In order to mix the best sounding beats out there and to reach the heights of success as a DJ, you need the right gear by your side. When it comes to what you use when you are producing music in the studio, or when you are at a gig, a very important gear that must be of a high quality for you to have a raging success is the controller.
It should give you the versatility you need to let the creative part of you unleash itself, slowly becoming a household name worldwide by mixing sick beats that will make people fall in love with your style fast. Therefore, no matter if you are a producer or a live performer, take a look at the comparison table above to find out what the best models of 2018 are, and continue to read the article to learn interesting info about these products.
|1. Pioneer Pro DJ DDJ-SZ||2. Numark NV II||3. Numark NS6||4. Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 MK2||5. Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB2|
|BEST MODEL||OUR CHOICE|
|Dimensions (W x D x H)||34.25″ x 16.5″ x 3.9″||21.6″ x 13.4″ x 2.1″||23.8″ x 13.4″ x 2.5″||17.25″ x 12.1″ x 2.6″||19.2″ x 10.7″ x 2.3″|
|Weight||22.9 Lbs||7 Lbs||14 Lbs||5.7 Lbs||4.6 Lbs|
|Platter Type||Touch-Sensitive||Dual Hyper-Responsive with Search and Scratch Modes||Touch-Sensitive, Illuminated||Touch-Sensitive||Touch-Sensitive|
|Included Software||Serato DJ||Serato DJ||Serato DJ||Traktor Pro 2.5||Serato DJ|
|System Requirements||Mac OS X 10.6.8, 10.7.5, or 10.8.4, Intel 2.4 Ghz Core 2 Duo or Intel Core i3, i5, or i7 1.07 Ghz Duo, 4 GB RAM; Windows 7, Intel 2.4 Ghz Core 2 Duo or Intel Core i3, i5, or i7 1.07 Ghz Duo, 4 GB RAM||Mac OS X 10.8, 10.9, 10.10, or 10.11.1, Intel 2.4 Ghz Core 2 Duo or Intel Core i3, i5, or i7 1.07 Ghz Core 2 Duo, 4 GB RAM; Windows 7, 8, or 8.1, Intel 2.4 Ghz Core 2 Duo or Intel Core i3, i5, or i7 1.07 Ghz Core 2 Duo, 4 GB RAM||Mac OS X 10.6, 10.7, 10.8, 10.9, 10.10, or 10.11, Intel 2.0 Ghz Core 2 Duo or Intel 2.4 Ghz Core 2 Duo, 2 GB RAM or 4 GB RAM; Windows 7 or 8, Intel 2.0 Ghz Core 2 Due or Intel 2.4 Ghz Core 2 Duo, 2 GB RAM or 4 GB RAM||Mac OS X 10.9 or 10.10, Intel Core i5, 4 GB RAM; Windows 7 or 8, 2.0 Ghz Intel Core i5, 4 GB RAM||Mac OS X 10.8, 10.9, or 10.10, Intel 1.6 Ghz Core Due or Intel Core i3, i5, or i7, 1 GB RAM; Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1, Intel 2.0 Ghz Core Due or Intel Core i3, i5, or i7, 1 GB RAM|
|Deck Control||4 / Dual||4||4||2||4|
|External Audio Mixer Channels||4||4||4||2||2|
|Wheel Resolution (points per rev)||N/A||3600||3600||1000||N/A|
|Sample Rate||44.1 kHz||44.1 kHz||44.1 kHz||44.1 kHz||44.1 kHz|
|Total Harmonic Distortion and Noise||0.004%; 0.002%||0.005%; 0.002%||0.005%; 0.003%||0.005%; 0.002%||0.005%; 0.002%|
|Signal-to-Noise Ratio||111 dB USB, A-weighted; 84 dB Mic 1 and Mic 2, A-weighted; 90 dB Phono, A-weighted; 97 dB CD/Line, A-weighted||112 dB 100% Master Volume, A-weighted; 109 dB 100% Master Volume, unweighted||Balanced Outputs > 99 dB; Unbalanced Outputs > 98 dB||105 dB Line Outputs, A-weighted; 105 dB Headphone Output, A-weighted||90 dB|
Rear & Front Panel Features
|Controls||Mixer, Playback, Cue, Loop, Track, Pitch, Navigation, Effects||Mixer, Playback, Cue, Loop, Track, Pitch, Navigation, Effects||Mixer, Playback, Cue, Loop, Track, Pitch, Navigation, Effects||Mixer, Playback, Cue, Loop, Track, Pitch, Navigation, Effects||Mixer, Playback, Cue, Loop, Track, Pitch, Navigation, Effects|
|USB Connection Port|
|Master Output (XLR & RCA)|
|Booth/Zone Output (RCA)|
|Line Inputs (RCA)|
|Backlit Performance Pads||5-Column Sort Options||Strip Search Virtual Needle-Drop Technology||Can Power iOS Devices||Manual Filters On All Channels|
|Auto Standby||Class-Compliant on Mac PC||Mouseless Library Navigation||MP3 Management with iTunes integration and iPod compatibility||Tactile Performance Pads|
|Built-In Sound Card||Dual 4.3″ Full-Color Displays||Magnetic Brake Technology|
