The best DJ controllers must meet all the standards that a professional DJ expects but also easy enough to learn by an amateur. After all, even the pros become beginners at one point when they put their hands on a brand new controller that they are trying for the very first time. More importantly, a DJ controller must have all the features necessary in order for a DJ to have a convenient and easy time playing great music no matter the venue – from their bedroom or studio tohouse parties to small clubs to large arenas.
It is essential for one to learn what to look for when shopping for the best DJ controllers. While there are similar features and characteristics that can be found on most DJ controllers, one shortcoming or a small mistake in choosing a DJ controller will become a total waste of money. If you are a DJ and a specific feature you are looking isn’t part of a controller that you have already purchased, you will have to spend even more just to buy another one – DJ controllers aren’t cheap at all with some selling at over a thousand dollars and more.
- 1 Top 10 Best DJ Controllers
- 2 Numark NS6 Professional 4-Channel DJ Controller
- 3 Numark Mixtrack Pro II USB DJ Controller
- 4 PIONEER DDJSR Pro DJ Controller
- 5 Hercules DJ 4780730 Control Instinct USB DJ Controller
- 6 Numark Mixtrack II USB DJ Controller
- 7 Numark Mixtrack DJ Software Controller
- 8 Numark DJ 2 Go Ultra-Portable USB DJ Controller for Mac or PC
- 9 Numark Mixtrack Pro DJ Controller
- 10 Numark iDJ Pro Professional DJ Controller for iPad
- 11 Pioneer DDJ-SB Performance DJ Controller
How to Find and Choose the Best DJ Controllers
Whether you’re a self-taught DJ, you learned from a mentor or you managed to get classes or training to become a professional DJ, you must have learned using one oreven a few kinds of DJ controllers. Now that you are ready to invest on your own DJ equipment, whether for the first or the nth time, it is just right for you to put your money on something that is worth it. You don’t want to go too cheap especially if quality and features are sacrificed. For some DJ’s though, practicality is essential as well. If you already have the best DJ controllers in mind or you need a bit of help to narrow down your choices, here are some tips that will hopefully help you find and choose the best DJ controller for you.
- Price Range
Thought it has already been mentioned that it is best not to go too cheap when choosing a DJ controller, we all probably have no choice but to according to our budget when buying something. If you’re willing to spend a lot of money for your DJ controller, then you will have more and better choices of course. However, if you have a budget range to follow, it is good to know that you still have options. You first have to set your budget and look for the best DJ controllers from there. It is worth mentioning as early as now that you might not find something that’s good enough under the $100 range, unless of course you go the pre-loved way; but there are some reasonably priced ones between $100 to $200 and you can find ones for $300 and above that even professional and expert-level DJ’s would surely appreciate.
Size and Weight for Portability
Most DJ’s work in different clubs and venues and would even travel for work. If you are that type of DJ, the portability of the DJ controller is essential. While others don’t mind carrying a large controller, finding a lightweight and space-saving one is important for most. It should not take much bag and desk space and it won’t be difficult especially if you’re playing at multiple venues in just one night. However, if you are already a pro and travel with assistants and an entourage just like most popular DJ’s, then you probably won’t mind having huge large cases for your equipment with you.
Ease of Use
If the pros don’t mind taking time to get used to a rather complex DJ controller, there are amateurs and beginners who would rather have something they would easily understand. By the way, there are some pros too who would rather not waste time learning a new piece of equipment if it should take a week so the less complicated, the better. Though you can’t expect to understand one just by looking at it especially if you’re a first-timer, it is good to know that despite the number of controls, buttons and all those other tiny things you’ll see on the best DJ controllers, you can easily learn all these with a simple free instruction video you can quickly find online. Go on YouTube and you’ll love how there are so many generous instructions from other DJ’s there.
Compatibility, Features, Controls, Jog Wheels and More
Most DJ controllers are compatible with both Mac and Windows computers and laptops so this shouldn’t be an issue at all. Most are also USB-powered and will connect to your computer via USB. Except perhaps for DJ controllers such as the NumarkiDJ Pro which is made for use with an iPad anyway, you shouldn’t have any compatibility issues with most controllers. Don’t be blown away by the complexity of the number of controls, pads, knobs, sliders and buttons you’ll see on a controller. This only shows that you are given more control over what you’re doing from effects to mixing to adjustments and more. Extra drum pads and controls are also good because these aren’t always found on all best DJ controllers. Jog wheels are very important and this should be highly sensitive, accurate and precise for great mixing and scratching.
