Are you looking for DJ Controller for 2023? Are you also one of the wannabes a DJ? Well without a controller you cannot do much. The controller is the bridge between your amazing playlists of songs and the people who will hear your sick mixes of these songs. But how to start when you don’t have a controller? And because you are starting, maybe you are also struggling with a question, which one to choose? I was lost when I was starting, and because of my many DJ friends I found the answers, so let’s give you the answers and help you guide into the world of DJ Controllers for 2023.
In this article, we will dive into the questions of what to consider before buying a DJ Controller and also we will provide you with a list of the hottest DJ Controller in 2023. Let’s mix in.
Also if you didn’t check my previous article, make sure you will as I am giving tips, tricks, and recommendations for the Starter kits for aspiring DJs. The Top 10 Must-Have DJ Equipment Starter Kits for Beginners in 2023.
Understanding DJ Controller
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of choosing a DJ controller, let’s first discuss why you need one. A DJ controller is a device that allows you to control your music using software on your computer or laptop, but you can also have it stand-alone. It typically consists of a mixer, jog wheels, faders, and buttons that give you precise control over your music.
If you’re serious about becoming a DJ, a controller is essential. It provides you with more control over your music than a standard DJ setup. With a controller, you can cue up tracks, adjust the tempo, mix tracks, add effects, and more. It also allows you to be more creative with your music, giving you the freedom to experiment with different sounds and styles.
Factors to consider when buying DJ Controller
Before you buy your first controller, there are a few things to consider, from the budget to the number of channels. Let’s speak about the things to consider so you will choose the perfect controller for you.
The budget is one of the first considerations. If you are starting off, you don’t want to spend $5000 for the controller, well maybe yes, but to be real. The prices of controllers can be from $100-300 cheapest to up to hundreds or thousands of dollars. And as the price is one of the first to consider, sometimes is better to save up and buy something better than the cheapest choice, but it all depends also on what you are expecting and what you need, let’s move on to other things to consider, so your decision will be the right one.
One crucial factor to consider when buying a DJ controller is its software compatibility. The controller’s software compatibility determines the software you can use to DJ, and it’s essential to make sure that the controller you choose is compatible with the software you prefer. Most controllers work with software such as Rekordbox, Serato, Traktor, and Virtual DJ, so you’ll want to do your research and make sure that the controller you choose is compatible with the software you plan to use. Keep in mind that some controllers come bundled with software, so you may want to consider purchasing a controller with software included if you’re just starting out.
Another thing to consider is the operating system you’re using on your computer. Some controllers work only with specific operating systems, such as Mac or Windows, so you’ll want to ensure that the controller you choose is compatible with your computer’s operating system.
For example, Serato is one of the favorites to start with, I would recommend Rekordbox, as it is one of the favorites by many professionals and it will also give you easier preparations of your song for CDJs, which are the most common and most use controllers in venues. And if you are planning to be a successful DJ you need to have the music ready for CDjs.
Number of channels
Another critical factor to consider before purchasing a controller is the number of channels. A channel is an audio pathway that enables you to play and control different audio sources simultaneously. Most controllers come with either two or four channels, and choosing the right number of channels for your needs is essential. If you plan to mix multiple songs together, you’ll want to go for a four-channel controller. It will allow you to mix and manipulate more audio sources and create more complex mixes. However, if you’re just starting out, a two-channel controller may be more than enough, and it’ll give you plenty of room to experiment with your mixes.
Keep it simple, if you want to mix just 2 songs together, go with 2 channels, if you are planning to mix 3-4 songs together or more sounds at once, go with 4 channels. Having additional channels can help you mix and manipulate different audio sources separately and create more dynamic and engaging sets. Keep in mind that upgrading to a four-channel controller in the future may be necessary as you grow and evolve as a DJ. By considering the number of channels you need, you can ensure that your controller meets your current and future needs as a DJ.
Skrillex is a famous dubstep and EDM producer who uses a 2-channel controller or on the other hand, Dj Tiesto is using a 4-channel controller. If you are more into scratching, a legendary DJ Qbert uses a 2-channel controller.
Size and portability
Another thing to consider is size and portability. If you are planning to bring your controller to parties and events, you would probably need something lightweight and small. But if you are planning to build your home studio and live stream on Twitch, maybe something bigger and robust could be on the shopping list. Or if you planning both, the middle way can be the solution.
