The Top 10 Best DJ controllers in the world today [2020 Guide & Reviews]
The last years, DJ software and hardware equipment that controls it, have made a massive impact in the DJ world. Some of the best DJ controllers of 2020 are now available at under $1200.
In the last decade, music production and DJing often cross their paths to create something unique.
The ability to work with waveforms and samples, apply effects, connect turntables, CDJs or instruments to your DJ setup is now possible with just a DJ controller and software.
DJ software and hardware equipment that controls it, has been one of the most significant things that happen in the DJ scene in the last few years.
The music and DJ market continues to grow, and people are now able to choose a controller that fits their budget, needs, and expectations. This is great news for DJs, but it can also make the shopping process a bit difficult.
The all-in-one DJ controller:
DJ controllers have risen in popularity very quickly. The main reason is that all-in-one DJ controllers are more affordable and offer the same features as the standard DJ setup.
The standard DJ setup in most clubs and music events consists of two or more media players or turntables and a DJ mixer in between them. The cost of that starts from $6000 and can easily go to 5 digits if we have 4 Pioneer CDJs NSX2 and a DJM mixer. The cost of a DJ controller with similar features and characteristics is way less.
In case you desire the classic DJ setup, check the best DJ Media Players and the best professional DJ mixers.
What to look for when buying a DJ controller:
- Features – Knobs, buttons, jog wheels, performance pads, and faders are substandard on any DJ controller out there. Now you have the ability to work with waveforms and samples, apply effects, connect turntables, CDJs, and instruments to your setup. Furthermore, you will see Display screens and high-quality velocity-sensitive performance pads to trigger a bunch of stuff. Such as hot cues, pad FX, beat jump, keyboard mode, beat loop, and more.
- DJ Software compatibility – Serato DJ, Traktor Pro, Recordbox by Pioneer, and Virtual DJ are the most common DJ softwares in the market. Expensive controllers, such as the ones we will see in our list, they might include the supported software. So, if you haven’t pick your software yet, the purchase of a DJ controller will solve that problem. You can always check out the best DJ software in the market.
- Portability – It’s easily understandable that if you are planning to buy hardware that you will constantly transfer, it needs to be light and small. Ideally, it would fit in your backpack, but since we will be looking for controllers with premium features, it will be hard to find them in a very compact size. High-end controllers have more robust components, and usually bigger jog wheels, as well as more indicators and LED screens. So you might end up with a bit more heavy tool but, at the same time, extremely durable.
Note: Even if many of these controllers have been designed for specific software, these are all MIDI controllers that are mappable for any MIDI software. You can do the mapping manually by yourself. However, you might find online someone who has already posted mappings that match the hardware to your preferred software.
How to decide which is the best DJ controller?
The proper question is, “Which is the best DJ controller for YOU”. It all comes down to personal needs and desires. Do you often scratch when DJing? Then jog-wheels are essential. Do you want to big display screens to view track info and waveforms? What about performance pads? How often are you going to use them?.
High-end DJ controllers like those in our list are for DJs who are quite a while in the scene and make a living out of it.
If you are a beginner, I would suggest you take a good look at one of the best DJ controllers under $400.
We did our research, read customer reviews, compare features, prices, and specifications, and we give you the best DJ controllers in the world right now.
Top 10 best DJ controllers in the world – Reviews
1. Pioneer DDJ-1000 DJ controller
Pioneer’s DJ equipment is probably the most commonly used gear in the DJ world. Pioneer DDJ 1000 is here to offer powerful features while still being compact enough to transport it between events easily.
The most impressive feature of this unit is the two jog wheels, which are exactly the same as the CDJ-2000NXS2. Yes, they are the same size and as sturdy and accurate as you would expect. On top of them sits high-definition full-color LCD screens that display several functions. The screens, however, are tiny, and the amount of information displayed on each of the jog wheels is a bit much. You will either have to lean on and take a closer look or use the Rekordbox DJ software to remove any info you might not need.
Jog wheel displays 17 different pieces of track information such as BPM, waveform, playback position, or Hot Cue and Loop points. Thus, it removes the need to look at your computer all the time.
