Best Professional DJ Controllers

Best DJ Controller

Last Update: October, 2019

Any DJ knows that finding a good controller is vital. As a DJ, you need the best DJ controller to help you mix tracks using your software.

It is important to pick a controller based on your music production skill level; otherwise, you might end up with a controller that you won’t end up using. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, there’s a DJ controller on the market for you. In this guide, we’ll help you navigate some of the best brands and give you some tips on how you can make the best decision for yourself.

DJ Controller

Summary

Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB3

Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB3

Perfect for beginners, this DJ controller is accessible and easy to use. It has all its features laid out in a simple and intuitive design.

Pioneer DJ DDJ 400

Pioneer DJ DDJ 400

This controller’s tutorial capability makes it a great controller for a beginner to learn DJ skills. It is a compact, lightweight DJ set that will get a novice started learning to make and play music.

Numark Mixtrack Pro 3

Numark Mixtrack Pro 3

If you’re looking to take your DJ skills to the next level, this is a great option for you. With many great pro features, this is a versatile DJ controller for anyone who loves to create and perform.

Hercules DJ Control Inpulse 300

Hercules DJ Control Inpulse 300

Learning to DJ can’t get any easier than with this model from Hercules. This Control Inpulse controller has some fantastic technology that teaches you while you’re creating.

ADJ Products VMS5

ADJ Products VMS5

For the performance DJ who has some experience, this is a great controller. While it is a bit pricier than the other options, it is really the best controller for the seasoned DJ looking for a great professional controller.

Pros:

  • Easy to use and an intuitive layout
  • Built well and durable
  • Sensitive large jog wheels

Cons:

  • Poor quality sound card

More About The Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB3

The amateur DJ will find this option from Pioneer a helpful tool in developing their DJ skills. The controller is designed to be easy to use with a layout that makes sure all the features are in easy reach.

Just because it is great for beginners doesn’t mean that this controller is lacking in great features. It has great transitions, allows pad scratching, has 4 hot cues, and many other great features. This controller is also very portable and durable, so it’s easy to take on the go. Well constructed and well designed, this DJ controller is a durable investment that will last you for years.

Shop Related Products

Pioneer DJ DDJ-SR2

Pioneer DJ DDJ-SR2

Pioneer DJ DDJ-RB

Pioneer DJ DDJ-RB

Hercules Djcontrol Jogvision

Hercules Djcontrol Jogvision

Denon DJ MCX8000

Denon DJ MCX8000

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Easy to use
  • Tutorial option to help you learn step-by-step

Cons:

  • Poor customer support for defective products

More About The Pioneer DJ DDJ 400

This controller from Pioneer is another great option for beginners with a few more features and skill-developing tools. This controller is actually compatible with a tutorial feature, which can teach you step-by-step about hands-on control.

And once you've learned the basics, this controller has many other pro-level features that you can use well into your DJing career. It's lightweight and easy to use for a beginner to practice performing at shows.

Shop Related Products

Pioneer DJ DDJ-SR2

Pioneer DJ DDJ-SR2

Pioneer DJ DDJ-RB

Pioneer DJ DDJ-RB

Hercules Djcontrol Jogvision

Hercules Djcontrol Jogvision

Denon DJ MCX8000

Denon DJ MCX8000

Pros:

  • Features touch sensitive jog wheels
  • Great for beginners
  • Lots of controls to enhance your performance

Cons:

  • Longevity issues

More About The ​Numark Mixtrack Pro 3

Equipped with many professional features, this DJ controller is a great option for the performance DJ who aspires to go professional. The multiple features of this controller include two mixing channels with filter and gain controls, 5-inch capacitive jog wheels, trigger pads, an onboard audio interface, multi functional touch strips and many other great tools. With lots of controls at your fingertips, this lightweight and compact controller is certainly not to be underestimated.

Shop Related Products

Pioneer DJ DDJ-SR2

Pioneer DJ DDJ-SR2

Pioneer DJ DDJ-RB

Pioneer DJ DDJ-RB

Hercules Djcontrol Jogvision

Hercules Djcontrol Jogvision

Denon DJ MCX8000

Denon DJ MCX8000

Pros:

  • Has pro-level features
  • Great for learning as it includes access to DJ Academy Tutorials
  • Smooth switches and easy to press buttons

Cons:

  • Has a bit of a learning curve

More About The ​Hercules DJ Control Inpulse 300

This Hercules DJ controller has built-in sound features that teach you how to DJ. These features include an easy access layout and beat align light guides. Plus, there’s the Beatmatch Guide to teach you how to mix and Intelligent Music Assistance to give you recommendations on your music.

With this controller, you’ll also have access to DJ Academy Tutorials that can walk you through the fundamentals of DJing.

Shop Related Products

Pioneer DJ DDJ-SR2

Pioneer DJ DDJ-SR2

Pioneer DJ DDJ-RB

Pioneer DJ DDJ-RB

Hercules Djcontrol Jogvision

Hercules Djcontrol Jogvision

Denon DJ MCX8000

Denon DJ MCX8000

Pros:

  • Multiple inputs for USB and microphone
  • Good sound card
  • Good construction

Cons:

  • Generic crossfader

More About The ​ADJ Products VMS5

This mixer from ADJ is definitely the best option for the seasoned performance DJ. This professional controller is equipped with 6 channels, 4 USB, 2 phono, 4 line, and 2 mic inputs. It’s an extremely comprehensive professional DJ controller with great visual feedback.

This is an awesome all-in-one controller that can be used with a laptop or as a traditional analog mixer. While it may be a little trickier to master, it is perfect for a DJ who is wanting to have a great controller for performance.

