A BUYER’S GUIDE TO THE BEST DJ CONTROLLER

Music is an age-old tradition that has taken a lot of modern twists. Every era is characterized by the birth of new forms of music. And one such importing era saw the advent of the art of DJing. Unlike the DJ beats and equipment that you hear and see today, in the early days, this art form made use of arcane technology. This was mainly attributed to vinyl records, CDJs, and turntables. The most recent development is the best DJ controller that lets the DJ mix music.
Like any new equipment that hits the market, the DJ controllers were met with amazing reception and the demand only kept growing bigger. This encouraged several top brands and certainly new ones to release their own line of best DJ controllers. Though this might be a good thing since you have a lot of options to choose from, it can also be a bit of a headache to sort all these choices and arrive at the best DJ controller.

What is a DJ controller made of and why is it used?

Before getting into the criteria for selecting the best DJ controller, let us first understand the basics of the best DJ controller. To start with, in general, all modern best DJ controllers have three main elements:

  • DJ controller Main ElementsControl surface: This is the base surface that is composed of several components such as jog wheels, knobs, buttons, pads or faders. These components help you attain hands-on control over the various settings. This surface also includes the LED indicators, displays audio level controls and several other parameters.
  • Audio interface: This is the element that transmits the signal to computers, effects processor, a mobile phone or any other external equipment that is connected to the controller system.
  • Special controls: This is exclusive to only some of the best DJ controllers. It enables the controller to control apps in tablets and smartphones.
Usually, a DJ controller software can be used along with a mouse and a keyboard. Since this is non-intuitive and can take a lot of time to access the menus, a hardware controller is used to better cope with the needs of the DJ software.

Tips to select the best DJ controller

Now before you get a DJ controller, it is essential that you go through a few points so that you can be sure that you have made the right choice. It goes without saying that the above mentioned three elements should be incorporated into the best DJ controller. Apart from this, there are a few other factors that you should check. These factors include:

Build quality:

The durability of the equipment, as well as the aesthetic appeal, depends on this factor. Buying a DJ controller is quite a hefty monetary investment. So make sure that every penny is worth the cost. Build quality is especially important if you travel a lot and the controller equipment will always be shifted here and there. After all, you do not want your precious controller falling apart when you travel through a bumpy road.

Controller layout:Select the best DJ controller

Different brands and models have different settings and spaces for the controls. There is no right or wrong with this spatial arrangement. It all depends on your unique taste. If you are comfortable with the way the controls are set, then you can go ahead and choose that DJ controller. The arrangement does not necessarily have to make sense; they just have to be easy to operate.

Type of controller (all-in-one or modular):

In simple terms, a modular system contains separate components joined together, whereas an all-in-one system comes as one whole package.

The all-in-one systems are quite easy to understand and simple to use. So it is the best DJ controller for beginners.

If you want to experiment with stuff or prefer more flexibility, a modular system will be better.

The right software:

This is perhaps the most important factor while picking out the best DJ controller. The DJ controller package comes with inbuilt software. If you have no idea how to modify this, then the software is best left alone.

The software offered by default is probably the one that best suits your particular DJ controller. But if you do know a few tricks of the trade, then you can always experiment by upgrading to new and better software.

Additional features:

Some DJ controllers come with certain additional features such as CD players and USB connectivity. This naturally increases the cost of the controller. Before you buy, think twice if you will actually use those functions (as most people think the digital function of the controller would by itself suffice). If the answer is no, then it is probably best to skip such controllers and cut down the cost.

DJ Audio Interface

Soundcard or audio interface:

The good news is that most of today’s best DJ controllers have inbuilt audio. To quickly check if your DJ controller falls under this category, look for a headphone socket. If it is present, then the answer is yes. If not, you will have to get a sound card.

Second-hand or new:

As far as digital goods are concerned it is always best to buy the new one. But if you are on a tight budget, then there is no harm in going for a second-hand cheap DJ mixer.
Hope this list has helped you complete your quest of finding the best DJ controller.

Product Reviews

Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB3 DJ Controller

Product Review

Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB3 DJ ControllerIf you love to DJ but are yet to try your hand at it, Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB3 DJ controller can give you the best kick start, thanks to its intuitive layout which means all the features are lined up at the place where you will need them. This makes it more accessible to learn to DJ and is a perfect tool for the beginners who are looking to hone their skills.

This high-performance DJ Controller has FX Fade that makes mixing very easy and almost seamless. The Pad scratch feature of the controller lets you add scratch effects to the tracks that are currently playing as well as to the tracks that are cued and that too without a turntable. With the help of these effects, you can create new patterns or reproduce a few old ones. There are no issues of the breaking rhythm since the speed automatically matches the BPM.

