Forever Vinyl DJs

FVDJs Approved DJ Controllers

The best DJ controller is very subjective. To start, realize your budget and get in without over-spending. A DJ controller only needs a 2 channel mixer; 4 channel DJ mixers are for advanced use or mobile DJ rigs. The important thing is a 1/4" TRS or microphone cable XLR output and a pitch adjust slider to change the pitch of the songs for beatmatching.

Please make a purchase from the list below. (Disclaimer: amazon associate linked, I get a couple bones if you purchase within 24hrs, so please return here if not ready to buy today...)

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UPDATE 2020-04-15 Rekordbox 6.0 Update Pay-Bricks Old DJ Controllers!

Pioneer's Rekordbox DJ program just pay-bricked all old DJ controllers, and only works with about 10 devices without a $10/mo subscription. If you just bought a Pioneer DJ controller that isn't on the list, you do not get access to Rekordbox 6 without a subscription.

Read more in the Serato vs Traktor vs Rekordbox writeup. For now, I double-down on my Serato suggestion.

Prom DJ package with the full stack of gear

Pioneer DDJ-SR2 2-ch DJ Controller

Pictured is my personal DJ rig for DJ lessons, the Pioneer DDJ-SR 1st gen 2-channel controller. The 8 trigger pads enable some amazing effects with one hand, making on-the-fly stutters once only possible with two copies of a record.

The DDJ-SR2 is my top-recommended DJ controller in 2020 for those who want to learn on real club-style proven tech. Get it installed and running, or use the first DJ lesson to help get it up and running.

Software for the DDJ-SR2 includes the full Pro version of Serato, a $100 value. There are 2x Phono inputs on the back, so adding the DVS package is just an upgrade away!

Input and output on most dj controllers is lacking, and the DDJ-SR series lacks both in/out options and phono preamp inputs.

Pioneer DDJSB3 Controller

Watch the video of DJ Jazzy Jeff in the product pictures to get an idea of what this little controller can do. Serato lite comes with the controller for quick industry-standard plug-n-play; upgrading to Serato Pro is only $99. This is the most sold DJ controller on the market for a reason. Buy now and expand later.

Pioneer DDJ-400 Controller

Pioneer's Rekordbox software is what the DDJ-400 controller is built for. Rekordbox had some issues early on as it went from an organizational platform to a complete DJ platform. If your budget is $250, grab this intro dj controller and learn the basics on simple and streamlined hardware.

The tempo slider is shortened on this product, and some of the cheaper controllers have eliminated it alltogether as the sync function improved. When you need it, holding a manual beatmatch on a short pitch adjust is 2x as difficult for half the length. I prefer a pitch adjust at least as long as a Technics 1200.

Resale values are very strong with Pioneer DJ products, and selling it to a friend later will be a good investment in skills gained versus saving for a more expensive controller. Jump in!

Pioneer DDJ1000SRT DJ Controller

While the $1.3k price tag may seem high, recall that a DJM 900 NXS2 costs $2500 just for the mixer! The DDJ1000SRT has all the benefits of 4 channel faders for versatility in medium with top shelf jog wheels, knobs, faders and pads. If you can afford this hardware, get it without regret!

I've honestly been wanting to centerpiece the DDJ1000SRT with two Technics 1200s in a coffin just to see if it is reasonable. Those two phono inputs are getting pretty rare in the market, and having control of those channels separate from the two digital channels opens up a whole new world.

Pioneer XDJ-XZ DJ Controller

The XDJ-XZ (mouthful) controller is what I would use as the centeripece to my rig if I quit using Traktor. I'll be testing Rekordbox to see if it can handle a 60,000 track collection. No computer needed, just plug your USB sticks in to access the tracks, see the waveforms on the screen, and shred away.

CDJs can be hooked up for channels 1 & 4 with the cat-5 ethernet cable to sync them with the included decks, the only all-in-one able to do so. This top-shelf DJ controller also boasts Pioneer's top-of-the-line mixer components and sound.

List of Rekordbox 6 Unlock Devices

DJM-V10

Beast of a 6ch mixer.

DDJ-1000

DDJ-800

DDJ-400

DDJ-RZX

Absolutely ridiculous controller for mixing videos.

DDJ-RR

2ch Rekordbox license DJ controller.

DDJ-XP2

The video for the DDJ-XP2 is posted on the... I want one.

XDJ-XZ

Massive 4ch mixer.

DJM-750MK2

INTERFACE 2

Love your old mixer and want Rekordbox DVS to use your turntables with? This will do the job, and act as a general audio interface. Not really recommended in the age of digital soundcard mixers, but use whatcha got!

Audio Terms and Definitions

Pitch Adjust
Tempo Fader
Speed Adjust
The sliding nubbin with the ruler detents printed next to it, which adjusts the speed of the track. Adjusting the speeds also changes the pitch. Changes in the tempo allow beat matching and mixing.