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Best DJ Controllers 2017

Friday, 21 April 2017 12:23:48 Europe/London

Best DJ Controllers 2017

Welcome to The DJ Shop’s Best DJ controller list for 2017. We have ensured there are controllers to suit all abilities, including beginner DJs, aspiring DJs and those more established DJs. We have categorised the controllers into brands, starting with the industry led Pioneer DJ, following with Native Instruments, Denon DJ and Numark.  Within each brand category, you will find useful facts and information which will explain why we have selected these controllers, and why they are worthy of making the list!

Top DJ Controllers Pioneer DJ

Pioneer DJ is the industry leading brand for controllers and the like.  You will find the CDJ-2000NXS2 professional multiplayer in many clubs as their standard setup, and top DJ’s will use the DJ kit as their Rider.  Not only that, the majority of Pioneer equipment uses the Rekordbox DJ software platform.  This ensures that playlists and sets can be fully prepared and planned from the comfort of your home, and transported to the venue effortlessly, without any interruptions.

We have selected four, very competitive controllers to suit all budgets, that are high quality, and include all the top features that you’d expect from the Pioneer brand.


Pioneer DDJ-RB 2-channel Rekordbox DJ Controller

The DDJ-RB is the most suitable controller for beginner DJs.  It is robust and lightweight (2.1kg making it ideal for easy transportation), and it includes top features such as, two jog wheels, VU meter, eight performance pads (four on each side), mixer knobs, faders, play, cue and loop buttons that reflect the soon to be familiar Rekordbox DJ layout.  The RB is USB bus-powered and comes complete with the Rekordbox DJ software guaranteeing use straight from the box when connected to a laptop/PC.

The controller features two channels which can control up to 2 decks and boasts two durable 128mm aluminium touch sensitive jog wheels.  The effects include eight hot cues, pad FX, slicer, a sixteen slot by four bank Sampler, High/Low Pass filter, manual loop, beat jump and sequence call, all of which can be accessed via the performance pads, knobs and buttons found on the face of the chassis.

Even though it is the baby of the Rekordbox DJ controller family it still has a fantastic 24 bit/44.1 kHz soundcard, produces a frequency range of 20-20,000 Hz, has a 103dB signal-to-noise ratio and <0.005% (USB) distortion rate.

Finally, the unit contains one mic input (¼-inch Jack), one USB B port, one master (RCA) output, and one headphone monitor (Mini-jack) output.

DDJ-RB Video

Pioneer DDJ-RR 2-channel Rekordbox DJ Controller

The DDJ-RR is a step up from the DDJ-RB.  The controller retains the same build quality and durability; however numerous features have been enhanced and there are a couple of new additional features. 

Let’s now discuss the added functions first to highlight where the extra money has been spent.  One of the main new additions to the DJ controller is that it is DVS ready (Rekordbox DVS software is required).  DVS stands for Digital Vinyl System, basically used for scratching; it bridges the gap between analogue and digital. 

The other new features include, release FX (including back spin, echo and vinyl break), sequencer, sequence load, auto beat loop, slip mode, needle search, fader start, crossfader curve adjust, two phono/line (RCA) inputs, one extra master (XLR, RCA) output, one extra headphone monitor (¼-inch Jack, mini-Jack) output and finally an added booth (¼-inch TRS Jack) output.

The RR’s enhanced features are worth noting too. The controller consists of two channels, which can control up to four decks as opposed to two, the two jog wheels have increased in size now measuring 132.5mm.  The appearance of them has also changed as they now feature an aluminium top plate inherited from the flagship controller range. Additionally, each of them has an on-jog display, which lights up, usefully indicating the status of each deck and reactive scratching at a glance.

The unit is a little larger thus making it a little heavier than the RB, at 3.7kg, but in no way does this make it bulky or too heavy to handle!  The soundcard and frequency remain the same as the DDJ-RB with the signal-to-noise ratio increasing to 105dB and the distortion reduced to an impressive <0.003% (USB).  Finally, the DDJ-RR comes complete with Rekordbox software, making it useable straight from purchase.

DDJ-RR Video

Pioneer DDJ-RX 4-channel Rekordbox DJ Controller

Right, where do I start with this fully loaded DJ controller?  This was one of the first controllers to be designed solely with Rekordbox DJ use in mind.  It precisely resembles the software so that ease of use and creativity is at the forefront.  The DDJ-RX is most suited to those who are familiar with the Rekordbox layout and setup and have some experience under their belt.

