• Richard In Het Veld

    Useful article for sure. But I don’t really agree with a lot of products that are named here. F.i. sound cards: there are many many much better alternatives for that price range. All i see here is one very cheap and crappy interface, and another that is way too expensive for its very limited options. Don’t even get me started on that Vestax dj controller you mention here. Let me put it this way: there is a reason that company doesn’t exist anymore. Why not explain to those beginners that it actually makes more sense to pay a little bit more for good stuff, instead of buying loads of really cheap stuff that breaks or has terrible quality. And where are all the other low-to-mid-range sound cards that are out there? Focusrite, for instance? Personally I think this article gives a very wrong impression to people who have no idea where to start. The whole point of learning about something is to do some “homework”. But when they read this, they are sure to make some very big mistakes that can easily be avoided. Seriously, a Behringer interface? When there are many much better options? And a Vestax controller? While the company doesn’t exist anymore? And worst of all: a midi fighter controller? For a beginner? I usually tell beginners to make a list of what they think they need first, and then have a look at suitable controllers. Why is there not one single controller that incorporates faders, pads, keys and rotaries? That would be a real ‘all-in-one-solution” for beginners, like the M-audio stuff. To make a long story short (too late, i know): you guys apparently missed a lot of controllers that would make much more sense in this price range. In my humble opinion you’ve picked a lot of really bad ones, and some good ones that are too expensive for their features. But I guess it is always a matter of taste as well.

  • Unknown

    What do you recommend if I want something to plug into my piano and make songs with it and have it automatically makes songs of chords I need kinda like a synthesizer

  • Datch

    Title says this is article is about DJ controllers, so why are there music production keyboards listed?

  • Laptop DJ

    The German/Swiss online shop Conrad has a DJ controller with prelistening function from McCrypt for € 80.

  • Edvard Hübinette

    How can you not mention the built-in soundcard in the MTP?

  • Terrac

    I love some of the suggestions, but I think the prices are a bit off.  I’ve looked everywhere and the cheapest i’ve been able to find an APKMini is around $90 without shipping and tax.  Anyone know where they got the pricing from?

    • i was wondering the same thing i seen it cost $100 at guitar center.so i dont know where they got 69, but i would like to know where, i was on the verge of buying one

      • blah

        the akai pro lpk25 is $69 maybe there was a confusion?

    • Aima Nandos

      This can be answered by some good DJ controllers as they always knew about the market.

  • Zman2994

    how about a numark mixdeck, or the new mixdeck express (under $500)?

  • satans homie

    Yesterday i was playing with my Twitch, had a spoonful of soup, when back to touch the unit, touched the metel bezel top part and shocked myself, and it fried my twitch… LITTERLY, took it back today.  Its a fun and cool thing to use, but itch sucks and so does the quality of the build for twitch. Unfortunate!

  • DJRy4n

    woah no Hercules products in this… wtf?

    • DonmecZ

      Agreed! I mean…. yeah their jog resolution kinda sucks (mk4 and mp3e2 & rmx) and their buttons are fisher price at best… but you cannot beat the pricing… and for begginers, hercules units are mad affordable and a good starting point to learn the basics.


  • +Minus

    The mixtrack is great. Ive had mine for a year now still goin strong just got my axiom49 though Im still figuring it out…I dont think im using it to its full potential

  • I’m a beginner/intermediate with a setup that cost me around $492 dollars (retail after shipping and tax for all three components) that does SO much more than any of the options above.  On my Windows 7 lappy running Traktor 2 I use a reloop play with a midi-sport UNO to connect into my Behringer DDM4000, midi-mappable, 4 channel mixer.  
    The DDM4000 is a knob, button, and fader fest and all except the effects and headphones sections can be midi-mapped.  I’ve been able to incorporate multiple mappings and really the only thing it can’t do is jog-wheel/pad mappings.  
    Even while it’s controlling 4 decks in Traktor you can output your sound through it into speakers with balanced xlr outs and also while it’s fully switched to midi you’ll be able to use the on-board effects to alter the master output.
    In addition to all the above, it still functions as an inexpensive, standard four channel mixer with lots of on-board effects, mic, sampler, etc.  With four channels each with a line and switchable phono/line input another dj can plug in while you’re spinning and be ready to go when you’re done.
    It’s a rack-mounted mixer but I have trucked it all over the place and it seems fine.  It sets up fast and has a relatively small footprint.  I even slightly modified an Ikea kitchen storage platform to be its stand since the dimensions fit the DDM4000 perfectly!
    I’ve been using it for four months now and am very pleased.  I started with a mixtrack pro and the only thing good about it was that it was cheap.  Though Behringer’s build quality isn’t excellent, I’d say this is a far sight better than a “beginner” all in one, a stripped down auxiliary controller, or something out of the past.


