Best DJ Controllers For Scratching In 2024

The feel of traditional vinyl is not easy to replicate in a DJ controller. But DJ controllers have improved by leaps and bounds in recent years. But which controller offers the most authentic scratching experience? We’ve done the research for you.

Scratching-focused DJ controllers is an increasingly competitive area, but our Editor’s Choice is the outstanding Pioneer DDJ REV7. It features a battle-style layout and motorized jogwheels for an ideal tactile experience.

With over 15 years of experience in the industry, we’ve seen the DJ controller space evolve. New technology excites us, and we set out to establish this site to share that enthusiasm and help new and established DJs select the right gear.

While we have scratching skills, we are far from masters of the craft. That’s why, for this guide, we spent weeks researching to select the best choices. But the true heroes are the community of DJs we know that scratch day in and day out. With their insight, we could tap into hundreds of hours of hands-on testing to affirm that each controller earned its spot on this list.

Quick Summary

  • Editor’s Choice: Pioneer DDJ-REV7
    Industry-leading scratching-focused DJ controller with superb motorized jog wheels with onboard screen, premium build quality, and a professional layout.
  • Best Mid-Range: Rane One
    A high-quality DJ controller with fantastic motorized jog wheels, clean integration with Serato DJ Pro, and a unique and comfortable hybrid mixer layout.
  • Best Value: Hercules DJControl Inpulse T7
    A lower-cost alternative that offers exceptional value for money and extensive features including motorized platters with replicate vinyl records for an authentic scratching experience.
  • Best For Stems: Pioneer DDJ-REV5
    High-value option with a spacious and logical battle style layout, comfortable jog wheels with feel adjust, and onboard stem controls for creative mixing possibilities.
  • Best For Beginners: Pioneer DDJ-REV1
    An affordable entry point into the world of scratching-focused DJing while retaining all the essential features new and experienced DJs need with ample features to express your creativity.

Product Reviews

Having a professional DJ controller will give you the edge when it comes to scratching. Below, we take a closer look at some of the best options in this category.

Pioneer DDJ-REV7

Editor’s Choice

Top view of the Pioneer DDJ Rev7.

Overall Rating (9/10)

How Do We Rate?

Mixer
Jogwheels
Build
Software
Tempo
Pads
FX
Looping
Connections
Value
Mixer
Jogwheels
Build
Software
Tempo
Pads
FX
Looping
Connections
Value

What We Liked

Outstanding Motorized Platters
Rock Solid Build Quality
Engaging Battle Style Layout
Magvel Fader Pro

What Could Be Better

Not Budget Friendly

The Pioneer DDJ-REV7 is a class-leading option for DJs who want a DJ controller focusing on scratching. The exceptional motorized platters are as close to turntables as you’ll get in a controller format.

Not only do the jog wheels feel fantastic, but they also feature onboard screens that display critical information about the currently playing song, including BPM, Key, Artwork, and more.

The central mixer section replicates a traditional battle-style layout with ample space around the faders and an extensive selection of performance pad modes for added creative freedom. However, if you are coming from a classic club-style layout, it can take some time to get familiar with this style of layout.

Pioneer DDJ-REV7 Showcase.

The build quality is also outstanding. Solid metal and premium quality connections, buttons, and knobs. Continuing with the quality theme is the fantastic Magvel Fader Pro, which further encourages a superb scratching experience.

Silky smooth integration with Serato DJ Pro is another highlight. But as with any top-tier Pioneer DJ product, it has a hefty price tag. Despite this, it’s hard to resist how natural and engaging the scratching experience is.

For those who want a top-of-the-line controller with a tactile vinyl-like scratching experience, the Pioneer DJJ-REV7 should be high on your list of options despite its high price point.

Read our full Pioneer DDJ-REV7 review for more detailed information.

Watch the official video below or visit the manufacturer’s website for more information.

Rane One

Best Mid-Range

Top view of the Rane One

Overall Rating (8/10)

How Do We Rate?