The controller has many features packed into a very well thought out layout.  The RX has four channels which can control up to four decks, two 132.5mm sized aluminium plated jog wheels with an on-jog display, sixteen multi-coloured performance pads, Advance FX, Slip mode, faders, mixer knobs, play and cue buttons, and needle search.

The effects of the DDJ-RX know no bounds.  It features Pad FX, Low/High Pass filter, Colour FX (including Noise, Pitch, Filter and Crush), Release FX (including Echo, Vinyl break and Back Spin), eight hot cues, Sequencer, Beat Jump, Manual Loop, Auto Beat Loop, Slip mode, EQ isolator, Talkover function, sixteen slot by four bank sampler and three knob by three button FX parameters.  Additionally, the unit has both Fader Start and Crossfader Curve Adjust.

The unit is generously sized and weighs in at 5.8kg.  The inbuilt soundcard and frequency range are the same as the DDJ-RB and RR, the distortion is the same as the DDJ-RR, and the Signal-to-Noise ratio now stands at 107dB.

The controller contains one USB B port, two CD (RCA) inputs, two Phono/Line (RCA) inputs, and 2 mic (XLR/ ¼-inch Jack combo, ¼-inch Jack) inputs.  The outputs consist of two headphone monitor (¼-inch Jack, mini-Jack), two master (XLR, RCA) and one booth (¼-inch Jack).

DDJ-RX and DDJ-RZ Video

Pioneer DDJ-RZ 4-channel Rekordbox DJ Controller

The DDJ-RZ is the daddy of all Pioneer controllers.  This flagship controller provides you with everything the RX has to offer and more.  The highlights of the RZ is the P-Lock fader cap, magnetic crossfaders, auto standby feature, 202mm full sized aluminium jog wheels (with illuminated cue point markers and precise countdown), Feeling Adjust, Colour FX (including pitch, filter, jet and space), oscillator sampler to overlay four pre-set sounds (noise, horn, siren and sine), 4 CD/Line (RCA) inputs, and an extra USB B port.

Not only do you get the Rekordbox DJ software with this controller, but you also get the Rekordbox DVS software.  The soundcard and frequency remain the same as the RX with the signal-to-noise ratio now being 111dB and the distortion reduced to <0.002% (USB), all designed to provide crystal clear, club quality sound!

This controller is at the top of the game and is designed for the more established DJs. The price reflects this along with the numerous features, quality, creative potential, and of course the Pioneer brand, which speaks for itself.


A side note - Serato

It is worth mentioning that if you are not a Rekordbox DJ user or not familiar with Rekordbox then Pioneer offer the entry level DDJ-SB2 2-channel controller and for the more experienced the DDJ-SR, DDJ-SX2, and DDJ-SZ2 4-channel controller, which are Serato based.  All of these controllers offer intuitive plug-and-play control, and the layouts represent that of the Serato software.  Additionally, the SZ2 provides, even more, control through its dedicated, onboard, Serato FX controls.

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Best DJ Controllers Native Instruments

We have discussed the Pioneer brand, next let’s move on to the very competitive brand, Native Instruments.  Again, we have selected four controllers that we believe are most suited to experience, value for money, features and budgets.  Native Instruments use Traktor as their software platform to ensure consistency within their brand and user experience.  The following controllers have been categorised into those that feature jog wheels, displays and stems compatibility.


Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 MK2 DJ Controller

The Traktor Kontrol S2 MK2 DJ Controller is the more basic Traktor controller, designed for DJs who want to experience what the Traktor software capabilities are.  The S2 is 2+1 channel DJ system, which provides ultimate control over Traktor software, along with featuring plug-and-play with Traktor DJ technology for iPad and iPhone.

The unit is USB bus-powered which means you do not need to be directly connected to a mains power supply, and your connected iPad or iPhone gets charged at the same time.  Other features include two good sized, touch-sensitive aluminium plated jog wheels, hot cues, two customisable FX units with over forty effects, four cue/remix slots, 3-band EQ, in-built 24-bit/96kHz DJ audio interface, browsing control, crossfader and channel line faders.

The controller inputs include a ¼-inch TS mic input, ¼-inch TRS balanced and RCA unbalanced outputs.


Traktor S2 & S4 Video

Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S4 MK2 DJ Controller

The Traktor Kontrol S4 MK2 is a 4+1 channel DJ system, which is ideal for the more experienced DJ.  The controller includes the same features as the S2 with the addition of compatibility with Stems (see below for more detail), Remix deck controls, dedicated loop recorder control, two stereo inputs to connect turntables (Traktor Scratch required), a filter knob for each channel, a remix deck slot, a MIDI input/output and an RCA unbalanced input.

