Best DJ Controllers to Groove

Last update March 16, 2017
Got a taste and a nice feel of music? Wanna use it the right way? With a good DJ controller, you will be the most wanted person and the center of every party. Friends will adore you. Make them want to "move it move it"! ...Read more ...Read less
BEST 2017
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
SOFTWARE COMPATIBILITY
DECKS CONTROL
ADDITIONAL CONTROLS
INTERFACES
SOUND RENDERING PROPERTIES
DIMENSIONS
WEIGHT
WARRANTY
 
PROS

The controller offers extremely convenient loop adjustment feature, and with two audio outputs, you can select which is good for your audio system.

CONS

Needs separate power supply adapter.

OUR VERDICT

One of the best DJ controllers out there, with improved interface for comfortable work process at home parties as well as in clubs. Every element is well thought-out and designed with quality in mind.

detailed parameters
SOFTWARE COMPATIBILITY

Tractor, Tractor Pro (PC/Mac);
Tractor Dj (iPad, iPhone)

DECKS CONTROL

Browser knob, Load buttons, Shift, Playback control buttons (Cue, Play/Pause, Sync), Silicone-damped jog wheels with aluminum top plates, Pitch Fader

ADDITIONAL CONTROLS

DJ mixer (3-Band Equalizer, Gain, Filter, Faders, Crossfader), Volume controls (Master Gain, Cue Gain, Cue Mix, Mic Gain), FX buttons, Loop buttons, Pad buttons (Sampler, Cue), Flux buttons

INTERFACES

Audio input (USB Type B), Line output (Jack), Line output (RCA), Phones output (Jack), Mic out (Jack), Power supply connector

SOUND RENDERING PROPERTIES

Audio resolution: 16-bit, 24-bit;

Sampling frequency: 44.1 kHz, 48 kHz, 88.2 kHz, 96 kHz;

Converter: Cirrus Logic

DIMENSIONS

17.2"(W) x 12.1"(D) x 2.6"(H)

WEIGHT

5.73 lbs

WARRANTY

1 year

PROS

All the Mixtrack 3 quirks are present, including the touch panel for track navigation/effects adjustment and pitch faders to set BPM without problems. But Pro model also has a built-in soundcard.

CONS

Full software is to be purchased separately.

OUR VERDICT

A professional DJ controller created to mix even the most challenging songs with flying colors. It is also simple enough for beginners to manipulate.

detailed parameters
SOFTWARE COMPATIBILITY

Serato Dj (Serato Dj Intro included)

DECKS CONTROL

Browser knob, Load buttons, Shift, Playback control buttons (Cue, Play/Pause, Sync), Touch-sensitive metal jog wheels, Pitch Fader, Pitch Bands

ADDITIONAL CONTROLS

DJ mixer (3-Band Equalizer, Gain, Filter, Faders, Crossfader), Volume controls (Master Gain, Cue Gain, Cue Mix, Mic Gain), FX buttons (Touch Strip, Mode Button), Perfomance pad buttons (Loop, Sampler, Cue)

INTERFACES

Audio input (USB Type B), Line output (RCA), 2x Phone outputs (Jack & MiniJack), Mic out (Jack)

SOUND RENDERING PROPERTIES

Audio resolution: 24-bit;

Sampling frequency: 44.1 kHz

DIMENSIONS

21.7"(W) x 9.1"(D) x 1.2"(H)

WEIGHT

4.1 lbs

WARRANTY

1 year

PROS

The Pad Trans button, when activated, cuts the track fragment and loops it with a preset interval creating a nice beat. Filter Fade button simplifies mixing by adding the frequency fading effect.

CONS

Headphones are connected from the side which might be inconvenient for some users.

OUR VERDICT

DJing on-the-go is a breeze with this Pioneer DJ controller as it combines well thought-through functionality with quality and is able to control up to 4 decks simultaneously.

detailed parameters
SOFTWARE COMPATIBILITY

Serato Dj (Serato Dj Intro free download); Recordbox

DECKS CONTROL

Browser knob, Load buttons, Shift, Playback control buttons (Cue, Play/Pause, Sync), Large aluminum jog wheels, Pitch Fader, Can control up to 4 decks

ADDITIONAL CONTROLS

DJ mixer (3-Band Equalizer, Gain, Filter, Faders, Crossfader), Volume controls (Master Gain, Cue Gain, Cue Mix, Mic Gain), FX buttons (Level Beats), Pad buttons (Loop, Sampler, Cue)

INTERFACES

Audio input (USB Type B), Line output (RCA), 2x Phone outputs (Jack & MiniJack), Mic out (Jack)

SOUND RENDERING PROPERTIES

Audio resolution: 24-bit;

Sampling frequency: 44.1 kHz

DIMENSIONS

19.17"(W) x 10.7"(D) x 2.3"(H)

WEIGHT

4.63 lbs

WARRANTY

1 year

PROS

Long 4-inch pitch faders provide the most pinpoint BPM adjustment for each deck. Additionally, this Numark DJ controller also has sensor panel to navigate through track and manage the effects on it.

