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There are many DJ software packages to choose from, and we have covered most of them here on DjTechZone.
Last time we looked at how Serato DJ and Rekordbox DJ compare, in this article we compare two very popular DJ software packages in 2017: Traktor Pro from Native Instruments and Algoriddim’s djay Pro. We look to find out which one of the two, Traktor Pro or djay Pro, is the best.
Traktor Pro by Native Instruments has been around for a long while, and over the years updates have been few and far in between. At the time of this writing, Traktor Pro is at version 2.11, with a 3.0 version rumored for years. That being said, Traktor Pro is the software of choice for many top DJ’s. It supports a vast range of midi controllers and media players, both from Native Instruments as from third gear manufacturers.
djay Pro has its origins in MacOS and IOS. There are different flavors for different platforms (IOS, Android, Mac, and PC) but in this article, we will focus on the desktop version, recently made available for Windows 10. djay Pro also has video support but lack, for example, DVS support.
Let’s match them up!
ROUND 1: The Interface
Traktor Pro’s interface is a serious affair. It is focused and to the point. The decks are clearly laid out and the library management part is easy to understand and use. Things change a little bit once you venture into the settings.
Traktor Pro is highly customizable and once you find your way around it’s workable, but on first sight, it’s easy to get confused.
The interface can become cluttered when using stems or remix decks, but it you are really into that, it’s recommended to get a Traktor Kontrol controller, preferably one with built-in screens, for example the Traktor Kontrol S5, which makes working with these advanced features easier and more practical.
There is support for up to 4 decks, which makes the library almost disappear when on a small screen. But that is the case with most Dj software, showing a lot of information on a small screen has its limits.
djay Pro’s interface is very pleasing to the eye. It looks flat & uncluttered, and specific modules can be called up when necessary. For example, the effects section slides open in a very smart way when needed. The library management part is very nicely designed as well, with a clear indication if you are browsing files, your iTunes library or even Spotify.
You can choose between horizontal or vertical waveforms, and up to 4 decks can be active at any given time. As with all DJ software, the bigger the screen, the better, but djay Pro does look pretty OK on a small screen, as long as you don’t activate all the features at once.
Winner: djay Pro
ROUND 2: Features & Functionalities
Traktor Pro is a very complete in every way. The Effects in Traktor Pro are very high quality and a favorite among many DJs. It also has Remix decks, a deck mode that allows loading of sample packs in a structured and layered way. Using a controller such as the Native Instruments F1 you can then launch your samples in sync and create entire tracks from them.
Traktor Pro also supports Stems, a multi-track audio format. Using, for example, a controller like the Traktor Kontrol S8, you can manipulate up to 4 channels of individual tracks within 1 track. There is also integration with Ableton Link, allowing easy sync up with other devices running Link. Lastly, in version 2.11 Native introduced a step sequencer for the remix decks, pushing Traktor Pro further into the production realm.
Traktor Pro also support DVS and using compatible gear, you can use traditional turntables, media players, and mixers to play while still using your laptop running Traktor Pro as the control software.
djay Pro is not at the same level feature-wise. It does have a video plugin available and the Mac version has plug & play with the CDJ-2000NXS/CDJ-2000NXS2, but it lacks DVS support, and that is a key feature that many professional DJ’s look for in DJ software.
Apart from that, djay Pro does have a lot of onboard features. It offers support for up to 4 channels, stacked waveforms (horizontally or vertically), an FX module (which comes with a few basic effects and more at an extra cost). It also has, obviously, all the basic features, such as hot cues, loops, loop rolls…
A very strong point of djay Pro is its deep integration with iTunes. If you use iTunes to manage your music library, you will find djay Pro really easy to use. djay Pro feels like an extension of iTunes in some ways, while in other DJ software iTunes is just another music source. djay Pro also integrates perfectly with Spotify, and that integration feels much smoother than Serato DJ’s with Pulselocker.
