Serato is a name that is synonymous with DJing. Launching in 1999 they helped revolutionize the industry. They continue to release innovative software for musicians and DJs. With the launch of Serato DJ Pro in 2013, there has been a range of controllers designed for their flagship software. In this guide, we break down the best Serato DJ controllers currently available.
Pioneer DDJ 1000SRT
An outstanding Serato controller with full-size jogwheels. It also offers a club standard layout and lots of connection options.
Another excellent Serato DJ controller with motorized jog wheels. Also offers solid integration with Serato FX.
Detailed Review Of The Equipment
There are plenty of choices when it comes to Serato compatible controllers. From budget options to the top-of-the-line club-ready gear. Let’s check out the range of options to choose from.
Pioneer DDJ 1000SRT Review
The Best Serato DJ Controller
- Full-Size Jogwheels – The first thing you’ll notice is the full-size 8-inch aluminum jogwheels. They are responsive and accurate. LCD screens display critical information so you spend less time looking at your laptop.
- Club Standard Layout – If you’re looking to replicate the club environment you can’t get anything better than the 1000SRT. It’s perfect for new DJs to prepare for club gear. Also great for established DJs that don’t want to spend the money for a full club layout for their home studio.
- Good Connection Options – Full suite of connection options to handle a variety of setup preferences. 2 microphone options also make this controller useful for mobile DJs. Dual USB ports are also handy for DJ changeovers or back to back sessions.
- Improved Crossfader – The updated Magvel crossfader can withstand the most aggressive of cuts to the finest of crab scratches.
- Less Info On Screens – Less information displayed on the LCD screens compared to the DDJ 1000. The main omissions are the lack of colored waveform or cue info.
The long-awaited Serato version of the popular Pioneer DDJ 1000. This controller takes all the excellent features of the 1000 and integrates it with Serato DJ Pro. While it lacks direct control over Serato FX the built-in Pioneer FX works great.
For any serious DJ, the Pioneer 1000SRT is the ideal controller to use to practice your sets thanks to the club-level layout. While it is expensive you do get a lot of value.
Read our full Pioneer DDJ 1000SRT review for more detailed information.
Pioneer DDJ 1000SRT
Rane One Review
Excellent Serato Controller For Scratch DJs
- Outstanding Jog Wheels – The Rane One offers motorized jog wheels that replicate the feel of vinyl. The large size also makes it excellent for scratching.
- Tank Like Construction – Legendary Rane quality shines through with robust and durable construction. Component quality is very high and designed to last.
- Good FX Integration – FX paddles and quick select from Serato FX bank give you plenty of flexibility to incorporate FX into your mixes.
- Flexible Connection Options – A suite of pro-level connection options that can tackle most situations. Coupled with excellent sound quality the Rane One is gig-ready.
- Some Fiddly Switches – Ultra tiny plastic switches for the microphone on/off controls are a little awkward, especially if you have large hands or work in a dark environment.
Rane has entered into the controller space with an epic entrance. The Rane One is an excellent controller that mimics the feel of mixing using turntables. It offers a refined design that keeps you focused on your mix. Clean integration with Serato is also evident with good FX implementation. The Pad modes also integrate smoothly with Serato for further flexibility.
For scratch DJs that want a Serato controller, the Rane One is a stand-out choice and one of the best Serato controllers currently available.
Read our full Rane One review for more detailed information.
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Pioneer DDJ SR2 Review
High Quality 2 Channel Serato Controller
- Large Performance Pads – 8 backlit performance pads that handle a range of performance features. Easy to use and access. This makes it easy to add FX or cue juggle.
- Plenty of Connection Options – Pioneer offers up a solid selection of connection options. This an excellent choice for mobile DJs that need flexibility in this department.
- Affordable Option – The DDJ SR2 offers many professional-grade features at a reasonable price. While not a budget controller by any stretch of the imagination it offers a lot of value.
- Touchstrips – You can skim through tracks with the touchstrips. While not an essential feature it’s a nice inclusion to help speed up the process of scrubbing through a track.
- Good Size – At 3.7kg it’s a good choice for the mobile DJ that doesn’t want to lug around heavy equipment. A small form factor leaves you with plenty of room for your laptop or other hardware.
