Last updated on Dec 23, 2018 @ 2:22 pm

Taking your DJ Controller to a club or venue can be a daunting experience. There is this strange prejudice that bringing your DJ controller to a club is an amateur move, but good arguments can be made for bringing DJ controller to the club:

  • Clubs don’t always have good working equipment: broken CDJ’s, bleeding faders on mixers, uncalibrated turntables… A real nightmare for any DJ
  • If you are used to DJ from your laptop it means you have your whole collection organized there. Keeping it synced with CD’s or USB sticks can be a lot of overhead and not something digital DJ’s would like to spend time with
  • And finally, if you are used to your controller, you will probably perform better on it! And in the end, isn’t the quality of the performance what counts in the end?

This being said, there are few unwritten rules you should respect when bringing a DJ controller to a club:

  • Discuss this option in advance, don’t just show up with your controller and expect the club to cater for it. Make sure there is enough room for your controller and that you don’t disturb DJ’s playing before or after you. Be professional!
  • Don’t show up with a large format DJ controller. The weight and the size of, for example, the Pioneer DJ DDJ-RZ will make it difficult to find a spot for it in the booth.
  • Bring your own cables, and make sure you are prepared for everything. So if your DJ controller, for example, doesn’t have an XLR output, have a converter cable in your DJ bag.

Now that we established some ground rules, what are the best DJ controllers for the club in 2018? Let’s find out!

Important note: I didn’t consider any modular controllers, such as the Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol D2, or Akai Pro AMX/AFX series.

WINNER

Pioneer DJ DDJ-1000

  • Price: $$$$ check the price on Amazon Between USD 1000 and USD 1500
  • The DDJ-1000 is the latest Rekordbox DJ controller from Pioneer DJ, and it really feels like a compact CDJ/DJM setup. Read more

 

RUNNER UP

Numark NS6II

  • Price: $$$ check the price on Amazon Between USD 500 and USD 1000
  • The Numark NS6II is just a fantastic controller for Serato DJ. The large jogs, built-in LCD screens, 4 channel hardware mixer and rock-solid build make it hard to beat. Read more

 

THE REST

 

WINNER

Pioneer DJ DDJ-1000 Rekordbox DJ controller

IN SHORT
Pioneer DJ DDJ-1000
The DDJ-1000 is the latest Rekordbox DJ controller from Pioneer DJ, and it really feels like a compact CDJ/DJM setup.
Price:
$$$$ check the price on Amazon

Under USD 200: $
Between USD 200 and USD 500: $$
Between USD 500 and USD 1000: $$$
Between USD 1000 and USD 2000: $$$$
Over USD 2000: $$$$$

Level:mid-level/professional
Power:power supply/USB only
Inputs:2 LINE (RCA), 2 PHONO/LINE (RCA),
2 MIC (XLR & 1/4 inch TRS Jack, 1/4 inch TRS Jack)
Outputs:2 MASTER (XLR, RCA), 1 BOOTH (1/4 inch TRS Jack),
2 PHONES (1/4-inch stereo jack, 3.5-mm stereo mini-jack)
Supported DJ software:Rekordbox DJ
Djtechzone Rating:4.9 out of 5 stars (4.9 / 5)
More information:Pioneer DJ DDJ-1000 review and video
  

PROSCONS
  • Compact yet very complete
  • Fantastic full-size jog wheels
  • LCD screens with detailed track info
  • Extensive 4 channel hardware mixer
  • Onboard sound color effects and beat effects
  • Reasonably priced
  • Deck software effects are gone

 

It’s hard to find anything wrong with the DDJ-1000. Pioneer DJ has gone all out and created their first Rekordbox DJ controller that is not a copy of a previous Serato DJ incarnation. As a consequence, it feels much more related to the XDJ range than the DDJ range, with the decks missing the typical software effects section of other Serato DJ/Rekordbox DJ controllers.