The Pioneers DJ controller has a durable and long lasting design since it is constructed of premium quality materials and audio circuitry. Even though it is robust and durable inbuilt, it looks highly professional with the aluminum jog and distinctive styling that has been given special care.

Pros

  • This is a highly affordable controller considering the number of features it is packed with.
  • Pioneer DJ controller has excellent quality and a strong built.
  • It is very easy to setup and uses and absolutely light to carry that makes it portable.

Cons

  • There have been complaints where the controller had a problem connecting to the laptop.
  • The sound card is inferior that affects the sound quality as well.
  • It is a good model for practicing but is not a good choice for shows or DJs.

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Numark Party Mix

Product Review

Numark Party MixThe Numark party mix allows anyone to become a DJ from the comforts of their own home and with their favorite music. Whether you are a hobbyist or a professional DJ player, this controller has everything that is necessary for some fun.

You can connect the controller to your laptop and make use of its easy to use DJ software that allows you to play with your iTunes playlist as well as other playlists. The user can simply plug in the controller and start to play it since it makes use of industry-standard virtual DJ LE software. The two-channel DJ controller lets you play, mix, blend, create or reproduce.

Whether you want to use it for entertainment or for learning, Numark Party mix is a great tool for both the purposes. The unit has built-in audio equipment outputs so you can enjoy the mix straight on your speakers without requiring any extra equipment for the purpose.

There are three, fun, bright LED lights that perfectly sync to the mix of the controller. Since they flash from the back of the controller, they give a multi-color illumination to the entire jam.

The mixing comes smoothly and almost seamlessly with the easy to use the mixer. You can comfortably customize and blend and get the perfect sound you have been looking for.
The controller also has a headphone jack to preview the upcoming track. It helps in cueing and keeping the party alive.

Pros

  • The product is inexpensive yet has a great built.
  • Makes a great gift for anyone looking to learn to DJ.

Cons

  • The software included in the controller comes only with a demo license and the user needs to buy it after a month.
  • The controller is ideal only for the beginners.
  • The buttons on the controller are not too responsive.

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Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB2 Portable 2-Channel Controller for Serato DJ

Product Review

Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB2 Portable 2-Channel Controller for Serato DJThis controller from Pioneer has all the features from DDJ-SB and has some other amazing functions too. The model has been upgraded with dedicated buttons that help to switch between the different channels almost seamlessly, a 4-deck control and a trim knob, level meters to take care of the input volume. The users can make use of the trim knob and the level meters to check the input volume at different channels and make the adjustments whenever required.
DJ DDJ-SB2 has large jog wheels with low latency that give an amazingly accurate scratch response to the performer.

There are four different rubber pads at the top with four different functions- Autoloop, manual loop, and sampler and to trigger hot cue. The four rubber pads at the bottom are for cue, sync, shift and immediate access to play. The Pioneer controller allows you to get some effortless mixes with one hand by manipulating both the bass filters and the volume. This means you can use your other hand to use the loops, cue, FX, and samples and be as creative as you wish to be.

This is an ultimate tool to uplift your DJ skills if you are just a beginner at it and enjoy complete freedom and creativity with music if you are already a professional DJ.

Pros

  • The Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB2 is highly portable and can be easily carried anywhere.
  • The controller has a very easy setup and requires a little learning curve.
  • For all the features that it has, it is very affordable.

Cons

  • The Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB2 does not come with the software; it just has the trial version of the software and the user needs to buy it later.

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Numark Mixtrack Pro 3

Product Review

NumarkMixtrack Pro 3Numark is considered as a leader in technological innovation and DJ equipment around the world. The Mixtrack Pro 3 controller from the company is another example of its fineness in technology and DJ equipment.
The model has been especially designed for the professional DJs or ones aspiring to take up their passion professionally. And for this reason, it has all the features that are required by a professional, a class above the conventional DJ controllers, yet offering reasonable pricing.
The control helps to boost your creativity with the multi-function backlit performance pads that allow you to launch samples, add loops, and take care of the cues while you perform.

It has a built-in audio system and is powered by a USB connection to the computer. The built-in soundcard directly gets connected to PA system and a microphone. It also offers two headphone jacks that allow you to mix with other people and tradeoff during sets. The controller includes the Serato DJ Lite Software.

Since the controller is class compliant with both Mac and PC, you just need to plug it into your laptop and you will have everything that you ever need to start mixing some great music.

Pros

  • The product comes from the most recognized brand in the industry and a leader in the world.
  • Even though the controller has all the professionally recognized features, its pricing is rock bottom and competitive.

Cons

  • The virtual DJ software is not included and is only offered as a trial version.
  • It is difficult to connect the unit as it does not include RCA connectors.
  • There have been a few complaints where after using the controller for some months, the fader starts bleeding audio from one deck to the other.

