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Best DJ Controllers 2018

Friday, 16 November 2018 08:01:00 Europe/London

 

Best DJ Controllers 2018

Welcome to The DJ Shop’s top DJ controller list for 2018. This guide has been carefully put together to include controllers that suit all abilities; beginner DJs, aspiring DJs and those more established DJs. We have categorised the controllers into brands, starting with the industry leading Pioneer DJ, followed by 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 at all!

Top DJ Controllers Pioneer DJ

Pioneer DJ is the industry leading brand for controllers and the like. You will find the CDJ2000NXS2 professional multiplayer in many clubs as their standard setup, and top DJ’s will use it as their Rider. Not only that, the majority of Pioneer equipment uses the Rekordbox DJ software platform. Rekordbox is a music management DJ software developed and created by Pioneer themselves. The software ensures 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 of high quality, and include all the top features that you would expect from the well established Pioneer brand. As an alternative option, we have also included one all-in-one controller (a standalone DJ system) and a solely Serato based controller.

Pioneer DDJ-400 2-channel Rekordbox DJ Controller

The latest Rekordbox DJ controller and an update from the old RB model, the DDJ-400 offers incredible functionality as well as effects and features inherited from the professional club-standard setup.

 

This controller also comes with incredible functionality such as beat fx that can be viewed in rekordbox DJ, You can also set your hot cues on the controller thanks to the 8 velocity sensitive pads and with Rekordbox DJ these hot cues will remain for you to use in another mix so you don't even need to set them again. Great for enabling fast mixing styles that are designed to take your performances to the next level.

DDJ-400 Video

The controller itself is modelled on the club-standard setup so that when you feel comfortable you can transition seamlessly into the clubs. This also comes with a full copy of rekordbox DJ so you can make full use of this amazing software designed to bring you next-generation digital DJing technology.


Pioneer DDJ-SX3 4-channel Serato DJ Controller

The DDJ-SX3 replaces the DDJ-SX2. The controller retains the same build quality and durability; however, it is now packed with a few more features and connectivity options. The SX3 has been designed for sole use with Serato DJ Pro (not rekordbox).

Pioneer DDJ-SX3 Serato DJ Controller Front

The Pioneer DDJ-SX3 DJ Controller has sixteen robust, light up, performance pads (eight on each deck), dual USB ports which allow for flawless DJ transitions, twin Mic inputs with an additional dedicated Mic input and level control knob (found on the front of the unit), Mic Reverb, Mic Compressor, Sound Colour FX (Filter, Noise, Jet and Echo), Pitch ‘n Time which is a key related feature and four external inputs suitable for connecting additional devices.

Pioneer DDJ-SX3 Serato DJ Controller

Pioneer's DDJSX3 unit also features on-jog display that provides you with essential information at a glance. There is also a needle search pad, slip mode, and Serato Flip which allows hot cue sequences to be saved and then adjust them using the dedicated controls. It is also worth noting that there is an upgrade available (separately) to Serato DVS.

Pioneer DDJ-SX3 Serato DJ Controller Rear

The unit is the same size as the SX2 however comes in a little weightier at just over 6kg. In addition to the Mic inputs there are two Line/Phono (RCA) inputs and two Line (RCA) inputs. The controller outputs include two Master (XLR and RCA), one Booth Out (¼ inch TRS) and two Phones (¼ inch stereo jack and 3.5 mm stereo mini jack). The frequency response stands at 20-20,000 Hz, has a signal-to-noise ratio of 107dB (USB) and the total harmonic distortion reduced to an impressive <0.003% (USB).

 

DDJ-SX3 Video


Pioneer DDJ-1000 4-channel Rekordbox DJ Controller

The Pioneer DDJ-1000 replaces the DDJ-RX Rekordbox DJ controller. This is a fully loaded controller packed with features, including five new beat FX and the LCD on-jog display. There is a fantastic range of effects and performance controls, along with the capability of fully optimising rekordbox v5.1, making the DDJ-1000 ideal for digital DJs (familiar with rekordbox ) who want to add a little something extra to their setup.

This Pioneer controller includes four channels which can control up to four decks, two full sized (ball bearing) CDJ jog wheels complete with high-definition LCD on-jog display screens, sixteen multi-coloured performance pads (eight per deck), 14 Beat FX, improved Magvel fader all in-built into a sturdy, robust and portable DJ controller reflecting a club-style layout.

Pioneer DDJ-1000

The LCD displays are located within the centre of each jog-wheel. They are of highest quality and display all the relevant information you require at a glance, including playback position, loop points, playback time, waveform, track data, hot cue and album artwork. It is also worth mentioning there are four new Beat FX included with this controller which are Enigma, Mobius Saw, Mobius Triangle and Low Cut Echo extending the creative potential even further!

This unit comes in slightly heavier than its predecessor at 6kg. The frequency range and soundcard remain the same as the RB and RR yet it now has a Total Harmonic Distortion of 0.002% and a Signal to Noise ratio of 114dB.

