Rekordbox vs. Serato, Engine DJ, and More! | Gear4music (2024)

Struggling to choose which DJ software to go for? This guide will help you find the perfect system for you.

Serato and Rekordbox are both industry-leading DJ control software, and they’re regarded as the two main systems that DJs use. Before buying a DJ controller, I’d strongly suggest choosing the type of DJing you want to get into and researching what equipment you need.

Rekordbox vs. Serato – which is best? At conception, they were tailored to specific applications. But while they’re designed to cover all bases, there are naturally things that one software does better than the other. As well as versions for professional DJs, each software offers a free version that prospective DJs can use to get to grips with the basics of DJing. In this guide, we’ll take you through the features of Rekordbox and Serato as well as Engine DJ, DJUCED, and Traktor.

In a rush? Here’s a quick rundown

Rekordbox is Pioneer DJ’s software. It’s designed for DJs to format music to then be played on their multi-players and controllers, and it’s also used as control software for their DJ controllers. Overall, it’s an in-depth music library with a range of cool organisational features and mixing functions – however, it only works with Rekordbox hardware or DVS.

Serato is a dedicated DJ programme with over 20 years of development behind it. This DJ software can work with an exceptionally large range of equipment and features an extensive range of dynamic and useful DJ tools. It’s not supported on any DJ hardware, but it is integrateable into almost all DJ equipment.


Rekordbox vs. Serato, Engine DJ, and More! | Gear4music (1)Rekordbox is the primary software of Pioneer DJ, and so it’s tailored to Pioneer DJ equipment, providing the formatting for media on nearly all their modern digital DJ players and controllers.

It was initially designed as a music library preparation tool, allowing you to format music on USB drives, SD cards, and external HDD storage devices, ready for you to play on Pioneer DJ multi-players.

This was the first software to show a waveform in a standalone digital DJ player, namely the Pioneer CDJ 2000 Nexus in 2012, which finally allowed DJs to visually monitor their mix in real-time without having to use a laptop.

In 2015, performance mode was introduced to Rekordbox. This takes from a digital music library and is formatted to a bespoke DJ performance system for Pioneer DJ controllers.

As Pioneer DJ equipment is regarded as the industry standard around the world, you’d be hard-strapped to find a DJ without a USB of songs formatted to Rekordbox as the majority of bars, clubs, and festivals have Pioneer DJ equipment.

It’s worth mentioning that the Rekordbox user interface and assortment of features within it are derived from the Serato software, this is obvious when looking at the layout of either software. However, Rekordbox has several unique and original features that stand out over Serato.

This software is ideal for owners of Pioneer DJ equipment and DJs who frequently find themselves playing at clubs or bars with Pioneer DJ decks. Rekordbox is compatible solely with Pioneer DJ hardware, however, its DVS function can be used with other DJ equipment with Rekordbox-compatible control vinyl or other timecode media.

There are also four different levels of subscription: Free, Core, Creative, and Professional. These provide more features and allow for more devices the further up the price ranges you go.

User interface

Rekordbox has a very easy-to-navigate and aesthetically pleasing user interface. Like Serato, tracks that are loaded to the decks play alongside each other with a quantised beat grid around the waveform, this acts as a visual aid to your mixing. Even the most basic version can support 4-deck mixing, meaning you can play four tracks at the same time.

Since Rekordbox was originally just a music library and formatting software, it has so many user-friendly and in-depth organisational capabilities. You can easily navigate your entire music collection with a segmented tab menu called “Tree View” that displays your folders, storage locations, recordings, devices, and more. Then, you can customise this menu in Preferences to your taste and remove redundant sections.

Also in the Preferences menu, you can also completely customise Rekordbox to suit your play style and organisation methods, this includes view, audio, track analysis, controller preferences, DVS, lighting, video display, and other administrative features.

Organisation, playlists, and searching

Delving into different music locations, you can create custom playlists or view all your music at once. The tracks are displayed horizontally in a grid divided into columns for name, waveform, BPM, key, and track length. This grid can be customised too, and you can add or remove relevant sections to streamline your track selection process.

One particularly useful feature is the ability to find tracks that will mix harmonically with the music currently playing. This can be done by clicking the master button above the grid. A tag section opens a window that allows you to tag multiple tunes at once based on genre, components, situation, and a custom field, and you can add any category you like.

These tag folders allow you to search for music by filtering exactly what you’re looking for. You can also create smart playlists that automatically add tracks based on rules you provide, and you can add multiple rules, allowing you to arrange intricate and specific playlists in a matter of seconds.

Related Tracks is another good way to find music that will match your current track, and it can help you create your own playlists with accuracy and personality.

Connectivity, streaming, and applications

Rekordbox vs. Serato, Engine DJ, and More! | Gear4music (2)In the modern day, streaming services are the main platform that people share and listen to music on, this means that millions of songs are available at the touch of a screen.

