Different Types of DJ Controllers

(Last Updated On: October 8, 2020)
Different types and models of DJ controllers in the market.

The market for pieces of hardware and software for DJ controllers is continuously growing. So, if you are an aspiring or practicing DJ, you will find yourself with myriads of options at hand. Yet, you will sometimes get confused as to which brand and model is the ideal one for your use. Each type of DJ controller may come with some features that are different from those of other types of DJ controllers. Some DJ controllers, for example, carry very advanced features, while some have the bare essential for you to get by with basic deejaying.

When choosing a DJ controller, you need to consider several essential factors to zero in on the best ones. You need to consider, for example, the design and durability, portability, operating system compatibility, versatility, interconnectivity, and many other factors. DJ controllers are designed to lessen the number of heavy and large equipment when engaging in deejaying. The whole concept behind its functionalities is to make it convenient for the DJ to set up using compact and integrated equipment. 

Types of DJ Controllers Based on Features & Uses

The features of DJ controllers vary from one type to another. DJ controllers can also be grouped based on the purpose for which they were specifically made. Hence, you can look for DJ controllers based on their features and purposes. 

1) Standalone DJ Controllers

You will often see DJs with setups consisting of a laptop and a controller at the same time. Well, they need a laptop for downloading the software. Yet, with great innovation in the manufacturing of DJ controllers, you can now find standalone controllers. These controllers already have excellent software and function on their own without needing a laptop.

These standalone DJ controllers are very convenient to carry around. You don’t need to bring your laptop to mix using this type of DJ controllers. Moreover, this type is a cheaper option because you don’t need to buy a laptop at the same time. This type of controller is also handy. It is perfect for itinerant or on-the-go DJs. 

With the use of this controller, you can skirt around some technical issues that hound the use of controllers and laptops. You can choose, for example, a standalone DJ controller that works perfectly with MIDI. As its name connotes, this type of DJ controller can work independently without necessitating an audio interface or software.  

Another thing is that this type comes with large screens. This makes it easy for you to figure out the information shown on the screen. The main reason why standalone DJ controllers were designed is that it is meant to save on space. Without the laptop, you will free up enough space on your DJ table. 

Moreover, it lets you focus solely on your controller without the presence of a laptop. This is because the laptop can bring in a lot of distractions to you. Without it, you can concentrate on mixing using your standalone controller. Thus, you can tinker more and master the controller.

2) Portable DJ Controllers

Some DJs are looking for a controller that is compact and very portable. More often, however, with reduced size, the controller also loses some of its extra features. Yet, you can also maximize the use of compact DJ controllers if you are creative enough. 

The process of deejaying is not dependent mostly on how many features you have in your controller. It is more on how you can maximize and optimize the use of whatever features it has. At present, many DJs carry as a backup a portable DJ controller in case the main controller malfunctions. 

In a major gig, for example, you don’t want to be thrown into a situation wherein you are at a loss as to what to do when your main setup did not work. Hence, it is always better to be on the safe side when having a gig. 

Another thing is that the portable DJ controller is also great for small gigs. Since it is compact, you can easily tag it along in parties and weddings. With it, you won’t be overburdened with heavy loads as you move from one gig to another.  

3) For-Club-Use DJ Controllers

DJ controllers come in different designs and forms. Some have more subtle and complete features compared to others. As such, you need to be meticulous in choosing which one to have, depending on where you are going to use it. If you always perform in huge clubs, you will need a better DJ controller that comes with essential features like sound FX, loops, samples, and many other functions. 

Many DJ controllers do not have all these features. Yet, if you want to make your performance great and easy, you should go for a controller with these types of functionalities. You will be needing a highly specialized DJ controller like those DJ controllers for club use. You can take your DJ-ing career to a higher level with this type of DJ controllers.

4) DJ Controllers for Scratching

The DJ controllers for scratching usually have the jog wheels and responsive crossfader. They need to have these features to be able to perform well. The crossfader, for example, is necessary for cutting sound while you scratch. You should master the use of the crossfader if you want to be a respectable DJ. The jog wheels, of course, is essential for scratching. They are, in fact, equal to the use of turntables or vinyl records. So, it will be great if you would get the hang of its use. Yet, if you intend to master scratching, you should carefully choose the controller that you are going to buy. You should select something tailor-made for scratching.

Types of DJ Controllers Relative to DJ’s Skill Levels

Given the myriads of options at hand, there are still some factors that you need to consider when shopping around for a DJ controller. You need to choose with care, for example, the DJ software. Serato DJ, for example, is compatible with specific types of controllers designed for close collaboration with Serato. So, your DJ app preference would determine, in part, the DJ controller that you would buy. You also need to consider future expansion of your setup. Plus, you need to consider whether you will need audio inputs. Other things to consider include your budget, quality, and many more. 

Yet, aside from these considerations, you should also choose a DJ controller that is best suited to your skill. For this reason, DJ controllers can be categorized based on the features they offer and based on the skillsets of the DJ. Here are the three types of DJ controllers relative to the skillsets of the one who is going to use them: 

1) Beginner DJ Controller

The beginner DJ controllers, of course, are designed for those who are just trying to learn the rudiments of deejaying. Most of these controllers feature two channels and are very portable. These features let the tyro in deejaying to jumpstart his career in this field. This type of controllers, of course, provides the different essential DJ software features from the onset.

You can fit this type of controllers with ease inside a mini-bag and can carry it around without overburdening yourself. You can also play loops, samples, hot cues, and effects on this type of controllers. These controllers are equipped with software to enable you to load your collection of music for quick jamming. These basic controllers can be connected with ease to iPads and laptops via the use of apps.

If you want the basics for sound mixing, you can rely on these types of controllers. They come with all the controls and two effective units. You can also zero in on a beginner’s controller that comes with options for managing different pads using a knob.

These controllers are also equipped with a maximum of four decks. They come with a filter fade feature that allows for seamlessly mixing tracks. All these features are the basic features that a beginner DJ would need to familiarize with before moving up to another level of deejaying.

2) Medium-Range DJ Controllers

There are DJ controllers that are specifically designed for professional and amateur DJs. These DJ controllers come with an intuitive control layout. They are also very robust, being made of metal. They come, of course, with effects, hot cues, play and sync, and trigger buttons that feature variegated colors. These colors allow you to distinguish one button from another. 

The majority of these controllers also come with jog wheels and pitch control to give you that feel of vinyl. These controllers are optimized and are ergonomic in design to facilitate the use of sample deck functions and loop recorders.

You can play songs from your iOS and Android devices using these controllers. They also come with buttons for flux mode switching. Moreover, several of them also have two channels along with backlit buttons for transport control, loops, and band EQ. These controllers, of course, are perfect for those who were already deejaying, yet want to enhance their skillsets further. 

3) Professional DJ Controllers

These DJ controllers come with the best features a DJ controller can offer. They are designed to play anything. You can use them as a standalone DJ controller or have it hooked to your laptop. The most prominent features of these DJ controllers include CD decks and excellent full features, a suite of specialized software, integrated 3-channel mixers, along with USB flash drives. 

With these controllers, you can readily engage in your gigs because they have everything for easy setup and quick connections to any sound system. They come with mic and headphone outputs, along with very balanced XLR outs.

You will be surprised by the designs of these controllers. Their design is outstanding and stunning. They come with a built-in screen for displaying all the information that you need to see. 

When you use one of these controllers, you will feel that you are using something extraordinary. You can switch between USB, CD, and laptop when mixing. They come with mesmerizing controls with jog wheels that can do a lot, plus audio mixers with dual channels. They are equipped with double-deck functions that you would surely love and appreciate.

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