Best DJ Controller Reviews in 2018 – TOP 5
Buying a DJ controller is easier now than it’s ever been thanks to the large number of products which are sold online. Just a few clicks and that dream controller will be yours.
But which one is the best DJ controller? The number of choices available is a good thing, but researching each product will take a long time.
We know how hard it is to research DJ controllers, and that is why we picked out these five products. We have also prepared a detailed buyer’s guide so you will know what to look for when shopping for a DJ controller.
Even if you’re new to this stuff, this guide can help.
Keep in Mind: If you’re just starting out or you’re on a budget and needs something a little cheaper, check out our best DJ controllers for beginners. They are all under $100 and you may find something you like.
Top 11 Best DJ Controllers – Editor’s Choice
Below, we organized the best DJ controllers. Like we said, there are a lot to choose from so we added 6 more in the list below in case you wanted to see what other options are out there.
How to choose the best DJ controller
To make sense of all the options out there, here are the major factors buyers have to consider.
Modular or all-in-one?
Modular means building up your control system, i.e. music players, amps, etc.
All-in-one controllers are just that, self-contained. This is the best option for beginners as it contains everything you need, and they are easier to set up.
If you have experience playing DJ, a modular system may be more to your liking as you can customize its use. However, this also means more tweaking and adjusting on your part to get the right mix.
What software to use?
DJ controllers have software to operate the hardware. It is best to just use the software that comes with the controller as you are assured of its compatibility. If the DJ controller brand suggests a specific type of software for their hardware, use it to avoid complications.
Note that “limited edition” and intro software have very limited functions or can be used only for a limited time. If that’s what your controller came with, use it to learn how the system works and upgrade to something better, which is usually given as an option in these products.
Extra features and accessories
Some of these DJ controllers have USB connectivity and support for DVD players. If you need to work with CD or vinyl, look for that feature. But most DJs don’t find this useful as you have more options when you go digital as there are lots of effects, waveforms and other stuff.
New vs. old DJ controllers
Older DJ controllers are cheaper, but there are drawbacks. Old controllers have low-level jog wheels, i.e. they don’t have that high-quality audio necessary when you work with vinyl and similar stuff.
Old controllers are also not very responsive. Another benefit of new DJ controllers is they come with the audio interface/sound card, so there’s no need for a separate purchase.
DJ Controller Reviews
Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB2 Portable 2-channel Controller for Serato DJ
The DDJ-SB2 is designed for beginners as well as professional DJs looking for quality performance. This controller has all the features of the DDJ-SB, but it has also been equipped with additional features such as a 4-deck control, pad trans beat effect trim pots, and many more.
With its tactile performance pads it’s easy to hit the sampler, manual loop, auto loop and hot cue via the upper pads. At the lower pads you can access shift, sync, cue and play. With these controls, it’s easy to gain full control over the music you want to play.
The controller also comes with well-designed jog wheels. These wheels have low latency so you get accurate results and excellent scratch response. You can also use the level meters and the trim knob to make adjustments and check each channel’s input volume.
The unit also comes with manual filters per channel. This feature is the same as those on the DDJ-SR and DDJ-SX2 controllers; with these filters, you also have independent high/low pass filter dials.
For all its features, the DJ controller is still easy to use. With its quantized pad trans effect, you can adjust the volume so it matches the beat. You can also use the hit filter fade to put in high filters with crossfading. With this feature, you can manipulate the DJ filters and volume for some really cool mixes.
- The DDJ-SB2 is built for the Serato DJ and comes with high performance tactile pads
- A sound card is built into the system
- This USB powered system is equipped with a MIDI controller
- Comes with a manual filter
- The controller runs on Mac OS X and Windows 7 and up
- Performance pads and Fade filter included
- Level meters and a four deck control are integrated in the unit
- Works with Windows and Mac
- Excellent DJ playing
- Professional quality level
- Setup instructions could use more detail
- In some cases, drivers have to be downloaded online
The SB2 is a high-quality DJ controller with all the essential features necessary for DJ play. With its support for different platforms, high-quality jog wheels and easy to use controls, it’s not hard to see why this is a favorite among seasoned DJs.