The build quality determines how durable and reliable the controller is, and it’s essential to choose a controller that can withstand the rigors of live performances and regular use. You’ll want to look for a controller that’s made of high-quality materials, such as aluminum or high-density plastic, that can withstand wear and tear. Additionally, pay attention to the quality of the buttons, knobs, and faders. You want to make sure they feel solid and responsive and won’t break or wear out easily. If you cannot try out the controller or don’t have the option to get in touch with some models for example in the store then check reviews and see what other people say about different models and their quality.
When it comes to buying a DJ controller, features are super important to consider. It might seem overwhelming at first, but don’t worry – just think about what kind of DJing you want to do and go from there. Starting with something is key. Maybe test out some DJ Controllers, or take lessons from other DJs. Or you can also watch videos on the DJ controllers feature. This can help you figure out which features you want to have and use in a controller.
Jog wheels are the primary way you’ll interact with your music, so you want them to be responsive and accurate. You’ll want to think about the number and quality of the pads. Pads are used for triggering samples, loops, and effects, so you’ll want enough pads to cover all the features you use regularly. And from my experience, something it can create a big issue on the live performance is when the pads are not responsive exactly in the time you pressed them, sometimes I had to press them a millisecond before the beat to make it perfect, but this is all the school of life. In the end, it doesn’t matter what gear you using, but how you use it. So based on my experience, you’ll also want to make sure the pads are sensitive and responsive, so you can easily trigger them in the heat of a performance.
Is really important to know what inputs and outputs will your new controller have, so you know what type of cables you will need to connect different speakers, or if you will need 1/4 inch for your headphones, or if the small 3.5mm will be enough. Also, check if you will have input for the microphone because on many events you will need a microphone to announce something, so it’s great to have this input, also if it’s 1/4 inch or XLR, so you can buy the corresponding cable for it. You also want to consider the number and type of outputs, including options for connecting speakers, headphones, and recording devices.
Another thing to think about when it comes to connectivity is compatibility with your software and computer. Make sure that the controller you choose is compatible with the software you plan to use. And also that it works well with your operating system.
Before you drop some serious cash on a DJ controller, let’s consider what we learned. First off, consider your budget. You don’t want to break the bank on your first controller, but you also don’t want to go too cheap. It’s better to save up and buy something better than the cheapest option. Because when you go for the cheapest option, you might start missing some features or things that you would need.
Consider the software compatibility. Rekordbox is a great choice for beginners or advanced. Additionally, it will help you prepare your songs for CDJs, which are the most common controllers in venues. If you want to get fancy and mix three or four songs at once, go with a four-channel controller. But remember, upgrading to a four-channel controller in the future may be necessary as you grow and evolve as a DJ. And hey, don’t get too overwhelmed by all the features. Start with something, practice, and perform more, and you’ll figure out which features you use most and what you need in a controller.
The Best Controllers of 2023 on the Market
Pioneer DJ DDJ-1000 – The Best Overall DJ Controller for 2023
Roland DJ-202 – Budget-friendly
Denon DJ Prime 4 – The best standalone DJ Controller for 2023
Pioneer DJ XDJ-RX3 – Great Stand Alone 2 Channel DJ Controller for 2023
Pioneer DJ DDJ-400 – The best for beginners
Pioneer DJ DDJ-FLX6
Pioneer DJ DDJ-REV1 – The best for scratching
Numark Mixstream Pro – The cheapest stand-alone DJ Controller for 2023
Traktor Kontrol S2 MK3
Numark DJ2GO2 – The best to GO DJ controller for 2023
Pioneer DJ DJJ-200
About the author:
My pursuit of artistic perfection extends beyond the stage and into the world of film. Represented by agent Jill Kabush at Dorothy S. Management, I am actively seeking opportunities to make my mark in the industry. Though my creative interests are diverse - including DJing and illustrating - my primary passion lies in acting. I received rigorous training at the Vancouver Academy of Dramatic Arts and have since performed in prestigious theaters such as Theater Around The Corner, Moravian Theater Olomouc, Theater DiGoknu, and Mlada Scena II. Through unwavering dedication and hard work, I continue to hone my craft and push myself to new heights in pursuit of artistic excellence.