Your Questions: Overwhelmed Choosing A First Controller

Phil Morse | Founder & Tutor
Read time: 2 mins
Last updated 6 April, 2018

Everyone has to start somewhere, and when it comes to buying your first DJ controller, it can be hard to know where to start. We help one reader with that today.

Our reader Donnie Con writes: “So I have been searching a controller to buy and almost bought one, then I found out a couple days ago that you can use Spotify with various controllers. I currently have a prepaid two-year sub with Spotify so it’s more attractive to me to get one compatible with Algoriddim’s djay software, that of course can work with Spotify.

“I think I’d prefer a mid-level controller than a low budget one but again I’m not sure if I’m approaching this right. I fear I’ll spend $700+ and lose interest or pay $300 and need to upgrade soon.”

Digital DJ Tips says:

Spotify is great, especially when you’re starting out, because you have access to loads of music. Just bear in mind, though, that it’s not going to be much good for playing real gigs (you can’t cache your tunes locally with djay using it, so you’d be reliant on a rock solid internet connection, which most DJs would never do at a “real” gig), so you’ll still want to start building a local music collection as you learn.

While I understand your wish to buy something semi-decent, you don’t know enough about DJing at this stage to warrant it, and you may end up ditching Spotify (and controllers even), and DJing with vinyl, DVS, Pioneer pro gear, from USB… who knows? Certainly not you. So anything spent now may end up being wasted. That’s why I recommend spending as little as possible as you learn.

You can learn on anything nowadays really, as even cheap controllers usually do all the basics: even the Numark iDJ Live II will get you started with the software you want to use (it uses a mono splitter cable in place of an audio interface to cut costs, but comes in at under $100 if you can find one, as it’s getting old now).

Another good second-hand option with a lot more features including the all-important audio interface is the Pioneer DDJ-WeGO (original model from a few years back), and then upping in price as they’re more recent, the WeGO 2, 3, or the newest 4. (Sweet spot is probably the WeGO 2 for value, coming in at around $170).

There are a number of great controllers that cost more (look at Reloop’s Beatpads, for instance), but we’d go cheap at first. You can always sell again, especially if you buy second hand to start with, and you’ll lose little or nothing.

Anything you’d like to add to help our reader? Feel free to do so in the comments.

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