The 15 Best DJ Controllers (Review & Comparison) of 2019 – Our Top Picks Reviewed
Are you in search of a DJ controller to add to your setup? Maybe you are upgrading your existing model? You have come to the right place as this post contains reviews of The 15 Best DJ controllers of 2019.
This post will help draw attention to the best DJ controllers that are on the market today. We will provide you with details and highlight features that make each of the 15 products unique and different from others on the market.
The goal of this review is to help you make the best buying decision on your next controller.
3 DJ Controllers You Must See – Our Winning Picks
The Best DJ Controllers Reviewed
The Products We Reviewed - Click to go
1. Pioneer DDJ-SR2 (#1 Top DJ Controller)
Size: 10.7″ x 19.2″ x 2.3″ – Weight: 6.65 lbs – Channels: 2 – Deck Control: 4
Are you in search of the best pro DJ controller to make a name for yourself in the music world? With a name that is almost synonymous with music and acoustics, you can always rely on Pioneer’s DDJ-SR2 Portable 2 Channel Controller built specifically for the Serato DJ software. While it’s designed primarily for the Serato, the SR2 can also work equally well with other music software. Note, however, that the SR2 doesn’t come with the full version of the Serato. You’d have to upgrade the software to the Pro version yourself. With that said however, the Serato DJ Intro should provide you with a glimpse of just how powerful the program is.
The SR2 is a great Pioneer DJ controller for beginners as it is light, small, and provides an easy setup. The audio output of the SR2 is designed for phono cables so it is essential to purchase an adapter to convert it into AUX, although this is quite dependent upon the type of speaker that you have connected to your system. The large jog wheels feel firm to the touch although they can be quite bothersome if you want to throw a really good spin as the tension can be quite harsh. Nevertheless, the jog wheels are superlatively sensitive and are remarkably easy to use. This is also one of the top 4 deck DJ controllers we have reviewed with many other features making this a must have for a true professional.
2. Numark Party Mix (#1 Best Value DJ Controller)
Dimensions: 7.8″ x 12.8″ x 2″ – Weight: 1.76 lbs – Channels: 2
The Numark Mixtrack 3 All in One sound is so tempting indeed. But, if you want a cheaper version primarily because you don’t know if you will find your calling in DJing, then you may want to consider Numark’s Party Mix Starter DJ Controller for beginners. For under a hundred bucks you can get a very easy setup, complete with a fantastic light show, and a built-in sound card to enable you to listen to your tracks straight from the rig via your headphones. You can also connect your DJ speakers to the same setup without having to purchase a sound output device or a separate adaptor for that matter.
So whether you’re in your entertainment room or even in your bedroom, you can start creating those mixes, matching every conceivable beat, and even making wonderful tweaks and adjustments to a variety of tunes and melodies. The only difference between the Party Mix Starter and the Mixtrack 3 All in One is that the former only has 8 performance pads compared to the latters 16. This may seem like a huge difference. If you’re going to look at the other features of the Party Mix – backlit sync controls, cueing audio outputs, master audio outputs, dual scratch platters, and even superb slider controls, we’d say you’ve got the best rig for the best price for the newbie deejay.
3. Pioneer DDJ-SX2 (#1 Premium Pick DJ Controller)
Dimensions: 6.9″ x 29.9″ x 17.7″ – Weight: 16.5 lbs – Channels: 4
Professional deejays never leave their choice of equipment to chance. They will always make sure that they get the best product with the right kind of features that will help them advance their expertise. Of course, the best equipment usually comes at a price. But, with a dedicated button for the Serato DJ software, the Pioneer DDJ-SX2 is a full feature standalone DJ controller that offers all of the exceptional qualities of professional rigs but at a cost that is considerably lower than most. This simply means you get full access to all the features of the most powerful and most intuitive deejay program without having to shell out additional expenses on your part. Unlike other rigs, the DDJ-SX2 already comes with the Serato DJ Pro instead of its trial version that only lasts 14 days.
