Visualizers For DJs: 3 Simple DIY Solutions

One of the most common questions we get from DJs nearly every week at DJTT has to do with adding an element of music visualization into performances. From house parties DJing next to 60″ TV screens to performing at local clubs with their own projection system, the ability to display video is rarely an issue, but finding a great, music-reactive source of visuals is more difficult! Today we’ve got a few DIY tools to get you started if you still haven’t made friends with a great VJ.


First and foremost, it’s important to point out that visuals, lighting, and VJing itself can be as much of an art as DJing. The process is similar, with much of the time in the art form being spent tracking down awesome material and preparing it for playing back in a live setting. In my experience, solid DJs are a dime a dozen and great VJs are relatively difficult to come by.

Sometimes the most important thing is having some cool-looking visuals to add atmosphere to a party or depth to a show – so here’s some audio-reactive tools to do just that, without any programming or visual preparation:


Tools needed: Nicecast (or similar streaming software), iTunes
Difficulty: Significant tweaking required
Awesome Factor: Solid control, but comes with latency!

Most iTunes users are probably well aware of the epic built-in visualizer in iTunes, which has gone through a number of iterations in the many versions of the music player software. The current visualizer, Magnetosphere, is pretty impressive – and many DJs have likely watched the real-time patterns formed by the software and wondered “Why can’t this be behind me while I’m tearing up the dance floor?”

As a matter of fact, iTunes’ visualizer is almost* perfect for DJs – complete with a set of simple controls that allow you to manipulate different aspects of the visual feedback in real time. Here’s the complete list – yes, we’ll wait while you go tap the freeze mode every 4 measures:

  • M: change the current mode
  • P: change the color palette
  • I: display track info
  • C: toggle auto-cycle on and off (it’s on by default)
  • F: toggle freeze mode,
  • L: toggle the camera lock on and off

Here’s the caveat – iTunes doesn’t accept any external audio sources except for audio streams, so in order to get audio out of your DJ setup, you’ll need to stream the audio back into your computer. The fastest way to do this is to physically route your master audio back into your computer or soundcard input, activate a streaming server with a tool like Nicecast, and stream that input with the tool at the lowest quality (to keep your CPU load as minimal as possible).

In this configuration, iTunes will be about 1 – 4 seconds behind your actual DJ audio, meaning that the audio reactive visuals will be a bit late (but in our testing, still pretty solid as they’re consistently delayed without fluxuation). You’re still able to control the visualizer’s parameters in real time, which is pretty fun for a simple setup.

Need help getting this set up? Read how @JPARISHY streams his Spotify stream into iTunes visualizer.


Tools Needed: Projector, Music Beam software (OSX, Windows, Linux)
Difficulty: Pretty simple
Awesome Factor:
Cool, but really shines with fog!

This visualizer software requires you to have a projector in your arsenal – and the brighter the better! Music Beam uses the actual light coming from the projector to create a light show, breaking up the projection beam into patterns that simulate various popular lighting effects. Familiar effects include Derby, Moonflower, Scanner, RGB Spots, Snowstorm, and more.

The Music Beam software is free, and takes control of your projector as the second display for your computer while still allowing you to manipulate the effects on your main screen.

Projectors generally are designed to project an image onto a screen, so using them as stage/effect lighting isn’t as effective as it could be – but apply a little bit of fog or haze to the room that you’re using Music Beam in and the wow factor gets way better.

Get a better sense of what the software is capable of in the below video:


Tools Needed: Macromeez software, PS3 controller
Difficulty: Simple
Awesome Factor: Solid wireless control, very entertaining

It’s pretty rare to find a visuals software that comes with a diverse set of controls that are pre-mapped to a very common wireless controller – and with Macromeez that’s just the case. I’ve used the software to control the onstage visuals behind a DJ from inside the audience, which is incredibly fun.

While eventually Macromeez’s array of included visuals will become repetitive, the amount of control over the visuals makes it pretty versatile and fun to play with, with “Freak Out” and “City Lights” modes as well as wobbling and feedback control. Macromeez hasn’t been updated in about a year, but it’s still a great tool for simple visuals with a Bluetooth PS3 controller.



