Looking to buy a Serato DJ controller, but not sure which to go for? In this article, I’ll explain to you what makes Serato and Serato controllers different from the pack, and then give you our five best DJ controllers for Serato for 2021, with both high-end and entry-level choices. Beginner or advanced, there is something for you in what follows.
What’s different about Serato?
Serato is unique among DJ software platforms in that the software is officially licensed to hardware manufacturers, who then make hardware that is by and large dedicated to work with Serato and Serato only. Conversely, you cannot make Serato work with any hardware that isn’t licensed for it.
That makes it different from rivals Traktor and Rekordbox (for which Native Instruments and Pioneer DJ respectively make the only “official” hardware), and Virtual DJ and djay Pro (both of which work “unofficially” with the vast majority of DJ controllers, but “officially” with very few).
Controllers that bear the Serato name by and large are easy to use with the platform. Some feel this does sometimes come at the expense of flexibility, though.
If you’re buying a Serato DJ controller in 2021, there is lots of choice out there, and they’re all good – you really can’t go too far wrong with any of them. The only one we’d be wary of is the Pioneer DJ DDJ-FLX6, as it is really meant for Rekordbox software, despite also being licensed for Serato, so the labelling on some of the controls is incorrect and therefore confusing for beginners, and some of the features don’t work as well as with Rekordbox.
So – here are our top five that we think currently really stand out for Serato:
5 Best Serato DJ Controllers 2021
1. Pioneer DJ DDJ-1000SRT
Pioneer DJ’s DDJ-1000SRT is basically the Serato version of its hugely popular DDJ-1000 Rekordbox controller. It came after the DDJ-1000, and was much asked for.
It doesn’t have fully comprehensive control over Serato (for instance, there is no control over Serato’s effects, which will be a dealbreaker for some), but that’s because it focuses on DJing as it’s done in club DJ booths.
Read this next: 5 Best Rekordbox DJ Controllers For 2021
That means you get Pioneer-style hardware effects built-in to the unit, alongside the Pioneer DJ look and feel straight out of the pro DJ booth that many Serato DJs had hankered for in a controller before its release. It also comes with the full Serato DJ Pro, can act as a standalone mixer for external sources, and has awesome Pioneer DJ jogwheels.
2. Roland DJ-707M
Roland’s DJ-707M is one of the most insanely powerful Serato DJ controllers ever made, with a huge array of input, output and standalone features never before seen in such a device.
It has a “zone” output so you can play in two rooms at once with it, it is a standalone mixer, it has EQ, limiter and compression across master output “scenes” that can be saved, and – being Roland – there is a drum machine and sequencer built in, too.
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If you can live with its smaller size (which for many will be an advantage, not a hindrance) this is an excellent unit. The M stands for “mobile DJing” – this being its key market. but in truth, it’d be great for any creative DJ. It comes with the full version of Serato DJ Pro.
3. Numark Platinum FX
Numark launched the Numark Platinum FX (and the cheaper Numark Pro FX) in 2020, and immediately ruled the entry-level category. This brace of controllers are well built, have good jogwheels, and have easy and fun effects control, including scratch DJ-friendly paddles.
The Platinum FX is our favourite, as it has useful jogwheel screens and can control four decks. These units come with Serato DJ Lite, so you’ll need to factor in the upgrade to Pro, and you shouldn’t expect comprehensive control over Serato’s features (the effects, despite being fun, options are limited). But what the Platinum FX and Pro FX do, they do well.
You can’t plug record decks or media players into it of course, so it is a “software controller” – but for a beginner, someone who doesn’t want to spend too much money, or a casual DJ, you’ll likely find everything you need in the Numark Platinum FX.
4. Hercules DJControl Inpulse 500
Hercules is known for its entry-level controllers, and the Inpulse 500 is its most ambitious controller to date. It is two-channel, and while there is a little of the Hercules quirkiness in its controls (it has some lights to help you figure out which track is in front ” or “behind” when beatmixing, for instance), it basically follows the tried and tested controller layout and format.
It is quite large, has useful feet to raise it up (and a cool light to make the underside glow), and is generally fun to DJ on. It is only really let down by the very limited effects mapping, and the rather cheap paint job on the jogwheels, which wears off over time.
It comes with the company’s own DJUCED software too, which is actually a good alternative DJing platform in its own right, if you want to play with another package as well as the supplied Serato DJ Lite. While it is definitely not “pro”, it is good fun and decent value.
5. Numark DJ2GO2 Touch
The DJ2GO2 Touch is a truly tiny device, that comes with Serato DJ Lite. This latest model, launched in 2020, adds jogwheels that you can actually scratch with – hence “Touch”.
There’s a sound card squeezed into that tiny body, so apart from the obviously limited controls, it has broadly what you’ll find in bigger controllers – and yet you can throw it into your holiday bag or even put it in your pocket!
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It makes a great second controller or back-up controller, and while it lacks the controls for “serious” DJ sets (no EQ at all, for instance), I know of several “serious” DJs who have prepared and mixed whole radio shows on just one of these, on a plane for instance – and it’s a steal at this price.
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