This review and buying guide – Best DJ controllers for scratching is curated basically to help disk jockeys alike in making apt buying decisions on the purchase of new controllers.
It does not matter on what side you sit on the vinyl turntable versus DJ controller divide, you most probably will agree that this endless debate about which one is better is unnecessarily polarizing.
With the increasingly fast way technology is improving, the fact that DJs are not going anywhere is an irrefragable fact.
And as such, smart disc jockeys are getting with the program. They are exploring more ways that they can best make use of their DJ controllers in their gigs.
One question, though, that we find many people asking is, what are the best DJ controllers for scratching?
Another question on people’s lips is, can I get a decent scratch out of a DJ?
With answers to these questions, there are possibilities of follow-up questions, and they are: “What are the most important things to consider when shopping for a DJ controller?”
To get answers to these questions, we had to do some findings ourselves. We had to go through forums, peek into discussions held on Facebook on this subject matter, and, also, we had to read the best articles that would help to eliminate myths about using DJ controllers for scratching.
We will be diving straight into the most important question, and this question is, can you scratch as well on a DJ controller as you can on vinyl?
Many DJs who have trained on vinyl turntables will give you a resounding no to that question.
To some vinyl purists, these controllers do not come anywhere near creating the warm tones and artistic expression that you will get with a vinyl turntable.
These are somewhat fair points given.
After all, save for a few models, platters on most DJ controllers do not spin, and this is what the whole art of scratching was borne from.
Vinyl purists are also very swift to claim that most jockeys that even try to come close to mastering scratching on DJ controllers themselves have learned on vinyl turntables.
The truth of the matter is, because of the subtle nuances of vinyl and the tactile feel of the spinning record, moving from vinyl to a DJ controller is most likely not going to be a seamless one. But it certainly is not as hard as they make it out to be.
If you decide to train on a DDJ, you can develop a very impressive repertoire of cuts as one playing on vinyl. All you need to do is to get over all your inhibitions.
And you are seeking some inspiration, many Dis, including celebrity ones like Jazzy Jeff, have made the transition from vinyl to DJ controller.
The fact is, if you do not have the skill, to start with, you can be equally poor on a DJ controller as you are on a vinyl turntable.
You should keep in mind this unless you are playing for crows of experienced vinyl scratch DJs, very few people will note the differences between vinyl and a controller scratch.
So long as you can bring it and you can entertain the crowd you are performing to, it matters little what you are scratching on, be it vinyl turntable or DJ controller.
With all that said, let us cover what exactly these DJ controllers are and what it is that they do (for those who are new to the field).
A DJ controller is a device that helps DJS mix music with their DJ software. The DJ controller has components like the knobs, jog wheels, encoders, faders, touch strips, backlit buttons, and so forth. And by using these components, DJs can mix their music.
Mixing of music can be quite complex. And to get it right, you will need to be certain that every instrument or device that is involved in the mixing gives top quality sound. Since DJ controllers play an important role in music mixing of any sort, it is vital that you choose your controller well.
Today’s market is flooded with different kinds of DJ controllers, and having to make a decision on which is the best one to buy out of the hordes of models available can be a daunting process for anyone – whether beginner or pro.
In this article, we have chosen the top DJ controllers out there, and we have broken down key aspects to keep in mind when you go shopping for your DJ controller.
List of the Best DJ Controllers for Scratching 2019
Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB2 Portable 2-Channel Controller for Serato DJ
The Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB2 is the next generation version of the highly successful Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB. The original product was a hit two years back when it was first released.
It was considered the top entry-level DJ controller with some professional touches. The DDJ-SB2 comes with all the qualities of its predecessor with some extra professional features which bring this model closer to the pro level.
Why We Liked It: The Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB2 Portable 2-Channel controller for Serato DJ is one of the top entry-level controllers that work well for a professional DJ, and this is thanks to its new and improved features.
Pioneer Pro DJ XDJ-RX DJ Controller System
If you are one who does not like to lug your laptop to your DJ gigs, this DJ controller is the absolute best for you. Pioneer has impressed its customers with some of the best products of all time, and these includes many of its music devices. It is the preferred brand for both professionals and audiophiles alike all over the world.