    Hi, Great article.

    Although my deck has now somewhat evolved to the upper range, I still use 2 additional features that are in these budget ranges.

    pro: 100 effects – ready to go on a  responsive X-Y pad
    con: no midi, gain demands a creative setup 

    2) The Icon iDJ;
    pro: great little (contradiction) midi controller all-in-one, with layer remapping possibilities, so lots of possibilities. Works great with high-end DJ software like Traktor.
    con: cramped, less sturdy design & materials

    Just my 5 cents.

    Happy New Year all,

  • Thomm Moore

    I’m using (and have been for some time) an Akai MPK Mini and Numark DJ2GO, both mentioned in the article. Yeah the build quality is a bit shoddy BUT, with taller knobs and some clever mapping in Traktor you can do an awful lot for £110 – a brilliant starter pair…seriously.

    • This would be the perfect starter setup to go with an Audio 2 (which ships with traktor pro 2)

  • SamuraiTheta

    What about the Mixtrack Pro in the All in one Category????

    • Lew

      I was surprised by its absence as well, especially as it has an advantage over the standard Mixtrack of also being compatible with Serato Intro.

      • Anonymous

        The dealers I work with sell many more Mixtrack Pros than anything else at that end of the market. It’s definitely popular.

        • In my opinion right now the mixtrack pro is a stupid purchase. (And I own one, and learned on it with serato DJ intro) And here’s why. You can buy a mixtrack for 150, and an audio 2 (which ships with Traktor pro 2) for 100. Yes, you have less outputs, but you have a quality soundcard you can take in to clubs, a PRO dj program, and a controller for the same price as the mixtrack pro (which has an okay soundcard, but it won’t stand up in any environment other than a house party or bedroom)

  • When considering buying a cheap(100 dollar) soundcard, then take a look at the maya44 usb (from lots of manufacturers, msi for example).

  • Shergs

    The Korg Nano Kontrol was my first controller and it did a damn good job of keeping me busy for the first 6-12 months before I could make a bigger investment. 

  • J450N N4ME

    M-Audio XSESSION Pro has got to be the most important cheap controller in the universe. You add that thing to any of the above mentioned little guys and your starting to get awesome.  I use 2 Kontrol X1s with my XSESSION Pro- total control of loops effects and transport and a 4 channel mixer.  Not even the $700 price range has figured out that plenty of us are competent enough to want to control 4 decks.  If m-Audio figured out how to make this thing for $75, why aren’t there any other low cost/ midi only 4 deck mixers out there?

    • Alexander Rivera

      Hercules Set 4, My friend.

  • I’ve been DJing for almost 20 years now, going from coins as weights to manipulate BPM on my vinyl player, to Technics 1210, to CDJ’s, VCI-100, S4 and now finally… I’ve landed on the king of all kings, Novation Twitch.

    Looking beyond the obvious subjective controller masturbation fantasy that the Twitch is for me, Novation have been bold, brave and very forward thinking with this machine. I honestly love the lose faders, I through them up and down like a mad man, never liked the ergonomics of using a cross fader.

    But it’s two aspects of the Twitch that makes it unique and perfect for a tap happy DJ controllerist, the absence of jog wheels which are replaced with super sexy and intuitive touch strips which brings me to the second point, making room for the delicious pads which I’ve now mapped for deck C and D in Traktor for heavy abuse. Having 4 switch modes on those buttons gives you a total of the ass whopping 64 pads! Add Mr Cartledge’s super hot effects mappings and you will never look at another controller again. I love love love it!

    • coke

      Can you enlight me on this “super hot effects mappings”?

  • Campark43

    Tip for the people moving from Vinyl to Digital, I find the most realistic jog wheels are on the Vestax Tyhoon, in the category $50-500, and at a price of $250 new it’s hard to beat.  As I moved from Vinyl to Digital, the  jog wheels are the most important aspect for me.  Added a kontrol x1 for effects and hot cues/sample deck control.  In my opinion a pretty nice set up without breaking the bank. 

    Sound card in the Typhoon is not up to par, high latancy, poor sound quality, so expect to shell out another 100 for at least a Traktor audio 2.

    Really if you have the money, all at once, get a kontrol s4, and your done.  Slong as you like the jogs, and you get the full version of software.  VCI-400 looks like the new champ, although the mappings are slowly coming out.