- Short Pitch Faders – For a controller aimed at the middle tier of DJs the short pitch faders are an odd choice. I would have liked to see full-size faders.
The Pioneer DDJ SR2 has been around for half a decade but still stands up as a capable controller. It also offers performance flexibility with the various pad modes. Mobile DJs are well looked after with a range of connection options to handle a variety of venues and setups.
Even after all this time, it’s still one of the best 2 channel DJ controllers for Serato in the market.
Read our full Pioneer DDJ SR2 review for more detailed information.
Pioneer DDJ SR2
Pioneer XDJ XZ Review
Premium 4 Channel Pioneer Controller
- Central Screen – The XDJ XZ features a 7-inch full-color screen. Scroll through your library, load tracks, and keep an eye on your mix with stacked waveforms.
- Club Layout – The layout is directly inspired by the line of Pioneer club-level gear. Controls are in familiar locations making it a great choice for the aspiring or working pro DJ.
- Hi-Res Jogwheel Display – Color LCD screens sit in the middle of the full-size jogwheels. Key information like BPM and track position helps you keep your eyes on the controller and not on your laptop.
- Good Build Quality – A solid controller that features premium materials. From the jog wheels to the crossfader the component quality is high.
- 2 Channel In Standalone Mode – While the XDJ XZ is an excellent 4 channel controller you’ll only have access to the full 4 channels when it is plugged into a laptop.
Pioneer has a dominant hold on the club scene. This is the main reason why the XDJ XZ is an appealing 4 channel option for DJs. While originally a Rekordbox only controller it now supports Serato. This is an excellent choice if you want to work in clubs or want a set of decks at home to practice on. With the high build quality and an expansive mixer section, you can easily translate your skills from this unit to the club level. The only drawback is the requirement for a laptop connection to unlock all 4-channels.
Despite the limited channel capability, it’s still one of the best 4 channel controllers available today.
Read our full Pioneer XDJ XZ review for more detailed information.
Pioneer XDJ XZ
Denon Prime 4 Review
Feature-Packed Option With Screen
- Excellent Screen – The stand out feature is the excellent screen. Bright and vibrant with intuitive and snappy touch controls. Adjustable viewing angle is another huge benefit over what competitors offer.
- 4 Channel Mixing – Access to 4 decks in standalone mode is another feature that is not common among DJ gear with screens.
- Performance Ready – Standalone capable and providing an extensive range of connection options. The addition of a zone output tips it over the edge and makes it the perfect mobile DJ rig.
- Good Value – The price point is excellent. When you factor in the features you get it’s hard to fault. The unit also unlocks Serato DJ Pro further adding to the value proposition.
- Jog Wheels Could Be Bigger – For a unit this size and price the jog wheels could have been a little larger and more responsive.
This Denon Prime 4 was initially released with compatibility for just the Prime Music Management software. While a decent piece of software it does still ag behind the other major players in the game. This did make it difficult to recommend to existing DJs familiar with Serato or Rekordbox. With the addition of Serato DJ Pro support, there is very little holding this controller back.
An excellent choice for Serato DJ fans that want to experience the Denon Prime experience.
Read our full Denon Prime 4 review for more detailed information.
Denon Prime 4
Pioneer DDJ SB3 Review
Compact Serato Controller For Beginners
- Logical Layout – The SB3 is part of the line of Pioneer entry-level controllers that helps new DJs transition into club-standard gear. It also makes it a convenient and compact controller for pro DJs to practice on.
- Good Serato Integration – Getting up and running is easy with this controller. The plug-and-play experience is seamless so you don’t have to worry about mapping the controller to the software.
- Access To 4 Decks – While it can be a little clunky the SB3 does allow access to 4 decks. This can help new DJs expand their skills.
- Affordable – Feature-packed and yet very affordable. Having a brand like Pioneer team up with industry-standard software gives new DJs an easy path into the world of DJing.
- Intro Software – As is the case with many entry-level controllers the software is a stripped-back version. You’ll still be able to access the core features. Extra features like set recording and performance features are only accessible by upgrading to Pro.
The Pioneer DDJ SB3 is a DJ controller for Serato. And it’s one of the best entry-level controllers available. This controller has the new DJ in mind with features like FX fade to help achieve smooth transitions. Extremely lightweight at 2.1kg also opens it up as the ideal compact controller for working DJs.
