Home Forums Digital DJ Gear Help ! Which controller should I buy ?

This topic contains 17 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by  Damned One 1 year ago.

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    Hello everyone ,

    I need some help to decide which controller I should buy , I want to buy a controller jus to play at home , i am buying one jus for my passion , I do not intend to play clubs . I would also let ull know that I do not have a formal training in DJing and have jus learnt a little bit by watching videos on YouTube , so pls forgive me if I am wrong anywhere.

    I have owned a numark mixtrack pro and gave it back mainly because it lacked a sampler .
    My idea of DJing is more than jus adding effects and loops, adjusting the pitch ,or scratching , I really like having a sampler on my controller and I want the ability to have full control over all my samples .

    I am considering buying the traktor kontrol f1 and I am thinking about the s2 or the s4 to go along with it .

    I am also considering the traktor kontrol s5 and the s8 .

    I am also looking the the pioneer xdj Rx as pioneer is industry standard (then again I don’t think I’ll ever play in the industry)
    But somehow the native instruments product’s seem more like the products I want to buy considering the remix decks and control over samples ,which is think won’t b available on the xdj Rx , I can b wrong

    As this is jus for my entertainment , my budget is not very high and I can’t buy any controllers more expensive than these .

    Will any these controllers serve my purpose of remixing songs , because I feel that’s wot i basically want to do .

    Are these controllers perfect for DJing + remixing or should I buy some products like ableton controllers or something on those lines for a more production point of view .

    Which controller should I get ? Any of these or any other ?

    Also I have a question how do DJ’s create the sweep rise effect that creates a lot of energy and gets the crowd jumping​, it looks like it is an auto loop that reduces in size or it’s an echo that increases , both these with some delay , but even the DJ’s start jumping without actually controlling this effect , then how do they do this , is this effect pre-recorded , if yes which software do they use to record this, if no , then which controller or mixer has such an auto effect ?

    Thanks in advance .


    Nogui Aramburo

    Try a 2 channel controller like traktor S2 or a DDJ


    Todd Oddity

    “I am also looking the the pioneer xdj Rx as pioneer is industry standard”

    No, despite what the folks at Pioneer would have you believe, they are absolutely not the industry standard. Why do I say this? Because there is no industry standard for controllers. By their very nature (portability), people bring what they need and therefore it matters little what they have and if it matches a standard.

    Now, with that all said, if Traktor is your weapon of choice, then you need to get an NI controller. End of story. I recently worked with a friend who has an S4mk2 paired with an F1. I was really impressed at what a comprehensive setup that was. He had easy access to absolutely everything. Certainly would be worth a close look in my opinion.



    I think the S2 paired with the F1 from Native Instruments is a great setup for the home dj. Not too pricey to get started and great build quality should you ever decide to venture beyond the bedroom.



    Hey there again guys !

    I’ve watched a couple more videos of the s8 and I truly am very much inclined towards getting it , it is the flagship controller after all and looks like the future of DJing to me , I feel it’s gonna be a one time investment for me ,but it’s gonna give me every thing I intend doing out of DJing . Can a S4 with a f1 match up to the s8 with regards to stems and remix decks ?


    If you are just starting I personally would never buy the top end controller. First of all you don’t know if the software (Traktor) will be right one for you, second of all you haven’t (fully) developed your workflow yet. And while it no doubt seems tempting to start with all the bells and whistles, it does pay to start by learning the basics. Stems is most definitely NOT basics.

    Clearly you have to buy what you want and it is almost impossible for anyone here to advise one particular unit. What might be Da Bomb for me, you might find horrendous and the other way around. So any advise would be general in character. If you search these forums for beginner or starter controller or buying a controller, you should get plenty of posts dedicated to this issue. Including our time-proven, best-practice step-plan towards selecting a starting controller.

    My suggestion to you would be to get a (even used) starter controller, that will get you through learning the basix without all the bells and whistles distractions. Without breaking the bank and allowing you to figure out which features you like, want, need in your next controller. If you start with Traktor, the S2 would be your best bet. Should be plenty of used ones out there that you can get for a fairly low price. Be sure to get all the necessary software license keys with it and preferably original CDs.


    Ralph Deonarine

    I see you’ve identified your mode of delivery and some of the must-have features of what you are looking for. What I haven’t seen is what your budget is. I don’t want to assume that because you want a controller just for home that you can’t afford a NS7 or a MCS8000. So I would say, identify your budget and see which controller fits your price range with the features you want, and look at the online reviews. Cheers and good luck choosing!


    S M

    What is your budget?

    I was in your predicament not long ago, wanted the s8 but couldnt afford it. I ended up getting an s4mk2 and 2 x F1s, and I am having a blast with them all.

    if you don’t mind looking at your computer screen then this set up can emulate almost perfectly the work of the S8, and for #200 pounds cheaper.

    Good for stems and better for remix decks than the d2 or s8 I feel.

    But even this is a pricey first buy especially if you haven’t mastered the basics.

