The Best DJ Controllers Available Now (2020)


This guide compares the top DJ controllers, so that you can feel confident before spending your hard-earned money! It has been continuously updated since 2014, helping thousands of DJs like you decide which is the best DJ controller for them.

DJ controllers are pieces of hardware which allow hands-on control of music mixing software. The development of robust DJ software, along with the hardware to control it, has been one of the most significant things to ever happen within the industry. As the market continues to grow, we’ve found ourselves with many wonderful options. But how do you know which is the ideal choice for you?

Click play above to watch the video version, skip ahead by using the table of contents, or continue below to read the best DJ controller guide on the Internet.

A Quick Glance

1. Pioneer DDJ-1000 (over $1000 choice)

It’s a great choice for Rekordbox users (plus there’s a Serato version), providing loads of visual feedback thanks to the high-res screens located in the middle of its large jog wheels.
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2. Pioneer DDJ-SR2 (under $1000 choice)

Taking after their pro-level DJ gear, it has a spacious layout and large jog wheels, while still managing to be pretty small (and 18% lighter than the original DDJ-SR).
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3. Numark Mixtrack Platinum (under $500 choice)

It’s great for learning how to beatmatch, and also a solid choice if you have “fat fingers” due to its well-spread design. It’s one of the best values in the controller market.

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4. Denon DJ PRIME 4 (standalone choice)

It features an adjustable 10” HD display supporting multi-touch gestures, rugged metal construction w/6-inch jog wheels, 4 assignable inputs… and also serves as a terrific Serato DJ controller.

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Best DJ Controllers Over $1000


These controllers are the cream of the crop when it comes to full, in-the-box DJ solutions. They are professional grade, have a high level of hardware-software integration, and are rich in features. They also come with a premium price tag! These full DJ mixing stations are geared towards the club DJ on the go, the performer who is interested in taking advantage of the live/remix elements of the included software, or the serious hobbyist willing to make an investment in their digital DJing habit.

1. Pioneer DDJ-1000 (Rekordbox DJ)

The Pioneer DDJ-1000 is my pick for best DJ controller over $1000. It’s a great choice for Rekordbox users (plus there’s a Serato version), providing loads of visual feedback thanks to the high-res screens located in the middle of its large jog wheels. With tension adjustment, you’re able to dial in the exact jog feeling that you prefer. Dual USB opens up possibilities for tag-team sets and easy changeovers, and it’s loaded with FX (modeled after the flagship DJM-900NXS2 mixer). 4 channels, 16 performance pads, external inputs with DVS support, and a build quality we’ve all come to expect from Pioneer… what else can you ask for? It’s a terrific deal for the money.
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Pioneer DDJ-1000 (DJ Controller)
 

2. Pioneer DDJ-RZX (Rekordbox DJ)

Pioneer DDJ-RZX DJ Controller

While the DDJ-1000 tops the list due to its value for the money, the DDJ-RZX is by far the craziest controller here. For the money, you get the most feature-laden 4 channel DJ controller in existence, a Nexus-like experience, DVS, 3 beautiful screens, and the added benefit of video mixing. It’s like having CDJs, and then some (but you still need a laptop).
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3. Denon DJ MCX8000 (Serato DJ, Standalone)

Denon DJ MCX8000 DJ Controller

Whether used as a high-end 4ch. Serato controller, or as a fully standalone 2ch. DJ system, the MCX8000 is a killer option at a surprising price point. With dual USB, high-res screens, and loads of attention to detail in its visual feedback, it’s hard to argue with this underdog controller.
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4. Numark NS7III (Serato DJ)

Numark NS7III DJ Controller

If you love the feeling of mixing vinyl, but prefer the convenience of digital DJing, the NS7III might be your answer. 7″ motorized platters + slipmats feel a lot like mixing records, but you get all the benefits of DJ software and a digital collection.
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5. Traktor Kontrol S8 (Traktor Pro 3)

Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S8 DJ Controller

This flagship offering by Native Instruments is the most tightly-integrated Traktor experience available, thanks to high-res screens and a smart UI with touch-sensitive controls. The Kontrol S8 gives access to Remix Decks & Stems, and is a great option for DVS users. The touch strips work well, but if a lack of jog wheels is a deal breaker, you may prefer the S4.
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Honorable Mentions:

 

Help Me Decide. It’s hard to argue the value of the DDJ-1000 (or DDJ-1000SRT, for Serato DJ users). The center jog screens help keep your eyeballs out of the laptop, and everything feels very Nexus-y. This stands in contrast to the DDJ-RZX, which is a massive spaceship of a device. If you want the most comprehensive Rekordbox experience you can get (and you want to mix video), that’s the way to go.