DJ controllers made the DJ setup simpler without removing the ability to see, feel and actually do some scratching and mixing live – minus large vinyl turntables. Though DJ controllers are not for everybody because there are still some who prefer having their turntables, a CDJ setup, an Ableton DJ setup or something similar or an all-computer setup, DJ controllers still give you all that power and performance you need to play great music for the crowd to enjoy. Yes, you can probably mix, scratch, add effects and do all those things on your laptop or computer so no need for an extra computer, but that feeling of actually turning the knobs, pressing the controls and running your fingers on the jogger wheels while scratching and transitioning is just everything for most DJ’s.
Now if you feel and know that you prefer the best DJ controllers over other setups, to help you narrow down your choices according to the criteria above, the list below will discuss the best DJ controllers you can consider.
Top 10 Best DJ Controllers
Rightfully deserving of the number 1 spot on this list is the Numark NS6 Professional 4-Channel DJ Controller with Serato. First of all, it must be said that Numark is one of the most trusted brands in the world when it comes to DJ equipment. Based on the brand’s reputation alone, you know that Numark won’t be releasing just any mediocre product that will put their name to shame so most definitely, that gives this piece of equipment its edge among others. Onto the more specific reasons why the Numark NS6 Professional 4-Channel DJ Controller with Serato is a great choice for the best DJ controllers, first and foremost, it is a sturdy piece of hardware. Some customers mentioned about it being “too heavy”. As a matter of fact, it weighs more or less 20 pounds versus the usual under 10-pound weight of other DJ controller. It is still very portable though even for the travelling DJ. Its weight plus its rugged metal chassis only goes to show how durable it is and how you can best rely on this DJ controller for many years to come.
It is very easy to use too. Of course, it may take a little getting used to when you’re a beginner but there are always a lot of free instructions and video walkthroughs that you can find online. This premium 4-channel digital DJ controller is complete with four software control decks and a built-in mixer. It has 6-inch touch-sensitive illuminated platters with 3,600 ticks of resolution. Input array includes 2 selectable turntable inputs, 4 sets of stereo RCA inputs, 2 1/4-inch mic inputs and USB audio. In addition, there is a dedicated hardware for FX controls, 3-band EQ and gain for mixer channel. The Numark NS6 Professional 4-Channel DJ Controller with Serato works on either a PC or Macintosh and each package already comes with a Serato ITCH that you can upgrade to a Serato DJ.
With all the features of the Numark NS6, you know that every penny is truly worth it.
A lot lighter on the pocket compared to the first Numark we have on our list, the NumarkMixtrack Pro II USB DJ Controller with Integrated Audio Interface and Trigger Pads is now sold almost half of its original price. Highly rated by professional DJ’s and amateurs, this DJ controller is truly deserving of the second spot on this list.
It is actually very light at just about 4.5 pounds and its size of 2 x 18.3 x 10.4 inches makes it such a portable DJ controller. The Numark Mixtrack Pro II also has 1.8 and 1/4-inch headphone inputs. It is USB powered so no power adapter is required for this. It works on both Mac and Windows computers with the Serato DJ Intro software included in the package. Easy and seamless mixing is possible through its pitch and sync controls, there are 16 dedicated effects controls and a built-in audio system for PA system output, microphone input and headphone cueing. Despite its portable size, Numark best DJ controllers also managed to throw in a complete mixer section with music library navigation controls, 3-band EQ and a crossfader.
Most users who already own the Numark Mixtrack Pro II love how it looks and feels. It has 16 backlit rubber drum pads with Hot Cue Mode, Sample Mode and Loop Mode. For precise scratching and accurate control, there are also touch-activated illuminated platters or jog wheels.
For its price, it’s definitely safe to say that the Numark Mixtrack Pro II truly gives you the bang for your buck!
Pioneer is another respected brand not only in the DJ equipment industry but also in the entire audio equipment field. In fact, there are a handful of very popular “Pioneer DJ’s” found all over the world who are proud to be actually using and not only endorsing this product. It just wouldn’t be right if a Pioneer wouldn’t be included at least on the top 3 of a best DJ controller list and most definitely, the PIONEER DDJSR Pro DJ Controller is a deserving one.
At that price, the PIONEER DDJSR Pro DJ Controller isn’t exactly too cheap but it sure is worth every cent you’re paying it for. It has 16 performance pads that include functions such as sampler, slicer, roll and hot cue. The new pad plus included in these best DJ controllers throws in the hot cue roll, sampler roll, trans and combo FX. For precise scratching and intense mixing capabilities, it comes with large jog wheels as well.
