As technology improves so do DJ controllers. The biggest innovation in recent history is the addition of screens. This has given DJs newfound freedom when DJing. Less time staring at the laptop and more time focusing on the controller. But, some controllers are better than others. In this review, we check out the best DJ controllers with screens currently available.
Denon Prime 4
A gorgeous touchscreen with advanced features. It also offers extensive connection options and innovative zone output.
Pioneer XDJ RX2
An excellent controller with a familiar pro layout. Excellent software integration but also very capable in standalone mode.
A Closer Look At Controllers With Built In Screen
With some outstanding options available let’s dive into the details of what this new generation of controllers has to offer.
Denon Prime 4 Review
The Best DJ Controller With Screens
- Impressive Screen – The huge 10-inch screen is the biggest screen currently available. It’s bright and responsive and it’s a touch screen DJ controller. You can alter the angle to your preferred setting and it’s solid and well-built.
- Standalone Capable – The Denon Prime 4 is capable of operating as a standalone controller. If you want to unshackle yourself from a laptop this piece of DJ gear is an excellent choice.
- Affordably Priced – Despite the extensive list of features and the epic screen the unit is still reasonably priced. An excellent option for both professionals and serious hobby DJs.
- Excellent Connection Options – The Denon Prime 4 offers a large selection of output choices. This allows you to handle any potential connection situation. With 4 USB inputs plus a built-in SATA drive, you also have full flexibility in managing your music collection.
- Engine Prime Software – The only real drawback is the software. It is capable and well presented but not as polished as mainstays like Serato and Rekordbox. Luckily it is compatible with those pieces of software. If you already own them you’ll still be able to maintain your existing track preparation workflow.
The Denon Prime 4 is an outstanding piece of DJ gear. Catering to a vast array of DJs it’s hard to not recommend it. Especially when you consider the competitive price. The screen is amazing and a joy to use.
If the touch controls are not your style you can also plug in a keyboard for quicker searching. This is especially useful if you have a large music collection. If you are looking for a controller with a screen you should have the Prime 4 high on your list of options.
Read our full Denon Prime 4 review for more detailed information.
Denon Prime 4
Pioneer XDJ RX2 Review
Outstanding Rekordbox DJ Controller With Screens
- The Pioneer Standard – The XDJ RX2 offers an updated layout which now more closely resembles the Nexus line of mixers. This is excellent if you already use Pioneer gear in a pro club environment or have ambitions to do so. Everything is where you expect it to be.
- Central Screen – The 7-inch touchscreen is vibrant and responsive. You have access to all the information you need to navigate and prepare your next mix. The navigation knob now sits next to the screen which is a big improvement compared to the original RX.
- Improved Pad Controls – The other noticeable upgrade is the expansion to 8 pads. These pads feel like pads and not like the button feel the original RX offered. They feel comfortable and natural to use for the various pad modes.
- Full Software – Rekordbox DJ comes packaged with the controller. You can use it to prepare your tracks or have it connected to access extra features. You can also connect it to your laptop for track management. This means you don’t have to go through the process of exporting to USBs.
- Not Worth Upgrading – The RX2 is an improvement over the previous model. But, if you already own an RX unit there isn’t that much innovation here to justify making the upgrade.
The Pioneer XDJ RX2 is a solid controller with excellent screen integration. The central placement and parallel waveforms make it easy to prepare and execute your mixes.
It’s also light enough to be a great choice for working mobile DJs. Because of this, it took out our top spot for the best all-in-one DJ controller review.
It offers excellent software and a professional layout. When you take all this into account it makes the XDJ RX2 the best Pioneer DJ controller with screens currently available.
Read our full Pioneer XDJ RX2 review for more detailed information.
Pioneer XDJ RX2
Numark NV II Review
Excellent Value DJ Controller With Screens
- Hi-Res Screens – The NV II comes with two 4.3-inch screens. One per deck. The screens are bright and hi-res making them easy to read. It offers tight integration with Serato. All the important information is available without having to look at your laptop.
- Entry-Level Pricing – The price point is aggressive. I’m amazed at how much they have managed to pack into this controller while still keeping the price point approachable. It’s a cheap DJ controller with screens.
- 4 Channels – Another surprise considering the price point. Having access to 4 channels increases your options for creative mixing. If you want to explore layering multiple tracks or adding acapellas a 4-channel controller is a must.
- Responsive Knobs – The touch capacity knobs are well-built and responsive. From tight control over FX to killing EQs. This is a big improvement from the previous model.
- Slightly Cramped – While I love that 4 channels are available the small size of the controller does mean it’s a little busy in the mixer section. If you have large hands you’ll find this section cramped.
The Numark NV II is a well-built controller that offers lots of features. The screens are solid and well-integrated. Plenty of available connection options also makes this controller a suitable option for working DJs on a budget.