For Serato users looking for something a bit different than the usual Pioneer getup, you might choose the MCX-8000 for added standalone functionality. While that feature only works with two channels, it’s nice to know that if your laptop takes a dump, the unit can keep on trucking. If motorized platters are your thing, the NS7III is currently the only choice for Serato-heads.

Traktor users will either love or hate the Kontrol S8, primarily because it doesn’t have any jog wheels. The touch strips, along with Traktor’s top-notch mixing engine, go a long way to get around this. Actually, the lack of jogs makes it a perfect candidate for sitting between a set of CDJs or turntables (with DVS)… but if you require them, the S4 is probably a better choice.

Best DJ Controllers Under $1000


“Bang for buck” is what digital DJing is all about, and this range of controllers (between the mid- and upper-hundreds) is a perfect demonstration of this. While perhaps not as feature-rich as some of the premium options, today’s midrange controllers are very club-oriented and complete. These devices provide everything you need to DJ digitally, and are the Premium controllers of yesterday.

1. Pioneer DDJ-SR2 (Serato DJ)

The Pioneer DDJ-SR2 is my pick for top DJ controller under a grand, because though it is limited to two channels, it squeezes tons of features into a very convenient and compact package. Taking after their pro-level DJ gear, it has a spacious layout and large jog wheels, while still managing to be pretty small (and 18% lighter than the original DDJ-SR). It comes with the full version of Serato DJ, as well as the Pitch ‘N Time plugin. Dedicated controls on top of the device allow you to get creative with your song’s key and BPM… even in extreme tempos. It has all the connections you need to hook up to any professional sound system, and it supports external sound sources. You can even connect it to CDJs or turntables (for DVS control), making this a solid all-around choice for any digital DJ.
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Pioneer DDJ-SR2 (DJ Controller)
 

2. Reloop MIXON 4 (Serato DJ, Algoriddim DJay)

Reloop MIXON 4 DJ Controller

The MIXON 4 is a lovely 4ch. offering by Reloop, which they call a “hybrid controller”. It’s fully compatible with both Serato DJ and Algoriddim DJay (great for Spotify integration!), and you can opt to use a mobile device instead of a laptop… even with 4 channel mixing. Now that’s versatility!
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3. Denon DJ MC7000 (Serato DJ)

Denon DJ MC7000 DJ Controller

The MC7000 is designed with a premium Serato experience in mind, especially for multiple DJs thanks to dual USB functionality. Again, Denon boasts an impressive feature set at half the expected price. 4 channels, DVS capability, key-match controls, touch-sensitive jog wheels and rugged metal construction make this a high-value option.
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4. Traktor Kontrol S3 (Traktor Pro 3)

Traktor Kontrol S3 (DJ Controller)

The Kontrol S3 provides a Traktor option for 4ch. mixing, with upsized jog wheels, large faders, light rings (which give visual feedback/warnings), iOS support, and 8 RGB pads. An extremely smart option for Traktor users, who don’t need the extra frills (expense) of the S4/S8, but don’t want to be limited to dual channels on the S2.
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5. Pioneer DDJ-800 (Rekordbox DJ)

As the spiritual successor to the DDJ-RR, Pioneer’s DDJ-800 provides big-time Rekordbox DJ functionality, plus mixing of external sources, DVS capability, and lovely onboard screens. Based on the Nexus setup, it’s the same concept as the popular DDJ-1000… but with 2 channels instead of 4. However, you save about $300 compared to its big brother.
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Honorable Mentions:

 

Help Me Decide. The DDJ-SR2 is a solid choice because it packs lots of Serato functionality into a very Pioneer package: visual feedback on the jog wheels, needle search, great key/tempo manipulation capabilities, and beat grid adjustment right on the unit itself. However, its convenient size does come with a few sacrifices (two channels, small pitch faders). The DDJ-800 costs a little more, but has full color screens in the jog wheels and a more spacious, CDJ-style layout.

