Stepping into the world of 4 channel DJing opens up a wealth of creative options. But, to fully embrace this next level of DJing you need a controller that is capable and feature-rich. In this guide, we check out the best 4 channel controllers currently available.
Pioneer XDJ XZ
An extremely well rounded 4 channel DJ controller that’s tough, spacious and packed full of features.
Pioneer DDJ 1000
Another outstanding controller with large jog wheels, full colour displays, excellent FX section and a pro layout.
An In-Depth Review Of The Gear
There are plenty of choices when it comes to 4 deck controllers. Let’s dive into the details of some of the best controllers for DJs looking at mixing with 4 channels.
Pioneer XDJ XZ Review
The Best 4 Channel DJ Controller
- Detailed Mixer – The XDJ XZ gives DJs all the tools they need to execute their mix and expand their creativity. The excellent Beat and Sound Color FX are taken directly from Pioneer’s club level gear.
- Onboard Screen – The central screen offers extensive information to keep you focused on your mix. Stacked waveforms and quick navigation options allow you to spend less time looking at your laptop.
- Pro Level Layout – One of the closest representations of professional Pioneer club equipment in controller form. Excellent for pro DJs or DJs aspiring to play in clubs.
- Excellent Connectivity – Plenty of choice in connection options add to the top-tier status. From extensive master/booth options to the ability to plug turntables in if you want to move in that direction.
- 4 Channel Requires Laptop – In standalone mode, the XDJ XZ is only a 2 channel controller. For some DJs, this may be a dealbreaker.
The Pioneer XDJ XZ is a fantastic 4 channel controller from Pioneer. Professional-level quality throughout and an excellent interpretation of Pioneer’s club-standard gear. For the aspiring club DJ or the working DJ, this is the perfect rig to practice on.
The addition of a detailed screen and comprehensive connection options cement its place as one of the best 4 channel controllers currently available.
Read our full Pioneer XDJ XZ review for more detailed information.
Pioneer XDJ XZ
Pioneer DDJ 1000 Review
Advanced Pioneer 4 Channel DJ Controller
- Large Jogwheels – The DDJ 1000 offers DJs full-size jogwheels. They dominate the controller but feel fantastic to use. Latency is low for accurate and tight scratching.
- Full-Color Displays – The jogwheels also offer a full-color display in the center of each jog. You can customize this display to highlight the info you’ll find most useful when mixing. It’s a nice touch to what already feels like a premium controller.
- Excellent FX Section – The FX section uses the same layout as the DJM-900NXS2 mixer. This hardware FX doesn’t use rekordbox allowing you to alter any incoming audio. The FX is tightly integrated into the controller and more importantly, they sound great.
- Pro-Level Layout – The DDJ 1000 looks and feels like club level gear. For existing club DJs, you’ll feel right at home. For new DJs, this is the best controller to prepare you for a club setup.
- Closed Ecosystem – The only downside to an otherwise outstanding piece of gear is the software restriction. Rekordbox is an excellent piece of software but if you prefer other software this controller isn’t for you.
The DDJ 1000 is a Pioneer 4 channel DJ controller that comes close to ticking all the boxes. Excellent layout and design push the DDJ 1000 as a serious 4 channel Pioneer controller. Fantastic onboard FX and generous jogwheels are a dream to use.
If you like the idea of stepping up to pro-level Pioneer gear in the future this is a controller you should seriously consider. A 4 channel Pioneer DJ controller that is perfect for fans of rekordbox. Simply put it’s the best Pioneer 4 deck controller currently available.
Read our full Pioneer DDJ 1000 review for more detailed information.
Pioneer DDJ 1000
Traktor Kontrol S4 Mk3 Review
Excellent 4 Channel Traktor DJ Controller
- Impressive Jogwheels – The S4 Mk3 sees the triumphant return of jogwheels to the Kontrol range. And they are back with a bang. Motorized and with haptic feedback. This offers DJs crisp and accurate control when scratching or seeking.