    You can buy a lot of mid end stuff and have a butt load of wires and compatibility problems, and in the end, end up with a VCI-400.  Or just buy the end result and save a lot of money.  We are all dreamers, u know you will want the best, cause your going to play the big shows sooner or later, right?

    • King Jason Ray

      I found when I went to Guitar center to demo an S4 that I would still want an X1, maybe even 2 of them.  S4 is AWESOME, don’t get me wrong but I feel it would still need a nano-suplement of some kind.

  • Agrawal Mohit100

    I really love the profession of a DJ. I am very much inspired by the rates and the gadgets. it is really a very impressive job and i am also looking my future in this field ahead. refer the following link: http://messageonanecklace.com/articles/good_gifts.html

  • I’d like to mention that the Reloop Digital Jockey 2 has a VERY WEAK set of Cup-Cue-Play buttons!!!

    I’ve had that thing for about 1,5 years and the buttons are all worn out, sometimes they respond and sometimes they don’t. It started just once in a while but got more frequent over time! It gets quite exiting when your at a gig remapping your controls to something else then your regular play button just to finish your set! The worn out unit was my excuse to BLESS MYSELF with an S4 😉

  • Anonymous

    Nice article. But what are the supposed “build quality issues” with Twitch? I have been using it for six months and think it is the best controller out there at the moment bar none. It doesn’t deserve a “beginner’s controller” tag (indeed, due to its non-standard workflow, it might actually NOT be the best controller for a beginner).

    • Chris Cartledge

      Hi Phil, in all honesty I think the line faders are pretty poor, and if I recall Ean doesn’t think much to the knobs. I’m glad you like it though – if you think it’s the best controller on the market, then considering the price surely you’d also be inclined to agree that in fact it *is* an ideal MIDI controller for a beginner? By your logic beginners should use *bad* controllers. 

      • Gapout

        I would have to agree with Chris on this one, regarding a beginner DJ.  I think Twitch is ideal for beginners as it is such a different work flow.  For any DJs that have been around for a while, you get used to a certian work flow that feeds off CDJs/Vinyl.  With the twitch you are completely throwing that away and traditional DJs would have a hard time to getting used to the new setup.  With a new DJ there isnt that previous workflow already in their mind.  For myself, played with vinyl in the 90s and CDJs in the past…there is no way i could go without Jogs, It may take up a lot of space but i like the tactile feel of using actual Jogwheels.  Switching from CDJs to S4 was a bit daunting…switching from CDJs to the twitch…would not have been an enjoyable experience for me and i think i would just get frustrated…but i could be wrong and end up loving it waaaayy more than expect…that was a risk i was not willing to take.

      • jprime

          Having run Twitch through it’s paces for a couple of months now, my feeling is that it’s build quality is top notch.  The knobs are great, very tactile – awesome feel.
          The line faders are nice and smooth, however they are a mite ‘loose’ meaning there is a bit of play in there somewhere.   I can see where someone again could nitpick – but the fact remains that they slide up and down very well – which is their primary function, tactile-wise they feel…well….like faders.  😉

          This is by far, bar none, hands down the best controllers I have ever had the pleasure of playing. 

          I can appreciate that some folks demand perfection and really appreciate the different views on it, so I can see how some would shake their heads at faders being a mite loose, or knobs not being tall enough…..but a wise, well respected touring DJ once told me “Don’t complain about the gear you’re playing on – just tear it the fuck up regardless, wether it’s 2 cassette decks, or the best new decks.”

          Great articles as always, and I love the discussions 🙂  Happy New years!

        • twitch is too advanced to be a beginners piece.

      • Anonymous

        Fair play, I think nothing about it deserves the label “poor”, but each to their own. But for beginners? I still think there’s value in learning the two-decks-and-a-mixer paradigm first because it’s what you’ll find in DJ booths and so it’s more transferable. So in that respect I feel Twitch’s non-standard workflow is best for those who know what they’re doing. My logic has nothing to do with quality, all users deserve the best quality possible 🙂

    • Andre Cato

      Hey Phil, I do agree, but then again, this article is all about an opinion, as we all have, and there (in my opinion) is no right or wrong… Beginners will love it because of its pre-set mapping and simple divine love for Itch, but I have to say, I agree with Chris, the build quality is not a pinch on products now touching our industry like the VCI-400, that are able to be used as a hockey stick during the day and controller for WHATEVER you choose at night 🙂 ahhahahahaha.