So why shouldn’t this be accessible to DJs? Well, it is! Rekordbox hosts direct playing of music straight from streaming services such as Soundcloud, Beatport, Beatsource, iTunes, and Tidal.

As you can imagine, playing tunes directly from your subscribed streaming service is incredibly convenient and useful for crafting dynamic blends.

What’s more, you can sync your music library across all your devices using Dropbox, and on the latest Rekordbox version, you can choose to synchronise all music files or selected files only.

This means you can keep all your music on a desktop computer with a large SSD and synchronise certain playlists to your DJ control laptop or smart device – you don’t have to fill the storage space on your device with your entire library.

For ultimate flexibility, Rekordbox also provides an app for Android and IOS, meaning you can DJ straight from your mobile device and use it to DJ with Pioneer DJ equipment. This is a fantastic feature of Rekordbox as it allows beginner DJs to get started with very little equipment, and it provides a streamlined and portable solution for DJs on the move to use.

The app is completely free and can be synced from your Dropbox, allowing you to access all your playlists in the palm of your hand.


Rekordbox can provide stem separation to all Pioneer DJ Rekordbox controllers, even to older models. Pioneer DJ’s newer controllers like the DDJ FLX 10 have stems integrated into them, and there are so many dynamic ways you can utilise the separation features. It’s a really creative way to mash up your music!

Older Pioneer DJ controllers can utilise the stems through MIDI mapping. However, Rekordbox stems aren’t as great as Serato stems, which are considered the best by industry professionals.

Effects, sampler, video, and lighting capability

Effects on Rekordbox are easy to use. In fact, they’re similar to the popular Pioneer DJ digital hardware effects featured on most of their high-end hardware. Depending on the equipment you’re using with Rekordbox, you’ll have different controls and built-in hardware effects, but the internal FX on Rekordbox can be used without any hardware.

Utilising the sampler in Rekordbox, you can play samples over your DJ mix. The sampler allows you to assign one-shot samples or loops to performance pads on the controller you’re using, which means you can put drum loops on tracks, add dub sirens, play DJ callouts, or even remix songs entirely.

Another cool feature of Rekordbox is that you can play videos alongside your music, with lyrics and graphics tailored to your set. You can also control lighting elements from your controller or software with the Lightning mode.

Compatibility and requirements

Rekordbox only functions with Pioneer DJ controllers and multimedia players, meaning if you want to switch to a different brand of controller, you’ll need different software to move your Rekordbox music library over to. This could be inconvenient as you may have to reset certain settings and reconfigure your music library to suit your DJ preferences.

To run the latest version of Rekordbox, you need a device that can support Windows 10 or Mac OS 10.15. It takes 4 GB of RAM to play music and 8 GB to play videos alongside audio, it also requires 2GB of local storage, excluding music files.


Rekordbox provides a standalone capability that’s reserved for Pioneer DJ multimedia players and controllers, with ultra-low latency and streamlined performance. It’s a great DJ software that works flawlessly with the equipment it is designed for.

It isn’t the most versatile DJ software, but it offers a great DJ experience for all. And since Pioneer DJ produce arguably the best and most used DJ hardware, Rekordbox can be easily used with most DJ setups.

If you opt for Rekordbox, we recommend the Pioneer DJ DDJ-FLX-10 Controller and the Pioneer DJ XDJ-XZ Hybrid Controller.


Serato was founded in the late ’90s, and, initially, it was conceived to slow down audio without changing its pitch, this was known as Pitch ‘n’ Time.

Fast forward more than 20 years of development and it’s one of the most influential DJ software available to consumers thanks to its dedication to emulating old-school vinyl DJing with DVS.

Serato was one of the first commercially available DVS software types, and it’s the go-to for any turntablists competing in DJ battles.

The software has many different versions for beginner DJs, producers, musicians, and pro turntablists. You can subscribe to either Serato DJ Pro or Serato DJ Suite. Serato DJ is the dedicated DJ control software, with either Pro or Lite versions available.

Serato is ideal for DVS users, DJs who like to use a laptop and a controller, and DJs who like to take their own equipment with them to gigs. Unlike Rekordbox, there’s no Serato-specific hardware, they solely focus on the software, allowing manufacturers to build products around their refined developments.

“What DJ equipment supports Serato?” you ask? You’re probably better off asking what equipment doesn’t support Serato! Serato is even compatible with some MIDI controllers and drum machines, such as Roland’s Boutique TR-08 and TR-09.

DVS and HID modes mean that you can also integrate Serato with turntables, multimedia players, and standalone DJ controllers. Usually, Serato DJ Controllers will be labelled with the Serato logo, but it’s always worth checking before you buy DJ equipment.