Below the jog wheels, there are eight rubber Performance Pads per deck to trigger Hot Cues, Pad FX, Beat Jump, Sampler, Keyboard Mode, Beat Loop, and Key Shift. Pad FX1 and FX2 give you immediate control of over 32 pre-assigned effects.
This Pioneer DJ DDJ-1000 controller offers four channels and two USB ports to control two computers. Each of the four main channels offers a three-band EQ with trims and VU meters for keeping the sound levels properly. A dedicated Sound Color FX knob, as well as, Beat FX that can be applied to any individual channel. To name a few effects, Multi-Tap Delay, Echo, Reverb, Flanger, Phaser, Pitch, Slip Roll, Mobius (Saw), Mobius (Triangle), and Low Cut Echo.
Plenty of connectivity with two lines, two phono/line, 2 MIC inputs, two master, one booth, and two phone lines.
DDJ-1000 comes with Rekordbox, and you start DJing from day one. The aluminum build and acrylic-finished top panel give DDJ-1000 the look of a professional DJ setup. All buttons, knobs, and the improved Magvel Fader, which will last over 10 million movements, guarantee durability and long term use.
Conclusion: Pioneer DDJ-1000 is probably the best alternative option for the club-standard setup. With the looks, design, layout, and features that were pulled directly from the CDJ and DJM series make it an excellent value for money choice. DDJ-1000 with Rekordbox is pretty close as playing with a pair of NXS2 and DJM 4 channel mixer.
2. Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S8
Native Instruments has been around for years making great quality hardware and software for all musicians. Especially in the DJ scene, NI gear and software cannot go unnoticed. Traktor Kontrol S8 has a bit different interface compared to the above. It doesn’t look like an all-in-one controller (pair of players with a DJ mixer), but it is a controller dedicated to your DJ software. In this case, it’s Traktor Pro.
S8 has no jog wheels to correct your beat-match, but there is small need of that when you can focus on a variety of other features to create an extraordinary DJ set. This DJ Controller is much more than what it shows. Traktor Kontrol S8 is beast in a small package. It gives control over 4-channels with three-band EQ and perfect integration with Scratch Pro software, which is included in the package. The timecoded CD and vinyl, however, it is not.
You can also connect up to 4 CDJs or turntables to switchable phono/line inputs and mix without a laptop.
Its top feature is the two bright, high-resolution color displays. They are significantly bigger than the ones on DDJ-1000. You can easily browse through your music collection to find and pick your next track. As well as, track info, effect, and filter values, but the most important the running track’s ultra-crisp vector waveform.
Below the LED screens, you will find eight multi-color performance pads on each side. So, you can launch samples, set-up cues, jump around loops, and the unique new Freeze Mode. Freeze view instantly slices a track in eight parts to deconstruct it live with the performance pads.
Conclusion: The Traktor Kontrol S8 is clearly a quality piece of equipment. It looks fantastic, it has a very good quality built, and offers great features for a reasonable price. It is a perfect fully-featured Traktor controller that can instantly be turned into an independent mixer with EQ and filters, removing the computer entirely from the equation.
For more options for your Traktor Pro DJ software, check out the best Traktor DJ controller of 2020!
3. Denon DJ PRIME 4 | Serato DJ Controller
The Denon DJ Prime 4 is the very first 4-channel all-in-one DJ system that doesn’t require a laptop or DJ software to play your music. If you use DJ software to mix, Prime 4 will work not only with Serato DJ but can also read and play any media from Pioneer DJ Rekordbox and NI Traktor Pro.
The eye-catching feature of the Prime 4 is the beautiful high-resolution 10-inch touchscreen monitor display. You can view all four decks either on horizontal or vertical waveforms. You can also navigate, select, and load each track extremely easily using just the monitor.
The main features of the front panel include two ultra-responsive 6-inch jog wheels with a central display that shows you the selected track and info. The complete four-channel mixer with 3-band EQ, 14 sound FX, dedicated FX knobs, and multiple input/outputs. Along with 4-USB ports, SD Card slot, and a 2.5″ SATA Hard drive for your music library.
It has a fantastic sturdy metal construction – over the conventional plastic build of most DJ controllers in the world. Thus, this tool is quite big and bulky. If you have limited space in your room, this might be a deal-breaker.
