When buying a DJ controller there are various factors one has to consider. Cheaper DJ controllers have fewer options than expensive ones, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get the job done. And just because you buy a branded one with tons of features that doesn’t mean it will serve you best.
The most important thing you need to check while buying a DJ controller is the software. Try to see if the software it comes with meets your needs or at least if the controller supports the software you usually use. You also need to carefully inspect the channels, inputs, and outputs of the controller as well.
Expensive DJ controllers undoubtedly beat Cheaper DJ controllers in terms of quality and functionality. If you can choose them wisely, then even a DJ controller under $250 may perform exceedingly well. That is why I made this DJ controller buyers guide to help you understand what you need to look for in a good DJ controller.
Five Most Important Elements of a DJ Controller
These five most crucial things have quite a heavy impact on the overall performance of a DJ controller. Be it the software, or the input system, you need to know exactly what fits your style before spending all that money.
1. All In One or Modular
Before buying a DJ controller, the first thing you need to select is whether you want a modular rig or an all-in-one controller. Modular rigs have separate sound sources like cd/records. On the other hand, all-in-one Dj controllers are fully integrated with more complex software and hardware settings.
All-in-one controllers have integrated mixing sections which you can operate using other devices as an interface. It is the more modernized version of the two kinds. The selling point of this sort of setup is it can seamlessly incorporate other media sources. You can use your phone, or laptop as a perfectly functioning interface.
Modular DJ rigs are more analog and require more physical inputs than an all-in-one controller. It does not have everything in one place and offers far less convenience. However, if you are still learning the basics, then opting for a modular set is probably better. That is because it helps beginners grasp the basics much faster.
The output is a sensitive point for a DJ controller. It will directly affect the quality of your music. It’s one of the first things you should check when you are buying a new DJ controller. There are two conventional output sets, the XLR, and RCA.
RCA is inferior to XLR by a decent margin. The longer the cable the more it negatively affects the sound quality. It is usually seen on Cheaper DJ controllers. It mainly has two wires with conductors at the end. There is no grounding mechanism. That’s why the sound might be slightly obscured.
XLR is on the other end of the spectrum. It produces a much clearer sound compared to the RCA version. It has three wires that help balance out the sound, so the cable length does not affect the quality much.
In my opinion, it is always better to buy a DJ controller with XLR output rather than an RCA one. The quality drop is quite noticeable on it.
The number of channels on a DJ controller is crucial. It impacts how much creativity you can show with your music. There are two conventional Channel set-ups. One is the 2-channel, and the other is the 4-channel input.
Channels are the knob columns at the center of a DJ controller. Most of the established DJs would use a four-channel set-up because it offers a lot more flexibility when mixing. However, properly handling a four-channel controller is a challenge in itself. If your skills are still at the elementary level then picking a two-channel setup would be better.
Two-channel controllers are easier for beginners to understand and master. It also helps build the basics. On the other hand, using a four-channel controller without sufficient skills can have a detrimental effect.
Software is one of the most crucial things that many beginners overlook. Most of the DJ controllers come with their software bundle. Believe it or not. You can download them for free. So why are they so important then? It is important to check before you buy a set because the software is useless without the specific hardware.
A controller has built-in compatible software that can only be used with it. They come with a wide range of options and features. If you are vying for a cheaper DJ controller, you need to sacrifice some of those features. They will have some features that fit your style, and some that do not. To get the most out of your bucks you need to select one that fits your style the most.
Try to test the software out beforehand to get a feel for it. Do not be negligent with this, as DJ controller software is almost as important as the hardware itself.
Or if you have previous experience with DJing then do some research and see which controller supports your favorite software.
5. Connectivity Options
Connectivity is not as problematic an issue as it used to be, but it’s still better to be cautious. You need to check if the controller you chose is compatible with your iOS or laptop before spending all your money, as it can become a headache later on.
Some DJ controllers are not compatible with specific devices, so make sure all your other gears work with them before buying them. It is especially important to check this if you are only replacing the hardwire while keeping the same software and vice versa.
I hope this DJ controller buyer’s guide helped you understand what aspects you should check before buying a new DJ controller. There is not much difference between a Cheaper DJ controller and an expensive one at the early stages of DJing. As long as you are careful about the points I mentioned, you could draw a lot of value out of a relatively cheaper controller quite easily.