Let’s not mince words: Serato’s DJ offerings had gotten confusing, and updates and compatibility lagged. This week, the company has changed the tune: there’s one Serato to support everything, and it’s coming soon.
For controller users, that means being ready to go in October, thanks to vastly-expanded hardware compatibility. For digital vinyl users, things are still going somewhat slowly, but a beta will be available later this year with stability afterwards and broader support for hardware early next year. That means controller users are likely to switch this fall, with Scratch Live users given a preview and (it seems) more likely to switch next year.
And upgrades will generally be free for those of you who have made an investment in Rane hardware or ITCH controllers, apart from entry-level Serato DJ Intro users. (Serato Video will also work without incident inside the new Serato DJ.)
From Three Products to One, Finally
Fairly recently, there were two versions of Serato from which to choose:
1. Serato Scratch Live: the digital vinyl solution, the one that uses records on a turntable to control software.
2. Serato ITCH: a solution for integrating controller hardware with the computer.
Then, Serato DJ came along to replace them, leaving… ah. Three products, at least in the minds of consumers — ITCH, Scratch, and DJ. Serato continued to support Serato DJ and Scratch Live. And hardware compatibility has been out of sync.
Until now. With Serato DJ 1.5.0, Serato Scratch Live is out of the picture. The software will be supported through 2015, but there will be no further updates (apart from bug fixes) to Scratch Live or SSL.
The good news is, this clears the way for a properly-supported Serato DJ. Now, one product will support both digital vinyl and controller users – and there’s only one product, one codebase, one flavor.
One major casualty: The Bridge, the link between Ableton Live and Serato’s Scratch Live software, is incompatible with Serato DJ and there appear to be no current plans to add support.
The Compatibility Picture
Controller hardware support started out full of holes in Serato DJ, but as of 1.5, that picture has changed drastically:
In fact, as far as out-of-the-box support, Serato DJ starts to look like one of the most versatile options out there, thanks to finally catching up with all the ITCH controllers. That includes popular options like the Vestax VCI-300 and 400, the Pioneer DDJ series, the Numark NS, and of course Novation’s own TWITCH. In December, you’ll get the last stragglers: the Numark Mixdeck Quad and V7, and the VCI-100 MK II.
These days, controllers are the focus for a growing number of digital DJs; it seems you see less digital control vinyl in the clubs than you once did. So having this much controller support is already critical.
On the vinyl side, Serato works with the new Rane Sixty-Four and Pioneer DJM-900SRT, plus the Rane Sixty-Eight, Sixty-Two, and Sixty-One mixers, with the SL2, SL3, and SL4 interfaces early in 2014.
So, that does mean vinyl users will see a gradual transition, much as ITCH users have.
Vinyl users will also see support for the Scratch Live Accessories CDJ-2000nexus, CDJ-2000, Novation Dicers and Denon DN-HC1000S.
In technology, I think there’s a direct line between how happy developers are and how happy users are. And sure enough, Serato are re-committing themselves to stability as their main priority, and promising a number of features in Serato DJ that really have to do with allowing their developers to do the things they want to do to deliver for users. Serato promises:
Single code base
The proof, of course, is in the product – and that simply remains to be seen.
The new Serato DJ Controller Accessory
The new mixers
From Rane, a four-channel club mixer with dual USB ports. Yeah, okay, that’s pretty tasty.
From Pioneer, a four-channel mixer designed to integrate with Serato – and very much inspired by the DJM-900nexus.
Where to make sense of all of this
In addition to the video at top, Serato has posted two blog posts that begin to make sense of the strategy for Serato DJ generally, as well as the situation for Scratch Live users: