How To Use Serato DJ
If you’re taking the first steps in learning how to DJ, it’s worth getting familiar with Serato DJ. Here, we’ve created an easy to follow video tutorial and accompanying article to help you get started.
Serato DJ is one of many DJ software solutions that allows you to mix music inside the programme, meaning you can use it to DJ and mix tracks together without any hardware.
Once you’ve learnt how to DJ on a laptop, Serato is also compatible with DJ controllers and CDJs, allowing you to seamlessly step up to the next level.
In the following tutorial, we cover how to DJ on a laptop using Serato, how to connect Serato to CDJs and finally, how to record your first mix with Serato.
What's The Difference Between Serato DJ & Serato DJ Lite?
Serato DJ Lite is intended as an entry-level DJ software so if you’re a beginner learning how to DJ, it’s worth getting to grips with it before upgrading to Serato DJ Pro.
Once you’ve mastered the free Lite version and you’re ready to move on, you’ll find that Serato DJ Pro has a lot more tools and advanced features for you to explore, although it does cost around $100.
What Equipment Do You Need With Serato DJ?
You do not need a controller to use Serato. With Serato DJ, you can learn to DJ with just a computer or laptop. All you have to do is download the software which is free to do, making Serato suitable for beginners who aren't quite ready to invest.
How To Organise Music In Serato
By default, Serato will only display the music that's been added to its library. Music can be added to the library in one of two ways:
- The first involves browsing to a folder and dragging it into the Serato interface. Doing so will add all of the files contained within that folder to your library.
- The second way involves dragging a file or folder from a file browser directly into the Serato interface. Doing this also adds all of the files contained within that folder to your library.
In addition, you can create custom folders within Serato’s interface by clicking on the ‘+' icon next to ‘All Files'. You can add music to these folders by dragging them from your library and dropping them in place.
How To Beat Match On Serato
To begin beatmatching, start with a track on the left deck and one on the right deck. After loading music onto both decks you’ll need to set the key of each track.
With both keys set, use the tempo sliders to match the BPMs of the two tracks. In order to properly beatmatch, it is crucial that you are able to determine which beat is “1” on each track. Find this by listening carefully to each track and picking out where the first drum hit lands in relation to each beat before it. This can be tricky at first, but after several hours of practice you will be able to do this instinctively.
Once you are certain that both tracks are playing at the same tempo and that they both have their beats properly aligned, you will be able to start mixing them together. Use the crossfader to gradually fade from one deck into the other while making small adjustments with the pitch faders if needed.
How To Setup Serato With A DJ Controller OR CDJs
As well as being able to DJ inside the software itself, you can easily use Serato with Pioneer CDJs or any DJ controller. If you want to take your DJing to the next level, it’s worth booking one of Pirate's DJ studios and testing your skills on industry-standard equipment.
CDJs and most modern controllers have a USB connection and will simply plug into an available USB port on your computer. Once your controller is plugged in, turn it on and open Serato DJ. The software will automatically detect that you have plugged in a supported device and that it has been connected properly.
How To Record Your First Mix On CDJs With Serato
You can’t record a mix using just Serato DJ Lite. However, you can when you upgrade to the Pro version. Serato DJ Pro has a built-in recorder and offers two recording options, Record and Record with Effects.
Record saves your mix in an uncompressed audio format, while Record with Effects encodes your mix with the effects you've used in Serato DJ Pro.
You can record your mix by following the below steps:
Step 1 - To record your mix, first make sure you have the correct input and output settings selected. You can find these under the 'Setup' menu.
Step 2 - Make sure you have either a turntable, CDJ or XDJ connected and set to Internal mode (if applicable), as well as headphones connected to your computer.
Step 3 - Open the Recording panel by clicking on the button near the top-right corner of Serato DJ Pro's interface (the one that looks like a circle with a dot inside it).
Step 4 - Select the folder where you'd like to save your mix by clicking on the 'Choose' button under 'Location'.
Step 5 - Choose whether or not you'd like to include track markers in your mix by selecting the 'Include Track Markers' check box. This is useful if you want to jump to specific tracks later on while listening to your recorded mix.
Step 6 - Select whether or not you'd like to add effects to your mix by choosing either 'Record' or 'Record with Effects' from the drop-down menu next to Mode.
Step 7 - Finally, click 'Start' and begin playing music through Serato.
Once you've recorded your set, you can then save the recording as an MP3 file and upload it to SoundCloud for sharing with others.
The only drawback to Serato as a DJ software provider is that Serato DJ Pro doesn’t offer any sort of free plan and Serato Lite quickly becomes too basic as you progress from beginner to intermediate.
However, the only way to find out if it's for you is to download Serato and have a go.