Shop smart for DJ controllers, interfaces and hardware. Know what to look for when building a rig to fit your budget and skills.
You want to be well-informed before dropping your hard-earned cash on DJ gear. However, with so many different hardware options these days, picking the right DJ equipment can be tricky. Gopandy Musical will walk you through the buying decisions, helping you understand gear options, the platforms and the technical terms you’ll come across.
What you need.
While we include the components most DJs use below, note that today the controller usually includes the functions of a mixer, player and control surface while providing connections for audio, USB or iOS gear. A DJ setup may include some or all of the following equipment listed below.
At one time DJs performed solely with two turntables and a mixer, whether they were spinning dance records or scratching vinyl hip-hop style. With the arrival of MP3s and CDs, many DJs switched to these newer formats due to their greater reliability, easy transport and music library management, plus potential for extensive control and music manipulation. DJ gear manufacturers quickly got in on the act producing players and controllers that exploited the ability to slice and dice beats and create jaw-dropping shows beyond the limits of vinyl.
What DJ controllers do
Today’s controllers typically include three elements:
A control surface composed of knobs, buttons, jog wheels, pads or faders that give you hands-on control over software functions and settings. Displays and LEDs indicate system status, audio levels and many other parameters.
An audio interface that transmits your signal to external equipment including computers, mobile devices, effects processor and PA systems, depending on the type of connectors it has.
Control of tablet and smartphone apps is found in some newer DJ controllers.
It’s possible with most DJ software to use a mouse and keyboard for control. However, this method can be non-intuitive and involve digging through endless menus. That’s why most DJs use a hardware controller to operate and configure their software.
The Numark NS7III Controller combines an enormous number of functions, effects, and versatile channel control for amazing shows that draw on all your media libraries and scratching skills.
USB and wireless controllers
There are multiple ways to connect your DJ controller to your PC or mobile devices to interact with your software. A common connection type you will find on many of them is USB. You will find lots of options for USB-based controllers that interact with MIDI-based DJ software programs.
The Pioneer DDJ-SB2 is a perfect introduction to modern DJ’ing, offering a classic control surface at an affordable price point. Even better? It comes with Serato DJ Intro software.