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DJ.studio vs Serato - Which DJ tool is Better?

Serato is a cherished piece of live performance DJ mixing software, while DJ.Studio is a revolutionary new tool that changes the way DJs work - making their lives a whole lot easier.

In this guide, I'll be comparing Serato with DJ.Studio, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of each software, and explaining in which situation they perform the best.

In general, the new timeline-based system offered by DJ.Studio makes a huge improvement to the workflow that DJs have at their hands.

This comparison will reveal the full details of how DJ.Studio can change the lives of anybody who needs to produce a long set of music.

TL;DR DJ.Studio vs. Serato#

  • Best for live performance = Serato

  • Best for studio, radio, and non-live use = DJ.Studio

DJ.Studio vs Serato

DJ.Studio vs Serato - DJ Software Overview#

To start with, let's have a brief overview of these two pieces of software for DJs.

Serato#

Serato

Serato is a long-standing favorite in the DJ community - particularly for scratch DJs and those who like to experiment with effects and make quick transitions, and DJ remixes.

Serato uses a traditional decks and mixer simulation type interface, that will be familiar to anybody who's worked with physical DJ mixers or other DJ hardware before.

It's worth noting that this comparison focusses on Serato DJ Lite or Serato DJ Pro. It's not about Serato Studio, which is designed as a more serious and professional DAW for remixers and music production, rather than DJing - similar to FL studio, logic, and Ableton Live. The Serato Studio Software includes things like drum kits, audio samples, and virtual instruments, which are not so useful for DJs. This is useful if you want to make your own music though.

The difference between Serato Pro and Lite is that Lite has a more limited feature set, and is better suited to new DJs than professionals.

DJ.Studio#

DJ.Studio Carousel View

DJ.Studio is a more modern and unique take on DJ software.

Rather than using the traditional mixer and decks system, DJ.Studio revolves around a timeline - similar to the type of system you see in a digital audio workstation.

As explained below, this method has a bunch of advantages over the traditional software systems, which in this case have been fully maximized in the design of DJ.Studio.

DJ.Studio also offers a bunch of other features which are custom-made to accelerate the workflow process for DJs, radio hosts, and other people who need to make full-length mixes quickly.

The Advantages of Using DJ.Studio#

Comparing the functionality of these two systems, timeline software like DJ Studio has a range of advantages over the traditional type of live performance tools.

When you compare the systems and workflows offered by these two different types of DJ software, you can really see where certain advantages come to the foreground.

DJ mixing software that uses the traditional live approach like Serato, rekordbox, Traktor, and Virtual DJ, offers a great workflow for DJs who need to perform DJ sets live, in real-time - perhaps in front of a live audience at a nightclub, or a live radio show.

In comparison, DJ.Studio and its timeline-based system can make the lives of these audio producers much easier. For one, it means that you don't have to physically record the mix live. So rather than having to spend an hour recording an hour set, you can put all the pieces together much faster, and export the tracks as a single recording at over 5 times real-time speed.

Recording in DJ.Studio

This means you could record an hour set in around four minutes - rather than the full hour it would take to record with live software. This doesn't take into account any extra time wasted if you made mistakes while recording your mix live. If you're recording live and you make mistakes you have to either go back and rerecord the transitions and mixes, or edit the mistakes out in recording software which just adds more time to the production process.

Even in some situations DJ.Studio has useful features which go hand in hand with live performance software, for example, the ability to make mini-mixes and DJ edits very quickly.

Many of the other advantages of DJ.Studio becomes obvious when you look at the features it offers, such as automixing and transition editors - these will be explained in full later on.

One noticeable advantage is the level of creativity you can express in DJ.Studio's timeline editor. Particularly in transitions, for example, there's only so much you can do when mixing in real time with two hands on a DJ controller. You can only twist two knobs at the same time - however, with DJ.Studio you can edit all the parameters simultaneously in the timeline, including EQ volume filters effects. This makes it easier to achieve very high-quality transitions with minimal effort - improving the final sound quality of your mix.

DJ.Studio Transitions advanced

This means you can create much more advanced and interesting transitions using DJ.Studio that otherwise you wouldn't be able to do with traditional mixing software.