As most of the very satisfied customers put it, the PIONEER DDJSR Pro DJ Controller is pretty solid and you’ll love how you can work on this heavily without any problems at all. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced DJ, the PIONEER DDJSR Pro DJ Controller is worth a shot!
The Hercules DJ 4780730 is a rather impressive looking DJ controller that will surely get your co-DJ’s and “fans” swooning over your equipment. As expected, it has 2 decks, mixer controls are at the center and a bunch of other deck controls are on the right and left sides. You’ll also love how it comes with the usual built-in audio outputs for preview and mixing. All these and much more come at such an attractive price tag. What’s even better is that it is compact and quite user-friendly too – great enough for the pros yet awesome for the beginners. The pressure-detecting jog wheels that lets you scratch pretty easily, just like how it feels like when you scratch vinyl, are 7.4 inches deep and 10.4 inches wide. Included in the package is the DJUCED mixing software, though some users have shared using other mixing software without any issues.
The Hercules DJ 4780730 weighs just above 2 pounds and it is very compact as compared to other DJ controllers which is why it is the preferred equipment by many travelling DJ’s. While others would actually think the size won’t work for them as it is too small, there are more who actually liked it that way as it makes these best DJ controllers very mobile. It is a matter of preference though. It works with both Mac and Windows laptops and computers and it is USB bus-powered (USB cable is attached to the controller).
Hercules came out with a lot of DJ controllers already, a lot of those are actually very compact. If there’s one that stands out among the many models they released, it has to be the Hercules DJ 4780730 and over 200 positive ratings just proved that!
The third and definitely not the last Numark on this list is the Numark Mixtrack II USB DJ Controller with Trigger Pads. A budget DJ controller that you can easily find, the Numark Mixtrack II doesn’t fall short when it comes to the necessary features any amateur or professional DJ should be looking for. For starters, it already comes with the Virtual DJ LE audio/video/karaoke software which is already good enough for beginners but still okay for the pros. It comes with a standard MIDI as well that’s compatible with most popular software for DJ’s. Scratch a track or halt your mix with the hot wheels that give you the right precision control over every transition and track through its advanced low-profile platters. The wheels are both dual-zoned and capacitive; pitch adjustment is also possible by working the platters on the sides.
In addition to the numerous controls and sliders, there are 16 backlit drummer pads which will surely make your live performances even more impressive. You can go on hot cue mode, sample mode or loop mode with these drummer pads. There’s a complete section for mixing purposes too where there’s a crossfader, the controls for music library navigation and the 3-band EQ. 16 dedicated effects controls and pitch and sync controls are all available as well. Compatible for both Mac and Windows computers and it’s very portable at just less than 5 pounds, once again, Numark hit all the right spots with the Numark Mixtrack II.
Lightweight and compact yet powerful enough for massive mixing, the NumarkMixtrack DJ Software Controller is another Numark that made it to our list of best DJ controllers because of its simple yet high-performance features that’s good enough for the studio DJ or the travelling DJ, pro or non-pro. You can do a lot with this DJ controller that weighs just less than 5 pounds and is compatible with your Mac or Windows PC. It has two large touch sensitive turntables for precise and accurate scratching and control of the tracks you play. You still get that standard yet classic dual-deck layout along with a complete mixer section. Keep your focus on the controller and not on your computer, just like what a real pro DJ would, and you can do that easily even when the lights in the clubs are dark with the lighted controls that show the status of the software. In addition, you will appreciate how the USB MIDI of the NumarkMixtrack DJ’s best DJ controllers are compatible with most if not all DJ software so there’s really no issue you’d have to face no matter what you currently use.
Another reason for the DJ on-the-go to love this is that the NumarkMixtrack DJ Software Controller is complete USB powered so you don’t need any power outlets or external power supply to make it work. It works with most types of audio files and audio CD’s too though you have to take note that there should be a CD drive in your computer to make a CD work on this DJ controller.
The Numark DJ 2 Go Ultra-Portable USB DJ Controller is another popular DJ controller from Numark, once again, but it isn’t exactly meant for everyone. First of all, if you are a professional DJ, whether you do your mixing in the studio or you play live in front of a crowd all the time, this might not work for you. However, if you want an extra super portable DJ controller that’s small enough to fit in your backpack or even your laptop case, then this is the one for you. It is great for beginners or those who just want to mix and scratch here and there during occasional house parties, etc. It is practically as small as most laptop’s keyboards and you can easily hold it with just one hand. In fact, it is just about a pound heavy which isn’t really heavy at all.