Serato is probably the most omnipresent software on the market. Thanks to its user-friendly design, convenient and accurate applications, and wide-ranging compatibility, even DJ brands such as Pioneer DJ, Denon, Numark and Hercules – who all have their own dedicated DJ software – offer Serato-compatible controllers. These include the Rane Four Motorised DJ Controller, the Pioneer DJ DDJ REV7, and the Numark NS4FX.

You can also get Serato-official accessories – DJ and music equipment designed to provide unique Serato integration in addition to their primary functions.

User interface and organisation

Serato boasts a colourful and fresh user interface. It’s basically set the standard for how DJ software should be arranged – and you can edit the layout to your preference. On the bottom left of the software there’s a master menu that allows you to view all storage locations and compatible music applications as well as crates, which are playlists where tracks are displayed in a grid form.

Within crates, the grid view is divided up by song information, and you can customise the columns. You can also edit and lock song information, allowing you to perfect track info and beat grid and save it in case you want to reformat all your music.

Rekordbox vs. Serato, Engine DJ, and More! | Gear4music (4)


As is standard with most DJ software today, Serato can connect to Beatport, Beatsource, Soundcloud, and Tidal. This allows you to find music and improvise during your set. It’s also great for DJs to fulfil requests from audience members (you can’t refuse now, you’ve no excuse) which is useful for event and wedding DJs.

You can even try out brand new tunes that your favourite artist has just released, testing them out against your existing library.

Smart crates

Rekordbox vs. Serato, Engine DJ, and More! | Gear4music (5)Smart crates are a great way to organise your music. All you have to do to create a smart crate is click the dedicated button and provide one or more rules for the playlist. This then fills the playlist with suitable tracks, creating instantly sorted playlists that you can save as normal crates too.


Serato stems is the best stem technology on the market today, and what’s more is that their stem package is included in Serato DJ lite, providing access for everyone.

The stems have an amazing four-part separation: vocal, melody, bass, and percussion. With this, you can flawlessly blend tracks together and create amazing mash-ups. Many Serato controllers have dedicated buttons for stem separation, but you can just as easily do it in the software with a readily available stem section.


If you have modern digital DJ equipment, chances are you can integrate Serato with it thanks to the HID capability.

To operate this function, you need to be able to connect all of the DJ equipment you’re using to your laptop, then connect the decks via USB MIDI and ensure your mixer’s channels are set to receive input from your laptop. This gives you the ability to use Serato dynamically, in any club environment and with any equipment.

Most controllers and decks have controls that automatically MIDI map to functions in Serato when they’re connected. This provides an enhanced hands-on experience of playing with your equipment, while also utilising the awesome software features of Serato.


Serato is considered the king of DVS software. Most scratch DJs use Serato as it’s easy to set up and the control vinyl are well made and readily available. Serato DVS is very low latency, which means you can beat match with perfect accuracy.

You can also play digital tracks as if they were pressed onto real vinyl records, and you can still utilise all the Serato effects and features such as stems. DVS mode also allows you to use other media to control Serato.

Expansion packs and additional features

Rekordbox vs. Serato, Engine DJ, and More! | Gear4music (6)In addition to Serato DJ Pro and Lite, Serato offers a wide range of expansion packs and additional software that you can use to exercise your creativity.

You can get all the DJ expansion packs with Serato DJ Suite, the ultimate subscription option for any Serato DJ user. With this package, you get Serato DJ Pro, Serato Play, Serato FX, Serato Flip, Serato Pitch ’n Time DJ, Serato DJ Club Kit, Serato DVS, and Serato Video.

This is great value for the amount you get at only $14.99 per month, and you can even buy the whole package outright for $449 (excluding conversion rates). In comparison, a Rekordbox Professional subscription fee is £30 p/m and you can’t buy it outright.

Support and community

Serato offers a fantastic range of free tutorials, manuals, and support online for users of their software. There’s also a vast amount of user and community-produced content that you can access to help you navigate the software and troubleshoot problems.

Serato has a forum on its website with a broad range of threads covering related topics, and there are six additional world language discussions you can access. You can also find loads of helpful tutorials on how to set up and use Serato with your existing DJ equipment.

Serato even provides user-created playlists of all different styles for inspiration, and they also list several certified online and physical DJ schools where you can learn how to mix from professionals.


Serato is the clear winner: it provides everything you need, it can be integrated into a wide range of equipment, it’s aesthetically pleasing, it’s user friendly, and it has in-depth navigation controls that allow you to assort your music collection to perfection – so you can spend less time finding tracks and more time mixing exploratively. The only downside to Serato is that there are no players or controllers that explicitly support Serato.

Our recommended Serato controllers are the Roland DJ-202 Controller, the Hercules DJ Control Inpulse T7, and the Pioneer DJ DDJ-REV7 DJ Controller.