Overall, the feeling is that Traktor Pro is the professional workhorse for DJ’s that don’t care too much about how “easy” something is to use versus djay Pro that is more limited in functionality but everything feels smooth and easy to work with. I would say that djay Pro is much more consumer-oriented, in a good way. You should be using it in minutes without any prior knowledge.
But the objective of DJ software is not only to be pretty but offer the functionality a DJ to its job, and that is something that Traktor Pro does better, notably by offering DVS support.
Winner: Traktor Pro
Round 3: Stability
Let’s make it clear from the start: both Traktor Pro and djay Pro are very stable DJ applications. Traktor Pro has been around for a long time and “road tested” by thousands of DJs, djay Pro has been engineered to be rock solid on Mac, PC, IOS, and Android and that shows when using it.
In all my gigs that I have done over the years with one or the other, I have never had any issues, and I don’t have the latest laptop (Apple MacBook Pro 12 inch late 2011).
Round 4: DJ Gear Compatibility
A few years ago hardware manufacturers made specific DJ controllers for Traktor Pro, a notable example of that is the Pioneer DDJ-T1.
These days the Traktor logo only appears on Traktor Pro in-house DJ controllers. For other DJ controllers, it is possible to use third-party mappings. While third-party mappings usually work great, they are bound to break at one point.
If Traktor Pro is upgraded to a new version, the mapping will need to be brought up to date by the third party provider. If not, some new (and maybe even old) functionality will no longer function. And faulty gear is the last thing you want as a DJ, isn’t it?
If you want to use Traktor Pro to its full potential, the best thing to do is to go with one of Native Instruments dedicated DJ controllers. There is something there for everyone’s taste, from a basic two-channel controller like the Traktor Pro S2 to the top of the line Traktor Pro S8.
Traktor Pro supports HID mode for high-end gear such as the Pioneer CDJ-2000NXS2, allowing the CDJ to act as a DJ controller for Traktor Pro.
Finally, DVS is supported as well, natively through a certified mixer such as the DJM-900NXS2, or using a Traktor Pro certified audio interface.
djay Pro, being much more actively developed than Traktor Pro, is compatible with a long list of DJ controllers, including most of the Pioneer CDJ/XDJ line of media players. The difference with the support through third-party midi-mappings that Traktor Pro offers is that djay Pro natively supports these controllers and Algoriddim makes sure, from version to version, that the mappings stay up to date.
On the other hand, djay Pro has no DVS support so far, meaning that you cannot use a regular club mixer + turntables setup to DJ from your laptop.
Round 5: Price
Traktor Pro costs USD 99. This is competitive pricing for top of the shelf DJ software. If you want DVS compatibility you need an audio interface and control vinyl, which comes at a separate price. 99 dollars is not a lot of money for all the features & functionalities you get with Traktor Pro, but keep in mind that the best way to use Traktor Pro is to pair it with a Native Instruments controller, which can be pricey (the S8 costs around USD 1.500).
djay Pro is even cheaper, costing as little as USD 49.99. For that price, you get fewer features than what you get in Traktor Pro, but a larger list of DJ controllers are supported natively.
So while djay Pro is cheaper, my feeling is that you get more for your money when buying Traktor Pro. Stems, Remix decks, professional effects (those in djay Pro are inferior), Ableton link, a step sequencer… That’s a lot for less than 100 USD.
And the winner is…
djay Pro is a very strong contender, and the fact it can be actually matched up to Traktor Pro says it all. But Traktor Pro is, even if it’s starting to age in some areas, still one of the most professional DJ software packages on the market.
I’m sure djay Pro will continue to evolve and expand. Let’s not forget they are evolving different platforms at the same time (djay Pro for IOS, Android, MacOS, and Windows) so that is an extra challenge they are coping very well with.
If you want to check out how the most popular packages compare, check out our article on what software and hardware to choose as a beginner DJ.
So what about you? Do you prefer Traktor Pro or djay Pro? Are you starting out and still unsure where to go after reading this post? Comment below and other readers might be able to help as well!