Top 7 Best DJ Controllers
Want to start a new DJ recording studio but confused with DJ controller? Here, we have provided different types of articles and how DJ controller works. Are you looking for things to be considered while buying a DJ Controller? If yes, in this article we have included even the basic thing to be considered while buying a DJ mixer. Can I start DJing at home? and how to set it up? Yes, you can start practicing DJing at home with basic DJ controller.
Are you new to the DJ controller and knew nothing about it? Here, we have explained with different types of DJ controller, how to set up and top picks from our end. However, the DJ controllers are categorized based on the user DJ, i.e, a beginner DJ cannot use or find difficulty in using professional DJ controller. While a professional DJ irritate with entry-level or beginner level DJ controller. A beginner controller comes with fewer features compared to professional ones.
Any best DJ controller would have the features and ability to mix songs smoothly, giving the user an amazing experienceIn order to help you in selecting the better option whether you are a beginner DJ or professional DJ, we have provided you with good information about the working of DJ controllers. Also, we made research and curated a list of Our Top 7 Recommended products that are available in the market. Moreover, we have added a few FAQ’s to help you avoid confusions.
Top 8 Best DJ Controllers
Heavy-weight professional controller
One-knob mixer Fx
High-resolution display controller
Basic DJ controller
How does it work?
A DJ Controller is digital equipment that allows DJs to mix the music with the preferred software using different components of the controller. A microprocessor in the DJ Controller allow easy control of software rather than following a traditional way of using laptop, touchpad. Also, controllers send signals to the laptop or computer how to mix the audio using the DJ software.
DJ Controller have built-in sound cards that allow listening to the music prior to connecting them to the output. Moreover, DJ Controller using MIDI protocols to communicate with the laptop or computer. Now, coming to the point how DJ controller works.
To make it work you must connect the DJ controller to the laptop or computer with DJ software installed. After proper connection establishment, the laptop transmits the track to the DJ controller and DJ start mixing the tracks. The DJ listen to them in headphones prior to transmitting it to the speakers, amplifiers.
Setup required for DJ
For DJing, you require a few basic setups either you are a beginner DJ or professional DJ. Here, we list the basic equipment required
- Input device – You need either a turntable or CD decks as input devices for mixing the tracks
- Mixer – Generally, professional DJ tend to use a mixer for the proper mixing of the tracks and controlling. It allows for producing different effects
- Headphones – You need to listen to your cues and mix tunes and hence any well-performing headphone is ideal
- Controller – they allow to mix the music efficiently using their preferred software
- Speakers – to hear the mixes with popular clarity you need high-end speakers or high-quality speakers
Types of DJ Controller
DJ Controllers help to mix the music using software, jog wheels, knobs, and other components. Specifically, controllers do not have different types; rather they are classified based on the level of DJ. A beginner DJ cannot use professional DJ controller while a professional DJ irritate or feel less convenient to use entry level or beginner DJ controller.
Traditionally, the DJ controller work with a specified DJ software or a few DJ software. Hence, a standard MIDI protocol is used by most of the DJ controller.
If you are learning DJing from scratch or just started DJing, it is best to opt for a DJ controller that falls under entry level. A beginner DJ controller will be lightweight and does not include great features. An ideal beginner DJ controller includes two to four channels. Also, a beginner DJ controller will have basic functionalities.
A beginner DJ controller includes jog wheels with basic techniques, well-equipped mixer with a knob for adjusting the volume and crossfader, built-in sound card, headphones with cue control and a DJ software. Apart from this, it should be available in your budget. Pioneer DDJ 400 is ideal for a beginner with good mixer effects.
We can not find any intermediate DJ controller as we find beginner or professional in the market. Yet few DJ controllers are available in the market that performs great but not as a professional DJ controller. Also, they will not be as simple as a beginner DJ controller. They include few additional features apart from proper jog wheels, in-built screens, well-equipped mixer and adjusting knob.
For example, I consider Roland DJ-202 as intermediate DJ controller. They have all the above-mentioned features, additionally, sequencer and drum machine are included. A beginner DJ find difficult in using sequencer and drum machine in the proper way. It might be confusing. So, any DJ who is well-versed with Beginner DJ controllers and started to work on a professional DJ controller can feel easy to use Roland DJ-202.
Professional DJ Controller includes enhanced version and many features to operate. Also, it is not defined by the price. A professional DJ controller includes top quality sound-card, in-built screens, professional grade input and outputs, solidly built, VU metering per channel and a hardware mixer that can easily hot external media players and turntables.
