The best 10 DJ controllers in comparison

Which are the best DJ controllers of 2020?

Best DJ controllers of 2020 (1 - 5)
DJ controller comparison
Comparison winner
DJ controller comparison
Comparison winner
Pioneer DDJ-SX
Comparison winner
Allen & Heath Xone 4D
Comparison winner
Numark NS7II
Comparison winner
Pioneer DDJ-SZ
Comparison winner
Vestax VCI-400
Comparison winner
Vestax VCI-400DJ
Comparison winner
Reloop Jockey 3 ME
Comparison winner
Numark 4TRAK
Comparison winner
Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S4 MK2
Comparison winner
Reloop Jockey 3 Remix
Image
Pioneer DDJ-SX
100points
Allen & Heath Xone 4D
100points
Numark NS7II
96points
Pioneer DDJ-SZ
96points
Vestax VCI-400
92points
Vestax VCI-400DJ
90points
Reloop Jockey 3 ME
85points
Numark 4TRAK
84points
Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S4 MK2
83points
Reloop Jockey 3 Remix
80points
Best price
Best price
Summary
Summary
  • Design (61)
  • Controls & Buttons (85)
  • Keys & Pads (0)
  • Ports (0)
  • Features (75)
  • Design (66)
  • Controls & Buttons (100)
  • Keys & Pads (0)
  • Ports (100)
  • Features (75)
  • Design (42)
  • Controls & Buttons (85)
  • Keys & Pads (0)
  • Ports (0)
  • Features (75)
  • Design (86)
  • Controls & Buttons (83)
  • Keys & Pads (0)
  • Ports (0)
  • Features (75)
  • Design (72)
  • Controls & Buttons (87)
  • Keys & Pads (0)
  • Ports (0)
  • Features (75)
  • Design (72)
  • Controls & Buttons (87)
  • Keys & Pads (0)
  • Ports (0)
  • Features (50)
  • Design (77)
  • Controls & Buttons (69)
  • Keys & Pads (0)
  • Ports (0)
  • Features (75)
  • Design (57)
  • Controls & Buttons (79)
  • Keys & Pads (0)
  • Ports (0)
  • Features (50)
  • Design (69)
  • Controls & Buttons (86)
  • Keys & Pads (0)
  • Ports (100)
  • Features (75)
  • Design (72)
  • Controls & Buttons (69)
  • Keys & Pads (0)
  • Ports (0)
  • Features (75)
Pros
Pros
  • More buttons
  • More knobs
  • More faders
  • More knobs
  • More faders
  • More encoders
  • MIDI input/output port
  • MIDI mapping
  • More buttons
  • More knobs
  • More knobs
  • More pads
  • More encoders
  • MIDI mapping
  • More pads
  • More encoders
  • More encoders
  • More buttons
  • More faders
  • More encoders
  • More buttons
  • More encoders
  • MIDI input/output port
  • More encoders
Cons
Cons
  • Encoders
  • Drum pads
  • Plug and play
  • Encoders
  • Number of buttons
  • Number of buttons
  • Number of knobs
  • Plug and play
  • Number of buttons
  • Number of knobs
  • Plug and play
  • Number of buttons
  • Number of knobs
  • Number of faders
  • Drum pads
  • Drum pads
  • Number of knobs
  • Plug and play
    • Number of buttons
    • Number of faders
    • Number of knobs
    • Drum pads
    Design
    Backlit LED buttonsButtons will light up when pressed, resulting in better visibility to users.
    Backlit LED buttonsButtons will light up when pressed, resulting in better visibility to users.
    Total score for "Design"
    Total score for "Design"
    Controls & Buttons
    Drum padsThe pads section is ideal to trigger loops and samples, using your finger drum skills.
    Drum padsThe pads section is ideal to trigger loops and samples, using your finger drum skills.1601616242400N.A.0
    EncodersA type of knob that has a push button functionality built in. Encoders are for browsing and selecting your digital sound files or turning on a function that makes use of a control's rotation such as sound effects or tempo/tap tempo selection.
    EncodersA type of knob that has a push button functionality built in. Encoders are for browsing and selecting your digital sound files or turning on a function that makes use of a control's rotation such as sound effects or tempo/tap tempo selection.1101255135513
    Number of buttonsThe more buttons the device has, the more complex the input can be.
    Number of buttonsThe more buttons the device has, the more complex the input can be.76588355454554957454
    Number of fadersFaders can be either channel volume faders, pitch sliders, crossfaders or even EQs.
    Number of fadersFaders can be either channel volume faders, pitch sliders, crossfaders or even EQs.81277776976
    Number of knobsMore knobs (rotating controls) can give the user more dedicated control over the device – e.g., volume, effects, EQs, etc. Types of knobs may differ between endless type or step type.
    Number of knobsMore knobs (rotating controls) can give the user more dedicated control over the device – e.g., volume, effects, EQs, etc. Types of knobs may differ between endless type or step type.36563545272715283215
    Total score for "Controls & Buttons"
    Total score for "Controls & Buttons"
    Keys & Pads
    Total score for "Keys & Pads"
    Total score for "Keys & Pads"
    Ports
    MIDI input/output portControllers generally talk to your Mac or PC using MIDI over a USB connection, but sometimes it is possible to connect other devices to your controller. This allows you to control and sync various parameters using a traditional five pin DIN cable connection.
    MIDI input/output portControllers generally talk to your Mac or PC using MIDI over a USB connection, but sometimes it is possible to connect other devices to your controller. This allows you to control and sync various parameters using a traditional five pin DIN cable connection.
    Total score for "Ports"
    Total score for "Ports"
    Features
    MIDI mappingUsers can map, set and regulate the entire midi controller giving different functionalities to all different buttons, knobs and faders. The device could be also set up with different softwares.
    MIDI mappingUsers can map, set and regulate the entire midi controller giving different functionalities to all different buttons, knobs and faders. The device could be also set up with different softwares.
    Plug and playThe device is set up and ready to be used with the included software.
    Plug and playThe device is set up and ready to be used with the included software.
    Compatible with WindowsIt is compatible with PCs and laptops running the Windows operating system.
    Compatible with WindowsIt is compatible with PCs and laptops running the Windows operating system.
    Compatible with Mac OS XIt is compatible with Mac OS X devices such as MacBooks and iMacs.
    Compatible with Mac OS XIt is compatible with Mac OS X devices such as MacBooks and iMacs.
    Total score for "Features"
    Total score for "Features"

