Do you want to unshackle yourself from the DJ controller and laptop combination?
Standalone controllers give you that freedom, and our Editor’s Choice is the superb Denon Prime 4 Plus due to its extensive features and gorgeous full-color screen.
We review an extensive range of music gear and have helped DJs, studio professionals, and live performers for years. This comparison guide details the best standalone DJ controllers based on our extensive research and testing.
We spent hundreds of hours testing and reviewing every standalone option available. Our research process is thorough; we don’t recommend products we wouldn’t use ourselves, and due to our stringent testing criteria, we go over every controller with a fine-toothed comb to select only the best for this detailed guide.
Denon Prime 4 Plus
A premium controller with a massive full-color screen. It also offers 4 channel mixing and a large number of connections.
Pioneer XDJ RX3
An excellent controller with a pro-level layout. Fantastic screen, mixing features, and tight software integration.
Let’s dive into the details and take a look at the best DJ decks if you want to say goodbye to the laptop when DJing.
Denon Prime 4 Plus Review
The Best All-In-One DJ Controller
- Fantastic Screen – The Denon Prime 4 Plus offers an exceptional screen. Large, bright, and with touch controls. Once you get your head around how to navigate through the menus, it becomes a joy to use.
- Built-In Drive – A built-in SATA drive bay allows you to store your music within the controller. The controller also supports USB and SD cards. This gives you full flexibility in how you want to manage your music collection.
- Large Range of Connections – Denon Prime 4 Plus offers an excellent range of connection options. 2 master output options along with a booth output. It also offers a Zone output. This allows you to assign a channel to play in a different area. A great way to send music to a chill-out lounge while you DJ the main party.
- Mobile DJ Friendly – Considering the number of features included, the unit is still lightweight. Mobile DJs will appreciate the size of the unit as well. While large, it’s still very portable.
- Learning Curve – It can take some time to come to grips with how the Denon Prime 4 Plus operates. If you are reliant on existing software, it will take you some time to familiarize yourself with the built-in software.
Denon Prime 4 Plus is an impressive DJ controller. It allows you to unshackle yourself from your laptop. Yet, you’ll still keep an extensive list of easy-to-access features. The 10-inch screen is responsive and a nice change from the normal two separate screen layouts of other all-in-one DJ controllers.
It also still maintains an affordable price point for a standalone system. If you want a fully-featured all-in-one controller, the Denon Prime 4 is one of the best all-in-one DJ systems currently available.
Read our full Denon Prime 4 Plus review for more detailed information.
Denon Prime 4 Plus
Pioneer XDJ RX3 Review
Fantastic Pioneer All-In-One DJ Controller
- Large Central Screen – The massive 10.1-inch screen is a joy to use. It displays all the vital information a DJ needs. Track length, BPM, Key, and the all-important waveforms. The parallel horizontal waveforms make it easy to see upcoming breaks and fine-tune your beatmatching.
- Pro Layout – The XDJ RX3 inherits the Pioneer layout from their other pro-level gear. If you are an experienced Pioneer gear user you’ll feel right at home with this controller. Everything is where you expect it to be. New DJs will also be able to transition to Pioneer pro-level gear with ease.
- Impressive FX – The XDJ RX3 offers a staggering amount of FX options. 6 sound color FX along with 14 Beat FX give you plenty of flexibility. Plus this selection of FX is the same that you’ll find on club gear.
- Jogwheel Screens – The jogwheels are responsive with low latency. Plus they feature onboard screens that display vital information.
- 2 Channels – The XDJ RX3 offers 2 channel mixing. If you’re wanting to explore 4 channel mixing you’ll need to look at an alternative controller.
The XDJ RX3 is an outstanding Pioneer standalone controller. This controller has an excellent selection of features from the Nexus series. It has impressive and effective DJing effects to add spice to your DJ sets. The pad functions are fully fleshed out giving you access to even more creative choices.
The 11.1-inch screen is central making it easy to manage compared to separate screens per deck. If you want to move away from taking your laptop to gigs the XDJ RX2 is an excellent option.
Read our full Pioneer XDJ RX3 review for more detailed information.