One of the major features highlighted is the S4’s Stems compatibility. Stems is a multi-channel audio format that divides a track into four elements e.g. drums, bassline, melody and vocals, where you are presented with the opportunity to modify each element individually, rather than the track as an entirety.  The use of the Stem Deck, within the latest Traktor software, provides countless creative possibilities.


Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S5 DJ Controller

The Traktor Kontrol S5 is a 4-channel Pro DJ System which is stems ready.  This is suitable for the DJ who has experience under their belt and is looking for a more intuitive workflow.  The S5 has everything you need to DJ including four decks, eight colour coded performance pads per deck, two full-colour high-resolution displays, 3-band EQs, filter knobs, FX sends, precision touch strips, many FX controls with over forty effects, and the capability to plug-and-play with Traktor Pro software.

The S5 includes XLR and RCA master outputs and a ¼-inch booth output.  There is also an AUX channel so as to connect a mic, MP3 player or another device of your choice.

Kontrol S5 Video


Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S8 DJ Controller

The Traktor Kontrol S8 is a 4+2 channel DJ system with standalone capability as it is a DJ controller, decks and mixer all-in-one.  The S8 is Native Instruments flagship controller, and it boasts incredible durability, switchable between digital and standalone mixer, various effects, touch sensitive controls and strips, 4+4 channel performance faders and two detailed high-resolution displays.

The Kontrol S8 system comes complete with Traktor Scratch Pro software, and stereo inputs which allow you to connect turntables or CDJs for ultimate control.  However, it can be its own entity with its inbuilt audio interface and standalone functions.

The unit includes XLR/RCA master, ¼-inch booth and ¼-inch TRS balanced outputs.  There are RCA unbalanced inputs and outputs, along with a ¼-inch and mini TS microphone input.  Finally, the S8 has MIDI capabilities allowing connections to other devices.  Overall this DJ system is fully versatile and would suit any professional DJ within the industry.

Kontrol S8 Video


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Top DJ Controllers Denon DJ

Next, we look at Denon DJ who have, over the years, proved themselves to be worthy of making this list with two of their top flight controllers.  Denon is a brand that is currently pushing technological boundaries with the ranges they are working on and producing, and they are visually making an impact amongst their peers.  The main software Denon use is Serato however they have also designed their own called ‘Engine’ which is used to power their standalone controllers.


Denon DJ MC7000 DJ Controller

The Denon DJ MC7000 is a 4-channel, Serato DJ controller with a digital mixer, meaning it can be used as standalone. This DJ controller is best suited for club and mobile DJ’s with a confident DJing background. The unit comprises of two decent sized (6 inch) touch sensitive jog wheels, LED jog wheel surround, 16 velocity sensitive and backlit performance pads, key-matching and changing controls, FX section, pitch fader, crossfader, mic control and dedicated loop controls.

There are dual USB ports enabling two laptop connections at once, two balanced Mic inputs, four RCA inputs, XLR booth output and an XLR and RCA master output.

The MC7000 comes complete with a full copy of the Serato DJ software.  Also, three Serato Expansion Packs, Pitch ‘n Time, Video and Flip, are also included.  The controller is also Serato DJ DVS ready.

MC7000 Video


Denon DJ MCX8000 Standalone DJ Player and DJ Controller

The first feature to note with regards to the MCX8000 DJ controller is the word ‘standalone’. It is an all-in-one player which even benefits from its own groundbreaking software, Engine!  This powerful software allows you to use the player without the need for a laptop and works effortlessly with Serato DJ. 

It is a 4-channel digital mixer and includes all the features of the MC7000 with the addition of the Engine standalone technology, two high definition informative displays, three built-in effects for Engine playback and line inputs, two USB ports on the face of the unit, complete metal build and Stage LinQ network connection which can be used to control lighting and video.

The inputs/outputs include an XLR balanced booth output, XLR balanced master output, four RCA inputs, two mic inputs, high-retention USB, USB port to a computer, RCA outputs and Stage LinQ connection.

The Denon MCX8000 also comes complete with a copy of Serato DJ software and is Serato DVS upgrade ready.


MCX8000 Video

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Top DJ Controllers Numark

Numark is one of the leading brands that are very well loved amongst their many users.  They provide quality build, advance technical features and provide competitive controllers amongst those on offer.  We have selected four controllers that suit all finances, are value for money and provide a positive user experience.  Numark controllers are primarily Serato software based.