Serato vs DJ.Studio Feature Comparison#

Now let's take a look at the features of each of these programs in more detail, making a comparison between the two.

Controls and Mixing Interface#

Both of these programs use a different user interface and control system, based on the style and intentions of the software.

Serato Controls and Interface

Serato interface

Serato uses a very familiar mixing interface.

Anybody who's used DJ software or hardware will recognize this style of control display. It's designed to be best used by live performance DJs who need to mix in real time.

Serato's interface is built around two virtual decks and a mixer with effects, and the library management system.

The decks feature all the typical controls a DJ would need, including play, pause, cue, and a tempo slider for changing the BPM. The library management system lets you organize and select songs to play in the virtual decks.

There is also part of the interface which shows you the waveforms of the audio tracks currently loaded. This helps you to see any different sections of the song and also highlights the frequency spectrum making it easier for you to identify a certain layer of the track. You can also add and manage cue points, which makes it easy to jump around tracks.

The interface is controlled with a keyboard and mouse, or more typically it's recommended to use this type of software with a controller.

You can find many different MIDI controllers which interface with the software and let you control it as if you are using real decks.

Serato hardware

Another slightly unique feature of the Serato system is its ability to use a digital vinyl system. These are cool pieces of technology that simulate the vinyl mixing experience, although they do not have a one-to-one feeling as you get with vinyl.

You can also load up loops, fx, and beats to layer into an audio track through tools in the user interface.

This almost makes Serato a hybrid tool for music production, although Serato fails to have all the features needed to create a whole track from scratch.

Unlike other software, a unique feature of Serato Pro is the stem separator, which is a powerful audio algorithm for splitting out parts of tracks, like the vocals or drum patterns.

DJ.Studio Controls and Interface

DJ.Studio's controls and interface are drastically different from Serato's. Rather than being built around a traditional decks and mixer system, DJ.Studio uses a timeline view. This is designed in a similar way to most digital audio workstations. However, it has been upgraded with a bunch of features and controls which makes it much more suitable for DJs to use, rather than music producers who are the typical audience for this kind of software.

The interface is split into 4 main sections

Projects
DJ.Studio Home

The project window is where you can manage all your DJ studio projects. This lets you open your projects. It also lets you back up projects to a downloadable folder. This saves your project to a single folder containing all the tracks and information to automatically recreate your mix on another machine.

Library

The library sec

DJ.Studio Library

tion is where you manage all your music within DJ.Studio. You can import music from a wide range of sources.

Firstly you can import any web or MP3 files from your computer.

You can also import music from a range of other DJ software including rekordbox, Traktor, Serato, Mixed In Key, and others.

One revolutionary feature of DJ.Studio's library is the ability to import music from streaming services such as Spotify or YouTube. If you import videos from YouTube it also even plays the video in the interface.

Another cool feature of the library is that it automatically shows you the key and BPM of every track you imported, with high-quality analysis. This also shows you how well your tracks connect to each other based on their key with regard to harmonic mixing.

Studio View

The studio view is the main working interface for DJ.Studio. This is where you function the arrangement of your tracks, you can move them around and sequence them as you please. And this is also where you apply any effects and transitions to mix between tracks. This window in itself is split into multiple sections

Inside Studio View, there are 4 sub-panels - Playlist, Track, Transition, and Analyze
Playlist View

The playlist window shows you all the tracks that you imported into this particular DJ studio project. From here you can easily rearrange the order of your playlist, which will then update the sequencing in the timeline automatically. In the playlist view you'll also see what kind of energy change the transition will create as you move from song to song - this is based on harmonic mixing concepts like the camera wheel and the DJ studio energy table.

Track View

The track window shows you basic information about the track. This includes details like the name of the artist and the track as well as the BPM. This window also lets you tweak the properties of the track using basic controls to adjust the pitch and registered BPM of the track.

Transition View
DJ.Studio Transition Editor

The transition window lets you easily select the type of transition you want in-between songs. Simply click on the space where two tracks overlap and then select some of the transition types. You can use any combination of transitions you desire, which gives you a huge range of creative options for transitions that otherwise wouldn't be possible with standard mixing software.

