA has transmitters and receivers that can be plugged into DJ gear and any speaker system to do this with pretty low latency. AIAIAI has got a headphone system which does the same thing, endorsed by no lesser a person than Richie Hawtin. Again, it’s got very low latency, and it allows you to DJ or produce with headphones on that don’t have a wire. We want to see more companies jumping into the ultra-low-latency wireless arena.

Read this next: 5 Modern Technologies That Are Making Wireless DJing Possible

Actually, it looks like Bluetooth is nearly there. With Bluetooth 5.4, Qualcomm has got latency down to 20 milliseconds, which is good enough for gaming and DJing. But it’s very niche at the moment. However, hopefully when this becomes more common, it will be the system that everyone agrees on and starts to build into its gear. How wonderful to be able to press a button on your DJ controller and speakers and just have the music coming out, with no latency and no need to wire it all up. Let’s hope – I think this is nearer than we think.

Engine DJ to transform into a full DJ platform

There’s a well-publicised spat going on right now between AlphaTheta, the owners of Pioneer DJ, and InMusic, the owners of Denon DJ and other brands. It’s over AlphaTheta’s attempt to buy Serato. InMusic is arguing it will give AlphaTheta, which of course already owns Rekordbox and whose brand Pioneer DJ is the dominant brand in the DJ world, a near monopoly. They may have a point.

But even if they win this battle, which they’re undertaking to try and safeguard their use of Serato software in Denon DJ, Numark and Rane equipment, where will that leave their relationship with Serato, who are clearly wanting to sell? It’s all a mess, but it’s a mess that could be solved at least in part by InMusic taking the (albeit difficult) path of turning its existing, excellent Engine DJ library and standalone software platform into a full-blown DJ ecosystem.

Engine DJ software is highly powerful and works great with InMusic’s standalone consoles – now we’d like to see them get it working with controllers!

This would mean that you could use Engine DJ to prepare your music, to export your music as you can now to use on that company’s standalone gear and on Numark Mixstream gear – but also, if you wanted to DJ with your laptop, you’d be able to plug your laptop into their gear as well and DJ that way. For a company as large as InMusic, and with as many DJ brands as it has, to not have a laptop DJ platform seems strange to us – especially because in the past, they’ve bought similar platforms and not done anything with them.

Come on, let’s have Engine DJ turn into a full-blown system like Rekordbox. This is surely the best way of safeguarding their position in the DJ market going forward, and something I think DJs would love.

Improvements to DJ music streaming

I read somewhere that music streaming is currently how 83% of music is consumed in the world. In other words, pretty much everyone is listening to music on streaming services like Apple, Spotify and so on. And yet, in the DJ world, music streaming – while available – is hampered by all kinds of things.

To start with, the two brands I just mentioned aren’t even available in DJ platforms. DJs have to settle for far smaller brands like Beatport, Beatsource, Tidal and SoundCloud. Now this is fine – or at least it would be if they actually had the features DJs want.

Learn to DJ with us: The Complete DJ Course

We want to see universal offline access so that you can cache your playlist before the gig, and don’t need to have the internet in order to play your gig. We want to see stems access, which is already being limited (apparently by the record labels in at least one of these platforms), to be something that is enabled across the board. And while we’re there, we want to see the record buttons enabled as well.

Not allowing DJs to record their sets inside software when it’s stupidly easy to get around the limitation anyway is just childish. It’s important for us to be able to record our sets in order to listen back to them and see how we can improve. And things like this are hampering the uptake of streaming in DJing.

And yes, of course, we would like to see the big services being offered too. If Apple decided to let Apple Music work with DJ gear, it could almost be game, set and match for them, because of course – unlike all the other platforms – Apple already has deep integration with DJ software: You can already play local music stored in Apple’s iTunes/Music app inside all DJ platforms in a way that’s unique, so to add streaming to that would be amazing. It’s frustrating how using music streaming services inside DJing is being held back by these little things.

Over To You…

OK, so there’s our list. But what do you want to see change in the DJ world in 2024? Let us know underneath the YouTube video or in the comments below. It’ll be fun to revisit this post in a year’s time and see how much closer we’ve got to some of these things.

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