12 Best Rated DJ Controllers – In-Depth Review

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12 Best Rated DJ Controllers – In-Depth Review

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I n order to mix the best sounding beats and reach the heights of success as a DJ, you need the right gear by your side. When it comes to what you use when you are producing music in the studio, or when you are at a gig, a very important gear that must be of high quality for you to have a raging success is the DJ controller. It should give you the versatility you need to let the creative part of you unleash itself, slowly becoming a household name worldwide by mixing sick beats that will make people fall in love with your style fast.

Top Rated 12 DJ Controllers

Photo
Product
Platter
Deck Control
Hot Cues
THD
SNR
Software
Price
Numark NV II Image
Best Overall
Touch sensitive
2
10
0.005%
112 dB A-weighted; 109 dB unweighted
Serato DJ
Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB3 Image
Best for Scratching
5”, touch-sensitive
4
4
0.005%
103 dB
Denon DJ MC4000 Image
Best with Serato
Touch-activated
2
8
N/A
88 dB
Serato DJ Intro
Pioneer DJ DDJ 400 Image
Our Choice
5”, touch-responsive
2
8
103 dB
Rekordbox DJ
Numark Mixtrack 3 Image
Best Under $300
5”, metal, touch-responsive
2
4
0.005%
0.005%
Virtual DJ 8 LE
Pioneer Pro DJ DDJ-SZ Image
Best for PC
8”, aluminum wheels with adjustable resistance
4
8
111 dB
Serato DJ
Hercules DJ Control Inpulse 300 Image
Best for Beginners
5.9”, touch-responsive
2
8
N/A
N/A
DJUCED
Roland DJ-202 Image
Low latency, large size
4
N/A
0.005%
N/A
Serato DJ Pro
Numark NS6 Image
6”, touch-sensitive, illuminated
4
5
6”, touch-sensitive, illuminated
98 dB
Serato DJ
Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 MK2 Image
Serato DJ
2
N/A
98 dB
Traktor Pro 3
Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB2 Image
5”, aluminum
4
4
Serato DJ Lite
Gemini GV Series G4V Image
Best for Virtual DJ
Touch sensitive
2
N/A
0.05%
90 dB
Virtual DJ

1. Numark NV II



Specifications:

  • Platter: 5”, dual, with search and scratch modes
  • Deck control: 4
  • External audio mixer channels: 4
  • Hot cues: 10
  • Total harmonic distortion: 0.005%
  • Signal-to-noise ratio: 112 dB A-weighted; 109 dB unweighted
  • Controls: Mixer, playback, cue, loop, track, pitch, navigation, effects
  • Software: Serato DJ
  • Warranty: 1 year


Numark is one of the most recognizable brands on the market, producing numerous quality DJ gear. But what no one can deny is the fact that the NV II model takes the cake, being their best work yet. If you buy it, what you will probably first notice is the fact that it adds gridlines to the waveform.

This addition is intended to help artists visualize the beat of their tracks better, ensuring the created beats will hype everyone at the venue where the performance takes place. Another impressive element is the fact that the navigation control comes with selection knobs that allow you to push in order to load the tracks, sorting them by metadata in the browse mode. Besides boasting a generous improvement to the on-screen experience, the NV II comes with touch-capacitive jog wheels that improve your experience when using them.

It features dual metal platters which measure 5 inches and are hyper-responsive, these platters featuring search and scratch modes that allow a more versatile performance. The design it boasts makes using it a dream come true, feeling like a star when you are in front of the crowd and you mix songs. Best of all, it is impressively light, allowing you to carry it with ease when you have gigs in different locations on the same night.

Pros

  • Perfect beatmatching ensured by on-screen gridlines
  • Integrated displays help you focus on mixing music
  • Optimum response ensured by adaptive learning platter tech
  • 10 pad modes to choose between
  • Features a professional grade crossfader with curve adjustment

Cons


Verdict

Allowing you to feel and create music as you like, this Numark entry is a definite must-have. While you perform, you can make your own spectacular remix to impress the crowd at the gig, the 16 pads giving you all the freedom you need.



2. Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB3



Specifications:

  • Platter: 5”, touch-sensitive
  • Deck control: 4
  • External audio mixer channels: 2
  • Hot cues: 4
  • Total harmonic distortion: 0.005%
  • Signal-to-noise ratio: 103 dB
  • Controls: FX level, filter, headphone level, master level, EQ, trim
  • Warranty: 3 years


It features large 5″ jog wheels that provide an enhanced scratch response and accuracy, thus making the music you enchant the crowd with all the more pleasing. Speaking of scratch, one of its main highlights is the fact that it allows you to add scratch effects to any songs you want, whether they are cued or currently playing, all without using a turntable due to the Pad Scratch feature.

