Unlike in the past when DJs spun vinyl on a pair of turntables, nowadays, it’s all about digital – and there are many different ways of DJing. If you use DJ players or an all-in-one DJ system, you don’t need software, but for controller or laptop DJs, it’s an essential part of your setup.
For professional DJs who make their living playing music, a paid-up software package is an option, but for hobbyists and bedroom DJs, paying a monthly subscription may be off-limits – so in this post, I answer the question, what is the best free DJ software?
The Best Free DJ Software of 2020
When it comes to free DJ software, Mixxx is one of the originals – and is arguably still one of the best. It’s an open-source mixing platform that offers plenty of versatility, allowing you to adapt it to your way of playing.
It has a highly intuitive interface, with the full mixer including crossfader, channel faders, EQs and more all displayed on your screen.
You can use it purely for laptop DJing, but it has also been mapped to a huge range of hardware, so the chances are that if you own a controller, it will be compatible with Mixxx.
There are also plenty of features of the kind you need for creative DJing, including a four-deck option, looping, BPM detection and key detection, allowing you to do all the stuff you would on more expensive gear.
Importantly, it also allows you to record your mixes, allowing you to listen back to your performance after you’ve finished playing.
There’s also an auto-DJ feature if you just want to put some music on at a party but nobody feels like playing.
I’ve got a soft spot for Mixxx because it was one of the first pieces of DJ software I ever played on. It’s fun to use and easy to pick up, and if you’re looking for advanced DJ software but don’t want to pay, Mixxx should be one of your first ports of call.
To see how it works, check out this video of a YouTuber’s first mix on Mixxx.
2. Serato DJ Lite
Serato DJ is recognized as being one of the world’s top DJing software packages and is used by some of the biggest names in the scene. However, you have to pay a monthly subscription for the full version or a large flat fee – which might put some hobbyists or beginners off.
Fortunately, there is a free version that allows you to use the most important basic features without paying a thing.
Serato DJ Lite was launched in 2018 to replace Serato’s previous free DJing software, Serato Intro, and it features an upgraded interface and improved usability.
Of course, it lacks many of the advantages you find in the full version – for me, the fact that you can’t record mixes is the biggest drawback – but if you want to try the full version, there’s a free 30-day trial that allows you to decide whether it’s worth upgrading.
This is a solid option for novice DJs who are just learning the craft. You get to practice on one of the most famous pieces of DJ software available, and when you’re ready to upgrade, you’ll already know the layout, so there won’t be a learning curve as you transition to new software.
If you know you are likely to be upgrading in the future and don’t plan to remain a bedroom DJ forever, Serato is the software I recommend.
If you want a more in-depth look at Serato Lite, check out this video.
3. Cross DJ Free
Cross DJ Free is a fun way for beginners to try out DJing for the first time – and also for more advanced DJs to keep developing their skills on the decks.
I like the simple and intuitive interface this software offers. To anyone with even the vaguest idea about how DJing works, everything is easy to find and simple to master.
This software offers the possibility of four-deck mixing, and there are all the standard features you would expect to find, including loops, scratching, effects and more. I also like the way it incorporates hot cues, just like you have on physical DJ controllers or players.
If you just want to have fun mixing without spending years mastering the craft, there’s a sync button that will get your tracks in time, leaving you to concentrate on the transition.
One thing this software offers that not all the competitors have is video-DJing capability. This means you can also have a go at mixing videos, something that makes this option stand out from the crowd.
If you want to live-stream your mix, this software is also a good choice, and when you learn all the features and are ready for more, there’s a paid upgrade too, making this another option that’s worth checking out.
4. Zulu DJ
If you’re looking for a basic DJ software package that is aimed at beginners and is completely free, Zulu DJ should be on your radar.
One of the big selling points is the super-simple layout that anyone will be able to understand, allowing you to start playing music and mixing tunes right away.
There’s a beat sync feature, so you don’t need to waste time getting the tracks in time manually with the tempo control. This means you can get right into the transitions, blending your tracks and building your set.
As well as your basic crossfader, there are also low, mid and hi EQs, letting you attempt some slightly more advanced mixing techniques. You can also record what you do, so you can listen back later or even put your mix online.
Ok, sure, this is not one for more advanced DJs – this is aimed squarely at the kind of person who just wants to play around with a bit of music without spending any money. But if that sounds like what you’re looking for, Zulu DJ is ideal.
