DJ Controllers have grown from a small niche industry into a dominating force in DJ culture. From beginners to professional DJs, there is a controller available to suit your needs and setup.
In this detailed guide, we cover all the major categories of DJ controllers. The best one for you will depend on your DJing style. Read on to find out exactly which DJ controller is right for you.
The Best Rated Controllers
Top 10 DJ Controller Reviews
The below is our list of the best-rated DJ controllers currently available in each category. There is a range of excellent options available. So let’s not waste any more time and dive into the details.
Pioneer DDJ-FLX10 Review
Best Pioneer DJ Controller
- Full-Color Jog Wheel Display – Large jog wheels that are ideal for scratching. Plus plenty of detailed information including waveforms displayed for quick reference.
- Gets You Club Ready – Transitioning to club gear is easy due to the near-identical pro DJ layout. Excellent set of decks to practice your routines before using high-end gear.
- Hardware FX & Stems – Inherits hardware FX from the NSX2 mixer. More than enough to add FX to your DJ sets. Plus, Stem control allows further manipulation of individual elements of your music and expands creative potential.
- 16 Performance Pads – Beyond Sound Color and Hardware FX there is also a range of excellent pad modes. Great way to stretch your DJ skills even further.
- Rekordbox Stem Quality – The stem separation algorithm is decent but there can still be noticeable artifacts. Serato DJ stem separation is more refined but hopefully Rekordbox catches up after future updates.
The Pioneer DDJ-FLX10 is a professional 4-channel DJ controller with stacks of features. It offers DJs 5.5-inch jog wheels. The jog wheels also have screens that display waveform and cue data. Other important information is also displayed, like BPM, time remaining, and key.
The professional layout mimics high-end Pioneer gear making it an excellent option for DJs that want to or do use club gear regularly. The 24-bit soundcard also does an excellent job at delivering excellent sound output quality. It also offers support for Serato DJ for DJs that prefer that software platform.
Responsive performance pads add an extra layer of functionality. Set hot cues or explore the various performance features with ease. The excellent sound color and beat FX allow you to express yourself behind the decks. Stems functionality also elevates it beyond other DJ equipment.
If you’re set on a Pioneer DJ controller and want pro-level features, don’t look past the Pioneer DDJ-FLX10.
Read our full Pioneer DDJ-FLX10 review for more detailed information.
Pioneer OPUS-QUAD Review
Best DJ Controller With Screens
- Multiple Screens – The large central screen provides you with ample space to accurately see what you are doing while the smaller supporting screens give you access to all the track information you need.
- Responsive Jog Wheels – For scratch enthusiasts, there is a lot to like here. The jogwheels offer a natural scratching experience and can be adjusted from light to heavy to customize how they feel.
- Unique Design – The bold design is striking, with copper-toned accents and an angular shape unlike anything else on the market. A stylish and innovative controller that oozes class and sophistication.
- Extensive Connectivity – You’ll have access to all the connection options you would ever need in this full standalone 4-channel controller, including the option to connect an SSD drive.
- High Price Point – The price point is very high which will make it difficult to justify for some people. But the build quality is excellent and the feature set is comprehensive.
The Pioneer DJ Opus Quad takes the top spot in the screens category. The functionality this controller offers is perfect for mobile DJs that want a plug-and-play DJ system with all the information at a glance.
The screens are bright and responsive and carve up important information brilliantly. The build quality is robust and dependable, and the design is unique and innovative. With full standalone capability, it is an excellent choice for DJs that want to ditch the laptop.
The extensive range of connection options will also allow you to tackle any potential gig environment. With dual USB, it is also easy to hand over to other DJs or for back-to-back sets. Zone and Booth outputs, along with comprehensive microphone connectivity, seal the deal.
If you want a comprehensive 4-channel DJ controller with amazing screens this is one of the best controllers available.
Read our full Pioneer Opus Quad review for more detailed information.
Pioneer DJ OPUS-QUAD
Denon Prime 4 Review
Best All-In-One DJ Controller
- Amazing Screen – Huge full-color 10-inch screen. Touch capable and very intuitive to use. Excellent for DJs who want to ditch the laptop.
