The 10 Best DJ Controllers

Updated June 01, 2017 by Ezra Glenn

10 Best DJ Controllers
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 45 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. There are some environments where passing the aux cord from one phone to another is enough to keep the party going. But in situations where you need serious equipment to keep a room jumping, you'll need one of these sophisticated, high-tech DJ controllers, packed with innovative features that give you ultimate power over your mixing and playback effects. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best dj controller on Amazon.

10. Hercules Instinct P8

The Hercules Instinct P8 has two built-in RCA outputs for mixing and a 3.5 mm aux jack for previewing on your headphones. It ships with the latest version of Djuced software, and its straightforward layout includes two pressure-sensitive jog wheels
  • good choice for beginners
  • plug-and-play functionality
  • missing basic gain knob controls
Brand Hercules DJ
Model 4780861
Weight 2.4 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

9. Numark MixDeck Express

With inputs for USB drives, laptops, and even CDs for the '90s-trained selector, the Numark MixDeck Express is an extremely versatile option that can connect directly to a sound system and hold its own used with or without a computer.
  • dual microphone inputs
  • impressive bang for your buck
  • includes only intro-level software
Brand Numark
Model Mixdeck Express
Weight 15.4 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

8. Pioneer DDJSR

Those in search of a mid-tier, two-channel model should seriously consider the Pioneer DDJSR, which features powerful slice and sampler functions that can cut up a track into several sections for loops and cueing, and has super smooth crossfading.
  • good choice for fans of scratching
  • portable but not cheap-feeling
  • some quality control issues
Brand Pioneer
Weight 12.3 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

7. Numark Mixtrack Pro 3

The Numark Mixtrack Pro 3 features 16 backlit rubber drum pads with loop, sample, and hot cue modes. It's compatible with any digital mixing platform that supports MIDI protocols, and is ready for live performance with RCA and dual headphone outputs.
  • intuitive and responsive layout
  • ultraportable at just four pounds
  • limited version of serato
Brand Numark
Model Mixtrack Pro 3
Weight 5.5 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

6. Behringer CMD Studio 4a

The Behringer CMD Studio 4a is large and stylish, so it's great for selectors who like to look active for a true audiovisual experience. The glowing buttons make quick adjustments easy, and its ultra-low latency operation means no delays.
  • compatible with most mixing software
  • large platters allow precise control
  • a bit difficult to set up
Brand Behringer
Weight 9.5 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

5. Numark NVII

The Numark NVII has two intelligent, elevated, full-color dual-display screens built in to let you focus on the music and keep your laptop out of the picture. Its knobs are touch-capacitive, providing an immense depth of control over filters, EQ, and more.
  • onscreen gridlines for beat matching
  • designed for use with serato
  • includes only 30-day trial software
Brand Numark
Model NVII
Weight 9.4 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

4. Reloop Terminal Mix 8

If Serato is your mixing software of choice, the Reloop Terminal Mix 8 was designed in partnership with its creators and may very well be the one for you. It features four channels and an intuitive layout that will have you ready for prime time as soon as you plug it in.
  • 16 velocity-sensitive drum pads
  • full version of serato
  • high quality metal build
Brand Reloop
Model AMS-TM8
Weight 14.6 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

3. Native Instruments Kontrol S4 MK2

The Native Instruments Kontrol S4 MK2 is designed for and includes Traktor Pro 2, the trusted, professional choice of mixing software that you'll find in the world's best clubs. It features impressive visual feedback and aircraft-grade aluminum plates.
  • can be used with an iphone or ipad
  • intuitive loop recording
  • sturdy faders are easy to control
Brand Native Instruments
Model 23666
Weight 12.2 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

2. Gemini DJ G4V

The Gemini DJ G4V has four channels, a built-in sound card, easy to maneuver controls, and LED lights with a cool blue hue. It's a great unit for traveling performers, with its durable build that stands up to the inevitable bumps and bruises of the road.
  • 16 multifunction performance pads
  • high quality metal construction
  • customizable fx control mapping
Brand Gemini
Model G4V
Weight 15 pounds
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