With its lower price point and its amazing features, this DJ controller is a sure winner. It shares many of its features with those that can be found in high-end models that come with a fancy, expensive price tag, and it makes this model one with great value.
Why We Liked It: If what you are looking for is a laptop-free solution as a DJ, then the Pioneer DJ XDJ-RX DJ Controller System is the ideal model for you.
Numark Mixtrack Pro II USB DJ Controller with Integrated Audio Interface and Trigger Pads
This particular setup is a continuation of the Numark Mixtrack Pro. It comes with all the features and the same high-quality of the original, it also comes with an improved design and some new features to boot. The design of this model is much more compact than that of the original version.
It comes with illuminated, touch-activated, low-profile platters and 16 backlit multifunction drum pads. If what you are looking for is to DJ with your computer, you cannot go wrong with this controller. It is the perfect DJ setup for you.
Why We Liked It: The Numark Mixtrack Pro II USB DJ setup is another top entry-level controller that has professional features. It is great for both beginners and pros.
Akai Professional AFX | Dedicated FX Controller for Advanced Serato DJ Performance
Everything that you could possibly need to produce great quality mixes comes with this great DJ controller. Akai is one of the most reputable brands around. They have a long history of producing state of the art music gear and equipment. They are one of the go-to brands for most professionals worldwide.
The Akai Professional AFX | Dedicated FX Controller makes your mixes a lot more fun and it also helps to enhance your learning.
This model comes with FX-specific controls, and this makes it the perfect choice for any professional DJ. Not only does it work with Serato DJ, but it is also compatible with many other DAW software.
Why We Liked It: This DJ controller is great for Serato DJ while improving your creative abilities.
Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 MK2 DJ Controller
It is vital for any DJ controller to be able to completely integrate with the software it is designed for, and this DJ controller does just that.
The Traktor Kontrol S2 MK2 is the updated version of the S4. When it is compared to its predecessor, the S2 is more compact and lightweight, which makes it great if you play a lot of gigs. It is durable and it can also accompany you to even the darkest of clubs, and this is due to its RGB backlit buttons.
Why We Liked It: The amazing tricks that you can get with the Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 MK2 Make it one of the top digital units for mixing with TRAKTOR DJ.
PIONEER DDJSR Pro DJ Controller
Whether it is the simple setup of this model, or its durability, the amazing sonic character or some of the most professional features available. Everything that comes with this DJ controller is the absolute top quality. Pioneer does not stop to amaze its customers and this model is no exception.
If you are DJ that wants to upgrade to a mid-professional, then you should consider, seriously, picking up the PIONEER DDJSR. It is made to be used with Serato DJ, and it is both compact and portable.
Why We Liked It: This model is easily one of the best mid-professional digital units that is available on the market. This controller is made to last. It has a compact design, making it easy to take on the go.
Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S4 MK2 DJ Controller
Native Instruments is one company that is well-known for coming up with great DJ controllers. They come up with consistent upgrades to their gear, staying one step ahead of their competition.
This DJ controller has a complete package that is great for quality mixes.
Why We Liked It: If you are looking for professional functions, extreme portability, and instant usability, this DJ setup is the right choice for you.
Reloop Mixon 4 High-Performance 4-Channel Hybrid DJ Controller
This is the first hybrid DJ audio-setup that is specifically designed for two different software programs, Serato DJ and djay Pro. This model comes with color-coded pads that can trigger sounds and performance modes like the hot cut, slicer, loop roll, and so forth. It can be used with your PC or laptop, but it can also be used with an Android or iOS device.
Why We Liked It: The Reloop Mixon 4 High-Performance 4-Channel Hybrid DJ setup is a trail blazer and it comes with cool features.
Pioneer Pro DJ DDJ-SX2 DJ Controller
Pioneer Electronics comes with a complete range of DJ equipment that helps to satisfy your various DJing needs. The Pioneer Pro DJ DDJ-SX2 is specifically aimed to work with Serato DJ and it has all the features that you need to create quality mixes.
Why We Liked It: If you want to use the new Serato FLIP and you also want your DJ setup to be packed with features, this model is the DJ controller that you need.