|P-Lock Fader Cap||Professional Grade USB 2.0 Audio Interface||Backlit RGB Buttons|
|16 Velocity-Sensitive Trigger Pads|
|Product Warranty||1 Year||1 Year||1 Year||1 Year||3 Years|
The staggering amount of mixer channels and input options make the Pioneer Pro DJ DDJ-SZ our choice for the best controller of 2018. It is perfect especially for performers who are on the go often and who need a versatile music controller at their disposal. The incredibly feature-rich product has a superior sound quality when compared to its competitors, this being the reason why it has made quite a name for itself.
The tightly integrated hardware and software show it is built to work with the Serato DJ, the software that actually comes with it. It features large aluminum jogs which are optimized to give a perfect scratch response, so you will surely win the crowd over when using the controller. A spec which makes it truly stand out from the rest is the fact that it comes with two sound cards, each of them having inputs and outputs for no less than 4 decks and a dedicated channel you can use to record your mix.
Therefore, it allows you to hook up CD players or turntables in order to control any of the decks via timecode, even all of them at once if that is what you are going for. Also, it comes with two separate mic inputs that each feature their own level control and EQ. All in all, this controller is a dream to work with, helping you pump up any club you are in.
|Compatible with Serato DJ||There are no downsides to this product|
|Frequency range from 20 to 20000 Hz|
|Color FX options – echo, filter, pitch, and jet|
|Oscillator sampler options – horn, cymbal, siren, noise|
|Jog wheel measures 202 mm in diameter|
An obvious choice as it shines and clearly outweighs competitors, this Pioneer controller is a must-have for any upcoming DJ. The large jog wheels and the generous controls and effects ensure you will produce quality music and entertain even the most pretentious crowds.
Numark is one of the most recognizable brands on this market, producing numerous top quality disc jockey controllers over the years. But what no one can deny is the fact that the NV II model takes the cake, being their best work yet. If you buy this product, what you will probably first notice is the fact that it adds gridlines to the waveform.
This addition is intended to help artists visualize the beat of their tracks better, ensuring the created beats will hype everyone at the venue where the performance takes place. Another impressive element is the fact that the navigation control comes with selection knobs which allow you to push in order to load the tracks, sorting them by metadata in the browse mode. Besides boasting a generous improvement to the on-screen experience, the NV II comes with touch-capacitive jog wheels that will improve your experience when using them.
It features dual metal platters which measure 5 inches and are hyperresponsive, these platters having search and scratch modes which allow a more versatile performance. The design it boasts makes using it a dream come true, feeling like a star when you are in front of the crowd and you mix songs. Best of all, it is impressively light, allowing you to carry it with ease when you have gigs in different locations on the same night.
|Perfect beat matching ensured by on-screen gridlines||There are no downsides to this product|
|Integrated displays allow the DJ to focus on mixing music|
|Optimum response ensured by adaptive learning platter tech|
|10 pad modes to choose between for loop slicing, sample triggering, and hot cues|
|Features a professional grade crossfader with curve adjustment|
Allowing you to feel and create music as you like, thus Numark controller is a definite must-have. While you perform, you can make your own spectacular remix to impress the crowd at the gig, the 16 velocity-sensitive pads giving you all the freedom you need.
