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’re producing music in the studio, or when you’re at a gig, a very important gear that must be of a high quality for you to have a raging success is the DJ controller. The product should give you the versatility that 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’re 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|
|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. This model 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 unit has a superior sound quality when compared to its competitors, this being the reason why it has made a renowned name for itself. The tightly integrated hardware and software of this model show that it is built to work with the Serato DJ, the software that actually comes with it. It features large aluminum jogs that are optimised to give a perfect scratch response, so you will surely win the crowd over when using the controller. A spec that makes it truly stand out from the rest is the fact that this top of the line model comes with two sound cards, each of them having inputs and outputs for no less than 4 decks and a dedicated channel that 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’s what you’re 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 that you’re 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|
Numark is one of the most recognizable brands on this market, producing numerous top quality DJ 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 that the created beats will hype everyone at the venue where the performance takes place. Another impressive element of this unit is the fact that the navigation control comes with selection knobs that 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 that measure 5 inches and that are hyperresponsive, these platters having search and scratch modes that allow a more versatile performance. The design that it boasts makes using it a dream come true, feeling like a star when you’re in front of the crowd and you mix songs. Best of all, it’s 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|
The gorgeous jog wheel performance of the Numark NS6 is the main reason why this model 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 that 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 of this model can be adjusted from +/-8 to +/-50 percent, giving you the control that you need over the unit to please and impress the crowd in the venue where you’re playing. Each side of the product 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 that 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.
With so many units of this kind on the market, it’s practically impossible to tell them apart at first sight. But this isn’t the case with the Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 MK2, a DJ controller that doesn’t only look different, but that performs at another level as well due to the fact that the manufacturer produces the software too. Even though this unit is portable as it doesn’t weigh much, this doesn’t mean that it’s not durable. On the contrary, the rugged construction makes it a guaranteed resistant and long lasting investment. This model has a very interesting design that makes it stand out from its competitors, a design that is composed of two decks and a pro-grade mixer with multi-effect units. The direct iTunes integration and iPod compatibility ensure that 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 that 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.
DJ-ing isn’t easy, and it’s surely not for everyone. But with the right gear, you can easily reach the top if you’re passionate and hard working. Of course, the first step that you must make in order to reach your peak and become famous is to invest in a quality DJ controller. A model that you can surely rely on is the Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB2, a unit that despite the fact that it has a plastic housing feels very durable. Also, it’s 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 model is the fact that it features large, low-latency jog wheels that give a great scratch response and that are extremely accurate, ensuring that you will perform at your peak when using it. The level meters and the trim knob that 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 that it comes with as well, being backed up by the manufacturer for 3 years!
Another top choice that we recommend you go with if you’re an aspiring DJ is the Denon DJ MC4000. Not only does this DJ controller 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’s a premium 2-deck controller that is perfect for DJs who are on the go all the time, having more than one gig per night. The USB connection that it features allows you to connect it to your computer. It’s made of professional grade steel that guarantees a long-lasting durability, so you can rest assured knowing that you have spent your money wisely on it. The mixing capability that it features reduces the need for additional equipment when you’re playing for a crowd and you want to impress. The independent level control of the booth outputs provides a superior versatility. This high-end controller features long-throw 100-millimeter pitch faders and touch-activated jog wheels that allow an accurate scratching. It’s 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.
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 that they look for to reach the top and become household names.
A department where owning this type of a product will help boost your performance considerably is your beatmatching. Thanks to the numerous technological advancements that have lead to the appearance of these devices, they automatically beat match and synchronize the songs for you, ensuring that 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.
What makes these units 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 that 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 won’t weigh much in the bag, and you will only have to take your laptop with you, which isn’t much considering how light laptops are these days.
In the old days, you couldn’t carry a lot of music with you, which meant that if you forgot a part of it at home or if the crowd wasn’t 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, these units giving you the possibility to carry as many tunes as you need with you. This way, in case the people at the venue aren’t 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’re at a gig, the people that 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 won’t be faced with this issue ever in your career, having the music at your fingertips. All that you have to do is to use the music controller, and you will be able to scan through the playlists that 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 won’t have to worry about losing all of your free time on this kind of activities because the controller of the unit makes everything a lot easier, allowing you to focus on finding the tunes that you’re looking for and dropping effects that will impress everyone.
Another major advantage that comes with owning a top of the line controller is the fact that the setup will be very convenient. All that you have to do is to find a flat surface on which to place the laptop and the unit and insert each cable where it belongs. The whole ordeal should take only 5-10 minutes, meaning that you won’t leave your fans waiting for too long.
It might sound surprising at first that a device that costs so much can help you save money, but it’s actually true. This happens due to the fact that the music will be a lot cheaper, thus ensuring that in 1-2 years you recuperate the money spent on the product. 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.
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’s 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 that 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 can’t end our buying guide without mentioning the portability of the unit. 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’re playing on a regular basis. Therefore, you can’t afford to lose time that you could have spent preparing the setup, and you can’t take the risk of not being able of moving the unit on your own either. Therefore, keep in mind to check for a portable unit, the only way to do this being to choose one that is lightweight.
Pioneer is a brand that doesn’t need much in the way of introduction, being a household name thanks to the impressive performance shown by the products that 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 that has changed mixing for all of us. Despite the fact that the company has managed to pull a lot of breakthroughs, it hasn’t 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 that 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.
As these products get more innovative as the time passes, we can’t 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, that measures no less than 8 inches as well, is the perfect example of how well you will work with the unit 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’s important for a unit of this kind 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 unit of this kind 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 that is 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 that 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.