- Integrated Screens – Two small hi-res screens provide DJs with extra information. You won’t need to refer to your laptop. Important information like waveform, BPM, Key, and loop states are at your fingertips.
- Excellent Loop Controls – I’ve always enjoyed how NI handles looping on their controllers. The dedicated knobs allow for easy activation and control of loops. Utilizing loops are critical when mixing with 4 channels and the S4 handles the job perfectly.
- Club Feel Layout – NI has also changed the layout of their latest line of controllers to more closely resemble club gear. Long pitch faders are another benefit and add to the pro-level feel. It’s a good stepping stone controller if you want to move onto club gear.
- Shaky Launch – The initial release of the S4 was not as smooth as it could have been. Many bugs and issues plagued the initial release. Several updates since launch have resolved the bulk of the issues. But, you’ll need to make sure you have the most up to date firmware and software installed to avoid problems.
The Traktor Kontrol S4 Mk3 is a fantastic controller and a return to form for NI. A logical and spacious layout lends itself to 4 channel mixing. Tight looping controls also assist. Traktor offers excellent integration with stems that lends itself to 4 channel mixing.
With an impressive selection of input and output options, it’s hard to find fault in the S4 Mk3. If you’re a fan of Traktor the S4 Mk3 delivers despite an initial shaky launch.
Traktor Kontrol S4 Mk3
Denon Prime 4 Review
Huge Screen With Excellent Features
- 10-Inch Screen – The major feature of the Prime 4 is the excellent screen. Adjustable to your preferred viewing angle it is crisp and ultra-responsive.
- Drive Slot – Included in the Prime 4 is the ability to connect a SATA drive. This opens up the possibility of storing all your music within the unit itself.
- Standalone Availability – Full standalone control make this controller a very good option for working DJs that want to also bring their laptop. additional Zone Output adds to a mobile DJs arsenal.
- Good Value – Despite the extensive features the Prime 4 still offers excellent value for money. Similiar controllers will cost you a lot more and often not provide as much.
- Engine Prime – The Engine Prime Music Management software still has a way to go before it’s a viable contender to Serato or Rekordbox. Functional and capable but lacking in features.
The Denon Prime 4 has emerged as one of the standout 4 channel controllers available today. The beautiful touchscreen is extremely appealing and a joy to use. An extensive selection of connection options also allows it to tackle a variety of potential setups. The selection of FX and Engine Prime Software isn’t as refined as others. But, the addition of Serato support does alleviate this issue albeit with a laptop connection required.
If you need a standalone unit that runs 4 channels the Prime 4 should be high on your list of options.
Read our full Denon Prime 4 review for more detailed information.
Denon Prime 4
Roland DJ 808 Review
Innovative Controller For Producers
- Onboard Drum Sequencer – The hallmark feature of the 808 is the built-in drum sequencer. With access to legendary kicks, snares and hi-hats you can program beats on the fly.
- Robust Build Quality – A solid controller that can handle the rigors of regular use. This is important considering how much button-mashing you’ll inevitably do with the onboard drum machine.
- Capable Jogwheels – The jogwheels are tight and responsive and are a good size considering how much space the drum machine takes up.
- Software Integration – Going beyond the legendary Roland drum machine you can also use the step sequencer with Serato samples. A large number of Serato’s features have dedicated controls. From Serato Flip to Looping to Key Sync. If you want a controller that works in perfect unison with Serato the DJ 808 is a great option.
- Avoid If Not Into Production – It’s hard to fault the innovative design and mindset behind the 808. The only drawback is if you have no interest in production and the drum sequencer. If you don’t use those functions you’ll be longing for a more refined and compact controller.
The Roland DJ 808 is a unique controller and one I’m glad exists. It blurs the line between production and DJing. Producers will love the drum sequencer. It allows you to experiment with new beats over your existing productions. For DJs that want to move into production, it’s also an excellent gateway to beat creation.
