DJ Controllers – What Are They And Do You Want One?

DJ Controllers offer DJs hands-on tactile control over DJ Software, often completely eliminating the need for a keyboard or mouse while DJing.  

Much of the time professional grade DJ Controllers come fully-equipped with an Audio I/O (Sound Card) interface built right in as well.  Simply connect your DJ controller via USB to your computer and via that one connection interface you get both control over your DJ Software, and your 2 channel audio output.   This certainly keeps things tidy, one connection to the DJ machine for your DJ controller and you're basically ready to get into the mix.  Of course, your DJ controller will almost always come with drivers which you'll need to install before connecting to your DJ mxing software (although I recommend always checking the manufacturer’s website for the latest DJ controller drivers for your device)

DJ Midi Controllers come in all shapes and sizes, and use various methods of communication, most notably MIDI.   Although most of the DJ controllers on the market now use HID too, usually a combination of protocols to achieve the best performance possible.

When selecting a DJ controller that best suites your requirements there are a few things to consider.   DJ controllers often include full-on DJ mixers today, so they are all-in-one units with both the controller capabilities and mixer.   You plug your headphones directly into the device and cue from there directly.   These DJ controllers are often table-top, and only a few support mounting in a standard 19" rack.   These are usually best for club installations or even bedroom use – although lately creative case design has lead to some DJ's taking out larger DJ controllers on mobile DJ gigs.   

There are still a handful of DJ controllers on the market now, such as the Denon DN-HC4500, that are rack-mountable and allow you to use your own physical DJ mixer of choice.  However, they seem to be going the way of the caveman – with less and less "mixer-less" designs hitting the market from the major DJ equipment manufacturers. 

PCDJ and Numark created the very first commercially sold DJ controller to ever hit the market in the Numark DMC-1 controller (which actually used serial communication) back in 2002.   Now, it's now the cornerstone of every major DJ gear manufacturer’s line.   It's pretty amazing the rate at which new DJ controllers hit the market, and how much DJ controllers have evolved since then.   More and more buttons, which offer better and more efficient direct control over the plethora of features found in today's DJ mixing software products like PCDJ DEX 2. 

Currently PCDJ DEX 2 and RED Mobile 2 both support over 60 of the Best DJ controllers, with more being added all the time (although it would help if the manufacturers would slow down just a tad!).   We have 3 new Pioneer DJ controllers coming in the next update planned to launch in a few weeks.  

So what's the Best DJ Controller for you? 

Click here for a full list of all the great DJ controllers from all the major players that our DJ software currently supports

Want to learn more about DJ controllers? Click here for the DJ Controllers Wiki

If you have questions about DJ controllers please feel free to post in the comments section below!  Thanks, and keep spinnin!