The Numark Party Mix Starter DJ Controller is our best DJ controller and it has a built-in sound card so it is not a problem when it comes to having a high quality sound to go along with your computer. It is a great DJ controller for those who are new to DJ-ing and it has a total of eight pads that have multiple functions for sampling as well as looping. Iy is also a great DJ controller for those who are into the hobby and it also comes with the virtual DJ LE software for your controller to easily control tracks and create your fresh mix.
Our step-up pick is the Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB2 Portable 2-channel Controller and it is powered by a USB cord and it also connects using a MIDI controller just like a regular MIDI keyboard. The jog wheels or virtual turntable pads are quite large so they are very dynamic and visible even at night and it also have a unique manual filter for spicing up your party mix. Because of its built-in sound card like our top pick, you can also play it through your speakers without much problems.
The budget pick is the Hercules DJControl Compact Super-mobile USB Controller and this awesome and compact DJ controller can be used virtually anywhere. There is also a crossfader which measures 1.77 inches. It comes with the DJUCED 18 DJ software for your party mixes saved on the go and it is also powered by a USB cable which is included with the DJ controller. It has two standard virtual turntable decks that can spice up your performance.
A Little Background
DJs nowadays are into electronic dance music or EDM and occasionally dubstep and mashups and DJ-ing has stepped onto a new level. Nowadays, you will often find a club with an amateur or professional DJ with a DJ controller connected to their laptop so that they can make music. Famous EDM and electronic artists like Skrillex, Zedd, deadmau5, David Guetta, Madeon, Martin Solveig and much more are all neat examples of live electronic music.
How We Picked
In choosing the best DJ controller:
Consider the amount of controls and the ease of use of these controls such as the jog wheels, the sliders and knobs and many more.
Know if the DJ controller is compatible with your existing software or many other software for DJs.
The portability of the DJ controller should be considered so you can take it with you to clubs and the like or even for home practice.
Ports included in the DJ controller should be just fine for your needed use.
Numark Party Mix Starter DJ Controller
Our best DJ controller, the Numark Party Mix Starter DJ Controller, has a built-in sound card so it is not a problem when it comes to having a high quality sound to go along with your computer. It also comes with a light show for unmatched DJ performance in the club or wherever you might use it for and it is a great DJ controller for those who are new to DJ-ing.
It also comes with the virtual DJ LE software for your controller to easily control tracks and create your fresh mix and it has a total of eight pads that have multiple functions for sampling as well as looping. With slider controls that help you control volumes, filters, and other things in your music, you can easily connect the unit to speakers for a great performance or you can just use headphones for practice quietly in your bedroom.
Its chassis is very compact yet packs a lot of punch using the dual scratch platters that mimic classic DJ turntable and you can also use it for cueing audio points as you wish or even master tracks to your preference. Its sync controls are also backlit for superior performance and a nice DJ atmosphere in your room or in the club and it has a total of three LED arrays which has different modes up to five various light settings.
With an RCA stereo pair for the master, headphones will also benefit from a 1/8 inch TRS output. Because it is a plug and play set of equipment, it can be used to easily start the party. Tthe mixer is very user-friendly for its knobs, sliders and many more for channel gain, master gain, bass, treble and much more and in fact, you can even use it with an iPad. You can also turn off the lights using the switch on the rear of the console if you want to save more energy in the long run or don’t need the excess shine and glitter while practicing quietly. It works for Windows 7 up to Windows 10 as well as on Mac OS X 10.8 up to 10.11 and comes with a user’s guide, a software download card and a manual for safety and warranty.
Flaws but Not Dealbrakers
Like most DJ equipment, the Numark Party Mix Starter DJ Controller has its own share of flaws but they are not very serious so it is still our best DJ controller in the long run. Some of these examples include the fact that it is only for amateur or hobbyist DJs and not for serious DJs due to its size and capability.
Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB2 Portable 2-channel Controller
Our step-up pick, the Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB2 Portable 2-channel Controller, is powered by a USB cord and it also connects using a MIDI controller just like a regular MIDI keyboard. Because of its built-in sound card like our top pick, you can also play it through your speakers without many problems. It also has a unique manual filter for spicing up your party mix.
With two channels and is made for use with the Serato DJ, the jog wheels or virtual turntable pads are quite large so they are very dynamic and visible even at night. There is also a DJ play function that is dynamic and automatic and the pads give you high performance as well as a tactile touch. This DJ controller is also highly portable in its build so it can be taken anywhere in any party and in any event.
It requires Windows 7 and above or Mac OSX 10.8 and above for its operating system. We all know that Pioneer is definitely a pioneer when it comes to entertainment systems and one of their expertise lie within the DJ equipment such as DJ controllers. There are also control buttons and dedicated buttons with a 4-deck design so you can switch the channel that you want to control in a breeze. Input volume can be easily controlled using the level meters and the trim knob. A great addition to this DJ controller is the addition of pad trans-beat effects.
