3 Ways To Plug Your DJ Controller Into A New-Style MacBook

Last updated 30 April, 2018

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One of our community members recently asked: “I got a controller and a laptop to start DJing, but the USB cable that came with the controller doesn’t fit my laptop. My laptop is a new MacBook, and the controller is a Pioneer DDJ-SB3. I don’t want to damage anything by buying the wrong cable. What should I do?”

Digital DJ Tips says:

it can be annoying when this happens, as you can’t get started with your new toy immediately! And of course if you don’t understand fully what you are and aren’t meant to do, you may feel – like our member did – a bit worried that you may inadvertently break something if you just go and start buying cables to try and fix it.

Good news is it is both (relatively) cheap and easy to correct this. The issue is that MacBooks have moved across to the more modern USB-C type sockets, from the old USB-A type, but as most computers still come with USB-A (including even some other Mac models), these are the cables you’re going to find in boxes with DJ gear. ((The socket on the back of your DJ gear is a different type again, USB-B, so the original lead in the box is USB-B to USB-A. Still with us?)

So you need a converter. There are three choices:

  • A USB-C to USB-A converter lead – Apple has one, they’re expensive, they do the trick. you plug it into the original USB-A to USB-B cable. However, it is definitely a “weak link” in the chain between your controller and laptop, and weak links and DJing don’t go well together, especially in front of hundreds of people…
  • A USB-C to USB-A converter adapter – Electrically exactly the same as the lead above, minus the cable bit – it’s one small item that plugs into your computer and the original original USB-A to USB-B cable plugs into it. Smaller, cheaper, and sturdier than leads, although they do lead to a big, protruding plug that you’ll need to be careful not to knock for the same reasons as just mentioned
  • A new USB-B to USB-C lead – This is ultimately your best bet. Unlike the other two options it renders the USB-C to USB-A lead that came with your computer redundant, but it is safest from the point of view of reliability, and also of neatness (of course, unless you also carry around the old lead with you, you can’t DJ using this on any computer that only has the old type of USB socket)

What to do now…

Whichever you choose, you certainly won’t harm either computer or controller, so take a look online, pop down to your local store, or have a rummage around in that lead drawer (come on, we’ve all got one) – who knows if you may already have just such a cable that fell out of the box of something else you bought recently. Good luck!

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Have you had to replace cables because your gear didn’t work right? Do you find all these dongles, adaptors and converters annoying? Share your thoughts below!

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