UltraMixer is a professional-quality software package that’s worth a look for anyone who wants something basic to begin with but who might be interested in upgrading to a paid version later.
This software is compatible with both Windows and Mac and includes all the features you need to learn the fundamentals of the art of DJing.
One advantage here is that, while this software can be controlled using only your mouse and keyboard, it’s also compatible with a range of over 50 controllers.
Often, people start out DJing on laptops with free software, but the next step is usually to buy a controller to give you a more tactile experience – and with this software, you can take that step without the need to learn a new interface.
Like the best DJ software, this one also boasts a clear layout that’s intuitive and easy to use, meaning you can learn to play on it very quickly.
Other features include a 16-channel sampler and an advanced EQ panel, but on the downside, if you use the free version, you have to reload it every hour, which will limit its practicality if you want to use it for gigs.
However, if you want something will pro-level features that you can learn on for free, this is an option that’s up there with the best.
6. DJ Mix Lite
DJ Mix Lite is an option if you are looking for something that will automatically mix your music for you. You choose the playlist and leave the software to take care of the rest.
Once you’ve chosen the tracks you want the software to play, it analyses the tracks and matches the tempo, seamlessly transitioning between songs for you so you don’t need to worry.
This makes it the perfect option if you are having a party and want a DJ – but don’t actually have a DJ available to play. You don’t need to have someone constantly monitoring the music – the software does the job for you.
This might not be the best pick if you are looking for something that will allow you to have a go at hands-on DJing, but if you want to keep the party jumping – and you want to enjoy yourself too rather than being stuck behind the decks – this software will let you do it.
7. Virtual DJ
One of the top free DJing software options and one that has been around for a long time now is Virtual DJ. Formerly known as Atomix MP3, this software allows you to practice all the basics through the many features it includes.
Among its advantages is a simple and intuitive interface that’s easy to learn. This means that, despite the large number of features it packs in, you won’t have any problem pulling off your mixes as soon as you start using it.
Another plus is the fact that it also supports video DJing, which, as I’ve already mentioned, is not a feature commonly found on standard DJ software, so if you’re interested in experimenting with visuals, this software will let you do it too.
The only thing to bear in mind here is that there are two versions, a free one and a paid one.
As with many other DJ software packages, this allows you to get a feel for the software without paying for it, but if you want the full suite of functions, unfortunately, you will have to put your hand in your pocket.
8. Kra Mixer
Kra Mixer is a basic DJing software package that will allow you to try out the basics of DJing on your laptop without having to buy expensive DJ gear or paying a subscription for a premium software package.
The big selling point here is the fact that the software makes use of the FMOD sound engine that was also used by Xbox and PS2 game designers (yes, this is a little dated now, but this is still a powerful piece of software for what it is).
The DJ software itself includes an auto-BPM matching capability, a range of effects, and headphone cueing, making it ideal if you want a taste of what it’s like to be in charge of the music and in control of a dancefloor.
A word of warning though – it comes bundled with several pieces of spyware, so make sure all your antiviruses are up to date before installing it – and make sure you clean up after uninstalling it, too.
Also, this is only available for Windows, so if you’re a Mac user, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
9. Partycloud Online
Here’s a different option for you. Partycloud online is a cloud-based piece of DJing software that will allow you to mix tracks and rock the dancefloor anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection.
Perhaps the best thing about this is you don’t even need to take your laptop with you to the party to use this software. As long as there’s a computer, you can simply load up the site and have access to its bank of literally millions of songs.
It doesn’t offer much in the way of extra features, but the basics are all there, and the interface is clean and easy to use.
This could be a good option if you wanted to have a computer available for all the guests at your party to have access to the music and be able to select what gets played.
Of course, if you’re looking for serious DJ software that will allow you to mix tunes like a pro, this is not the one – although that’s not what it’s designed for.
Also, since it’s an online program, you probably won’t want to rely on it in situations where a music fail is not an option.
However, for a fun answer to keeping the energy high at a party, this is an top pick.
Lots of options for all your DJ needs
There are lots of solid options out there when it comes to the best free DJ software, and the one you choose will depend on what you need it for. If you are just looking for something that will allow you to blend tunes, most of the options in this roundup will do the job.
However, if you are looking for a truly free DJ software package with plenty of options and compatibility across a range of hardware, Mixxx is my recommendation. On the other hand, if you want an introduction to the art of DJing before moving up, Serato Lite is your best choice.