CONS

No built-in soundcard like in a Pro model; you'll need an external one.

OUR VERDICT

Quite affordable all-in-one DJ controller with the majority of necessary functions to conveniently use your software and create the most amazing mixes.

detailed parameters
SOFTWARE COMPATIBILITY

Virtual Dj LE (included)

DECKS CONTROL

Browser knob, Load buttons, Shift, Playback control buttons (Cue, Play/Pause, Sync), Touch-sensitive metal jog wheels, Pitch Fader, Pitch Bands

ADDITIONAL CONTROLS

DJ mixer (3-Band Equalizer, Gain, Filter, Faders, Crossfader), Volume controls (Master Gain, Cue Gain, Cue Mix), FX buttons (Touch Strip, Mode Button), Perfomance pad buttons (Loop, Sampler, Cue)

INTERFACES

Control input (USB Type B)

SOUND RENDERING PROPERTIES

n/a

DIMENSIONS

21.7"(W) x 9.1"(D) x 1.2"(H)

WEIGHT

4.1 lbs

WARRANTY

1 year

PROS

Surprisingly compact DJ controller, easy to carry around in a bag. 8 multifunctional pads greatly simplify the effects management.

CONS

Entry-level controller: no faders, equalizer is only 2-band.

OUR VERDICT

Good portable DJ controller for not the most demanding occasions. Will satisfy the requirement of a party with friends just fine.

detailed parameters
SOFTWARE COMPATIBILITY

DJUCED 18° (included); Traktor; Virtual Dj

DECKS CONTROL

Playback control buttons (Cue, Play/Pause, Sync), 2 jog wheels

ADDITIONAL CONTROLS

DJ mixer (2-Band Equalizer, Gain, Crossfader), Pad buttons (Loop, Sampler, Cue, FX), Scratch automix

INTERFACES

Control input (USB Type A)

SOUND RENDERING PROPERTIES

n/a

DIMENSIONS

13.4"(W) x 3.9"(D)

WEIGHT

<1.23 lbs

WARRANTY

1 year

What is a Dj Controller

DJ controllers are a special sound equipment for hands-on control of DJ software and mobile apps that help you mix music. They find their place at parties and nights with friends at home or when you work in the club. The things are pretty simple and easy to use, in general, mostly anyone can master them; whether you are a pro-DJ with years of experience behind your back or just a novice music lover making your first steps in the field—you'll do great.

To make a party even brighter and earn a title of Party King or Queen, we also suggest you consider fog machines and stage lights. Also, karaoke machines can add to the fun; record your friends drunk singing to laugh together in the morning.

What To Look For

Usability

First off, decide for yourself what kind of a DJ controller you need and where you intend to use it. There are two main types of controllers, modular rigs and all-in-ones. Modular rigs offer control over one or a couple elements (mixer, deck control, samples or effectors management), meaning that to create high-level mixes you will need several of them. But they are cheaper than all-in-one controllers so if you don't need many sound sources simultaneously and your budget is limited you may go for one of them. All-in-one DJ controllers, in the other hand, feature several blocks and can replace a conventional DJ booth.

Pay attention to the software compatibility, too, as different manufacturers design controllers for different soft. Look for the one you are used to and feel comfortable working with.

Control Elements

This is another important parameter to consider. Mixer and deck control are basic elements necessary to create a mix but there are additions that make the results fancier. Effects blocks, samples, loops and control points will make the music brighter and more interesting; shuffle sizes and types are based on DJ's taste, think about their location and peculiarities; if you want to go into scratching, check how it is done in a certain model, there might be variations. DJing is creativity so each user is extremely individual and manufacturers know it. That's why there are so many unique models on the market.

Connectivity

You will probably find a whole range to select from here, too. Some models are powered by your PC or laptop, others must be powered separately. The more ports your DJ controller has, the more convenient it is to work with. Also, verify the cables in the box.

