Best DJ Controllers 2018 | News | MN2S

We take a look at the best DJ controllers 2018 has to offer.

DJ controllers are a relatively new addition to the modern DJ’s toolkit, allowing selectors to carve sets digitally with their laptops. For some, the appeal is the convenience—they’re far easier to cart around than an entire turntable set. For others, digital controllers are a low-cost way to try out DJing for the first time.

These controllers emerged shortly after CDJs, and they work in a similar way. Often featuring controls for mixing, scratching, sampling and tweaking sounds, all you need to do to start turning your mp3 music library into best DJ setlists is plug a DJ controller into your laptop.

To help you decide which piece of kit to choose this year, we’ve lined up the best DJ controllers 2018 has to offer, as well as a few tips on how to choose the best controller for you.

How to choose a DJ controller

Before you make your selection from the list of controllers below, here are some things to keep in mind when choosing a DJ controller in 2018.

Software. Most DJ controllers have a MIDI output, meaning they should work with whichever DJ software you choose. Some controllers, however, are tailor made for certain programs. So if you know you’re going to be using Native Instruments’ Traktor software, for instance, a Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol controller will be your best choice.

Your DJing style. As well as the software you might be using, you also need to think about what kind of DJ controller will suit your performance style. Do you focus on scratching and turntable pyrotechnics like Skratch Bastid? If so, you want a controller that accurately emulates a turntable disc. Do you want to create sounds as squelchy and acidic as DJ Pierre’s? In that case you need a controller with several EQ knobs and FX controls. Different DJ controllers will be optimised for different aspects of DJing, so make sure you know what you want from a controller before you start looking for them. When you’re ready, read on!

Best budget DJ controller: Pioneer DDJ-SB2

Pioneer is the manufacturer behind the CDJ, so it’s no wonder they dominate the DDJ market too. The SB2 is one of the more affordable big brand DJ controllers, with a price point of around £200.

Pioneer is the manufacturer behind the original CDJ, so it’s no wonder they dominate the DDJ market too. The SB2 is one of the more affordable big brand DJ controllers, with a price point of around £200.

SB2s have the slick appearance you can expect from Pioneer gear, and tense jog wheels with the professional and familiar feel of their CDJ cousins. If scratching is your top priority, this is the DDJ for you.

The controller normally comes bundled with Serato DJ Intro.

Pros: Great value for money with a smart, professional look. Plays like a CDJ, with physical tension and feedback.

Cons: FX controls could be more detailed.

Perfect for: Those who want to take scratching digital.

Best mid-range DJ controller: Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S8

Designed to be used with Native Instruments’ Traktor software, known for its powerful Stems function, the Kontrol S8 eschews jog wheels for more knobs, faders, pads, and a dual-screen LCD display. The Stems software makes it easier than ever for DJs to play individual elements of a track, leading to some truly unique mixes and sets.

For DJs who want to fully take advantage of the potential of digital software, this Traktor controller could be the perfect choice. Its £629 price point means it’s not an ideal starter controller, but it might be just what you’re looking for if you want to deconstruct tracks on the fly.

Pros: The best way to take advantage of the Traktor software’s Stems capability.

Cons: No jog wheel, so it’s not ideal for scratching.

Perfect for: DJs who want to strip tracks down and build them back up in the club.

Best high-end DJ controller: Roland DJ-808

Roland’s DJ-808 is purportedly made with DJ-producers in mind. The controller has a built-in drum sequencer and vocal processor. As Roland are traditionally known for their drum machines and electronic instruments, the inclusion of the TR-S drum machine is a real treat—it comes complete with all the classic Roland sounds.

The DJ-808’s hybrid function means it has jog wheels, mixers, and sequencer buttons, allowing you to keep scratching in your repertoire. The controller is best used with Serato DJ software. Priced over £1,000, all this extra functionality does come at a price.

Pros: Powerful instrument integration. A true all-rounder.

Cons: A much higher price point than the other controllers on the list.

Perfect for: DJ-producers who want to have it all.

If you’re looking to keep your setup analogue, check out our article on the best DJ turntables here. For help choosing software for your DJ controller read about the best DJ mixing software here.

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