Numark Mixtrack Pro 3
The Mixtrack Pro 3 is designed for home, aspiring and professional DJs. Compatible with the Mac OS and Windows, the Mixtrack Pro 3 comes with dual zone metal platters. These are touch capacitive and can stop or scratch a track from the top of the wheel. By just touching the side you can easily bend the pitch.
The Mixtrack Pro 3 also has 100-mm sliders so you get extra sensitivity to help match the beats. We also like its 16 multi-function performance pads, as with it you can control the cues, work with the samples and add loops.
The filter knobs are high quality, and the touch strips are ideal for controlling dynamic FX. An audio system is built in, and with the USB it’s easy to connect this to your computer. A sound card is also integrated in this system so you can hook it up to a PA system or microphone. There are also a couple of headphone jacks so you can do some tradeoffs or mixing with your buddies.
The package includes the Mixtrack Pro 3, the user manual, USB cable, the prime loops remix tool kit and more. The controller also comes with high-res jog wheels for optimum results, and it’s easy to learn compared to more expensive DJ controllers sold on the market today.
- The DJ controller has a USB connection which allows you to connect the system to your computer
- A sound card is built in which can be connected to speakers, microphones and headphones
- The system comes with 100 mm pitch sliders so beats are always in sync
- Serato DJ software is included
- The system comes with several features which are suitable for professional use such as rubber trigger pads and responsive jog wheels
- There are volume level displays built in the DJ controller
- Easy to use
- Provides full beat control
- High quality audio built in
- Metal wheels don’t spin automatically
- Some options may be too advanced for beginners
Numark makes some of the best DJ controllers and the Mixtrack Pro 3 is one of their better releases. It’s easy use and its features are suitable for aspiring and pro DJs. With top-of-the-line software and sound card, it’s a complete package without compromising quality.
Hercules Instinct S DJ Controller
The Hercules Instinct S Party Pack is equipped with pressure-sensitive jog wheels for expert scratching and DJ playing. It also has audio outputs built in so it’s easy to mix and preview the tracks you’re going to play.
The controller is intuitively designed, with the deck controls on the right and left and the mixer controls in the center. It is also ergonomically designed so it is convenient to use and carry with you.
The controls are well-designed and responsive. The jog wheels are among the best we have come across in this range, and it does a good job controlling the pitch bend. You can also use this function for tracks browsing, and it does quickly. As a 2-deck controller, the Instinct 5 is easy to learn and should not cause problems, even for a new user.
As for output, the Instinct S comes with the essentials like those for RCA outputs so you can use this with most speakers. The output quality is also good and among the best in the Hercules line.
The LED party light is nice addition and really makes this a good choice if you like to play DJ during the weekends and host parties. If you’re searching for a DJ controller and program that will suit the needs of different users including the entry level, then the Instinct 5 is what worth checking out.
- Comes with a LED party light for added fun during parties
- Its jog wheels can detect pressure so you can use it just like a vinyl
- The 2-deck controller is designed to give you easy access to the controls
- There is a USB connectivity built into the controller
- With its stereo output preview, you preview the tracks first
- The DJUCE 18 DJ software is included
- Easy to operate
- Ergonomic design
- Responsive jog wheels
- User manual lacks some details
- Too advanced for very young users
The Hercules DJ Controller is not as fancy as some of the others, but it gets the job done as far as DJ playing is concerned. It is simple enough for the hobbyist, and if you like to play DJ at parties, you’re going to find this a handy tool.
Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 MK2 DJ Controller
The MK2 Traktor Kontrol has been upgraded from the previous releases, and now it has superior fader functionality, and its design is more durable. Like other DJ controllers, the MK2 has plug-and-play support for mobile devices, in particular the iPhone and iPad. With this support built in, you can now use your mobile for the controller.