Measuring 708 mm in width, it’s only a fraction bigger than the DDJ-RR, making it compact enough to fit in most DJ booths. Combined with the large jog wheels and a complete mixer, the DDJ-1000 could be easily mistaken for a CDJ/DJM setup, and that is a good thing. It can’t function with USB sticks though, but considering Rekordbox 5.0 can play from a Rekordbox prepared USB drive, it wouldn’t be too hard for a CDJ DJ to rock a party using the DDJ-1000.

All this make the DDJ-1000 a great controller for the club, and maybe even as a fixed setup in a smaller club/bar venue. All that for around USD 1.200.

RUNNER UP

Numark NS6II Serato DJ controller

IN SHORT
Numark NS6II
The Numark NS6II is just a fantastic controller for Serato DJ. The large jogs, built-in LCD screens, 4 channel hardware mixer, and rock-solid build make it hard to beat.
Price:
$$$ check the price on Amazon

Under USD 200: $
Between USD 200 and USD 500: $$
Between USD 500 and USD 1000: $$$
Between USD 1000 and USD 2000: $$$$
Over USD 2000: $$$$$

Level:beginner/mid-level
Power:power supply/USB
Inputs:2 1/4” mic inputs, 2 x Dual RCA Stereo (line/phono)
Outputs:Stereo XLR outputs, Master RCA outputs, Booth RCA Outputs
Supported DJ software:Serato DJ Pro, Virtual DJ
Djtechzone Rating:4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)
More information:Numark NS6II review and video
  

PROSCONS
  • Fantastic jog wheels with built-in LCD screens
  • Great build quality
  • 4 channel hardware mixer
  • Professional grade sound and inputs & outputs
  • EQ knobs are too close to each other.

 

The NS6II is an almost perfect blend of the Numark Mixtrack Platinum (the built-in LCD screens into the jog wheels) and the Numark NV (touch capacitive knobs). The controller has a dual USB input for easy DJ changeovers, and, quite rare in this price range, a 4 channel, DVS ready hardware mixer.

The NS6II is certainly fit for club use. It’s relatively compact in format, and the roll bars on the front protect it in challenging booth setups.

The performance pads are solid and support various Serato DJ performance functions such as hot cues, loops, rolls, slicer, sampler… Finally, the NS6II has a vast amount of professional grade inputs & outputs.

The only negative point to mee is that the EQ knobs are too close to each other.

Pioneer DJ DDJ-RR Rekordbox DJ controller

IN SHORT
Pioneer DJ DDJ-RR
The DDJ-RR is a fantastic Rekordbox DJ controller. It has all the professional features a mobile DJ needs in a compact format.
Price:
$$$ check the price on Amazon

Under USD 200: $
Between USD 200 and USD 500: $$
Between USD 500 and USD 1000: $$$
Between USD 1000 and USD 2000: $$$$
Over USD 2000: $$$$$

Level:mid-level
Power:power supply/USB
Inputs:2 PHONO/LINE (RCA), 1 MIC (1/4 inch Jack)
Outputs:2 MASTER (XLR, RCA), 1 BOOTH (1/4 inch TRS Jack),
2 HEADPHONE MONITOR (1/4 inch Jack, mini-jack)
Supported DJ software:Rekordbox DJ
Djtechzone Rating:4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)
More information:Pioneer DJ DDJ-RR review & video
  

PROSCONS
  • Hardware mixer
  • Excellent jog wheels
  • Individual VU meters per channel
  • Extensive inputs & outputs
  • Backlit performance pads
  • Many knobs & buttons in a small form factor, can feel a bit cramped
  • The pitch fader is tiny and not really made for manual beatmatching

 

If 4 channels in a club setting are overkill for you, the Pioneer DDJ-RR might be a good choice.

The small form factor ensures easy placement in tight booths, it has a hardware mixer so you can hook up external sound sources and it has high-quality velocity-sensitive performance pads.

The mixer offers decent visual feedback on sound levels with separated channel & master VU meters, and there are enough input & outputs to hook the DDJ-RR up to any pro sound system. Note this a Rekordbox DJ unit, no other DJ software supported.

