When you are starting out as a DJ, there is not much that is as important as choosing a beginner DJ controller. The problem comes when you have no experience and deciding on the best beginner DJ controller becomes a nightmare and a headache.
Some time ago, the process was not as hard as it is today, back then, you simply needed two DJ turntables (or CD players), headphones, and a mixer and you were ready to light up the party. Today, with the explosion of DJ technology in the last few years, there is simply too much gear and software to choose from.
While technology has revolutionized how DJ’s work and how you choose your beginner DJ controller, the choices are simply too many to just pick up and go. Software is crucial in today’s deejaying environment. The beginner DJ controller you choose will make or break you as it will be the core of your rig.
With your beginner DJ controller, you have better usability and can manipulate deejaying software better. Controllers give you more hand-on control that keyboards, mice, or touchscreens and at the same time, they offer better productivity.
In this post, we look at what you need in a beginner DJ controller. We will look at the functionalities and features of top DJ controllers and delve briefly into DJ controller cases. If you are looking for a DJ controller to kick start your DJ career, check out our Numark party mix DJ controller review as this is one of the best beginner DJ controllers you can buy.
Before we begin, let’s look at some DJ controller cases.
DJ Controller Cases
For an investment such as a DJ controller, you will want to carry it safely and store it away well covered to prevent damage and dirt build-up. That is where DJ controller cases come in.
Numark Party Mix Controller Case
Like the name suggests, this is a case whose specific design is modeled to fit the Numark Party mix perfectly. With a rigid and firm exterior, you do not have to worry about damaging your controller in transit. While this is made for the Numark party mix, it also fits the Hercules 200 surprisingly well.
This DJ controller case is made with durable and sturdy EVA material that is slightly water-proof and fully shockproof to protect your controller against impact or water. To allow you to carry it easily, it has a sturdy hand strap while the wrap-around zipper allows you to arrange the controller and accessories in place with ease.
LTGEM also has a similar controller case for the pioneer DJ DDJ-SB3/SB2/ and the DDJ-400.
Specifically designed to fit your Numark Party Mix | Starter DJ Controller. OUTER DIMENSIONS: 13.8" L – 9" W – 3" H. 100% SAFE: Hard quality EVA material is semi-waterproof, shockproof and durable.
Gator Cases Injection Molded ATA-300
With a reputation for high-quality DJ controller cases, this gator injection case is no different. For DJs who travel with a router and power supply, the two components will fit snuggly under the mixer in this DL1608 mixer case. The case is rugged and the internal foam will cushion your mixer and accessories from shock and damages.
The case is dust and waterproof with IP 67 certification. With the NK-7 resin build, the case is impact-proof yet lightweight enough to carry around at ease. With the cases’ easy release power claw latch it’s easy to snap it shut or open.
Fitsmackie DL1608 mixing console. Water and dust proof with IP 67 certification and Ata-300 certification.
Co2crea Hard Travel Case For DJ Controllers
The last controller case on our list is the co2crea hard travel case. This fits the Numark Mixtrack Pro 3 and the Numark Mixtrack Platinum perfectly. Like the gator case, this too is resistant to the elements you don’t want to reach you controller such as dust and water.
Over and above that, the EVA material used to make this case is sturdy enough to protect the contents from bumps, scratches, and dents.
While this is easily a contender for the best beginner case, it falls short when it comes to dimensions. It fits the controllers it is made for snugly, but the foam is so big that the fit is a bit too tight for most people’s comfort. of course, you can trim the foam to fit your controller perfectly, but it could do with a thinner foam.
This is a case for Numark Mixtrack Pro 3/Numark Mixtrack Platinum or a 4-channel USB DJ Controller. It is shock-, dust- and waterproof. Material: EVA, Color: Black.
Sectional Rigs Or All-In-One DJ Controller
Sectional rigs are also known as modular rigs. But what are modular rigs and what are all-in-one beginner DJ controllers?
This is the old style of deejaying. While they are still widely used and feature among the top DJ controllers, all-in-one DJ controllers are quickly taking over. Modular DJ controllers feature some standalone equipment. To qualify as best DJ controllers, modular rigs need turntables, an analog mixer and an optional soundcard (which allows you to operate your equipment using DJ software), and media players/CD.
Although all-in-one controllers are more popular today as the Top DJ controllers, there are some DJs who still prefer modular setups. Today, upcoming DJs start with apps on their smartphones to learn the basics before upgrading to the best DJ controllers. For a basic modular setup, you only need two turntables or a media player and a DJ mixer.
You could also go with a digital vinyl system. While this is also old-school, it gives you a better scratching experience. The tactile feedback on vinyl is good and it with software, it allows you to use your laptop to mix.
All-In-One DJ Controllers
These form the majority of the best DJ controllers today. They are modern and combine all the necessary features and tools in a single unit. They feature media players, a user interface, and a mixing section in a compact and intuitive package.
These modern DJ controllers come with physical buttons, sliders, and knobs that give you hands-on control of the deejaying software. Alternatively, you can opt to control the DJ software using a mouse and keyboard from your laptop or touchscreen device. However, the physical controls offer better functionality, more productivity, and easier usability than any other option.
Are All-In-One DJ Controllers The Best Option?