Speaking of budget this controller packs a lot of value. With 4 channels, good pads, full software, vibrant screens, and plenty of connection options. The jogwheels are responsive but on the smaller size. Not surprising when you consider the small footprint of this controller compared to other options.
Read our full Numark NV II review for more detailed information.
Numark NV II
Denon MCX8000 Review
Best Features In A DJ Controller With Screens
- Flexibility – The MX8000 offers DJs full flexibility. You can use it as a standalone unit with the built-in Engine software which is a good option for mobile DJs. The tight integration with Serato also makes it an excellent option for laptop DJs. A fleshed out and feature-rich controller.
- Built Tough – The steel construction adds a level of security to the device without adding a large amount of weight. Denon has once again offered DJs a durable and well-built controller that will stand the test of time.
- Impressive Screens – The screens are bright and logically display information. The waveforms are clear with both the full track and current phrase visible. Convenient buttons to handle core tasks are a bonus. While not as big as other screens they do an impressive job.
- Attractive Appearance – The unit offers a professional layout. It isn’t a bland black piece of gear. Excellent use of color for the screen, pads, and other buttons. The jogwheels also have LED backlighting that is adjustable to your preferred brightness.
- Technical Issues – The MCX8000 has suffered some screen freeze issues. Much of this relates to the brightness setting of the screens. While manageable it’s a shame such issues are present in an otherwise outstanding controller.
The Denon MCX8000 ups the game for controllers with screens. Combining an impressive list of both features and connectivity options at an attractive price. The slimline design and good weight also make this unit an appealing option for mobile DJs.
Excellent screens (with some niggling issues) offer DJs the ability to ignore the laptop. If you are looking for a well-built controller that has screens the MCX8000 is worth considering.
Read our full Denon MCX8000 review for more detailed information.
Traktor Kontrol S8 Review
Innovative Traktor DJ Controller With Screens
- Performance-Focused – The first thing that you’ll notice on the S8 is a large number of buttons, faders, and knobs. This controller is a performance-orientated DJs dream. You can access remix decks, pad modes and FX with ease. If you are a controllerist this unit is a great choice for you.
- Integrated Screens – The hi-res screens are perfectly integrated and can display a wealth of information. Quick access to your track collection and waveforms. Plus you can also view information associated with FX, remix decks, and loops to name a few. Excellent if you want to spend less time looking at your laptop.
- Solid Build Quality – Native Instruments have a reputation for producing high-quality gear. The S8 continues this tradition. It’s solid and robust. The faders offer protection from spills thanks to the reverse slide position. Plus the whole crossfader and fader section is replaceable.
- Standalone Option – You can connect the S8 to external CDJs or turntables and use it as a standalone mixer. When you consider the remix and performance options on the controller it’s an appealing option for performing DJs.
- Lacks Jogwheels – The most notable exclusion is the lack of jogwheels. There is also no pitch fader. It is a jarring change at first but this isn’t meant to be a traditional DJ controller.
The Traktor Kontrol S8 throws all the usual expectations of a DJ controller out the window. Instead, you get an innovative and performance-focused controller that blurs the lines between artist and DJ.
The tight integration with the Traktor Pro 3 software opens up a world of creative options. Remix tracks on the fly, layer multiple channels, and apply FX. All this is possible without looking at your laptop. If you want to stretch the boundaries of how you DJ the S8 should be on your list of options.
Traktor Kontrol S8
Numark NS7III Review
DJ Controller With Screens For Scratch DJs
- Motorized Platters – The NS7III offers motorized turntables. This is the closest you can get to the feeling of playing vinyl on a DJ controller. If you are a dedicated scratch DJ looking at controllers you’ll appreciate the natural feel that these platters offer.
- Solid Construction – The controller is a solid beast that weighs in at over 14kg. It may not be the easiest to transport but it will be able to take some punishment. This is even more important in a controller that contains motorized parts.
- Nice Screens – The three-screen layout is functional and logical. While they are not the biggest of screens all the key information is present. The central screen with parallel waveforms makes aligning your tracks easier. But, navigating an unorganized library can get tricky.
- Refined Design – The NS7III has a more refined and polished design compared to its predecessor. The shiny reflective surface makes way for a more matte textured design. This helps prevent glare and fingerprints.
- Detachable Screen – The screens for the NS7III are a separate component. While some may see this as a benefit it does add extra setup time.
The Numark NS7III is unique in that it offers scratch DJs a controller that replicates the feel of turntables. When you combine it with the screens it’s a good hybrid between old school feel and modern technology. From a screen perspective, they are small compared to other controllers. But, they are bright and legible.
If you’re a scratch DJ looking at a controller with screens the NS7III won’t disappoint.
Read our full Numark NS7III review for more detailed information.
Our Expert Buying Guide
There are a few key differences between the features of a regular DJ controller and a controller with screens. In the below guide we’ll highlight the most important aspects to assess before buying a DJ controller with built-in screens.