The build quality is good, even though the controller as a plastic build. All faders, knobs, and buttons are tightly screwed on and should last for a long time, even in tough conditions.

Denon DJ MC6000MK2 Serato DJ controller

IN SHORT
Denon DJ MC6000 MK2

Solid and built to last, the MC6000 MK2 is the perfect tool for the serious no-nonsense professional DJ.

Price:
$$$ check the price on Amazon

Under USD 200: $
Between USD 200 and USD 500: $$
Between USD 500 and USD 1000: $$$
Between USD 1000 and USD 2000: $$$$
Over USD 2000: $$$$$

Level:mid-level/professional
Power:power supply
Inputs:1 x Mic XLR-1/4" combo, 1 x Mic 1/4",
2 x Dual RCA Stereo (line/phono), 2 x Dual RCA Stereo (line)
Outputs:2 x XLR (master), 1 x Dual RCA Stereo (master), 2 x 1/4" (booth)
Supported DJ software:Serato DJ Lite, Serato DJ Pro, Virtual DJ 8
Djtechzone Rating:4.2 out of 5 stars (4.2 / 5)
More information:Denon DJ MC6000 MK2 quick review
  

PROSCONS
  • 4 channel hardware mixer with DVS support
  • An extensive amount of inputs and outputs, including 2 microphone inputs
  • Rugged, solid build that can withstand more than a beating
  • Not suited for DJ’s that want to use Serato Dj’s performance features
  • Jog wheels not suited for scratching

 

The MC6000MK2 is a true workhorse, no-nonsense DJ controller aimed at working/mobile DJs. Showing with one of these in a club will certainly send a message that you know what you are you are doing.

This Serato DJ controller has 4 channels, compact but nice jog wheels, and extensive connectivity. What it doesn’t have are performance pads, so you won’t have easy access to the more recent performance features in Serato DJ.

With 2 mic inputs, RCA inputs for every channel, XLR and RCA master out and TRS booth out the MC6000MK2 is more than equipped to handle any club requirements.

Pioneer DJ DDJ-SR2 Serato DJ Pro controller

IN SHORT
Pioneer DJ DDJ-SR2 top view
The DDJ-SR2 is a great follow-up to the original DDJ-SR, and comes packed with great features such as a hardware mixer, key sync features, excellent performance pads and more!
Price:
$$$ check the price on Amazon

Under USD 200: $
Between USD 200 and USD 500: $$
Between USD 500 and USD 1000: $$$
Between USD 1000 and USD 2000: $$$$
Over USD 2000: $$$$$

Level:mid-level
Power:power supply/USB
Inputs:2 PHONO/LINE (RCA), 1 MIC (1/4 inch TS Jack)
Outputs:2 MASTER (XLR, RCA), 1 BOOTH (1/4 inch TRS Jack),
2 HEADPHONE MONITOR (1/4 inch Stereo Phone Jack,
3.5mm Stereo mini-jack)
Supported DJ software:Serato DJ, Virtual DJ
Djtechzone Rating:4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)
More information:Pioneer DJ DDJ-SR2 review and video
  

PROSCONS
  • Hardware mixer
  • Excellent jog wheels
  • Individual VU meters per channel
  • Extensive inputs & outputs
  • Backlit performance pads
  • Key shift and key link buttons
  • Many knobs & buttons in a small form factor, can feel a bit cramped
  • The pitch fader is tiny and not really made for manual beatmatching

 

Very similar to the Pioneer DDJ-RR for Rekordbox DJ discussed above, the DDJ-SR2 is designed for Serato DJ. Or for Serato DJ Pro, if you decided to upgrade.

The DDJ-SR2 is compact so it should feel really at home in small DJ booths, and its hardware mixer makes it possible to connect turntables and media players to use with or without Serato DVS. The controller has a host of professional inputs and outputs, including TRS booth out, RCA and XLR master out. There is a TRS microphone input as well.

The build quality is good, even though the DDJ-SR2 is fully made out of plastic. It’s lightweight as well, which makes it easy to transport from gig to gig.

