Rekordbox launched way back in 2012, is a DJ software designed to export music, ready to play on Pioneer CDJ’s. Since it’s humble beginnings, Rekordbox has evolved into a fully-fledged performance software that’s now considered one of the very best. The software has two main modes; export and performance. These share one central library, meaning DJ’s can start on entry-level controllers and progress through to main stage CDJ players.
Importing Music Into Rekordbox DJ
Adding your music into the Rekordbox software is straight forward. Navigate to File>Import, and you can then choose between Track, Folder or Playlist.
Track mode will allow the user to import individual tracks into the library. You can select more than one track by highlighting them, and all of the major file formats are supported (MP3, WAV, AAC, FLAC, ALAC, AIFF).
If you store parts of your music collection in folders, you can speed up the process by choosing the Import Folder option. Rekordbox will automatically scan the selected folder and all it’s contents, before importing all supported files. This tool is particularly useful for importing extensive music collections, such as the whole “music” folder on your hard drive.
This tool imports M3U and PLS files to the software. These formats are commonly used when exporting playlists from iTunes or Winamp. When importing a playlist, Rekordbox will import all the tracks into the library while also creating a playlist with the same name.
Drag & Drop
Alternatively, you can drag tracks straight from your computers file browser into the library or an empty deck to import it. Dragging folders straight into the library or playlist panel will also perform the same action.
Streaming inside Rekordbox DJ
Rekordbox DJ supports streaming from Soundcloud GO and Beatport Link. Streaming is only available in performance mode and disables the internal recording feature for legal reasons. To learn more about streaming inside DJ software, read our dedicated guide.
Soundcloud GO users can stream over 135 million songs in quality up to 256kps AAC. Users can also view playlists and liked songs inside the Rekordbox software. You must remain online at all times when playing songs from Soundcloud with no offline storage available.
Beatport Link offers various plans to users. Their higher-tier plans allow offline playback of downloaded tracks.till locked to performance mode only so you can’t export these downloaded tracks for use on a CDJ or XDJ player.
Library Management in Rekordbox DJ
Inside the rekordbox library, you can organise your music in a variety of ways. The user can decide what part of the track’s metadata (Artist, Key, BPM, etc.) to display inside the library. A simple right-click on the column header displays all the available options. For example, you can organise your library in descending order of BPM.
Rekordbox uses playlists to group tracks together, these can be manually created or automatically created using a feature called smart playlists. Smart playlists allow the user to give the software a set of rules. For example “All songs with a BPM between 70-80”. The software will then scan the whole library upon launch and add any tracks found inside the library to the playlist. This tool can save users a lot of time and is very powerful indeed.
The My Tag system inside rekordbox allows DJ’s to apply custom tags to tracks quickly. These can be from any of the preset’s included or custom created. The user can then search by tag to immediately display a list of relevant tracks while performing.
Related tracks is a fantastic feature unique to Rekordbox. While performing in rekordbox, the software will suggest tracks to play next, based on the current master deck. The tracks recommended are found by matching attributes such as key, bpm and energy level. DJ’s can use the Match feature inside rekordbox to manually force the software to suggest a track should the other be playing.
Equipment Supported by Rekordbox DJ
Rekordbox, unfortunately, is limited solely to use with hardware manufactured by Pioneer DJ. That said, Pioneer DJ is widely considered to produce some of the best equipment in the industry. As such, this isn’t a complete deal-breaker, it may just mean that you pay a premium over some of their cheaper rivals.
Pioneer DJ create some amazing mixers, and almost every model with a USB soundcard is compatible. That’s 14 mixers in total. You will need a method of controlling the decks though, such as turntables or CDJ’s used in HID mode.
Although Pioneer DJ only create one soundcard, the £250 Interface-2, users can map rival soundcards from the likes of Rane and Denon DJ to work.
All In One
The popularity of the first XDJ-RX all in one unit spawned a new whole category. All six of Pioneer’s all in one units are compatible with Rekordbox, including the new flagship XDJ-XZ model.
Designed to be used with the USB sticks that Rekordbox exports, CDJ’s can also be used to control Rekordbox too. Twelve models in total can be used with Rekordbox, read this guide to learn how to set them up.
Performance features in Rekordbox DJ
With four virtual decks, Rekordbox offers DJ’s a whole suite of performance features to add creativity and flair to any DJ set.
Well known for amazing sounding effects on stand-alone mixers, Pioneer DJ has loaded Rekordbox with 22 beat effects and six colour effects. These can be activated via the dedicated effects banks or by the performance pads.
The performance pads also activate and control various performance modes. These include Hot Cue, Roll, Sampler, Cue Loop, Slicer Loop, Keyboard Mode and Beat Jump. These can be controlled either by hardware or via the on-screen buttons with a mouse or keyboard.
Rekordbox also allows users to create custom keyboard shortcuts or midi map controls, should you wish to add additional hardware or change your controller’s layout.
Rekordbox includes a quantize feature that will lock the DJ’s button presses to the beat grid. This tool can be changed from 1 beat down to 1/16 of a beat to help keep the DJ in time when pressing a hot cue, loop or reverse. Sync is also available to the DJ on all four decks with dedicated controls to select which deck acts as the master.
If you wish to video DJ with Rekordbox, you can purchase an additional licence to unlock this feature. Full of transitions, text overlays and video effects the expansion costs $150. You can combine video with the Lyric expansion pack ($9.99) to display lyrics over the music videos. Purchasing the Lyric pack alone will show the track’s lyrics in time over a predetermined background rather than a video. To control Rekordbox with external time code signal such as vinyl, you will need the DVS expansion pack, which costs $99. A compatible mixer or controller will also be required. The RMX expansion pack for Rekordbox is the cheapest on offer. For $9.99 it adds nine new effects straight from the stand-alone RMX unit.
Rekordbox is robust, organised and reliable. It’s a brilliant piece of DJ software that DJ’s can use from a bedroom to a festival stage. Pioneer DJ’s unique dominance on the professional hardware market has allowed Rekordbox to become a must on most DJ’s laptops and for good reason too. The library management is class-leading with better organisation, and more powerful suggestion tools than all of it’s rivals. The great-sounding effects and ability to use almost all of Pioneer DJ’s fantastic hardware lends Rekordbox to be the professional’s software of choice.
If you’re a beginner looking for a platform to begin with, you may find the hardware choices limited and the software is confusing at times, especially in the settings. However, if you desire a software that’s capable of staying with you to the very peaks of your career, Rekordbox is a fantastic choice in today’s market.
Price as tested $129.90. Subscription to Rekordbox plus all expansion packs priced at $14.90 per month.
Learn to DJ with Rekordbox
Our online DJ courses for Rekordbox DJ will help you go from a beginner to advanced DJ! Learn everything from fundamental mixing techniques, EQ control and transitions to advanced sampling, sequencing and mash-up mixing.