The gorgeous jog wheel performance of the Numark NS6 is the main reason why it is our choice for the third spot in our ranking of the best controllers on the market. This four-deck, four-channel model really takes the cake when it comes to durability, boasting an impressive metal construction that ensures it will last for years. The positioning of the external inputs is straightforward enough for you to have an easy time using it, not needing to route external sources through software.
In the middle of this model’s mixer section, you will find 12-bar VU meters which monitor the master output. No matter if you go with digital or analog sources, you will have a top quality overall audio performance. The pitch range can be adjusted from +/-8 to +/-50 percent, giving you the control you need for it to please and impress the crowd in the venue where you are playing.
Each side features 5 cues that work with a shift-to-delete function, making it intuitive and easy for you to use it. In addition, it features no less than 12 effects which not only cover the basics, but that include important features like separate high-pass and low-pass filters. Also, Numark backs up the NS6 with a generous 1-year warranty against defects in parts and workmanship.
|Works with or without the DVS software – can be used as a stand-alone||Lacks actively spinning platters|
|Features the innovative split-cue function|
|Top of the line jog wheels allow smooth mixing|
|Sturdy and durable build – made to last|
Add a little spice to your DJ performance with this top of the line Numark controller. Easy on the eye and convenient to use, it is specially made to allow you to create the mix of your dreams and keep the crowd in control and happy during the gig.
With so many controllers on the market, it is practically impossible to tell them apart at first sight. But this is not the case with the S2 MK2, a controller which does not only look different but performs at another level as well due to the fact that the manufacturer produces the software too.
Even though it is portable as it does not weigh much, this does not mean that it is not durable. On the contrary, the rugged construction makes it a guaranteed resistant and long lasting investment. It has a very interesting design which makes it stand out from its competitors, a design that is composed of two decks and a pro-grade mixer with multi-effect controllers. The direct iTunes integration and iPod compatibility ensure you will have an easy time when using it, allowing you to have complete freedom in order to impress the crowd with your music.
All of the features it boasts alongside the portability of the controller make it an exceptional choice not only for the more experienced DJs but for beginners as well. In addition, it features color-coded RGB buttons that trigger cue points, samples, and loops, providing instant visual feedback as you press them.
|Separate volume control knobs for booth and master outputs||Does not feature throughputs for emergencies|
|Amazing compatibility with Traktor DJ app for Apple devices|
|Low-latency fader and jog wheel|
|Remix decks and other extensive features allow a more versatile performance|
If Traktor is your main weapon and you are looking for a two-channel controller to perfectly compliment your choice software, this Native Instruments gear is what you need. Featuring innovative functions specific only to top of the line controllers, it is a mandatory addition to your DJ collection.
DJ-ing is not easy, and it is surely not for everyone. But with the right gear, you can easily reach the top if you are passionate and hard working. Of course, the first step you must make in order to reach your peak and become famous is to invest in a quality disc jockey controller. A model you can rely on is the DDJ-SB2, which despite the fact that it has a plastic housing feels very durable. Also, it is extremely lightweight, being perfect for those who have gigs in different places.
A spec that made us instantly fall in love with the DDJ-SB2 is the fact that it features large, low-latency jog wheels which give a great scratch response and are extremely accurate, ensuring you will perform at your peak when using it. The level meters and the trim knob it comes with allow you to quickly check and adjust the input volume on each channel as you see fit.