The compatibility it boasts with the Serato DJ software is another highlight, but unfortunately, the software is not included in the package. However, do note there is no other downside aside from this one, which is great considering your interest is toward mixing quality and not other aspects necessarily. It features a USB B port and a 1⁄4-inch jack mic port. It delivers a 103 decibels SNR, and the frequency range is from 20 to 20000 Hz.

One of the more interesting aspects is the fact that it delivers clear audio each and every time due to the fact that the mic input circuit eliminates distortion, thus the music being heard crystal-clear even when you select high input levels. When it comes to manufacturer guarantee, you will be pleased to know that the product is backed by an industry-leading 3-year warranty.

Pros

  • Frequency range from 20 to 20000 Hz
  • 103 decibels SNR
  • Mic input circuit ensures distortion-free audio for a crystal-clear sound output
  • You can add scratch effects to songs that are cued or currently playing without the use of a turntable
  • Intuitive layout ensures you will have an easy time mixing songs with it

Cons

  • Serato software must be purchased separately
  • Some users complain that the poor quality shielding and sound card cause electronic interference


Verdict

When it comes down to user-friendly DJ gear, it doesn’t get better than the DDJ-SB3 that boasts what most praise as being the most intuitive layout possible. Ensuring great scratch response and accuracy, and allowing you to add these awesome effects without the need for a turntable, it’s the product with which you will hold the crowd in the palm of your hand.



3. Denon DJ MC4000



Specifications:

  • Platter: Touch-activated
  • Deck control: 2
  • External audio mixer channels: 4
  • Hot cues: 8
  • Signal-to-noise ratio: Over 88 dB
  • Controls: EQ, FX, hot cues, loops, sampler
  • Software: Serato DJ Intro
  • Warranty: 2 years


Another top choice we recommend you go with if you are an aspiring DJ is the MC4000. Not only does it come at a relatively fair price, but it provides an excellent performance that guarantees the people at the venue will fall in love with your performance.

It is a premium 2-deck system which is perfect for DJs who are on the go all the time, having more than one gig per night. The USB connection it features allows you to connect it to your computer.

It is made of professional-grade steel that guarantees long-lasting durability, so you can rest assured knowing you have spent your money wisely on it. The mixing capability it features reduces the need for additional equipment when you are playing for a crowd and you want to impress. The independent level control of the booth outputs provides a superior versatility.

It features long-throw 100-millimeter pitch faders and touch-activated jog wheels which allow an accurate scratching. It is easy to use as it comes with dedicated EQ and FX control knobs on each channel. It boasts a signal-to-noise ratio of more than 88 dB and a total dynamic range of over 105 dB. Additionally, it comes with hot cue and sample trigger pads that feature illuminated feedback.

Pros

  • Reliable build quality makes it an outstanding gear for those who work numerous gigs during the week
  • User-friendly design makes it perfect for beginners as well as professional DJs
  • Features two microphone inputs to offer enhanced versatility
  • Compatible with numerous DJ software

Cons

  • Does not feature a slicer or slip mode
  • Costly acquisition


Verdict

The great price to quality ratio and the numerous features it comes with make this Denon entry an option worth taking into consideration. Purposely built for DJs who have different gigs in one night, it is as user-friendly as these devices get.



4. Pioneer DJ DDJ 400



Specifications:

  • Platter: 5”, touch-responsive
  • Deck control: 2
  • External audio mixer channels: 2
  • Hot cues: 8
  • Total harmonic distortion: Less than 0.005%
  • Signal-to-noise ratio: 103 dB
  • Controls: Cue, beat FX, loops, play/pause
  • Software: Rekordbox DJ
  • Warranty: 1 year


Best suited for beginner DJs, the Pioneer DJ 400 boasts major layout changes as opposed to its predecessors, and it even comes with contemporary controls and performance features that are typically found on more expensive gear, which makes it a smart acquisition budget-wise as well. The onboard features it comes with include jog wheels, a 2-channel mixer, a 3-band EQ, filter control, built-in FX, a loop recorder, and trigger pads.

The club-style layout combined with its enhanced portability add to its appeal, and even as you advance in your skills, it won’t become futile as features like the built-in sampler, manual looping, its hot cues, and the high and low-pass filter make it adaptable even for a pro.

The plug-and-play simplicity ensures you will spend more time learning how to DJ so that you may impress crowds at venues instead of wasting time setting up gear. Its high-quality sound card provides crystal-clear audio even when you set it at the highest volume, which few controllers out there deliver.

It even comes with a license key for the Rekordbox DJ software, and there’s a tutorial included so that you can get the help you need at the beginning. It boasts a 103 dB signal-to-noise ratio, the frequency range spans from 20 to 20,000 Hz, and the distortion is below 0.005%.

As it weighs only 4.62 pounds and measures 19 inches in width by 2.3 inches in height by 10.7 inches in depth, you can see we why highlighted its portability earlier. Furthermore, a 1-year warranty is provided by the manufacturer.