Best DJ Controllers for Scratching - Buyers Guide
Our Top Pick
Our top pick product shows the best quality that is within an affordable price group. Let us introduce you to the brand that has paved the way for DJ gear since the start of the DJ movement. It should come to you as no surprise that Pioneer is known for helping musicians innovate and mix creatively. With its easy yet advanced controls, the DDJ-SB2 by Pioneer is user-friendly for both professionals and beginners alike, and it is made available at an affordable price.
Our top pick has rocking tactile performance pads. The top four allow you to trigger hot cue, auto loop, manual loop, and a sampler. The bottom four pads give you straightforward access to play, cue, sync, and shift. The DDJ-SB2 makes certain that you do not have to compromise large jog wheels for the sake of a compact design. This DJ setup is equipped with large, low-latency jog wheels that are used to redefine accuracy.
If you want to quickly check and adjust the input volume on each channel, this product comes with features like trim knob and level meters. You get to have two separate filters on each channel. With both low/high pass filter dials, you can adjust the frequency with ease.
It comes with a filter fade option that adds two high pass filters to the crossfader so that you can edit volume and bass filters single-handedly.
This model’s large low-latency jog wheels, filter fade, and separate filters on each channel, the Pioneer DDJ-SB2 redefines the DJing experience.
Are you looking to invest in some premium gear? Well, the Pioneer Pro DJ XDJ-RX DJ system has all the good stuff that I packed into a single device for ultra-polish DJ sets that will help take your career to the next level.
This model comes with a 7-inch full-color LCD display that displays information from both players simultaneously, as well as waveforms, playback position, BPM, and beat grids. With the ease of access to artwork and hot cue info, you can choose and browse tracks with no problems.
With this model’s beat drum machine sync options, you will be able to automatically beat-match up to 2 decks, playing tracks analyzed in Rekordbox. What this does is it leaves you free to express your unique style over the mix.
Its slip mode enables you to add loop, scratch, and reverse to your edits while you mute the playing tracks. When you release the jog wheels, your track comes back to the same place you left it.
With its next-generation features like slip mode, beat sync, and a dual waveform display, this DJ controller is one of the best models around.
When it comes to great value, there is nothing that beats the Numark Mixtrack Pro II. It is beautifully designed, and so are its touch-sensitive control wheels, the integrated audio interface on a budget, and its FX control, this is just everything that you will ever need.
The reason why we have this product included as our great value pick is because of its affordability and great features.
Before you dole out any money on a DJ controller, you should do careful research. Here are some things that you should know. All controllers are equipped with onboard control components that are usually linked to DJ software so that you can control the software externally.
A DJ setup does all the basic functions of a MIDI keyboard, but it does it in a different way. And on the onboard control components, some products include all-in-one features like FX effects, mixers, turntables, drum pads, and many more. Other models have only some mixers while many are designed for rotary controls, kill switches, and FX effects.
So, the question is, how do you choose the one that is best suited for your professional needs?
Well, you need to figure out the most fundamental part, which is your budget. You should identify your needs. If you are a novice, then you might need to get a lower end DJ controller for learning the basics. Also, if you are a master at the turntable. A high or mid-range controller would be perfect.
You should identify your budget accordingly.
Next, you would need to look for popular DJ applications, since they are the heart of a DJ controller. For your choosing the highest quality DJ applications, you should look for compatibility and features in one package. Serato DJ is the most popular application, and it is compatible with most controllers, giving you extra features.
You should know that Serato DJ is not compatible with all controllers, so, you would need to search for a universally compatible application that will match your controller.
These controls give you access to the specific function of the DJ applications. Different DJ controllers give you lots of controls, so, you would need to pick the one that matches your personal preference.
If you are a beginner, then you should be able to pick almost anything. Been able to master all the controls available to you will be of great benefit to you in the future. On the other hand, if what you are looking for are specific controls, then choosing the one with a vast variety of controls will not be of much help. From the stage performances to studio editing, there are all kinds of DJ controllers that are available.
Make sure that whatever you do, you should always try to go online, or ask around for guidance on how to get the best DJ controllers for scratching, doing this will save you from losing out on your investment.