- Excellent Construction – Build quality is high with solid components. Fantastic attention to detail.
- Value For Money – Once you factor in everything this DJ controller offers the price point is very reasonable.
- Can Be Used Standalone – Excellent option for DJs that would prefer to ditch the laptop and controller combo.
- Engine Prime – While continual updates are welcome the included software still lags behind industry heavyweights. Recent Serato support is a welcome addition.
It’s hard to look past the massive 10-inch screen on the Denon Prime 4. A gorgeous and bright screen that is a joy to use offering excellent visual feedback. It’s touch-responsive and adjustable to your preferred viewing angle. With 4 channel deck control available it retains the feel of using professional-level gear. The 24-bit audio interface also delivers clean and solid sound.
It’s also standalone capable, with built-in Prime software and a SATA drive for music storage. Plug and play capability for quick setup at gigs. Plus added dual USB functionality for back to back sets. Considering the size of the screen and that it is packed with features, it’s still much cheaper than other options in the market.
This is the best DJ controller if a built-in screen is at the top of your priority list.
Read our full Denon Prime 4 review for more detailed information.
Denon Prime 4
Pioneer DDJ-FLX4 Review
Best DJ Controller For Beginners
- Excellent Layout – A spacious and logical layout that encourages a smooth workflow. It also follows a similar layout to what you will encounter in more high-end Pioneer club DJ gear.
- Fantastic Price Point – The DDJ-FLX4 is stacked with features and is a comprehensive beginner controller while maintaining an approachable price. Ideal for new DJs that don’t want to spend a lot.
- Fun FX Options – The selection of FX is solid with performance pads, an FX strip with plenty of choices, and new FX features like Smart Fader for smooth transitions between genres and Smart CFX for innovative filter FX.
- Range Of Software – The DDJ-FLX4 unlocks Rekordbox Performance mode and is also compatible with Serato DJ. Maximum flexibility to try out the two biggest DJ software platforms.
- Only RCA Output – Beginner controllers have limited inputs and outputs and the DDJ-FLX4 is no exception. You’ll only have access to one RCA output which limits connectivity.
Getting started in the wonderful world of DJing doesn’t mean you need to spend thousands of dollars. This beginner control from Pioneer is one of the best options for new DJs. It features an aggressive price while still providing you with all the core functionality you’ll need.
Component quality is also excellent for a controller at this price point. The jogwheels are responsive, the knobs are solid and dependable, and the pads and buttons are equally great.
The professional layout is a perfect way to get familiar with club-style Pioneer gear and the range of pad modes and FX features ensure you have plenty of room to experiment.
At an affordable price, it’s one of the best DJ controllers for new DJs or DJs looking for a compact DJ controller.
Read our full Pioneer DDJ-FLX4 review for more detailed information.
Pioneer DDJ REV7 Review
Best DJ Controller For Scratching
- Fantastic Jog Wheels – The large motorized jogwheels are perfect for scratching. Plus they also feature onboard screens with plenty of customization to view the data you want.
- Magvel Fader Pro – Continuing the focus on scratching the REV7 offers a Magvel Fader Pro. This fader is considered among the best and is excellent for scratch DJs.
- Battle Style Layout – Unlike other controllers, the REV7 emulates a classic turntable setup including a battle style mixer. A great stepping stone if you eventually want a vinyl setup.
- Build Tough – Excellent component quality throughout the whole controller. Scratch DJs need a dependable controller and the REV7 is up to the task.
- Learning Curve – If you are coming from a different controller the layout may take some getting used to.
The Pioneer DDJ REV7 is a fantastic DJ controller with a firm emphasis on scratch DJs. The highlight is the large motorized platters that offer an exceptional scratching experience. Having access to onboard screens is also an excellent inclusion.
The layout is also ideal for scratch DJs. You don’t have pads in the way of your decks. Plus you’ll have access to a vast amount of performance pad features. The toggle FX is also fun to use and features a range of effective FX options.
If you want to experience a turntable style layout the Pioneer REV7 is your best choice. When it comes to controllers this is the best option for scratch DJs.