Mixer
Jogwheels
Build
Software
Tempo
Pads
FX
Looping
Connections
Value
Mixer
Jogwheels
Build
Software
Tempo
Pads
FX
Looping
Connections
Value

What We Liked

Motorized Jog Wheels
High Build Quality
Comfortable Layout
Reasonable Price

What Could Be Better

Performance Pad Placement

When the Rane One was initially released, it was one of the first of a new generation of DJ controllers that featured motorized platters. It has become one of the leading choices for scratch DJs who desire that authentic vinyl-like feel.

However, there is more to the Rane One than just motorized jog wheels. It offers tight integration with Serato DJ Pro with ample core features readily accessible on the logical and comfortable layout that will appeal to classic turntablists and club DJs.

The central mixer section offers full EQ and FX controls, including metal paddles. Speaking of metal, the controller is ultra-tough with a durable steel frame and high-quality components, including a tension-adjustable Mag Four XF crossfader.

Rane One Showcase.

The Rane One also features a bank of eight performance pads per deck, giving you access to various performance options, including Hot Cue, Saved Loop, Roll, Sampler, and Slicer. However, in our internal testing, the placement below the jog wheels didn’t feel as intuitive as a classic battle-style mixer layout.

The Rane One also offers an approachable price compared to the popular Pioneer DDJ-REV7. It isn’t the cheapest, but considering the high build quality and extensive features, it’s a good value buy if you don’t want to pick up the more expensive REV7.

There is truly little to criticize with this premium quality controller. Fantastic inputs and outputs, superb platters, and extensive performance features at a price point that is more than reasonable.

Read our full Rane One review for more detailed information.

Watch the official video below or visit the manufacturer’s website for more information.

Hercules DJControl Inpulse T7

Best Value

Top view of the Hercules DJControl Inpulse T7 DJ controller.

Overall Rating (8/10)

How Do We Rate?

Mixer
Jogwheels
Build
Software
Tempo
Pads
FX
Looping
Connections
Stems
Value
Mixer
Jogwheels
Build
Software
Tempo
Pads
FX
Looping
Connections
Stems
Value

What We Liked

Tactile Platters
Built-In Stem Controls
Excellent Value
Lightweight

What Could Be Better

Intro Version Of Serato

The Hercules DJControl Inpulse T7 is the most affordable DJ controller for scratching that features motorized platters. At this price point, it’s an exceptional bargain without too many sacrifices in quality and features.

The platters feature slipmats and replica 7-inch vinyl records for an ultra-authentic and tactile scratching experience—an excellent feel with high responsiveness. The crossfader is also impressive but not as premium as you’ll find on more expensive options.

The central mixer section features everything a DJ needs, including full 3-band EQ, FX controls, and paddles. The Inpulse T7 also features Beat Align and Tempo indicators on the pitch faders for visual guides when beatmatching. It is excellent for new DJs who might not be overly confident with beatmatching.

Hercules DJControl Inpulse T7 Showcase.

The range of performance pads feature a solid selection of modes, and the unit also offers onboard controls for isolating Vocal and Instrumental stems. The Auto Loop knob is another handy inclusion for effortless looping control.

The most obvious drawback is the intro version of Serato DJ. You’ll need to set aside some extra money to upgrade to the full version if you want access to all Serato DJ Pro features. But it comes with a full version of DJuced software capable of getting the most out of the controller.

Retractable feet, professional connectivity options, and a lightweight yet sturdy frame are also highlights from our testing—an impressive controller at a fantastic price that punches well above its price point.

Watch the official video below or visit the manufacturer’s website for more information.

Pioneer DDJ-REV5

Best For Stems

Top view of the Pioneer DDJ REV5 DJ controller.

Overall Rating (8/10)

How Do We Rate?

Mixer
Jogwheels
Build
Software
Tempo
Pads
FX
Looping
Connections
Stems
Value
Mixer
Jogwheels
Build
Software
Tempo
Pads
FX
Looping
Connections
Stems
Value

What We Liked

Fully Featured Layout
Built-In Stem Controls
Auto BPM Transition Feature
Piano Play Mode

What Could Be Better

Lacks Extra Connections

Creativity is at the heart of DJing, and the emergence and popularity of Stems gives DJs more creative control than ever before. Remixing on the fly and layering elements for unique mashups is a fun and expressive way to add uniqueness to your DJ sets.

