How To Choose The Right DJ Controller

Right DJ Controller

DJ controllers are devices used to help DJ mix music with DJ software using knobs, encoders, jog wheels, faders, back lit buttons, touch strips, and other components.

DJ controllers are microprocessors based which are used to provide easy control of the software than the computer keyboard and touch-pad on a laptop, or the touchscreen on tablets and smartphones. They do not mix audio signals like DJ mixers; instead, they send messages to a computer to tell the DJ software running on the computer how to mix audio. Many DJ controllers also have a built in sound card with 4 output channels (2 stereo pairs), which allows the DJ to preview music in headphones before playing it on the main output. Most DJ controllers use the standard MIDI or HID protocols to communicate with the computer via CDJ. 

Modern DJ controllers emulate two turntables/CDJs and a DJ mixer. However, controllers are much cheaper than two turntables or CDJs plus a mixer. Unlike turntables, controllers can take advantage of the flexibility of computer software, for example, by allowing the DJ to store multiple cue points with music files. Also, DJ software will enable users to remap the components of controllers to perform different functions than the controller manufacturer intended.

The advantages of all-in-one DJ controllers

An all-in-one DJ controller that works with your DJ software of choice (more on that in a bit) offers both the most straightforward setup and the highest level of control. Many will allow you to DJ in “standalone” mode without connection to a computer or mobile device. Mobile DJs who regularly play requests from CDs or USB flash drives appreciate the ability to switch between an “analog” music collection and laptop-based performances. And in the event your laptop or tablet crashes in the middle of a set, the standalone mode can be a lifesaver.

That said, many DJs find they rarely use the USB or CD capabilities on those controllers that have them. The ability to work with wave forms and samples, apply effects, and the many other skills keep them working inside their DAW software.

Common DJ controller features & functions

Today’s controllers typically include:

· A control surface with knobs, buttons, jog wheels, pads, or faders for tactile control over software functions and settings. Displays and multicolored lights transmit system status, audio levels, and many other parameters.

· An interface that transmits audio and MIDI signals to laptops, effects processors, and PA systems, depending on the type of connectors it has.

· Control of tablet and smartphone apps is found in some newer controllers.

Most DJ software can be operated with a mouse and keyboard. But the process is labor-intensive: digging through layers of menus to find functions, entering values, and otherwise messing with software instead of attending to your show is a performance-killer. That’s why most DJs use a hardware controller to operate and configure their software.

Software: The Crucial Question

While a controller allows you to manipulate your software or app more fluidly, it’s the software itself that does all the cool stuff that has revolutionized the world of DJing. The software performs all the critical chores that help you manipulate your music files.

Aside from loading your music library into your computer’s memory, it provides the virtual transport controls for playback as well as creating the virtual decks on which you’ll be mixing. 

Software and DJ apps monitor all your mixing moves. Apply the filters and effects you select, trigger samples, modify music wave forms and perform dozens of other neat tricks that in the old days would have been impossible or require tons of outboard gear.

Serato DJ Software

Unlike Native Instruments, Serato has chosen to focus on software while partnering with hardware manufacturers to ensure their control surfaces deliver a good DJing experience when running Serato. While Serato does not have as many configuration options, many feel its focus on user-friendliness is a big plus. Serato tends to get along with iTunes better and handles non-electronic music well. One potential drawback to Serato is its inability to run in a standalone mode. You must be plugged into an interface or controller to DJ.

Pioneer DDJ-SX3 Performance DJ Controller

Aimed at seasoned DJs looking to raise their game, the four-DDJ-SS3 builds on the strengths of the prior generation, DDJ-SX3, thanks to its expanded connectivity. The front panel of the DDJ-SX3 features a dedicated Mic input, so you can interact with your crowd without having to utilize one of the four channels otherwise reserved for your mixing. 

Designed to work with all of Serato’s cool functions, the DDJ-SX3 features 16 multicolored Performance Pads for seamless integration with your software. It also features a comprehensive mixer section, with 3-band EQ on each channel, built-in effects, filter, and a host of other DJ-friendly features. 

Pioneer DDJ-SB3 Serato DJ Intro Controller

The Pioneer DDJ-SB3 gives you complete hands-on control over Serato DJ Intro software, making it an affordable yet powerful tool for the new DJ. With all the basic operations of its more costly Pioneer controller brethren, you’ll be able to create seamless shows and mixes to help you forge a signature style. Dedicated play and cue buttons, as well as an independent Auto Loop button as well as high-quality, capacitive aluminum jog wheels, give the DDJ SB-3 a feel not often associated with entry-level controllers. 


s mentioned above, it’s not compulsory to buy these two controllers only. Many others are available in market. You can choose according to your budget and level plan of your DJ setup. Mainly requirements should be fulfilled. Go ahead and start your musical life journey with the best DJ Controller.

After you have selected your controller you will need some advice on how to set it up. Here is a full guide to setup dj controller with expert advice.

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