Are you starting out as a DJ? Or maybe you want to invest in some new equipment? Well you’ve come to the right place because we’re going to explore some DJ controllers within the $350 – $500 price range.
Its a bit different nowadays to how the old timers started (Well they were young back then). The requirements used to be 2 vinyl decks and a whole load of gear making setup challenging. Not to mention a certain level of skill to successfully mix together two tracks without missing a beat. Other elements such as heavy bass could potentially bounce the decks causing a stutter. You had to be quite knowledgeable before getting started.
For the modern day DJ, things are a lot simpler in terms of compact lightweight setups. Jog wheels replace the vinyl players and are built into the DJ controller along with a variety of settings. With a built-in audio interface, you can expect to send a line out to a PA system to blast out those tunes without much hassle. The software will be hard to navigate without prior computer experience. You’ll need a laptop to pre-configure your setup; all of these units can’t work standalone – if you’re unhappy with that, you’re old school, perhaps it would be easier for you to stick with vinyl decks.
Otherwise lets dive in.
Reloop READY Compact 2 Channel DJ Controller
The Reloop Ready Compact is pretty neat since it can work with most 13 inch laptops or tablets as a single unit. It is the most compact offer on option here and connects with Serato software which costs $9.99/month for Windows desktop or Mac OS X. Alternatively your other option is Algoriddim djay Pro AI which Reloop supports ipad only. It has everything you need to get started and what I really like about this DJ controller are the multi-coloured sample buttons which are uncluttered and easy to access in the dark. The Jog wheels are quite small and this means you have to be fairly dextrious to avoid amateur mistakes during a beat match or scratch. DJ Angelo represents the release of the DJ controller with his unique Zelda mix as a demo!
I’d say this controller is one for a simpified DJ experience at a really fair price of $349.
The Gemini G2V is a DJ controller, 2 Channel mixer which is built with beginners in mind. Its layout is similar to the Reloop but appears to not only be scaled up, more extensive and work as more of a separate unit for PC or Mac laptops. The Jog Wheels are easier to access, enabling greater finger control with the chosen layout. Not too impressed with the introductory video, it demonstrates some of the features but with an awful DJ which doesn’t leave a good impression. Softwarewise, it uses a cutdown version of VirtualDJ, (very popular with 129M downloads) called VirtualDJ LE which is free.
Overall a very robust DJ controller with most the features you need for $399, but it is not lightweight equipment, more designed for touring.
One of the features that attracted me to the Pioneer DDJ-400-N is the Gold colour; style is important if you’re a performing DJ! Also the fact that Pioneer is a fairly reputable brand that hopefully we can rely on. Similar style to the Gemini G2V but with the Reloop Jog Wheel positioning. I’d say this unit was designed for more advanced DJs, mainly because there is so many buttons. It doesn’t look as well lit though, this would be a problem in a dark club.
Rekordbox DJ is the software of choice for Win or Mac, which is included as a free basic version; but actually I feel they should have focused on supporting pre-existing software.
I encourage you to do your own research, there are so many DJ controllers out there; these are just ones for under $500. If you’re just starting out, don’t spend mega bucks until you know what you’re doing. Each DJ controller has its own variation of controls through software — but they mostly have the same functions.
Thanks again to our Sponsor DJ City, if you live in Australia these guys are a great supplier for all your audio equipment needs.