Best DJ Controllers – Top 6 Reviewed
DJs often prefer to rely rather on hardware rather than on computer keyboard or iPad. Of course, today’s software allows easily to control the flow of the beat from the screen. However, controllers are far better, because they are oriented to focus on your feelings during lives, and do not seek the perfect precision, what makes them comparable to any musical instrument.
The reviews bellow will give you an overview about some of the top-rated DJ controllers on the market and may help you choose the best one for you.
1. Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S4 Mk2
The Traktor Kontrol S4 Mk2 becomes more popular and is being used by DJs more frequently. The second version delivers the function to trigger its cue points with color-coded RGB buttons, which are designed to current DJ standards. This feature allows any DJ to rely on instinct, due to the visual feedback which eases the mixing process.
This DJ controller has it all what any type of DJ would need. With the four-channel mixer, pitch control and built-in soundcard you can be sure you wouldn’t require more during live. It also has a dedicated section to the Remix Decks for remixes and personal layering. With all this, it was designed by the same team as the Traktor Pro 2, which ensures their perfect compatibility and smooth use. Yes, the hardware also includes the software, the Traktor Pro 2, where all four decks can be accessed from the Kontrol S4.
This unit has a solid quality, which is one of the tops from in this category in the industry. Despite its light weight, it is quite durable as its knobs and buttons are designed to be able to support the user throughout years of mixing, and its hard-plastic body would last long enough.
Filled with features, it allows an easy and comfortable use allowing to record and mix loops during live. You can connect whether digital or analog devices to it, as a microphone. Being from the same family with the Traktor Pro 2, you can easily access the four decks and all effect banks.
The Kontrol S4 has a built in 24 bit/96 kHz soundcard which will offer any listener a pleasant and dynamic sound with a ton of room for adjusting.
With this DJ controller, you could hardly go wrong, as it features everything a DJ would need. If you are still confused about what kind of controller you would need, don’t hesitate as this piece has everything for growing into, as it is becoming more an industry standard. You can shop for it here:
2. Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 Mk2
Native Instruments’ Traktor Kontrol S2 Mk2 is S4’s relative. The S2 has fewer features, but still, at its price, it’s a worthy option if you aren’t demanding the full functionality set like the S4. Unlike S4, S2 has a 2-channel mixer and no loop recorder, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t do much. Despite being a stripped-down version of S4, the S2 features the same qualitative design and pleasant feel.
It has a 24bit/96 kHz sound card, which makes its sound non-differential to the S4. The S2 comes with the Traktor Pro 2 included and offers access to its Flux mode. You can use it also with its designed app for iDevices, Traktor DJ.
The Kontrol S2 is a perfect option for DJs who are new on the scene and are willing to get in quickly. Any DJ would profit from this piece as it features the similar design as its bigger brother the S4. Of course, there is also always room for tweaking, if you are interested in upgrading your machine manually. You can check its latest price here:
3. Pioneer DDJ-SX
The DDJ-SX like S4 has a 4-channel mixer and many inputs and outputs. It has two jog wheels with an updated jog wheel featuring hot cue countdown. This controller is an attractive choice not only due to its huge size but also because of its Pioneer’s and Serato’s flagship DJ controller. The controller weighs 12 pounds and is 14 inches deep and 26 inches long. When gazing at such monstrous size controller, it becomes believable that it could eat up the whole dance floor just with its look.
The controller was perfected in a project where Serato and Pioneer worked together to make every piece of it unique and complexly fun. This unit has a 24 bit/96 kHz soundcard, what equals to the industry standard. You will notice that despite that, there is a difference in its output level, which relies on an external power source.
With this piece, you have access to such effects as Beat Slicer and loop roll that can be controlled over the pads. Any user can use with it such Serato features as slip mode and dual deck control.
