16 Best Serato DJ Controllers For 2023

Phil Morse | Read time: 8 mins
Dj Gear Serato DJ controllers
Last updated 9 January, 2023

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Serato DJ is one of the most popular laptop DJ programs, and a good choice if you’re a DJ who plays hip-hop, open-format sets, who wants to scratch… but it’s equally at home with house and electronic music, too.

Features-wise it has most of what you want, including the new “battleground” feature for DJ software – stems. Bear in mind though that unless your controller unlocks Serato DJ Pro, it will come with just Serato DJ Lite, a cut-down version of the software, and you’ll have to pay for the full version (which isn’t cheap – more on this later).

Serato DJ is a good “all round” choice, used for a variety of DJing styles spanning open format to electronic.

Also, if your controller doesn’t come with the paid-for Expansion Pack “Pitch ‘n Time”, you’ll want that too – just trust us on this. Unsurprisingly nowadays, there’s also a subscription option available for the software, tempting considering the high outright purchase price.

When it comes to what DJ controller you should use with Serato, you’re spoilt for choice, as there is plenty of gear out there made specially for this software.

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All Serato DJ gear is licensed by the company, so any controller you buy that works with Serato is going to work well – there will be no difficulty setting up or using it.

In this article, we’ll look at our current favourite Serato DJ controllers, across a number of manufacturers. We’ll tell you why we like each one, and who we think it’d suit the best. They’re not all “new for 2023” – rather, they’re the best that’s available right now.

Contents

Why should I trust you?

There are many lists of controllers out there, and if you’ve been searching for info on Serato controllers, this may not be the first article you’ve come across. So why should you trust us?

Basically, because we are actually DJs. Our company, Digital DJ Tips, is the leading DJ school in the world. We have hands-on experience with all of these units, and we’ve actually reviewed them properly (we link to our reviews below).

Also, we don’t take a penny from any of these manufacturers. We are 100% independent, funded totally by our students – so you can trust that we’ll tell it how it is.

Best Serato DJ Controllers For 2023

We’ve put these roughly in price order, from highest to lowest – that doesn’t necessarily indicate “best to worst” though, so read the reviews to decide what suits your purposes the best – we recommend them all.

Denon DJ Prime 4


Really, this is the flagship DJ console in the Engine DJ system, a standalone (ie no laptop needed) way of DJing – but by making it compatible with Serato too, Denon DJ opened up another intriguing use for it.

✅ Well-built, attractive, imposing professional DJ system
✅ Big central touchscreen for good feedback from the software
❌ Not specifically designed for Serato, so controls labelling is not all accurate
❌ Because it’s designed as a standalone DJ system, it’s an expensive purchase if all you want to do with it is DJ with Serato on a laptop

Price: $2499 / £2149 / €2499
Our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Full review: Denon DJ Prime 4 Review
Buy now: Amazon


Rane Four

Rane and Serato have knocked it out of the park with this controller, it’s got so many firsts: It’s the first Rane controller with four channels, the first Rane controller that doesn’t have motorised jogwheels… and the first controller with built-in full control for Serato Stems. One for performance-focused DJs.

✅ First controller with full Serato Stems support
✅ Innovative “Stems Split” offers mind-boggling live remixing potential
✅ Packed with features, including hardware FX and four channels
❌ Some will miss the motorised jogwheels of the Rane One

Price: $1999 approx
Our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Full review: Rane FOUR Controller Review
Buy now: Rane website


Pioneer DJ DDJ-REV7

Pioneer DJ’s DDJ-REV7 is a first for the company, in that Pioneer DJ has never released a motorised platter DJ controller before. And they’ve done a great job – this is a scratch DJ’s dream, giving the closest thing in a controller to two turntables and a DJM-S series mixer.

✅ Decks and mixer designed to give the classic “scratch layout”
✅ Innovative motorised jogwheels offer central displays
❌ Bigger than the Rane One, its closest competitor

Price: $1999 / £1829 / €2149
Our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Full review: Pioneer DJ DDJ-REV7 Serato Controller Review
Buy now: Amazon


Rane One

Another dream controller for scratch DJs, this is a heavyweight option that is too bulky to tuck under your arm and move easily – but again, it is the closest you’ll ever get to the feel of using turntables in a DJ controller.

✅ Unique motorised platter Serato DJ controller, that feels just like using mini turntables
✅ Exceptional Rane build quality
❌ Only two channels – great for scratch DJs, but some may want four

Price: $1599 / £1529 / €1649
Our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Full review: Rane One Review
Buy now: Amazon


Pioneer DJ DDJ-1000SRT

If you want a Serato DJ controller that you can happily use in pro situations, and that looks pretty similar to club gear, this is it.