    How to choose the best all-in-one DJ MIDI controller

    If you are reading this, odds are you have been to some house party or nightclub where a DJ was on the center stage and played electronic dance music. You maybe even saw the very advanced piece of equipment they use to create magical sounds: the DJ mixing station.
    This elaborate setup consists of a DJ turntable, a DJ mixer, and a DJ MIDI controller, the last of which is perhaps the most underrated and most important component.

    The all-in-one DJ MIDI controller combines media players, a mixing station, and computer interfaces. They let you create sounds with the turntable, mix multiple sounds from various sources, and control your DJ software with the MIDI controller. These integrated modules have plenty of knobs, buttons, jog wheels, pads, and faders for fine-tuning and tweaking the settings to your heart's delight. Some of the more popular DJ software suites for creating and mixing sounds are from Serato DJ and Traktor Pro. In addition, Ableton Live is one of the world's most dependable music sequencers.

    We are very aware that the number of features and functions on an all-in-one DJ MIDI controller can be overwhelming, especially for the novices who are looking to buy their first equipment. Fortunately, we have got you covered with this comprehensive list of specs you should consider when you are shopping for a new DJ mixing station.

    Controllers

    When you first see a DJ controller, you instantly spot plenty of buttons, knobs, pads, faders, encoders, and many other extra fancy features that make these controllers so cool to look at in the first place. Models from different DJ controller brands have a varied number of these features.

    Number of buttons

    Each button on a DJ controller serves a different purpose, allowing you to mix and match sounds to create a new sound. In addition to the play, pause, record, volume buttons, DJ controllers have the following special buttons:

    • LOAD: loads the selected track from the audio source.
    • CUE: sets cue points (markers on a track) or moves to specific cue points.
    • SHIFT: in combination with a different button, it calls a new function.
    • IN: sets the starting position for a loop playback.
    • OUT: sets the ending position for a loop playback.
    • DECK: allows you to switch between the decks of the DJ controller.
    • HOT CUE: hot cue buttons on the dedicated section can be used for beat juggling, live remixing or to edit a track down on the fly.
    • KEYLOCK: adjusts the pitch of a tune and allows you to change the tempo.
    • VINYL: enables vinyl mode, which simulates the feel of a real vinyl on the jog wheel.
    • SYNC: synchronizes to the master deck's tempo.
    • FX: plays an audio effect previously saved; usually, DJ controllers have several effects buttons.
    • SAMPLER: starts or stops the playback of audio samples.