Best of all, it features filter fade, meaning that when you go with this option, two high pass filters will be added to the crossfader. This will allow you to manipulate the bass and volume filters simultaneously with one hand for effortless, professional mixes. In addition, this controller stands out through the warranty it comes with as well, being backed up by the manufacturer for 3 years!
|User-friendly design makes it especially great for beginners who want to master the art of being a DJ||You will need a software upgrade if you want to integrate it with most software out there|
|Features a top of the line soundcard|
|Provides four deck capabilities|
|Affordable – comes at a cheaper price than most products|
The price point alone is enough to convince you that this Pioneer controller is what you need. Considering how expensive DJ gear gets, you need to find as many products that do not sacrifice quality while managing to remain affordable, and the DDJ-SB2 provides exactly this.
Another top choice we recommend you go with if you are an aspiring DJ is the MC4000. Not only does it come at a relatively fair price, but it provides an excellent performance that guarantees the people at the venue will fall in love with your performance. It is a premium 2-deck controller which is perfect for DJs who are on the go all the time, having more than one gig per night. The USB connection it features allows you to connect it to your computer.
It is made of professional grade steel which guarantees a long-lasting durability, so you can rest assured knowing you have spent your money wisely on it. The mixing capability it features reduces the need for additional equipment when you are playing for a crowd and you want to impress. The independent level control of the booth outputs provides a superior versatility.
It features long-throw 100-millimeter pitch faders and touch-activated jog wheels which allow an accurate scratching. It is easy to use as it comes with dedicated EQ and FX control knobs on each channel. It boasts a signal-to-noise ratio of more than 88 dB and a total dynamic range of over 105 dB. Additionally, it comes with hot cue and sample trigger pads that feature an illuminated feedback.
|Reliable build quality makes it an outstanding gear for those who work numerous gigs during the week||Does not feature a slicer or slip mode|
|User-friendly design makes it perfect for beginners as well as professional DJs|
|Features two microphone inputs to offer enhanced versatility|
|Compatible with numerous DJ software|
The great price to quality ratio and the numerous features it comes with make this Denon controller an option worth taking into consideration. Purposely built for DJs who have different gigs in one night, it is as user-friendly as these devices get.
A more affordable option to go for as opposed to other entries in this top, the Mixtrack 3 puts at your disposal everything you could need during your DJ gig. It is an all-in-one solution you will not be able to perform without from the point of purchasing it on for sure. It features 100-millimeter pitch sliders which keep everything in perfect sync, the pitch being longer than what other controllers have accustomed us with.
The touch-sensitive metal jog wheels allow you to mix how you desire and create sick new beats to win over even the most pretentious crowds with ease. The backlit elements make it easy for you to see where all the needed controls are. Additionally, the volume levels are displayed so that you know what selections you are making at all times.
It comes with the Virtual DJ 8 LE software which allows you to create the mixes you desire with ease, a welcoming addition for beginners in this domain. Overall, it includes numerous convenient, professional controls and settings which aid during the gig, some of the best examples being the dedicated tracks browsing controls from the library, the filter knobs which are dedicated for each channel, the multiple FX manipulation, and so on.
|16 backlit RGB pads and dedicated filter knobs for each channel so that beginners have an easy time using it||Does not come with RCA connectors|
|Comes with the Prime Loops remix tool kit|
|Reasonable asking price as opposed to other more expensive controllers|
|Endorses multiple FX manipulation|
|Features high resolution metal jog wheels|
Easy to work with, which makes it equally friendly for old timers as well as newcomers, this Numark controller is a must-have for any serious mixer. With it in your gear setup, there is no crowd you will have difficulties winning over, all of your gigs becoming instant successes.
Digital DJ-ing has been made possible due to the multitude of music controllers existent on the market at the moment. These products are mostly easy to use, making the life of a beginner DJ a lot easier when it comes to producing quality beats or playing gigs at different venues. Also, they are just as great for those who are more experienced, offering them the versatility they look for to reach the top and become household names.
A department where owning a controller will help boost your performance considerably is your beatmatching. Thanks to the numerous technological advancements which have lead to the appearance of these devices, they automatically beat match and synchronize the songs for you, ensuring no beat will be off.
All in all, controllers are truly crucial in your career as a professional DJ, being of an utter importance for you to not only learn how to work with them but being equally important for you to invest in a model that comes with as many useful specs and features as possible.