If you’re new to DJing and don’t want to break the bank the SB3 is an excellent Serato controller to get started with.
Read our full Pioneer DDJ SB3 review for more detailed information.
Pioneer DDJ SB3
Roland DJ 505 Review
Great Serato Controller For Producers
- Built-In Drum Machine – The creative options are endless with the addition of a drum sequencer. This allows you to program your beats to incorporate into your DJ sets.
- Low-Latency Jogwheels – Responsive and comfortable jogwheels. They’re a good size as well which makes scratching feel natural.
- Good FX Integration – Serato FX is easily accessible with the dedicated FX controls. This further opens the options up for creative mixing.
- Solid Construction – While not as solid as more expensive controllers it’s still well built. Plastic is the dominant material but it can take some punishment.
- Not The Most Attractive – The drum-machine functionality is amazing. But, it has resulted in a rather odd-looking controller.
One of the more unique options for Serato DJ Pro is the Roland DJ 505. It’s the only controller that blurs the line between producing and DJing. It has access to the legendary range of TR-S drum machines. You can layer your beats, then scratch using the high-quality jogwheels to deliver unique performances. Taking it a step further you can use this controller as the hub for other external MIDI gear like a synth.
For performance-oriented DJs, this is a strong contender for the best Serato DJ Pro controller.
Read our full Roland DJ 505 review for more detailed information.
Roland DJ 505
Numark Mixtrack Platinum FX Review
Beginner Friendly Serato Controller
- On-Board Display – LCD screens sit on the jogwheels giving you access to important information. Current BPM, track time remaining and needle position help keep you prepared for your next mix.
- Long Pitch Faders – The long pitch faders are ideal for manual beatmatching. In combination with the screens, you can ignore the sync function and master the fundamental skill of beatmatching.
- Built-In Soundcard – Includes a 24-bit audio interface. This allows you to not have to worry about compatibility or drivers.
- FX Paddles – Clean FX integration with dedicated buttons for quick FX activation. Toggles work well and are very fun to use.
- Only One Output Option – With one RCA output option you’re restricted to the types of speakers you can connect to the controller.
The Mixtrack Platinum FX offers new DJs a feature-packed Serato controller. It’s a controller that helps beginner DJs get to grips with the basics but still offers room for growth. Long pitch faders and displays give you the tools to master beatmatching. Plenty of fun and intuitive FX options round out this cheap DJ controller.
If your budget is slim this is a controller worth considering.
Read our full Numark Mixtrack Platinum FX review for more detailed information.
Numark Mixtrack Platinum FX
Hercules DJControl Inpulse 500 Review
Affordable Serato Controller For New DJs
- Beatmatching Assist – Visual reference guides to assist with matching the tempo of the two channels. Both underneath the jog wheels as well as on the pitch faders. Excellent learning tool for new DJs.
- Capable Connections – Despite the entry-level price the Inpulse 500 offers an impressive range of connection options. Great addition as you progress from beginner to working DJ.
- Added Elevation – Built-in feet to help elevate the controller to a more standard standalone player height. Perfect for proper ergonomics and allows you to slide your laptop underneath.
- Excellent Value – The low price would lead most to believe the unit is of poor quality. But, that isn’t the case here. The unit feels robust enough for a plastic controller and offers features rarely seen at this price point.
- Intro Software – The unit only comes with DJuced and Serato DJ Lite. To unlock the full feature set in Serato you’ll need to factor in the upgrade cost to Serato DJ Pro.
The Hercules DJControl Inpulse 500 offers exceptional value for new DJs. A suite of excellent features helps take you from a beginner bedroom DJ to a working mobile DJ. Normally stepping up in your career involves having to invest in some new hardware but this controller bridges the gap wonderfully. Clean execution and a more mature design lift the Hercules brand beyond the ‘toy’ DJ controller space.
A great choice for new DJs that are wary of having to upgrade equipment to perform gigs.
Hercules DJControl Inpulse 500
Pioneer DDJ FLX6 Review
Solid Mid-Tier Serato DJ Controller
- Large Jog Wheels – The FLX6 offers DJs large and capable jog wheels that are very capable of handling scratch routines. The added needle position marker adds an extra layer of visual feedback.
