Serato DJ Pro vs Lite: Is it worth upgrading?

Many DJ controllers come with Serato DJ Lite and therefore with limited functionalities. Serato DJ Pro unlocks many options to use your controller to its full capacity. But what are the differences? Is it really worth it to upgrade to Serato DJ Pro?

Differences between Serato DJ Lite and Serato DJ Pro

Serato DJ Lite Serato DJ Pro
Record your mix No Yes
Record your set easily without additional hardware or software. Just press record and an audio file is stored on your computer for easy sharing.
Sync Simple Smart
The Simple Sync does not use the beatgrid. It changes the BPM and synchronizes the closest transient. The Smart Sync, on the other hand, is based on the beatgrid. Therefore, it will match the nearest bar, which is better than just synchronize a beat or a transient. Moreover, Smart Sync will work better with tracks with a non-constant BPM. At least, that’s supposed to be the behavior as explained here. Being honest with you, it seems Serato DJ intro behaves as Pro after my test. So I guess the official website is outdated…
Key analysis No Yes
Mixing songs of compatible keys is much better. It makes sure every transition is sure to work, that it doesn’t sound odd. The key is the scale a song is played at, like A minor or G Major. It’s a representation of the notes of a song. Some notes are compatible and others are just not! Mixing by taking care of keys is called Harmonic Mixing, and is definitely something fun to play with.
CUE points 4 8
Cue points are markers to put at important points of the track. They can be instantly played thanks to the pads most DJ controllers have. With Serato Pro you are free to change the color of CUE points. Note that even if you have 8 pads but use Serato DJ lite, you will be able to use only the top 4.
Sample slots 4 32
On Lite you will be able to launch only 4 samples, even if you have 8 pads! Serato DJ Pro unlocks a second page for each group of 8 pads, making a total of 32 sample slots.
Slicer No Yes
The slicer is one of the most popular beat effects. It consists of an intelligent beat jump that moves along with the track. But instead of complicated explanations, go have a look at this youtube video.
Beat jump No Yes
Jump by the number of defined beats thanks to the beatgrid.
Slip mode No Yes
Restart playing at where the song should be playing without messing up with effects. Makes the used effects much more natural because they doesn’t break the rhythm.
Quantize No Yes
Setting CUE points will snap it on the beatgrid. Playing CUEs will also be sync to the other track playing. In short Quantize helps you always be in sync even when you trigger things manually.
Midi mapping No Yes
Remap the button of your controller to different functions to what they were meant to. This is a simple “press to map” mode. This is not a complicated (but complete) “programming” mode as Traktor offers.
Day mode No Yes
Switch the classic black layout to a white one.
FX Basic ones More effects
Serato DJ Lite comes with the most known effects: High Pass Filter, Low Pass Filter, Echo, Reverb, Flanger, Phaser. Serato DJ Pro unlocks a few more, but the additional FX packs are still paid options, even to pro!
Playlists / Crates Regular Regular and Smart
Serato DJ Lite has “Crates” that allow you to create playlists. The Pro version unlocks “Smart Crates”, which will automatically add songs from your music database meeting some criteria (genre, key, BPM, date, etc).
Library management Files, Prepare Files, Browse, Prepare, History
“Files” is the tab to navigate through your music. “Browse” is a tab to filter the current crate (BPM, genre, key, etc). “Prepare” is where you put the next songs you wanna play (temporary playlist). “History” is simply the history of your sets. Serato DJ Lite does not have the “Browse” and “History” options.
Display mode Horizontal Horizontal, Vertical, Stack, Library
Serato DJ Pro has several layout configurations. They mainly change the way the waveform is shown. “Stack” is my favorite layout, it’s a more compact horizontal layout allowing for a bigger library. The library layout has a big music browser to focus on searching for songs. You can switch to “Library” with the space bar.
Paid options unlock Play Video, DVS, P’nT DJ, FX, Flip, Remote
Serato has additional paid options. They are not featured with Serato DJ Pro. However, some DJ controllers have some options pre-paid. That’s often the case for the DVS option on high-end controllers. For more information go check the expansion packs. You cannot unlock most of these packs with Serato DJ Lite.
Price $0 $129 (in USA)

Should I upgrade to Serato DJ Pro?

It depends if you are a total beginner or not. If you are, I believe you can wait a bit before upgrading. Train to first see if DJing is really made for you. Many functions are not necessary for beginners. In fact, it may be even better to have stripped down functions. It will make you focus on what is important when you start: beatmatching.

For instance, 4 CUE points are far enough when you start. Even after 10 years of DJing I rarely use more than 4! Regarding the effects, you have the most used ones with Serato DJ Lite, so that’s not an issue either.

Regarding the Sync function, it will still work pretty well for electronic music, even with Lite.

There are two main options that make Pro great in my opinion. But you can find a way around for both of them! The first one is the possibility to record your mixes. For beginners, I believe having this can be a good way to improve. What you can do is use Audacity to do it. Just plug a cable from your controller master to your computer Line In! This way you can avoid paying for Pro.

The second option I really like in Serato DJ Pro is the key analysis. For beginners, missing this option is not such a big deal. I believe there are other things to master before looking into harmonic mixing. But in case you still want to do harmonic mixes, some external softwares can write the key in the tags. For instance, you can tell the software to write it in the comments and that will be accessible in Serato DJ Lite.

Personally, I will encourage you to buy Serato DJ Pro once you have mastered beatmatching. Having the key analysis and record options all in one place is much less of a struggle. The smart crates are also great when you start to have a big library.

Check your hardware before upgrading.

Before upgrading, make sure it makes sense with your DJ controller. Indeed, cheap DJ controllers do not have 8 pads. In that case, you will not have access to the additional CUE points or samples. You will still unlock the recording, key analysis, or smart crates though. But be aware of that!

In fact, if the controller was not made for the slicer to begin with, then you can forget about it, pro version or not. Look for the mention “slicer” written around the pads. If it is written, then you are sure it will work. The Pioneer DDJ-SB3 and Roland DJ-202 are two controllers for which it is interesting to upgrade to Serato DJ Pro.

How much does it cost to upgrade to Serato DJ Pro?

The upgrade is $129 for a lifetime license or $9.99 a month as a subscription. Please note that some higher-priced DJ controllers come with a Pro license. To check if that’s the case of your controller, check it here. It is a hardware unlock, meaning the controller unlocks the version automatically. No need for a voucher in that case.

You can also try the Pro version for 7 days to check if the additional functions fit your needs.


Owner and writer of DJ Roundabout. DJing is my passion since 2008. I like all aspects of DJing: mixing but also the more technical aspects: Lights, Speakers, DVS, etc. I even made my own light effects with a home theatre projector!

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