138 142 of the best DJ controllers reviewed and rated
This is the web’s biggest and best guide to DJ controllers. Whether you’re looking for your first DJ controller, an upgrade, modular DJ gear, club equipment that can work with your laptop and DJ software, or even to built a mini set-up around your iPad or iPhone – if it’s out there and in reasonable supply, it’s here. This guide is more than twice the size of our 2012 guide.
About this DJ controller guide
We’ve rounded up every major DJ controller currently on the market (or announced and imminent as of December 2012). That means all in one controllers, plus modular controllers including Midi-enabled mixers, and deck / pad controllers. Basically, if it can control some aspect of your software, we’ve included it. We’ve also listed several (but not all) discontinued models that are still available / reasonably popular.
All of the controllers are in alphabetical order, by manufacturer and then model, and they range in price from pocket money to thousands. Here’s what you need to know about the guide:
- We’ve focused on DJ controllers for “mainstream” DJ software. If you want to use production software for DJing, this guide doesn’t cover such controllers, and it doesn’t cover producer-focused “general” Midi controllers either (or it’d be three times the size!)
- Our ratings are reached after careful consideration, but are only a guide. We know all of this gear well, and we assess it from the point of view of the beginner to semi-pro digital DJ. Be aware that ratings in our individual reviews may differ from those here, especially for older controllers, as we constantly reassess as the market changes.
- We know you want to look closely at the controllers! Click on any picture for a bigger version, then you can often click the icon in the top-right for even closer zooming.
- We’ve included good places to buy from. As well as rating all of the DJ controllers, we’ve shown you where to get them from in the USA, UK and Europe. Where we’ve carried a full review and/or demo video of the controller, we link to that too
- Prices change all the time – so always check current prices by clicking the price links or the “buy from” links.
Finally, please check all specifications, dimensions, compatibilities and so on for yourself before buying. We try our hardest, but we’re only human and just because we say something may be suitable for you, doesn’t mean it is. Do your homework – it’s part of the fun! If you find errors, or have any suggestions, tell us here. And happy controller hunting…
Know what you’re looking for?
The controllers are listed alphabetically. But if you know what you’re looking for, here are some quick links straight to the controllers. You can get back to this table easily from each controller listing.
Not sure what you’re looking for?
If you’re overwhelmed by the choice out there, the information below will help you to choose more wisely and to get the most from this guide:
- You probably want an “all-in-one” controller, but you may prefer “modular”. Modular is when you build up a control system of “separates”, a bit like a hi-fi with separate amp, radio, CD player etc. Whereas all-in-one controllers are definitely best for the vast majority of users (they’re self-contained, and easy to set up and use), if you’re more experienced, you play with digital vinyl, or regularly DJ in clubs, you may prefer the flexibility of a modular system.
- Some controllers will work more than one DJ software package, as they allow you to “map” their controls manually. However, all come with a version of one of the big packages, and we tell you which in the reviews. “LE” means “light edition”; if the software for a controller is not marked “LE”, assume the controller comes with a full commercial version of that package. Find out more here: Bundled DJ Controller Software: Facts & Myths.
- “Midi” just means that the device can control your DJ software. In truth, some of these controllers use different technical protocols in addition to Midi, especially for jogwheel control, but that’s not a concern for our purposes. However, if a device can’t control some aspect of your software (for instance, a DJ audio interface, or a mixer with such an interface built in but no Midi as well), we don’t list it here.
- Jogwheels – the bit that replaces the record decks – have moved on immensely in recent years. This means if you buy a modern controller (all have release dates on the round-up), the jogwheel performance will be good. Bear in mind, though, that if you want to scratch, Native Instruments’s own controllers and all controllers that use Serato software have close-to-perfect jogwheel-to-software mapping; all others involve a certain amount of compromise. (Some controllers don’t even have jogwheels, and some people don’t miss them; most prefer to have them though.)
- You may need a “sound card” or “audio interface” too. This will allow you to plug your headphones in for previewing, and to simultaneously have music going to the main speakers. Nearly all all-in-one controllers nowadays have a sound card built in. Those that don’t, we tell you. With such controllers, you simply buy a sound card separately. With a modular system, you need out least one of your components to have a “four-out” or “two stereo out” digital audio interface built in. Find out more here: All About Sound Cards for Digital DJing.
Still not sure where to start? Don’t make an expensive mistake! Our How To Digital DJ Fast video course is especially for beginners, and will help you choose your first controller, as well as teach you all you need to know to play your first show. Thousands of our readers have taken their first steps in DJing with this course. Click here for more information and to buy.
“Where’s this year’s book?”
