Is it worth getting a controller when using an iPad?

I’ve just started using djay pro and really like this app. Now I’ve started looking into controllers, but can’t seem to find anything that can really replace how nicely the iPad UI works. Other than the controllers listed on the site, has anyone used one with the iPad that they really like? If so, what makes it so good? It just seems like I’m going to be going back to the iPad so often to work my mix that the controller will not help much.

@DJ_Gene

  1. Personally, I prefer to mix with physical hardware controls (knobs, faders, encoders and jog wheels) over the iPad touch screen.
  2. You have more accurate control and don’t have to constantly change screen layouts to access all of the controls.
  3. You’ll also have proper headphone cueing and better sound quality with a controller.
  4. The controllers from Reloop integrate well with djay Pro AI.
  5. I have a Reloop Mixon 8 Pro and a Reloop Ready. I like these for very different reasons.
  6. The Mixon 8 for 4 deck control, sound quality, spacious layout and the dedicated Neural Mix controls.
  7. The Ready for its portability, but still with a wealth of physical controls.

I must warn you, I’m not a pro, but I own two controllers and attached them to my iPad. My first one was an Hercule Inpulse 300, which was good. In fact I bought another one just to experiment with 4 tables. My second one is a Pioneer DDJ-FLX6 which is a step higher and worth it. The Hercule is a little smaller and still is good when I don’t want to expose the FLX6. But I’m getting used to the FLX6 and would be a little rusty playing with the Hercule again now. I think…

What I like using a controller is the fact that the UI will have another template, removing some recurrent controls and leaving some. But with the controller plugged in, I still use some controls on the touch screen, like the loop.

I must agree with @Slak_Jaw, its better for some control to have them physical, either it is the left-right slider or the two individual volume controls or the EQ knobs, having the physical touch is one thing. More precise and always available. The Jog wheel is also a plus when you need to sync manually.

But I can tell you that I can still do a lot with the iPad touch screen only and I often bring just a good speaker and my pad to mix in the street. Very light. But sometimes I press the wrong button on the touch screen (the play/pause are in the lower corners) and I feel more secure using my controller, where this kind of things does not happen.

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I also have Mixon 8 and it’s like hand to glove. A perfect fit. Looks professional and you have the option of really tight physical control but also to have the ability to rock out on iPad with sound effects (bongo drums) or effects pad. Very cool combo.

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In my opinion, working with the iPad alone is a nice way to demonstrate the possibilities. And it’s also perfectly fine for spontaneous actions. But it is not comfortable. Simple crossfades are no problem, but if you want to do more, you have to switch between the different views and modes quite often. And that’s where a controller offers clear advantages, because you have much more control elements in direct access.
So yes, if you’re reasonably serious about working with Djay Pro AI on the iPad, a controller is well worth the purchase.

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I started just like you with djay on my iPad. I had set myself the goal of learning how to djay and to approach my new hobby with an economical mindset. That meant that I only upgraded to the paid version of djay once I came to the limits of the free version and that I only purchased a controller once the iPad was too limiting. This worked great and truly made me appreciate my first controller a lot (it was the Beatpad 2 from Reloop). I follow this mindset to today with a twist - I started earning money from DJing on the side and only purchase new equipment from the money I have already earned, otherwise I rent it. This sometimes comes with challenges but overall I am very happy with this way. :slight_smile:

Apart from that, the others have made great points. I’d like to add one about being able to control your equipment without looking and muscle memory. It really is very cool to be looking your audience into the eyes while doing something that you know is cool. Controllers let you build up that muscle memory, with just the iPad you’ll instead always have to look at the screen.

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I truly want to thank everyone that helped here. A little context for you about me. I was a professional dj for about 15 years. I had owned a few companies and did a lot of club work. My tech 1200’s where my best friends hahahaha! This new world of mixing is insane and I’m loving what I’ve come back too! I ended up buying the Herc because of how nicely it works with this app and the iPad. Also, I travel a lot for work and this is gonna be a blast to play with on the plane hahahaha! This is a wonderful community and I thank you all for the thoughtful and honest responses.

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I think I’ll be following your approach djjoejoe. I bought the herc as a fun way to start and once I feel it’s really needed I’ll go full in and get something bad ass

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I do a lot on the iPad touch-screen because it’s so responsive, probably the best touch screen there is, but for quick movements of the crossfader or channel faders a controller (even a simple one) is pretty essential. The iPad is pretty tactile but holding and moving the faders quickly is just too fiddly.

The better the controller the more features readily available. If you’re doing online streams or radio shows, LED level meters are a bonus, as is a proper microphone channel with level and EQ.

If you want to connect to external sound equipment you’re going to need a decent quality usb audio interface anyway to connect to external equipment so may as well get a controller with one built in which has proper phono or XLR outputs.

The Numark iDJpro is still, in my opinion the king of iPad controllers. beautifully spaced out, rotary faders (love them or hate them), great soundcard with great outputs, the perfect blend of just enough knobs for effects and cues, while being able to go nuts with the touchscreen when needed due to the perfect (dedicated) positioning of the iPad.

Shame it’s never been updated and will be out-of-date in a couple of years when the iPad 9 is no longer supported by Apple.

Love to see an update of it.

@Steve_Francesco yeah, this was a cool device and ahead of it’s time in my opinion.

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I used to use Ipad (Pro 11) as a standalone with USB C to charger port + 3.5mm adaptor with 192KHz* /24bit DAC adaptor thing (not sure if it is true or not, don’t know how to test).

Then have a splitter, one to head phone for precue, one to the main mixer. (note that I need it to be in Mono output).

I dj Salsa/Bachata songs and we don’t need many ‘remixes’, most of the time is play, cue, adjust mid/high, adjust tempo and hardly any FX. So using the Ipad by itself is more than enough.

Then I tried Hercules DJControl Mix (Bluetooth) version with the sound connection as above, I do love it where I can easily adjust the tempo. Moving between A <> B. Also I didn’t want to have Hercules Starlight, cable version, I don’t want the audio to go through a controller just in case the cable got bump and became lose during the set.

My point in this is, give my setup a try if you don’t need a full controller setup!!
oh and portability factor is amazing.

It’s much more intuitive to mix and DJ with a physical device. Me personally I prefer two turntables and a DVS capable mixer, but others are ok with jog wheels and a controller. To each his own in that regard, but if you ever play out at some type of gig, it will be a lot easier to connect a DJ controller via XLR (or worse RCA) to a PA system or powered speakers of some type. I’m sure you can do it with an iPad, but it’s not as feasible and user friendly as doing so with purpose built DJ hardware. The iPad app is nice, but for me it can’t make up for using actual hardware to DJ on. The better the hardware, the more creative I feel I can be and much more quickly. I have a DJM S11 and I love that mixer for all the bells and whistles on it. I wish Algoriddim would put the waveforms on the display, then I would seriously consider switching from Serato permanently, but for now, DJay Pro is something fun to use and a nice change of pace…