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Pioneer DJ DDJ-RB Portable 2-Channel Controller for rekordbox DJ

Product Review

Pioneer DJ DDJ-RB Portable 2-Channel Controller for rekordbox DJThe Pioneer DJ DDJ-RB portable controller is popularly used across the world both by the beginners as well as the DJs who are pro. It has been made exclusively for rekordbox DJ and comes included with the license key that allows the users to access cues, loops, FX and more. You can unlock and use the latest features including the expanded settings preferences.

There is one common music library and one can play across XDJS, CDJS, controllers, and turntables. There are 8 different performance pads and dedicated buttons for play, cue, pad FX, slicer, sampler and trigger hot cues.

The layout of the controller has been deliberately kept similar to the layout of rekordbox DJ so the user can mix instinctively using all the buttons such as play and cue buttons, jog wheels, mixer knobs and faders and dedicated buttons for a loop.
You can be creative with your sequences and then choose to play them directly on the chosen hardware by using the sequence call button. You can choose how you wish to listen to your mixes-through the internal speakers of the computer, connected desktop speakers or wireless speakers. While you listen to your mixes, make use of your headphones to select your cues and let your party go on uninterrupted.

Pros

  • The product is very portable and perfect for on-the-go mixing.
  • The Pioneer DJ DDJ-RB also has a very easy to go setup.
  • It is a perfect unit for anyone who is a beginner in the field of mixing; you can call it a perfect bedroom DJ.

Cons

  • There is no knob for headphone mix control on the controller.
  • The controller is only good for the beginners who are looking to learn to mix and get into the world of mixing music.

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Numark Mixtrack Platinum 4-Channel DJ Controller

Product Review

NumarkMixtrack Platinum 4-Channel DJ ControllerThe Mixtrack DJ Platinum Controller comes from Numark, the world leaders in technological innovation and DJ equipment. This is the latest addition to the NumarkMixtrack and is meant to enhance the performance of any DJ, whether skilled, amateur or highly professional.
The unit offers a host of variant features and still very moderately priced.

The jog wheels have a dynamic 1.75” display that shows all the important information related to DJ without having to look at the computer such as the remaining time, platter position, pitch adjustment, key lock as well as monitor BPM.

You can try all your creativity with the multifunction performance pads that are back-lit. Use them to add loops, launch samples and control the cues at the same time as you perform.
The NumarkMixtrack Platinum is powered by a USB connection to the computer; it also has a built-in sound card that lets you directly connect to a microphone or a PA system.

There are two different headphone jacks, ¼”, 1/8” that allow you to mix with your friends or tradeoff between the sets. You will get the platinum feel, thanks to the metal platters that allow you to scratch a track or stop it from the top and change the pitch by touching their sides.

The NumarkMixtrack Platinum controller includes the Serato DJ intro that gives a comprehensive control to the performer. Since it is also class-compliant with both Mac and PC, you can just plug in and start mixing almost instantly.

Pros

  • The NumarkMixtrack Platinum has a simple plug and unplugs setup that is very user-friendly.
  • The unit is great for the prices at which it is offered.
  • The innovative, dynamic display on the jog wheels is an out-of-the-box feature.

Cons

  • The screens on the jog wheels start getting scratches very soon.

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Pioneer DJ DDJ-SR2 Portable 2-channel Controller for Serato DJ

Product Review

Pioneer DJ DDJ-SR2 Portable 2-channel Controller for Serato DJProfessional DJ gear, multicolor performance pad, dedicated key controls for Serato DJ Pro and a spacious layout, this portable DJ controller from Pioneer has everything that you could have asked for.

You can choose a complete package that has the latest version of Serato DJ Pro and Pitch n’ Time DJ expansion pack. This will allow you to get creative with the key and BPM of your track even when there are extreme Tempos. There are a number of dedicated buttons that help to trigger the functions of Serato DJ Pro. You can switch between key sync, key shift, and key reset without altering the tempo.

The controller is compact, light in weight and very portable. It can be easily carried from one place to another. Even though it is compact, it has jog wheels that are large and low-latency and delivers great and accurate scratch response.
The controller has attractive multi-colored, large and tactile performance pads, and these are used to work on the hot cues, sampler and roll features. As you will hit the pads, you will see that they change their color and indicate the current mode or the playing status.
The needle search makes your mixing a completely creative affair. You can jump to any part of the track simply with a single touch since the feature provides a touch strip that allows fast and intuitive searches.

Pros

  • The unit is compact, not too large in size and can be easily carried while travelling.
  • It has some outstanding features and a very attractive layout.
  • It is an ideal choice for both beginners as well as professionals in the industry.

