Introducing the top DJ controllers for 2023, our shortest list of the best options for aspiring and professional DJs alike. With the ever-evolving world of technology, the options for DJ controllers are wider than ever, making it difficult to choose the best one for your needs. That’s where we come in!
As the world’s leading DJ school, we thoroughly research and test all controllers, as of course we also teach with them, so we need to know them well. So here, we have compiled a list of the top DJ controllers available on the market in 2023. Elsewhere on this site you’ll find many more detailed lists – this one is for everyone who’s short of time and just wants the biggest recommendations.
Whether you’re a beginner looking for an entry-level controller or a seasoned professional in search of a high-end option, we’ve got you covered. Read on to discover the best DJ controllers you can choose in 2023…
- Best for most beginners: Pioneer DJ DDJ-FLX4
- Best for beginner scratch DJs: Pioneer DJ DDJ-REV1
- Best for party/livestreaming DJs: Denon DJ SC Live 4
- Best for cutting edge DJing: Rane Four
- Best for club DJs: Pioneer DJ DDJ-1000
- Honourable mentions
5 Best DJ Controllers For 2023
1. Best for most beginners: Pioneer DJ DDJ-FLX4
The replacement for the long-popular DDJ-400, the DDJ-FLX4 offers evolution rather than revolution, but the changes are meaningful.
Firstly, it now works with Serato DJ as well as Pioneer DJ’s own Rekordbox DJ platform, which means beginners aren’t tied to a platform when they haven’t yet decided which one is right for them. Secondly, it works with Pioneer DJ’s mobile version of Rekordbox via its USB-C connection, so iOS and Android users can DJ with it too.
On top of that, it has some innovative features to help beginner DJs get great results, helping with beatmixing and transitioning. You don’t have to use these at all, but if you’re just starting out, you’ll find them useful.
2. Best for beginner scratch DJs: Pioneer DJ DDJ-REV1
Scratch DJs using real turntables turn their turntables through 90 degrees, so that the tone arms are at the back, meaning the DJ is less likely to accidentally knock them when scratching. This means the pitch control moves from being to the right of the platter to above it, and the start/stop button moves from bottom left to bottom right.
So thinking about it, it’s curious that DJ controller manufacturers have never thought to design controllers laid out in that way too – after all, learning to DJ like that would better prepare budding scratch DJs for the day they graduate to real turntables.
Well, now they have – both this unit, the Serato DJ-powered Pioneer DJ DDJ-REV1, and the much more “pro” DDJ-REV7, go for this type of layout, and what’s more, the mixer sections of these controllers also ape the look and layout of pro scratch mixers, like the iconic DJM-S9 and the newer DJM-S7 and DJM-S11.
While not as good value as the DDJ-FLX4 above (because you would need to purchase or subscribe to the Pro version of the supplied Serato DJ Lite software to unlock many desirable features), if you aspire to being a scratch DJ and – as most scratch DJs do – you want to do so with Serato software, this is a great starting point.
3. Best for party/livestreaming DJs: Denon DJ SC Live 4
This semi-pro controller offers four channels, and you can use it without a computer thanks to its built-in Engine DJ operating system, which is powerful: It offers WiFi music streaming service integration and versatile DJ lighting control, as well as modern features like key sync and flexible beatgridding.
Read this next: 10 Things You Need To Know Before Buying The Denon DJ SC Live 4
However, the Denon DJ SC Live 4 also unlocks Serato DJ Pro, making it a powerful laptop DJ controller too, so you get two “modes” to choose from. Add to that its built-in speakers – which are good enough for practising or even for small parties at home – and you’ve got a great all-rounder at a price that’s lower than similar fully “pro” options, like the Denon DJ Prime 4.
Price: $1299 / £1129 / €1299
Buy it now: Amazon
Read our review: Denon DJ SC Live 4 (& SC Live 2) Standalone Controllers Review
4. Best for cutting edge DJing: Rane Four
This four-channel, high-quality Serato DJ Pro controller has a considerable ace up its sleeve: “Stems Split”, a feature currently only found on this unit.
Stems – the ability to separate, in real time, the vocals, melody, bassline and drums of a track – is an exciting feature that was recently added to Serato DJ Pro software. You can use it on most Serato controllers, but the Rane Four goes further: With Stems Split, you can instantly “split” a song to the acapella and the instrumental across two channels, so you can add independent effects to each part, even loop and scratch the separate stems, as if they were two completely separate tracks.
Throw in lots of other high-end features such as pro ins/outs, great microphone channels, replaceable faders, all-metal build, OLED FX info screens, in-jog displays, and standalone mixer capability with hardware effects, and you’ve got possibly the best Serato DJ controller ever made.
5. Best for club DJs: Pioneer DJ DDJ-1000
A relatively old controller but still current, the Pioneer DJ DDJ-1000 was a ground-breaker when it was first released, because it was the first DJ controller to feature club-style jogwheels and a club mixer layout.
It’s proved the test of time: With four channels, standalone mixer capability, and hardware effects similar to those found on pro club mixers, this is still a great choice for DJs who play in clubs on Pioneer gear (or aspire to), and who also want something similar to use at home.
Want extra gear help? Grab your free PDF: The Digital DJ Gear Buyer’s Guide
Note that it is a Rekordbox controller, which will be the right choice for most DJs, but that there is also a Serato DJ Pro version, called the DDJ-1000SRT; it’s not quite as accomplished (as the Serato mapping isn’t quite as good as this one), but it’s still pretty good, and has also proven to be popular over the years.
They didn’t quite make this list, but you can’t go too far wrong with:
- Traktor Kontrol S4 Mk 3 – Best for Traktor
- Rane One – Best “vinyl feel” Serato motorised controller
- Roland DJ-707M – Best pro mobile DJ Serato controller
- Numark Mixtrack Platinum FX – Better-than-entry level Serato controller with paddles
- Pioneer DJ XDJ-RX3 – Popular Rekordbox/standalone hybrid unit
These controllers offer a range of features and capabilities that make them well-suited for a variety of DJing styles and settings. Whether you’re a professional DJ looking for a high-end controller with advanced features, or a beginner looking for an affordable and easy-to-use option, one of these controllers is sure to meet your needs.
Read this next: Best DJ Headphones For 2023
Remember to check out our reviews of these as linked above, and once you’ve made your choice, join thousands of other DJs and get the perfect head start in your DJing by signing up to The Complete DJ Course, our flagship training programme for beginner DJs and those returning to the hobby.
What’s your pick for best DJ controller 2023? Any others not mentioned that you think should be on this list? Let us know in the comments.