A little off the beaten path, the MIXON 4 “hybrid” controller tries to do nearly everything (and it does a pretty good job). It’s fully compatible with both Serato DJ and Algroddim DJay, and it supports full four-channel mixing even when using a tablet instead of a laptop. Similarly impressive, the MC7000 is meant for Serato only, but it has dual USB (great for changeovers) and touch-sensitive jog wheels to brag about.

Finally, the Kontrol S3 is an obvious choice for Traktor users. It supports the iOS version of Traktor right out of the box (though it’s designed around Traktor Pro 3) and allows you to mix in four glorious channels. You miss out on some functionality of the S4 (like motorized platters), but you save good money by passing on those luxuries.

Best DJ Controllers Under $500


These entry-level controllers are great for new DJs wanting to get their feet wet without making a huge investment. They’re also well suited to seasoned DJs wanting a backup (or extremely portable) solution. While you won’t always find the extremely sturdy construction of the professional grade stuff, the market has matured in this price segment… today’s budget offerings feel more like pro audio gear than the toys they used to be. If you’re a beginner DJ, you’re on a strict budget, a casual hobbyist, you primarily play another media format, or you simply want the best bang-for-your-buck… these could be the digital mixing devices for you.

1. Numark Mixtrack Platinum (Serato DJ)

An extremely popular budget offering from Numark, the Mixtrack Platinum is spacious, has long-throw pitch faders, includes touch strips for track searching, and is a solid all-around beginner DJ controller for those wanting to use Serato. Big chunky jog wheels house lovely digital displays, which give basic BPM and track position feedback. It’s great for learning how to beatmatch, and also a solid choice if you have “fat fingers” due to its well-spread design. It’s one of the best values in the controller market.
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Numark Mixtrack Platinum (DJ Controller)
 

2. Pioneer DDJ-400 (Rekordbox DJ)

Pioneer DDJ-400

Pioneer’s bang-for-buck Rekordbox controller, the DDJ-400 boasts a club style layout, CDJ-style loop controls, and Beat FX controls. It will work on USB power (handy!), and even comes with tutorials to teach you how to use the gear and master various DJ techniques.
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3. Pioneer DDJ-SB3 (Serato DJ*)

Pioneer DDJ-SB3 (DJ Controller)

One of the most popular controllers available, the DDJ-SB3 improves on its predecessors to bring a solid budget offering to Serato fans. Scratch on the low-latency jog wheels, or using the “pad scratch” feature. It’s nice and durable, as to be expected of Pioneer DJ. *The unit ships with Serato DJ Lite, but is upgradeable to the full version.
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4. Traktor Kontrol S2 MK3 (Traktor Pro 3)

Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 MK3

The Kontrol S2 has been bringing stellar Traktor functionality to budget-minded DJs for years now, and the MK3 edition is the latest and greatest of the bunch. Get access to easy-to-use tools like looping, syncing, and sampling… not to mention those lovely Native Instruments FX.
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5. Mixars Primo (Serato DJ)

Mixars has been making waves in the DJ industry for a few years, and their latest addition to the fleet is this 2-channel, 4-deck controller for Serato DJ. It manages to be compact, while still including a “needle drop” strip, 16 performance pads, and external inputs. Will act as a hardware mixer, including filter effects.
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Honorable Mentions:

 

Help Me Decide. The Pioneer options make sense for those DJs who want to become familiar with the “club standard” Pioneer hardware, with the DDJ-400 aimed at Rekordbox and the SB3 being for Serato. While they don’t offer the same functionality as a CDJ-2000NXS2 and DJM-900NXS2 rig, the entire Pioneer lineup is designed to familiarize you with their ecosystem.

The Numark Mixtrack Platinum is nice because of how portable and ergonomically sound it is, especially for what it costs, and the Kontrol S2 will obviously be ideal choice for people who live that Traktor life. Choose the Primo if you like to support newer businesses, and you want something that packs a lot of features into a small package.

Best Standalone DJ System


Standalone DJ systems are devices which can play and mix music without requiring a laptop. Like a CDJ setup, you can play from a media source such as a USB drive, and play music directly on the unit itself. In other words, it is the computer.