Pros

  • License key for the Rekordbox DJ software is included with the purchase
  • Club-style layout, portability, and user-friendly design make it perfect for beginners
  • High-quality sound card delivers crystal-clear audio regardless of the volume
  • Backed by a 1-year warranty

Cons

  • Better suited for beginners rather than pros
  • Not your cheapest option


Verdict

Coming at a decent price even though it boasts the club-style layout, portability, and features of more expensive models, the 400 is our personal favorite and we recommend that you give it a try as it caters to the needs and expectations of beginners and professional alike.



5. Numark Mixtrack 3



Specifications:

  • Platter: 5”, metal, touch-responsive
  • Deck control: 2
  • External audio mixer channels: 2
  • Hot cues: 4
  • Total harmonic distortion: 0.005%
  • Controls: Cue, pitch bend, headphone volume
  • Software: Virtual DJ 8 LE
  • Warranty: 2 years


A more affordable option to go for as opposed to other entries in this top, the Mixtrack 3 puts at your disposal everything you could need during your DJ gig. It is an all-in-one solution you will not be able to perform without from the point of purchasing it on for sure. It features 100mm pitch sliders that keep everything in perfect sync, the pitch being longer than what other products have accustomed us with.

Mix how you desire and create sick new beats to win over even the most pretentious crowds with ease due to the touch-responsive jog wheels that are even beginner-friendly. The backlit elements make it easy for you to see where all the needed controls are. Additionally, the volume levels are displayed so that you know what selections you are making at all times.

It comes with the Virtual DJ 8 LE software which allows you to create the mixes you desire with ease, a welcoming addition for beginners in this domain. Overall, it includes numerous convenient, professional controls and settings which aid during the gig, some of the best examples being the dedicated tracks browsing controls from the library, the filter knobs which are dedicated for each channel, the multiple FX manipulation, and so on.

Pros

  • Comes with the Prime Loops remix tool kit
  • Reasonable asking price as opposed to other more expensive models
  • Endorses multiple FX manipulation
  • Features high-resolution metal jog wheels

Cons

  • Lacks RCA connectors
  • Better suited for beginners rather than pros


Verdict

Easy to work with, which makes it equally friendly for old-timers as well as newcomers, this Numark product is a must-have for any serious mixer. With it in your gear setup, there is no crowd you will have difficulties winning over, all of your gigs becoming instant successes.



6. Pioneer Pro DJ DDJ-SZ



Specifications:

  • Platter: 8”, aluminum wheels with adjustable resistance
  • Deck control: 4
  • External audio mixer channels: 4
  • Hot cues: 8
  • Total harmonic distortion: Less than 0.004%
  • Signal-to-noise ratio: 111 dB
  • Controls: Pitch, filter, echo, jet, Serato DJ FX
  • Software: Serato DJ
  • Warranty: 1 year


If you are looking for intuitive, physical scratch performances and fast response, the DDJ-SZ is your best solution. It features full-sized illuminated jog wheels that provide the possibility for precision scratching as they deliver a fast and smooth response.

One of the more convenient elements is that you can check your point countdown or playback position with ease due to the On Jog Display provided. it allows you to hook up CD players or turntables in order to control any of the decks via timecode, even all of them at once if that is what you are going for. Additionally, it comes with two separate mic inputs that each feature their own level control and EQ.

Performance Pads

The backlit performance pads it features are its greatest highlight, by far. You can instantly trigger Quantized hot cues, the Slicer, the Sample, and the Roll, or hit Short to activate Cue and Slicer Loop. The Velocity Mode it provides allows full control of the sample volume depending on the amount of pressure you directly apply. The multi-colored visual reference provided by the LEDs allows easier supervision of modes that are in play, thus helping you use the system in a more intuitive manner.

Jogs

It features full-sized 202-millimeter jog wheels that are made with aluminum to ensure long-lasting durability as you scratch away to create your mixes. Furthermore, the design of the jog wheels is specially intended to optimize the scratch response so that you win even the fussiest crowd over. This optimized response combined with the illuminated cue point markers provided by it gives you effortless control over the system, not having to constantly check the laptop screen when you are mixing.

Mention-Worthy Features and Specs

  • Dual USB sound cards and ports let you hook it up to two computers at the same time.
  • Provides a dedicated channel for recording mixes.
  • Features a convenient level/depth dial to easily manipulate sound with.

Serato DJ Pro

The Serato DJ Pro software is included with this purchase, a huge benefit as it provides you with an intuitive platform to create your own mixes. The dedicated buttons for FX and the advanced features it comes with, like the Slip mode, the Beat Jump, and Quantize and the plug-and-play control of the included software ease your work during your gigs and when you are creating beats at home. All you have to do is connect your PC and you can start playing.