Hercules DJControl Compact Super-mobile USB Controller
Our budget pick, the Hercules DJControl Compact Super-mobile USB Controller, can be used virtually anywhere and it has two standard virtual turntable decks that can spice up your performance. It has a size of 13 by 4 inches and it is super light weight at only less than 2 pounds so it is super easy to carry around on any laptop bag, shoulder bag or any other type of bag and it is also powered by a USB cable which is included with the DJ controller.
Its jog wheels measure 3 inches in its diameter and the left and the right panels both have their own deck controls. Per deck, you can enjoy up to four different modes: sampling, cueing, FX and looping. There are also 10 various control buttons onboard as well as a shift command to help the pad controls be doubled to your liking.
Its navigation and pitch control can be accessed using the jog wheels, which also give off a natural scratching sound and mechanism. There is also a crossfader which measures 1.77 inches and there are two equalizer sliders and a volume control with each deck. It comes with the DJUCED 18 DJ software for your party mixes saved on the go and it can also work on different software such as Virtual DJ, Tractor and others, which are capable of MIDI controls.
The USB cable spans at a length of 3 feet. It requires 100 MB of hard drive space, 1 GB of ram and 2 GHz processor or later. Using a laptop is enhanced for your DJ-ing set due to its user friendly interface. There are also four pads per deck. It can be used for beginners as well as intermediate players.
Ideal DJ Controller with Ergonomic Controls
Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol DJ Controller
The Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol DJ Controller has a 2 plus 1 channel system as an awesome DJ controller. Made by Native Instruments, the same guys behind VSTs like Guitar Rig (electric guitar amplifier) and Massive (for dubstep composers), the fader reliability is very good because of its improved design. It is also equipped with a new duo tone design using the new hardware controls.
The jog wheels are very good when it comes to scratching and cueing due to its material that is made from aluminum on the top part that has also been damped with silicon for longer lasting durability. It can be used with the iPhone and the iPad as a plug and play DJ controller and you can use it with the included Traktor Pro 2 software alongside the Remix Decks feature. The output levels of this DJ controller are club-ready so you do not need to tone it up or down.
Cueing is very precise and control is very good with this DJ controller. It requires i5 or similar AMD processor at 2 GHz and at least 4 GB of ram and requires Windows 7 and above or Mac OSX 10.9 and above. It measures 22 by 13 inches (44 by 30 cm) on its size and comes with one headphone output port as well as one audio or mic input port. It has a total of four output ports – two for RCA output and two for 1/4 inch stereo output.
It supports a myriad of audio types such as Ogg Vorbis, Mp3, AIFF, WAV, FLAC, AAC and WMA. Pitch bending is a breeze and tempo nudging is also quite easy due to its track control that is sensitive to pressure thanks to the high resolution jog wheels. You can control the multi effect units using the pro grade mixer with the DJ controller and you can enjoy great sounds with the 3-band EQ.
All of the controls and knobs have an ergonomic feel so you can DJ for hours and hours anywhere and anytime. A mute button is also included along with a gain control for the mic input. The aluminum plates are also of aircraft grade for the best durability possible. Because of its power, it can even charge your iPhone or iPad while DJ-ing. The jog wheels have been calibrated for 1,000 counts per revolution for supreme engineering and a fluid experience for DJ-ing.
A remix knob can also be located alongside the mixer to mix between channels in the Remix Decks. You can even connect other instruments, CD players, MIDI equipment and many more using its many ports. It has an audio resolution of 24-bit at 96 kHz helps to keep it high quality in its sound and it has a ton of pre-loaded loops by Loopmasters for you to use – 40 loops plus 10 full tracks. Most of these loops include synth loops, bass, drum loops and percussion, all in various genres such as trance, dubstep, techno, house, minimal and many more. You can also use the FX units and choose from over 30 effects to spice up your remix.
This unit also has BeatSlicer and Beatmasher to help you create your own style of music and it also has standard effects like flanger reverb and delay. It has standard RCA and stereo jacks on its main output and it is a great DJ controller for beginners, enthusiasts as well as advanced users.
Ideal DJ Controller with Accelerometer
Numark Orbit Wireless Handheld MIDI Controller
The Numark Orbit Wireless Handheld MIDI Controller has a wireless technology which uses 2.4 GHz that is very low in its latency and can be used for up to 100 feet of distance. It is a one of a kind MIDI controller for DJs out there who want a mobile and wireless experience and it comes with the Orbit DJ software but you can also use it for any program that is MIDI input capable. It is also a handheld MIDI controller so it is very versatile and portable in its design and it also has a built-in accelerometer unlike other DJ controllers out there.