Pioneer XDJ RX3
Pioneer OPUS-QUAD Review
Stylish Pioneer All-In-One Controller
- Full 4-Channel Standalone – Unlike previous Pioneer offerings the OPUS-QUAD offers full 4-channel standalone capability. An excellent option for Pioneer fans that want access to all 4 channels without the need for a laptop.
- Innovative Design – The retro-futuristic design is a statement piece for any DJ booth. Slick, angular design, sloping top plate, and copper accents make it one of the most stylish and unique-looking controllers on the market.
- Comprehensive Screen Layout – While other standalone controllers will opt for one central screen, the OPUS-QUAD takes it further with additional screens above each deck. An excellent separation of information that promotes a smooth laptop-free workflow.
- Excellent FX Options – Beyond the expressive Sound Color and Beat FX, you’ll also have added flexibility to use the touchscreen to control FX using an XY Pad. Fun, expressive, and responsive.
- No Performance Pads – The OPUS-QUAD doesn’t offer any traditional performance pads. If you use performance pads frequently, you’ll likely miss them and the creative possibilities they open up.
Pioneer stepped out of its comfort zone with the OPUS-QUAD. Multiple innovations set it apart from other Pioneer offerings. Most notable is the unique design aesthetic. But beyond appearance, it is also one of the most comprehensive 4-channel standalone controllers available.
While it might not appeal to everyone, I’m happy to see a fully standalone 4-channel offering from the industry juggernauts. It’s also quite expensive, but if appearance and functionality are your top priorities, the Pioneer OPUS-QUAD is worth adding to your shortlist.
Read our full Pioneer OPUS-QUAD review for more detailed information.
Pioneer DJ OPUS-QUAD
Denon SC Live 4 Review
Streaming Focused All-In-One Controller
- Club Style Layout – Unlike the Prime 4 the SC Live 4 features a more classic club-style mixer layout. Four channels with full EQs and an FX strip that is reminiscent of pro-level gear.
- Versatile Display – The 7-inch touchscreen is bright and responsive. Plenty of variety to select your preferred layout though the font size might be a little small for some people.
- Good Price Point – Considering the extensive feature set and the full standalone capacity the SC Live 4 is an aggressively priced controller. Excellent value for money.
- Extensive Streaming Support – Connect to a wide range of streaming services allowing you to DJ with a staggering amount of tunes. It is also the only controller series that offers Amazon Music Unlimited.
- Doesn’t Support External Gear – The lower price point does mean some features are excluded. You can’t plug in further decks or other external gear.
The Denon SC Live 4 is a refined, highly capable, all-in-one DJ controller. All the essential features are here, including full 4-channel mixing with a comprehensive mixer section, a 7-inch touchscreen, and added screens on the jogwheels. While it doesn’t offer all the bells and whistles that the Prime 4 contains, it is much more affordable.
If you don’t need the extra connectivity and want access to streaming music from Amazon, the SC Live 4 is a near-perfect controller.
Denon SC Live 4
Denon Prime Go Review
Power-Packed Portable Controller
- Power Supply – The Prime Go is one of the only controllers to fully remove the need for an external power supply. The included rechargeable battery can offer 4+ hours of use before needing to be recharged.
- Excellent Display – Crisp and clear. The full-color display is easy to read and presents all the information you need to mix standalone without a laptop.
- Good Connections – Balanced XLR output and balanced Booth output enable this controller to be used for professional applications. Dual microphones are another added benefit.
- Built Tough – A solid and dependable controller that is built to handle the rigors of on-the-go mixing. Good components, especially when you factor in the price point.
- Awkward Layout – The placement of the EQ controls on the Prime Go is a little awkward. Having horizontal EQs takes some time to get used to it.
The Denon Prime Go strikes an excellent balance between portability and features. It’s a standalone unit that fully lives up to its name. Take it anywhere thanks to the including battery power supply. While it moves away from a traditional controller design it doesn’t take long to get familiar with it. Also, despite the small jog wheels, you can still execute scratches.
An innovative controller that takes standalone functionality to the next level.