Shop Related Products

Pioneer DJ DDJ-SR2

Pioneer DJ DDJ-SR2

Pioneer DJ DDJ-RB

Pioneer DJ DDJ-RB

Hercules Djcontrol Jogvision

Hercules Djcontrol Jogvision

Denon DJ MCX8000

Denon DJ MCX8000

About the DJ Controller

In the old days, DJs needed to have traditional mixers and turntables in order to create music. But now, DJ controllers simply connect to a computer to imitate that process. A DJ controller makes editing music using a physical board easy for the DJ.

Basically, a DJ controller is a combination of a mixer and turntable that functions through a computer. A DJ will choose music that is stored on the computer and then scratch, mix, and control the effects to get the desired outcome.

A DJ controller will typically have a job wheel for adjusting tracks. It may have other knobs and buttons to affect elements such as volume and bass. DJ controllers even allow a DJ to listen through headphones to preview the music and make sure that the quality is the best it can be.

The controller is USB powered and connects to the computer. On the other hand, the computer will have DJ software downloaded onto it. Basically, everything that used to be done manually is now done electronically.

DJ controllers have really come a long way with the popularity of electronic, dance, and techno music. DJ controllers really come as a result of a digital age where turntables for vinyl records are no longer necessary.

Choosing the Best DJ Controller

When trying to choose a DJ controller, there are a few important factors you need to consider.

Your budget

First and foremost is the factor of budget. Since everyone's budget varies, yours probably isn’t the same as your best buddy’s, and vice versa. This being said, when shopping for a DJ controller, it’s important to choose the best controller that falls within the means of your budget.

This can mean opting for a low-cost controller or shooting for a pricier model; regardless, don’t leave yourself without money for groceries just to get the most expensive controller.

Your software of choice

Every good DJ requires a software to use. However, not all software types can mesh well with every kind of controller available. Before buying a controller, make sure that your software of choice is compatible with it, as some software are designed for specific controllers, while others are universal.

The functions you need

Different controllers come equipped with different functions. Some offer basic functions, while others offer more advanced, specialty functions. A few of the functions to look out for (if you need them) include faders, knobs, scratchplates, built-in audio interfaces, performance pads, and a variety of others.

All-in or modular

This consideration can be influenced by both your budget and personal preference. Do you need/want a modular device, or would you prefer a device with the whole shebang? A modular device is a controller that is put together of various parts that you purchase separately, whereas an all-in-one device is exactly what it sounds like - a device with everything built in.

Controller warranty

There’s nothing worse than buying a new controller only to find that the most common mishaps are not covered by its warranty. To ensure that this doesn’t happen to you, take a peek at the fine print and carefully go over the warranty that your potential controller has.

Does it cover basic wear and tear? How long is the warranty? In what situations is the warranty void?

Device size

Although all DJ controllers are designed to do the same job, they vary in size. That's why size should be a factor you consider when browsing for a new set up.

How big of a controller do you want? They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and each different size boasts a different weight. This should also be considered if you plan on doing a lot of traveling with your controller.

Style

Now, the fun part of choosing a DJ controller: the style. DJ controllers are as unique as snowflakes. They come in a variety of colors and shapes, ranging from traditional to brightly colored and patterned. The style of controller you want will not only affect your satisfaction with your controller, but also the controller’s price tag, with funky, unique controllers generally costing more.

Usage Tips

Here are a few tips to make using and learning to use your DJ controllers easy.

Start slow

It can be tempting to jump right into all the fancy effects and controls that your brand-new controller has to offer. Unfortunately, as fun as this may seem, it won’t help you learn or improve.

The best way to improve and truly master your controller and everything it has to offer is by starting slow. Start by using the basics and work your way through the more complex features, taking time to learn and master each one before combining them.

Stay updated

With time, technology progresses. This is no different from DJ controller software and firmware. To get the most out of your controller, stay on top of the new updates that are released and download and install them as they come along. This way, you’ll master the newest technology as well as improve your skills at an alarmingly fast speed.

Have a dedicated DJ area

The key to successful work is a good work station. This is why those who work with computers and keyboards are told to sit with their back straight and keyboard close. As a DJ, set up your DJ area so that your controller sits at approximately the height of a kitchen counter if you want to stand, and a desk if you’re planning on sitting.

Also, ensure that your speakers are near both you and your controller and pointing in your direction. This makes the controller easier to learn.

Use headphones

When learning to mix tracks on your controller, use headphones. By using headphones, you’re able to listen to both tracks- one in each ear- in order to ensure that they play at the same BPM and have their beats line up before the final step. When using your speakers, you will only hear one track which makes it harder to monitor your mixes.

Advantages of Having A DJ Controller

Affordable

DJ controllers are an affordable option; more so than a traditional mixer and the necessary two turntables. Although the price point differences vary by model, as a general rule of thumb, controllers are easier on the wallet in the long run.

All music is digital

With a setup that has a DJ controller as the main piece of hardware, you’ll find yourself carrying around less equipment, as all music is stored digitally. There is also no need to lug around bulky accessories, as the controller has many necessary parts built in.

Easy setup

Setting up a DJ booth at a party or event has never been easier. Thanks to the DJ controller and its portability, the handy music-mixing device can be set up nearly anywhere and in just a minute- no complicated cords to be paired, systems to power up, or accessories to hardware.

Conclusion

DJ controllers are one of the best inventions to grace the music-making market. With a bit of practice and dedicated time, it’s easy to improve your mixing skills with these highly portable, versatile, stylish devices.

When buying a DJ controller, don’t forget to let your budget guide you and choose one with a good warranty. Last but not least - remember to have fun with your controller and allow your creativity to flow.
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