Our downloadable 2013 buyer’s guide is coming soon. But if you need more help choosing and can’t wait for this year’s update, there’s plenty of advice in our 162-page DJ Controllers: The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide 2012 PDF – still available for free from our Facebook Page.
Digital DJ Tips DJ Controller Buyer’s Guide 2013…
Controller type: all-in-one; Launched: February 2011; Intended platform/s: PC/Mac; Supplied DJ software: none; Audio interface: no; Software decks controllable: 4; Power: USB; Size & weight: 11.4 x 2.4 x 14.2″ (290 x 60 x 360mm), 6.1lb (2.8 kg)
They say: The overall concept of 4midiloop is to manufacture with top quality materials and selection of components, as well as presenting a manageable and modern club design with innovative technology.
We say: Designed to unlock nearly every aspect of Traktor, this is also a beautifully built controller in aluminium. While it can’t control the Remix Decks (none can officially except the Traktor Kontrol F1), and doesn’t have an audio interface built in, it is a true connoisseur’s product.
Controller type: modular – loops, transport, effects etc; Launched: July 2012; Intended platform/s: PC/Mac; Supplied DJ software: none; Audio interface: no; Software decks controllable: 4; Power: USB; Size & weight: 11.4 x 2.34 x 14.2″ (290 x 60 x 360 mm), 6.2lb (2.8kg)
They say: 4TrackTrigger is a compact and uncompromising four-deck controller, specifically designed for Traktor Pro 2.5 in the external mixer mode. Everything is fitted into an ergonomically and functional aluminium case, powered by Faderfox!
We say: This button- and knob-fest is designed ideally to be mounted behind and above a club four-channel mixer, with an external sound card like the Traktor Audio 10 feeding four Traktor channels into the mixer. It’s USB powered, aluminium built, uncompromising, and is priced as such.
Allen & Heath Xone:2D
Controller type: modular / all-in-one; Launched: February 2007; Intended platform/s: PC/Mac; Supplied DJ software: none; Audio interface: yes; CD slot/s: no; SD card/USB drive inputs: no; Phono/line inputs: 2 x phono/line, 1 x line; Software decks controllable: 4; Booth/record out: – ; Mic in: no; Power: USB; Size & weight: 16.5 x 7.5 x 11.8″ (419 x 190 x 300mm), 9lb (4kg)
They say:A combination of an 18-channel USB 2.0 soundcard and Midi controller, which DJs can combine with their existing analogue mixer to create a complete digital DJ mixing system, perfect for integration with DJ software such as Ableton Live and Traktor.
We say: Has a single jogwheel and a crossfader, so can be used to add to an existing DJ system in all kinds of ways, feeding multiple digital channels. But could also be used as a cut-down controller in its own right. Pro-grade but jog is sub today’s standard.
Allen & Heath Xone:4D
Controller type: All-in-one; Launched: April 2008; Intended platform/s: PC/Mac; Supplied DJ software: Traktor LE, Ableton Live demo; Audio interface: yes; CD slot/s: – ; SD card/USB drive inputs: no; Phono/line inputs: 4; Software decks controllable: 4; Booth/record out: both; Mic in: 1 x XLR; Power: external; Size & weight: 17 x 14 x 3.5″ (431 x 356 x 89mm), 11lb (5kg)
They say: The Xone:4D continues the seamless integration of computer-based digital media into the traditional DJ workspace, but with a further enhanced feature set.
We say: Highly professional unit aimed at the very high end with a 10-in/10-out soundcard and brilliant filters. Not the best for portable digital DJs because of its size and weight, though.
Allen & Heath Xone:DB2
Controller type: Midi-enabled mixer; Launched: September 2011; Intended platform/s: – ; Supplied DJ software: none; Audio interface: yes; CD slot/s: no; SD card/USB drive inputs: no; Phono/line inputs: 2 x phono/line, 2 x line; Software decks controllable: 4; Booth/record out: both; Mic in: 1 x XLR; Power: external; Size & weight: 12.6 x 14 x 3.5″ (320 x 356 x 89mm), 11lb (5kg)
They say: Flexible and versatile mixer controls with an intuitive layout give the DJ full control over the mix. The DB2 boasts twin FX engines, four stereo channels, full Input matrix, and unique Trimodal EQ system.
We say: Lightweight, well-built, feature-packed mixer that has plenty of Midi controls mappable to your DJ software to customise your set-up how you wish. High quality on-board effects borrowed from much higher up the range.
Our full review: Review & Video: Allen & Heath Xone:DB2 Pro DJ Mixer
Buy from: Amazon (US), Juno (UK), Juno (rest of Europe & world)
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