Each bank has a total of four virtual knobs for you to control and enjoy. There are also four different selectable banks to choose from. The accelerometer is a two-axis type so you can control the motion easily using two shoulder trigger controls. You can enjoy mixing, audio controls, lighting controls and much more while being handheld or strapped or hung over the neck for easy portability.
Without memory effects, the lithium ion battery is guaranteed to make your unit last longer than standard batteries that are rechargeable for uninterrupted music experience. There are a total of 16 backlit pads in each unit of this DJ controller and you can use it to cue, sample or use effects as a fully customizable and compact DJ controller in the palm of your hands.
The wireless design eliminates wire tangling while in a live club performance and you can even control video clips using this awesome DJ controller. The pads are also velocity sensitive and can be used by beginners up to higher levels. There is also an included MIDI editor for the 84 performance controls and it comes with a convenient storage pouch plus free downloads of the Orbit DJ Software and the Orbit MIDI Editor. It comes with the needed USB cable for charging as well as manuals for user guide, safety and warranty.
Best Serato DJ Controller
Denon DJ MC4000 2-Channel DJ Controller
The booth and main outputs of the Denon DJ MC4000 2-Channel DJ Controller are both balanced as well as the stereo and mono modes. The DJ controller is a standard 2-channel controller with a premium design and you also have a free download of the Serato DJ Intro software for your excellent DJ experience. This two-deck controller is very versatile and easy to carry around and travel between clubs and back at your home studio or somewhere else.
Its durability is ensured because of the professional grade steel construction that houses this awesome DJ controller. It also has a sampling rate of 24-bit 48 kHz as a DJ controller and its talkover feature has an attenuation of -20 dB. You can even upgrade the free download to Serato DJ if you wish.
There are two inputs for the microphone plus each of them has separate EQs for mixing thoroughly and precisely. Its microphone has a release time of 100 ms and a hold time of 250 ms with an attack time of 40 ms and it connects via USB port like most DJ controllers nowadays. Its analog output for the booth is + 24 dbU, +19 dbU for the master RCA and +24 dbU for the XLR master and you can use the RCA aux input so you can connect with other DJ gear or studio gear if you wish.
It has a frequency response of 20 Hz up to 20,000 Hz at + 1 dB and its headphone output is rated greater than 100 mW at 40 ohms of impedance. It uses a USB 2.0 connection at 12 Mbps and its signal to noise ratio is A-weighted at greater than 88 dB. Its digital to analog converter dynamic range is A-weighted at greater than 112 dB and 105 dB in total and it is also compatible with other DJ software such as Virtual DJ 8, Algooriddm djay Pro and Traktor 2. Its EQ has 1 kHz cutoff with a high band at +15 dB, same with the low band range.
Applicable and compatible for Windows 7 and above and Mac OSX 19.8 and above, it has a total harmonic distortion of less than 0.01 percent and a channel separation of less than -80 dB. It works in dual voltage for 110 to 230 volts AC at 50 or 60 Hz and comes with two XLR outputs, two RCA outputs, two 1/4 inch outputs, one 1/4 inch output for the headphone, one 1/8 inch for the headphone, two RCA inputs, 1 mic input (XLR + 1/4 inch), one 1/4 inch microphone input, a power adapter input and a USB port. Its analog input for the aux is + 17 dBV and -60 dBu for the microphone (-40 dBu for unity).
Its echo has a rate of 199 ms plus a -6 dB feedback and it can be operated in temperatures between 5 to 35 degrees C or 41 to 95 degrees F. Its power adapter is a center positive at 5 volts DC and at 3 amps and it is so eco-friendly that it only operates with a power consumption of 9.5 watts. Its common mode rejection ratio for the microphone input is greater than 95 dB and its equivalent input noise for the microphone input is less than -116 dBu.
It is also non-condensing because of its humidity rate at only 25 to 85 percent and it comes with a voucher card for the Serato DJ software and a software download card. It comes with the needed USB cable as well as a user’s guide and a warranty / safety manual.
Awesome Cross Platform DJ Controller
Reloop Beatpad-2 Cross Platform DJ Controller
The Reloop Beatpad-2 Cross Platform DJ Controller has a track management that is advanced for those who are a bit more serious when it comes to DJ-ing. It can be used on a wide range of platforms such as the iPad, Mac OS and Android so it is a truly versatile set of DJ controller and its pad mode selection is has multiple sensors for a very smooth and precise feel.
You can enjoy the sampler mode and the hot cue mode due to its ingenious color coding that makes things convenient, alongside the other effects and there is also an auto loop or bounce loop feature for seamless looping of loops, riffs, drums, synths and any music loop. It has a jog FX and a touch FX feature for easy scratching and its loop modes can use the slicer for adding spice to your music.