The DDJ-SX2 doesn’t only come with superb software integration, its hardware has been amped, too. The jog dials are specifically built for a tighter response to make it a lot more ideal for scratching. The color-coded performance pads are velocity sensitive instead of the usual pressure sensitive design in other systems. One can say that the Pioneer DDJ-SX2 has the right combination of price and technical ingenuity to make any deejaying activity super easy.
4. Numark NV
Dimensions: 28″ x 5″ x 16″ – Weight: 11.77 lbs – Channels: N/A
Boasting 16 super impact sensitive pads that guarantee exceptionally intuitive control of its 10 pad modes, the Numark NV is a budding professional deejay’s dream come true. The Numark NV provides 4 marvelously engineered decks, super responsive controls, and one of the most eye-catching dual full-color screen displays of any rig making the NV one of the best all-round DJ controllers we have in this list. Designed and built for the advanced and expert deejay, the NV’s colorful 4.3-inch screen offers an exceptionally powerful real-time feedback system to help you visualize the full functionality of the Serato DJ software.
This helps eliminate the need to look at your laptop screen as all the information you will need – from the track status, song navigation, hot cues, waveforms, and even effects, as well as a whole lot more – can now be visualized on the control surface of the Numark NV. This allows you to really put on a show as your attention will be fixed on the beautiful display of the NV. Touch-activated controls provide remarkable responsiveness giving you superb manipulation and management of your song tracks. Filter knobs, as well as those for EQ and FX, are all capacitive enabling you to easily twist or touch or even both.
Having 4 different decks simply means you’re the grand master of the airwaves. Complex set components can be effectively managed without ever taking your eyes off the NV. Adding to the party feel of the Numark NV are trigger pads that are fully backlit with RGB feedback giving you superbly colorful vibe throughout the night.
5. Numark Mixtrack Pro 3
Dimensions: 9.2″ x 1.2″ x 21.6″ – Weight: 4 lbs – Channels: 2
The Numark Mixtrack Pro 3 is essentially a souped up version of the Mixtrack Pro II featuring 16 superior multi-function performance pads that allow you to launch a variety of samples, add marvelous loops, and even control cues as you work your way to becoming the next big thing in your neighborhood. The Mixtrack Pro 3 provides precision control with its touch capacitive metal platters as well as a dual zone feature that allows you to stop or scratch a track using the top of the wheel. You can also bend the pitch by simply touching the side. Adding to the remarkable control of the Mixtrack Pro 3 are pitch sliders that are engineered for superior sensitivity. A multi-function touch strip is already included to allow you amazing dynamic FX control as well as efficient track search functionality.
The Mixtrack Pro 3 also comes with the introductory version of the Serato DJ app as well as the remix toolkit of Numark, the Prime Loops. Compared to other Best DJ decks of the same specs and price range, the Numark Mixtrack Pro 3 offers exceptional professional quality features that you would never think would be included at a price point this low. With backlit knobs, dials, and sliders, it sure can provide a better way to mixing and scratching your favorite tunes.
6. Pioneer XDJ-RX
Dimensions: 19.8″ x 32.4″ x 8.5″ – Weight: 22.5 lbs – Channels: 2
Pros trust only those brands that have been known to deliver the highest quality innovations at a price that is reasonable. If you are simply tired of using your bulky equipment, then it’s time to get the Pioneer Pro XDJ-RX all in one professional DJ controller. Whether you’re a budding professional trying to make a name for himself in the party scene or simply a techno geek and audiophile who wants to turn his home into a party place, the XDJ-RX will never fail. It has a high-resolution screen that gives you spectacular visual feedback to the tracks that you are playing, mixing, or even tweaking. You get 2 color effects – Jet and Space – that serve as the basis for the creation of really fabulous audio mixes, giving you the distinction of being a true master of the spinner. Two digital platters are accompanied by two channel mixers, giving you unequaled control of the music scene.
With a cool blue light effect, the hot cue functions of the XDJ-RX are aesthetically pleasing. Mode switches also sit atop the hot cue functions. Technically, the Pioneer pro DJ controller XDJ-RX is designed for the professional or the highly experienced deejay. However, this is not to say that beginning deejays don’t deserve this gadget. If you really want to learn the tricks of the trade, the XDJ-RX will not disappoint you.
