A Guide To Choosing The Best DJ Controller

The Ultimate Guide To Choosing The Best DJ Controller

DJs are the life of the party in the modern music world. A good DJ is skilled in the art of mixing tracks for the whole room to enjoy. However, this would not be possible if they did not have the right equipment.

So, whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned professional, you’re probably already aware of the importance of a DJ controller. This handy instrument allows DJs to mix jams with the help of a specialized DJ software.

Using DJ Controller

If you’re in search of the best DJ controller, this guide contains all the information you will need to make the right purchase.

*Notice: On mobile devices, scroll right to see entire table.

Why Should You Choose Your DJ Controller Carefully?

Wondering why you should put in all this effort to buy the best DJ controller? Here are a few important reasons why:

Functionality

The most high-end products offer better functionality that will allow users to benefit from more features. Mixing jams is all about controlling pitch, gain, tempo and other audio qualities. However, this won't be possible if you don't have a controller designed for the task.

Better Results

Whether you’re an aspiring DJ or a seasoned pro, the best DJ controller will produce better results.

DJ At Party

Warranty

Needless to say, it’s worth investing in a DJ controller that offers a good warranty, which will secure your purchase in case something goes wrong with the machine. It's also worth investing in a brand that pays attention to customer service.

Factors To Consider While Investing In DJ Controllers

Here are a couple of factors you should keep in mind while investing in the best DJ controllers:

Modular Rigs Vs. All-In-One DJ Controllers

When investing in a DJ controller, you will be required to choose from two main types including all in one DJ controllers and modular rigs.

Modular DJ Rigs

This type of controller features separate sound sources such as media/CD players, turntables and perhaps a sound card that will allow you to operate the gear using a DJ software.

While most DJ’s use all-in-one controller because of its convenience, many DJs still opt for a modular design, which helps beginners learn the basics before they can handle more complex software and hardware for the beat building.

A simple setup for DJ duties includes CD/media players, a mixer, and turntables, which is the ideal setup for people who want to start a career in DJing.

All-In-One DJ Controllers

As the name indicates, this system includes a mixing section, media players, computer/iOS interfaces – all combined into a single unit. These controllers also feature buttons, sliders, physical knobs that make it easier for DJs to control the apps and software running on their computers, smartphone or tablet.

Sure, while you can operate most apps and software with the help of your laptop’s keyboard, there’s no turning back once you have used physical controls. The buttons and knobs will allow you to perform more rapidly, musically and smoothly.

Why Should You Use An All-In-One DJ Controllers?

All-in-one DJ controllers will work well with any DJ software of your choice. These controllers are designed to offer the greatest comfort level while offering the easiest setup.

American Audio Software

Many controllers allow DJs to perform in "standalone" mode without connecting to a mobile device or computer, which is especially beneficial for mobile DJs who play requests using UBS flash drives or CDs and could benefit from the ability to switch between laptop-based performances and an analog music collection.

The standalone mode is also a lifesaver in case your tablet or laptop crashed in the middle of a party.

Software

While it's the controller itself that allows users to manipulate the app more fluidly, it's the software that helps create the magic. Over the years, the software has pretty much revolutionized the world of DJing and performs all the functions needed to manipulate the music files.

Aside from storing music in your computer’s library, the software provides the virtual support you need while mixing tracks.

Most DJs start off with the software included with their purchase, but that is most likely to be a trial version, which means you'll have to buy an upgrade or full version later on. This feature is important if you want to get the best results.

Style

Every DJ possess their unique sense of style so if you can afford a controller that looks cool, go ahead. It's important to pay attention to the visual aesthetics of the controller so that you feel confident and can deliver a memorable performance.

At the same, ensure the controller is easy to use. Keep in mind that most people don't just hire DJs based on their playlist and what kind of music they play: they are also looking for performers who can create a certain vibe for their party. The best DJs in the business are known for their unique visual style.

So, if you have the budget, don’t hesitate in buying a DJ controller that not only sounds good but looks good too. If you’re able to find a particularly good controller that does well in both aspects, make use of the opportunity.

Connectivity

A DJ controller is a complicated electronic machine which means you can’t simply plug it into any piece of equipment you want and expect it to work. Not all models are compatible with every operating systems and DJ software. So, before investing in a particular device ensure it is compatible with your laptop.

Laptop With DJ Controller

This step is possible if you inspect the specs. Your computer's memory and operating system can limit the kind of DJ controller you can buy. It's also important to consider the for which software you will be using the controller. This step is especially important if you're buying a new controller but want to stick to the same program.

Features

Before investing in a DJ controller, it is important to consider what types of features the product offers. The visual appearance of the product may be important, but it is also essential you pay attention to the list of features it has to offer. It doesn't matter how many buttons are on the controller if it's unable to perform its job properly.

