The 15 Best DJ Controllers (Review & Comparison) of 2020 – 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 2020.
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.
We have updated some of the controllers on this page from 2019 models to the newer and better performing units for 2020.
The goal of this review is to help you make the best buying decision on your next controller.
The Products We Reviewed – Click to go
3 DJ Controllers You Must See – Our Winning Picks
The Best DJ Controllers Reviewed
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.
- Serato Pitch ‘n Time DJ controls
- Multi-colored Performance Pads
- Large jog wheels
- Audio mixer feature
- Dual Level Meter
- Needle search
- DVS upgrade-ready
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.
- Portable two channel DJ Controller for Serato DJ Lite (Included)
- Compatible with Mac and PC
- DJ Lights Built in light show with three room filling LED light arrays that auto sync to your music
- Built-in sound card
- 4 responsive performance pads
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.
- Dedicated buttons for Serato FLIP
- 4-Channel Performance DJ Controller Designed for Serato DJ
- Updated Jog Wheel with “Hot Cue Countdown”
- Velocity Sensitive Performance Pads
- Serato DVS Upgrade Ready
4. Numark NV II
Dimensions: 13.4″ x 21.6″ x 2.1″ – Weight: 7.05 lbs – Dual High Resolution Displays
Boasting 16 super impact sensitive pads that guarantee exceptionally intuitive control of its 10 pad modes, the Numark NV II 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 II duel high resolution colorful 4.3-inch displays 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 II. This allows you to really put on a show as your attention will be fixed on the beautiful display of the NV II. 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 II. Adding to the party feel of the Numark NV II are trigger pads that are fully backlit with RGB feedback giving you superbly colorful vibe throughout the night.
- 4-decks of Serato DJ software control in a sleek, low-profile design
- Full-color displays provides 1:1 real-time visualization of Serato DJ
- Gridlines on screen enable perfect beat matching
- Dual 5-inch hyper-responsive metal platters with search and scratch modes
- 16 velocity-sensitive trigger pads with backlit RGB feedback
- 10 pad modes for hot cues, loop slicing, and sample triggering
- Plug and play via USB cable to computer with Serato DJ (included)
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.
- Ultra Portable two deck DJ Controller for Serato DJ Intro (Included) for Mac and PC
- high resolution 5 inch metal jog wheels
- 2 headphone outputs and main output for seamless connection to mixers & PA systems
- 16 multi function back lit pads with multiple pad modes
- 6 sample packs from Prime Loops including over 380 premium instrumental loops, drum kits, one shots, and more
6. Pioneer XDJ-RX2
Dimensions: 20.9″ x 32.4″ x 8.2″ – Weight: 24.9 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-RX2 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-RX2 will never fail. It has a 7-inch, full-colour high-resolution touch screen that gives you spectacular visual feedback to the tracks that you are playing, mixing, or even tweaking. You get 8 large, multi-coloured tactile Performance Pads on each deck for instant access to professional performance features such as Hot Cues, Beat Loop, Slip Loop and Beat Jump. 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-RX2 are aesthetically pleasing. Mode switches also sit atop the hot cue functions. Technically, the Pioneer pro DJ controller XDJ-RX2 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-RX2 will not disappoint you.
- 7-inch, full-colour touch screen
- 8 large, multi-coloured tactile Performance Pads on each deck
- USB connection, you can connect your laptop directly to the XDJ-RX2
- 2 mic inputs
- Plug and Play
- MIDI control
- 2 Channels
- Sound Color FX : Noise, Filter, Sweep, Dub, Echo
- 8 Hot cues per deck, Slip mode, Beat sync, Quantize and waveZoom
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.
- 16 Performance Pads provide HOT CUE, ROLL, SLICER and SAMPLER functions
- New PAD PLUS provide HOT CUE ROLL, TRANS, COMBO FX, and SAMPLER ROLL
- Large Jog Wheels for precise scratching and mixing capabilities
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.
- Touch-sensitive control wheels
- FX controls and integrated audio interface
- 16 rubber drum pads
- Built-in audio interface for PA system output, headphone cueing and microphone
- Includes Serato DJ Intro
- Includes Numark Remix Toolkit download
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?
