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Scaling up from our look at DJ controllers for beginners, we focus in this feature on DJ controllers that cost between 300 and 900 US dollars. Yes, you can get a decent piece of semi-professional DJ gear for less than 500 dollars, DJ gear manufacturers are pushing their limits and a number of high-end features that trickle down into cheaper gear is amazing.
While these controllers will be meant primarily for domestic use, they need to be sufficiently rugged and solid to withstand the toughness of a club environment/party venue. The quality aspect has been an important element in taking our picks.
TOP PICKS in this article
|Denon DJ MC4000
|Pioneer DJ DDJ-RR
|Reloop Mixon 4
TOP PICK! Denon DJ MC4000 Serato DJ controller
The Denon DJ MC4000 is a very, very nice DJ controller. It’s designed with the mobile DJ in mind, and at USD 399 it’s a real steal. It features a solid Denon Dj worthy build, well-weighted jog wheels, 4 performance pads to trigger samples, a two-channel mixer with a 3 band EQ and filter knob, a fx section, two mic inputs with full EQ controls, 4 hot cue buttons per deck… The list goes on. There is even an AUX input with dedicated volume control.
TOP PICK! Pioneer DJ DDJ-RR Rekordbox DJ controller
The Pioneer DJ DDJ-RR is the newer brother of the DDJ-SR, this time fully optimized for Rekordbox DJ. The controller has several important enhancements. The key one being that the DDJ-RR has a fully independent hardware mixer, which makes it compatible with Rekordbox DVS. It also has RGB backlit pads, dedicated VU meters for each channel, buttons for the Rekordbox DJ sequencer, a touch strip… It has so many features that the usability almost suffers.
TOP PICK! Reloop Mixon 4 Algoriddim djay and Serato DJ controller
The Reloop Mixon 4 (will there be a Mixon 2?) is a very complete Serato DJ controller that can also play from IOS and Android devices. It supports Algoriddim’s djay Pro on several devices. The build-in slot will accommodate anything from an iphone up to the big iPad Pro (12.9 inch). The mixer has 4 channels and a multi FX function that Reloop calls Macro FX.
The decks have high-quality jog wheels and support Serato DJ features such as harmonic mixing (sync the track keys).
Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 MK2 Traktor Pro controller
The Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 is a compact DJ controller that is compatible with the Traktor DJ IOS application. The controller has two channels and a 3 band EQ per channel, a high quality build and excellent jogwheels. There are back-lit buttons for transport controls and loops, and a button to switch flux mode (comparable to Serato Dj’s slip mode) on and off.
Since this is a Native Instruments controller it runs Traktor Pro, and while it can run any DJ software (since it’s a midi device), the depth of integration with Traktor Pro will be hard to achieve with other software.
Reloop Beatpad 2 Algoriddim djay controller
The Reloop Beatpad 2 is a very versatile controller. It is well built and the large jog wheels are pleasant to use. The Beatpad 2 supports a range of solutions, such as Android and IOS devices, but also PC and Mac. It can run Traktor, Virtual DJ or djay Pro, and the touch sensitive drum pads allow for expressive performance. Even if the color scheme might come over as a bit gimmicky, this is for sure not a toy and the price point (USD 599) proves that.
Reloop Terminal Mix 8 Serato DJ controller
The Reloop Terminal Mix 8 is fully fledged Serato DJ controller. It has 2 x 8 performance pads, large jog wheels and the mixer has 4 channels so it’s possible to control all of the decks available in Serato DJ. The build quality is excellent, this controller can for sure withstand a (booth) beating.
The performance pads are backlit and control the key performance functions in Serato DJ, such as loops, rolls, and samples. On the back, there is an AUX input to plug in an additional audio source and there are balanced & unbalanced outputs available.
Pioneer DJ DDJ-SR Serato DJ controller
An oldie but a goodie, still standing strong amongst the competition: the DDJ-SR. The SR has many things going for itself. The outstanding jog wheels, 2 x 8 performance pads, support for 4 decks, quality build & finish… There also is an AUX input with volume control to accommodate an additional audio source. Lastly, this controller will familiarize you with the Pioneer DJ workflow, as it mirrors the layout of Pioneer DJ pro DJ gear, both in the decks as in the mixer.
Denon DJ MC6000MK2 Serato DJ controller
The Denon DJ MC6000MK2 is a true powerhouse. It’s a compact controller, but packs a huge amount of features, such as 2 microphone inputs, full EQs on both mics, cross fader curve control, separated booth out, 4 fully analogue channels, high quality jogwheels..
The controller comes with Serato DJ Intro but supports the full version of Serato DJ and Serato Video.
The build is extremely high quality and the overall layout and functionalities are clearly aimed more at the mobile DJ than the controllerist DJ, notably due to the absence of performance pads.
Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S4 MK2 Traktor Pro controller
- Price: check on Amazon
- Manufacturer: Native Instruments
- More Info: Traktor Kontrol S4 @ Native Instruments
With the arrival of the Traktor Kontrol S5 and S8 that ditched the jog wheels in favor of touch strips, pads, and screens, the Traktor Kontrol S4 has gone a bit to the background. Which is a bit of a shame, since it remains a top-notch unit, with 4 deck support, backlit performance pads for cues and samples, a hardware mixer that can accommodate external audio sources such as turntables and media players… I always liked the LED loop indicator, makes it so easy to keep track of the value your loop is set at and avoid surprises.
Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S5 Traktor Pro controller
- Price: Check on Amazon
- Manufacturer: Native Instruments
- More Info: Traktor Kontrol S5 Quick Overview
The Traktor Kontrol S5 is the smaller brother of the Traktor Kontrol S8 that came out in 2014.
The S5 is designed to work with the Traktor Pro software and most notably the STEMS format, that allows DJs to manipulate individual channels within a track, unlocking the possibility to truly remix on the fly.
Jogwheels are replaced by touch strips, and the controller has no pitch faders. This means that the idea is to rely on sync and use tracks that are well beat gridded in advance.
The presence of 2 high-resolution screens allows DJs to focus on their mix without having to look at the laptop screen.
Numark NVII Serato DJ controller
The Numark NV is a pretty cool Serato DJ controller, and much of its appeal comes from the build in screens.
This controller is very well featured with high-resolution pitch faders, 4 channels, touch-activated knobs, small but high-quality jog wheels and professional grade input & outputs (master out, booth out, XLR out..)
The addition of the color screens means that you can close the lid of your laptop and avoid looking at the screen all the time.
One of the lesser points of the NV is at the same time its strength: its small form factor. It’s super easy to place in most DJ booths and you will for sure find a spot at home, but because it’s so well featured, all the knobs and buttons are really close to each other. I guess it’s something you end up getting used to.