Analyze View

Finally, the analyze window shows you the different information which is used to analyze the tracks. The prevalence of each note and the density of harmonics which in turn is where the analysis algorithm determines the track key.

Ease of use and Workflow#

By looking at the workflows of each of these DJ tools, you get an easy view of how each software differs and the situations where one may be more suitable than the other. It also reveals some advantages to the workflow of DJ.Studio for non-real-time uses, where it shortens the production process massively.

Serato's Workflow#

Seratos workflow will be familiar to anybody who has worked with DJ mixers, controllers, and decks before - it uses a very similar workflow.

  1. First, the DJ imports music into Serato to create their overall music library. You can also stream tracks from certain platforms in real-time, like Beatsource, Beatport, SoundCloud, or Tidal.

  2. Then they can make separate folders within the library to catalog their collection, they can also make folders to make custom playlists and categories.

  3. Next, they select a track and load it into one of the virtual decks, and hit play.

  4. Next, you load a second track into the second deck and then beat-match it to the first track either using the auto-sync feature or manually beat-matching it.

  5. When the time is right, the DJ then brings up the volume for the second track to mix it in, while fading out the volume of the first track, and fiddling with any additional controls and effects they want to make the transition.

  6. This process is then repeated as long as necessary, depending on the situation the DJ is mixing in.

  7. If they need to record their set, then they can do so by simply hitting the record button at the start of their performance. However, if they make any mistakes they would have to go and edit this out. Also, this takes the same amount of time to create the mix, and it has to be done in one fluid take.

DJ.Studio's Workflow#

DJ.Studios workflow is completely different from Serato for the most part. Looking at this workflow you can see where the real differences are.

  1. First, you import music into the library at DJ.Studio. It's worth noting that DJ.Studio offers a much larger range of sources to import your music from.

  2. Once the music is imported you create a playlist or set list where you select all the music you need or want to play in your particular set.

  3. Once you've chosen the songs for your DJ set you simply hit the automix button which starts the mixing process.

  4. From here you'll be able to choose whether the auto mix algorithm is focusing on the BPM or the keys of tracks. When you choose the preference and hit automix, do you just studio will automatically choose an arrangement and order of the songs in the most optimal manner. It will scan through potentially millions of potential orders to find the best arrangement.

    DJ.Studio Automix Screen
  5. Now you'll be taken over to the timeline view where you'll see all of your tracks laid out in order with some basic transitions automatically made for them.

  6. Next, all you need to do is fine-tune the transitions and arrangement of your mix.

  7. When you are happy with the arrangement and transitions of your mix, all you need to do is record and export the set. There are a few different places where you can export the project to come including as an able to multitrack file which is the best choice if you want to add voiceovers or radio effects and jingles.

  8. When it comes to recording the mix DJ.Studio automatically renders it down to a single file at around 5 times real speed. This saves a huge amount of time that you would have to spend manually recording a DJ set if you doing it live, meaning it takes around 6 minutes to render an hour-long mix.

Final Verdict#

Best for live performance = Serato

Best for studio, radio, and non-live use = DJ.Studio

As you can see both pieces of software have advantages and ideal scenarios in which they can be used.

Serato would be the best choice for anybody who needed to perform a mix live, for example in a club or party. Whereas DJ.Studio is the best choice for almost any other situation where there's no requirement for a live performance.

DJ studio can be a massively powerful tool for anybody who needs to produce radio full-length mixes. It can be a massive time saver for people working in radio, or people who work in fitness studios and need to create mixtapes for their classes. It's also ideal for venues and events where seamless background music is needed.

One of the best uses for DJ.Studio is for people who just want to create mixes to share online or with their friends. It's super easy to upload your mix to streaming platforms and you can create a much more interesting and expressive mix than if you use a traditional live mixing software like Serato. Try it out today!

Noah Feasey-Kemp
DJ/Producer
I started DJing when I was 15. Started a record label, residency by a club in Bristol. I’ve played at all the biggest clubs in Bristol (and the small ones) and have entertained thousands of dancers! I love writing about music, DJing, and technology. I've been blogging for DJ.Studio since the start of the project, and am always happy to answer questions and help fellow DJs out!

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