Extras

Same as in other fields, here the manufacturers try to create the most unique and unrivaled devices as well. Your controller is a part of your image so its design, the buttons quality and looks will play some role in your final decision. Some DJs work at several clubs and sometimes offer "on call" services, therefore, the controller's portability and ergonomics are a major issue.

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Review of Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 MK2 DJ Controller

Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 MK2 DJ Controller

Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 MK2 DJ Controller

Worthy of Admiration

The Traktor Kontrol S2 MK2 DJ controller is a product its manufacturer, Native Instruments, can be proud of. The design is nothing over-the-top but every element is a work of art.

First off, the jog wheels. They have a perforated coating at the sides for enhanced convenience and increased precision in track adjustment. The top is aluminum coated with a Traktor logo. To make them sound like vinyl, press them a bit then release them to get back to only increasing/decreasing the track speed.

Almost all the buttons are rubberized and have better backlighting compared to the previous models; the same goes for all indicators. The main buttons to control the decks, PAD panel, and Loop are performed in different colors for the DJ to find the needed functions quickly even in a dark room. After all, DJing is a party kind of entertainment, and most parties take place at night and in clubs. The faders here are very durable, they will not lose the feeling even after a long use.

As for connectivity, the controller offers two audio outputs—a standard Jack and a stereo RCA output. This makes the model a perfect choice to use with different sound systems.

Review of Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 MK2 DJ Controller

Digital Perfection

Today, more and more DJs prefer digital way of mixing tracks and live performances, and Traktor is one of the most popular software solutions for this. This soft offers the widest variety of effects, loops, samples and its interface is a blessing, it is so intuitive and easy to understand. It will hardly be too much of exaggeration to say that part of Native Instruments S2 MK2 controller's success can be attributed to the fact that it is designed specifically for Traktor. Be it a PC version of Traktor and Traktor PRO or a mobile app Traktor DJ for iOS, you can work this controller with them all. Therefore, you get a DJ controller that you can carry around without having to add the weight of a laptop to it. Just download the app to your iPhone or iPad, sync it with iTunes and voila! You can surprise your friends with your supreme DJing skills.

Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 MK2 DJ Controller in the use

Well-thought Effects Block

The effects block in this model deserves a special attention. The Traktor software offers you an option to set completely different effects to each of three buttons. When you need an effect turned on, just push a corresponding button. The button will light up as long as the effect is active and you can further manage it with your controls. Consequently, as the effects are bound to the buttons, you can launch up to three effects simultaneously. And if you need to change all the effects together, there is a DRY/WET buttons and a respective regulator.

Detailed review of Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 MK2 DJ Controller

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 MK2 DJ Controller
Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 MK2 DJ Controller
 
Review of Numark Mixtrack Pro 3 DJ Controller

Numark Mixtrack Pro 3 DJ Controller

Numark Mixtrack Pro 3 DJ Controller

Pro-level Performance, Simple Control

Experienced DJs and amateurs alike love the Numark Mixtrack 3 Pro for a reason. This DJ controller has everything to replace a complete DJ's stand providing all the necessary tools even for a club application, let alone a home-based party.

Visually, Numark Mixtrack 3 Pro DJ controller is the same as Mixtrack 3 but the Pro model features a built-in soundcard and audio interface. There are two outputs for headphones, a "jack" and a "minijack", therefore, you will have a choice what headphones to use at a given time. Moreover, the ports can be used simultaneously enabling two DJs making mixes at the same time without interfering with one another, each in his or her own headphones. The controller also has a TRS ¼" interface to connect a mic, which will come in handy for live performances.

The software this model is designed to use is Serato DJ, and it has Serato DJ Intro included in the package.

Review of Numark Mixtrack Pro 3 DJ Controller

Everything in Place

All control elements on this Numark DJ controller are arranged in a way to be as convenient for any user to use as possible. The designers gave it their all when creating the device. The first thing we noticed is that the controller has big 5" metal sensor jog wheels; with a dedicated wheel button, you can switch between platter and jog modes to activate/deactivate scratching effect for a mix. Large 4" pitch faders allow you to adjust the track speed with more precision; for additional convenience, there are pitch band +/- buttons for each channel. 16 rubberized functional buttons all have backlight making it possible to manage effects, turn on/off the loop, and add up to 4 points to each deck quickly and efficiently.

