Digital DJ Tips reader Allan Cross writes: “I’m a new DJ, and looking to get my own controller. After studying your controller guide, I still can’t decide – I need something that is flexible and mobile, preferably something that works with both Virtual DJ on the Mac, as well as djay Pro on the iPad. I’m keen to use both platforms, depending on the situation.
“I am happy to buy a mid to high-end controller as long as the learning curve is not too steep for a novice like me.”
Digital DJ Tips Says:
Unfortunately, nobody can tell you what’s best for you, because everyone’s needs are different.
Picking a controller begins with deciding on a workflow. You then choose which software you want to use based on that workflow. After, you set a budget and shortlist the controllers that fall in that budget range, work with the software you’ve chosen, and fit the workflow that you’ve settled on. Once you’ve got those down, you can then pick a controller.
I would always suggest getting a starter controller first, as you can always upgrade when you have figured out what it is you really need once you have some experience under your belt. It would be nasty if you bought an expensive, high-end controller only to realise it doesn’t have some of the features you end up wanting later on.
You also mention that you’d like to use two different DJ apps: apart from the cost of having two separate platforms as well as the learning curves, you’ll also need to prepare tracks in both apps separately. That means setting beatgrids, hotcues, loop points, and so on twice. At the moment, there’s no easy way to sync track data between two different DJ apps, and you’ll have to do it manually.
If you are really set on using both a laptop and and iPad, your only option is to use djay Pro. It works on both a Mac and an iPad (they’re separate purchases), and track data can be synced between them.
Here are some controllers we recommend for beginners…
- Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB2
- Numark Mixtrack Pro 3
- Denon DJ MC2000
- Traktor S2 MK2 (though it doesn’t work natively with djay Pro)
- Reloop Beatmix
These come with their own bundled DJ software, but all of them are compatible with Virtual DJ and djay Pro on the Mac.
Laptop and iPad-compatible controllers
There is no shame in not knowing what you don’t know yet. It’s where everyone started at some point or another. If you follow the best practices described, you’ll soon end up picking a controller that will get you through that first year of practising basic skills, building your collection, and gaining important experience and knowledge to determine where to go next.
What was the first DJ controller you started learning on? What controllers do you think should be included in this list? Share your thoughts with us below.