Did Serato Remote just change everything?

Serato Remote Slicer

Yesterday, Serato announced an update to their Serato Remote app. Simply by adding a slicer feature, they effectively changed the entire hardware scenario as we know it for DJs. That’s some strong words I hear you say, but stick with me, and I’ll explain exactly what I mean.

Serato DJ is the all new knocked-down-and-rebuilt platform that Serato is using as the foundation for the rest of their DJ offerings. And while the assorted lumps of DJ hardware may have their own idiosyncrasies, Serato DJ is there in all its glory, ready to be controlled by Serato Remote. And it does a sterling job of it as well.

I have in front of me Denon’s small but perfectly formed DN-MC2000 controller. Designed specifically for Serato DJ Intro, it offers a solid feature set, but does lack the bells and whistles of the full fat Serato DJ. Upgrading to the full version unlocks all the extra goodies, all of which are seemingly available to Serato Remote. The MC2000 lacks the performance pads, yet with Serato Remote, I get a virtual version on my iPad screen.

Serato Remote Slicer

Thanks to Serato Remote, Deno’s MC2000 now has performance pads and slicer mode. Awesome.

The bigger picture beyond slicer

The first version of Serato Remote added additional functionality to hardware. Using the MC2000 as an example, it comes with 4 small buttons that shared the hot cue and sample features. But with Serato Remote, you can use samples independently of the hot cues, and the iPad gives you instant access to all 8 hot cues instead of the hardware’s 4.

But by adding slicer mode, Serato just enabled features that the hardware simply didn’t have. Suddenly, Denon owners get goodies that they would have had to look to new hardware for, and they and Denon get them for free. Granted, they’re not via squidgy velocity sensitive pads, but the iPad screen is more than good enough to handle the simple key presses that slicer mode demands.

So let’s take this a little further. In this instance, Serato gave performance pads to a controller that didn’t have them. What if Serato made virtual jog wheels for Novation’s Twitch? What if Serato started adding all manner of features to Serato DJ, and enabled them with the Remote app, or some other app specifically tailored to new features?

Why Serato Remote changed everything

Serato didn’t just add slicer to Serato Remote — they essentially changed the way that their software interacts with hardware. Should they so choose, they can develop and implement features that can be toe-dipped in the virtual touchy world independently of their hardware partners. And should these prove to be popular, they can then be turned into hardware equivalents.

At the same time, if these features are enabled via in-app purchases, Serato gets a sustained revenue stream, and your controller that cost you a kidney might just last a couple of years longer. All I can say is that this Denon DJ MC2000 just got immediately more powerful and attractive.

Did Serato just covertly slip a game changer under our noses? Is their business model likely to further evolve as they embrace the iPad? Would such a move be enough to entice you to the Apple platform? And why isn’t Serato Remote on Android yet? 

  • Dylan Van Es

    How about being able to midi map the slicer? Surely it can’t remain locked up forever!

    • That would depend on Serato adding it to the Serato DJ interface and making it mappable.

      • Dylan Van Es

        Let’s hope!

    • Jared Helfer

      That’s actually a lot harder said than done. They would need to add a lot to their MIDI mapping engine to allow users different methods to map. Different controllers are all set up so differently, it would be almost akin to the nightmare of mapping the Remix Decks in Traktor.

      And Serato is really not interested in opening up that kind of experience to users, from what I’ve seen.

      • Dylan Van Es

        Yeah true, but at least Traktor has opened up the remix decks, the slicer wouldn’t be anywhere near that technical. There will always be a place for plug and play types, but for a professional app I think there should be a way to allow advanced midi-mapping. Hopefully when the midi panel comes along this will be included, one can only hope.

