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Traktor vs. Serato Intro

There has been a large debate on this topic, hundreds of posts on the internet of different DJs with different opinions on what is the better option, Serato (a.k.a Serato Scratch Live) or Traktor (a.k.a. Traktor Pro). Iíve always been curious as to which is better therefore I have approached it from the perspective of someone getting their first set up or perhaps someone who’s used either for some time and was considering making the switch.†Iíll be looking at two different setups, first the Trakor Kontrol S4 with its native software, and second Iíll discuss using a Serato Scratch Live box (with any basic mixer, two turntables, or CDJs). The main points I will be looking at are: price, sturdiness, workflow, turntabalism, effects, creativity and music organization.

Traktor vs. Serato: Price

Letís start with the bottom line. Whether youíre starting out and looking for your first setup, or a weathered veteran considering making the switch, you’re going to want to know what you’re committing to.The Traktor Kontrol S4 is about 899$-999$, depending on where you get it. This comes with everything youíll need to pull it out of the box and get it up and running. Although Traktor requires some driver setup on both mac’s and pc’s itís still fairly straightforward to get up and running quickly.

Grabbing a Serato setup varies a bit more, depending on what exactly you† are looking for and what youíre comfortable spending. For the newest Scratch Live box it costs around 899$. You can grab an older model of box, both the SL 2 and SL 3 boxes are cheaper, the SL 2 comes in at 499$. But this is your box, youíll also need to purchase a mixer and decks. If you want to go for low price you can find pretty cheap used setups and the way I would recommend is grabbing some older pioneer CDJs say 400s or 200s with a good 2 channel mixer off craigslist for a couple hundred dollars. A simple setup like this is not only a good base to learn but will also give you the know how to walk into a club and have a good understanding of how higher end gear works. If you want to go and buy a higher end setup it will obviously cost you much more.

What would I recommend in terms of a good price? If youíre looking for something out of the box and a reasonably priced I would completely go for the Traktor Kontrol S4, itís price tag of 899$ isnít too crazy, especially with it being the tried and true controller that it is. Itís also easy to find and get running. Itís a great way to get learning and is more than capable of handling itself in a nightclub. However, if†youíre comfortable paying a higher price, donít rule out the Serato either, a Scratch Live box with with a mixer and pair of decks is a great way to learn and leaves room to upgrade your gear later. Since you can get different kinds of CDJs or even turntables it also leaves you room to buy gear more to your style of music and playing.

(Note any hard prices I listed are from Amazon.com)

Traktor vs. Serato: Sturdiness

This is a tough choice. If youíve ever seen a Serato Scratch Live box it is rock solid, itís got a bit of weight to it and itís cased in metal. If you’re playing somewhere other than your home you’re going to be carrying your Serato Box and laptop in a bag; because of it’s small size and light weight it is convenient to carry. Iíve heard cases of the box usb dropping, and have myself had a broken box where one of the lines was loose inside the box causing some problems, I might be unlucky but otherwise Iíve had no problems with it.

The S4 although with a lot of plastic components still feels like a very solid build. The knobs are heavy and well built, and the faders are fairly solid in design as well. Itís built very well for a controller, however is still less durable than other DJ setups like the Serato Scratch live box. Iíd still transport the Traktor Kontrol S4 in a flight case but Iím sure it could take a drop or two.

Overall Iíd have to say Serato is the better way to go because of the solid build and ease of transport, but if youíre set on an S4 I wouldnít let this turn you off it.

Traktor vs. Serato: Workflow†

Workflow is in my† personal opinion the biggest separator between the two products. I started DJing with Traktor, moved over to Serato and itís what I use on a nightly basis but Iíve also spent some time on the S4 and using the newer version of Traktor and the workflow has always been something that has stood out to me.

I have always found the workflow in Serato much easier. I have to note that I think the Kontrol S4 has taken steps for an easier Workflow in two ways. I think the sample decks have added a lot to being able to mix quickly and get sections of songs like acapellas into the mix easy, as well as having some library controls on the S4. That being said Serato still feels worlds easier. If I have a pre set up routine, loading the next song is fast and easy in Serato. I could run through a routine with many tracks in it, barely touching or looking at my computer and being able to focus on what Iím doing. This is the most desirable thing to me, and is what really keeps me personally using Serato.† That being said the workflow in Traktor software is still very solid. Iíve found that genres that have long mixes, say house or trance the Traktor workflow is much better suited.

Traktor vs. Serato:Turntablism

This is hands down Serato. You canít comfortably scratch well on the Kontrol S4, the crossfader is pretty long and feels a little flimsy and inaccurate for the purpose of scratching also the jog wheels are too small and nowhere near as comfortable as using even old model CDJs. If you want to learn to scratch get a pair of turntables and Serato, you won’t regret it. Youíll also save yourself a lot of teeth grinding trying to nail down simple scratching on the S4, it isnít designed with turntablism in mind (Which is okay).

Traktor vs. Serato: Effects

The effects on the Native Instruments’ Traktor software has always been something that appealed to me. There is an extremely wide range of effects in the Traktor software all of which sound extremely rich and well designed. There’s enough there for you to spend hours messing about and finding something that sounds good to you.

Furthermore there are a lot of very interesting and creative Traktor mappings on the Kontrol S4 with effects mapped to the jog wheels and the like, to make the possibilities of how you use effects even greater.

So whatís the problem with effects in Serato? Iíve tried to make use of the effects in Serato but I think they simply donít sound as good and they’re not easy to use. The effects in Traktor sound better but also you can control the way they sound more with many of the effects and their are even knobs mapped to this on the S4 by default. Nevertheless, Serato Scratch Live has recently made some changes to their effects†algorithms†therefore things might change in the near future.

Traktor vs. Serato: Getting Creative with it

This depends on what kind of music you like. Each offers measures to get creative for what their built for.

The Kontrol S4 is great for electronic music, I liked playing house on it a lot but Iíve seen it hold up great for other genres as well. The custom mappings, 4 decks and wide use of effects make playing electro, house or dubstep easy, smooth sounding and a lot of fun. The ability to auto sync leaves you more room to get creative with what youíre doing as well.

On the other hand for hip hop or top 40 centered DJ’s Serato again provides a smoother workflow for quick mixing tracks and of course scratching is worlds easier using nearly any Serato setup compared to using an S4. So if this is your cup of tea I would lean towards Serato.

Traktor vs. Serato: Music Organization

This is something I feel compelled to mention. I didnít get a lot of a chance to work with the music organization in Traktor. This is because I organize all my music in iTunes, I have to because Seratoís crates are so painful to work with itís easier using iTunes. Seratoís crates donít have links to your tracks, so if you move them around at all on your computer you have to re-add them to the crate. This can lead to some scary missing tracks sometimes if you’re playing live.

So although I canít take a strong opinion on Traktorís organization I can say that Seratoís crate system can be a bit of a pain if you choose to use it.

In Conclusion†

If you are looking to learn, or donít want to commit a large amount of money that a more expensive Serato setup might cost, the Kontrol S4 is the way to go. Itís rock solid and provides a great platform to learn on. The software give you a bit more in terms of bells and whistles and their mapped out to work very intuitively on the S4.

That being said take a second to consider Serato, if you can put up the money for a more expensive set up itís very solid, and incredibly simple to use. The one big difference between the two software is that Serato comes with less bells and whistles. Serato really is the best at getting your music from your computer to your decks, itís simple and this is something very appealing to me. If you want to work inside your software more Traktors a great fit. I find that there’s more in it but at the cost of being more complicated to work with.

If you want to learn more about DJ’ing and gear we highly recommend you check out our online DJ School Spin Academy.

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