We have covered Serato DJ controllers extensively here on DjTechZone, but from your reactions, it’s clear to me that rather than discussing 1 controller in length, you are looking for gear comparisons in order to make your buying decision.
Why Serato? Because it is the software shipped with most DJ controllers. All the controllers below come with Serato DJ Intro, a basic version of Serato DJ, so consider the cost of a Serato DJ license (will set you back USD 99) if you want to use it with your controller.
Why these 3? Simply because in my opinion, they are all affordable, well built and have all the features that starting DJ’s require.
Let’s get started!
The DDJ-SB2 has a traditional effect section with 2 buttons to activate up to 3 effects at the same time. While more expensive controllers from the DDJ line feature an effect level knob per effect on/off button, here we only have 1 effect level knob for all 3 of them. The knob doubles as beat selector as well.
The Mixtrack Platinum has a very similar approach to the SB2, but instead of the single knob to control the amount of effect, there is a touch strip. It’s not a very sensitive one like, for example, the one on the Traktor Kontrol S5, but it’s workable enough.
The DJControl Jogvision has a very particular approach to effects: the same section that works as the effect section doubles as the loop section, and this can be quite confusing, especially if you want to combine loops with effects!
Apart from that, it works in the same way as the DDJ-SB2: 3 buttons to activate 3 individual effects, one button to control the amount of effect (from dry to wet).
WINNER: Numark Mixtrack Platinum. The Mixtrack Platinum wins this part because it’s implementation is simple yet clever: the multi-functional touch strip allows to manipulate the amount of effect and at the same time serves for track searching, which is rare on entry-level controllers. Also, track searching and effects are two functions that won’t quickly be used together, unlike loops and effects.
The jog wheels
The DDJ-SB2 is clearly the least equipped here, no lights and LCD screen on these jog wheels. That being said, we are talking quality jogs here, mimicking the look and feel of more expensive models. They are well weighted and sturdy, and won’t disappoint in use.
The DJControl Jogvision has the largest jog wheels of this trio. They are heavy and feel a lot like pro jog wheels on professional media players such as the CDJ-2000NXS2. In the center of each jog there are two led rings, one to indicate needle position, the other shows how far in the track you are. Additionally, there is a led indicator that lights up in different colors as you progress in the track. The jog wheels are the killer feature of this controller, and if you are looking for the best jog wheels in a beginner DJ controller, this is it!
Additionally, there is a led indicator that lights up in different colors as you progress in the track. The jog wheels are the killer feature of this controller, and if you are looking for the best jog wheels in a beginner DJ controller, this is it!
The jog wheels on the Numark Mixtrack Platinum are very innovative. For the first time, a beginner DJ controller as built-in LCD screens. Not the large touch-enabled type found on more expensive gear, but small ones in the center of the jogs. They provide a lot of important track information. Besides LED rings to indicate track progression and needle position, they also display BPM, time remaining, slip on/off… All this helps to keep your eyes on your controller and away from your computer when mixing.
They provide a lot of important track information. Besides LED rings to indicate track progression and needle position, they also display BPM, time remaining, slip on/off… All this helps to keep your eyes on your controller and away from your computer when mixing.
WINNER: Numark Mixtrack Platinum. Again the Mixtrack Platinum takes the top spot. The Jogvision’s jogs are excellent, but the Platinum delivers a much more practical solution that really helps starting DJ’s mix better.
Transport controls & performance
In order to accommodate its oversized jog wheels, the DJControl Jogvision has to make some compromises on features. The performance pads, that are probably the best of the bunch compared to the SB2 and the Platinum, are great in quality and build, but the way they are placed and operated is a bit complicated.
There is a mode button that switches the pad between 4 modes, that control different banks of loops and samples. You need to keep track of what mode is selected and that is a bit confusing, but I guess with time you would get used to it.
Note that when in hot cue mode, the color of the pad matches the color of the cue in Serato DJ. Handy!
Right next to the pads you will find the buttons for shift, sync, cue, and play.
The loop controls mixed up with the effects and the loops & samples integrated into the pads is ergonomically a bit messy, that could have probably been designed a bit smarter. Loops & hot cues are related and should be physically close to each other.
