I have been DJing for quite a long time. I didn’t start with vinyl, but I do know what that is. My initial go around was with CD’s. I lived through the mini-disk micro-era, and now, like most everyone else, I use my laptop.
Through the years I have gone through several phases in which I evaluate my DJ software and try to determine which is best. If I had the skills, I would create my own. I have yet to meet a piece of DJ software that addresses, successfully, every demand I have. Since I am not a software engineer, I have to make sacrifices.
The list below is meant for swing djs. That means, I could care less about mixing and beat matching. As we all know, dead air is a swing djs best friend. This is also not an exhaustive list of options out there for you. If you use something not on this list, let me know below and why you use it.
This list is in no particular order, and I do not receive any financial gain from promotion of these products.
MegaSeg(Mac only, Free trial, $99, $199)
My current software of choice. I love the large playlist and media library areas. Makes for seeing what’s going on really simple. Inherent support for dual outputs (on board sound and USB sound device). Built in preview function, and support for ID3 tags. Including sort options for BPM, Artist, Album, Title, and others. It also supports iTunes playlists.
BPM Studio (PC, 99 – 499 Euro)
My original DJ software. I was forced to change from this to a dual winamp setup after my “extended trial” ended suddenly (as in, 1 day before Camp Hollywood I got caught and had to uninstall) Excellent support for ID3 tags. Multiple channel outputs with playlists for each. The playlist areas weren’t as large as I would have liked.
Winamp (Mac and PC, Free)
I used a dual Winamp setup for years and years. It was easy to use, allowed me to push directly from a windows explorer window. Supported multiple instances (which allows for dual sound output) and I could color each instance separately so I knew which one was pushing to my headphones and which one was pushing to the PA. The downside to this setup is that you aren’t running natively. The dual instances are exactly that, two separate instances of a program. So moving music from one to another wasn’t as fluid as I liked
Tracktor (Mac and PC, Free Trial, $89)
So many buttons, so little time. I tried this software years ago and did not like it at all. This software, to me, feels more appropriate for a professional club DJ than a swing DJ. The bells and whistles are great, when you use them.
DeeJay (mac, $19.99)
This is the new kid on the block. I saw a few DJs with this earlier this year and it looks super slick! Even though you are djing digitally, the album cover that you are playing from shows up on a virtual record player and spins around while it plays. The GUI is great. They even have an iPad app! All these bells and whistles just don’t do it for me though. I need core functions, not glitz and glamour.
Virtual DJ Home (Mac and PC, Free, $329)
I haven’t used this product. By looking at the single screenshot available on the website and the fact that they have several versions above this free one, I would safely say that this is built for a professional club DJ. Lots of video and beat matching options.
PCDJ (Mac and PC, Free Trial)
Man, this software has seen a major update since I last tried it. The screenshots look great…for a club DJ. Again, swing djs dont need all those channels, graphs, pie charts, cross fader options, visualizations and pez dispensers. No verdict on this one.
Jriver Media Center (PC, Free Trial, $49.98)
This looks pretty cool! I know that this was popular several years ago, not sure where it stands now. They have a supped up visual display of your playlists/albums etc.., and with an infinite scroller thingy that looks sweet. But, just because it looks sweet, is it? I don’t know. They claim to play more file formats than anyone else. Which could be a good thing. If you are using a lot of random file formats, or a specific audiofile one, this could be a great place for you to start.
MediaMonkey (Free, or $49.95 for Gold)
If I recall correctly, and I could be easily mistaken, I think Allen Kerr (San Francisco) uses this (or used it). I like the organization and the display from Media Monkey. It removes all the sound effects, visualizations and honestly…crap, from the interface. Playlist, tag, auto updates and syncing between devices. This looks pretty slick. There is a both a free version and a paid gold version with additional options.
Cog (Mac, free)
This is very popular among mac DJs for a couple reasons. It’s free and allows you to use itunes as your second player. It also look just like itunes! The problem I have with it is that, one, you are using itunes, and two while seeing it in action, it crapped out 3 times! Turned out one was a sound driver compatibility issue (never had those on my mac, guess I’m lucky) But seeing that makes me think more than twice about using this. There are people out there who have used this extensively, without problem, so your milage will vary.
Itunes (Mac and PC, free)
This is great for beginning DJs who just play music from memory as to what it sounds like. The biggest problem with iTunes is that you cannot have multiple instances open from it. No music preview for you! This makes it a no go for me.
What software do you use and why? Let everyone know below!