The Pioneer DDJ-REV5 offers excellent integration with Stems thanks to dedicated buttons that isolate Vocals, Melody, Bass, and Drums at the touch of a button. Serato DJ Pro and Rekordbox offer Stem features, but Serato DJ Pro currently offers the cleanest implementation.

Beyond Stem controls, the DDJ-REV5 also offers scratch DJs comfortable jog wheels with adjustable feel from light to heavy. While not motorized, the scratching experience is still fantastic, and the Magvel Fader elevates the experience further.

Pioneer DDJ-REV5 Showcase.

Two new features also caught our eye throughout our testing. Auto BPM transition helps with transitions between significant BPM differences. It frees up your hands for scratching and performance pad play, while the Piano Play mode opens up creative tone control.

The selection of connections is solid, but the unit does lack additional Phono/Line inputs. This a slight oversight, considering this DJ controller offers up to four deck controls. It’s understandable at this price point and far from a dealbreaker, but it would have been an excellent inclusion.

If you want a creative mixing focused controller with excellent jog wheels and a battle-style layout, the Pioneer DDJ-REV5 is worth considering. A well-built and good value controller that sits comfortably in the middle of the Pioneer REV lineup.

Read our full Pioneer DDJ-REV5 review for more detailed information.

Watch the official video below or visit the manufacturer’s website for more information.

Pioneer DDJ-REV1

Best For Beginners

Top view of the Pioneer DDJ Rev1.

Overall Rating (7/10)

How Do We Rate?

Mixer
Jogwheels
Build
Software
Tempo
Pads
FX
Looping
Connections
Value
Mixer
Jogwheels
Build
Software
Tempo
Pads
FX
Looping
Connections
Value

What We Liked

Large Jog Wheels
Familiar Layout
Entry-Level Price
Paddle FX

What Could Be Better

A Little Cramped

The Pioneer DDJ-REV1 is an excellent entry point into the world of scratch DJing thanks to its low price while retaining all the core features we expect from a modern DJ controller.

The large jog wheels give new DJs a comfortable scratching experience and feature a grooved surface for excellent grip. The response is tight and accurate, and the crossfader is up to the challenge of frequent use.

The layout is also a perfect stepping stone for new DJs to become familiar with battle-style mixers. The location and placement are natural and familiar, albeit a little cramped due to the smaller footprint of the controller.

Pioneer DDJ-REV1 Showcase.

For established DJs, this is an excellent portable unit to practice routines on, while new DJs will benefit from a feature-rich controller that prepares them for professional gear.

Fun-to-use paddle FX and access to up to four decks are also highlights of this lower-cost controller. But with a lower price does come some exclusions like the lack of balanced outputs and intro version software.

Most entry-level DJ controllers focus on a club-style layout. I’m glad to see Pioneer branch out and offer an affordable entry point for scratching-focused DJs. It is an ideal entry point and a great backup unit for pro DJs.

Read our full Pioneer DDJ-REV1 review for more detailed information.

Watch the official video below or visit the manufacturer’s website for more information.

Buying Advice

When it comes to scratch DJ equipment, you must pay extra attention to the features below. These elements help give you the best control over your music to achieve accurate and effective scratching.

Latency

Latency is the time between taking an action and reflecting in your software or performance—the lower the latency, the better. Mixing music is all about timing, which becomes even more critical when executing scratches.

Close Up photo of a DJ using a jogwheel.

Low latency jog wheels are essential for effective scratching.

Most modern DJ controllers offer jog wheels with very low latency, but issues can arise over time. It’s best to keep your software and firmware up to date to avoid problems developing.

A good quality jog wheel will also be more resistant to wear and tear, which can impact responsiveness and latency. Buying high-quality DJ equipment from trusted brands is the best way to ensure you don’t run into issues.

