Looking to buy a Pioneer DJ Rekordbox controller, but not sure which to go for? In this article, I’ll explain to you what makes Rekordbox and Rekordbox controllers different from the pack, and then give you our five best DJ controllers/systems for Rekordbox in 2023, with both high-end and entry-level choices. Beginner or advanced, there is something for you in what follows.
What’s different about Rekordbox?
Rekordbox started life as a music library program, for preparing music to export to USB and play on Pioneer DJ’s club DJ systems – still the pro standard.
But as soon as Pioneer DJ added the ability for it to work as “real” DJ software with controllers, it instantly became a contender – and now, having reached Rekordbox 6.7, it is pretty much neck-and-neck with Serato as the market leader. Rekordbox, therefore, is Pioneer DJs own software that comes bundled with many of the company’s DJ controllers and systems.
Read this next: Best Serato DJ Controllers For 2023
Uniquely, any work you do to your music library when using Rekordbox as software with a DJ controller, can also be used when DJing “standalone” with Pioneer DJ gear (ie exporting your playlists to a drive that you plug in to such gear, away from laptops completely). This is something none of the other software platforms can offer.
If you’re buying a pure Rekordbox DJ controller in 2023, there is not a huge amount of choice, and there are only three controllers we’d recommend. But we have also included a couple of the most popular “all-in-one” DJ systems that let you DJ with or without a laptop, that we feel due to their price and features may well also appeal to Rekordbox laptop DJs.
5 Best Rekordbox DJ Controllers 2023
1. Pioneer DJ DDJ-FLX10
The DDJ-FLX10 is a direct replacement in 2023 for the now-discontinued DDJ-1000 (and, actually, the Serato-focused DDJ-1000SRT too), and brings everything the DDJ-1000 had, plus more. You get deep control over Rekordbox 6.7’s new Track Separation (aka stems) feature, an on-board DMX interface for easy lighting control via Rekordbox Lighting, and improved sound quality.
It’s also got hardware Beat FX onboard based on those you’ll find on the high-end DJM-A9 mixer and can work as a “real” mixer too, with external inputs for four sources and two mics, meaning the experience of using it is very much like DJing on pro Pioneer DJ club gear.
One for pro DJs who play open-format, and those who want an experience that’s as close to a CDJ / DJM set-up as possible in a controller. As a bonus, it also unlocks Serato DJ Pro, for an alternative software platform.
✅ Best control over Rekordbox software in any DJ controller
❌ You may be paying for a lot of features you may never want or need
2. Pioneer DJ DDJ-FLX4
To the other end of the price spectrum now, this entry-level two-channel controller takes the CDJ/DJM club set-up as its influence, and distils it into a portable device for home use and maybe bar gigs.
The deck controls and Beat FX layout help new DJs get up to speed with Pioneer DJ’s hardware workflow for easier transition when they start gigging at clubs, but this time they are strictly controlling the software effects – no hardware mixing or onboard effects on this unit, like with the DDJ-FLX10.
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Its predecessor, the DDJ-400, became a much-loved controller even among pro DJs, because it was small, laid out in a familiar way, and sturdy. The DDJ-FLX4 builds on that legacy, and as a first controller it is an ideal choice, not least because this improved model has some cool new tricks to help beginner DJs blend songs together more smoothly.
Buy one, and I suspect you would end up keeping it as a back-up or second device even after upgrading to something bigger down the line.
✅ Proven beginner controller that still feels similar to using club gear
❌ It’s new dark grey, rounded look is a step backwards from the DDJ-400 in some people’s eyes
3. Pioneer DJ DDJ-FLX6/GT
If you want a mid-priced, four-channel controller for Rekordbox, this is it. Think of it as a DDJ-FLX4 with two extra channels. It’s exactly the same build quality, with no extra inputs or outputs.
It has some gimmicks: Merge FX is the most successful, giving you “one knob instant build ups” (don’t overuse it!), but “Jog Cutter” is a pseudo-scratch feature that’s best forgotten.
The big sell are its awesome CDJ-style jogwheels, but it lacks in things you would expect at this price (a balanced output option, aux in), so weigh the pros and cons up carefully: One of the pros is that it unlocks Serato DJ Pro as well as Rekordbox, making it maybe better value than it at first appears to be.
✅ Easily the cheapest way to get pro-feeling CDJ-style jogwheels in any DJ gear
❌ Cheap feeling otherwise, with disappointing limitations for the price
Price: $649 / £569 / €639
Our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
More info: Pioneer DJ DDJ-FLX6-GT: 7 Things To Know Before Buying
Buy now: Amazon
4. Pioneer DJ XDJ-RX3
This is the first of two units featured here which can work as Rekordbox controllers but also work as standalone DJ consoles. The reason we’ve included it is that if you think you’re going to want to DJ with a laptop sometimes (maybe at home, when using streaming services for example) but you also want to be able to DJ without one (when gigging, for instance), then this may be a good choice.
It’s not best-in-class at anything, being only two channel and lacking the modern DJing features of, say, the DDJ-FLX10, but for not an awful lot more than that unit, you’re getting that standalone capability too (and it also works with Serato).
Not everyone wants all the latest bells and whistles, and if your priorities are a well-built, reliable, professional looking yet relatively portable DJ console that can do a bit of everything, you may decide this ticks enough of your boxes to be a no brainer for you. It’s certainly a very popular unit.
✅ A workhorse – reliable, pro looking, jack of all trades
❌ It does nothing better than any of the other units here; two channels only
5. Pioneer DJ XDJ-XZ
We’re including the XDJ-XZ even though, again, it is a “standalone” DJ unit (ie you can DJ on it with its built-in screen and a USB drive with your playlists exported to it, no laptop in sight). The reason we’re doing so is that we think it is actually best thought of as a DJ controller first, standalone unit second.
The reason for this is that as a standalone DJ system it kinda sucks – only two of its four channels work when you don’t have a laptop attached, for instance. Plug in your Rekordbox laptop though, and it’s a different story.
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Now you have a full-sized, powerful, pro-build quality DJ controller with all the features you could ask for, including myriad inputs and outputs, great hardware effects, Pioneer DJ’s Pro Link for adding, say, CDJ-3000s – it’s basically the closest you can get to a pro DJ set-up in a single box.
So if you primarily want to DJ with Rekordbox and you don’t want dedicated buttons for the new Track Separation aka stems features (see DDJ-FLX10 above), it remains a tempting if pricey purchase. (Oh, and it unlocks Serato DJ Pro, too.)
✅ Closest you’ll get to the look, feel and features of real pro gear in any controller
❌ Getting a bit long in the tooth now – will an XDJ-XZ2 be along soon?
Price: $2999 / £2049 / €2459
Our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
More info: Pioneer DJ XDJ-XZ Standalone Serato/Rekordbox DJ System Review
Buy now: Amazon
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