    I wish you luck I hope you get what you want. Shout me if I can help with anything.


    Swagger Lee

    What is his budget? Have you not seen? He’s looking at the S8 and the XDJ-RX! So please stop recommending the S2 to the guy! πŸ™‚

    Contrary to the mod’s belief I think it’s a mistake to start out with a cheaper “beginner’s” DJ controller. He’s not going to go through five or ten DJ controllers throughout his career. He’s not even going to HAVE a career… He just wants *one* definitive controller. Doesn’t matter if Traktor “feels right” to him… he’ll never know that another software might’ve been better because he’ll never use another software.

    If he gets one of the best hardware kits and the software to go with it… then he can just keep plugging away at it until he’s either mastered it or gotten tired of playing around with it. Then he can just sell it and move on with his life. Maybe take up canoeing or something…

    I think the S8 is a fine choice. Not TOO expensive… versatile enough to cover whatever you might imagine doing… but not so over the top that you’ll go insane and start picking people off from a clock tower. I say go for it.

    Me personally I usually start at the low end to see if I even give a damned about what I’m trying to do. I don’t advise this because you always wind up spending more money in the end and it’s very difficult to sell low-end products for any kind of decent return. I started off with the DJ Control Instinct. While it still does a good many things that many more expensive controllers *don’t* do (I haven’t seen another controller yet that has both RCA and minijack outs…) it now sits in a corner. I also have a launchkey mini. By the time you finally know how to use it you realize that it wasn’t nearly enough of a controller even when you bought it and start wishing you’d at least bought a LaunchKey 25.

    This never ends.

    I applaud you decision on the S8 and I wish you well!


    First off, let’s keep it friendly in here. We operate on the assumption that everyone is posting based on a genuine desire to help the OP. And people might sometimes make mistakes, vent personal opinions that one might not agree with. No need to get into “Have you not seen?” and such. The smiley suggests it was said in good spirits so I left the comment in there. Be aware that these kinds of reaction are often the spark that leads to flaming in fora. Something we try very hard to avoid.

    That said, let me address the issue raised in the last reply to this thread.

    Yes, we (the mods) have formulated a best-practiced response to one of the most asked question on these forums. We don’t operate in a vacuum, but take the experiences and sentiments of our many many members and also the vast deposit of experience here and over on the main site.

    To begin with, it’s only an advice based on best-practice. Everyone is free to choose what he/she wants. Personally I will never say it is the wrong choice, as it’s not up to me to decide. I might ventilate that it would not have been my choice and support that with my motivation.

    We have a list of starter controllers. It does not include the DJ Control Instinct or any of it’s (Hercules and other brands) siblings in that no-budget part of the market place. Our suggested list contains the starter models from reputable brands (Pioneer, Numark, Denon, Reloop, NI). Contrary to the DJ Control Instinct, these are relatively easy to sell and while -as with anything you buy new- they will lose value, unless you are on a fast track, they will give you about a year to a year and a half of pleasure before they really become the limiting factor. Where does that time frame from? That comes from the time we have noticed it takes the average starting DJ to fully comprehend the basic, practice them til muscle memory sets in, learns to build up collection, properly prep tracks and such. For those that ARE interested in playing out, these controllers will also allow for first public performances, be it house & pool parties, weekday night at the local pub or a class event. These controllers will do all this without confusing buttons and options (we have had many DJs say they were either confused and thus distracted from the basics and/or too tempted to play with these features that they didn’t focus on the basics), but with all the necessary tools to do all that is needed when you just stepped onto the path to DJ-hood.

    We also have a step-plan to picking your controller. The choice of the actual controller doesn’t even enter the equation until step 4 and 5. First step is to determine your workflow.

    This is a hard one as most starters don’t have one. This is why we say your (intended) workflow. Now you can start naming the things you think you would like to do as a DJ. Play out or not, be a remixer, a club DJ or a wedding jock. What kind of music/genres do you imagine you want to be playing. Open format, narrow genre DJ-ing, underground, general club work including TOP 40 stuff. OP shows he has some ideas of what he would like to do. With the messing around with tracks (i.e. live remixing) he would need both software that supports this and a controller with -at the very least- as set of performance pads.

    Once that is out of the way we advice you to start looking at software. Based on the what you came up with around workflow, you should be able to come up with some points that you can take away in picking the right software. This is not unimportant, as switching software later on isn’t something you want to do (too often). Picking software first is of importance as it will have impact on available options for a controller. If you want Rekordbox you could opt for R-series controllers, but if you are not entirely sure about rekordbox you might still want to get the S-series as they will support Rekordbox but still give you the option to switch to other software if Rekordbox after a while doesn’t suit your needs after all. If you pick Traktor, especially as a beginner, your only real choice is an NI controller.