7. Pioneer DDJSR
Dimensions: 21.8″ x 12.6″ x 2.6″ – Weight: 9.7 lbs – Channels: 2
A slightly scaled down version of the Pioneer Pro DDJX-SX2 is the DDJSR standalone DJ controller. It’s mainly intended for advanced scratchers and mixers who may already be playing in clubs but not as a full-time endeavor. They may be invited to small social gatherings to create a more fun and thrilling party atmosphere.
Like all Pioneer DJ controllers, the DDJSR comes with 16 performance pads that allow you to sample your selection, hot cue them, slice them up, and even put them on a roll. The Pad Plus feature of the Pioneer DDJSR provides you with a sampler roll, hot cue roll, combo Fx, and trans. Most users don’t even get to use the Pad Plus mode of the DDJSR because the basics are already superb in themselves, especially in providing an exceptionally marvelous scratching and mixing capability. The pads themselves provide a rubbery feel. The knobs, sliders, and switches all feel sturdy and high-end. The sound quality, being pioneer, has been dubbed by many as a lot better than equally priced Mixtracks. With a metal top and substantially elegant plastic side, we’d say that the DDJSR is a great device for the hobbyist and enthusiast.
8. Numark Mixtrack Pro II
Dimensions: 22″ x 13″ x 4″ – Weight: 1.1 lbs – Channels: 2
For its price, the Mixtrack Pro II is one of the best DJ controllers under $300 on the market that is designed for both beginners and advanced disc jockeys alike. Although we can say that, with its feature-packed board, it is more suitable for those who have already mastered the basics of music playing and mixing. The Numark Mixtrack Pro II also comes with the introductory version of the Serato program so it should be a great tool for those who are either new to the industry or are migrating from other systems to a fully digital one.
Numark redesigned its Mixtrack series to give you a leaner yet more expanded layout of its professional controls that include 16 fully backlit drum pads with a multitude of functions including loop, hot cue, and sample. The platters are fully illuminated and are touch activated giving you precision control and breath-taking scratching. It’s got a 3-band EQ and a cross-fader combined within a complete mixer section. There are also superb navigation controls for your music library giving you splendid mixing capabilities of all your favorite tunes. The Mixtrack Pro II comes with pitch and synchronization controls to add great management of the mixing experience. With so many resources and effects in one super-sleek platform, the Mixtrack Pro II is simply one of the best gadgets to invest in if ever you want to pursue a career in disc jockeying.
9. Numark Mixtrack 3
Dimensions: 14.1″ x 14.6″ x 3.6″ – Weight: 9 lbs – Channels: N/A
Numark understands the joys and excitement of being able to match a variety of beats to create an audio masterpiece. However, they also recognize that the majority of today’s rigs are either super expensive or underpowered. Some are technologically advanced but come at a steep price. Others provide low cost but the quality is more toy-like. There must be a balance between the two. If you’re looking for a DJ controller for beginners, you may want to consider the Numark Mixtrack 3 All in One. Let us just say that it is almost similar to your Mixtrack Pro II and Pro 3 but, of course, at a slightly reduced functionality. For starters, this all in one DJ controller from Numark doesn’t come bundled with the Serato Intro. Instead, it comes with the Virtual DJ LE which you can download from the publisher’s website. It also doesn’t have a built-in sound card so you will need to purchase a sound card to help you connect the All in One to your speakers or even to your headphones.
Nevertheless, the Mixtrack 3 All in One takes the layout of both the Pro II and Pro 3 versions and easily combines them in a very straightforward manner. The 2 deck layout provides a mirror to one another with mixer controls conveniently placed in the center. In addition, the highly responsive trigger pads that have been rubberized for a different feel allow the backlighting to create a fantastic glow in the dark effect, as well as highly touch-sensitive jog wheels made of metal, give you the feeling of a professional deejay. Multifunction touch strips plus a superb display for your volume levels afford you a very inexpensive way to becoming the master mixer right in your own home. Pitch sliders enable you to provide optimum sync to your creations. Now, why wouldn’t you take home the Mixtrack 3 All in One if your goal was to simply turn your home into a fabulous party place?