While the laptop is not a requirement of these systems, they will often also act as a controller if you so choose. It’s important to note that when we talk about “standalone” systems, this is what we’re referring to… and not just the ability to mix external sources.

Denon DJ PRIME 4

The PRIME 4 features an adjustable 10” HD display which supports multi-touch gestures, rugged metal construction w/6-inch jog wheels, 4 assignable inputs (for connecting media players or turntables), 2 XLR mic inputs with individual control, 8 trigger pads per side, and a suite of effects from the X1800 Prime. It can play music straight from USB. Or, more specifically, from one of its four USB inputs… two of them around the back of the unit, and two on top. You can also play from an SD card. Amazingly, it includes a 2.5” SATA drive bay… allowing you to carry your music on an internal hard drive. Uncompressed music is supported (such as FLAC, ALAC, or WAV files)… and you can use any one of these sources to record your DJ sets. With a free upgrade, it turns into one of the ultimate Serato controllers, too.
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Denon DJ PRIME 4 (Standalone DJ Controller)
 

OTHER GREAT OPTIONS

The most likely comparison for the PRIME 4 is the Pioneer XDJ-XZ, which essentially an all-in-one CDJ Nexus setup. It’s biggest limitation in comparison is that it plays only two channels in standalone mode. Outside of that, it’s a great option that saves tons of money over the “actual” CDJ setup, for those who are looking to mimic that feeling at home (or even at a venue). Check out my video comparing the XDJ-XZ vs. PRIME 4.

Other great options are the XDJ-RX2 (video), the somewhat smaller XDJ-RR, and the well-priced Denon DJ MCX8000.

 

Best DJ Controller for Rekordbox


Pioneer DDJ-RZ

Pioneer DDJ-RZ (DJ Controller)

While many will opt for the newer DDJ-1000 and its lovely jog screens, the DDJ-RZ is Pioneer’s flagship controller for Rekordbox DJ. The FX layout is more software-like than DJM-like (if that’s your preference), the knobs and sliders are a little more spaced out, and it comes with a DVS license out of the box.
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OTHER GREAT OPTIONS

The Pioneer DDJ-1000 is the most obvious comparison here, because you get a slightly smaller device with pretty jog screens. For an even smaller device with pretty jog screens, the DDJ-800 is very much like a 1000 in two-channel form (and of course, you save some money).

For a more budget-friendly option, the DDJ-400 is very compact, mimics the layout of “pro” gear, and is also fully supported by Algoriddim DJay.

Best DJ Controller for Serato


Pioneer DDJ-SZ2

Pioneer DDJ-SZ2 (DJ Controller)

The look and feel of a Pioneer Nexus setup, in a complete single package for Serato users. Includes dual USB, Magvel crossfader, and improved jog wheel latency for scratching. It also gives you access to all that Serato goodness, like key shift, key sync, pitch play, and Serato Flip.
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OTHER GREAT OPTIONS

The Pioneer DDJ-1000SRT (the Serato version of the 1000) comes in a smaller package with lovely jog screens, and little to sacrifice… though a budget-smart option for those still wanting a premium experience can be found with the DDJ-SX3.

Pioneer aside, Denon DJ continues to impress with their MCX8000. It’s great for Serato, and will operate entirely standalone (no laptop) for two of its channels. If you’re into weddings and mobile gigs, Roland’s incredible DJ-707M has features that you’d normally only find on live loudspeaker consoles.

Best DJ Controller for Traktor


Traktor Kontrol S4 MK3

I happen to think the MK3 version of the Kontrol S4 is among the most handsome devices on this list, but that’s not the reason you should choose it. NI is smart about their UI design, and together with high-res screens, motorized platters, and haptic feedback… it offers a terrific next-gen Traktor experience.
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OTHER GREAT OPTIONS…

While the S4 has some sweet new features, the Kontrol S8 is still Native Instruments’ flagship. It’s the best way to control Remix Decks, Stems, etc. while having full access to external sources and Traktor Scratch (DVS). The screens and touch-sensitive controls combine for an intuitive mix session. Obviously, the lack of jog wheels will be a deal-breaker for some people.