Denon Prime Go
Pioneer XDJ XZ Review
High-End Standalone Gear
- Club Inspired – The XDJ XZ offers DJs a club layout that is hard to beat. Everything is where you would expect it to be. An excellent transition device if you want to practice club sets in your studio.
- Expansive Mixer – Following on from the club-inspired layout the central mixer is not far removed from Pioneer’s high-end club gear. Excellent range of Beat and Sound Color FX and accurate controls.
- Touch Screen – The 7-inch screen is the same as found on the RX2. Capable and reliable you’ll be able to access all the critical information you need to execute your mixes.
- Flexible Connections – The pro-level approach extends to the connection options. Flexible Master output options are coupled with RCA Line options. This allows you to connect external devices like turntables.
- Expensive – Pro-level features come at a high price. While not the best value it’s difficult to look past the industry-standard layout and features.
The Pioneer XDJ XZ is Pioneer’s high-end option for standalone gear. They have managed to cram a lot of features into this controller. Developing a system that allows pro DJs to use a close-to-club setup in the studio without needing an expensive Nexus setup.
It is also a great choice for mobile DJs that have ambitions of eventually playing clubs. Its only major fault is the restriction to 2 channels in standalone mode but for most this shouldn’t be an issue.
If you love Pioneer gear and have ambitions of playing in clubs this standalone controller is worth considering.
Read our full Pioneer XDJ XZ review for more detailed information.
Pioneer XDJ XZ
Denon SC Live 2 Review
Simple & Powerful DJ Controller
- HD Touchscreen – The SC Live 2 features the same screen as the SC Live 4. It’s responsive, touch-capable, and shows you all the information you need to execute your mixes.
- Easy To Use – With two channels and a logical layout the SC Live 2 offers a smooth and natural DJ workflow. The loop encoder is also fantastic as are the FX engines.
- Good Built Quality – Despite a plastic build the Denon SC Live 2 is a tough controller that can handle the rigors of frequent use.
- Decent Speakers – More powerful speakers than the ones on the Numark Mixstream Pro. You still won’t be able to throw a party with them but they are great for practice sessions or as booth speakers.
- Limited Pad Section – Having access to just 4 pads compared to 8 on the SC Live 4 does restrict some of the functionality.
All-in-one DJ controllers tend to be fairly expensive, and while the SC Live 2 is by no means cheap, it is still noticeably more affordable than some of the other options on this list. Despite the lower price, you still get access to all the core features you need, including a full mixer section, capable jogwheels, and a fantastic screen.
While still a little gimmicky, the speakers offer more punch than the cheaper Mixstream Pro, and the unit overall is well-built and reliable.
If you don’t want to fork out the big bucks but still need a well-featured controller, the SC Live 2 is worth considering.
Denon SC Live 2
Numark Mixstream Pro GO Review
Affordable All-In-One Controller
- Generous Screen – The Mixstream Pro GO features the same screen as available on the Prime Go. It’s ultra-responsive. Bright and clear, with plenty of room to display important information.
- Affordable Option – Many standalone controllers come with a huge price tag. The Mixstream Pro+ strips out the fluff to keep costs down. An excellent balance between price and features.
- Good Connectivity – The Mixstream Pro GO offers an SD card slot along with USB ports. Plus, it is Wi-Fi-capable, making it a universal and practical option for DJs that use compatible streaming services.
- Paddle FX – The simple paddle FX is easy to use and heaps of fun. While not as detailed as other options, there is enough here for you to incorporate FX into your sets.
- Gimmicky Speakers – The built-in speakers are great for practice sessions but vastly underpowered for parties.
The Numark Mixstream Pro GO is a fantastic option for budget-conscious DJs that want a standalone system. Its compact footprint and built-in battery make it a great portable option. Couple it with Wi-Fi connectivity, and you have a flexible and feature-rich controller on your hands.
The screen is fantastic and the same as the Prime Go. While it doesn’t offer all the bells and whistles, at this price point, it is hard to be overly critical. An affordable standalone option.
Read our full Numark Mixstream Pro GO review for more detailed information.
Numark Mixstream Pro Go
Our Expert Buying Guide
There are a few key features that will make a huge difference to your enjoyment level of an all-in-one controller.