Numark NVII DJ Controller

The first DJ controller we think is worthy of a mention is the NVII.  It is a 4-deck, Serato software, DJ Controller.  It looks and feels classy with the two responsive 5-inch jog wheels, two full-colour displays, sixteen velocity-sensitive backlit RGB performance pads, ten pad modes for loop slicing, samples and hot cues, BPM metering, and a pro-grade crossfader with curve adjustment and fader start.

It would be fair to say this controller is suitable for both beginner DJs and those with more experience behind them due to the functionalities this unit provides e.g. sync button and advance crossfader.

The displays each include gridlines to achieve precise beat matching, five columns that show song, artist, time, BPM and key, and an efficient on screen library browsing control.

The NVII has 2.0 USB audio interface, AUX/balanced mic inputs, zone/booth and XLR balanced outputs.  A copy of Serato DJ software is also included with this controller.

NVII Video

Numark NS6II 4-channel Serato DJ Controller

The NS6II is a 4-channel standalone, Serato DJ controller.  It has a lot of the same features as the NVII but with enhancements and some new additions e.g. the jog wheels, performance pads, fader and displays.  Rather than having the displays at the top of the unit, they have instead been built-in to the centre of each jog wheel.  They provide vital information without the need for you to have to look away at your laptop. 

There are two USB outputs which allow for two laptops to be connected at the same time.  As the controller is a standalone 4-channel mixer, with 24-bit/44.1K audio output, you can easily connect external audio devices or turntables.  The performance pads are durable and provide all the means to activate and add various functions.  The 100mm pitch fader allows you to have precise functionality across all 4-channels.  Finally, a full copy of Serato DJ is included with the option to upgrade to the DVS expansion. 

Aesthetically, you will notice there are two small roll bars at the front of the NS6II which are used to protect the forward facing control knobs.  There are also stereo XLR, Master RCA and Booth RCA outputs, two ¼inch mic inputs, 4 in 4 out with two phono preamp and 2.0 USB connections.

NS6II Video

Numark NS7 III four-deck DJ Controller

The NS7 III is a four-deck Serato DJ Controller with an inbuilt 4-channel audio mixer.  The first thing that stands out on this controller is the three, 4.3-inch displays, at the top.  Each of the screens provides high-resolution colour and displays various information including a stackable waveform, deck, FX status and track library.

This professional controller is not short of features either.  It includes a dedicated track library with navigational control, two motorised jog wheels with high-res MIDI tracking, touch sensitive knobs for EQ, filters etc., sixteen hardwearing pressure sensitive RGB backlit Akai Professional MPC performance pads, ten pad modes, 3-way touch-sensitive filter knob on dedicated channels, and allocated controls for Serato’s 12 professional iZotope® FX.

The controller includes 24-bit USB 2.0 audio interface, zone/booth outputs and XLR balanced outputs.  A full copy of Serato DJ is included and is Serato NoiseMap ready with DVS expansion.

NS7 III Review


Numark Mixtrack Platinum DJ Controller

The Mixtrack Platinum DJ Controller is an all round controller suitable for amateurs to the most advanced DJs.  Despite it being compact it certainly does not compromise on features or quality, so do not let its basic layout fool you.

When taking a first glance at the Mixtrack Platinum, you cannot help your eyes being drawn to the two 5 inch, touch sensitive jog wheels, where each one includes a built-in multi-function LCD in the centre.  Each display is 1.75 inches and enables you to monitor BPM, time, needle drop, keylock and pitch adjustment.  The aim of the displays is to minimise the time spent having to take your eyes off the controller to look at the laptop.

The unit offers 4-deck mixing capability for each channel along with dedicated gain, filter and EQ controls.  There are multiple FX adjustments and dedicated track browsing controls from the library.  There are sixteen multi-function performance pads, 100mm pitch sliders and touch strips where various functions can be activated including dynamic FX control and strip search.

Mixtrack Platinum is ready to plug-and-play, especially with the inbuilt 24-bit audio system. There are a ¼-inch and ⅛-inch headphone jacks, mic, and PA system connections. Finally, the controller comes complete with Serato DJ Intro (with the ability to upgrade to the full Serato DJ) and Prime Loops remix toolkit, which includes six sample packs with over 380 top sounds.

Mixtrack Platinum Video


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To Conclude

Thank you for taking the time to read through this article, we hope it has been of some use.  All of the controllers mentioned have their unique features and capabilities, so it is extremely challenging for us to single out ‘The Best’.  I am confident that if we put this to our team, opinions will differ, as circumstances/experience will influence decisions.

Posted in News By

Laura Apicella