Conclusion: With DJ Prime 4, Denon raised the competition in the industry of DJ controllers. The only drawbacks are the eight-performance pads on each desk, which are rather basic for its price range, and the gigantic size. Nevertheless, all features and specs combined make ta superb DJ controller for every professional DJ.
4. Roland DJ-808 4-Channel Serato DJ controller
Roland has been around for decades producing high-quality audio equipment and musical instruments. I believe every musician and producer out there is familiar with Roland’s classic TR drum machines. The DJ Controller series (202/505/808) is Roland’s first-ever DJ gear, and we are thrilled with the results. Amazing design, robust construction, and excellent sound quality.
The stand-out feature of this all-in-one DJ controller is the featuring sounds from Roland’s TR drum machines (808/909/606). The original drum sounds (bass, snare, hi-hats, and clap) can be sequenced on the TR-S’s 16 push buttons. Each sound can also be routed through the Serato DJ software with FX applied to them.
Another innovative feature of the DJ808 is the Auto Pitch button. This enables a basic autotune on the mic input and the key of the playing track in Serato DJ software. The two ‘Ultra Low Latency’ jog-wheels have a great feel and accuracy to serve professional DJs as well. Under the jog-wheels, there are eight velocity-sensitive RGB performance pads for Cues, Sampler, TR-S, Loop Rolls, and Pitch Play on each desk.
The 4-channel mixer section offers five up fader channels. Four of these are audio channels with EQ, independent track load buttons, and FX control dials that control the channel FX. The fifth fader in the middle is for the volume level of the TR-S drum machine. Knobs, faders, and buttons feel soft and very solid.
Conclusion: Roland DJ-808 is a great controller with a lot of versatile features and specs. We can’t find any significant reason not to go for it unless you definitely want a sound card – DJ-808 does not have a built-in audio interface.
5. Pioneer DJ XDJ-RX2 Complete DJ System
The Pioneer DJ XDJ-RX2 is an all in one DJ controller with high-end professional features. This upgraded version of the original DJX-RX looks similar to the previous gear by Pioneer DJ. The look and features are gotten from the flagship NXS2 series (DJ Mixer similar to DJM-450’s, and CDJ-2000NXS2’s media players).
The 7-inches touchscreen at the front interface is what made this product stand out from the rest. It is a copy of the CDJ-2000NXS2 DJ Media Player. The screen has a QWERTY keyboard that makes searching through the library extremely easy and fast.
Other than the fantastic touchscreen, it offers 4 Sound Color FX buttons and a Parameter knob, 8 Beat FX, 2 USB ports, two-channel mic section with EQ controls, and eight backlit rubber RGB performance pads per deck. The two-channel mixer with a three-band EQ control, and effect section, are an exact copy of the DJM-450 DJ mixer.
Conclusion: Having a touchscreen makes navigation more accessible, and promises a better overall performance, which is what professional DJs want. The built-quality, the overall features, and the touch-sensitive screen is a selling point for this DJ controller.
Check out the full specs in our final review of the Pioneer DJ XDJ-RX2.
6. Denon DJ MC7000 DJ Controller
Denon has been making great quality DJ equipment for a very long time. They haven’t received the proper attention, and for that have always been on the shadow of Pioneer DJ. MC7000 and MCX8000 are two high-quality Serato DJ controllers and a great alternative from the ordinary Pioneer equipment.
Denon MC7000 is a professional DJ controller with four-channel Serato DJ capability and audio interface with two USB ports. Connect two computers simultaneously and enable two DJs to play together on their preferred DJ software. Each of the four channels has analog inputs to use as a stand-alone mixer as well as 3-band EQ, LEDs, and individual filters.
The 16 velocity-sensitive performance pads are very durable, and with the ten available pad modes, its time to become creative. The jog wheels are nothing impressive, nevertheless, are thick, responsive and will get the job done. On top of the jog wheels, you will find track browsing and loading, touch strip for needle dro,p, and assignable effects. The dual 6-inch platters have a touch-capacitive design with rotational LED displays, giving you plenty of room for track manipulation in real-time.