Pros

  • Compatible with Serato DJ
  • Frequency range from 20 to 20000 Hz
  • Color FX options – echo, filter, pitch, and jet
  • Oscillator sampler options – horn, cymbal, siren, noise
  • Jog wheel measures 202 mm in diameter

Cons

  • Some users report that the jog wheel tends to lag
  • Spicy priced


Verdict

If you are an upcoming DJ and want to enjoy success from the get-go, this Pioneer entry is what you need. With large jog wheels and plenty of controls and effects to make quality music without going through intricate steps, it provides entertainment even for the most pretentious crowds out there.



7. Hercules DJ Control Inpulse 300



Specifications:

  • Platter: 5.9”, touch-responsive
  • Deck control: 2
  • External audio mixer channels: 2
  • Hot cues: 8
  • Controls: Filter, EQ, gain knob, volume fader/deck
  • Software: DJUCED
  • Warranty: 1 year


A budget-friendly selection you are sure to love as it features basically everything you could ask from this DJ gear, the Hercules DJ Control Inpulse 300 is sure to help you on your way to notoriety. One of the aspects that convince us of this statement is that it features the sought-after IMA intelligent assistant that suggests what tracks you should play from your library based on the latest trends. There are other perks with the software, including interactive help and Energy that recommends high-energy tracks to get people hyped and dancing.

It features beatmatch guides to help beginners as it shows when the pace needs to be slowed down or taken up a notch, thus providing a better grip during manual beatmatching – the tempo guide uses light that guides along with the tempo fader, and the Beat Align guide that uses light below the wheel to guide you.

It is a 2-channel model with touch-sensitive jog wheels that are made with tough plastic to allow rough handling if needed. There are 8 performance pads per deck with 8 modes, and each channel features an FX knob, an FX on/off button, and a dry/wet knob.

Other highlights include slip and quantize buttons, looping controls, and 3-band EQs. At the front, you find a 1/8” headphone jack, and the rear features RCA master outputs, connection with PC/laptop due to USB port, and a socket for a special add-on.

Pros

  • Jog wheels are made with plastic that feels very solid, allowing you to be a bit rougher when you scratch
  • Two-channel model with FX knobs, dry/wet knobs, and FX on/off buttons on each channel
  • IMA intelligent assistant helps with your gigs by suggesting what tracks to play

Cons

  • Better suited for beginners rather than professionals
  • Not your cheapest pick


Verdict

Fun and budget-friendly, perfect for anyone who is starting off their career, the Hercules DJ Control Inpulse 300 is a minimalistic, conventional model, but one that comes with all the features you could ask for to ‘scratch’ your way to success.



8. Roland DJ-202



Specifications:

  • Platter: Low latency, large size
  • Deck control: 4
  • External audio mixer channels: 2
  • Total harmonic distortion: 0.005%
  • Controls: FX, level, hot cue, loop, sequencer
  • Software: Serato DJ Pro


You should not let its compact size trick you as it is a force to be reckoned with, any aspiring DJ being lucky to have it by his/her side. Not only does it pack all the features a full-sized pro-grade system does in a much smaller device, but it comes at a reasonably cheap asking price as well, so buying it won’t mean bad news for your budget.

The large platters it features are specially designed for scratching, which means that even if you are a beginner in this art you can delight fans with your “tricks” when you perform. The low-cut EQ refines the sound and ensures there will be no background noise or sound issues. The 16-step sequencer synchronizes with the software sampler to allow real-time beat creation.

The MIDI output it features allows synchronization with other devices you intend to hook up, while the RCA stereo outputs allow a convenient direct connection to the amplifier or speakers. Additionally, with the dedicated pads and controls, you can quickly create and trigger samples, hot cues, and loops.

Pros

  • Features 2 platters that make scratching an easy job even for beginners
  • Plug-and-play connectivity helps save time and ensures intuitive use
  • Power supply provided through USB
  • Portability is granted by the handles it features

Cons

  • Some users report issues with its responsiveness
  • Cue buttons are made with plastic


Verdict

Even though it is compact, it gives you all the layout and features of a full-size pro-grade system, so there are more benefits to reap with it, especially considering that it comes at quite an affordable price.



9. Numark NS6



Specifications:

  • Platter: 6”, touch-sensitive, illuminated
  • Deck control: 4
  • Hot cues: 5
  • Total harmonic distortion: Less than 0.005%
  • Signal-to-noise ratio: 98 dB
  • Controls: 140
  • Software: Serato DJ


This four-deck, four-channel model really takes the cake when it comes to durability, boasting an impressive metal construction that ensures it will last for years. The positioning of the external inputs is straightforward enough for you to have an easy time using it, not needing to route external sources through software.

In the middle of its mixer section, you will find 12-bar VU meters that monitor the master output. No matter if you go with digital or analog sources, you will have a top-quality overall audio performance. The pitch range can be adjusted from +/-8 to +/-50 percent, giving you the control you need for it to please and impress the crowd in the venue where you are playing.

Each side features 5 cues that work with a shift-to-delete function, making it intuitive and easy for you to use it. In addition, it features no less than 12 effects which not only cover the basics, but that include important features like separate high-pass and low-pass filters. Additionally, Numark backs up the NS6 with a generous 1-year warranty against defects in parts and workmanship.