Now you might think – why would you spend so much money for such a tiny best DJ controllers when you can spend about the same for say, the NumarkMixtrack DJ Software Controller and get the real deal? Again, it’s a subjective choice and this one’s just meant as the pro’s extra controller or the amateur’s practice controller. It still has all the features you need anyway and it is compatible with most MIDI-capable DJ applications. Navigate without the mouse, use just one USB cable to attach to your Mac or Windows PC or laptop, and you can already get your hands, your fingers rather, on the A and B deck plus the crossfader on your DJ 2 Go. Just another plus is that the VirtualDJ LE Lite Software is already included in the package. No drivers required to make this work – just plug and play!
Though not as small as the Numark DJ 2 Go discussed above, the NumarkMixtrack Pro DJ Controller is another portable DJ controller that weighs a little above 5 pounds. It is highly rated by hundreds of customers and majority of the feedback you’d find as well as other professional DJ and critic websites are positive and impressive on this great product as well. Quite on the pricier side, the NumarkMixtrack Pro DJ Controller is very much worth your money. Its control wheels are large and touch-sensitive and it comes with an integrated audio interface. As usual, it is a dual deck DJ controller that comes with a complete mixer section. It works through USB connection and its illuminated controls allow you to add in all the effects even under the dim light of any of your DJing venues. The package already comes with Serato DJ Intro that you can later on upgrade to Serato DJ.
If you’ve been using other brands in the past and you’re hesitant about trying out Numark for some reason, there are many users of the NumarkMixtrack Pro best DJ controllers who actually confessed that this is their first Numark DJ controller and they are so far very satisfied. Some have actually been using this particular model for years without a problem which goes to prove its stability and durability. If you want to be impressed, whether you’re a beginner or a pro, the NumarkMixtrack Pro DJ Controller is a must-try for you.
There was a time when DJ’s had to bring vinyl records and turntables to play music in a party. Fast forward to the 90’s and even the early 2000’s, DJ’s have to bring a stack or even a whole bag of CD’s with sleeve after sleeve of discs – each one with labels and titles that it gets just so confusing! Today, DJ’s bring their laptops and their DJ controllers and they practically have thousands of tracks of all genres stored in gigabytes-worth of memory on their laptop. Of course, technology has once again squeezed its way into DJ’s lives by making it even easier and Numark managed to be part of that through the NumarkiDJ Pro Professional DJ Controller. No need for a laptop, you just need your iPad (sold separately, of course). The regular-sized iPads (not the minis) should fit just fine on the NumarkiDJ Pro but of course you can use the smaller ones if you wish. You can just purchase the djay® and vjay® apps for iPad and you can begin working!
This actually saves a lot of desk space and you still get the full DJ experience with the two turntables, controls, knobs, effects, etc. Another impressive yet not surprising feature of the NumarkiDJ Pro is that you get cloud access – this means you can download tracks while working then play them within seconds (depending on the speed of your internet), so no worries about iPads with limited memory like the 16GB’s! What’s even better is that you can stream your set wireless via Bluetooth or AirPlay though you can always go the usual 3.5mm or 6.35mm standard connections if you wish.
This list is rounding off with one of Pioneer’s best and most impressive DJ controllers – the Pioneer DDJ-SB Performance DJ Controller. It weighs less than 5 pounds which makes it easily portable and it already comes with free download of the Serato software. There are four performance pads that are illuminated per deck that you can use for sampler, auto loop, manual loop and hot cue. An additional four rubber pads that are illuminated as well are included which can be used to sync and shift, play and cue. You can also show off your mixing and scratching skills with this DJ controller through its two large and shiny jog wheels that does their job pretty precisely. A sound card is built-in to this DJ controller and you can connect to your laptop with a USB cable. This controller also has a filter fade function that’s not found on older Pioneer DJ controller models which allows you to smoothly blend when transitioning to the next track.
While there are still others who might say that the Pioneer system is for beginners, primarily because Pioneer makes everything easy and simple specifically for this Pioneer DDJ-SB, there are still professionals who consider this their controller of choice. For the features and the power it offers, the price tag on these best DJ controllers are pretty reasonable and is in fact, considered affordable. If this is still beyond your budget and you’re looking for something similar but less pricey, you can check out the DDJ-SB2 which is cheaper but quite as good too.