✅ Club-style layout
✅ All the pro features you’ll likely need, including standalone mixer
❌ Phono channels iffy
❌ Auto looping layout is fiddly

Price: $1399 / £1399 / €1849
Our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Full review: Pioneer DJ DDJ-1000SRT Review
Buy now: Pioneer DJ website


Other ways to DJ with Serato

While a full 75% of our students here at Digital DJ Tips use controllers, it’s by no means the only way to DJ, and by no means the only way you can DJ with Serato.

Pro DJs who use Serato in clubs often plug into those club set-ups (invariably made by Pioneer DJ), and use the club gear to control Serato on their laptops, which essentially turns the club equipment into a huge DJ controller.

But it is also possible to DJ with Serato on any gear – any old CD players or turntables – using a DVS (“Digital Vinyl System”), for which you would typically use special records or CDs to feed computer code to the software to control your music, and an interface box or special mixer to plug the computer in.

Learn to DJ with ANY gear: The Complete DJ Course

And finally, you can DJ with just your laptop, using keyboard shortcuts, with a paid-for Expansion Pack for Serato called “Serato Play” – good if you want to be able to practise DJ sets with just your laptop perched on your knees, for instance.

Denon DJ SC Live 4

Both a standalone (Engine DJ-powered) DJ console and a four-channel Serato controller, this one innovates by having built-in speakers, which are good enough for practice or even living room parties. Note: The SC Live 2 is similar but inferior, with only two channels and fewer features.

✅ Lots of power, and the choice of either using Serato or its built-in system
✅ Speakers are genuinely useful, especially for practice
❌ Not as tight a mapping of Serato as you get on the best dedicated Serato-only controllers

Price: $1299 / £1129 / €1299
Our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Full review: Denon DJ SC Live 4 (& SC Live 2) Standalone Controllers Review
Buy now: Amazon


Roland DJ-707M

In many ways, this is the controller for DJs who really know – it may not look flashy, but it is the best specified device on this whole list, and as such, would particularly suit the working DJ looking for something easy to transport.

✅ Utterly professional DJ controller, with all the inputs, outputs and advanced features you could possibly want
✅ Lots of unique functions, including EQ and compression over the master out, and a “zone” to play a playlist to one room while DJing in another
❌ Relatively small size may make using it fiddly for some

Price: $999 / £925 / €979
Our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Full review: Roland DJ-707M Review
Buy now: Roland website


Pioneer DJ DDJ-FLX6


For home DJing and learning the ropes, you get a lot of features here – although its insides are really very similar to something like the DDJ-FLX4, meaning this could be seen as quite expensive for what you get.

✅ Full-sized design, including excellent pro-style jogwheels
✅ Looks like pro controllers
❌ Lacking many of the features of semi-pro and pro controllers

Price: $599 / £539 / €619
Our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Full review: Pioneer DJ DDJ-FLX6 Review
Buy now: Amazon


Reloop Ready

Designed by our very own DJ Angelo, the Reloop Ready is the controller Angelo wished he could have to throw in his bag when on club tours, offering unprecedented control over Serato for such a device.

✅ A controller no bigger than a 13” laptop, but with pretty much every pro software control on it
✅ A unique tool for set preparation for touring DJs, and also ultra-lightweight DJ set-ups (eg for livestreaming on the road)
❌ Only has two-band EQ
❌ Expensive for what it is

Price: $349 / £249 / €319
Our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Full review: Reloop Ready Review
Buy now: Reloop website


Pioneer DJ DDJ-FLX4

Pioneer’s replacement for its popular Rekordbox-only DDJ-400, the DDJ-FLX4 works with both platforms, and it’s good to see controllers that don’t tie beginners to one platform, when they may be unsure about the right route for them.

✅ A proven design, based upon pro Pioneer DJ club gear
✅ Innovative USB-C connectivity, meaning you can use it easily with mobile devices as well as laptop software (although Serato is laptop only)
❌ It is a Rekordbox controller first, and a Serato one second, meaning the Serato mapping is a bit limited

Price: $299 / £279 / €319
Our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Full review: Pioneer DJ DDJ-FLX4 Controller Review
Buy now: Pioneer DJ website


Hercules DJ Control Inpulse 500

Hercules has always produced quirky controllers, and this one does have its quirks, including a tool to help you beatmix using arrow lights. It’s a great value choice if you want a bigger-sized entry-level controller.

✅ Looks great, and feels substantial with its built-in feet
✅ Lots of inputs and outputs that you wouldn’t necessarily expect for this price
❌ Limited FX control
❌ LEDs very dim (an issue for DJing in the daytime)

Price: $299 / £259 / €279
Our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Full review: Hercules DJ Control Inpulse 500 Review
Buy now: Amazon


Serato DJ Pro vs Serato DJ Lite

The cheaper controllers in this roundup come with Serato DJ Lite, a stripped-down version of Serato’s software. Serato wants you to upgrade to Serato DJ Pro, and if you get serious about your DJing, you will indeed want to – just trust us on that.