It's important you consider how many channels the controller has and whether you can operate it independently. A good DJ knows the importance of pitch, gain, tempo, and control over the pitch to create smooth mixes. All these audio qualities play an important role in mixing two separate tracks.

Best DJ Controller Over $100

Are you in search of the best DJ controller but confused about selecting the right product? We have compiled a list of some of our favorite products over $100:

Winner: Denon MC4000 DJ Controller

The Denon DJ MC4000 is a solid portable controller that features a durable construction specifically built for modern professional DJs. People who are in search of a high-end, professional controller will certainly not be disappointed by the Denon DJ MC4000.

The device has all the features that you will require for hardcore beat-mixing. Some notable features:

  • Premium quality controller designed for mobile DJs
  • Constructed using professional-grade steel construction that is sure to promise durability
  • Includes USB connection for added convenience, two mic inputs and an aux input for external devices
  • Introductory Serato DJ software, which you can upgrade
  • Balanced booth and main outputs
  • Control knobs that provide DJs FX and EQ controls on each channel

With its reassuringly solid construction, the Denon DJ MC4000 is quite heavy and offers exceptional quality that gives off a professional look. After opening the box, you are sure to be pleasantly surprised by how elegant the controller looks.

This controller comes with two microphone inputs, a compact footprint that is portable and easy to transport if you want to carry it on the go.

Denon MC4000 DJ Controller

Source: denondj.com

OUR RATING

Like other controllers on the market, this one also comes with a DJ software: the Serato DJ Intro software. Customers also get a discount voucher for upgrading the software and use its full version. This discount helps keep the price low, especially if you already have the software and don't want to pay for it again.

Overall, the MC4000 is quite pleasant to use if you’re in search of a pro-two channel controller for mobile use. It also has pitcher faders that offer an intuitive layout for smooth operation and robust sound. DJs can also use the controller to feed program signals to monitor speakers for added functionality.

You will be pleased to know that the device is compatible with a range of programs. The MC4000 successfully out wins its competitors by offering a high-quality product at an affordable price. Some notable features of the product include:


RunnerUp: Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB2 Portable 2-Channel Controller

The Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB2 is a great DJ controller for newbie and people who are on the lookout for a basic entry level DJ controller. It also has a couple of professional features such as brows knobs and a dedicated filter that help it stand out amongst other controllers on the market. Some notable features of the product include:

  • Two portable channel DJ controller that is great for professional DJs who are always on the move
  • Includes large jog wheels and tactile performance pads
  • Has a manual filter with a dynamic and authentic DJ play
  • Built-in soundcard, USB powered and a MIDI controller

It also includes level meters, 40 deck controls, and a trim pot. The controller is compatible with many different DJ apps in the markets including Rekordbox and Serato DJ. With its budget-friendly price, this DJ controller is hard to beat. This DJ controller only comes with a USB cable, so there is no need for power bricks.

It also includes a jack for headphones. Customers also get a free trial of the Serato DJ Intro with their purchase. You can buy the full version of the software if you enjoy the two-week free trial.

Pioneer DDJ-SB2 DJ Controller

Source: pioneerdj.com

OUR RATING

While the DDJ-SB2 comprises of plastic, it has a tough exterior that gives it a sturdy feel. Customers agree that it is a great portable controller for professional DJs who are often traveling around the city for gigs.

This model contains all the awesome features that you would expect it to inherit from the original DDJ-SB: filter knobs, responsive jog wheels, three-band EQ along with a switchable bank of 4 pads. At the top of the channel, users will find a small trim knob that lets DJs control the level of the track.

Most DJ apps including Serato DJ automatically compensate for the modification in levels between tracks although the results may not be 100%. This part is where trim pots come in handy since it allows DJs to modify the level compensation manually. 


Alternate: Numark Mixtrack 3 DJ Controller

The Numark Mixtrack 3 features a sleeker more sophisticated look than any of its predecessors and has a few cool features found in Numark's more expensive models. Customers will agree that this is the best Mixtrack controller yet.

This controller is great for basic DJing while the overall design is nicely spaced out. Some other notable features of the product include:

  • USB connection to tablets and laptops that are great for DJs
  • Wider, sleeker, more sophisticated design. The new model features 100-millimeter pitcher sliders to keep in sync
  • DJ can use the touch strip to scrub through different tracks and control FX
  • Made using durable, responsive meal that provides DJs the ability to stop or scratch a track to blend from sides and by touching the top
  • DJs can start mixing right away. Customers can download Virtual DJ LE software that is perfect for home use. You can also upgrade the software for gigs and parties

The Serato DJ Intro fuelled DJ controller has all the necessary features you would want from an entry-level device. The two-channel controller performs well straight out of the box. It has RCA unbalanced ports located at the back and is also USB powered.