As we noted at the beginning of this article, the options presented here are no replacement for a real VJ. Having someone behind the “visual decks” is always the superior option, so we’ve reached out to an experienced VJ to give DJTT readers an introduction to the art of VJing, the technology behind it, and how to incorporate your DJ controllers into a VJ workflow. Keep an eye on the blog in the next few weeks to learn more – or follow us on Twitter, where we’re sure to make a stink about it.

Have other solutions that you use for simple audio-reactive visuals while you’re DJing? If you’ve got a great solution, let us know in the comments and we’ll add it to this article! 

diy dj visualsdiy visuals for djsdj visualizersitunes visualizermacromeezmusic beam
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  • Luminant Composer

    The new Luminant Music visualizer truly synchronizes to the music as you play it. Not only that, you can produce your own videos and upload them to your favorite social media platform. This is a sample of what it’s capable of doing

  • QCube

    I like to use winamps Milkdrop in a simmilar way to the iTunes visualizer. But you can choose a line input in winamp so the latency isnt that high and its easier to set up. i didnt compare it to the itunes visualizer but its verry versitaile, have some tweaking options and gives pretty high quality nice HD visualizations.

  • 2WeaK

    IL Wavcandy (use it 3x/Deck, in every band of my linear bandsplitter) and yes for dj’ing , only active on the first deck now.
    played a little with my EQ knobs on the second pic to show the difference.

    ps my smEQ beats moldovers SmartMixer i guess (or atleast in complexity LOL) 🙂

  • Belo

    Hi guys,

    i made an iPhone/iPad App which can Stream a visual to an AirPlay Device.
    And you can change everything a particle ist able to change.

    It uses the mic to animate the visual and works also very good in clubs.

    Would be awesome if it is useful for someone 🙂
    Please tell me if you have ideas to make it better.

    Here is a little demo:

    • Belo

      here is the link to the App Store:


  • Going Places Hughes

    Hello I’m new to the dj world and I’m looking to buy a decent projector for visuals and other displays. can anyone tell me or point me in the right direction to find the right projector for me? I’d greatly appreciate it


    These are my VJ friends PRYMEDIA, I reckon they piss on any visual media VJ outfit I’ve ever seen. All their content is 100% original, made using DSLR’s then usually mapped to some kind of installation based staging or scenery –

  • Eric Skiba

    how would you go about streaming into itunes if you did not have an internet connection? is there a way to set up a computer to computer network or broadcast directly from traktor to itunes?

  • blakeblake

    what is the easiest visualizer to implement with traktor

    • Vick Vinegar

      3 years no response lol

  • huey

    When is Traktor gonna get video?? Its really the only place left for them to go…….. Bring video to Traktor, please…..

    • O.B.1

      Serato Scratch Live with Mix Emergency for video is the industry standard.
      (and it doesn’t have a sync button to use as a crutch for n00bs who can’t actually mix)

  • Dj destructor

    Ok if you guys want simple, and awesome with lots of options, check out whitecap, there is a stand alone version that can be used for any input, very cool visulizer tons and tons of different tweaking options

  • David Davies

    Great article, love the idea of MUSIC BEAM, be looking to see what that can do for my rig.

    For those requests for midi fighter style solutions, it would be worth you looking at arkaos grandvj, (comes with The ArKaosConnect plug-in which allows GrandVJ to receive sound and MIDI from any audio sequencer compatible with VST plug-ins, running on the same machine or on another machine on the network), Great bit of software but comes with its own set of problems when compared to Resolume Arena (“The Beast”).
    Also be worth mentioning that for the DJ who doesn’t want to use a full breed VJ rig could breathe further life into their sets with Audio reactive flash files, It involves basically inserting ActionScript into flash to pick up parameters from your audio source and adjust the flash video with it. Just need to get creative with it.
    Failing that you could go down the Max for live-VIZZIE VJ modules route – not the most technical but good for situations where you don’t want/need too much resources devoted to the visual side of your performance (and want to keep everything in Ableton).

  • Steve Teeple

    Thanks for including future articles on VJing.. would love to nerd out on how to use Midi/OSC devices for video not just audio…

  • Flavius M.

    Hi Frank, really good work! what program do you use to design the visuals?