In the modern time we live in, the many technological advancements across all markets have led to numerous benefits for all of us. When it comes to being a digital DJ, you can consider yourself lucky to live in this era where your job is made a lot easier by the innovative gear you use. Unfortunately, there is a downside to everything, the main downside about this hobby or profession being that you have to spend a lot of money on the devices you carry with you. But this surely does not take away from their importance, this being especially true when it comes to DJ controllers. If you are curious to find out exactly what advantages come with spending extra money on a top of the line model, read the following lines.
What makes these controllers a heaven sent to DJs is the fact that they are incredibly easy to transport, making it convenient to go from one gig to another. Also, they rid you of having to transport vinyl records or CDs which could get scratched during the transportation, thus hurting your performance. With it at your disposal, there won’t be a need for vinyl records or CDs, it will not weigh much in the bag, and you will only have to take your laptop with you, which is not much considering how light laptops are these days.
In the old days, you could not carry a lot of music with you, which meant that if you forgot a part of it at home or if the crowd was not responsive to a certain selection, the entire gig would have been a fiasco. Fortunately, things have drastically changed due to the apparition of modern controllers, giving you the possibility to carry as many tunes as you need with you. This way, in case the people at the venue are not responding well to a certain type of music that you have selected, you will surely have enough backups to satisfy them and make the whole performance a raging success.
Time is of the essence when you are at a gig, the people who come to these acts wanting to dance and have fun, not wait for the artist to find the vinyl in a crate. With this product, you will not be faced with this issue ever in your career, having the music at your fingertips. All you have to do is to use the music controller, and you will be able to scan through the playlists you have created fast, keeping the crowd entertained by being responsive to their expectations.
Obviously, mixing is a lot easier when you use a USB controller, unlike the old days when you had to beat match for hours in order to level up your mixing skills. With this type of a product at your disposal, you will not have to worry about losing all of your free time on this kind of activities because the controller of makes everything a lot easier, allowing you to focus on finding the tunes you are looking for and dropping effects which will impress everyone.
Another major advantage that comes with owning a quality controller is the fact that the setup will be very convenient. All you have to do is to find a flat surface on which to place the laptop and the controller and insert each cable where it belongs. The whole ordeal should take only 5-10 minutes, meaning you will not leave your fans waiting for too long.
It might sound surprising at first that a device which costs so much can help you save money, but it is actually true. This happens due to the fact that the music will be a lot cheaper, thus ensuring in 1-2 years you recuperate the money spent on the controller. Also, considering how vast the market actually is, you might end up not paying a lot of money on the device in the first place.
Want to learn some neat tricks which will help make your number more appealing to the crowd? Then apply the tips and tricks that we will tell you about in the following lines, and you are sure to have a raging success. Of course, do not forget to practice them thoroughly at home before the gig starts to not embarrass yourself by making any mistakes.
As a DJ, you need to have the best gear possible at your disposal in order to win the crowd over. To make sure everything you use when you perform is of a top quality, you have to ensure the DJ controller is amazing as well. This is the reason why we have conducted the proper research and written this section of the article, putting together a buying guide which will surely help you pick the perfect model to go with.
The sample rate represents how fast the samples are taken. The sample that we are talking about is a measurement at a specific time in the audio track. Also, it is described in the binary language. The number of times that specific measurement is taken represents the sample rate, and it is expressed in kiloHertz. The ideal choice to go with is the standard 44.1 kHz sample rate.
The bit rate represents the number of bits of the integers and other data units which are used by the data. When it comes to this spec, you should look for models that have a 24-bit rate because this is the most optimal choice to go with.
Of course, we cannot end our buying guide without mentioning the portability of the controller. When you go shopping for the gear, you have to keep in mind the fact that you will take it out of the car and transport it inside of the venue where you are playing on a regular basis. Therefore, you cannot afford to lose time you could have spent preparing the setup, and you cannot take the risk of not being able to move it on your own either. Therefore, keep in mind to check for a portable model, the only way to do this being to choose one that is lightweight.