In the center of the controller's front panel, you will find a mixing block with 3-band equalizer and a filter fix for each channel, faders, and a cross-fader. Volume control is simple as 1-2-3 thanks to the color indicators so there is less possibility to mess up the mix with wrong balance.

Numark Mixtrack Pro 3 DJ Controller in the use

Touch It

Touch panels make this Numark DJ controller even more convenient. For example, you can push Shift and slide your finger by the panel to fast forward/backtrack to the point in the music you need. Or you can use the touch panel with FX buttons (FX1, FX2, FX3) to adjust their intensity and sounding. With Beats knob, it is possible to set the frequency of the effects; Tap button offers control over the effects' bitrate. There are many more options this all-in-one DJ controller offers, too many to list them all, but just know that mastering the device is really simple and the working convenience you get is worth every cent and every minute you spend.

Detailed review of Numark Mixtrack Pro 3 DJ Controller

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


Numark Mixtrack Pro 3 DJ Controller
Numark Mixtrack Pro 3 DJ Controller
 
Review of Pioneer DDJ-SB2 Portable 2-channel DJ Controller

Pioneer DDJ-SB2 Portable 2-channel DJ Controller

Pioneer DDJ-SB2 Portable 2-channel DJ Controller

Get In On DJing

The name Pioneer pops up in almost any DJ equipment discussion, sooner or later. The brand is pretty well-known in the field, after all. The DDJ-SB2 DJ controller has all the reasons to be present in our top-5. Firstly, it is a Pioneer product, meaning it is a quality item down to any tiny part. Secondly, the designers of this controller managed to combine all the main features and options for comfortable software DJing and offer them at a price that does not break the bank. It is one of the best options for budget-strapped DJs and for those who only start their journey as a party star.

The model is compatible with Serato DJ soft and with Pioneer's own Rekordbox DJ app. Serato DJ Intro is delivered with the initial purchase but you'll need to get any other soft separately. If you are a long-standing Pioneer user, the Rekordbox application will offer you the access to this controller's full potential.

Review of Pioneer DDJ-SB2 Portable 2-channel DJ Controller

All-In-One

Working with the DDJ-SB2 Pioneer DJ controller, you will feel like you have a full-size Pioneer DJ booth under your fingertips. The jog wheels here are pretty large and look like a smaller copy of CD Turntables' latest models jog wheels by the same manufacturer. They are quite responsive, offer a pinpoint track adjustment, and are easy to manipulate. All functional buttons are rubberized and backlit very brightly, you won't accidentally push the wrong one.

The mixing is assisted by several plastic knobs created to control hi, mid, and low frequencies and volume on each channel. Additionally, the channels have low and pass filter knobs that can make the tracks mixing much brighter. With a filter fade button ON, the cross-fader alone will help you mix tracks with a filter effect effectively.

Pioneer DDJ-SB2 Portable 2-channel DJ Controller in the use

Additional Options

Despite being a middle-segment DJ controller, Pioneer DDJ-SB2 is not all that average. It can control up to 4 decks at the same time—just use the dedicated "3" and "4" buttons near the controller edges to switch between decks. This way, you can load more different tracks and get your performance to the next level.

Another peculiarity here is the blue-backlit Pad Trans buttons. These are made to quickly cut certain part of the track with its corresponding BPM. Having activated one of them, you can use the ⅛, ¼, ½, and 1 buttons to set the length of the cut-out fragment and then loop it adding a very nice beat to the track.

Detailed review of Pioneer DDJ-SB2 Portable 2-channel DJ Controller

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


Pioneer DDJ-SB2 Portable 2-channel DJ Controller
Pioneer DDJ-SB2 Portable 2-channel DJ Controller
 
Review of Numark Mixtrack 3 All-in-one DJ Controller

Numark Mixtrack 3 All-in-one DJ Controller

Numark Mixtrack 3 All-in-one DJ Controller

New Looks, New Possibilities

The Mixtrack 3 from Numark is another step in their DJ controllers and it is offered in two modifications—this Mixtrack 3 model and its PRO version. There are, of course, differences. PRO has a built-in soundcard that the "normal" version lacks, it works wit Serato DJ compared to this model's Virtual DJ LE, and there are some other minor discrepancies like panel color and buttons/knobs design. That being said, note that you will need an external soundcard connected to your PC or laptop you will use with this controller. That is, if you want a quality sound at the parties (which you do).