  • WaX

    Another one that was left out is: Winamp + Milkdrop in combination with a LINE IN. Open location (ctrl+l) type line:// and enter. Milkdrop has some amazing presets. There tools to modify text strings and display them.

    • Microsoft Rule!


  • DJ Dave


  • faare

    WhiteCap is a real good solution. Better than most of the things in this article, and costs only $30. It can be used in standalone accepting exernal audio, as a plugin for windows media player or winamp…
    You can have up to 5 presets. And you can also randomize the effect, the color and the background, selecting from a pre-defined set of favorite parameters, so no bad surprise. It’s really really nice, you should check it out. Only downside, video output is in “square” view only, no wide display.

  • Kinnik

    I’m really stoked to hear you’ll be putting something for VJ’s! I’m totally hooked on tech tools right now and itll be nice to share my addiction with my VJ friends!

    On a side note, I’d really love a tutorial or some direction on how one might add visuals within a live PA performance.. For example, playing finger drums (midifighter stylez) and triggering both sounds and images/vids with the same controller.. I’m getting a new laptop soon and should have the power to mess with such stuff finally, so it would be great to have a start and a forum to discuss this.

    • Taahir Bhorat

      I totally agree i also have been thinking something along the lines of mixing finger drumming and triggering visuals

  • Ronald Edwards

    I came from the Pro 3D world. It’s not hard to make content, it’s hard to come up with it, but the hardest part is making what you’ve done interactive. I’m pretty sure it’s still very unwieldy to spend a lot of time tweaking with a G.D.K. (Game Developer’s Kit) in a 3D program (hooked up to a projector) just to be able to take inputs from audio. I have done this, but it hurt… a lot… and it’s expensive (or at least it was a few years ago).

    If I knew more about coding, I’d write a stand-alone program to handle both the audio inputs and maybe SMPTE time code to change the elements I made in 3D (and probably a few basic transitions as well). I would do this, I just don’t have the programming for it. Anyone up for a Kickstarter project?

    Oh, and looking at the MF3D ad on this page with the Disco Ball in it… are you making track-ball buttons now, or is that just for show?

    • themindbendersdotcom

      There’s no need for a Kickstarter project, you can already do this with Resolume or VDMX using Quartz Composer with v002 Model Loader, you can also pull it off with Isadora and Derivative TouchDesigner too.

  • Blazsho Nikolov

    Why not using Resolume or other softs with projector so you can make great 3D mapping effects around you, on the stage, behind, on objects or just to control your media. 🙂 I’m using Resolume Arena 4 and the results are great. 🙂

  • [sic]

    I’ve used G Force software in both clubs and house parties and it’s fantastic. Set your audio input (mic, line in etc), set the speed and flow, even add your own images in. About £20 I think but it really is superb.

    • meerkat82

      G-Force is the best visualiser I’ve seen for PC
      You can DJ and VJ at the same time with Mixvibes CroosDJ, not as difficult as it sounds

  • Adam

    Are there any websites that sell continuous dvds with visuals?

  • Sambo

    I used MusicBeam last night in the club I work at with two spare projectors we have. It was surprisingly effetive, and my boss was pretty happy that she didn’t have to rent laser units anymore!

  • GREG

    mixvibes cross does video with HID support on the cdj range!!!

  • James 'Pioneer' Burkill

    do we really need this as DJ’s as we play clubs every weekend or are we artist that perform the music the line is very blurred at the moment and I don’t think that a good thing by all means DJ should be creative in sets but that’s about playing music as DJ’sand people dancing, where as you see the visuals and things at festivals and some big clubs but that is mainly live performance or a concert if more performance gets dragged in to sets the art of real DJing seems to die a little more…

    • kinnik

      I feel that there will always be people picking good tracks and playing them. Many of my DJ friends play radio style (no mixing) and can still rock the house with good sense of the crowd and flow. That said, seeing more people blur the line between DJing and live performance / concerts is particularly nice to me. Especially if the musicians are improvising to play with the flow of the crowd. It seems there are SOO few people that actually play instruments compared to the past. Donno if that’s related to what you were saying…

  • Anski

    Stage setups are relatively simple with projection mapping in Resolume Arena/Avenue, and the right kind of material. Here’s a quick stage we threw together last week to help inspire you:

  • Jeroen

    Wow!! This is what is was looking for. 🙂

    I’ve a mobile visual DJ booth, see photo:


    I got it to work.. but is there any way i can get the Visualizer from itunes on a second screen? So i still can use traktor on the same macbook. 🙂

  • Samari

    Hey DJTT Samari here, Im using Serato video midi’ed up to the DJM800 mixer – I use the fader starts as the on/off buttons for the video effects and the spare eq’s for efx control (channels 2 and 3 usually).