Read our full Pioneer DDJ-REV7 review for more detailed information.
Traktor Kontrol S3 Review
Best Traktor Controller
- Robust Jog wheels – The S3 offers capable platters that you can comfortably scratch with.
- 4 Channel DJ Controller – Access to extra channels is often high on the list when it comes to features DJs want to explore once they learn the basics.
- Connectivity – Extensive range of connectivity choices supporting a variety of speaker systems. Also offers a booth output.
- Loop Controls – Intuitive and crisp loop controls via a dedicated loop control knob.
- Lackluster FX Section – 4 solid dedicated output FX but lacks dedicated deck control FX section. Requires manual control using the DJ software.
The Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S3 is one of the greatest DJ controllers NI has ever made. They have struck the balance between features and price with this controller. It has excellent integration with Traktor Pro 3 DJ software.
It offers access to 4 channels and a full-featured mixer section to cover all the basic controls you need. The long and accurate pitch faders are great for manual beatmatching.
The jog wheels are high quality and durable despite not having the haptic feedback feature of the S4 Mk3. With plenty of connection options, it retains a small footprint making it a great portable controller.
If you are a fan of the Traktor ecosystem you’ll love the Kontrol S3.
Read our full Traktor Kontrol S3 review for more detailed information.
Traktor Kontrol S3
Numark Mixtrack Pro FX Review
Best Budget DJ Controller
- Long Pitch Faders – Small controllers often mean small pitch faders but that isn’t the case here. Full-size faders are great for beatmatching.
- Aggressive Price Point – Numark has a history of offering budget-priced controllers for new DJs. This is another excellent example of a low priced controller with good features.
- Complete Mixer Section – Full EQ section which is often lacking on other entry-level controllers.
- Decent Jogwheels – Despite the low price the jogwheels are solid and made from metal.
- Serato DJ Lite – While it does keep the price down Serato DJ Lite is a stripped-back version. To unlock all the features you need to upgrade from Serato DJ Lite to Serato DJ Pro.
If you are on a tight budget the Numark Mixtrack Pro FX is an excellent entry-level Dj controller for Serato.
It offers new DJs 100mm pitch faders which are not common at this price point. These long pitch faders make it easier to adjust the BPM of a track more precisely. This makes beatmatching by ear easier.
Despite its low price point, the Mixtrack Pro FX features a full 3 band EQ for full control over frequencies. High and Low pass filters are also available along with a suite of FX controls.
Solid metal jogwheels add to a surprising level of quality at this price. The FX paddles and FX selection is another excellent addition to this budget controller.
If you don’t want to spend too much on your first controller the Numark Mixtrack 3 is your best option.
Read our full Numark Mixtrack Pro FX review for more detailed information.
Numark Mixtrack Pro FX
Rane Four Review
Best Serato DJ Controller
- Comprehensive Mixer Section – The central mixer adopts a traditional club-style layout but with FX paddles. It’s comfortable to navigate and offers ample room. FX Paddles are also fun to use, as is the Channel FX.
- Excellent Crossfader – The Mag Four XF fader adds to the scratch DJ mentality of this controller. It is light and smooth, making quick cuts and crabs effortless. It also offers a tension adjustment so you can refine the feel to exactly what you want
- Excellent Serato Stems Integration – Serato Stems opens up more creative mixing options by splitting a song into separate components. Great for on-the-fly mash-ups or for layering elements.
- High Quality – Metal components and excellent finish. A durable choice that can handle the rigors of consistent use.
- No Motorized Platters – Unlike the Rane One the Rane Four doesn’t feature motorized platters. While the scratching experience is still fantastic dedicated scratch DJs will prefer the feel of the Rane One.
The Rane Four merges the traditional four-channel layout with FX paddles for a creative-focused experience that will appeal to both club and scratch DJ enthusiasts. A professional DJ controller with all the bells and whistles.
The seamless integration with Serato Stems is another highlight. Everything is wonderfully mapped so that you have access to the features at your fingertips. The large jogwheels with onboard screens also allow for a comfortable scratching experience while providing you with important information at a glance.