You can easily use a ton of tracks from Spotify and DJAY with this cross platform DJ controller and it also enables harmonic mixing for those who want to do mashups on the go. It has a standard 3-band EQ and it also has a filter preset switch for this EQ and you can easily drag and drop things on the Queue List so you can play the song you want without having to browse it using the track preview feature.
The seamless Spotify integration makes you easily access the kinds and types of songs you want, per artist, per genre and much more using the Algoriddm DJAY 2.5. It has a total of 6 samples and 8 cue points in each deck.
Ideal DJ Controller for iPad
Numark iDJ Pro Professional DJ Controller
If you have an iPad then the Numark iDJ Pro Professional DJ Controller is just for you. It has ready connections for headphones, microphones, RCA and XLR connections and its volume knobs are made from high quality aluminum that is die cast and large and convenient in size
Precision is great due to its high compatibility with Algoriddm DJAY for the iPad and you can even use it for the lightning adapter for Apple products. You can easily use the touch activate platters which have been designed intuitively to help you reach your maximum performance as a DJ at home, at the studio or in the club. It has the standard controls for hot cues, loop as well as effects and it has an output level of 12.8 dbV for the XLR and 6.8 for the RCA.
It is powered up at 12 volts DC with 2 amps of power and is center positive and has a signal to noise ratio of 105 dB for the iDJ and 74 dB for the microphone. Its frequency response is from 20 Hz up to 20,000 Hz at +/- 2 dB and it also has compatibility with Bluetooth and AirPlay so you can use it with your Bluetooth speakers and the like. It is also compatible with Core MIDI devices. Its total harmonic distortion of <0.03 percent for the iDJ, <0.01 percent for the line in and <0.02 percent for the microphone and it comes with a quick start guide and a power adapter as well as information about safety and warranty.
Ideal DJ Controller for Ableton Live
Novation Launchpad MK2 Ableton Live Controller
The Novation Launchpad MK2 Ableton Live Controller is a unique DJ controller that will be the marvel of all of your friends. It has a total of 64 intuitively lit RGB pads that sync well with your current Ableton Live clips so you know what is currently playing, loaded or currently recording and it is a great companion for those who often use Ableton Live for making music or playing live music.
Easily mix from the DJ controller grid and control sends pans and volumes with ease. You can also easily control loops and arm tracks as you wish. The drum racks can also be played using the grid and also play various pads, allowing you to make an instant mashup of loops as if you are playing a keyboard and it allows you easily control your Ableton Live session. Because it is also very compact in its design, you can pack it up and take it to your next live performance. And also, it is USB powered like most DJ controllers out there.
You can even interconnect it with other Launchpads so you can create a harmony of mashups or electronic music as you wish using Launch Control and you also get freebies such as the Novation Bass Station and V-Station VST as well as 1 GB worth of royalty-free samples from Loopmasters so you can start making your own music right away. Backed by a warranty of 1 year, if you are aware of artists such as Madeon who use the Launchpad for mashups and live performance then you will definitely want to have this amazing DJ controller.
Best Heavy Duty DJ Controller
Gemini G2V 2-Channel Virtual DJ Controller
The Gemini G2V 2-Channel Virtual DJ Controller comes with standard quick keys for sampling, auto loop, hot cues and manual looping. The jog wheels are sensitive and easy to scratch and it can be used for Windows and Mac using the USB and MIDI interface. Easily map your controls with this DJ controller. It has balanced outputs for RCA and XLR and the mixer is a standard 2-channel with filters, gain, EQ and many more. it has outputs for headphones and controls for the volume.
Other DJ controllers simply did not match our criteria because they lacked ergonomics in the knobs and controls and they are also not too compatible with a lot of DJ software out there. It is important for DJ controllers to be fully compatible with such software.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is a DJ controller and what does it do?
A: According to Wikipedia , DJ controllers are platforms that allow DJs to control music through their DJ software using jog wheels that mimic the classic turntables. Knobs, sliders and many more help the DJ control effects, cueing, looping and the like. DJ controllers are often backlit with lighting effects for use in clubs.
Q: Any tips for successful use of DJ controllers?
A: According to DJ Tech Tools , mixing “in key” or in the same key makes your mashup seamless despite various BPMs that don’t really fit together. Adding effects should be just right for the songs and not too much or too little. Mash up songs that you know your target club will love but don’t forget to remember that you are the DJ so your music style should still prevail.
Wrapping It Up
If you love DJ-ing and music, the Numark Party Mix Starter DJ Controller is our best DJ controller just for you even if you are just starting out with your mixes or music.
Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has designed more than 200 products for Fortune 500 companies, in fields ranging from home appliances to sports gear and outdoor equipment. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and MindBodyGreen.