Pros

  • Works with or without the DVS software – can be used as a stand-alone
  • Features the innovative split-cue function
  • Top of the line jog wheels allow smooth mixing
  • Sturdy and durable build – made to last

Cons

  • Lacks actively spinning platters
  • Costly purchase


Verdict

Add a little spice to your DJ performance with this top of the line Numark product. Easy on the eye and convenient to use, it is specially made to allow you to create the mix of your dreams and keep the crowd in control and happy during the gig.



10. Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 MK2



Specifications:

  • Platter: Aluminum, silicone-damped
  • Deck control: 2
  • External audio mixer channels: 2
  • Total harmonic distortion: Less than 0.1%
  • Signal-to-noise ratio: 98 dB
  • Software: Traktor Pro 3
  • Warranty: 1 year


With so many products on the market, it is practically impossible to tell them apart at first sight. But this is not the case with the S2 MK2, a controller that does not only look different but performs at another level as well due to the fact that the manufacturer produces the software too.

Even though it is portable as it does not weigh much, this does not mean that it is not durable. On the contrary, the rugged construction makes it a guaranteed resistant and long-lasting investment. It has a very interesting design which makes it stand out from its competitors, a design that is composed of two decks and a pro-grade mixer with multi-effect controls. The direct iTunes integration and iPod compatibility ensure you will have an easy time when using it, allowing you to have complete freedom in order to impress the crowd with your music.

All of the features it boasts alongside the portability make it an exceptional choice not only for the more experienced DJs but for beginners as well. In addition, it features color-coded RGB buttons that trigger cue points, samples, and loops, providing instant visual feedback as you press them.

Pros

  • Separate volume control knobs for booth and master outputs
  • Amazing compatibility with Traktor DJ app for Apple devices
  • Low-latency fader and jog wheel
  • Remix decks and other extensive features allow a more versatile performance

Cons

  • Does not feature throughputs for emergencies
  • Comes at an expensive price


Verdict

If Traktor is your main weapon and you are looking for a two-channel model to perfectly compliment your choice software, this Native Instruments gear is what you need. Featuring innovative functions specific only to top of the line music systems, it is a mandatory addition to your DJ collection.



11. Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB2



Specifications:

  • Platter: 5”, aluminum
  • Deck control: 4
  • External audio mixer channels: 2
  • Hot cues: 4
  • Total harmonic distortion: Less than 0.005%
  • Signal-to-noise ratio: 90 dB
  • Software: Serato DJ Lite
  • Warranty: 1 year


A model you can rely on is the DDJ-SB2, which despite the fact that it has a plastic housing feels very durable. Furthermore, it is extremely lightweight, being perfect for those who have gigs in different places.

A spec that made us instantly fall in love with the DDJ-SB2 is the fact that it features large, low-latency jog wheels which give a great scratch response and are extremely accurate, ensuring you will perform at your peak when using it. The level meters and the trim knob it comes with allow you to quickly check and adjust the input volume on each channel as you see fit

Best of all, it features filter fade, meaning that when you go with this option, two high pass filters will be added to the crossfader. This will allow you to manipulate the bass and volume filters simultaneously with one hand for effortless, professional mixes. In addition, it stands out through the warranty it comes with as well, being backed up by the manufacturer for 3 years!

Pros

  • User-friendly design makes it especially great for beginners who want to master the art of being a DJ
  • Features a top of the line soundcard
  • Provides four-deck capabilities
  • Affordable – comes at a cheaper price than most products

Cons

  • You will need a software upgrade if you want to integrate it with most software out there
  • Some users report it produces a constant static noise


Verdict

The price point alone is enough to convince you that this Pioneer product is what you need. Considering how expensive DJ gear gets, you need to find as many products that do not sacrifice quality while managing to remain affordable, and the DDJ-SB2 provides exactly this.



12. Gemini GV Series G4V



Specifications:

  • Platter: Touch sensitive
  • Deck control: 2
  • Total harmonic distortion: 0.05%
  • Signal-to-noise ratio: 90 dB
  • Software: Virtual DJ
  • Warranty: 1 year


We start off by praising the design it boasts as its all-metal enclosure ensures it will last a lifetime, so your investment is bound to generate a whole lot more profits than you could initially imagine. Ideal to use with Virtual DJ, it features 4 rotary controls that add to its ease of use and 16 multi-function pads which enable you to mix music as you please.

It features a 2-channel mixer section where each channel has 3 band EQ, input metering, filter, and gain. The aforementioned performance pads are backlit to allow you to mix on the fly. It features front mounted auxiliary, microphone, and headphone controls so that you will have an easy time setting it up.