Other DJ software to consider

Engine DJ

Rekordbox vs. Serato, Engine DJ, and More! | Gear4music (7)Engine DJ is the primary DJ control software for all modern Denon DJ controllers and players as well as standalone Numark controllers.

With a layout akin to Rekordbox and Serato, Engine DJ provides a smooth and easy user experience with an intuitive UI, Smartlists, and a constant stream of updated versions.

It’s newer than Rekordbox and Serato and has introduced some cutting-edge concepts to the DJ world.

These concepts include stems in standalone controllers with the latest Engine DJ 3.1 update, touch FX that let you change effect parameters on an X/Y axis on your controller’s touchscreen, and forward-thinking library features like track star rating.

It also hosts streaming services such as Beatport Link, Tidal, and SoundCloud, meaning you can connect to the internet and mix tracks from almost-unlimited music libraries.

When Engine DJ is connected to the internet, it automatically updates itself, even in Denon and Numark standalone controllers, which all feature a built-in WIFI chip.

Engine DJ also automatically formats tracks within standalone controllers, so you don’t need to worry about formatting them before you play, and it can even play music formatted in Rekordbox on Engine DJ hardware. This cutting-edge DJ software is a fantastic alternative to Rekordbox and Serato.

Our recommended Engine DJ controllers are the Numark Mixstream Pro + Standalone DJ Controller with Amazon Music, the Denon DJ SC Live 2 Standalone DJ Controller, and the RANE FOUR Four Channel DJ Controller.


DJUCED is a proprietary software designed for Hercules DJ controllers. This user-friendly programme is perfect for beginners as it essentially teaches you how to mix, for example, visual cues in the software and on the controller hint to you when your mix is out of time.

Hercules also offer a fantastic range of DJUCED YouTube tutorial videos that teach you the basics of DJing and, with Hercules DJ academy, you can be sure to pick up the artform in a flash.

Additionally, DJUCED provides more in-depth controls for more experienced DJs, such as FX, sampling, and looping. Combined with the great value Hercules controllers, DJUCED is a great DJ software that will keep you occupied for hours.

For DJUCED, we recommend the Hercules DJ Control Inpulse T7.


Produced by Native Instruments, Traktor is on the same level as Rekordbox and Serato. Despite having a slightly different layout, Traktor still feels very familiar and features a very professional and distinctive native instruments aesthetic.

Traktor also features a popular DVS system and has its own mobile app.

There are different versions available; Traktor Pro 3 is the full version of this and is a lot cheaper than competing brands; Traktor LE 3 is a demo version; and Traktor DJ 2 is a fully free version of the software. This software is perfect for any Native Instruments fans.

Rekordbox vs. Serato, Engine DJ, and More! | Gear4music (8)


Is Rekordbox better than Serato?

Rekordbox is on par with Serato. Serato is the better DJ software for DJing on laptops, and the monthly subscription for Serato DJ Suite is half the price of Rekordbox Professional. However, Rekordbox provides the formatting for most DJ equipment in clubs and boasts features that Serato doesn’t have.

Is Rekordbox or Serato better for beginners?

Both Rekordbox and Serato are suitable for beginners. Serato can operate with many low-budget DJ controllers and offers high-quality features alongside the free version of their software, Serato DJ Lite. Rekordbox is also a great software for beginners, working flawlessly with Pioneer DJ entry-level controllers, and it features its own app you can practise on.

Which DJ software do club DJs use?

Rekordbox is most likely to be used by club DJs as most clubs, bars, and festivals will use Pioneer DJ equipment, which only plays media formatted in Rekordbox. You can easily use Serato in a club, but you must take your own laptop and connect the equipment via HID.

Find out more

Hopefully our article has helped you decide on the right DJ software for you. The Rekordbox vs. Serato battle continues – as every DJ has their own preferences and ways of working, this will inform which software they use. For me, Serato is the best DJ software; it provides everything a DJ needs and can be used with a wider range of equipment than Rekordbox.

However, don’t limit your choices to just these two, there are more out there, such as Engine DJ, a newer software that works with Denon DJ and Numark controllers.

To make sure you hear the best mix possible, why not read out guide to the 11 best DJ headphones?

Rekordbox vs. Serato, Engine DJ, and More! | Gear4music (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Msgr. Refugio Daniel

Last Updated:

Views: 5946

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (54 voted)

Reviews: 93% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Msgr. Refugio Daniel

Birthday: 1999-09-15

Address: 8416 Beatty Center, Derekfort, VA 72092-0500

Phone: +6838967160603

Job: Mining Executive

Hobby: Woodworking, Knitting, Fishing, Coffee roasting, Kayaking, Horseback riding, Kite flying

Introduction: My name is Msgr. Refugio Daniel, I am a fine, precious, encouraging, calm, glamorous, vivacious, friendly person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.