10. Hercules DJ Control Compact
Dimensions: 14.7″ x 5.3″ x 2.2″ – Weight: 1.69 lbs – Channels: N/A
Looking for cheap DJ controllers? Look no further as the Hercules DJControl provides you with all the exceptional features that will let you embark on a fabulous journey of discovery mixing music, matching beats, scratching tunes, and tweaking all the melodies that you have in your own library but without spending a fortune. The Hercules DJControl has a very simple yet super functional layout that takes the pain off the learning process. Just think of the DJControl as two decks that effectively mirror each other. Each one of these decks has a superbly built jog wheel, 4 LED-lit pads, 2 equalization potentiometers, and a volume potentiometer. The 4 pads give you instant access to 4 different modes that include Cue, Samples, Loop, and Fx. Also integrated into the base is a 1.77-inch crossfader and 10 fully functional control buttons. It even includes a SHIFT command which effectively doubles the functionality of the pad controls.
Individual controls for the DJControl deck are positioned on the sides while the mixer controls are elegantly smacked right in the center. While Hercules does not include the Serato or even the DJay programs, it nevertheless, includes the DJUCED 18 software which is an intuitive and sufficiently powerful enough program for those on-the-go music mixing adventures.
11. Pioneer DDJ-WEGO3-K
Dimensions: 10.4″ x 17.8″ x 9.6″ – Weight: 4.83 lbs – Channels: 2
Another wonderful professional DJ controller for iPad is the Pioneer Pro DDJ-WeGO3-K, built more to optimize the full functionality of the Djay app which is readily available on the iPhone and iPad devices. The Pioneer Pro DDJ-WeGO3-K has a dedicated slot for docking your iPad so that you get instant access to your entire music library, as well as capitalize on the Apple iPad’s supreme music streaming capabilities either from iTunes or Spotify. The WeGo3 is a small DJ controller which is ideal for on-the-go tune mixing chores. The turntables are adequately lit providing a spectacular display to your deejaying. Intuitive dials and buttons are beautifully arranged around the WeGO3’s backlit jog wheels giving you superb management of the deejaying experience. Never underestimate the size of the WeGO3 as it is highly compatible with other software packages and not just the Djay app for an Apple device.
You can also use Serato, Traktor Pro 2, Vjay, and other reliable software to give you excellent personalization to your music mixing duties. Because of its super intuitive design, particularly the arrangement of its controls and the larger than usual jog wheels, learning to become a deejay has never been easier. Even novices will have no problem learning the ropes.
12. Hercules Instinct
Dimensions: 3.9″ x 15.3″ x 9.4″ – Weight: 3.65 lbs – Channels: 2
You don’t need to have the most expensive DJ controller for beginners to really appreciate the power and utility of these devices. While the Hercules Instinct is slightly more expensive than the company’s Compact version, it more than makes up for it by adding a variety of features that you can also see in higher-priced, more professional looking brands. For instance, the jog wheels of the Instinct have been carefully engineered with precision pressure detection so you can effortlessly try your hand at scratching, much like what professional DJs do with a vinyl record. You can also easily control the Instinct’s pitch and bend function for that superb scratch. The Hercules Instinct also comes with the powerful yet so easy to use DJUCED 18 Degree software which enables you to mix two of your favorite audio tracks easily on the fly while also allowing you instant saves of your mixes.
The Instinct, like the Compact, comes as a 2-deck rig with the audio mixer controls situated right in the center of the chassis while the deck controls have been laid out on the peripheries allowing for a more efficient access to what really matters. The Hercules Instinct may be inexpensive but it sure is not skimping on the quality of its construction as well as the richness and functionality of its features.
13. Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S8
Dimensions: 24″ x 5″ x 15″ – Weight: 11 lbs – Channels: 4
If it is a superbly built all in one DJ controller that you’re after, then the Traktor Kontrol S8 will not disappoint. Built to bring out all the joys of mixing music, scratching disks, tweaking tunes, and matching beats to provide unparalleled party atmosphere, the Traktor S8 comes with two high-resolution color displays that literally put the famed TRAKTOR PRO music management software in plain sight. You get all the right information you need such as track info, filter values, and even available tracks. Additionally, vector waveforms provide a graphic feedback to music creation. Remix deck controls allow for the creation of a heavily personalized signature sound, thanks to the integration of 4+4 channel faders. Sixteen multifunction performance pads allow for superb versatility enabling you to trigger loops and samples as well perform live capture. Knobs and faders are all touch-sensitive while touch strips are integrated with LED backlighting.
Perhaps what is really noteworthy about the Traktor Kontrol S8 is that it is primarily intended to work seamlessly with the TRAKTOR SCRATCH PRO 2 which is highly regarded as one of the most preferred programs specifically for excellent scratching. It provides exceptional in-depth control of your tunes via a highly customizable interface, super advanced library management, and superior time coding of media. The Traktor Kontrol S8 is clearly one of the best DJ controller there is, designed specifically for the masters.
14. Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 MK2
Dimensions: 22″ x 5″ x 13″ – Weight: 8 lbs – Channels: 2 + 1
Designed as a professional DJ controller for the iPad and iPhone as well as for Macs and PCs, the Traktor Kontrol S2 MK2 is the only disc jockey music rig you will ever need to launch your DJying to professional levels. Why? While other systems come with introductory software, the S2 MK2 comes with the full version of Native Instruments’ Traktor PRO 2 making it fully fine-tuned to get the most out of the system, integrating a variety of sound effects, audio controls, and superb party music management. This simply means that you get to enjoy professional grade music mixing in mere seconds after unboxing the S2 MK2. Moreover, it comes with a 2+1 design that fully integrates a remix deck with a professional grade mixer and two highly responsive and equally marvelous decks.
The Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 MK2 comes as the perfect DJ controller for beginners because of its superb layout and the engineering of its design. While it is true that its features are already professional grade, the learning curve is rather smooth as practically anyone can play and mix wonderful tunes with this highly intuitive system. The jog wheels are definite wonders, while the platters, made of aircraft grade aluminum, provide exceptional sound quality. The buttons are fully backlit so it’s perfect for those after-dark parties. And with an interface that’s beautifully packed in a highly mobile chassis, this is one rig you can easily take anywhere.
15. Numark DJ Controller 20 (Mixdeck Express)
Dimensions: 11.8″ x 20.9″ x 3.8″ – Weight: 9.74 lbs – Channels: 3
For a more professionally looking rig without letting you go bankrupt is the Numark DJ Controller 20. This DJ controller for iPad works well with the mobile device’s famed Djay app. However, take note that it will not work with the first generation of iPads as Algoriddim’s app only plays well with at least a 2nd generation of iPads or those running on at least iOS 6.0. The great news about this relationship between the Numark DJ Controller 20 and iPad is that you can now become a full pledged deejay in the cloud, making full use of iPad’s superb wireless capabilities, enabling you to integrate all of your iTunes songs. This means you can get right to mixing and scratching to your favorite tunes while also tweaking and beat matching your way to a fantastic audio experience.
The Numark DJ Controller 20 is also compatible with any Bluetooth speaker as well as those that operate on AirPlay. The control surface of the Numark DJ Controller 20 can be seamlessly integrated with the processing power and touchscreen intuitiveness of the iPad. For a more enriching experience, it is often recommended to also use the Vjay app for iPads. The volume knobs come in die cast aluminum while the platters are engineered for maximum sensitivity thanks to the integration of a capacitive type of touch sensors. The effects, loop, and hot cue controls are encased in brushed aluminium giving it a really luxurious and a truly professional look. This is truly one of the best DJ controllers under $500.
How We Chose The DJ Controllers In Our List
Honestly, it was not easy picking the best DJ controllers to include in this review. It’s important to fully understand the fundamentals of this particular music device such as what features will you be needing and how easy is the device to set up.