For example, Denon DJ MCX8000 is considered as a professional DJ controller. It has four channel digital mixer with 2 mic inputs and dual XLR output. Also, two HD display screens and built-in Engine software that allow you to perform without a laptop. Moreover, has a powered USB port for external hard drives.
What to look while buying a DJ controller?
Buying a DJ controller doesn’t mean that only the hardware part to be considered. The one which you are looking for should compatible to work with different software. Ensure that the DJ controller you are buying comes with the software you are comfortable with and understand it better. Also, the software is important because you will be mixing the music with the controller.
Moreover, few DJ controllers can work with the laptop and a few more work with iPhone, Android tablets, iPads etc. Now, many DJ controller available in the market that is capable of mapping with different software via MIDI. Thus, software plays a key role in the DJ controller.
Ports and connectivity
As you know that all the DJ controllers come with few essential ports like an input/output port and a port for USB connection or laptop connections. Ensure that your DJ Controller comes with few more ports. When you want to connect the audio output to speakers and other necessary devices you must feel easy doing so. However, many ports are not expected in beginner DJ Controllers.
If you are a beginner DJ or learning DJing from scratch then invest on the controller with good jog wheels. A professional DJ will have the knowledge of what kind of gig he will be playing. So, he can choose one that best suits and can be used easily.
They come with most of the modern controllers. Jog wheels allow you to mix and control the music well. Also, they help to slow down or fasten the tracks in addition to fade the tracks. Generally, many beginner DJs try to use controllers with jog wheels.
Many DJ Controllers come in-built screens. In-built screens help you to know about the audio levels in the controller itself rather than a connected laptop. Mostly these kinds of controllers are used by professional DJs. Also, the size and number of screens vary from brand to brand. Few DJ controller come with a single large screen while few come with three to four small screens.
Number of channels
Every DJ controller comes with different level and the different number of channels. The channel number determines the number of tracks able to controlled individually or mixed. Every channel can play one individual track separately. Many beginners prefer a two-channel DJ controller while experienced will prefer four-channel DJ controller. A four-channel controller helps to mix four different tracks.
We know that three different levels exist in DJs beginners, intermediate, professional. Similarly, DJ Controllers also will be different for different levels. Choose the controller for one which you belong to. However, a beginner level DJ cannot use Professional DJ Controller. While a Professional level DJ frustrate to use beginner level DJ Controller.
Size of the DJ Controller will be tougher if you have a small space or small recording studio. Often beginners DJ Controller will be with smaller dimensions and occupy less space. A professional or experienced DJ Controller need more space. Hence, choose your DJ Controller as per space you can occupy with. Also, people who are traveling with their DJ Controller must concentrate on the dimensions of the DJ Controller to feel comfortable and easy to carry.
Your DJ controller must have internal memory or USB ports to save the points. Any time if your DJ Controller internal memory stops working then you have to save them in USB. Otherwise, you shall carry a laptop or phone to save directly.
It is one of the factors to be considered while buying a DJ Controller. As size plays an important role in buying weight similarly. A heavyweight DJ Controller will be harder to transport from one place to another place. A beginner DJ Controller will be lighter when compared to the experienced or professional one.
Additional accessories along with controller is always a plus because basically DJ controller is expensive. Moreover, you need a stand to place the controller, headphones and a case to carry the controller easily. So, any controller with extra accessories within your budget is to be looked for.
1. Hercules DJ Universal DJ Controller – Our Pick
Hercules is a renowned age-old company and all their products are designed innovatively to satisfy the user needs. Also, they were first to create a dual-deck mixing controller with an in-built audio interface. Moreover, they were honored with the CES innovative Design and Engineering Award for DJControlWave. Hercules products include DJ controller, DJ speakers, DJ headphones, and software.
The Universal DJ Controller has three modes for different device connections. his DJ controller hercules connects to your computer with PC/Laptop mode, multiscreen mode via USB for Mac or PC and tablet mode via wireless Bluetooth technology. To acquire beautiful track mixing use available 16 pads. Access the playlist instantly using smartphones.