1. Pioneer DDJ-SB2

Impressively fully-featured despite its compact and portable form factor, the Pioneer DDJ-SB2 is the best two-channel option on the market. Its tactile performance pads and large jog wheels make it easy to tailor and fine-tune your mixes in real time.
  • great value for its price
  • weighs less than seven pounds
  • easy plug-and-play functionality
Brand Pioneer
Model DDJ-SB2
Weight 6.7 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

Getting To Know The DJ Controller

A DJ controller can be a shocking sight to the unfamiliar eye, but it is important not to be intimidated. One needs to familiarize themselves with all the components as quickly as possible in order to be able to use a DJ controller effectively. The first noticeable feature of a DJ controller is the many buttons and knobs on its surface. On some models, there are buttons or dials to control every aspect of the input. When first starting out, the best approach would be to ignore the kill switches and equalization knobs on the top of the board. Instead, focus on the simple features like the crossfader and volume controls as these are the most basic functions every DJ needs to know how to use.

A DJ controller can receive many different types of input signals. Common input methods are devices like CDs, turntables, microphones, MP3 players, and computers. One may assign each input to a specific input channel on the board. Each input channel has its own controls for adjusting the way the track sounds; ensuring uniform level and tones across all input signals. Hitting the cue button on an input channel assigns it to the controller deck, where live editing takes place. Cueing a channel without turning the volume up allows the user to hear how the sound will match up with what is being played, as well as test out adjustments before the audience hears them live. From there, the crossfader allows the user to switch between the two cued channels. This is the most basic function of a DJ controller.

Things To Consider Before Buying A DJ Controller

Before buying a DJ controller, a few important questions must be considered. Firstly, how intuitive is the device? Most DJ controllers have a similar layout. The EQ controls for each channel are on top, and the fader controls are below everything else. This makes it easy for an experienced DJ switch to a new mixer without much of a learning curve, as many of the regularly used controls are in a familiar location. If the controller is not set up this way, it may mean a lot of unnecessary reaching and awkward positioning while trying to edit tracks live.

Another important consideration is whether or not the device supports the user's audio preferences? If the DJ prefers to mix from a CD, a controller that directly accepts CDs should be chosen. While most controllers accept audio input from a standard auxiliary jack, control capabilities are sometimes severely limited while using them. It is best to have direct access to the file.

Also consider what sound features one needs in a DJ controller. Some may feature built in effects, loop recorders, EQ kill switches, and even allow for beat slicing live from the controller. Knowing how much control is appropriate for your needs will help you choose the right model.

Having designated monitor speakers or headphones to hear what is coming out of the master channel is also very important. In the beginning, it may go unnoticed. As one progresses as a DJ, the necessity for a method to preview the audio track before playing it live becomes clear. In large venues or stadiums, there can be a delay in timing from what is actually coming out and what the DJ hears coming out. This is affected by the speed of sound and the acoustics of the venue. If the music is timed to what is heard coming out of the house speakers, it is a recipe for disaster.

The Evolution Of The DJ

While the original Disc Jockeys like Christopher Stone paved the way for the DJs of today, their style was worlds away. Early DJs would simply play different songs from vinyl records in whichever order they chose. This meant that a DJ with a large library could become very popular simply for how much music they had. For example, Christopher Stone was said to have over 12,000 records in the 1930s.

In the 1960s, the first DJ mixer was invented. It was a simple machine which included a fader, and was meant to allow for the quick switching between two records, in order to power the all-night discoteques of the 1960s. As DJs progressed through the years, so did their focus. The belt drive turntables couldn't keep up with the demands of many DJs, and soon gave way to the sturdy direct drive turntable. The importance of a direct drive turntable became apparent in the 1990s. Hip Hop was enjoying a surge in popularity, and with it came a boost in the art of turntablism. While many DJs today choose to use the MP3 or digital versions of audio files, there are still many purist vinyl DJs out there who believe turntablism to be an art that can’t be properly digitized. The concept of a DJ has evolved rapidly in a short period of time and is sure to continue to do so in the future.

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Last updated on June 01, 2017 by Ezra Glenn

Ezra is a writer, photographer, creative producer, designer, and record label-operator from New York City. He's traveled around the world and ended up back where he started, though he's constantly threatening to leave again.

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