A unique controller that encourages you to push the boundaries of your mixing style.
Read our full Roland DJ 808 review for more detailed information.
Roland DJ 808
Pioneer DDJ FLX6 Review
Solid Upgrade From Pioneer 2 Channel Gear
- New FX Functionality – The Pioneer DDJ FLX6 offers a new Merge FX function. Easy to activate and control it can be a quick way to transition between tracks. While something you should not rely on it does open up new FX options previously not available on Pioneer gear.
- Large Jog Wheels – The full-size jog wheels are comfortable and capable. An excellent choice for scratch DJs that want access to 4 channels.
- Pioneer Layout – The familiar club-style layout is perfect for DJs that are already familiar with Pioneer gear. Whether you’re moving up from entry level gear or need a mid-tier affordable controller to practice sets at home.
- Natural Upgrade – With Pioneer offering one of the best entry-level controllers the FLX6 is a natural progression point. Its price point sits comfortably between beginner gear and more advanced pro gear.
- Short Pitch Faders – For a controller at this price I’d have wanted to see longer pitch faders. While still reasonable it’s a bit of a disappointment.
The Pioneer DDJ FLX6 is a slightly different controller from Pioneer. New Merge FX and Jog Cutter feature offer some new tricks for DJs to play with. While a little gimmicky they can be useful. The large platters and 4 channel control at this price point is a great step from Pioneer giving DJs a logical pathway forward from entry-level gear. The lack of balanced connections is an oversight but considering the target market, I’m also not surprised.
A solid controller that is perfect for existing Pioneer fans that want to upgrade to 4 channel capability.
Pioneer DDJ FLX6
Pioneer DDJ 1000SRT Review
Excellent 4 Channel DJ Controller For Serato
- Large Jogwheels – The 1000SRT has the same size jogwheels as the popular DDJ 1000. These large jogwheels are great for scratching and feature displays. Critical information is easily visible so you can spend less time looking at your laptop.
- Excellent Quality – At this price point, you need to expect a good jump in quality. Luckily that is the case with the 1000SRT. Good material and build quality throughout. Perfect as a mobile DJ rig.
- Connectivity – The Pioneer DDJ 1000SRT offers an impressive suite of connection options including a booth output. Line in options also allows you to connect turntables or CDJs.
- Familiar Layout – The Pioneer standard layout is present. This is excellent if you are already familiar with Pioneer gear or want to eventually play on Pioneer club gear.
- Lack Serato FX Controls – The 1000SRT offers no direct control over the FX in Serato. But, you’ll still have access to the excellent range of Pioneer hardware FX.
The Pioneer DDJ 1000SRt is the Serato version of the ever-popular DDJ1000. It was heavily requested and while Pioneer did deliver it wasn’t without some limitations. Integration with Serato is good but the 1000SRT offers less info on the jogwheels screens and no direct control over Serato FX.
Beyond that, there is a lot to like about this controller. From the excellent jogwheels to the range of connection options. Clean mixer layout makes 4-channel mixing seamless and fun.
Read our full Pioneer DDJ 1000SRT review for more detailed information.
Pioneer DDJ 1000SRT
Our Expert Buying Guide
When buying a 4 channel controller there are a couple of key features you need to pay extra attention to. In this guide, we dive into what to look out for.
DJ software plays a critical role in the modern DJ workflow. This becomes even more important when you are wanting to mix using 4 channels.
The software should be able to display all 4 decks on screen in a logical and easy-to-read manner. Stacked waveforms also assist in making sure you can line up your mixes.
Stacked waveforms allow you to anticipate what is approaching and helps visualize your mix.
Looping functions are also important when using 4 channels. You want the software to handle looping well. Easy access to those looping functions on the controller boosts your confidence. Layering 4 channels will need robust looping controls that can quantize and snap to keep everything in time.