The DDJ1000 includes two USB B ports, two Line/Phono (RCA) inputs, two Line (RCA) inputs and two Mic (XLR/ ¼-inch TRS Jack, ¼-inch TRS Jack) inputs. The outputs consist of two master (XLR, RCA) outputs, one Booth (¼-inch TRS Jack) output and two Headphone (¼-inch stereo jack, 3.5mm stereo mini-jack) outputs.

 

DDJ-1000 Video Showcase


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.

Pioneer DDJ-RZ DJ Controller


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.

DDJ-RZ & DDJ-RX Official Introduction

 

Pioneer XDJ-RX2 DJ System

The XDJ-RX2 is an extensive all-in-one DJ controller that incorporates CDJ style decks, a DJ mixer, along with a large 7-inch colour touchscreen display. Numerous features within the RX2 are inherited from the renowned NXS2 setup (CDJ-2000NXS2 and DJM-900NXS2). The controller is designed specifically for rekordbox use; both rekordbox DJ and rekordbox video licence keys are included with the system.

Pioneer XDJ-RX2


This standalone Pioneer controller includes 2 channels which can control up to four decks, sixteen multi-coloured performance pads (eight on each deck), full colour touch screen complete with QWERTY keyboard, eight Beat FX, four Sound Colour FX and useful front accessing USB ports (top right on the face of the controller).

The XDJRX2 weighs in at 9.1kg, so heavier than your average controller, however this would be expected due to it being an all-in-one system. The unit has a frequency response of 20-20,000Hz, Signal to Noise ratio of 112dB and a 0.003% total harmonic distortion.

The console contains two Line (RCA) inputs, two Phono (RCA) inputs, two Mic (XLR / ¼-inch TRS jack) inputs and one AUX (RCA) input. There is also one Master (XLR) output, one Master2 (RCA) output, one Booth (¼-inch TRS jack) output, two Headphone (¼-inch stereo phone jack and one 3.5mm stereo mini jack) output. Additionally, there are two USB A ports and one USB B port.

One of the main advantages to having an all-in-one standalone DJ system is that the transition from home studio to club setup is seamless, mainly thanks to the USB functionality. You are able to fully prepare your set at home on rekordbox and then take it to a club without any additional complications or equipment.

XDJ-RX2 Video Introduction

 

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-SB3 2-channel controller and for the more experienced the DDJ-SZ2 4-channel controller in addition to the DDJ-SX3 mentioned above, which are all Serato based. All of these controllers offer intuitive plug-and-play control, and the layouts represent that of the Serato software.  Additionally, the SZ2 and SX3 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 another very competitive brand in the form of Native Instruments.  Again, we have selected three 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 NI controllers have been categorised into those that feature jog wheels, displays and stems compatibility.

 

Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 MK3 DJ Controller

The entry-level model in the brand new mark 3 range of traktor controllers packs a big punch for a controller small enough to fit in backpack. This 2 channel mixer comes all the features you would expect to find on a professional standard DJ controller such as; hot cues, mixer effects, and looping functionality. All this amazing functionality comes in the club-standard layout you would expect to find on a professional quality setup.

The Kontrol S2 is USB powered and comes with a high-end audio interface as well as a full copy of the new Traktor Pro 3 software. This makes this perfect for DJing house parties or small events. The 8 velocity sensitive RGB pads allow you to set and trigger hot cues live in a mix for added creative flair. The assignable mixer effects offer professional quality effects that can accessed quickly. Open up a nice reverb for added atmosphere, maybe a delay for adding even more excited to a build-up section, or maybe you want a nice classic low and high pass filter for smooth transitions between tracks.

Traktor S2 Mk3


Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S4 MK3 DJ Controller

The S4 Mk3 is one of the most feature rich controllers to be released in recent years and is designed to work seamlessly with the new Traktor Pro 3 software and all of its functionality. This even supports DVS integration so you can add 2 turntables to your setup if you wish. The adidtion of brand new Haptic Drive technology means that this controller responds even more accurately to hot cues.

The mixer effects section has been redesigned to allow you to assign up to 8 different effect to the knobs for each channel as well as 3 different types of filters which offer you incredible mixing and transition power between tracks. The hi-res displays allow you to keep track of vital information such as track length, BPM, and key. This is an amazing controller that offers all the professional quality DJing functionality you need in one portable controller.

Traktor S4 Mk3

 

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.

Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S8 DJ Controller

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.#

Denon DJ MC7000 DJ Controller

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 highlight 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.

Denon MCX8000 Standalone DJ Controller

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 NV2 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.

Numark NV II DJ Controller

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 some further enhancements and 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.

Numark NS6II 4-channel Serato DJ Controller

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 usb 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.

Numark NS7 III four-deck DJ Controller

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 NS7MK3 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.

Numark Mixtrack Platinum DJ Controller

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 best dj controllers 2018 article, we hope it has been of some use. All of the usb controllers mentioned have their unique features and capabilities, so it is extremely challenging for us to single out ‘The Best’. We are confident that if we put this to our team, opinions will differ, as circumstances and experience will influence decisions, not to mention personal preference.

Please remember, we are always on hand to assist, so if you do have any questions/queries, please contact us (details can be located on the ‘About Us’ page) where one of our expert team members will be only too happy to help!


Posted in News By

Laura Apps