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    Hello everybody! I’m new to digital dj tips and I love the site so far! I am a beginner dj, been practicing for about 6 months now and I was looking to get better equipment especially a controller. Ideally, I want a controller that I can just use cds or a usb drive on instead of buying a computer and software. The problem is that being an 18 year old college freshman, I can’t afford the top of the line pioneer cdjs and mixers. So I was wondering what you guys think would be a good controller for a fairly good price that would be good for a beginner, preferably that can be used without a laptop?

    Thank You,

    John S.

    DJ Vintage

    Well, the top of the line Pioneer CDJ/DJM combination isn’t something to aspire owning in our opinion. While it won’t hurt – at some point – learning how to use this “club standard” setup (it’s a changing landscape though!), it is most definitely not the most advised route to take.

    The concept of “laptop-less” Digital DJ-ing is slowly coming to reality. There are a few controllers that support either RekordBox (Pioneer) or Engine (Denon) to be able to play without a laptop. That said, they are still the higher end controllers and I would not be telling someone relatively new to the game to go for one of those. Adding CDs to the mix (controller) will only further limit your choice.

    An alternative to buying a laptop, you may already have an iPad? In which case there are plenty of options to use a beginner/intermediate controller with an iPad. And if you were to look at used gear (both iPad and controller) you might be able to snag a deal somewhere that will give you good value for money as you save up and figure out what it is you eventually want.

    DJ Tucker

    I would highly recommend sticking to a laptop. If you are in college you can get one for school and mixing. If you really want to avoid the laptop, definitely get an iPad like DJ Vintage suggested. I’ve done both but find it way easier to use a laptop. I’m spoiled and can choose from a few combinations of rigs, unlike you (though I’d trade being a poor college kid for a middleclass 40-year-old on most days). I had a wego3 and liked it. I used it with a laptop and with my iOS devices and it sounded great. I think the Beatpad2 is a wego3 on steroids so I’d grab that. Problem is, once you have one of those controllers, and an iPad, you’ve spent $1000-$1200.

    DJ Vintage

    Unfortunately, getting a laptop-less controller is gonna cost you more than that and still requires a PC of sorts to prepare your RekordBox or Engine sticks with.

    If you go the laptop route, a decent laptop (not even talking MacBook) will set you back quite a bit of money.

    +1 for getting a laptop to cover both study and DJ needs. GO dual-boot!

    Allan Murray

    I would take a look at either the wego 3 with the Ipad running Djay 2, or the Pioneer DDJ SB2 with a laptop running Serato DJ, you can get a decent laptop on ebay that will run Serato for under £200.

    Or if you want to ditch the laptop and go the CDJ route, then the CDJ 400 & DJM 400 are worth a look.

    I’ve seen this package go for £400-£450 on ebay.

    Or you could go for the all in one XDJ RX which is going for £400 on ebay…



    And ipad with a kontrol z1 running traktor dj, it has saved me a few times when my laptop froze during gigs

    A z1 is about £130 uk.

    DJ Vintage

    Which is no wonder (400-series for a low price) as they go back to 2007 or so LOL.

    As for controllers for iPad, I personally don’t like the WeGo because of the layout that is far from “regular” layouts. I am sure you can get used to it, but switching to other platforms will most likely have you looking for the right buttons. Just me of course.

    I have had the iDJ Pro (Numark) which still has the best physical iPad integration around I think, the iPad slots into the actual controller. Bar the lack of a channel fader (rotary knob instead) it has everything and more and the iPad sits firmly and safely inside.

    My money currently would be on the BeatPad 2, works both as midi controller and with iPad, has all the knobs and buttons you’d expect. Things like good and pretty big jog wheels, filter buttons, gain buttons and 8 performance pads per channel and long tempo sliders make that this controller will be with you way past starting level and well into playing out.


    Thank you for the reply!

    Can CDS/USB drive still be used on the XDJ-R1 without the use of a iPhone or iPod?

    DJ Vintage

    The XDJ-R1 imho is the worst of all worlds. You pay for CD-slots you probably won’t use, you get CDJ350/DJM350 quality gear in an all-in-one package (the 350 is at the very bottom of the Pioneer totempole) and effectively none of the things that help make a controller better than a CDJ/DJM combination (like plenty of cue point buttons or even performance pads, 3-way control knobs and buttons for FX per channel, just to name a few).

    Clearly it functions standalone. You can use it with just the CDs as you would the CDJ/DJM350 combination, same is true for using it with RekordBox. The functionality of RB is quite limited compared to the big CDJ brothers.

    At the end of the day, it is not something I’d invest in, unless I was 200% certain that it ticked all my boxes.

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