Take some time to explore the software that comes with the controller. It will make moving into 4 channel mixing feel more natural and easy if you are working with great software.
Now onto a more hardware-focused element. The central mixer section of a 4 channel controller is where you’ll be spending a lot of time. You want this section to have a spacious layout that allows you to adjust EQ comfortably.
When you are mixing with 4 channels you are dealing with a lot of audio. Effective EQ’ing becomes important to not bring your mix into the red. It will also prevent frequencies from clashing. This is where line meters for each channel and also the master output are important.
High-quality knobs that have plenty of room around them make 4 channel DJing easier. That same level of quality should also extend to the faders.
For 4 channel mixing, you’ll likely have your crossfader in the central position. You’ll be using the faders to make adjustments to the mix. They should also be spacious and well built with a good level of resistance.
A spacious central mixer section makes adjusting EQ easier.
When you combine good software with good hardware you give yourself the best chance at executing successful 4 channel mixes.
This ties into both the software and the hardware. Latency defines the amount of time from you taking an action on the controller to it reflecting in your mix. You want the latency to be as low as possible. This becomes even more important when you are working with 4 channels.
You’ll be adjusting EQs, setting loops, layering FX, scratching, and sampling. You need your controller to be able to send that information quickly so that you can monitor the performance and ensure the mix sounds great.
Most modern DJ software and controllers offer low latency settings. As long as you are purchasing from trusted brands and using high-quality software you shouldn’t have any issues.
Why Mix With 4 Channels?
Most beginner DJs start by mastering the basics of transitioning from one song to another. The initial learning curve of beatmatching and proper EQ is best tackled with 2 channels.
From there the natural progression tends to involve basic DJing effects and beginner scratches if you are into scratching.
For some DJ’s this is enough and depending on the genre you may want to stick to 2 channels. But for other DJs, 2 channel mixing is a foundation to build from.
Moving onto 4 channel mixing can add a unique flavor to your sets. It can blur the line between mixing and creating live mashups and remixes.
You’ll begin to learn sampling and looping techniques that are critical to executing 4 channel mixes. For example, you may have one channel running a loop that is primarily low-end frequencies.
The second channel may have a vocal loop. The third channel could contain a primary melodic element while the fourth channel could have scratch samples loaded.
Juggling all these elements is challenging but also rewarding. It can also be a way to set yourself apart from other DJs.
4 Channel DJ controllers are a good way to practice and prepare for club-level gear.
Having said all that it isn’t needed to become a successful DJ. If you are comfortable with 2 channels I would not recommend you invest in a 4 channel controller. You’ll end up with a more cluttered controller with controls that you’ll never touch.
While it may look more professional to have a smorgasbord of knobs it is meaningless and a waste of money if you don’t intend to use them.
But for those that want to stretch the boundaries of their DJ skills a 4 track DJ controller is a must. The amount of personality and creativity you can inject into your sets is limitless. Keep in mind it will be challenging at the start.
But, like all elements of DJing, it’s all about practice. Before you know it you’ll be more engaged with your gear than ever before. You’ll also likely be hunting for not just music but acapellas and other DJ tools to incorporate into your sets.
Which One Should You Buy?
4 channel mixing opens up a new world for DJs. From layering several tracks to having external hardware connected to certain channels. In today’s modern DJ market there are several outstanding 4 channel controllers to choose from.
We recommend the Pioneer XDJ XZ as the best 4 channel controller available. Excellent build quality backed by a plethora of features. You’re essentially getting a club set up in a controller form with a price point that is much cheaper than full club gear.
But, if you XDJ is out of your budget range the DDJ 1000 is another excellent 4 channel controller we have no hesitation in recommending.
Regardless of which 4 channel controller you end up buying you’re in for quite the adventure. While it takes some getting used to the satisfaction of executing a great 4 channel mix is hard to beat.
Pioneer XDJ XZ