• Price: $287/€286
  • Rating:

The Next Beat by Tiësto DJ Controller Review

Phil Morse
Last updated 23 March, 2022

3473

The Lowdown

The Next Beat is an entry-level DJ controller designed for beginners. It’s nothing special design-wise, but it does include a useful trick of Midi-over-Bluetooth, making it easier to connect to iPads and iPhones than any other such device. It works with beginner-friendly DJ software, including Beatport’s web DJ app, and comes with some basic video training. It is endorsed by DJ Tiësto, but the included training is not made by him. Ultimately it’s not a bad choice for total beginners, but would be better if it worked with, say, Serato too.

Video Review

First Impressions / Setting up

First, I have to say that with Tiësto’s name emblazoned all over the box, I was expecting deep involvement from the man himself, and I assumed the training videos advertised as part of the package would be “by” him. They’re not – but as you’ll see, that isn’t actually such a big issue.

Upon registering your Next Beat unit on their website, you are given access to a slickly designed set of training videos that not only talk you through the basics of setting the unit up, but also the basics of DJing. There’s only about 30-40 minutes of training when it comes down to it, but it’s a good start and better than most companies manage. The DJ they’ve used to present the training, Mike Williams, is personable and enthusiastic.

The video tutorials are embedded within the Beatport DJ app – users can easily toggle between viewing a larger video or seeing more of the software.

The controller itself feels like countless controllers made over the years by brands like Hercules and Gemini. It’s OK. Build is alright, and the buttons are firm enough. The knobs definitely feel cheap though, and there are some weird design decisions, not least the pitch faders being top left of the jogwheels. While everything is spaciously laid out, it is not built to the standards of the best controllers around this price point, such as the Pioneer DJ DDJ-400, Pioneer DJ DDJ-REV1, or the Numark Mixtrack Pro/Platinum FX.

Read this next: 5 Best DJ Controllers Under $500

At least it comes with a decent array of connectors and power leads, and when it comes to using it with software, it in fact has a couple of innovations up its sleeve.

Firstly, it works with Beatport DJ, which is a DJ app that runs in a web browser. As the unit comes with a month of free Beatport Link (the music streaming service), a new user could start DJing very quickly this way.

For those wanting to get a bit more involved, it also works with Algoriddim’s djay Pro AI software (Mac and iOS/iPadOS, by subscription) that brings you far more features, and also the chance to use the software on mobile apps.

The djay app is free, but you have to pay for a subscription if you want the good stuff!

In order to achieve the latter, The Next Beat has a cable that lets you take a special version of the output from your device’s headphones socket (yes, you’ll probably need an Apple headphones adaptor to do that) and plug into the back of the DJ controller, giving you both headphones and speakers outputs but using your iPhone/iPad’s built-in audio interface.

This uses the ages-old “mono splitter” trick, and it works well enough for beginners. What’s clever though is the way the unit controls the djay Pro AI software on iPhone/iPad: over Bluetooth. It’s a smart idea to wire the audio but have the Midi over Bluetooth, because audio over Bluetooth would have unacceptable delay, but Midi is fine, and it means there’s no need for some kind of Midi interface.

In Use

It’s actually OK to DJ on, in the main. At least everything is spacious, as the unit is relatively large for a two-channel controller. And while the knobs do feel rather cheap, the lights behind the pads are bright, and they’ve actually made the lights under the jogwheels rotate when you’re playing, which is unusual at this price point.

Despite some cheap hardware choices, the lighting on the pads and jogwheels look great.

Unfortunately, the jogwheel control, at least on Algoriddim’s djay Pro AI, is poor. When you spin the wheel forwards or back, for effect or to “scrub”, as soon as you take your hand off the wheel, the track continues to play even though the wheel is still spinning. This is unusual and unnatural, and is hopefully something they can address in a firmware update, because it’s a basic of DJing to have reliable, “one-to-one” jogwheels.

While getting started with the web app option is easiest, to really use the features of the controller to the full you’ll have to use the djay Pro AI software, which involves a subscription for all functions – and to be clear, while it does work on mobile, it’s only on iPhone and iPad, not Android. Even then, it’s honestly best to use djay Pro AI on a Mac to really unlock the full features, and get proper stereo sound, as the cable for iPhones and iPads is a bit of a hack, albeit a long-accepted one.

If you do use the “proper” DJ software option, you get lots of FX, auto and manual looping, a sampler, key shifting – most of what you’d expect from a modern two-channel DJ system is controllable right from the unit.

Learn to DJ on ANY gear: The Complete DJ Course

Conclusion

There’s been a lot of thought gone into getting beginners started “out of the box” with both the Beatport web app and with mobile devices. This is something that established companies in this space could definitely learn from.

The bias towards music streaming services is indicative of the future. The latter is surely the way other DJ companies will go too, sooner or later (indeed, Numark already has with its Mixstream Pro product).

The biggest disadvantage with The Next Beat apart from average hardware is that it doesn’t work with any of the big platforms, namely Serato, Rekordbox, Traktor, or Virtual DJ. I’d expect Virtual DJ software to begin functioning with this unit soon enough (the makers of that software make it their job to ensure it works with just about any DJ gear), but compatibility won’t be coming for any of the others. If this is likely to be important to you, you should look elsewhere.

“Big four” DJ software compatibility is not currently available on The Next Beat, so we’d steer you away from this controller if using one of the big platforms is important to you.

If not, though, ultimately, it does what it sets out to do – lets anyone DJ easily and quickly (or at least, as easily and quickly as possible), and offers thoughtful basic training too, which is maybe just what a certain type of beginner needs to get “hooked” and not get disillusioned with DJing as a hobby.

Read this next: How To DJ – Play Your First DJ Set In Just 4 Hours!

Not bad, then, and there are some neat ideas here too. It’d certainly be a lot of fun for a parent and child, for instance, to learn together on. The company behind The Next Beat has tried to do something a bit different, for which it should be commended. Just don’t buy this expecting any in-depth training from Tiësto himself, as his involvement is really more a marketing thing.

Click here for your free DJ Gear and software guide