Numark Mixtrack 3 DJ Controller

Source: numark.com

OUR RATING

Customers also liked that this model is available at an affordable price. Despite the material being plastic, the controller is not flimsy and won’t rattle or shake. This particular model allows DJs to assign 3 Serato DJ Intro effects on each deck, which is a pretty good start for beginners. 

DJs will have a lot of fun blending tracks with the Numark Mixtrack. It comes with the Serato DJ Intro software that is fairly easy to use and offers plenty of functions. The knobs and faders work well while DJs will also be able to control long-throw pitches thanks to the controllers.

The jog wheel functions similar to NV's other models. It is free-spinning and touch-sensitive. New DJs will agree that the jog wheel offers fairly good scratch performance for its small budget. This feature will allow you to pull off some fairly decent tricks with the device.


Best DJ Controller Under $100

Here is our list of the best dj controllers under $100:

Winner: Numark Party Mix | Starter DJ Controller With Built-In Sound Card

The Numark Party Mix is an incredibly fun to use a 2-channel controller that is great for beginner virtual DJs. Despite its low price, the controller works fairly fine for house or dorm parties. Some notable features of the product include:

  • Simple plug and play unit that allows folks to use the device right away
  • Include fun bright lights which can also be switched off in case you’re not a fan of flashing lights
  • Controller features a 1/8-inch headphone jack
  • Easy to use mixer that is great for frat parties

However, if you're in search of a professional grade equipment, you may want to buy a more sophisticated piece of equipment. That said, the Numark Party Mix works fairly well for laidback environments.

While you can’t expect much from a DJ controller under $100, the jogs are tinier that what most DJs would want though it is still usable. The buttons on the controller are backlit. It also offers many features that improve performance.

For instance, users can control the mix of cued tracks. Additionally, users also have control of the tracks that are playing on their headphones.

Numark Party Mix DJ Controller

Source: numark.com

OUR RATING

For added convenience, the controller also includes a scratch button that initiates vinyl platter. As far as a basic DJ set is concerned, this particular model does not include a mic input which can be inconvenient for users. However, this might not be a problem for people who only want to learn how to mix.

The Numark Party Mix features three LED bright lights that flash from the back of the controller. While youngsters might appreciate this feature, others may consider it as a silly novelty.

However, if you find the lights unpleasant, you can simply switch them off. The product includes eight rubber trigger pads, four situated on each side to offer users quick access to effects, cue points, and custom samples. 


Runner-Up: Hercules DJControl Compact

If you’re an aspiring DJ, it’s important you equip yourself with the right equipment. While buying a high-end DJ controller may seem too soon for beginners, the Hercules DJControl Compact offers the perfect balance for folks who are learning but don’t want to compromise on quality equipment. Some notable features of the product include:

  • Ergonomic design that adapts well to your laptop. This feature is all thanks to the Hercules DJControl’s super portable design. It has mixer controls in the center with an individual deck located on the right and left
  • Scratch naturally thanks to the good quality jog wheels. The jog wheels also do a great job in controlling navigation and pitch within the tracks
  • Four modes and ten control buttons along with a shift comment that lets users operate the pad controls
  • Highly intuitive design with a powerful software. Newbies can conveniently mix two audio tracks with ease

The Hercules DJControl Compact USB Controller is an easy-to-use DJ controller that offers users precise control over beats. You will be pleased to know that the product is compact and lightweight while possessing an array of features that makes the controller more convenient to use. This feature also helps the controller stand ahead of its competitors.

Buyers will also appreciate how the Hercules DJControl offers USB connectivity and is powered by your computer.Customers receive a 3-foot USB cable in the package, which is detachable. All you have to do is simply connect the DJ controller to a USB power source you’re good to go.

Hercules DJControl Compact USB Controller

Source: hercules.com

OUR RATING

This feature eliminates the need for users to carry extra cords. This feature also means you have to connect the controller to an external/interface soundcard.

It’s not uncommon for aspiring DJs to want to stand out for others by integrating their style to the mixes. While this is something only an esteemed professional is capable of achieving, the included DJUCED 18 DJ software makes the task much easier. The software allows newbies to customize sound according to their style, creating all kinds of effects.

What's best is that the software works completely free at full functionality which means you don't have to pay for an extended or upgraded version later on. This part is quite surprising as most DJ controllers come with a lite version, preventing users from availing all the features of the software.


Conclusion

So, there you have it. Hopefully, this detailed guide has provided you all the information you need to make the right purchase. Good luck!

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