- Using built-in Bluetooth Wireless technology you can control your mix from your smartphones
- It is compatible with all Android, iOS, Mac
- You can use DJUCED master applications for creative track mixing
- Also, using the app the playlist can be customized and also the guest can vote the required track
- The DJ controller comes with an in-built audio interface, headset output, and external input
- Also, the controller has two metal surface pressure-sensitive capacitive jog wheels and backlit buttons for easy controlling
- Ideal for beginners
- Easy to use
- Excellent product with high quality
- the product looks robust
- Does not support Mac
2. Denon DJ MC7000 | Premium 4-Channel DJ Controller & Mixer with Dual USB Audio Interfaces and full Serato DJ download – Heavy-weight professional controller
DJ MC7000 is the product of Denon DJ. All their products are well-performed which are designed innovatively. Many professional DJs opt these controllers for their innovative design and performance. Their products include DJ controllers, DJ mixers, DJ Players, Turntables and more. Moreover, they use advanced technology and provide high-end quality products.
MC7000 is a professional DJ denon mixer with dual USB connections and four-channel Serato DJ capability. The controller is suited for club and mobile DJs. The controller comes with touch-capacitive 6inch platters with LED display. Also, the weight of the controller is heavy compared to other DJ controllers.
- The professional MC7000 comes with four-channel, dual USB connections, and two mics
- The dual USB interface allows two DJs to perform simultaneously either on different tracks separately or on the same track
- It has solid legendary build quality with heavyweight and audio reproduction of 24-bit
- MC7000 allows the DJs to perform with maximum music mix and style with included Serato DJ pro, plus, three creative expansion packs
- Also, it has touch-capacitive dual 6-inch platters
- For a perfect blend of sound and content, the controller provides access to inputs from both digital and analog sources
- Serato DJ pro includes 3 expansion packs and DJ pro. Now, you can mix the sound that is unavailable in the track for a live performance or even prepare them beforehand.
- Single press encoder helps in creating beautiful mixing
- Dual USB interface
- High-end sound quality
- The hardware of the controller is extremely good
- Serato DJ Pro need to be more user-friendly
3. Pioneer DJ Jingweite 2-Channel Controller for Rekordbox – Portable
Jingweite 2-channel controller is the product of Pioneer DJ corporation. The Japan-based company started selling its innovative DJ technology products since 1994. Their DJ equipment is well designed to produce a good sound system and crystal clear audio. Their products include DJ speakers, DJ Mixers, DJ controllers, Turntables and much more.
Pioneer DJ mixer is portable and lightweight. The controller has dedicated cue buttons, CDJ-style looping controls and more interesting elements to use. It’s a simple plug-and-play DJ controller with clear audio. Moreover, it comes with an included DJ Rekordbox software for proper mixing of tracks.
- Comes with USB cable, quick start operating instructions licensed key card and warranty
- The weight of the controller is 2.1kg and is portable
- Also, the two-channel controller has a sound card, two deck controls, 8 hot cues, one mic, one USB port
- It follows a simple plug-and-play connection for connecting your computer
- As rekordbox software is included you have free access to the tutorial to learn the techniques
- Buttons and knobs of DJ-400 are arranged similarly to the professional club-style layout
- Beat Fx feature allows crafting unique sets
- You can hear your track mix via computer’s internal or external speakers, simultaneously you can hear them via headphones
- High-quality product
- Quality of keys, knobs are good
- It works only on RecordBox software
4. Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 Mk3 DJ Controller – One-knob mixer Fx
MK3 DJ controller is the product of Native Instruments. It is a 20 years old company with innovative products. Now, they are leading manufacturer of both hardware and software for computer-based DJing and audio production. Its mission is to provide and develop integrated and innovative solutions for musical styles and profession.
MK3 DJ Controller includes four decks, easy tempo sync, triggering loops, jumping between drops or breaks, dedicated one-knob mixer Fx, flexible UI. The controller is portable and follows an easy plug-and-play connection. It has bigger jog wheels for an easy spin and 8 RGB pads. Moreover, the controller has the layout of club-standard.
- Comes with a one-year warranty and weighed around 2 kgs
- It comes with 16-pads for hot cues, samples or loops
- Two-channel mixer and identical deck design matching the club-standard layout
- 5.5-inch jog wheel for mixing, scratching with full control
- The controller comes with 24-bit high-quality audio interface, 2 main outputs, mic input, headphone output
- For smooth transitions and effects of heavy drops use 1-touch new mixer Fx control
- Adjustable cue or monitor channels
- Jog wheels for easy slow down of tracks or speed up of tracks
- Large and easy access knobs
- Good for club and house parties
- Excellent built quality
- No XLR for speakers and only one mic
- A user experienced constant noise on the track
5. Numark MixTrack Platinum DJ Controller with Jog Wheel Display – High-resolution display controller
The MixTrack Platinum DJ Controller is the product of Numark. It is a 40 plus years renowned company. They developed new products with cutting-edge performance. They introduced innovative products in the market like DJ mixer with an in-built sampler, professional dual CD player; the first iOS enabled DJ system and much more. Now, it is the leading and largest manufacturer of DJ equipment.
