Over To You: Are DJ Controllers Badly Built?

Phil Morse | Founder & Tutor
Read time: 2 mins
Last updated 4 April, 2018

Our reader has good words to say for the late Novation Twitch, but the thinks that controllers are generally designed to a price, unlike “pro” gear. He wonders – why?

Digital DJ Tips reader Tony writes: “I would like to raise an issue with the build quality of DJ controllers. The first controller I had was the Novation Twitch which I still have, use and enjoy. The second controller was a Pioneer DDJ-SX, an awesome piece of kit, let down just like every other controller I can think of by its design. What am I talking about? The fact that the channel faders aren’t user replaceable.

“The crossfader on many controllers is replaceable which is great, but just recently my SX slapped me in the chops for £200 when I had to pay to get the channel faders replaced. I also own a Pioneer DJM-800 mixer with all the faders user replaceable, so why aren’t controllers, especially top end controllers, designed with user replaceable faders? Is it to fleece the general public or is it just because controllers are cheaply made pieces of kit, not meant for pro use?

“I’m left very disappointed with the quality of my SX and I’m now waiting for a genuine pro build quality controller to come on to the market. Until then I’ll be using my trusty Novation Twitch. And if I say or write the words ‘controller’ or ‘replaceable’ again today I’ll explode!”

Digital DJ Tips says:

To say one thing first, the Novation Twitch is just as guilty as any controller, with nothing replaceable as far as my memory serves me. That said, you’re right, I can’t think of any DJ controller where all faders are replaceable.

I guess the thinking is that DJ controllers simply aren’t bought by real-life businesses to fit in professional DJ booths. There, it is always separates (ie separate mixers and media players). So you could be right: It could be that even right up there at the high end, manufacturers still assume controllers will be used in only homes or for occasional public gigs – something that is possibly a reasonable assumption.

I also have to ask, what are you doing with your controller? Would you say you’re doing anything extra strenuous or hardwearing on its poor moving parts?

Anyway, your issue has been well and truly raised! I wonder if anyone (readers or manufacturers) cares to dip in and give us some views on why this may be?

So – over to you. Is the build quality of controllers lacking against separates? If so, why? Manufacturers, consumers, DJs, engineers – anyone and everyone is open to let us know your view on this in the comments,

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