      You are certainly one of the experts out there for Digital Gear, but Phil, you gotta remember there are some pretty abusive DJs out there that don’t look after their kit, in clubs or their personal gear… I still love my HDX’s!!! But don’t think most would still even work these days from most users around the world 🙂

      Twitch is awesome, but so is most gear if looked after, loved and its amazing what you see some artists getting out of gear that most users simply abuse and trash!

      What I love about discussions like this is the different interpretations everyone seems to have on the same gear, topics etc…. Happy new year to Techtools and to you Sir Phil, love all your work from 2011 and hope you all continue to share the love in 2012.

      • Anonymous

        Too true Andre, not much touches the VCI-400 for tank-like build quality, not S2, S4, Twitch…

        But for me, portability and weight are just as (if not more) important, as all-in-one digital gear is used out of the club as much as in it. I think Twitch (and for me, the S2 as well) get the balance spot on in that respect.

        As you say, it’s all just opinion, and also, a product is only as good as the first thing on it that breaks! 

        I always just try to share personal experience, and as I am lucky enough to road-test much DJ gear in real DJing situations, I feel it’s something valuable I can share. 

        For me, Twitch has been exemplary (so far) and nothing looks set to break – despite having dropped it several times and taken it around Europe by plane.

        HNY to you all here too – Andre, Chris, Ean, DJTT… all the best for 2012 🙂

        • Not_Sean

          Hey man,

          I love my twitch having recently moved over from the old Numark Omni (The worlds best work horse !) and I absolutely love it, I’ve never worked with CDJ’s so to me the twitch just makes perfect sense.

          But wanted to know, do you find the sound level (Not quality) is quite low ? I’m debating if I should look at adding a little Behringer micro mixer to amp it up, or to rather just get a external sound card. I’ve up’d the headroom to get it louder but than I just keep running into the Limiter in Serato.

          Any ideas ?

          • Mike Dailor

            The Twitch definitely is underpowered in the volume department. My M.O. has been to turn the Twitch master down to 40% or so, turn up the house volume, and then dial the Twitch master during the night as needed. But you do need to plan ahead fer sure.

    • i tested it out , its overpriced and only good for at home , take it to a club if you progress and your in deep trouble, I would for the apc 40 and a NI sound card if your starting out , then progress to Pioneer or a Xone 

    • As far as build quality goes, the faders are pretty sloppy and it is nowhere near the tank-like league of something like the Numark NS7. That said, it’s the most amazing controller I’ve yet had my hands on and I totally love mine.

  • BaseBurner

    I think several things to consider early on is how it looks(it the club), how easy it is to set up and how portable it is… sadly you are going to struggle to get gigs if you turn up with some set up that ether looks like a toy or has like a million cables/ USB hubs… most gigs your going to get to start with are warm up gigs. You will just scare the main dj if he turns up and half your bedroom is set up and it takes 20 mins to change over. Promoters know this and you’re not worth the hassle… honestly try learning how to use CDJs. That way you can put you laptop away before the change over and make less hassle for the DJ that is the main attraction to the night. Also it gives you a way of playing to fill in for those “hey could you just play a couple of tracks while we change the stage over” moments. 

    To save space try external mixing… why bring a mixer in to a club that has spent sometimes several grand on a top of the range mixer? It also looks more professional using the clubs mixer. You need to break through the stereotype of laptop djs being inexperience and uncooperative. note: Ean started with the m-audio oxygen 8, my experience of using an oxygen 8 is that its solid and people react well to seeing it used. It comes across as more subtle and complex, like you are more of a music scientist as opposed to some guy with an all in one controller because you can’t be bothered to manually beat sync. Midi-fighters have the same effect.

    also take a look at this:

  • The DJ 2 Go has a good idea, just very poorly implemented. No one is going to be beatmatching when your pushing the portability factor that far. Keep the Jogs, crossfade, Play/Cue buttons, sync, and headphone cue. I don’t understand why they would ever put pitch bends on this thing, and a browse section. After they have the essentials covered, just fill the rest of the thing with blank buttons for the DJ to decide what to do with. It would be ok solo, pretty snazzy if you throw a 2nd controller into the mix. 🙂 

    • guest

      Because those of us that beat match without sync want a portable backup controller that has pitch bend on it…

      • synthet1c

        here’s an idea, why not remap the volume as bass eq, and the pitch sliders as volume? change the pfl buttons to shifts and map the headphone volume as a headphone crossfader normally and volume when shifted, then you can squeze a few more essential controls out of it, I fit about 30 different controls on the 2go in vdj, but instead I chose a icon idj, same size but much more controls and touch sensitive jogs