Finally, it costs around USD 700, which is very reasonable for the offered features.

Pioneer DJ DDJ-SX3 Serato DJ controller

IN SHORT
Pioneer DJ DDJ-SX3 top view
The Pioneer DJ DDJ-SX3 is one of the best equipped Serato DJ Pro controllers on the market, with excellent jog wheels, a 4 channel, DVS enabled mixer with built-in sound color effects and a professional grade input & output array.
Price:
$$$$ check the price on Amazon

Under USD 200: $
Between USD 200 and USD 500: $$
Between USD 500 and USD 1000: $$$
Between USD 1000 and USD 2000: $$$$
Over USD 2000: $$$$$

Level:mid-level
Power:power supply
Inputs:1 x mic XLR-1/4"combo, 1 x mic XLR,
2 x Dual RCA Stereo (line), 2 x Dual RCA Stereo (line/phono)
Outputs:2 x XLR, 2 x 1/4" (booth), 1 x Dual RCA Stereo (master 2),
1 x 1/8" headphone, 1 x 1/4" headphone
Supported DJ software:Serato DJ Pro
Djtechzone Rating:4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)
More information:full review coming soon!
  

PROSCONS
  • 4 channel hardware mixer
  • Supports Serato DVS
  • Double mic input
  • Pioneer DJ build quality
  • Excellent jog wheels
  • Nothing really!

 

The Pioneer DJ DDJ-SX3 is the Serato DJ version of the Pioneer DJ DDJ-RX discussed below. Like the RX, the SX3 is a four-channel DJ controller for Serato DJ. It is a very decent upgrade from the SX2, with some very cool improvements.

The DDJ-SX3 has a hardware mixer, so, next to running 4 channels of Serato DJ, you can also connect turntables and CDJ’s.

It also has built-in sound color effects, which makes it so much more useful as an independent mixer.

There is also a dual-tone color scheme that clearly sets the two decks and the mixer apart.

Furthermore, it has high-resolution VU meters and gain controls per channel, and volume controls for master and booth volume.

The build quality is excellent, everything feels solid and built to last.

My absolutely favorite change is that the channel switches have been moved from the front of the controller to the top, a much more appropriate and reachable spot, especially in narrow club booths.

Pioneer DJ DDJ-RX Rekordbox DJ controller

IN SHORT
Pioneer DJ DDJ-RX
The DDJ-RX is a fully featured DJ controller for Rekordbox DJ. It has extensive performance features and comes with sound-color FX built into the mixer, which is a big plus!
Price:
$$$$ check the price on Amazon

Under USD 200: $
Between USD 200 and USD 500: $$
Between USD 500 and USD 1000: $$$
Between USD 1000 and USD 2000: $$$$
Over USD 2000: $$$$$

Level:mid-level/professional
Power:power supply
Inputs:2 CD (RCA), 2 PHONO/LINE (RCA),
2 MIC (XLR/1/4 inch jack Combo, 1/4 inch Jack)
Outputs:1 BOOTH (1/4 inch Jack),
2 HEADPHONE MONITOR (1/4 inch Jack, mini-jack), 2 MASTER (XLR, RCA)
Supported DJ software:Rekordbox DJ, Virtual DJ
Djtechzone Rating:4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5)
More information:Pioneer DJ DDJ-RX review & video
  

PROSCONS
  • 4 channel hardware mixer with color FX feels a lot like a professional Pioneer DJ mixer
  • Fantastic jog wheels with center led
  • Rekordbox DVS support
  • Pro-grade I/O on the back (XLR & RCA master out, TSR booth, 4 RCA channel inputs..)
  • Top build quality in a compact footprint.
  • The two mic inputs use line channels 3 and 4
  • Source input per channel switch is located on the front and can be hard to reach/see when performing

 

The Pioneer DJ DDJ-RX comes in at 5.8 kg and 664 mm in width, making it larger than most other controllers in this article, but compact enough to fit in most DJ booths. It’s a Rekordbox DJ controller exclusively.