Some simply do it better than others, this rule being true even when it comes to producing top quality products that truly impact a DJ’s performance like the controllers do. On this market, the brands which have the most renowned and recognizable names by far are Pioneer, Numark, and Native Instruments, these three titans ruling over their competitors.
Pioneer is a brand that does not need much in the way of introduction, being a household name thanks to the impressive performance shown by the products it has delivered since it was founded in 1938. The founder of the company, Nozomu Matsumoto, was a man who appreciated music and knew how important it was for high-quality audio speakers to be on the market. It was due to this passion that the company started with a booming success, and this great man’s legacy will always have a rightful spot in the history of DJ controllers and many other products.
Another renowned manufacturer of DJ gear is Numark, this company standing its ground as an industry leader due to the fact that it has revolutionized how the mixing experience undergoes again and again. It has been founded back in 1971 by Harry Kotovsky and Robert Kotovsky, and in the over 40 years of experience, the company has produced a variety of cutting-edge performance gear which has changed mixing for all of us. Despite the fact that the company has managed to pull a lot of breakthroughs, it has not stopped manufacturing innovative, top-quality products, still being among the top brands of the moment by continuing to add improvements wherever it is possible.
Any respectable DJ knows the Native Instruments company, a manufacturer of software and hardware for DJ-ing that has developed numerous innovative and fully-integrated solutions which have helped the people who work in this domain. What the company always prides itself on is the fact that it has always pushed technological boundaries, making it easier for amateurs to boost their skills, and offering professionals new creative horizons in order to reach the heights of success.
No matter if you are curious to find out what determined us to rank the models in our top the way we did, or you simply want to find out what certain rating criteria mean, you have to make sure you check out this section of the article.
As these products get more innovative as time passes, we cannot overlook the fact that the platters are evolving as well. A touch-sensitive platter like the one featured by the Pioneer Pro DJ DDJ-SZ, which measures no less than 8 inches as well, is the perfect example of how well you will work with the controller overall, and how great it will respond to your mixing needs.
Of course, when you look at the controller, you have to take the system requirements into consideration as well. It is important for a disc jockey controller to be as great performing as possible, but without asking too much when it comes to how well the laptop will perform. We made sure for the models that are featured in our top 5 of the best on the market to perform well, all while remaining reasonable when it comes to their system requirements.
For a controller to truly be of a great quality, it must feature at least a 4-deck control. If you take a look at our ranking, you will notice that no less than 4 of the models boast this spec. Of course, our choice for the number one spot surpasses its competitors, having a dual 4-deck control. When it came to rating the Pioneer Pro DJ DDJ-SZ, this advantage weighed a lot in the ranking, convincing us that this is a model worth your money.
The hot cue represents a point that the user can set on any track on the fly. As you will see, when it comes to all the models we have ranked as being the best on the market, they all allow you to set multiple hot cue points to an individual track, thus making your life a lot easier. The Numark NV II and the Numark NS6 received extra points when it came to this department, both of them featuring no less than 10 hot cues.
Without the right gear, you will not be able to take your performance to a proper end. Among the important gear pieces for a DJ stands the controller. As a matter of fact, it can be even seen as the most important piece of the puzzle due to the fact that with it you mix your music and deliver the sick beats you must get your crowd accustomed to in order for them to return the next time you have a show. In this article, we have reviewed and presented you with the best of the best, controllers which should not miss from the collection of a serious aspiring disc jockey.
The crown inevitably went to the Pioneer Pro DJ DDJ-SZ controller as it actually boats a wide PC compatibility range, thus making it very likely for it to be compatible with your existing system. It is a bit spicy in terms of pricing, but you cannot expect for an excellent product of its caliber to come at a cheap price. Some of its greatest highlights include the built-in sound card it features, the multitude of intuitive controls, the touch-sensitive 8-inch platter, and so on. Another controller that rocked our world was the Numark NV II which delivers what we consider to be the best price to quality ratio at the moment, meaning that it provides with must-have features for aspiring DJs like velocity-sensitive trigger pads, USB connection ports, a 3600 points per revolution speed of the wheel, and so on, all while managing to remain an affordable option.