The short answer to that for me is a resounding yes. If you want an easier and more enjoyable time playing music, you’ll want one of these all-in-one DJ controllers as your beginner DJ controller. They are simple to set up and the level of control they give you over the DJ software is unmatched.
In addition, with many of the all-in-one DJ controllers, you don’t even need a touch screen device or a computer to DJ. With a modern DJ controller, you can play your music requests from a CD or a USB flash drive. At times, your laptop may die on you and these all-in-one controllers allow you to switch to an analog connection seamlessly.
Simply put, all-in-one top DJ controllers offer the best of both worlds in a compact yet highly functional set.
While you might never use a CD or flash drive on these modern controllers, it is still a nifty feature to have in case of an emergency. In any case, with the sampling, effects, waveforms, and other features the DJ software offer, you wouldn’t want to switch to analog at any time.
Features And Functionalities Of Top DJ Controllers
Modern beginner DJ controllers today come with a litany of features and functionalities. All-in-one controllers come with controls on the surface. These controls include jog wheels, knobs and buttons, faders, and pads. These offer tactile software function controls and settings.
Some like you’ll see in any Numark Party mix DJ controller review feature lights that sync with the music. Other DJ controllers like the Numark NVII have displays that transmit audio levels and system status among other parameters.
Depending on the connectors Top DJ controllers have, they can transmit audio and MIDI signals to laptops, effects, and PA systems. Some new DJ controllers even allow you to control tablet and smartphone DJ controllers.
As mentioned earlier, you can operate DJ software using a mouse and keyboard. But that means to find functions you have to dig through the menus which could mess up your software and kill your performance. However, with a DJ controller and all functions and buttons being physical, there is little chance of messing things up.
A guide on how to choose the best beginner DJ control would not be complete without a look at the best DJ software available. The controller gives you better control of your mixes and music, but in the background, it is the software that does the heavy lifting. Whether it is sampling or adding effects, without the software, doing all those cool things would be an uphill battle.
The software loads your music library into your PC’s memory while providing virtual playback controls and decks for mixing. It is the software that monitors your moves on the controller and applies the effects and filters you choose, including modifying waveforms and triggering samples. In the old days, these and other functionalities would be nearly impossible to pull off and require tons of gear.
With your decision to choose an all-in-one controller DJ controller, you also need to choose the right software for your controller. All modern DJ controllers come bundled with DJ software. A look at the Numark party mix DJ controller reviews shows that the party mix comes bundled with SERATO DJ software. Others come with virtual DJ or Traktor Pro.
The downside is that often, the DJ software that the manufacturer includes is only the ‘lite’ or ‘limited edition” (LE) version. This means that while they are okay for starting deejays, at some point after learning or when the license expires, you will need to upgrade to the full version. Before choosing a controller, you need to understand the software and decide which among the popular ones is best for you.
Below is a list of the popular DJ software that comes bundled with controllers.
Serato DJ focuses on collaboration with hardware manufacturers. This way, they ensure that the controller and the software mesh seamlessly and make your deejaying fun and functional. Unlike some other DJ software, Serato DJ comes with fewer configuration options. With this, Serato DJ is more user-friendly and easy to understand and configure.
If you are mixing from iTunes and using non-electric music, Serato DJ is your best bet. However, although this is one of the best DJ software, it has a drawback in that you can’t use it to mix without plugging it into a controller like you can with Virtual DJ.
So, what makes this DJ software so potent? For starters, it shows EQ settings using multicolored wavelengths making it easy to sequence your show using visual cues. In addition, working with Serato DJ streamlines workflows for easy mixing. With its expansion packs, you can easily build beats, trigger samples, or apply effects. To help you edit beats, Serato has a powerful DJ tool called Flip and to give you the feel of genuinely mixing and scratching vinyl, it comes with the DVS pack.
Its MIDI mapping function is also incredibly easy to use and understand. The version of Serato that comes with your controller depends on the controller. If you buy an entry-level controller, you’ll get the introductory version while for pro controllers, they come with the pro version included.
Some time ago, Serato improved their DJ/DVS platform by adding some features from the scratch SJ application. They made things backward-compatible allowing users to play digital files with the aid of vinyl-like discs. This increased the functionality you can leverage from digital files to get the best possible scratching feel.
Manufacturers of DJ controllers such as Rane and Denon embrace this by producing interfaces that are DVS-compatible. These interfaces are able to handle a variety of DJ rigs using a varying range of I/O configurations.
While most manufacturers focus on one area – software or hardware, Native Instruments are one of the few that chose to go all in. The company has perfected the art of integrating sophisticated controllers with potent software. Native Instruments’ Traktor Pro and Traktor Scratch Pro have a reputation as some of the most coveted DJ software for performance and production.
So, what makes Traktor a strong contender for the best DJ software? The first thing that comes to mind is Traktor Pro’s Remix Deck. The Remix Deck environment allows you to manipulate different parts of the music from slicing and dicing to free-styling in playback and stretching beats and melodies.
Native Instruments bundle their software with their own controllers such as the Traktor Kontrol S4 which is a full-on controller for the pro DJ.
As a beginner, you don’t need to break the bank to enjoy mixing music and driving crowds wild with your prowess. You only need to learn how to navigate the software and the controller interface and you are ready to wow the crowd. Hopefully, this guide will help you decide what works best for you.