If you are, this controller offers a pro look & feel (so you won’t look like you are working with a toy), hardware sound color fx, truly exceptional jog wheels, a long throw pitch fader, dedicated booth out… In short, you will be hard-pressed to find something missing here.

The performance options in Rekordbox DJ, combined with the velocity sensitive pads on the RX also offer something more over usual club setups. Many DJs that use controllers with performance pads can find it challenging to move to a more traditional CDJ/DJM setup not because they cannot operate it, but because the gear simply doesn’t have the features they need to fully deliver their performance.

Denon DJ MC7000 Serato DJ controller

IN SHORT
Denon DJ MC7000
The Denon DJ MC7000 is a great Serato DJ controller with double USB inputs, excellent jog wheels, and a hardware mixer.
Price:
$$$ check the price on Amazon

Under USD 200: $
Between USD 200 and USD 500: $$
Between USD 500 and USD 1000: $$$
Between USD 1000 and USD 2000: $$$$
Over USD 2000: $$$$$

Level:mid-level/professional
Power:power supply
Inputs:1 x MIC XLR-1/4" combo, 1 x MIC 1/4",
2 x Dual RCA Stereo (line/phono), 2 x Dual RCA Stereo (line)
Outputs:2 x XLR (master out), 1 x Dual RCA Stereo (master out),
2 x XLR (booth out)
Supported DJ software:Serato DJ Pro, Virtual DJ
Djtechzone Rating:4.1 out of 5 stars (4.1 / 5)
More information:Denon DJ MC7000 quick review
  

PROSCONS
  • 4 channel hardware mixer
  • Double USB input
  • Double Mic input
  • Support for Serato DJ performance features
  • Compact size and high-quality build.
  • None, really

 

The MC7000 is a 4 channel controller for Serato DJ that has many of the features of the bigger MCX8000 but lacks the onboard screens.

Instead, it has double USB inputs for easy DJ changeovers (the only other controller that has this feature is the Pioneer DJ DDJ-SZ).

It also has jog wheels with a LED ring around them to indicate needle position, hardware controls for Serato Flip and Serato Pitch ‘n Time, Extensive I/O options on the back with 2 mic inputs, a hardware mixer that supports Serato DVS.

The build quality is what we have come to expect from Denon DJ: excellent.

Roland DJ-505 Serato DJ controller, drummachine and sequencer

IN SHORT
Roland DJ-505
A drum machine, sequencer and 2 channel Serato DJ controller, the DJ-505 offers a lot of value for your money.
Price:
$$$ check the price on Amazon

Under USD 200: $
Between USD 200 and USD 500: $$
Between USD 500 and USD 1000: $$$
Between USD 1000 and USD 2000: $$$$
Over USD 2000: $$$$$

Level:mid-level
Power:power supply/USB
Inputs:1 x MIC XLR-1/4" combo, 2 x Dual RCA Stereo (line/phono),
2 x Dual RCA Stereo (line)
Outputs: 2 x XLR (main out), 1 x Dual RCA Stereo (main out),
2 x 1/4" (booth out)
Supported DJ software:Serato DJ Pro, Virtual DJ 8
Djtechzone Rating:4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5)
More information:Roland DJ 505 review and video
  

PROSCONS
  • Fantastic, low latency jog wheels
  • Hardware mixer with DVS support in Serato DJ
  • Built-in sequencer and drum machine are a great addition
  • Compact size and lightweight
  • Small pitch fader
  • All plastic build feels a bit cheap

 

The Roland DJ-505 is very similar in features to Pioneer DJ’s DDJ-SR2, except the DJ-505 has a built-in sequencer and drum machine. These additions won’t please everyone as not every DJ’s is interested in sequencing samples and drum sounds, but if you are already into this or this interests you, then the DJ-505 is a fine choice.

The jog wheels are fantastic and have very low latency combined with a solid feel. There are 8 performance pads per channel that feel as good as on any premium controller, and the mixer accepts external inputs such as turntables and media players. Also, the DJ-505 works with Serato DVS.

