A question that I am asked often by DJs both new and seasoned is, “What DJ controller would you recommend?” I have to confess right away that I am not a controller fan. I’ve done gigs with controllers, spent quality time with product demos and still came to the same conclusion for all of them; overpriced junk. The only things that made me even remotely interested in controllers are small size, weight, and convenience. Anything that falls in the aforementioned categories is usually plastic garbage. The higher end controllers are usually insanely overpriced and/or so big that they defeat the purpose of getting a controller. If a controller is practically as big as my two CDJ-800s and a mixer…then…duh…I can just use my two CDJ-800s and a mixer.
Product manufacturers have been doing the hard push on creating a controller dominated DJ environment for the past few years. So far, there have been some great ideas poorly executed. If one of the companies managed to create a flagship pro standard controller (like how Pioneer CDJ players are the club standard) maybe I would warm up to controllers more. This isn’t the case. Having a bunch of DJs on the same bill that use different controllers is like having a bunch of pilots with different consoles on one spaceship.
So what controller should you get? None. If you buy a controller, at the end of the day you will just end up with an obnoxiously large paperweight. You should use CD players or turntables and just use the time coded CD or vinyl. Playing the “what software can I use with this controller” game is for the birds. Lord forbid, you should get a controller that is discontinued and suddenly it doesn’t work with any of the popular DJ software that is available. At least with CD players and turntables you can still play music regardless of DJ software. For convenience and mobility, I do a lot of laptop DJ-ing. Unless you are trying to do a lot of scratching and Beat Juggling (which most people hate DJs doing while they are trying to dance anyway) you don’t really need anything but your laptop to rock a dance floor.
In closing…ask someone else. I’m not a DJ controller fan.