There’s also a MK3 version of the lightweight Kontrol S2, and the Kontrol S3 sits squarely in the middle of these options if you require four channels (and stationary jog wheels).

Best DJ Controller for Algoriddim DJay


Reloop MIXON 4

The MIXON 4 is my favorite “underdog”. Though it’s listed as the best controller for DJay, it’s also a fully licensed & compatible Serato DJ device. But with 4 deck mixing available via mobile device, super sturdy construction, and loads of options… Reloop leaves very little to complain about.
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OTHER GREAT OPTIONS…

The Reloop BEATPAD 2 is another great choice for DJay, which saves some money over the MIXON and is meant to be used with the mobile DJay app (but beware, as the onboard tablet “slot” is too small for the newer iPad Pros). They also have the MIXTOUR, which is a small modular controller + audio interface that relies on your tablet for transport controls.

The Pioneer DDJ-200 and DDJ-WeGO4 controllers are also fully supported by the Algoriddim software, with the 200 being a more traditional layout. These are all great budget ways to get into mixing with DJay, and all support integration with Spotify Premium.

Modular DJ Controllers (add-ons)


While complete solutions are great, many people like the flexibility provided by a modular setup. This allows you to buy different “sections” at a time as add-ons, such as a mixing controller vs. a deck controller. Modular DJ controllers add functionality to an existing setup.

Sometimes, companies will release a controller specifically for some new DJ software feature. For example, controlling Remix Decks, accessing Serato’s sampler, or controlling cue points from turntables using the Novation Dicer

In some cases, these kinds of controllers can bridge the gap between setups. For example, you can use Pioneer CDJs to control Traktor software (as if they were controllers). In this case, it’s helpful to have a Kontrol X1 to help you access Traktor’s looping and FX features.

In this Traktor setup, two Kontrol D2 decks are alongside a Kontrol Z2 mixer, for a full digital setup.

What to Consider When Controller Shopping


Software Platform

While DJ controllers are MIDI-assignable (and therefore customizable), they are usually designed with some software-dependent features in mind. For example, a controller with onboard screens might show the waveforms of the tracks you’re playing… but this will only work when used with the right software package.

If you’re looking for your first DJ controller, make sure you buy one that’s intended for the software you intend to use.

Types of Gigs

You may want to consider what type of gigs you’ll be playing, before spending your hard-earned money!

If you’re a professional club DJ, or you run a mobile DJing business, be willing to invest in something sturdy and easily moved. If you’re a scratch DJ (or want to learn), good jog wheels and a responsive crossfader are your priority. Bedroom/hobbyist DJs can choose whatever makes them happy, and fits within their budget!

Recommended listening:
The Dos and Don’ts of Mobile DJing (Passionate DJ Podcast #152)

Connectivity and Ports

To ensure that you can get your sound output to where it needs to go, pay attention to connectivity options. Will your master output need to be delivered to a set of powered speakers? Will you be connecting to a club PA system? Do you need a booth output? All these things should be factored in, when deciding on a controller.

Recommended listening: 
Know Thy Cables (Passionate DJ Podcast #120)

Budget

Once you’ve decided what your requirements are, you should decide how much money you’re willing to spend on your hobby or business. There are great options in every price point, which is why this guide is segmented by price.

Never feel like you have to buy high-end gear to be a “real” DJ, or to keep up with the times. Buy the controller that fits your needs, for the amount you have to spend. Even in the “middle” price point, you’re mostly just paying for additional luxuries. All the basics will be covered.

Recommended listening:
Baller on a Budget (Passionate DJ Podcast #68)
Ballin’ Out of Control (Passionate DJ Podcast #71)

What To Do Now…


Buying DJ hardware is only part of the equation. Our aim is to become better DJs through passion and purpose.

For a steady fix of DJ news, tips, stories, and adventures… follow The Passionate DJ Podcast on your favorite podcast app. Our show features inspiring stories, interviews with famous DJs, tips to increase your DJing skill, industry news, and much more. You can also watch it on YouTube.

New to mixing? Why not check out my Beginner’s Guide to Becoming a DJ? We also welcome you to join our Passionate DJ Community on Facebook, to stay in touch with other DJs and producers just like you.

Enjoy your new controller, and keep on spinning!