Different rigs come with a host of features that can range from the very basic right down to the most advanced, professional-grade equipment. As such, it was imperative for us to provide you with a mixture of the best equipment for beginners, advanced users, and experts so that you can better decide on which product would work best for you as you know your skill level best. Regardless of the number of features offered on a particular product, it was important for us to look at the item’s ability to make full use of existing DJ software and how well it could manage both the input and output variables for the whole music mixing activity. Turntables, platters, mixers, and other essentials have to be fully integrated into the layout of the product’s design. Consequently, these must also be easily accessible and are constructed of only the finest grade materials and provide a certain level of function that is more than commensurate with its price. In other words, it must possess great value for every dollar that you spend on it.
Other features such as portability, versatility, operating system compatibility, and interconnectivity were also evaluated. The whole concept of a DJ controller is to minimize the number of large and heavy equipment and put all of these into one very convenient, easy-to-carry, and easy-to-setup package. If it will take an enormous amount of time and energy just carrying and setting the rig up, then it’s no use for all of us.
Lastly, we took note of the credibility and trustworthiness of the rig’s manufacturer. While these devices have been around for more than a decade, you can nonetheless expect quite a number of industry players that have been in the music equipment industry for several decades. They may not have been manufacturing DJ controllers in the past but their reputation in the world of acoustics and music management are well known. So we factored this, too.
DJ Controller Buying Guide
There are several crucial decisions to make when choosing the right DJ controller either for personal or professional use. Most of these are inherently tied to how you want to use your rig. Here are some tips for choosing the right to best suit your needs.
Choose one that best reflects its primary use. If it is for personal home use, then you don’t necessarily need a very complicated setup or one with a lot of features. If, however, it is for professional use, then you will have to go with the best feature package you think will further advance your profession.
Consider your budget. Again, this is primarily related to your intended use. Personal use rigs don’t need to be expensive. However, if you do this for a living, then you’d have to be prepared to make a sound investment.
Consider portability. Most personal use rigs are so compact and lightweight that they can be easily placed inside a backpack. Some are even smaller than an A4 size paper. Big rigs are definitely for professional deejays or those who would like to build their own credibility deejaying.
You may want to check for USB or CD connectivity especially if you have been used to playing music tracks on these devices. Many DJ controllers today allow for efficient connectivity with either or both USB and CD devices. So, it’s worth considering.
Check the software that the hardware is primarily intended to control. You can choose Serato, Traktor, or even Virtual DJ. Most of these have introductory or limited edition (LE) versions that already come bundled with the rig. You may want to check your budget again.
Q: What is a DJ Controller?
A: DJ controllers are devices used by DJ’s when mixing music with DJ software, they use Jog wheels, Faders, Touch strips, encoders, Knobs and many other components. DJ controllers come in different shapes and sizes, you can get mini controllers, mobile controllers, professional controllers, digital controllers and lots more besides. DJ controllers assist engineers to edit there music via the onboard components, as most controllers have built-in sound cards and outputs for headphones DJ’s are able to preview there mixes before playing it on the main outputs to the audience.
Q: What is the best beginner DJ controller?
A: The best DJ controller for beginners is Pioneer DDJ-SR2 as it is small, light and built for easy setup in mind. It comes with Serato built-in which is easy to use and has many amazing features, if you want the pro version you will need to upgrade. The SR2 was built with beginners in mind as shown by the large jog wheels to make using a breeze.
Q: What is the difference between a DJ controller and mixer?
A: The main difference is a DJ controller is a standalone unit that will control the start and stop of music, tempo and pitch of the track and any other scratching feature. The DJ mixer is a dedicated mixing suite which will allow a DJ to blend multiple audio sources together, it takes input from CDJs, external soundcards and record decks to a laptop that is running DJ software.
Q: What do you need with a DJ controller?
A: This will depend what level of DJ you are. For beginners you will need a controller, computer and DJ software.
Creating your own brand of music can be exhilarating. Mixing songs, matching beats, and even adding effects can help create a special kind of music with your person feel added to it. With the 15 DJ controllers we have reviewed and compared you’re now more than capable of purchasing the right setup and, who knows, even launching yourself to DJ stardom.