The LED monitor ensures you will be provided with proper visual feedback each and every time you use it. As it measures only 21.02 inches by 12.6 inches by 1.77 inches and weighs a mere 11.2 pounds, portability is a given with it. Additionally, the manufacturing company backs it with a 1-year warranty on parts and labor, so you can rely on free repairs and replacements if needed.

Pros

  • Features 16 multi-function performance pads
  • Backlit pads and buttons and active LED monitors ensure a user-friendly experience
  • Features 2 decks that promote full control of the 4 virtual software decks
  • Offers an easy and intuitive sound fine-tuning
  • Backed by a 1-year warranty

Cons

  • Some customers have complained that its design can be a bit flimsy
  • Not as loud as some customers expected


Verdict

Perfect for beginners and professionals alike, the G4V offers a user-friendly design that is accompanied by a plethora of features and intuitive controls so that your gigs are well received by the most pretentious crowds out there.



How It Helps Your DJ Career

What You Should Know

Digital DJ-ing has been made possible due to the multitude of music systems existent on the market at the moment. These products are mostly easy to use, making the life of a beginner DJ a lot easier when it comes to producing quality beats or playing gigs at different venues. They are just as great for those who are more experienced as well, offering them the versatility they look for to reach the top and become household names.

A department where owning a controller will help boost your performance considerably is your beatmatching. Thanks to the numerous technological advancements that have led to the appearance of these systems, they automatically beat match and synchronize the songs for you, ensuring no beat will be off.

All in all, these systems are truly crucial in your career as a professional DJ, being of utter importance for you to not only learn how to work with them but being equally important for you to invest in a model that comes with as many useful specs and features as possible.

Advantages of Using a Pro-Grade Controller

  • Easy transportation: What makes them heaven-sent to DJs is the fact that they are incredibly easy to transport, making it convenient to go from one gig to another. They also rid you of having to transport vinyl records or CDs which could get scratched during the transportation, thus hurting your performance.
  • No limitations when it comes to how much music you can carry: In the old days, you could not carry a lot of music with you, which meant that if you forgot a part of it at home or if the crowd was not responsive to a certain selection, the entire gig would have been a fiasco. Fortunately, things have drastically changed due to the apparition of modern systems, giving you the possibility to carry as many tunes as you need with you. This way, in case the people at the venue are not responding well to a certain type of music that you have selected, you will surely have enough backups to satisfy them and make the whole performance a raging success.
  • Find your music with ease: Time is of the essence when you are at a gig, the people who come to these acts wanting to dance and have fun, not wait for the artist to find the vinyl in a crate. With this product, you will not be faced with this issue ever in your career, having the music at your fingertips. All you have to do is to use the music system, and you will be able to scan through the playlists you have created fast, keeping the crowd entertained by being responsive to their expectations.
  • Easy mixing: Obviously, mixing is a lot easier when you use a USB model, unlike the old days when you had to beat match for hours in order to level up your mixing skills. With this type of a product at your disposal, you will not have to worry about losing all of your free time on these activities because the system makes everything a lot easier, allowing you to focus on finding the tunes you are looking for and dropping effects which will impress everyone.
  • Convenient setup: All you have to do is to find a flat surface on which to place the laptop and the system and insert each cable where it belongs. The whole ordeal should take only 5-10 minutes, meaning you will not leave your fans waiting for too long.
  • It helps you save money: It might sound surprising at first that a system that costs so much can help you save money, but it is actually true. This happens due to the fact that the music will be a lot cheaper, thus ensuring in 1-2 years you recover the money spent on it. Considering how vast the market actually is, you might end up not paying a lot of money on the device in the first place.



Tips & Tricks


Want to learn some neat tricks which will help make your number more appealing to the crowd? Then apply the tips and tricks that we will tell you about in the following lines, and you are sure to have a raging success. Of course, do not forget to practice them thoroughly at home before the gig starts to not embarrass yourself by making any mistakes.

  • The oldest trick in the book is to close the fader on the last beat that precedes the climax of the song and open up with the first beat of the song that comes next. This faded effect has a major impact on crowds and they respond well to it as it offers a smooth transition between the tracks.
  • If you are performing in front of a large crowd, you can add some interaction to the gig and integrate the spectators into the show by lowering or closing the up fader for the people in the crowd to hear themselves singing. Of course, this only applies to songs that have vocals on them and smash hits generally known and loved by all audiences.
  • Always avoid cutting the mids, highs, and lows, as the effect created won’t be a pleasant one for the crowd. If you cut the mids and the lows, the metallic sound which is created will get the crowd out of tune with you as the bassline will be lost. If you cut the mids and highs, the song will sound threatening, ensuring the crowd won’t have a good time at all.
  • Sometimes, it is good to cut the lows because cutting the bass at the end of the preceding phrase will emphasize the climax of the song. You can also use the lows to stimulate the crowd to sing along, cutting the bass when there is a catchy hook you notice the people like a lot, thus making them a part of the act and receiving a warm response.