Feel

This is very user-dependent. If you’ve never scratched before, you won’t have a preference, making it difficult to gauge which jog wheels “feel” better. The fundamental things to look for are grip and resistance.

A slippery jog wheel will be challenging to control. You’ll find your fingers slipping and ruining your scratches. This may lead you to apply too much pressure on the jog wheel, which can quicken the pace of general wear and tear on your jog wheels.

Close-up of a DJ using DJ equipment.

Jog wheels with adjustable resistance are ideal to find your preffered style.

Resistance is another crucial element. You don’t want the jog wheel to be too loose but also not too firm. Some controllers allow you to alter the resistance or torque of the jog wheel to suit your preference.

Scratching is a very creative form of performing and mixing. Finding a jog wheel you feel comfortable with is essential as you explore this expressive mixing style.

Size

The size of the jog wheel is another consideration. Trying to replicate the size of a turntable setup is difficult to achieve on a controller. But you can still get very good-sized jog wheels that offer a good level of control and feel.

Close-up of a DJ using DJ equipment.

Larger jog wheels are more comfortable to use when scratching.

Executing complex scratches with very small jog wheels can be difficult, but the size isn’t everything. With experience, you can achieve excellent scratching techniques on small jog wheels.

Modes

Most jog wheels will offer different settings. Usually, the main two options are vinyl or slip mode. While the vinyl mode is the standard, buying a controller that offers both is good to give you maximum choice.

As the name implies, Vinyl mode replicates a turntable’s actions. You can scratch and perform spin backs; when you release, it will play from your exact position.

Slip Mode continues to push the track forward as if you were not scratching. When you release the jog wheel, it will jump to where the song would have reached.

Learning How To Scratch

One of the first questions new DJs often have is how to scratch on a DJ controller. The answer is both simple and complicated at the same time.

Scratching on a controller uses the same principles that apply to turntables. Don’t buy into the myth that you can’t scratch using a controller. If you’re an experienced turntablist, you won’t have any issues migrating to a controller. There will be some new features and adjustments, but you’ll be into the groove before you know it.

For brand-new DJs wanting to learn to scratch, it’s a far more complicated answer. Understanding the various techniques will take time. Luckily, plenty of free tutorial videos are available on Youtube to guide you through the fundamentals. I’d suggest starting with the most basic of techniques first, like the baby scratch.

From there, you can expand on those skills depending on which direction and style you want to take your mixing. Don’t become overwhelmed by complex skills you may encounter through your journey. Stick to the basic skills and master them. You can then move onto more advanced techniques.

Remember, practice is the most crucial part of learning any DJ skill, whether beatmatching, transitions, or scratching. Keep at it; you’ll be mixing and scratching up a storm in no time.

Our Verdict

Different DJs have different needs, so each controller on this list is worth exploring. Scratch DJs looking to move into the digital space have more choices than ever. Both beginners and seasoned professionals will be able to find a controller to suit their needs.

After assessing all the excellent options available, I can’t look past the Pioneer DDJ-REV7. It all comes down to feel and features. Nothing in the market compares to the motorized platters and extensive performance options that the REV7 offers. It perfectly bridges the gap between the latest technology and old-school sensibilities.

Pioneer has a dominant position in the DJ community. This new foray into appealing to scratch DJs who want a controller is extremely impressive. A well-built DJ controller that will please both veterans and new DJs alike.

Pioneer DDJ-REV7

Editor’s Choice

Top view of the Pioneer DDJ Rev7.

Overall Rating (9/10)

How Do We Rate?

Mixer
Jogwheels
Build
Software
Tempo
Pads
FX
Looping
Connections
Value
Mixer
Jogwheels
Build
Software
Tempo
Pads
FX
Looping
Connections
Value

Why You Can Trust Our Advice

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Article by Patryk Biernacki
Article by Patryk Biernacki

Patryk has been immersed in the world of music since the early 90s. This coupled with his creative talents, drove his passion to become an expert writer in the music industry. He constantly researches and tests new products, and enjoys playing with all types of gear in his spare time. Electronic music runs through his veins and he absolutely loves DJing in his home studio.

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