MixTrack Platinum DJ Controller comes with great features. It has built-in LCD display 5-inch screens in each jog wheel, gain and filter controllers, 4-channel mixing, 24-bit audio output. Now, you can monitor the information on bpm. Also, switching between the four decks is easier. No drivers or additional setup is required and has Serato software.
- MixTrack platinum has a built-in 24-bit audio system for easy mixing and 2 headphones jack
- Now, you can simply connect the speakers and does not need any setup
- With additional gain control, DJs will have complete gain over 4 channels
- Cue points and loop points make easy access and repeat the tracks
- Rugged metal platters will help to scratch or stop the track
- Multi-function touch strip for track search operation and dynamic Fx control
- Easy switching between four decks
- High-resolution 1.75-inch display for monitoring information on bpm, track time remaining, pitch adjustment, and platter position
- The DJ controller is portable because of the lightweight
- Good quality and amazing functionality
- Easy mixing using bpm display
- Cannot be connected to android phones
6. Roland DJ 202 – DJ Controller – Mid-level controller
DJ 202 is the product of Roland Corporation. The company was founded in 1972. It is a leading Japanese manufacturer of the software, electronic musical instruments, and equipment. All their products are with innovative design. Their products include Pianos, Organs, Amplifiers, Drums & Percussion, Pro Audio and much more.
DJ 202 is an easy plug-and-play DJ controller that is compact and provides the layout and features of a professional DJ controller. The controller comes with the mic for adding vocals during live performances. Also, low-latency, large platters help in easy scratch and cue. Moreover, it has only two channels and a four deck controller.
- The product comes with a warranty and weighs around 2.09 kg
- It claims, it provides DJs full-length features of the professional controller in a portable unit
- It allows the product to remix the beat, DJ in live performances as well as during studio recording
- DJ 202 comes with an input mic, low latency platters, onboard sequencer, transport controls and 8 dedicated pads for controlling Serato Pro software
- It has in-built drum kits and eight sound in every TR kit
- Also, an independent sampler volume control is provided
- The two-channel four decked DJ controller can be powered via USB
- The product comes with a clear user manual hence it becomes the best option for beginners.
- Sound quality is good
- Can improve the quality of the sliders and knobs
- No separate LCD screen
7. Hercules DJ Instinct S Series 4780846 2-Channels Controller (Black) – Basic DJ controller
The DJ controller comes with 2-deck, pressure-detecting jog wheels, attached USB cable, stereo output preview. The controller includes DJUCED software that is used to analyze the software. Easy control of pitch bend functions with jog wheels. Ideal for those who want to practice DJing.
- Two-deck DJ controller has individual deck controls, in-built audio output
- The product comes with pressure-detecting jog wheels and they are capable of browsing through the tracks and controls pitch bend function
- The compact design controller have mixer controls at center
- DJUCED 18 software for mixing audio tracks
- It has one crossfader and two volume faders
- The product is available in affordable price
- Portable and easy plug-and-play
- Works well with software
- Great for house parties or home sessions.
- Ideal only for practicing at home, can not be used in a bigger space.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the difference between DJ controller vs DJ Mixer?
A DJ controller is a stand-alone unit or microprocessor-based equipment that is capable of performing mixing of audio, switching tracks, start or stop the music, adjust the pitch, and cue. While DJ mixer can only mix the audio from multiple sources and manipulate them. Even a DJ controller can do the work of a DJ mixer.
2. What is the average size of a DJ controller?
Coming to the size of a DJ controller, each and every DJ controller has its own dimensions and weight. Ideally, any basic DJ controller will be portable and can be placed easily on a small table.
3. Which main features to look out for in DJ controller for a beginner?
For buying a beginner DJ controller few key features to look for like jog wheels, crossfaders, knobs, volume control, gain control, built-in sound card.
After good research, we have picked Universal DJ controller by Hercules as the best DJ controller. If you are looking for professional use then go for DJ MC7000 from Denon. Want to buy a DJ controller for practicing at home and start DJing then opt for basic Hercules S series DJ controller. For portable DJ controller go for pioneer.
Each and every DJ controller provided by us has good user ratings and genuine features. Hope you have liked the article and if you want to pick any of the DJ controllers from the above mentioned, simply follow the link. Every DJ controller has its specific feature and different from each other