There are no doubts about the quality of this product. Of course, such an expanded brand as Pioneer has also produced many toy-like machines, but this is not the case. The body of DDJ-SX is covered in aluminum, and the knobs and jog wheels are of high quality. The trigger pads are responsible and pleasant to the touch, what would ease the manipulation of the machine at concerts.
The DDJ-SX is a solid choice for professional musicians and especially in a home studio. If you’re new in the industry, you would probably back off from this alternative as its big size and price could be a little barrier for your plans. However, if you are a Serato user, this piece would be the perfect choice for you. Shop for it here:
4. Pioneer DDJ-SR
The Pioneer DDJ-SR is like the S2, being the little version of DDJ-SX. It has two channel mixers and is designed to be used with Serato DJ, which is included in the package. The controller has in total 16 performance pads for diverse DJ functions and quite large jog wheels.
The quality of this piece is no different from its relative, the DDJ-SX. Any user can count that this machine will last long.
Despite being a smaller version, the manufacturers decided to add larger jog wheels than average. The pads below each jog wheel can function as hot cue roll, combo FX, sampler roll, and trans, which is also known as Pad Plus Mode.
The DDJ-SR is a great choice and probably the best for most of Serato fans. The controller comes bundled with the software, and the price is cut down half to its brother, the DDJ-SX. It is more compact and lightweight, and if you prefer Serato, than this might be your choice. Check its latest price here:
5. Reloop Terminal Mix 8
The Terminal Mix 8 is another well-made 4-channel mixer. It is Reloop’s best controller in functionality that was created under close cooperation with Serato.
There is no doubt that the Terminal Mix 8 will last long due to its metal body and high-quality knobs and buttons. The controller comes in with a 24bit soundcard that can be adjusted to deliver deep and dynamic sound. The Terminal Mix 8 is in many ways like the S4. It has everything a DJ controller needs to have, as enough inputs for diverse devices. It has eight pads below each jogging wheel featuring such modes as sample, cue, loop and slice. The pads bear Reloop’s specific design and are responsible enough and color coded for enhanced DJ experience. It also comes bundled with the Serato software.
If you are looking for a full feature out of box set, with solid design and quality, but not as pricey as the Pioneer’s DDJ-SX, then you can consider Terminal Mix 8, as it’s filled with exciting features and would be a good choice for most of the controllers in its category. Shop for it here:
6. Traktor Kontrol X1 – Mk2
Traktor X1 is a common tool known among DJs. The Mk2 is the second edition of X1, which is a slim controller that can be connected to a laptop with a USB cable and access Traktor’s library, effect units and track decks.
This product is as the previously mentioned S2 and S4 made of the same durable material, and its knobs and buttons are qualitative enough to live throughout some years of play.
A quite rare feature is its touch strip, which one can use to play with effects, instruments and execute other operations in Traktor.
The X1 can be without any doubts useful to any DJ. Whether as a single unit or paired with a mixer and other devices, you can receive the desired sound. Its convenient price, the ability to take over Traktor’s effects and track decks and re-map the controller make it worth every penny. You can check its price here:
When choosing a DJ controller, the choice depends on several factors, like software and the parameters that you wish to control. It’s a great advantage that most of the hardware comes bundled with the software, which will spare you a couple of hundred dollars. Choosing a controller which includes the software will also spare you time, and you will let you enjoy the full potential of your machine.
Another good point is the sound interface. You can always tweak and upgrade the device to your needs, but it’s probably the best for the most users when the controller comes in with a built-in sound card. It allows to hear out the mixes before presenting them live and will ensure a dynamic sound. The outputs and inputs also play a major role. Do you want to expand your audio interface and connect more devices? It is sure a feature which you should look out for when choosing you next controller. Also, the size, overall quality, and the price would decide upon your final decision.
The controllers from these reviews range in price, size, and functionality. There is no better or worse one, as only your preferences can decide upon the best one. The ones presented in these reviews are some which combine quality and functionality at a good price. Of course, you can explore more and maybe find out some better ones for you, but there should be one from those presented here, which would perfectly fit your needs.