    Then we say, set a budget. It is VERY easy to be tempted by features, shine buttons and flashing lights! Setting a budget and sticking to it also helps avoiding to fall into the trap of spending more money than you intended/should.
    Don’t forget that when you start DJ-ing, you don’t just need the controller. Often you will need to upgrade software, you need monitor speakers, good headphones, music!, perhaps a table/booth, cables and such. So buying a 300 dollar controller can easily run into a 1.000 dollar budget for all of it. If you buy an 800 dollar controller instead, you are left with no room to buy all the other essentials.

    The rest is known or can be found in many previous posts.

    We also say that buying your first starter controller used is often a feasible option, lowering the chance of losing money on the resale end of things.

    Especially highly specific controllers (think Stems, think no jogs, think Traktor only) should not be bought lightly but only after knowing (based on personal experience) that is the road you want to take. Starting with a (used) S2, will give you all that within the span of that year/year and a half, without breaking the bank. And don’t be mistaken, sellign a used S8 is not very easy either. It’s highly specific and as such will only appeal to a smaller group of people.

    If it turns out you don’t like DJ-ing that much after all, your initial money spent won’t be so crazy.
    If it turns out you picked the wrong software and need to change but that also means changing your controller, that’s another risk that is smaller if you went with a starter controller.
    If, for some reason there are still features you miss or that you don’t use on your expensive controller, you might still want to change things around.

    We think that the risks of staying on the budget-safe side of things outweigh those of going high-end controller right away. Not only expressed in money, but also in learning the basics (and only the basics) and avoiding getting lost in things before you are ready.

    Both Terry and I have helped quite a few young DJs get started. And all of them can get going on their starter controller and play their first gigs. They all agree that by the time they are truly ready to move on (i.e. wanting better, bigger tools) they have more experience, a better sense of wants/needs and workflow and are generally in a better place to pick their next controller themselves.

    Wall of text as always. We welcome differing opinions and all opinions should be available to the OP.
    I did feel it necessary to explain a little (or lot) more about the background of our step-plan and our suggested starter controller list.

    At the end of the day it is IMPOSSIBLE for anyone to give a right advice to another DJ. All we can share is our best-practices, personal experiences and opinions. The choice is still up to the one spending the money.


    Swagger Lee

    I’m told there are very few people friendlier than me. πŸ™‚

    If you are just starting I personally would never buy the top end controller

    My problem… well it’s two-fold: First I have a problem with the use of the word “never.” And second I don’t really believe in the “best practices” one-size-fits-all school of advice giving. And I even worked in customer support (albeit briefly) in the tech industry. While I agree that there are many scenarios that are similar, very rarely are any two the same. If he was just asking for “Top DJ Controllers for Beginners”… well that information is just a Google search away isn’t it? (With nicely illustrated results.)

    Contrary to what the title might imply… in the OP’s actual post he was asking about a very specific set of criteria. He further elaborated with questions about very specific hardware.

    Have you ever been on the phone with either technical support… or even just your bank… or the phone company… and you’re asking a specific question and somebody’s reading you answers from a sheet that have nothing to do with the question you’re asking?

    Kinda my point…

    He wasn’t asking about “the basics” he wasn’t asking about a “starter controller”. He wants to use stems and remix decks. Doesn’t matter if it’s easy or hard… all that matters is that’s what he wants to do. And if he wants to do it badly enough… he’ll figure it out.

    I say all this without any malice at all. I say it because it’s true.

    Imagine going into a shop looking for a DJM-900 and a couple of CDJs… and the kid’s trying to sell you on a DDJ-RB.

    That’s kinda my point. πŸ™‚


    Rob S

    I would probably choose and X1 and F1 in this scenario and build up from there.


    The word never was chosen deliberately and personal. I have done it in the past and got burned. In the case I did continue with whatever it was I bought stuff for I ended up finally needing another piece of (expensive) kit after all. In the cases where I stopped I was often stuck with expensive gear that was hard to unload.
    So, while some might have problems with the word never, in this case it exactly reflects my personal sentiments based on my personal experiences.

    As for similar and varying scenarios, I agree that every situation is unique on it’s own. But I disagree that a common denominator for a “best-practice” could not be determined. Obviously this advice might not work out for some, but it would certainly not be the worst road to take for most.

    Again, all we can do is give this common denominator plan to help people choose for themselves. Up to them to heed or disregard this. And whatever their choice, more power to them.


    Damned One

    I dont know. It s also , I thought, which os you use. Cause that compatibility may be difference between software and controlor.

    I use , or better , learned and started to using traktor kontrolor x1 . I think is good , I m also non profesional dj πŸ˜€ but moreover played at home , I want in near future also plays in clubs.

    What I saw , x 1 from NI is pretty fine , maybe with quite higher price, but that quality is valid for those price. Maybe one day , you ll change your mind and decided also played “live” and than , better controler will be bonus for you.


    Not really, both Windows 10 (pretty stable now) and OSX (or apple OS as it is now called since Sierra) are compatible with all major DJ software and gear. Clearly if a new update of the OS comes out, you need to wait with upgrading your laptop til you are sure the DJ software is ready for it. Sierra for Mac took a while for some, like Serato, to give their official blessing.

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