Five of the Best Digital DJ Controllers

denisse-leon-1612166-unsplash

Digital DJ controllers are a crucial part of your DJing hardware. You need the best DJ controller you can afford—and that requires research.

 

However, when you look at DJ controller reviews, you could see write-ups on all the best DJ controllers, with a nod to the best Traktor controller or the best Serato controllers, or maybe even a comprehensive list of the best DJ controllers for 2019. If you are new to DJing or would rather be mixing beats than reading reviews, it can be overwhelming.

DJ controllers work with software to help DJs of all experience levels mix the way they want. While the software does most of the work, the DJ controller enables you to work with your software and hardware more easilythan if you are clicking with a mouse.

Per The Hub on Musiciansfriend.com, most DJ controllers have:

 

  1. The Control Surface:This element is the hands-on part of the controller, meaning the buttons, faders, knobs, pads, and wheels. You should also see displays and LED screens that give you levels and other vital details about the mix.
  2. The Audio Interface:This part of the controller transmits the signal to the external equipment, which ranges from computers to processors to PA systems. What it sends to depends on what connectors you have.
  3. Controls for Apps: In the last couple of generations of DJ controllers, you can control your tablet and smartphone apps through the controller.

 

Musician’s Friend suggests the following considerations when choosing between digital DJ controllers:

 

  • The software interface must be seamless. This element is the first and most significant consideration.
  • The build quality of the controller should be high.When you have to haul your gear around to gigs, you have to know it is going to survive the trip.
  • The user experience should be intuitive.The arrangement of the control surface should make sense to you and be easy to use.

 

Of course, those aren’t the only considerations. It also comes down to what you have to spend, how you want to use it, and well, personal preference. With that in mind, here are our picks for the top DJ controllers, for both versatility and portability, as well as what we consider the two best DJ controllers for under $100.

 

Full Size Controllers:

 

Pioneer DDJ-SB3: ddj-sb3-main

The Pioneer DDJ-SB3 is a best-selling Serato DJ controller. Described as the ideal starter controller, the two-channel controller features an instinctive layout that comes standard on Pioneer’s DDJ-S series that mimics the pros while arranging the controls in an “easy-to-reach” way. The Pad Scratch feature allows you to add eight of DJ Jazzy Jeff’s scratch recordings to your mixes without a turntable. The controller also helps facilitate smooth transitions with its four FX patterns that smoothly blend tracks. We also like how the durable design is also portable, lightweight, and backpack-friendly for small gigs.

 

Pioneer DDJ-SX3:ddj-sx3-main-1 The DDJ-SX3 is a four-channel Serato DJ controller that features a  portable and robust design with a familiar layout for most DJs and Low-Latency Jog Wheels for even smoother scratching. This digital DJ controller is the most popular, mainly because the inputs and outputs improve connectivity on this version; the three mic inputs allow more people to contribute to the mix, and its professional interface connects with all types of equipment and speakers. There are dual USB ports also, making it easy to have a laptop redundancy and/or seamless transitions between hardware. Also, the performance pads and expansion packs allow you to explore what the Serato software can do.

Pioneer DDJ-1000:ddj-1000-main-n  The DDJ-1000 is a four-channel DJ digital controller with a professional, club-style layout.  This version is portable, which makes it great for on-location gigs. They improved the Magvel Fader, enhancing its durability and making it feel easier to use. We love the two full-sized motorized jog wheels that let you customize what information shows on the color LCD, on-jog display screens. Having the display screens right on the Jog allows you to keep your eyes on the deck. All the new features make this digital DJ controller a powerhouse for the price.

 

Compact Digital DJ Controllers under $100:  

Numark DJ2go:

DJ2GO2_Ortho_Web-624x390

The DJ 2 Go is touted as the most portable DJ controller on Earth. Its straightforward design makes it simple to set up in seconds; you attach your computer with the USB cable, and you are ready. The layout is also simple and feels natural, and includes a crossfader, jog wheels for the decks, pitch faders, and music library controls. It works with almost any DJ software, too. It’s ideal for spontaneous events or small gigs. Some DJs use it as a backup in case the primary system fails. One of the things we love about this compact digital DJ controller is it can fit in a backpack. Plus, its low price means it’s accessible to artists of all budget levels.

 

Hercules DJ Control Starlight:

Starlight_3-4_Left

The Hercules DJ Control Starlight is compact, light, and practical. It comes with DJ Serato Lite software, so it can be excellent for beginners who are still learning the ropes of mixing. Another great feature is the built-in sound card, which enables you to pre-listen to your mix, another great bonus for beginners or experimental tracks. Despite its small size and affordable price, it has all the essentials, like bass equalization filter knobs, which help with your transitions. An excellent bonus is that with the touch-sensitive jog wheels DJs can scratch on it easily.

 

DJ controllers have come a long way over the years. From professional-set-ups to ultra-compact and light digital controllers, you have a range of high-quality equipment to help you with your DJing sound and skills. No matter your budget or your skill level, amateur or professional DJ, any of these five DJ controllers can get the job done and the mix you want.

 

Sources:

 

“How to Choose the Best DJ Equipment.” www.thehub.musiciansfriend.com19 April 2019. Web. Accessed 24 May 2019. <https://thehub.musiciansfriend.com/DJ-gear-buying-guides/how-to-choose-the-right-DJ-equipment#controllersdo>.