Ten pad modes are Cue, Roll, Sampler, Slicer, Velocity Sampler, Cue Loop, Saved Loop, Slicer Loop, Serato Flip, and Pitch Play.
The MC7000 comes with a full version of Serato DJ Pro, and three creative expansion packs (Pitch ‘n Time, Flip, and Video). It will work great with the Virtual DJ software as well.
Conclusion: MC7000 comes bundled with a deck-saver DS-PC-MC7000 for extra protection. It has a very similar layout with the DJ controller that we will see next, but it has two channels, and it costs less. So if you can’t afford that one, wait and see the DDJ-SR2 by Pioneer.
7. Pioneer DJ DDJ-SR2 Serato DJ Controller
With the next Pioneer DJ controller, we are cutting down on size and channels, but not on features. Pioneer DDJ-SR2 is designed to work perfectly with Serato DJ. The software is included in the package, so you won’t have to make an extra purchase. SR2 is an upgraded version of the popular DDJ-SR. The improvements that made it enter our list are many.
Starting with the 16 multi-colored performance pads to trigger Hot Cues, Roll, and Sampler features. The onboard buttons for quick access to new Serato related “Key Sync”, “Key Shift” and “Key Reset” functions are a necessity. But most importantly, the hardware mixer with Serato DVS support to connect Pioneer CDJs or turntables offers great potential and makes this DJ controller a wonderful value-for-money choice.
This lightweight and portable DJ controller features large, low-latency jog wheels. They are not as impressive as the ones on DDJ 1000, but they will get the job done with great scratch response and accuracy. The 2-channel mixer offers the standard three-band EQ, a trim knob, and VU meters per channel. The line faders, however, offer little resistance, and that may be tedious after long hour performances.
The jog wheels are similar in size to what you would find on a Denon MC7000.
The only minus of this controller is that it lacks on display screens. So, you will have to spend time in front of your laptop to search for tracks, track info, and waveforms. Also, you may find interesting is the two touch strips on top of the jog wheels that allow you to search within a track very easily.
Conclusion: Pioneer DDJ-SR2 is a great two-channel DJ controller for every DJ, who desire perfect integration with Serato software. You get a nice set of features, cool design, and product reliability of Pioneer for a very sweet price. Not to forget that new DDJ-SR2 is one of the lightest DJ controllers in its category.
If you are determined to buy a Pioneer model, find out at the best Pioneer DJ controllers on the market.
8. Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S4 MK3
The smaller sibling of Traktor Kontrol S8 is here, and it comes with some very interesting features. Kontrol S4 MK3 is a four-channel controller for Traktor Pro DJ software.
What makes Kontrol S8 stand out from the rest are the motorized jog wheels with haptic feedback in three modes. Jog Mode, Turntable Mode, and Beatgrid Adjust Mode to spin and react to nudging, scratching, and pitch-fading. Beneath the jog wheels, there are two small high-resolution color displays that show track ID, key, BPM, waveform strip with track position, phase meter, loop length, and more. The screens are not sufficiently large but will help you perform live without continually looking at your laptop.
Except for the 3 EQ band, the mixer offers some new effects that can be applied on each channel. You can choose from 8 FX (Reverb, Dual Delay, Noise, Time Gater, Flanger, Barber Pole, Dotted Delay, and Crush. ) and three filter types in addition to TRAKTOR deck effects. The interface also gives you two microphone inputs and two headphone outputs to meet every need.
Performance pads are a standard for most controllers nowadays, and this controller offers 16 RGB to trigger Hot cues, loops, or samples. The pads may be a bit smaller than some but will get the job done.
Conclusion: Traktor Kontrol S4 MK3 has a lovely design and professional layout combining it with sturdy materials, buttons, knobs, and carbon protected faders that will last for years. It is small enough to fit in your bag and sturdy sufficient for long-hour performances.
9. Reloop Mixon 4 DJ Controller for Serato DJ
Mixon 4 by Reloop is a four-channel DJ controller with three-band EQ, dedicated filter knob, and cue button on each channel. As well as a big and weighted library knob to make the research live a lot easier. These are not the features that make it stand out. Mixon 4 offers a docking station to add your iPad 12.9″ and experience great performance on top of your decks.