    Because of the new effects im now looking at linking the filter control and the video filter in serato – double efx… havent tried it yet, will let ya know.

    For making the visuals i use resolume plus stolen, found and self shot video and graphics, then remix live to the music, record it, cut it up in ableton and spit it out. usually not more than 1.5 minutes to save space. then link it to the track in serato – the process takes some time but is really effective.

    This is for more tech sounds – The main thing is to get video footage that has a similar rhythm and ‘colour’ to the music.

    Heres a promo link from a gig i did a while back…

  • Andrew+Deb O'Malley

    My solution was to marry a vj 😉 Playing as a dedicated dj/vj team allows us to play in sync (with mood, vibe, etc.) just from practice, along w/ having really specific routines for certain track/clip combos.

  • jprime

    Goldfish bowl and a spot light

    • kinniik

      Poor goldfish!! X^6

  • Jean Marc Lavoie

    Has anyone tried using any of the iPad visualizer apps for this? Can music be “streamed” to the iPad instead of back to one’s Macbook?

    • Roy.Bear

      I got me TouchVIZ, works like a charm!
      Once I hooked a projector to an AppleTV, and send the visuals via AirPlay onto the Projector. Now I just need some Clips…
      And did i mention that the App supports OSC & Midi?

  • Leif Olson

    does anyone know of a good app which takes a midi clock signal, and simply steps through a folder of images in time to the tempo? I dont want video, i just want to display random images from a folder in time to the music…

    • themindbendersdotcom

      Coge, VDMX and Resolume all do this. Coge is only 99 bucks, VDMX and Coge are Mac Only.

  • Sam Moore

    Very Nice Article, happy to see that there is some sort of work around to run the itunes visualizer this I was not aware, when given the opportunity I use Morphyre Visualiser( pretty awesome program, mac only i believe) run an HDMI cable to a Large tv or projector, I dont do much with the effects but there are quite a few and many many options on the display/speed/ amount of things happening and such, also the visuals are perfectly in sync, high quality and it is constantly changing and evolving so I dont really have to do much after I set it up. I think the only thing lacking would be MIDI support so that i could have visual effects triggered by my controller when triggering effects in Traktor, but all in all Morphyre Visualiser is super kick ass.

  • Samchez

    I think it would also be worth mentioning, if you are using Winamp, and are able to take a line out, it’s very easy to sync visuals to the music.
    Plus winamp uses milkdrop, which has a massive collection of visuals. You can achieve this in Foobar too.

    • DJ Rob Ticho,Club mU

      I’ve used Winamp a few times and found it a really solid solution. I usually run a line into to a separate computer that is running winamp and the projector.

      • Ronald Edwards

        It’s always a good idea to separate tasks onto different machines. Even if one laptop can handle it, you have to plan for crashes and other non-sense.

  • radikarl

    itunes visualizer are quartz files. they are hidden in your system or user library somewhere. They play in Serato Video and Mix Emergency as the video for any audio file.

    All you need to do is:
    edit them slightly in quartz composer to hook them up to the data provided by the respective app, instead of the system audio. BOOM. NO RECOGNIZABLE LATENCY.

    i believe they are under copyright from apple though, so i won’t share any files. just letting you know that this is a really good solution, if you know a little bit of quartz composer.

    • radikarl

      *on mac only

    • Spacecamp

      any thoughts as to where they are hidden? Intriguing!