On the back, there are master outputs in RCA and XLR. There is also a booth out in TSR, a key thing if you are planning to take the DJ-505 into a club.

Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S5 Traktor Pro controller

IN SHORT
Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S5
A compact solution with screens for Traktor Pro DJ's that can do without pitch faders and jog wheels.
Price:
$$$ check the price on Amazon

Under USD 200: $
Between USD 200 and USD 500: $$
Between USD 500 and USD 1000: $$$
Between USD 1000 and USD 2000: $$$$
Over USD 2000: $$$$$

Level:mid-level
Power:power supply/USB
Inputs:1x Stereo Aux RCA input, 1x 1/4" mic input, 1x USB Type-B
Outputs:2x RCA master outputs (stereo pair),
2x XLR-3M master output (stereo pair),
2x 1/4" / 6.35 mm booth outputs,
1x 1/4" / 6.35 mm headphone output,
1x 1/8" / 3.5 mm headphone output
Supported DJ software:Traktor Pro
Djtechzone Rating:4.2 out of 5 stars (4.2 / 5)
More information:
  

PROSCONS
  • Gorgeous screens
  • 4 channel mixer
  • Support for Stems and Remix Decks
  • Excellent build quality and compact size
  • The touch strips replace the jog wheels quite well
  • No hardware mixer so no DVS support
  • Changing the pitch without a pitch fader is a bit cumbersome

The Traktor Kontrol S5 is a pretty good choice if you are a Traktor Pro user and if you don’t mind the absence of jog wheels.

The support for Stems is built in and they offer amazing possibilities, but the learning curve and availability of tracks in the format might be a hurdle too big to take for some.

That being said, the screens on the S5 are great (a notch better than those on the NVII even), and they help to keep your focus on the crowd instead of on your laptop. The S5 has a generous amount of inputs and outputs making it club PA ready.

Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S4 MK3 Traktor Pro controller

IN SHORT
Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S4 MK3
The new Traktor Kontrol S4 MK3 is a brand new and has some very interesting features such as spinning wheels with haptic feedback, a built-in screen for each deck and programmable effects on the mixer.
Price:
$$$ check the price on Amazon

Under USD 200: $
Between USD 200 and USD 500: $$
Between USD 500 and USD 1000: $$$
Between USD 1000 and USD 2000: $$$$
Over USD 2000: $$$$$

Level:mid-level/professional
Power:power supply
Inputs:2 x Dual RCA Stereo (line), 2 x Dual RCA Stereo (line/phono),
1 x 1/4" mic, 1 x XLR-1/4" combo mic
Outputs:2 x XLR, 1 x Dual RCA Stereo, 2 x 1/4" (booth),
1 x 1/8" headphones, 1 x 1/4" headphones
Supported DJ software: Traktor Pro 2, Traktor Pro 3
Djtechzone Rating:4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)
More information:Full review coming soon!
  

PROSCONS
  • 4 channel hardware mixer with Traktor DVS support
  • High-quality build
  • Rotary loop encoder is easy and handy to use
  • Fantastic spinning jog wheels with haptic feedback
  • Not so useful as the S5/S8 for Stems & Remix Decks

 

The Traktor Kontrol S4 MK3 is a fantastic upgrade to the S4 MK3, with a full set of interesting innovations.

First of all, Native Instruments has abandoned the mirrored look for the S4, now both decks are identical and that contributes to the “2 decks and a mixer” look and feel.

The S4 MK3 not only has jog wheels, but they also have different spinning modes and haptic feedback that make you feel the cue points. Also, each deck has a small but very effective high-resolution LCD screen that shows key track information. Each deck also has 8 performance pads that control different features.

Finally, the mixer has 4 buttons that can call custom-set effects, and are controlled by a big filter knob on each channel. Very comparable to Pioneer DJ’s sound color effects.

set effects, and are controlled by a big filter knob on each channel. Very comparable to Pioneer DJ’s sound color effects.