        • Professorbx

          Sadly it is that technical if not more so. You would have to have 8 available pads that all send notes, preferably with one type of message (re:the nightmare of mapping pads that send both note and CC messages, as you have to be careful how you trigger the pad if you are not typing the script yourself). As well, if you are dealing with pads that have RGB, you would have to not only have Serato finally add MIDI out to SDJ (which one would assume would be soon) but also increase how robust the output messaging adjustments on the top level are, as currently in SSL the only way to adjust color is to go into the XML file and manually adjust the output range. Without those two things, you would have no ability to either see that you are in slicer, see what slice you are on, or have color differentiation between modes (if you have multiple modes). Finally, since SDJ doesn’t have modifiers, that means that all 8 pads would be on slicer only, and be unusable for hot cues, loops, etc until they add modifiers.

          I have the utmost confidence that all these things will be added as their XML script is a pleasure to use when you know it, but right now there are a ton of things that need to be added first and I’m sure that they know it.

          • Dylan Van Es

            Yep, it’d be useless without midi feedback. Much to be done, hopefully they get there.

            • Jared Helfer

              That’s the thing, though. They don’t have to. If they roll this out to the other types of tablets (Android/Windows) then they can give complete control to their software regardless of what hardware is available. You could use the same controller for years because new features wouldn’t be incentive to purchase a new controller anymore.

      • That should be “easier said than done” 🙂

        • Jared Helfer

          hah yeah, good catch. I’ll leave it up there anyway, as posterity.

  • What if they slowly started adding things that finally resulted in a stand alone iOS version of SDJ ::amazed Keanu Face::

  • Philip Worrell

    I was playing with touch osc and traktor to do things like this a while back. It works but you have to watch the latency of the devices over wifi. Nothing more frustrating than pressing the ipad screen andhaving a delay especially on time crucial hits. Other thing is that obviously none of this is velocity sensitive,

    Just now serato have made it a plug and play. Hope NI produce something similar.

  • Darren E Cowley

    As someone who’s bought every expansion pack that Serato have released i’m pretty sure their business model will see even more advances being made over the coming year….

  • The above statements are of course only true if you’ve already got one of the latest iPads – which are upwards of £300. So you could just add that £300 or more to your controller budget and get one that does have pads etc.

    All integrated. All solid hardware. No wi-fi, no fragile glass screen….

    • And for those who do have an iPad? Or even an iPhone? And are perfectly happy with the functionality offered by the touch screen? They’re £249 BTW – cheaper if you pick up a used model.

      What Serato has done is allow you to have those extra features without having to sell your current hardware. Who knows where this could end up.

      • As long as your Apple hardware is capable of running the latest iOS (which older/used/cheaper ones aren’t) then great.

        I personally would rather spend my cash on dedicated hardware – basic drum pads can be had for around £50.

        For the price of a new(ish) iPad, you could buy an APC40 or similar.

        • This is the point though – adding an external controller won’t allow you use slicer. It’s only via the Remote app that you can get the feature.

          • I’m not specifically talking about use with Serato DJ (although I know the article is).

            Using an app to control all or part of your kit (esp. wirelessly) is a risk.

            Delimentary had to cancel one performance at BPM last year because he couldn’t get his Denon kit to connect to Engine.

            • Professorbx

              It connects with a cable as well-the standard in the box 30pin/Lightening cable. There is no need to go wireless.

          • blackavenger

            What about the DDJ-SP1? It has Slicer functionality.

        • Professorbx

          It works on everything but the iPad 1-the iPad 2 is years old and incredibly ubiquitous at this point. The iPad Mini runs the same base hardware so the iPad 2 is also a configuration that is pretty safe for at least iOS8, potentially iOS9….

  • Ryan Supak

    I bought an iPad Mini (which was promptly re-tasked as a toddler/wife movie viewer) just to try out the Serato Remote. For my part I don’t like a touchscreen in a gigging environment. Real buttons are just way, way better in my view. Thousands of years of neurological triggers are built into using “tangible stuff” for free.


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  • d

    would be nice if we could select tracks/crates from the app. Or at least know what track you’re on. I’d prefer to just hide the laptop.

  • Phil Gaitan

    Has anyone heard anything going on about a Serato Remote Update? I would think with recent innovations of new controllers coming out with Library Search that it would be something easily added to the iPad Version…