The job wheels are well-designed and the performance is dependable; scratching is consistent and the cueing is among the finest in this line. The precision offered by the MK2 is also exceptional and is comparable with more expensive models.
Another benefit of using the MK2 is that it is portable; that means you can carry this anywhere with you and your laptop, so you can perform anywhere. The Traktor software is well integrated and you can use it to perform a lot of effects without difficulty.
The high-quality mixer lets you create a wide range of effects in seconds, and it is ideal for the new or seasoned DJ as you can customize its operations. While there are a lot of more expensive units available, the MK2 is an excellent choice.
- The device has plug and play for the mobile iPhone and iPad
- The MK2 has been upgraded from the older versions and now has a better fader and dual tone design
- The jog wheels have been damped and have high quality plates so it is more effective and more responsive than other DJ controllers
- The MK2 uses the 2+1 channel system so it is more accurate when it comes to cues
- The system is designed for professional quality performance and is ready for use in live shows and clubs
- The MK2 runs on both Mac and Windows systems
- Excellent fader
- Easy to install
- intuitive design
- Works well with Windows and Mac
- The manual could use improvement
- Mic needs some tweaking
The Native Instruments DJ Controller is a well-designed machine which is good enough for entry level and also professional use. There are a lot of good features here and the learning curve is pretty low. The Native Instruments MK2 is not without drawbacks, but it is still well made and more than suitable for a lot of users.
Hercules DJ Control Compact
The Compact is built with versatility and ease of use, with the design ideal for beginners and those who play the DJ during the weekend. It weighs just 1.2 lbs., so you can easily carry this without difficulty.
A USB cable is included so you can connect this on your computer and immediately get to work. As for the controller, this is a 2 decker with a couple of high quality jog wheels. The wheels are of a good size, and the mixer controls are easily accessible. The deck controls are on the right and left, and with the mixer in the center, you can access all the controls without requiring lot of effort.
With four modes and pads for each deck, the Compact provides a good deal of customization. Thanks to its jog wheels you can quickly go around the tracks and manage the pitch.
It comes with the DJUCED 18 DJ program, and you can use this to perform different mixes and functions. While the Compact is for an entry level controller, it is still capable of performing a lot of different mixes.
- The Compact has USB support so you can rapidly use this on both Mac and Windows systems
- The ergonomic design makes the Compact convenient to use even for long stretches
- There are four modes in the Compact, cue, loop, samples and FX
- The device has two potentiometers for each deck, and there are four pads on each deck as well
- The system comes with ten buttons for performing various controls, and you can double the controls with a single command
- The intuitive design makes it easy to create various effects
- Has USB support for computer compatibility
- Ergonomically designs
- Made for use on the go
- Very responsive jog wheels
- Not compatible with iPhones
- Software needs to be downloaded first
There are a lot of good entry level DJ controllers, but the Hercules Compact is one that a lot of users will like. For beginners, the ease of use and layout will help them get started immediately, while advanced users will love the compact design and can use this as a backup or complement their main controller.
And The Winner Is…
There are a lot of good DJ controllers there, but these five are heads above the rest in terms of features and capabilities. However, we need to pick out a winner, and in the course of our reviews, we feel the Native Instruments MK2 is the best. It has a lot of features that other DJ controllers don’t have, but its learning curve is still light.
While the MK2 is the best in the pack, you may find the others here more to your liking. If you have been using the SB for a long time, the SB2 may be more suited for you. Now if you’re looking for an entry level DJ controller, any of the two Hercules models, the Compact and the Instinct S, could do the job. There is also the Numark, which is also an excellent controller.
The bottom line is you won’t regret choosing any of these. Hopefully by going through out best DJ controller reviews you will get the one that will bring out the DJ in you. Good luck and have fun!