Are you a DJ, looking for the perfect DJ controllers to enhance your performance? This review has market-best picks lined up for you!
Having a suitable DJ setup is essential for a good DJ performance. If you have the wrong controller, the experience can be very unpleasant.
Our Recommendation: NI Traktor Kontrol S8.
We say this because this is a premium DJ controller that is good for professional DJ players.
However, the review also contains other DJ controllers that you can choose from. To find the best DJ controllers in the market, check out our well-researched review below.
A Spotlight On Some of The Best DJ Controllers 2022:
Top 5 Picks for the Best DJ Controllers
Do you want to find the best DJ controller for your setup? Check out the top five DJ controllers in the market.
If you are looking for a budget-friendly DJ controller, then the Pioneer DDJ-SB3 is the right option for you. It is an upgraded model of the older version DDJ-SB2 with some added features.
The new version comes packed with additional features such as the cue buttons, dedicated FX-fader, play/pause button, and pad scratch with pre-recorded effects.
Even though the model is budget-friendly, it is in no way less than its premium counterparts. The construction of the controller is sturdy, made from hard plastic. It has the look and feel of a professional DJ controller, despite its small and compact size.
The DDJ-SB3 has four decks that you can change using toggle buttons. Moreover, the controller has a level meter which is an essential feature.
The package includes Serato integration, even though it is an intro-version. If needed, you can map this for VirtualDJ or Traktor.
The DDJ-SB3 has all the standard controls that you will find in every other controller. It features two jogwheels and eight pads. Due to the presence of the Serato integration, you can use the controller right out of the box. You will not have to waste time with MIDI mappings.
Most people are worried about the scratching along with the build quality at such a low price. However, you will not be disappointed with either since the company aims for complete satisfaction even at a low-price range.
The DDJ-SB3 is very much compatible with the Rekordbox software by Pioneer. That makes it an excellent option for professional users.
If you are a beginner, then the DDJ-SB3 is the right DJ controller to start your journey.
- Four decks with two toggle button controls
- Presence of level meter
- Compatible with the Rekordbox software
- Professional and sturdy design
- Features just a single master output that is RCA jacks
- Limited number of FX buttons
- Rubbery and unsatisfying performance pads
The Numark NVII is costlier than the DDJ-SB3 but still provides you value for money. It is a great product for professionals since it can be a bit costly for new DJs. The model falls between the budget-friendly and premium radar.
The Numark NV original was the first DJ controller to feature a built-in screen for data display. In this model, you will find two main improvements that are library control and data accuracy.
You will find similarities in the design cues of the NV original and Numark NVII. The only difference lies in the black jogwheels that are present on the Numark NVII.
Numark NVII has a better screen than its earlier model, which is brighter and has gridlines. These gridlines help you get improved waveform visualizations along with enhanced sorting capabilities.
With this new and improved screen, you can go laptop-free for any of your performances.
If you are a DJ who is always on the move, Numark NVII is the right model for you. This controller features a compact and simple design that is highly advantageous for mobile DJs.
The jogwheels on the Numark NVII are touch-capacitive and adaptive. Adaptive jogwheels are those where the behavior of the jogwheels changes according to your usage patterns.
The FX knobs in the controller are also touch-capacitive. Here, you can change the effect easily by touching the controller’s FX level. It is perfect for build-ups if you use it with the controller’s FX roll.
The Numark NVII is good for DJs who want to upgrade to a more serious controller from a budget one.
- Screen of the controller is more improved
- Touch-capacitive FX and jogwheels
- Compact design
- Adaptive jogwheels
- Pad size is very small
- creen of the model is chunky
- Mixer functionality is basic
NI Traktor Kontrol S8
The NI Traktor Kontrol S8 is the only premium DJ controller on this list. This controller is not only expensive, but it also has some of the best features. Due to the high price range, the controller may not be affordable for beginners and newly turned professionals.
Seasoned professionals will find this controller worth their money.
One of the first things you will see about the NI Traktor Kontrol S8 is its sturdiness and size. It is a bulky and heavy-weighted controller that weighs about 11lbs.
The absence of jogwheels is another highly noticeable thing. It is one of the premium DJ controllers that do not have jogwheels. It is the absence of jogwheels that shows how technology is advancing with time.
In place of the jogwheels, you will find two touchstrips. The functionality of the jogwheels and touchstrips are the same. However, the latter is much more space-saving.
You will not need a DJ laptop while using this controller. That is because the controller has two LED screens. You can comfortably use the complete unit without needing a laptop.
The laptop-less structure may not be suitable for everyone. It depends on the playing style that you are used to. All of the knobs and buttons are of high quality and very sturdy.
If, as a DJ, you don’t manually match beats, this could be the perfect match for you. It is a high-quality four-channel mixer which is one of the most favored things about this controller.
- Do not need MIDI mapping
- Many knobs and buttons for easy control
- Four-channel mixer that is sturdily built
- Has two touchstrips instead of jogwheels
- Not suitable for manual beatmatching
- Not a properly operational second library screen
- Not easy to get used to the touchstrips
Numark MixTrack Platinum
Another very budget-friendly model on the list is the Numark MixTrack Platinum. It is a very popular DJ controller in the market and is highly recommended for beginners.
The Numark MixTrack Platinum is not a suitable option for professionals. However, the features present in it are suitable for beginners who want to avoid gimmicks.
The Numark MixTrack Platinum has a unique feature that you will not find in most budget-friendly controllers; the presence of LED displays in the jogwheels. In this display, you can view the time left for a certain track, the track progress indication, and BPM.
The LED display is the USP of this model, which makes it favorable despite the low price.
There are touchstrips on the controller used to scan tracks quickly. When using this feature, you will not have to use the jogwheels. This model also has dedicated gain knobs which are essential for making adjustments.