- Multi-function Touch strip for dynamic FX control and Strip Search
- 16 multi-function performance pads
- All-new high resolution metal jog wheels
- Multiple FX manipulation
- Includes Prime Loops remix tool kit
- Dedicated track browsing controls from your library
- Dedicated Filter knobs for each channel
- Powered by USB connection
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.
- USB bus-powered (detachable USB cable included)
- DJ controller with dual mixing decks
- 2 jog wheels
- 4 modes (Loop, Fx, Samples, Cue) per deck
- 4 pads per deck, 2 equalizer potentiometers per deck
- 10 control buttons including a SHIFT button enabling you to double all the pads’ controls
- User-friendly interface, perfectly suited to your laptop
11. Pioneer DDJ-WeGO4-W
Dimensions: 14.1″ x 18.2″ x 5.2″ – Weight: 4 lbs – Channels: 2
Another wonderful professional DJ controller for iPad is the Pioneer Pro DDJ-WeGO4-W, 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-WeGO4-W 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 WeGO4-W 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 WeGO4-W’s backlit jog wheels giving you superb management of the deejaying experience. Never underestimate the size of the WeGO4-W as it is highly compatible with other software packages and this controller has a free rekordbox dj license key as part of the bundle.
Easy to set-up just by simply plugging the DDJ-WeGO4 into your PC, Mac, tablet or smartphone with a USB cable or Lightning cable. Because of its simple layout, it makes learning to become a deejay much easier, but also has a host of professional features like, Hot cues, Loops and samplers.
- Plug and Play set-up with your PC, Mac, tablet or smartphone
- Compatible with WeDJ Pioneer’s easy-to-use DJ performance app for iPad
- Free rekordbox dj license key
- Simple layout and advanced control with a host of professional features
- PC Master Out
- Built-in sound card
- Customisable EQs
12. Hercules Instinct P8
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.
- 2 pressure-detecting jog wheels
- 8 sample pads with multicolored lighting
- Built-in sound card
- latest version of DJUCED 40 Degree
- Detachable USB cable
- PC / Mac compatible
- Built-in audio interface
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.
- Full-integrated 4-deck TRAKTOR controller including TRAKTOR SCRATH PRO 2 software
- 30 touch-sensitive knobs and faders for intuitive control over TRAKTOR software
- 2 bright, full-color displays reveal pop-ups displays, views, and panels
- Touch strip provides tactile control over track position, pitch bend and more
- Quickly access track BPM and Key as well as FX, Filter and Remix Deck parameters
14. Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 MK3
Dimensions: 10.1″ x 10.4″ x 2.4″ – Weight: 4.4 lbs – Channels: 2
Designed as a professional DJ controller for the iPad and iPhone as well as for Mac’s and PC’s, the Traktor Kontrol S2 MK3 is the only disc jockey music rig you will ever need to launch your DJing to professional levels. Why? While other systems come with introductory software, the S2 MK3 comes with the full version of Native Instruments’ Traktor PRO 3 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 MK3. This upgraded model has Club-standard layout with identical deck design, 2-channel mixer, and fast control of key TRAKTOR features to make this controller a true leader in its field.
The Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 MK3 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 larger touch sensitive jog wheels are definite wonders, while the platters provide exceptional sound quality along with 8 RGB pads on each deck this will definitely ramp up your mixing skills.
- Classic spin-to-nudge function, as well as scratch capability
- Beat grid adjust mode
- Club-standard layout with identical deck design
- 2-channel mixer
- 16 RGB pads for triggering Hot cues, loops, or samples
- 3-band EQs with modeling of industry standard mixer Eqs
- Upsized, touch-sensitive jog wheels
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.
- Ultra-Portable 2-deck computer controller with screens and Serato DJ Intro software included
- standalone playback from dual CD/MP3 CD drives and USB Thumb Drives
- High-resolution multifunction Jog wheels for searching and scratching
- LCD screens
- 3-channel mixer with EQ/rotary kills, replaceable crossfader and external inputs
- Dual-channel audio mixer
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
Being a DJ in the modern age means taking more control over your music than ever before. There’s more to DJing in the New 20s than just setting up some decks and a couple of speakers. In fact, if you want to get really creative, or want to perform at your best from gig to gig, you’re going to need a solid, reliable DJ controller. A good DJ controller should be easy to use, durable, and always ready for you in a pinch.