    The number of buttons on a DJ controller can range from as little as 10 to as many as 60! The average number of numbers is just about 41. The more buttons you have at your disposal, the more things you can do to your music and create a more distinct sound.

    Faders

    As their name suggests, faders manipulate sounds by fading them in and out. They allow you to manipulate the blend of sounds. Some of the more common faders include line faders, equalizers, pitch sliders, and crossfaders. While the average number of faders on most DJ controllers is around 5, some have up to 13 faders. Make sure you buy a DJ MIDI controller that has the right number of faders for your application.

    Drum pads

    DJ controllers allow you to trigger loops and samples by using a series of drum pads. DJs cannot play all of the sounds all the time. They only have two hands! They need to play a sequence and put it in a loop so that they can focus on creating some other sound that fits with the loop. On average, most DJ mixing stations have about 4 drum pads, which might be sufficient to get the job done, but there are models out there that have far more drum pads.

    Encoders

    If you thought that buttons, switches, pads, and faders were all, you are sadly mistaken; there are still encoders to consider. These come typically in the form of knobs that you can push rather than turn. Encoders help DJs control specific sound effects, such as the tempo and the beat of the music. They also serve to help you select your digital sound files as you browse through your entire library, searching for that one sound file.

    Touch sensor jog wheel

    When searching for a DJ MIDI controller, you'll see that a vast majority (about 80%) of them have something called a touch-sensitive jog wheel. This wheel is usually much larger than any other component. It provides a high-quality sound when you are mixing and scratching to produce new sounds.

    Filter channels

    When you are using a DJ controller, you want to be able to manipulate your sounds and adjust the frequency. You want to remove some frequencies while retaining some. To do so, you need to buy a DJ MIDI controller that has filter channels. The high and low pass filters, as well as the band-pass filters, let you control what sounds you hear. DJs love them, and you definitely want filter channels on your module. They come in the form of knobs. These knobs are what DJs play with to tweak their sound in various ways. They are typically used to control the volume of the different frequencies (high, mid, and low) and can add more special effects to your music. If you want more control over how you can modify your music, you need to buy a DJ MIDI controller that has the right set of knobs for your intended use.

    Audio interface sampling

    This property determines the number of analog samples taken from a signal every second to make a discrete digital signal. The higher the sampling rate, the higher the quality of the digital recording. When you are buying a new DJ controller, try to get one that has a higher value. The average sampling rate is currently around 57.62 kHz.

    Mixer channels

    Mixer channels enable you to mix multiple tracks to produce a brand new and unique sound. Mixer channels also let you control other external audio sources, such as the sound coming in from a microphone or a CD player. Most DJ MIDI controllers have 2 and 4 mixer channels, while some controllers even have 8 and 16 mixer channels for even more flexibility and manipulation.

    Connectivity: inputs and outputs

    As with any other electronic device, DJ MIDI controllers are no exception to input and output ports. Even all-in-one DJ controllers need to be attached to other devices for increased functionality. When it comes to inputs, you might want to connect a microphone if you want to add some vocals to your sounds. Perhaps you have a CD player that you want to connect since you do not have the digital files on hand but have the CD of a band you like. Of course, you have to connect a turntable to a DJ controller, as that is your sound-producing kit, without which you could not be a DJ in the first place.

    Output ports are necessary for connecting amplifiers that increase the volume and power of the music you create on your modules. You can also connect recorders to your DJ controller. When you are searching for DJ controllers, make sure you have multiple input and output ports.

    Conclusion

    We have talked a lot about the importance of having a great DJ MIDI controller as an integral piece of equipment in your DJ mixing station. While it is true that having the equipment is the first step, it is only half of the equation; you should also invest in using the right DJ software. The hardware needs appropriate software to work its magic and give you amazing results.

    There are plenty of options when it comes to DJ mixing software, but the most popular ones on the market include Serato DJ, Traktor Pro, Ableton Live, Cross DJ, and Deckadance.
    In case you buy DJ software, make sure beforehand if it is compatible with your DJ controller. Some devices are not compatible with all software packages, so read all reviews before purchasing to ensure that your hardware is compatible with the software.

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