The PC/laptop connection is completed with a single USB port that also feeds the device with power. If you compare this model to its predecessor, it still has the 16 functional pads but they are arranged differently, in front of the jog wheels and closer to a user. It simplifies the control. All-in-all, the Mixtrack 3 Numark DJ controller is one of the most functional budget models, and it is a perfect choice for beginners.

Review of Numark Mixtrack 3 All-in-one DJ Controller

Virtual DJ. Everything for Comfortable Use

The manufacturers of Mixtrack 3 did everything they could to make their controller the easiest thing to handle. And one of the approaches they used is the device's compatibility with the Virtual DJ soft which is known to have one of the friendliest user interfaces there is. The app gained popularity in part owing to a great tech support and to the fact that you can always find options for your interface. Or you can create your own placing functional blocks according to your personal preferences.

Besides actual track mixing, the Virtual DJ also allows working with video and karaoke. You can even record podcasts and stream you live performances directly to the Internet. The developers offer a wide variety of plugins and compatibility with virtually any controller, so if you decide to switch from your Mixtrack 3 to other model, chances are you won't need to master some new software.

Numark Mixtrack 3 All-in-one DJ Controller in the use

Tips for Convenience

Controllers greatly add to the software management in whole, they come in handy for professional and amateurish performances all the same but this convenience is only a part of what you need. Physical placement of the equipment is another part. Most DJs work standing and not any desk is tall enough. To make moving between all the necessary elements easier, you will probably need to set your laptop or a monitor on some kind of a stand in order to see the screen without having to bend double.

Detailed review of Numark Mixtrack 3 All-in-one DJ Controller

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


Numark Mixtrack 3 All-in-one DJ Controller
Numark Mixtrack 3 All-in-one DJ Controller
 
Review of Hercules Compact super-mobile USB DJ Controller

Hercules Compact super-mobile USB DJ Controller

Hercules Compact super-mobile USB DJ Controller

Always Be Ready

The Hercules Compact is quite a peculiar DJ controller with a number of interesting features. It is really small if not to say tiny, only 13.4" x 3.9", making it easy to carry it in your bag or backpack with a laptop. The connection (as well as charging) is made via USB port. The controller looks absolutely perfect when paired with a laptop, really, design-wise it's made for this very purpose.

Despite its compactness, this Hercules model offers all the most necessary elements for mixing tracks and party DJing. The software this device is designed to work with is DJUCED and purchasing the controller you receive the DJUCED 18° version. The app is not too demanding when it comes to the computer specs, a 2GHz processor with 1GB RAM and 100MB of free space will be enough to work without any problems. The Hercules Compact does, in fact, work with Virtual DJ and Traktor software but you will have to purchase them additionally if you haven't done it before.

Review of Hercules Compact super-mobile USB DJ Controller

Simple and Affordable

Due to high compactness and portability, the controller was destined to have some advanced elements cut off but this fact does not really make it bad or inconvenient. The jog wheels here, for example, are quite big and make the track speed adjustment quite easy. You can also sync the bitrate for each deck with a dedicated button. Mixing is achieved with a dual-band equalizer and a cross-fader, and there are also separate volume controls for each deck.

Two blocks have four multi-functional pads and a backlit panel each. The panels are colored, they show you the mode the deck operates in at the moment. The functional mode button allows you to switch between the pad modes selecting loop, effects, samples, and control points.

Hercules Compact super-mobile USB DJ Controller in the use

Combo

If compact yet powerful is your thing and you are currently looking for a new laptop, we can offer you some insight in MacBooks. These laptops are known to be really convenient to work with, both software- and design-wise.

Detailed review of Hercules Compact super-mobile USB DJ Controller

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


Hercules Compact super-mobile USB DJ Controller
Hercules Compact super-mobile USB DJ Controller
 
Sources:

1. How to Choose the Right DJ Equipment, THE HUB. June 15, 2015.

2. Phil Morse 5 Crucial Decisions When Picking The Perfect DJ Controller This Christmas, Digital Dj Tips. December 18, 2013.

3. DJ Controllers & Gear: The Ultimate Buyer's GuideDigital Dj Tips

4. Christine Rage Choosing the Right DJ ControllerEnvato Tuts+. December 27, 2016.

5. Beginner's Guide To DJ Equipment Setups, Turntable LAB.

6. DJ Controller Buying Guide, eBay. June 10, 2016.

7. Ean Golden What Controller Is Right For You? All-In-One Vs Modular DJ SetupsDJ TechTools. November 4, 2015.

8. Three Criteria For Choosing A USB DJ ControllerAudioFanzine. November 9, 2013.