Screens are one of the most important aspects of an all-in-one DJ controller. Large screens make it easier to discern key information.
Keep in mind you’ll be forgoing that 15-inch laptop screen and replacing it with screens often less than half that size.
Having a screen that is vibrant and clear is important. Especially when you factor in the small form factor. Intelligent use of that screen real estate is also important.
A good all-in-one system will present information on the screens in a logical and easily legible way. You don’t want to be squinting and end up spending far too much time decoding the information on the screen.
The goal of an all-in-one system is to present that critical information at a glance allowing you to go back to crafting your DJ set.
Often the goal of a standalone controller is to free up space. Having a large laptop plus a controller can result in some awkward setups. While standalone controllers can solve this issue sometimes the controllers themselves are large.
All-in-one DJ controllers are a good alternative to large club-level DJ systems.
If you are a working mobile DJ you’ll need to consider if it’s easier to transport a smaller controller with a laptop.
Consider how much the unit you’re looking at weighs and how you plan on transporting it to gigs. This can help you in choosing an appropriate controller for your needs.
The last thing you want is to regret your purchase because you dread carting your controller around between gigs.
All-in-one DJ decks should also offer you some flexibility. The standalone mode should supplement the ability to also use the controller with a laptop. I’ve always been a strong supporter of not restricting how a DJ uses their equipment.
Tight and seamless integration with professional-level DJ software is an added benefit. While you may intend to never use your controller with a laptop it’s still nice to have the choice.
While standalone software has come a long way it’s still playing catch up to the established DJ software powerhouses. Take some time to understand the limitations of the included standalone software. This will help inform you what type of features you’ll need to remove from your DJ arsenal.
A good standalone controller should give you the best of both worlds. Solid and robust internal software and excellent integration with standard DJ software.
Mixing With No Laptop
If you are an existing DJ that uses a controller the transition to an all-in-one system comes with both pros and cons.
The biggest benefit of a DJ mixer with screens is the ability to concentrate on your controller. DJ software offers lots of features that can often prove to be a distraction.
Staring endlessly at the laptop disconnects you from the physical and engaging side of mixing. Focusing on the DJ gear will make you more aware of the various features of your controller. This will develop a more focused workflow.
One of the other benefits is it can make the transition to club gear more seamless. Some establishments may have an existing setup that doesn’t support laptops.
Having that familiarity with using gear without a laptop will boost your confidence when tackling these types of setups.
An alternative to all-in-one systems is to go for a traditional setup with a DJ mixer and media players/turntables. This setup doesn’t have to be expensive either.
Some promoters or other DJs may even look down on or ban the use of a laptop during sets. I think this type of attitude has no place in DJ culture. The average punter doesn’t care.
All they care about is having a good time. Whether a laptop is part of the process shouldn’t make a difference.
One of the key drawbacks is information. Modern all-in-one DJ mixers have screens that will give you important information. But, it won’t be as thorough as the information available when using a laptop with DJ software.
Even dedicated turntablists have embraced laptops and incorporated them into their gear.
It can also be trickier to alter certain settings on the fly with a controller compared to using a laptop. This will vary based on what type of DJ you are but it is worth considering.
The small screen sizes can also make it difficult to navigate through a large music collection. Taking time to prepare for your sets can mitigate this issue to some extent.
It can be very liberating to move away from a laptop but also very daunting. Take your time to adjust if you are a DJ that uses a laptop regularly. Before long you’ll be as comfortable using an all-in-one DJ controller with no laptop as you are with one.
What Is An All-In-One DJ Controller?
An all-in-one DJ controller gives you the freedom to DJ without the need to connect to a laptop or PC.
Which One Should You Buy?
The explosion in quality all-in-one DJ controllers over the last few years is a fantastic development. There are several excellent options available that can finally remove you from staring at the laptop.
When you consider functionality and build quality, the Denon Prime 4 Plus is our top pick for the best all-in-one DJ controller. With an excellent screen and comprehensive features, it’s our favorite in this category. But, if you prefer to stick within the Pioneer ecosystem, the XDJ RX3 is a great alternative.
No matter which option you end up selecting you’re in for a liberating DJ experience.
Denon Prime 4 Plus