The DDJ-SB2 then. The transport section is pretty clear. There are two rows of 4 pads (no RGB backlit performance pads as on the Hercules though). The top row can be set to perform different functions, using the function buttons above it. The bottom row is for transport only. This setup is clear and easy to use, even if you are new to the controller.
The Mixtrack Platinum mixes up the two solutions above: there are 2 rows of 4 pads like the DDJ-SB2, and the top row switches function with a button. The pads are for samples, loops and hot cues (bottom row), the play/cue and sync buttons are separated and placed much in the same way Pioneer DJ places their play/pause and cue buttons.
I struggled a bit during my review in figuring out how the pad mode changes the pad functions, so this part could be improved. Frankly, the way the SB2 does it is, in my opinion, the smartest way.
WINNER: Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB2. While I prefer the way the performance pads and transport controls are implemented in the more expensive DDJ controllers (DDJ-SX2 comes to mind), the way the DDJ-SB2 does it is adequate for an entry-level controller.
The pitch fader
There is little discussion here. While the DDJ-SB2 and the DJControl Jogvision have decent pitch faders that feel well and are appropriate for beginner DJ controllers, the Mixtrack Platinum has a full size, long throw pitch fader exactly as found on top of the line professional DJ gear. That is important, especially if you are beginning to DJ. Apart from giving you the same feel as with professional gear, a long throw pitch fader allows you to beat match precisely.
WINNER: Numark Mixtrack Platinum. For obvious reasons.
The DJControl Jogvision mixer has some very specific features. First of all, the filter is controlled by gestures. Hercules calls it “Air Control” and it might sound gimmicky, but it does work very well and it’s actually fun to do. Also, and this is very cool, there is a phase meter between the two line faders and this really helps DJ’s to get their mix exactly right. The library browser knob is big and that makes it easy to use. Always handy in dark environments. It also doubles as deck gain knob, which is a bit unfortunate, individual knobs per channel are really essential (to me) to properly manage levels.
The Mixtrack Platinum’s mixer is very well designed and feature rich. There is a 3 band EQ, gain controls per channel, master volume, and headphone controls… The filter knob is a bit oddly placed at the top right and left corner of the mixer, so that takes a bit getting used to.
The SB2 is the most traditional designed mixer of the three, and that is a good thing. Each channel has a 3 band EQ, filter knob and gain knob, and in the middle of the mixer there ar master volume and headphone knob controls. All the faders feel good and are pleasant to use, and the crossfader is loose enough for scratching purposes. This is equally true for the Platinum and the Jogvision.
WINNER: TIE. I really like all of these mixers, and it’s hard to choose a winner. I slightly prefer the traditional approach on the SB2, but the Jogvision is innovative and tries to be different and that works out pretty well for the controller. The Platinum is very similar in design and features to the SB2, so I’m really undecided here.
Inputs & Outputs
Both the Mixtrack Platinum and the DDJ-SB2 have very limited inputs and outputs. both have an RCA output, and a microphone input and headphone output. The DJControl Jogvision goes a bit further and has a dedicated RCA booth output with volume control, and there is mini jack AUX input as well.
WINNER: Hercules DJControl Jogvision. Even the slightest amount of extra inputs and outputs is a plus. A booth output can be very useful in a situation where a booth monitor is needed or available. And an AUX input is really essential, especially in mixers that, like the SB2 and the Platinum, have a software dependent mixer, meaning that if the computer breaks down, the music stops. Good move Hercules.
The Hercules DJControl Jogvision, Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB2 and the Numark Mixtrack Platinum all sell for more or less the same price, around USD 250. This makes the final decision easier since the price is not a factor in it.
The fact these 3 controllers are priced similarly does indicate how tightly they compete which each other for your money, and it indicates how much DJ controller you can actually get for your cash in 2017.
You might have guessed it, the overall winner is…
Numark Mixtrack Platinum
The Mixtrack Platinum excels in so many areas that it’s hard not to crown it as the winner. The LCD screen in the jog wheels, the long throw pitch fader, the touch strip… All these functionalities really make it stand out.
Watch for a video comparison to be posted soon. Also, if you want to see more beginner DJ controllers, including for other DJ software, check our DJ controllers for beginners article.
What do you think of our choice, do you see it differently? Comment below!