No other DJ controller on the market is as tightly integrated with Serato as the Rane Four. With outstanding build quality and extension input and output options, the Rane Four is among the very best out there.
Read our full Rane Four review for more detailed information.
Reloop Mixon 8 Pro Review
Best iPad DJ Controller
- Full Mixer Section – Contains everything you need to accurately manipulate the tracks you are playing. A step up from other iPad focused controllers.
- Superb iPad Dock – The large dock can support 12.9-inch iPad Pros for maximum screen real estate. The controller also supports USB-C, including Power Delivery.
- Good Quality – The component quality of the faders, knobs, and jog wheels is high. It will last you longer than other cheaper iPad controllers.
- Pro Inputs & Outputs – Access to balanced and unbalanced connections, including a Booth Out. You can also connect turntables with full DVS support.
- Jogwheel Screens – While these are very handy and provide important information they are not as comprehensive and colorful as what you can find on other controllers.
The Reloop Mixon 8 Pro is an outstanding DJ controller for iPad users. The large dock and USB-C support offer seamless integration with Algoriddim djay Pro AI and also Sertao DJ Pro. You can also easily stream music with support for a range of services, including Tidal, SoundCloud, Beatport Link, and Beatsource Link.
The controller itself offers a full EQ section and quality aluminum jogwheels that are of a decent size. A professional layout helps break the cycle of iPad controllers that don’t look like DJ gear. The inclusion of excellent connectivity is a bonus allowing for high-quality sound output via the built-in 24-bit audio interface.
The Reloop Mixon 8 Pro is the best choice for people that want to DJ with an iPad and controller combo.
Reloop Mixon 8
Pioneer XDJ XZ Review
Best 4 Channel DJ Controller
- Club Layout – The Pioneer XDJ XZ manages to replicate the club-standard layout of Pioneer’s high-end gear. Familiar and powerful.
- Central Screen – The 7-inch screen displays critical information including stacked waveforms. An excellent way to avoid having to look at your laptop. Jog wheel screens add to the immersion.
- Robust Build Quality – Solid construction while still maintaining a reasonable weight. Jog wheels and pads are a joy to use and the unit also sounds great.
- Broad Range Of Connections – Full suite of connection options for both outputs and inputs.
- Require Laptop – While you can run the unit standalone you’ll be restricted to just 2 channels. Thankfully with the built-in screen, you can still set your laptop off to the side.
The Pioneer XDJ XZ offers DJs a spacious and professional layout. The mixer section is loaded with advanced features as seen on Pioneer club gear. This makes it the ideal 4 channel controller for pro DJs that want a compact Nexus style set up in their studio. It’s also a great option for DJs that aspire to eventually play in clubs but can’t justify a full-sized club setup at home.
A long list of connection options for both inputs and outputs cements the XDJ XZ as a DJ controller up to any task.
If you are serious about turning DJing into a profession the XDJ XZ is one of the best options out there.
Read our full Pioneer DJ XDJ-XZ review for more detailed information.
Pioneer XDJ XZ
Our Expert Buying Guide
Selecting a DJ controller is a difficult process. There are so many controllers available. Some are more suited to certain types of DJs and the price range varies greatly.
If you are still unsure about what DJ controller to buy we have you covered. Here are some key questions that will help narrow down which DJ equipment is right for you.
How Much Do You Want To Spend?
Before you even begin looking at features you need to set a budget. DJ controllers range from under a hundred dollars into the thousands. Knowing how much you have available to spend instantly narrows your choices. This makes it easier to compare features.
Entry-level controllers don’t offer as many features as more expensive options. But, you can still master the fundamentals of DJing and have a great time. If you are new to DJing these controllers are a perfect starting point that won’t cost a lot.
For established DJs selecting your gear is more complicated. You’ll likely need to set a larger budget to gain access to more features and better hardware. Keep in mind that it is not worth changing your DJ setup if it is a lateral move. If you plan to upgrade you are better off saving more and getting the best possible controller that helps push you to expand your skills.
How Good Is The Mixer Section?
When selecting a DJ controller the mixer section is very important. This is the part of the hardware you’ll spend the most time using.