Cons

  • There are no negative reviews of the product by any user so far.

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Pioneer DJ XDJ-RX2 Professional DJ System

Product Review

Pioneer DJ XDJ-RX2 Professional DJ SystemYou can take your performance to new heights with the Pioneer DJ XDJ-RX2 Professional DJ system. It features a very new 64-bit mixing processor that promises a warm and nuanced sound. The unit gives you the flexibility to set it up in your own personal style with 2 USB ports, 4 phone inputs, and independent send or return.

The design has a large X-pad that can be used to engage the 14 different types of Beat FX and then adjust all the perimeters with one finger. There is a high-resolution OLED display that shows the FX that is in play. You have the flexibility to choose the frequency range that you want to apply the FX too. You might want to add echo to the vocals or with a touch of a button, double the rhythm of a hi-hat.

The Pioneer DJ XDJ-RX2 is not called a professional DJ system without reason. The controller has a professional sound design, thanks to the studio-quality digital signal processor that makes use of dithering technology together with a low-jitter clock to deliver a natural analog sound. There is also an added improvement in the analog sound due to the output circuits and improved pre-amp.

Pros

  • The Pioneer DJ XDJ-RX2 has a very simple interface that makes it a breeze to use it. You just need to plug in the USB and you are good to go. You do not have to bother about any kind of computer related issues.
  • The layout of the machine is very beautiful and looks attractive.

Cons

  • There have been a few issues with the loop function that gets off at times when it is actually ‘quantized’.
  • Occasionally the loaded songs are not visible on the display that makes it difficult to mix.

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Pioneer DDJ-SR2 with Pioneer DJC-SC2 and Shure BLX24/PG58

Product Review

Pioneer DDJ-SR2 with Pioneer DJC-SC2 and Shure BLX24 PG58The Pioneer DDJ-SR2 has been designed specifically to be used with the Serato DJ software. This DDJ-SR is small and compact but has almost all the features and specifications of DDJ-SX that was introduced in the year 2012 and was much larger than this. These features include integrated performance pads, large aluminum jog wheels and PAD PLUS feature that is absolutely new. Has contributed to the addition of four more audio effects to the performance pads of the controller.

The controller can be easily powered with the help of a USB connection to your laptop. Just plug it into the laptop and you can start working on the controller. The Pioneer DDJ-SR2 has a built-in sound card that is responsible for the simple connection to the laptop using a USB cable. The Shure BLX wireless system offers professional quality sound and yet has a very simple setup. The intuitive interface makes it very easy to use and helps to deliver an excellent performance right out-of-the-box.

The controller includes Pioneer DJC-SC2 soft bag that gives protection to the controller. The bag is easy to carry since it has a vertical structure, has an accessible laptop pocket, cushions that protect the devices and large storage pockets to make traveling and storage easy.
The controller is built with precision and is available in multiple configurations. It is the best way to rule any party-small or big.

Pros

  • The Serato DJ Software can be downloaded absolutely free of charge and is included in the purchases of the controller.
  • The original Pioneer bag that is included makes the unit very portable. It has a laptop pocket that is accessible, a cushion that protects the device, and also large storage pockets.

Cons

  • There have been no negative reviews for the product so far.

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Roland DJ-808 4-deck Serato DJ Controller

Product Review

Roland DJ-808 4-deck Serato DJ ControllerThis outstanding DJ controller from Roland has built-in drum sequencing, a 4-channel mixer, vocal processing and the best possible integration with the Serato DJ Pro. It is nothing like an ordinary DJ controller and boasts of TR-S drum machine that has some of the most iconic drums sounds from across the world.

When you choose the Roland DJ-808, you choose the best of the software and the hardware in a single package, thanks to the Serato software. The Roland hardware brings precise engineering and a genre-defining sound to the unlimited power of Serato DJ Pro software. The controller has decades of expertise and innovative features that makes creativity possible on the stage or in a studio. The controller has two AIRA ports that allow you to connect compatible electronic gadgets and synths and create a live remix with the help of only a simple USB cable.

The RRC-DJ808 W Black Series road case is tough and durable. It has a rugged exterior that helps it to protect the controller against any kinds of bumps, scratches or bruises while in transit. It is a steel recessed hardware. There are removable access panels that make the entire setup of the controller easy and the built-in stand is especially for the laptop or the computer. There is nothing better than this bag for the protection on the road.

Pros

  • The Black series road case has a rugged and a tough exterior that promises complete protection to the gear.
  • The product is a great combination of the best-in-class software and world-class hardware.
  • It includes a drum machine that gives the most iconic sounds of the drums.

Cons

  • There have been no negative reviews of the product so far by the users.

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