Buying Guide


As a DJ, you need to have the best gear possible at your disposal in order to win the crowd over. To make sure everything you use when you perform is of top quality, you have to ensure the DJ system is amazing as well. This is the reason why we have conducted the proper research and written this section of the article, putting together a buying guide that will surely help you pick the perfect model to go with.

  • Sample Rate
    The sample rate represents how fast the samples are taken. The sample that we are talking about is a measurement at a specific time in the audio track. Additionally, it is described in the binary language. The number of times that specific measurement is taken represents the sample rate, and it is expressed in kiloHertz. The ideal choice to go with is the standard 44.1 kHz sample rate.
  • Bit Rate
    The bit rate represents the number of bits of the integers and other data units which are used by the data. When it comes to this spec, you should look for models that have a 24-bit rate because this is the most optimal choice to go with.
  • Portability
    Of course, we cannot end our buying guide without mentioning portability. When you go shopping for the gear, you have to keep in mind the fact that you will take it out of the car and transport it inside of the venue where you are playing on a regular basis. Therefore, you cannot afford to lose time you could have spent preparing the setup, and you cannot take the risk of not being able to move it on your own either. Thus, keep in mind to check for a portable model, the only way to do this being to choose one that is lightweight.

Trustworthy Brands


The most recognizable brands on the market are, by far, Native Instruments, Pioneer, and Numark. These manufacturers have rounded respect and basically cult following as a result of the top-tier quality controllers and general DJ gear they produce and release to interested customers. To learn a bit more about the titans of this industry, stick with us and you will understand why competitor brands never seem to rise up to their level.

Pioneer

Pioneer is a brand that does not need much in the way of introduction, being a household name thanks to the impressive performance shown by the products it has delivered since it was founded in 1938. The founder of the company, Nozomu Matsumoto, was a man who appreciated music and knew how important it was for high-quality audio speakers to be on the market. It was due to this passion that the company started with a booming success, and this great man’s legacy will always have a rightful spot in the history of DJ gear.

Numark

Another renowned manufacturer of DJ gear is Numark, this company standing its ground as an industry leader due to the fact that it has revolutionized how the mixing experience undergoes again and again. It has been founded back in 1971 by Harry Kotovsky and Robert Kotovsky, and in the over 40 years of experience, the company has produced a variety of cutting-edge performance gear which has changed mixing for all of us. Despite the fact that the company has managed to pull a lot of breakthroughs, it has not stopped manufacturing innovative, top-quality products, still being among the top brands of the moment by continuing to add improvements wherever it is possible.

Native Instruments

Any respectable DJ knows the Native Instruments company, a manufacturer of software and hardware for DJ-ing that has developed numerous innovative and fully-integrated solutions that have helped the people who work in this domain. What the company always prides itself on is the fact that it has always pushed technological boundaries, making it easier for amateurs to boost their skills, and offering professionals new creative horizons in order to reach the heights of success.



Rating Our Picks

Platter Type and Size

As these products get more innovative as time passes, we cannot overlook the fact that the platters are evolving as well. The platter must be responsive to your mixing needs and boast a decent diameter.

System Requirements

Of course, when you look at it, you have to take the system requirements into consideration as well. It is important for a disc jockey system to be as great performing as possible, but without asking too much when it comes to how well the laptop will perform.

Deck Controls

For it to truly be of great quality, it must feature at least a 4-deck control. If you take a look at our ranking, you will notice that no less than 4 of the models boast this spec. Of course, our choice for the upper hand was had by the dual 4-deck control model.

Hot Cues

The hot cue represents a point that the user can set on any track on the fly. As you will see, when it comes to all the models we have ranked as being the best on the market, they all allow you to set multiple hot cue points to an individual track, thus making your life a lot easier.

Best option: Numark NV II, Numark NS6


Frequently Asked Questions



?How do I scratch a DJ controller?
To come into your own hand and start scratching like a pro DJ, you first have to master the basics and learn how to pull off this technique. There are 3 simple scratches that you should learn at first, more precisely the baby, the scribble, and the drag scratch.

Baby – There is usually a center-located display that features a marker in the job wheel, which indicates the beginning of the sound. Find it, and start to move it back and forth with your fingers. We recommend that you not use a beat at the beginning so that you enjoy clear sound, and only when you are satisfied with the beat should you add music into the mix.

Scribble – It follows the same basic principles with the baby scratch, the sole difference being that you must move the record faster, two or even three times faster.

Drag – After you cue the start of the song, proceed to open the fader. After that, you must continue to move the sound back and forth from 9 to 12 o’clock position to perform this scratch.


?How do I clean it?
To ensure proper upkeep of the gear, you should clean it as soon as possible after the gig as dust, sweat, water, debris, and more can get on it. First, you should wipe it down using a soft, absorbent cloth to get rid of moisture, sweat, and anything else that might have fallen on it, as well as debris or dust. Then, you can get into a more detailed cleaning session where you use a microfiber cloth to wipe the spaces between the knobs, buttons, and all other parts.