Size and Resolution
The first and most obvious are the screens themselves. Screen size plays a critical role in how much you’ll enjoy using the controller. It will also determine how much you’ll be able to avoid looking at your laptop.
When it comes to screens bigger is better. The larger the screen the more information that you’ll have access to. A large screen will make navigating your music library easier. It also allows for information to be more thoughtfully laid out.
Small screens can be difficult to read and you may find yourself squinting or hunching over. This is not great for maintaining a consistent and solid workflow behind the decks.
The goal of DJ controllers with screens is to look at the laptop less and emulate a club-style workflow.
The resolution also plays a role. The more pixels per square inch the clearer the image will be. This makes it easier to read especially when you factor in a dark and smoky environment like a nightclub. Hi-res screens are a must-have feature when looking for DJ gear with screens.
It’s also worth considering the number of available channels that the controller offers. A four-channel controller is ideal for performing DJs that want to stretch their creative limits. It opens up the door for layering acapellas and blending several tracks at the same time. If this style of DJing is appealing to you then a four-channel controller is a must.
This is where screen size also comes into play. If you are looking at using four-channels you’ll want a large screen that will be able to display 4 waveforms. Not only should it be able to display them but it should also be easy to interpret the information on the screen.
If you are happy with two-channels you can be more flexible when it comes to screen size. While bigger will still be better it is easier to assess your mix when you have to only tackle two waveforms.
Parallel waveforms are another consideration when selecting a controller. This becomes even more important if you are a new DJ. Having the ability to see upcoming drops in your music can help you adjust and plan your mixes. You can avoid phrase mismatches via loops and execute smooth transitions.
Whether it’s two or four-channels make sure the screens display the information you need. Having the information directly on your controller will prevent you from looking at your laptop.
You want to get well-built gear and preferably from a well-known brand. When you factor in the addition of screens there is another layer of damage you need to worry about. Screens that are robust and well-built have a greater chance of surviving knocks and bumps. Replacing screens is extremely difficult in controllers.
While some controllers are better than others I still suggest you invest in an appropriate flight case for your controller. This will make transporting your controller easier. It will also shield your controller from dust and grime. It will also help protect the screens.
Software Vs Standalone
The other consideration is if the controller offers a standalone mode. Some controllers will restrict you to two-channels when using standalone mode. The included software is also important if you plan on using standalone mode. You’ll need to factor in some time to get familiar with the workflow and information available. Check out the video below featuring Alphatec. He is using the Denon Prime 4 in the standalone mode which will give you an idea of what to expect.
When working in standalone mode you’ll also need to invest more time in preparation. Analyzing and tagging your tracks accordingly will make your time on the decks better. A refined and organized playlist will also help when using a DJ controller with screens. Due to the limited screen size, it will be easier to find your next track if you have a set playlist.
Many DJ controllers with screens also work with standard DJ software. Having this option available to you opens up the best of both worlds. For basic information and tasks, you can keep your focus on your controller. For more detailed settings and changes, you can revert to using your laptop.
A good DJ controller with screens will provide robust options for both. The standalone mode should be easy to use and logical. Meanwhile using DJ software and a laptop should open up more options for you. Tight integration is important.
Things Mobile DJs Need To Consider
Mobile DJs make up a large part of the working DJ group. Not everyone has a comfortable residency at a nightclub. Wedding gigs, college parties, and corporate events are often the main source of income for up and coming DJs. This is where DJ controllers with screens can excel.
DJ controllers with screens are perfect for working DJs that play weddings and similar parties.
It can lead to less gear that you need to bring with you to a gig. You can prepare your tracks beforehand and leave your laptop at home. It is also one less piece of the DJ chain that can fail. There is nothing worse than laptop failure or laptop issues during a gig. Except for maybe annoying guests with strange song requests 😉
If you are a mobile DJ looking at buying a new DJ controller with screens take some time to think about how you work. If you already have heavy speakers to bring along you may want to buy a controller that is lightweight and portable. Also, consider how much you rely on your laptop in your current workflow. If it plays a huge part you may still need to bring it with you to gigs.
Which One Should You Buy?
Buying a controller with screens can be a liberating experience for DJs. With so many DJs tied to their laptop screens, it’s a welcome change to be able to focus on your gear. As parts become cheaper the major DJ gear manufacturers are pushing the limits with what they can offer.
Selecting a favorite is usually difficult but there is one controller that stands head and shoulder above the rest. When you factor in screen size, affordability, connection choices, and features the Denon Prime 4 is our winner. With a large, bright, and vibrant screen, it’s a joy to use.
But, if you prefer the Pioneer ecosystem the Pioneer XDJ RX2 is a compelling alternative. Either way, there are some fantastic options currently available. No matter which one you end up buying you’ll enjoy this new generation of controllers with screens.
Denon Prime 4