- 4 Channels – Access to 4 channels at this price point is unusual from Pioneer. A good upgrade target if you are moving from traditional 2 channel entry-level controllers.
- Unique FX Implementation – New Merge FX allows you to activate preset transition FX. A nice tool to have up your sleeve when faced with a difficult transition. Can be customized so you can develop your own presets that suit you style.
- Pioneer Layout – The familiar Pioneer club-style layout is evident on this controller. A seamless step up from Pioneer beginner gear and also a good introduction to club level gear.
- Jog Cutter – The Jog Cutter feature is a little gimmicky and difficult to utilize. It often sounds a bit off and not really that useful for most DJs.
The Pioneer DDJ FLX6 is a slight departure from Pioneer’s usual approach to gear. The addition of new Merge FX features aims to assist DJs but most DJs will find that these can get a bit repetitive. Great in a pinch but should not be used as a crutch. Beyond that, the rest of the controller gives you access to a wealth of features. Dual compatibility with both Serato and Rekordbox also offers you full flexibility to try both pieces of software out.
A great intermediate controller if you don’t want to spend more money on Pioneer’s top-of-the-line offerings.
Pioneer DDJ FLX6
Numark Mixtrack Pro FX Review
Ultra-Affordable Serato Controller
- Good Value – The Mixtrack Pro FX is one of the cheapest entry-level controllers on the market. While cheap it still offers all the core features you need to control Serato.
- Long Pitch Faders – Like all Numark controllers there is an emphasis on long pitch faders. Making fine adjustments to BPM is much easier on these faders compared to other controllers.
- Built-In Audio Interface – The Mixtrack Pro FX has a 24-bit integrated audio interface. You won’t need to worry about compatibility making it plug and play friendly.
- Full EQ – Unlike other cheap controllers, the Pro FX gives you access to a full 3 band EQ and filter. When you factor in the FX paddles it completes a capable mixer section for new DJs.
- Intro Software – To keep the price low the controller only comes with Serato DJ Lite. If you want access to all the features you’ll need to factor in the upgrade cost.
The Numark Mixtrack Pro FX is a perfect example of how technology has made DJing more accessible. A budget-priced controller that still contains everything you need to learn the art of DJing. This controller makes it easy to get started with the included software and a built-in audio interface.
With a solid feature set and fun FX controls, it’s a cheap Serato controller worth considering.
Read our full Numark Mixtrack Pro FX review for more detailed information.
Numark Mixtrack Pro FX
Roland DJ 202 Review
Budget Serato Controller With MIDI
- Built-In Drum Machine – Much like the Roland DJ 505 you have access to an onboard drum machine. This allows you to create drum patterns. You can integrate these with your DJ set to deliver unique performances.
- 4 Channels – You can access up to 4 decks via a button next to each jogwheel. This highlights the creative and performance emphasis of the controller. You can layer acapellas, tracks, and samples.
- MIDI Input – The addition of a MIDI port on a controller at this price level is a stand out feature. This allows you to plug in an external MIDI device like a synth keyboard. Add a melody over your drum pattern while still having the option of mixing tracks.
- Good Jogwheels – The jogwheels are responsive and offer low-latency. While not huge they are larger than the jogwheels you’ll find in other controllers of this size and price bracket.
- Drum-Machine Integration – The 202 features a condensed drum-machine section. This can make it fiddly to control as you’ll need to execute a series of button presses to get to certain features. Not a deal-breaker but not as natural feeling as the 505.
The entry-level option from Roland packages up the excellent feature set of the 505 into a smaller controller. It’s also the only controller at this price point that offers MIDI connectivity. If the 505 is out of your price range it’s a good alternative. While the integration of the drum machine is a little awkward it’s still a solid Serato controller.
Read our full Roland DJ 202 review for more detailed information.
Roland DJ 202
Our Expert Buying Guide
There are a few key considerations to factor in when you’re looking to buy DJ controllers with Serato. In this guide, we cover the top 3 elements you need to be aware of.
Serato DJ Lite vs Serato DJ Pro Features
The first thing to consider is what level of software comes with the controller.