?Does the weight matter?
Yes, it does matter how much it weighs as you would not want gear that you will find too difficult to carry from the car to the gig and vice versa. Also, if the one you do choose is lightweight, you will have an easier time setting up, which means that you can start your concert faster than you expected, pleasantly surprising the crowd.

?How should the platters be?
In a qualitative system, it is preferable for the platters to be touch-sensitive. This way, you won’t have a hard time mixing the songs and producing quality music when you are in front of the crowd. You should also pay attention to the size of the platters. Preferably, they should measure between 5 and 9 inches in diameter.

?What should I check to make sure it will be compatible with my laptop/PC?
To check for compatibility, you should look at the system requirements noted on the spec sheet. Ideally, it should be compatible with older as well as the newest versions of Windows and Mac OS. When you do purchase it, make sure it is compatible with the operating system of your laptop/PC, thus avoiding an unpleasant situation where you have to install a newer version of the system or even change the laptop or PC as it is not compatible with the system at all.



Conclusion

Without the right gear, you will not be able to take your performance to a proper end. Among the important gear pieces for a DJ stands the controller. As a matter of fact, it can be even seen as the most important piece of the puzzle due to the fact that with it you mix your music and deliver the sick beats you must get your crowd accustomed to in order for them to return the next time you have a show. In this article, we have reviewed and presented you with the best of the best, systems that should not miss from the collection of a serious aspiring disc jockey.

Best DJ Controller for Sale: Numark NV II

Reasonably priced considering what it offers, the NV II is the selection that impressed us the most with the plethora of features that make it a must-have for any aspiring DJ. Some of its highlights include USB connection ports that allow connectivity to the PC and velocity-sensitive trigger pads. One of its more fun features stands in the on-screen gridlines that play to your beat, helping you feel the rhythm better so that you can transmit it to the crowd standing in front of you better through visualization. Evidently, this isn’t where the perks end, if you return to our review understanding that feature- and performance-wise, there’s no match for this Numark at the moment.

Editor’s Choice: Pioneer DJ DDJ 400

It might not be the cheapest option out there, but this Pioneer entry, as expected considering the manufacturing company, surpasses competitors in terms of features and makes your job when you play gigs a whole lot easier so that you entertain the crowd and keep everyone happy. As it even includes a license key for specialty software, more precisely the Rekordbox DJ, as well as a tutorial to help you get started on using the software, you are sure to become a better DJ all thanks to using it.

Best DJ Controller Under $300: Numark Mixtrack 3

You are probably accustomed to your gear costing hundreds, even thousands of dollars, but the truth is that a little research takes you a long way as there is qualitative gear available at a much cheaper price too. The Mixtrack 3 is the best from this point of view as it costs less than $300, making for an affordable option regardless of your budget. It even includes the Virtual DJ 8 LE software, so it spares you of additional costs on accessories and tech.

Best DJ Controller for Beginners: Hercules DJ Control Inpulse 300

If you are just starting your DJ career off, you don’t need an intricate controller that you will have a hard time understanding how to use. For beginners, the Hercules Inpulse 300 is the go-to as it helps with beatmatching unlike any other entry in its niche, using light to guide you along the tempo fader so that you take the right decisions and produce sick beats everyone will just adore listening to.

Best DJ Controller for Scratching: Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB3

The art of scratching is what you must master if you want your name to sell tickets and your shows to be a success. As this Pioneer controller features an enhanced scratch response, it makes for the perfect tool for DJs who want to perfect this art. Aside from its tailoring to scratching, it comes with other features that make it a must-have, including, among others, the distortion-free mic input circuit that grants clarity even at the highest possible volume.

Best DJ Controller with Serato: Denon DJ MC4000

An intuitive platform where you can make your own mixes to enchant even the most pretentious of crowds with, the Serato DJ Into is included with the acquisition of the Denon MC4000, making it a tool any professional needs. Other highlights of this model include long-throw pitch faders that help with your scratching technique, as well as USB connections that allow you to use the system with your PC.

Best DJ Controller for Virtual DJ: Gemini GV Series G4V

If Virtual DJ is your “poison” so to speak when it comes to software, then you must get your hands on the G4V. Aside from its compatibility with this widely appreciated professional software, it features rotary controls that grant ease of use, and aspect that is sure to delight those who have recently begun their DJ career and are in need of intuitive gear. Even the asking price isn’t bad as this is one of the more affordable selections you can opt for.

Best DJ Controller for PC: Pioneer Pro DJ DDJ-SZ

It boasts a wide PC compatibility range, thus making it very likely for it to be compatible with your existing system. It is a bit spicy in terms of pricing, but you cannot expect for an excellent product of its caliber to come at a cheap price. Some of its greatest highlights include the built-in sound card it features, the multitude of intuitive controls, the touch-sensitive 8-inch platter, and so on.

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