The jogwheels of the Numark MixTrack Platinum are touch-capacitive. That means you can control the jogwheels with the strength of your touch. Depending on what setting you want, your touch strength would vary.
For people who love indulging in manual beatmatching, the Numark MixTrack Platinum is a dream come true. It has perfect pitch sliders which are highly responsive. These sliders provide you with the perfect resistance, which is essential for manual beatmatching.
One thing that will surprise you is the professional build quality and design of the model. Despite being at the lower end of the pricing spectrum, the Numark MixTrack Platinum is sturdy and looks like a premium DJ controller.
- Professional and sturdy build
- Responsive pitch sliders
- LED display in jogwheels
- Touchstrips for quick scanning tracks
- LED in-jog display is not of high quality
- Many users have faced issues with the sound card
Traktor Kontrol S4 MK3
DJs who want to upgrade to a more serious controller would find the Traktor Kontrol S4 MK3 a great investment. You will see several improvements from the MK2 in the Traktor Kontrol S4 MK3.
Similar to the original S4, the Kontrol S4 MK3 is integrated with the Traktor. That means you do not have to configure the controller and use it right out of the box. You will not have to struggle with MIDI mappings before you start using them.
The buttons of the Traktor Kontrol S4 MK3 are not fragile and would not get stuck when tapping hard. You will also find enhanced jogwheels made from aluminum. Due to the haptic feedback technology, the jogwheels will feel a lot more tactile.
A great feature in the Traktor Kontrol S4 MK3 is the Traktor’s flux mode. There is a dedicated button for enabling the Flux mode. This button is close to the jogwheel.
Another great thing about the Traktor Kontrol S4 MK3 is its compatibility with the Traktor’s iOS application.
The package comes with a USB cable with a 30-pin. You will need to plug the cable, load the application and then start the app.
To top all that, the Traktor Kontrol S4 MK3 has a high-resolution screen. This color screen is one of the best in this price range. The Traktor Kontrol S4 MK3 is a mid-ranged controller which is good for beginners moving to a more professional setting.
There may be certain drawbacks to the controller, but it is worth the money. If you are a seasoned professional, this controller may not be the right setting for you.
- Tight integration with the Traktor
- Equipped with better and sturdier jogwheels
- Dedicated button for enabling Flux Mode
- Compatible with iOS
- Some users may face audio drop-outs
- Issues with software integration
- Concerns with reliability
Things to Consider When Buying the Best DJ Controller
Now that you know about the top five best DJ controllers in the market, you need to decide which one might suit you. Choosing one DJ controller might not be an easy task.
You will need to look into several features before you find the one. Below are some essential features that you should look for in a good DJ controller.
You need to find software that is compatible with your DJ controller. If you are already comfortable with a particular software, you will need to make sure the controller supports it. If the controller you buy is not compatible, you might face issues.
In case you are a beginner, you will have no problem adjusting to new software. Some of the common applications are Virtual DJ, Rekordbox, and Serato.
There are other software in the market that you can also try out. Conduct more research about the software that you are comfortable using. Find out a controller that is compatible with your chosen software.
Number of Channels
The channels in your controller decide the number of tracks that you can control in the mix. Most of the controllers in the list have either two or four channels. It is good for both beginners and professionals.
If you are a professional, you would be better off with four channels. However, many professionals are comfortable with two channels as well.
The software you use can also impact the control of your tracks. Ensure that the software you choose synch with the number of channels and make using the controller easy for you.
One of the most important elements of a controller is the deck. To have a smooth functioning deck, you will need suitable jogwheels.
Jogwheels are used for slowing down and speeding up the tracks. Due to the advancement in technology, you will see many changes in jogwheels.
These days the jogwheels are more touch-capacitive. They will operate the way you control them. Some premium controllers might not have jogwheels. Instead, these controllers may have touchstrips that have the same functionality as jogwheels.
Output and Input
The output and input channels are one of the major aspects of a controller. You will need a provision to connect your laptop or tablet along with a microphone. The controller will also need to have ports for USB connections.
The controller must offer you multiple options. A controller with multiple input and output options makes it more versatile.
The output channels you need in the controller will depend on the speaker systems that you work with. Decide the DJ setup that you are aiming for before you buy your controller.
If you know the type of speaker systems and equipment you will use, the choice will be much easier.
Modes and Functions
The modes and functions present in a controller will depend on your expertise. If you are a beginner DJ, you should look for basic functions. A controller with too many functions will overwhelm you.
It is better to start from the basics and then move on to more advanced functions.
If you are a professional, you could choose a controller that has all the advanced functions. That will make it easier for you to play your desired pieces. You will require a controller that has cue or play buttons, mixers, and other necessary features.
Many modern controllers are slowly moving away from laptop dependency. They come equipped with their own screen, which removes the need for laptops.
Many people prefer using controller screens instead of their laptops. That makes it easier for them to save space and also eradicate the need for using extra equipment.
Some of the controllers have one screen, while others might have more. Depending on what type of controller screen you want, you can choose the controller. The right number of screens can help make the whole operation easy.
If you want multiple screens, you can look for premium models. Many low-budget models can also provide you with multiple screens.
The list contains multiple DJ controllers that belong to different price ranges. If you are a beginner DJ, it would be better for you to buy a budget-friendly model. However, for professional DJs, mid-range or premium models would be a more suitable choice.
Among all the DJ controllers in the list, the NI Traktor Kontrol S8 has the most features. It is a high-priced and advanced model with many features. The model would be perfect for professionals.
You can choose any other model from the list. There are also other models that you can choose from. No matter which DJ controller you choose, make sure it suits all your needs.
If you have any queries regarding the best DJ controller, you can comment in the below section.