It’ll cost you a considerable amount to upgrade (although they have occasional offers), so do bear in mind that “hidden” cost when pricing up and comparing the various systems here – we’ve marked every controller that comes with Serato DJ Lite clearly in this round-up.

Read this next: Is DJ Software Becoming Too Expensive?

Numark Mixtrack Platinum FX

Mixtrack Platinum FX Review An immensely popular model of controller over the years, the Mixtrack series has come to define entry-level DJing for many – and this (and its sister, the two-deck, display-less Mixtrack Pro FX) are the best incarnations yet.

✅ Well-built controller with a mature design, looks pricier than it is
✅ Useful displays in the jogwheels, and scratch DJ-friendly paddle FX
✅ Everything the average amateur DJ would need, even (fiddly) control over decks three and four of the software
❌ Only four “true” performance pads per deck, not the more pro eight
❌ Comes with Serato DJ Lite – you’d need to pay for an upgrade if you want the full software

Price: $279 / £284 / €299
Our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Full review: Numark Mixtrack Platinum FX Review
Buy now: Amazon


Pioneer DJ DDJ-REV1

Released at the same time as the DDJ-REV7, the DDJ-REV1 takes the same concept (a “scratch” controller), but delivers it in a controller aimed at the exact opposite end of the market: Entry-level DJs.

✅ Something different at what can be a very “copycat” end of the market
✅ Will have immediate appeal for aspiring scratch DJs who one day want to use turntables
❌ Performance pads feel cramped due to where they are in the design

Price: $249 / £279 / €309
Our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Full review: Pioneer DJ DDJ-REV1 Serato Controller Review
Buy now: Amazon


Numark Party Mix Live

A quirky, fun controller (actually, a brace of controllers with its sister version, the speaker-less Party Mix II), that will suit kids and home parties.

✅ Unique entry-level controller with a built-in, half-decent speaker system and light show for parties at home
✅ You get a lot for your money
❌ Only comes with Serato DJ Lite – factor in the upgrade price
❌ Very basic feature set, so only for the super-casual DJ

Price: $180 / £114 / €125
Our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Full review: Numark Party Mix Live Review
Buy now: Amazon


Pro vs Consumer?

We’ve listed every type of device here, from the lowliest to the best money can buy.

The truth is you could DJ in a club on any of these and get away with it – some may raise eyebrows, but technically it’s possible. However, pro controllers (and you can tell by the cost), tend to have features that make them better suited for those making a living from DJing.

These include better build quality, better sound quality, pro inputs (decent mic channels, inputs for turntables and CDJs), extra laptop inputs (for easy DJ switchovers), pro audio outputs (so you can run high quality audio to a PA system as well as your own speakers), and more.

Want help choosing gear? Grab your free PDF: The Digital DJ Gear Buyer’s Guide

If you’re just starting out, you should get a consumer controller. All pro DJs should carry a back-up device; that’s what your first purchase will become if and when you get more “pro” yourself, and upgrade to something better.


Hercules DJControl Starlight


One of a brace of tiny controllers in this list, the other being the similar Numark DJ2GO2, and a fantastic little device to let you DJ where normal controllers can’t go.

✅ Impossibly tiny, cute controller
✅ You can actually scratch on its tiny jogwheels
✅ Bass EQ and filter controls – making transitions sound surprisingly good
❌ Only good as a secondary / backup device – too small to use as an “only” controller
❌ Comes with Serato DJ Lite – you’d need to pay for an upgrade if you want the full software

Price: $99 / £69 / €84
Our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Full review: Hercules DJControl Starlight Review
Buy now: Amazon


Numark DJ2GO2 Touch

Numark started this “ultra tiny” DJ controller thing, with the original DJ2GO. This one improves on it by adding touch-sensitive jogwheels.

✅ Another tiny, cute controller
✅ You can actually scratch on its tiny jogwheels
❌ No EQ controls at all
❌ Only good as a secondary / backup device – too small to use as an “only” controller
❌ Comes with Serato DJ Lite – you’d need to pay for an upgrade if you want the full software

Price: $89 / £65 / €60
Our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Full review: Numark DJ2GO2 Touch Review
Buy now: Amazon


Read this next: 6 Essential Accessories For Every DJ

Finally…

In this article, we’ve looked at pretty much all the current Serato DJ controllers we recommend to our students. There’s no such thing as a “best” controller, because as you’ve seen, they are often very different from each other.

The best thing to do is list your needs, be honest about where you’re at in your DJing and what you really need (against what you vaguely want), and choose accordingly.

You’ll also, of course, need to see what’s available where you live and at what price, which will probably narrow your choice down even further.

Learn to DJ with ANY gear: The Complete DJ Course

Click through to our reviews and review videos from the links above, and feel free to ask any questions in the comments below. Happy hunting!

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