      • David Davies

        /System/Library/Compositions – core system compositions (the user typically doesn’t modify these)

        /Library/Compositions – compositions available for all users

        /Users/username/Library/Compositions – compositions available for only this user

      • David Davies

        /System/Library/Compositions – core system compositions (the user typically doesn’t modify these)

        /Library/Compositions – compositions available for all users

        /Users/username/Library/Compositions – compositions available for only this user

  • Mike Oakshott

    I use Whitecap Platinum from It has a good range of visualizations and the full version allows for audio input from an microphone, so I just have a cheap mic attached to the PC running whitecap and that is enough for to give me a reactive display with very little latency.

    • DJ Rob Ticho,Club mU

      I’ve been impressed with Whitecap platinum. I had the same set up, though I think we used a Mac. It was on the other side of the room using the internal mic and latency was not an issue. Also it was really easy to add custom graphics which were randomly pulled into the effects queue.

  • Frank Funk

    This is far from simple, but I’d like to share my solution anyway: I’m a motion graphics designer and produced audio-synced visuals for every clip of my project’s live show. Took me around 120 hours and I’m very happy with the result:

    • Nelson Ramalho

      Watched the vid, very cool indeed and you should be proud of that. Looks like it was an awesome show and the crowd were loving it. The lighting and visuals in sync were very good too well done.

    • Prof_Strangeman

      Fucking proper mate!!! Ever going to come to Northern Alberta!!!! 😀

      • Frank F. Funk

        Thanks so much! A US/Canada tour would be great, where are you promoters?

        • Prof_Strangeman

          Check this guy out Frank! He’s a personal friend of mine and is sooooo much more than he’s getting. Even if you’re not coming soon, drop him an email!

    • Rowin Grunder

      please share us some info about your work Frank. looks very tight! you’ve synced every track (ableton clip) with resolume? 🙂

      • Frank F. Funk

        Hi Rowin,
        it’s one video clip for each audio clip in Ableton Live, synced to Resolume via a small Max4Live patch I wrote. We’re running the whole show (audio & video) off one 13″ Macbook Pro and it’s been working great so far.

        • crazy smart stupid dumb guy

          i think that we as djs and or producers know that this can be the difference between getting booked again or perhaps receiving new clientele. being just another dj or OMG they were sick as fuck. but you are a MOTION GRAPHICS DESIGNER prolly using C4D,MIYAN or whatever program you use that shits not easy at all get started especially with stuff like after effects and trap coding and all other types of cool effects. not to mention you have these all pre mapped to clips – what if i wanted to simultaneously do cool awesome graphics like you guys while my partner is on CDJ’s???

          with a audio input into my computer???
          will that work???
          or does it need to be pre recorded only?
          also looked into tons of stuff like 3d projection mapping and just tons and tons of stuff and really havent found a way to get that real time 3d effects generator that could really set us apart from teh rest of the ” dj / producer” scene we really want to keep everything live nothing prerecorded

    • deejaesnafu

      fucking bad ass dude

    • Rudi-J

      Really really impressive. Guess it will be yust a matter of time when we’ll see you on the bigger festivals around the globe…

    • Antoine Quirion Couture

      Amazing work man . You’ve got a great show for sure !
      I’m a Vj who also went the AV route. Building my own DVJ set.
      Each song has it’s synced video track . here’s a teaser

      • Frank F. Funk

        Nice one! I see some similarities in our styles, both visual and music-wise. Maybe there’s some collaborative gigging down the road?

    • Ronald Edwards

      I need to hang out with you guys. It’s really hard to do awesome stuff like this in vacuum. PM me, I’m sure we’ll have something to talk about.

      • Frank F. Funk

        Hi Ronald,
        I just sent a FB-request, let’s do this!

    • Frank F. Funk

      Wow, guys – thanks for all the nice feedback, I really appreciate it!

    • flavius

      Hi, good work! What program do you use to create the visuals?

      • Frank F. Funk

        hi flavius,
        most of it was made in adobe after effects (particular, form, plexus, …), plus some kinect action via a bunch of tools, plus some cinema 4d stuff by a talented friend of mine.


      Hey Frank Funk! SO impressed with this! Do you mind letting me know what software programmes you used for this and also what equipment is used to get it displayed so well on stage? I am fairly new to this but trying to build a live show for stage later in the year. It is frying my brain!! Found this very inspiring though Thanks for sharing!