But what specifically should you be looking for in the best DJ controllers online? In our quick guide, we’ll take a look at the basics and more besides.
Size and Weight
Yes – before we even start drilling down deep into some of the maddening features that DJ controllers arrive with, you should always think about portability. That’s because – of course – a DJ’s career is always on the move! Buy a controller that’s too bulky or awkwardly shaped, and it’s going to become a real pain to use in the years to come. Therefore, a fantastic DJ controller investment is one which is lightweight and easy to manage.
Thankfully, there are plenty of options out there when it comes to modern, flexible DJ controllers. The days of DJ controllers and mixers always being big, clunky cuboids are far behind us – thankfully! Consider your own ability to move kit from venue to venue and buy accordingly.
This isn’t something you can necessarily tell too easily online, though you can fall back on verified user reviews and expert guides. The quality of your DJ controller, in terms of its build and manufacture, means everything. That’s because a DJ controller is only going to be so useful for the years that it lasts you – buy a controller that is too flimsy or too throwaway, and it’s barely going to get you through year one.
Life on the road is rough. Therefore, you are going to need a controller with steadfast dials and pads, as well as a system which is likely to take plenty of knocks and shocks while in transit. Most DJ controllers are built with life on the road in mind. However, it still pays to look into build quality, particularly as you never really know what’s around the corner. Do you really want to take any chances? Probably not!
The best DJ controllers should work well with a variety of DAWs and music mixing suites. However, you will find that there are a handful of controllers which are built with specific suites and software in mind. That’s because, ultimately, no two DAWs are the same.
Some DAWs, such as Ableton and Reason, have controllers built specifically for them. This means that most users will be able to hit the ground running without having to muddle around with the on-screen interface. In many cases, it’s a great way to get adjusted to a variety of DAWs, perhaps as good as an intuitive tutorial mode.
You’ll also find some DAWs come packaged with DJ controllers. This makes sense – though you may already have the perfect DAW in mind, and just want to adapt to it with a new controller. However, it’s pretty common to see suites such as Serato packaged with leading controllers by default – no bad thing!
Of course, the crowning glory of a great DJ controller is, of course, how many features and functions it has on-board. There are likely to be far too many to list in this quick guide but consider performance pads – where you can trigger beats and loops – jogwheels, where you can emulate vinyl scratching – and all the crossfade features you can shake a stick at.
What we’re getting at here is that there are plenty of DJ controllers out there with stacks of different features and functions. However, more doesn’t always mean better. Of course, the more capable a controller is, the less likely it is you will need to fall back on DAW controls – which might work out a little bit easier for you in the long run.
However, think carefully about the features you actually want. Consider your experience level, too. Beginners aren’t always going to adapt so well to simple interfaces and controllers which aren’t crammed with dials and buttons. Therefore, do keep a look out for intuitive interfaces with plenty of features likely to do what you need.
Inputs and Outputs
The best DJ controllers remain hugely flexible. This means that you should be able to plug and play into various devices, and what’s more, you may even wish to plug various hardware into your controller to use its mixing capabilities. The more inputs and outputs the better, generally, but on the whole, it’s not the number that matters – but what a controller does with these inputs and outputs.
Therefore, always be willing to look a little closer at the performance stats of controllers before you assume that stacks of ports means the best results. Read up on what users have to say, and do cross-reference hands-on guides, too.
Of course, inputs and outputs come hand in hand with channels, too, as the more you have available, the more you can plug in and play with.
We’re not here to advise you on what makes a specific DJ controller cheap or expensive. However, what we can advise is that it makes sense to budget efficiently for this type of hardware. The best DJ controllers on the market are likely to endeavour years of use. Therefore, instead of throwing a small amount of money at an inferior controller, it makes sense to have a stock of money to one side to invest in a controller which will actually resist years of use.
Therefore, think about your long-term use. Are you going to use your controller a lot on the go? Are you just getting started? Make sure to budget accordingly, as a long-term investment is always going to be worth being careful with cash.
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.