Digital technology has changed DJing at all levels – here are five great pro DJ controllers
Is there anything that digital technology can’t do? It has revolutionised just about every aspect of the modern world, and music is no exception. The DJ world has been turned upside down by modern, computer tech (reluctantly, in some quarters…), but nowadays, the power and convenience offered by digital alternatives to vinyl are impossible to ignore- particularly computer-based alternatives.
As a result, there is now a fine selection of pro DJ controllers for those working at the highest levels. Here are five of them…
The Pioneer CDJ-900 Nexus is arguably one of the heavyweights in the world of digital DJ gear. The CDJ provided the first true alternative to vinyl, by including a jog-wheel for cueing, and pitch control, but combining with loop capability, and other features that vinyl couldn’t do.
The CDJ-900 nexus takes this basic CD-loading format, but adds compatibility with nearly all music file formats, USB sockets for loading music libraries from memory sticks and the ability to be used as a controller with DJ software. The combination of pro-spec, and standalone or DJ controller operation still makes it a solid choice for club installs.
The Numark NS7III DJ Controller (with Serato DJ included) is the current incarnation of Numark’s flagship DJ controller and a professional grade option for DJ’s who need a reliable, robust and beautifully engineered piece of kit to work with. You have the Serato DJ-managed digital music library at your fingertips with this pro DJ turntable whilst the 3 built in, vibrant 4.3 inch colour screens relay real time visual information to keep you up to date with exactly what’s going on at all times. The major benefit here is the fact you can now accurately manage all critical performance elements without having to look at your laptop all the time – everything is right there in front of you including playhead, moving waveforms, deck, and FX status. You can even use the NS7III as a professional 24-bit audio interface thanks to USB 2.0 connectivity.
The Traktor Kontrol D2 is one of an increasing number of DJ controllers that proves you don’t need a jog wheel to create interesting music. A built-in high-res display gives you a surprising amount of information, helping you focus on your controller and not on your laptop. While this is of course impressive, the stand out feature of the D2 is compatibility with the new Stems format which gives you access to isolated tracks within songs, letting you freely and individually control bass lines, vocals, drum parts and more during performance.
For those who really want to step up their live performances as well as their studio game, the Pioneer XDJ-RX All-In-One Rekordbox DJ Controller is the logical next step, allowing you to leave your laptop at home and load rekordbox tracks directly from your USB key.
DJ’s will also benefit from the introduction of the integrated LCD screen, where you can view information from both players simultaneously – including artwork display, dual waveform display, playback position, BPM and beat grids.
The browse option lets you monitor tracks quickly, whilst the Hot Cue selector helps you create seamless mixes.
With two USB-driven players, two CDJ-style platter controllers and the extremely useful Slip Mode giving you the opportunity to reverse, loop or scratch the track without getting lost, the Pioneer XDJ-RX All-In-One Rekordbox DJ Controller is an impressive piece of tech and the all-in-one controller for professional grade DJ’s.
Technically, this isn’t a controller as such. However, add a computer and this package to your vinyl or CDR rig and, pow! You now have a pro software set-up with full vinyl control.
The package includes Native’s excellent A10 audio interface, along with two time code vinyls, time code CDs and Traktor Scratch Pro 2.5 software. By installing the software and hooking the audio interface to your decks and mixer with time code discs ready to play, you can play, cue and scratch tacks in your digital library.
A full range of DJ controllers can be found online here.