Your Questions: Are DJ Controllers Reliable?

DJ Vintage
Read time: 2 mins
Last updated 3 August, 2017

DJ controllers nowadays are a mature technology, and in fact your laptop is most likely to let you down, which is why controllers like the XDJ-RX that don’t need a laptop are becoming interesting to DJs.

Digital DJ Tips member Mat writes: “I am new to DJ controllers, but not new to DJing. In the past I have DJed several wedding and school dances, using just a laptop, plugged into a mixer, into speakers. My wife and I have been endlessly researching into controllers (mainly for Serato DJ), however according to reviews of several controllers, they sound a bit unreliable.

“Again, I’ve never owned a controller and only played with them on display in stores. Obviously when DJing (especially weddings) reliability is my main concern. It seems static electricity buildup is a common thing to cause controller problems while DJing live. So my question is: How reliable are DJ controllers? Who has a controller that has given them zero/minimal problems? Any advice is appreciated!”

Digital DJ Tips says:

Don’t worry. DJ controllers nowadays are a mature technology, and to answer your specific issue, are not particularly susceptible to static electricity as a source of problems (some early controllers were due to the jogwheel technology, but this doesn’t happen any more). I have never had the issue to be frank. I can see where you are coming from with reliability as a mobile DJ (being one myself), but having spare/backup options is way more important in my opinion – and that goes for any gear! I have seen $100k+ digital mixers go full reboot middle of show. So, no matter how much money you spend or what quality brand/product you buy, nothing will give you 100% reliability.

To be honest, it’s adding a computer into the fray that adds to the odds of something going wrong at some time, which is why controllers like Pioneer’s XDJ-RX are interesting, as they remove the need to carry a laptop. you may want to consider this route as it’s growing in popularity.

Whatever, a good idea is to carry an iPhone/iPad with some kind of playlist or premixed set ready to go and hooked up to the aux of the controller. Because such a set-up still leaves me with a single point of failure (the controller) I will most likely add a small mixer to this and run the controller through it. I will hook my iDevice up to the mixer too. Even if the controller conks out, I can still hit play on my iPhone and open the mixer fader and be playing music while I sort the rest out. Funny thing is, with all this spare and backup stuff I am still carrying way less than I was in vinyl and CD days!

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What’s your experience with controller reliability? got any scare stories, or has it all been plain sailing for you? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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