The controller should have a fleshed-out mixer section. It should offer a 3 band EQ and trim control. This gives you full control over the frequencies and volume of the music you are playing.
A well-rounded and feature-rich mixer section forms the core of a good DJ controller.
A loose crossfader is ideal for scratch enthusiasts. Volume faders should offer a good level of resistance. This helps to comfortably adjust the level of each deck.
Level meters also help keep your mix out of the red. These should be easy to see and provide a clear indication of your levels.
Extra features like filter knobs, browse controls, or FX controls are bonuses that you should also consider. Performance pads that allow you to set hot cues and further manipulate the tracks you are playing are also something to look out for.
If the gear you are looking at is lacking in some of these areas you may not be able to progress your skills beyond basic mixing.
How Many Channels Will You Need?
Another question worth asking is how many channels you need. Much like budget, this will instantly narrow your choices. All DJ controllers are either 2 channel or 4 channel.
If you have the desire to layer multiple tracks at the same time it will be natural to look at 4 deck options But, even professional DJs don’t always use 4 channels so this is purely a personal choice. Just because the gear offers 4 channels doesn’t automatically make it the best option.
If you are a new DJ I suggest sticking to two channels. Once you have mastered that you can look into an upgrade if that is where you want to take your mixes.
What DJ Software Does It Come With?
The software that comes with the controller can also help narrow your choices. If you already have a preferred software platform it can be annoying to have to switch to a new platform.
The two most popular software platforms are Serato DJ and Rekordbox DJ. Traktor DJ Pro 3 and Virtual DJ are other popular pieces of DJ software along with the free and open-source Mixxx DJ software platform.
Unlike professional DJ equipment, most DJ controllers require software and a laptop.
If you are a new DJ the exact platform is not as important. What is worth looking into is whether the DJ controller comes with a full version of the software or just an intro edition. Having to upgrade software is a hidden expense that may not be in your budget. As for what software is the best that is debatable.
The other consideration here is if the controller can operate standalone. This opens up the option of not requiring the use of a laptop with software. This can save space in your DJ setup. If this option is available the quality of the onboard software is very important.
In this situation, it is best to have access to both options. That way you can adapt to your preferred workflow.
What Connection Options Are Available?
Another thing to consider is the connection options the DJ controller offers. DJ setups vary with so many speaker options available. Having the right connection options becomes very important if you have a particular set of speakers in mind.
If you plan on taking yourself beyond the bedroom you’ll want a controller that can handle a variety of connection types. Extra connection options for microphones or external hardware is another consideration.
Various adapters can mitigate connection issues but it’s best to avoid these if possible.
The cheaper the controller the more likely it will be to have limited options. For most beginners, this is not a big concern. You’ll likely just want to plug some speakers in. But, if you are an established DJ or looking to upgrade this a key area to investigate. Having flexibility here is important.
How Good Are The Jogwheels?
The other section to consider is the quality of the jog wheels. For scratch DJs, this will be the most important part of the controller. Latency, platter size, and feel all come into play here. While you’ll never able to get the same feel as vinyl there is a big difference between jog wheels.
While not the same as turntables you can still execute scratch routines on a controller.
Touch-sensitive jog wheels are ideal. Usually, more expensive DJ controllers will have better jog wheels. Keep this in mind when setting a budget.
For DJs that don’t scratch the platters are less important. You’ll likely only be using them to nudge your tracks or for skimming.
Who Makes The Best DJ Controllers?
There are a few key brands that produce the best DJ controllers. Pioneer DJ is the most well-known since they also dominate the club scene. Denon is another excellent brand with great controllers. Numark and Native Instruments also have a long history of making excellent DJ gear.
Which One Should You Buy?
There is no single best DJ controller. The needs of DJs are wide and varied. One controller will be perfect for one DJ while not ideal for another.
But, if I were forced to select one DJ controller that impresses me the most, it would have to be the Pioneer DDJ-FLX10. The combination of large jog wheels and the familiarity with the Pioneer club-standard gear set it apart from the rest. And all of that at a reasonable price.
But, all the controllers in this list are quality controllers that meet a specific need. No matter which controller you end up selecting you’re in for a lot of fun!
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