Serato DJ Lite is free-to-use DJ software that is often bundled with entry-level controllers. This stripped-back version still retains all the core features new DJs need to start DJing. You’ll be able to crossfade, beatmatch, and adjust EQ to create mixes. You’ll also be able to set cue points and loops. You can also use Serato DJ Lite in practice mode without a controller. While I have developed mixes on a laptop nothing compares to the tactile experience that a controller offers you.
Serato DJ Pro as the name implies is a professional piece of DJ software. It’s available as a monthly subscription or via a one-off purchase. Many controllers will come with the full version of the software. It’s worth factoring this in when you’re comparing prices between controllers.
Serato DJ Pro opens up all the tools you’ll need for both home use and for gigs.
Serato DJ Pro opens up the full range of 46 built-in FX. It also provides further track analysis to give you more detailed information like the Key of the song. A sampler also opens up to give you more creative options when mixing. But, by far the biggest upgrade is the ability to record your mixes. This becomes even more important for new DJs. You want to be able to record and playback your mixes. Not only for your enjoyment but to also analyze and critique your mixes.
Serato DJ Lite is capable. When you do get the opportunity you’ll want to upgrade to the Pro version.
2 vs 4 Channel
The other thing to consider is what type of DJ you are and if you’ll need 4 channels. When I began my DJ journey I had a cheap 2 channel controller. This allowed me to grasp and master the fundamentals.
As my skills evolved I moved on to a 4 channel controller. While I did use 4 channels it wasn’t as big of a game-changer as I imagined. The style of mixes I was creating at the time didn’t need access to 4 channels. I’ve since embraced 4 channel controllers and the creative options it opens up but they’re not for everyone.
Keep this in mind when selecting a controller. If you are a new DJ stick to a 2 channel option. Not only will it be cheaper it will be easier to learn on. Then once you have a better understanding of the type of DJ you are you can explore different options.
If you find 2 channels is enough you can then get a 2 channel controller stacked with features. Without paying the extra for a 4 channel version. If you want to get more creative with how many tracks you play you can look at a 4 channel controller.
Knowing what type of DJ you are can help guide your buying decisions to take your DJing journey to the next level.
One of the deciding differences between various Serato controllers is the way that they handle FX. Having access to a good set of knobs to control the wet/dry mix makes using DJ effects much easier. Also having access to activate and layer several FX at the same time opens up your creative choices even further.
If adding FX is a critical part of your DJ experience it’s worth paying extra close attention to this section of the controller. Some Serato controllers handle this better than others.
The Future Of DJ Software
For a long time, the only real alternative was Traktor but that did limit you to the Native Instruments ecosystem of controllers. But, Native Instruments does make some fantastic controllers. You can check out our best Traktor controller review if you are interested in exploring their range of controllers.
Virtual DJ is another popular piece of software but it was often not what you would encounter in clubs.
DJ software is an evolving space. For a long time, Serato had a firm grip on the marketplace. As a result, all the major DJ gear manufacturers were creating Serato DJ equipment. At the very least, it was easy to find mappings so that other controllers would also work with Serato.
With the release of the rekordbox DJ from Pioneer and associated Pioneer DJ equipment, the game changed and many thought the days of Serato dominance may be coming to a close. But, the continued popularity and excellent feature set that Serato offers has kept it as one of the most popular DJ software platforms. Check out this launch video for the Pioneer DDJ 1000SRT featuring a mix from J. Espinosa showcasing what you can do with a quality controller running Serato DJ Pro.
The growing interest in portable DJing has led to a rise in apps that allow DJs to use their smartphones or tablets as an alternative to a laptop. While Serato has dipped their toes in the water their strengths lay in the classic laptop environment. The growth of these apps could lead to a shift in taste. But, even then you won’t see the juggernaut that is Serato disappearing from both club and home environments anytime soon.
Which One Should You Buy?
The landscape of controllers available for Serato is broad. All levels of DJs can dive in and experience one of the world’s best pieces of DJ software. And it’s all backed by outstanding Serato DJ hardware. When determining the best it can be difficult as every DJ has different needs and different budget levels.
Once you take price out of the equation the Pioneer DDJ 1000SRT is the best controller for Serato. Pro-level gear that is capable of handling any situation. While it is an expensive piece of DJ gear you do get what you pay for. A controller built to last and at the top of professional-level Serato DJ controllers.
Pioneer DDJ 1000SRT