DJ CONTROLLER GUIDE
DJ Controllers By Brand
For club performance, pick a controller with multiple audio input and output, also a built-in sound card.
- Numark 4TRAK
- Numark DJ 2 GO
- Numark iDJ Live
- Numark iDJ Live II
- Numark iDJ Pro
- Numark iDJ3
- Numark MIXDECK
- Numark MIXDECK EXPRESS
- Numark MIXDECK QUAD
- Numark MIXTRACK
- Numark MIXTRACK EDGE
- Numark MIXTRACK II
- Numark MIXTRACK PRO
- Numark MIXTRACK PRO II
- Numark MIXTRACK QUAD
- Numark N4
- Numark NS6
- Numark NS7
- Numark NS7II
- Numark NV
For enhanced features and usability, buy a controller with full version software.
- Hercules DJ 4Set
- Hercules DJ CONSOLE 4-Mx
- Hercules DJ Console 4-Mx Black
- Hercules DJ Console Mk4
- Hercules DJConsole RMX 2
- Hercules DJConsole RMX2 Black-Gold
- Hercules DJControl AIR
- Hercules DJControl Air + S Series
- Hercules DJControl Air S Series
- Hercules DJControl AIR Street Edition
- Hercules DJControl AIR+
- Hercules DJControl Instinct
- Hercules DJControl Instinct Street Edition
- Hercules DJControl MP3 LE
- Hercules DJControlWave
How To Choose Your DJ Controller
It’s not an easy decision to pick the best DJ controller for yourself.
There are over 100 to choose from.
Read the following topics and brief explanations to better understand what makes the difference among all those devices and how you can make up your mind.
Career / Hobby ?
What is DJ’ing going to be for you ? Just to have fun at home, in your bedroom or pursue a real career ?
Your decision will determine what kind of DJ controller you’d need. If it is only for home and hobby use, a control device with basic controls and no audio interface would be enough, at least. Just a USB connection to your computer will do the job. If you plan to develop and advance your DJ’ing skills and have the opportunity to play somehow to public, then you should consider a DJ controller which comes with a built-in sound card and audio outputs.
A master audio output enables you to connect to sound systems. For those with a plan of being a real professional DJ, we recommend buying a more sophisticated DJ control unit with advanced controls. You may not need each and every feature at the beginning but will definitely use them in the future.
Small sized DJ controllers are preferred for portability and being easy to transport. The disadvantage of a light controller is that it has less in it. More features and specs mean more weight. If you like to pack everything in one bag, choose a small-size DJ controller, but don’t expect too much from it.
You can find some among IOS Ready controllers and in the beginner category on our website. Most of the pro-grade DJ controllers are fairly large because of having a lot of knobs and buttons on. For example, Numark NS7II, one of the highest rated, is almost 30 inches wide and 34 lbs in weight. Size means more functionality and features.
DJ software bundled with equipment is usually in two categories: Lite and Pro versions. Some controllers are feature packed with a lower price tag on it. The reason is that they have lite or LE version of the software and there is an upgrade fee for its full version. You may end up paying from $100 up to $200 or more for the upgrade.
Consider this when deciding for your device. If you DJ for hobby, you may never need the pro version, then LE is just fine for you.
What features are we talking about here ? Hot cue, loop, effects, slip mode, crossfader adjust and so on. Being a professional DJ would eventually require using all these features at some point. It also enriches your mixes in a unique way.
Some of them may exist on the software but not on your control surface. If you prefer the ease of accessibility, you should choose a controller with those control knobs and buttons included.
Build quality of your controller is a factor of good DJ’ing. If the controller is extremely cheap, then this means quality is low. It may not mean much to you now, but believe me, high-end products make a difference in DJ’ing.
We rated all controllers for their build quality and you can check it on each product page.
Your DJ’ing style also determines what kind of equipment you should use. What is it ? Straight mixing or scratch ?
All DJ controllers are suitable for regular mixing styles but not scratching. If you plan to be a scratch DJ, you will need large jog wheels and a good crossfader on your controller.
Prefer one with crossfader curve adjust feature. For those who like to perform live mixing with effects and samples, we recommend controllers equipped with performance pads.
This is an important option on a DJ controller. Having no audio interface means not being able to connect to either speakers or headphones. We highly advise our readers to buy DJ controllers with built-in sound cards. If not, there may be an additional cost for the external audio circuit unit.
Professional DJ’ing requires multiple audio inputs and outputs on a device in order to fully function. Check the Input/Output section of our product reviews to see how many that controller has.
Your controller will either have a 2 or 4 channel mixer section. How many channels to have all depends on your needs, there is no advice from our side. One thing we can recommend is that you’d be better off with channel faders than knobs. Also having full EQ on them is always preferrable.
For professional use, please look for the ” Standalone Mixer ” feature which means individual channels may also be connected to external devices like CD players or turntables. Usually, 4-channel controllers with DC or AC power source have the standalone mixer function.
USB, AC or DC adapter powered ? If your controller is USB powered, this means it consumes your laptop’s sources. USB connections have power limitations at some point (like 500mA, etc). Bedroom and hobbyist DJs are just fine with USB powered controllers.
No risk of having to restart your system if it crashes. We can’t say the same thing for pro setups. You wouldn’t have the luxury of taking your time to reboot everything including your controller in the middle of a gig. That’s why all pro grade DJ controllers are either DC adapter or AC powered since they consume decent energy sources.
We recommend that you buy an externally powered device unless you just keep it in the house.
External Media Input
Some DJ controllers are “All In One” systems. You can control DJ software and play CDs and USB media at the same time, even connect turntables with time coded vinyl.
If you prefer such a device, then check the product titles under “Also Plays CD / USB Media” section on our main page. Such complete controller/player combo devices are a good choice in terms of having multiple backups to your DJ set up.
Even if your computer software fails, the rest is all up and running, thanks to external power option.