The jog wheels are slightly more flat than the rest, but the overall size and feel, are in the same range. Under them, you will find 16 RGB, velocity-sensitive pads to trigger Hot Cue, Loop Roll, Sampler, and Slicer modes. Very interesting is also the new Pitch Play mode that allows us to perform and create live remixing of cue points at different tones and pitches.
A expected it offers extreme integration with Serato DJ software. However, it cannot be used as a standalone mixer to connect your CDJs or turntables. Mixon 4 comes with a Serato DJ license, but if you want the Pitch ‘n Time plugin, you will have to buy it separately. Mixon 4 also supports several DJ software on Mac and PC, and there are available mappings for Traktor Pro and Virtual DJ.
Conclusion: Its price may make you think twice before buying it, since, for a few more bucks you can buy a DJ controller for more professional use. Nevertheless, If you’re looking for a reliable and portable Serato controller that will perfectly integrate your iPad, then the Reloop Mixon 4 is the choice for you.
10. Numark NVII Serato DJ Controller
Numark is a brand well-known for producing equipment with pro features that were only available on costly platforms. It is sporadic to find a DJ controller with jog-wheels and two high-resolution display screens with this price tag.
Numark NVII is a four-channel controller with extreme integration with Serato DJ. It also works with Virtual DJ and can be manually mapped with other popular DJ software.
The stand-out feature is the two 4.3-inch full-color screen for real-time feedback of the Serato DJ. The track name, Bpm, key, the time elapsed/remaining, FX levels are all displayed right there on the screen. As well as, track waveform and gridlines to seamlessly beat match your tracks. It also adds five column-viewing options to sort your songs by name, artist, time, BPM, or key.
Many DJs like to keep their attention focused on the desc rather than the screen of their laptop, and Numark NVII delivers that.
NVII offers from the usual EQs, crossfader, and jog wheels, to 16 velocity-sensitive performance pads with backlit RGB feedback. The ten pad modes allow hot cues, loop slicing, finger drumming, and more to spend hours experimenting.
Conclusion: Numark NVII is the most affordable DJ controller of our list. It offers similar characteristics with the previous models and is one of the cheapest and lightest controllers in its category. If you cannot afford any of the above, and cant wait to start DJing, do not hesitate, Numark NVII is an excellent value-for-money purchase. A new Numark DJ controller has risen in popularity, check out our review of the Numark NS6II DJ controller for full features and specs.
These were our top ten picks for the best all-in-one DJ controllers in the market today!
What else you will need to start DJing:
- DJ headphones: Headphones is probably the first tool every DJ buys. The Sennheiser HD25 is by far the no.1 choice of professional DJs. For more options check out the top 8 DJ headphones of 2020.
- DJ speakers: DJ speakers are assential for bedroom and mobile DJs. If you want powerful sound, take a look at the best powered speakers for DJs and how to connect them to your DJ controller. If on the other hand want a small pair for your home DJ setup, take a look at the best studio monitos speakers.
- Laptop: Except of the Denon DJ Prime 4, all the rest DJ controllers in the market will require a world-class DJ software and a powerful laptop and that will guarantee stable performance.
- DJ software: Serato DJ, Traktor Pro, and Virtual DJ are the most popular DJ software out there. You can find free trial version to try them out before making a choice and buy.
Every producer, DJ or musician has different tastes, desires, and needs on software and hardware equipment. If you know your preferences on DJ software, features, and budget, you will be able to find the best DJ controller for you.
We gave you nine viral DJ controllers that collect great reviews over the years. So, we are confident that you can’t go wrong with any of the above.
Are jog-wheels important to you? Then DDJ-1000 is an ideal option. Do you want to big display screens to view track info and waveforms? Traktor Kontrol S8 and Numark NVII will offer you that. Do your own research; if necessary, just keep your focus on what you really need.
Don’t forget one of the most potent weapons of a DJ. Check the best DJ headphones on the market. If you are practicing at home, check out the best DJ speakers of 2020!
Are you in search of a new DJ controller to add to your DJ setup? Or upgrade your current gear? Leave your comment below, if you would like to add, ask or suggest something to our readers.