What DJ Controller to purchase?

Hi Guys,

What would be the best list of controllers to purchase to use with MacBook so DJ Pro AI works best with?
I am looking in the Pioneer range but open to suggestions.

Is the Pioneer DJ DDJ-REV1 a good match?

As is often the case, it’s all about how you want to work. The Rev1 (and also the Rev7) is a Battle Mixer layout. If you like it - why not? I don’t like it, even in the past. But I am also not a scratch DJ. So in this range I still prefer the Pioneer DDJ 400 or also the Hercules Inpulse 500. But of course this is a personal reference.

This is a highly subjective topic and there is no best answer, only advice to make your decision easier. In general, if possible, go for an officially supported controller, see here for a list of those: DJ Controllers, DJ Mixers and other DJ Accessories | Algoriddim Then, from that list, narrow down your selection and next, try out the controller in person, if possible. If this is your first controller, I would suggest something cheap but fully featured (meaning EQs, tempo faders, effects and jog wheels, plus performance pads). The DDJ-REV1 that you mentioned would be perfect in this case.

There is also this guide from Digital DJ Tips: 5 Best DJ Systems For Algoriddim's djay Pro AI - Digital DJ Tips


Thank you for assistance Chris_R

Thank you djjoejoe, your advise is much appreciated.

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Hi guys. Have to agree with all the comments in the above. this is a very subjective view and it’s a matter of personal preference.

If you are a beginner DJ try something budget friendly that also works very well with DJay reloop might be an option you would consider. Once you get the hang of things you can always upgrade.

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My suggestion is Pioneer DDJ SB3 or DDJ 400 chose one or another.

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Apologies if it’s considered bad form here to jump on the OPs thread - but I think It’s entirely in the same vein - but I had more questions in the same context of the OP. I think the place I am - is going to be typical for other n00bs and should be able to generalize the 3 scenarios I’ve come up with to suit themselves as well.
I’m stuck in analysis paralysis. I appreciate the “it depends” or the “personal preference” angles, except in my case, I have none. I’ve never used any gear - outside of TribeXR. I really want something that’s reasonable (as a n00b) I might not use it nearly as much as i want; or I might use it to just control tracks playing in automix. Most important is a setup that will expose me to those FX and NeuralMix features. For me, here’s some statements to help frame recommendations:

  • I will never do live DJing - so pro gear or familiarity with club gear is of no matter.
  • If I can grow into my goals modularly, I would be happy to iterate and invest more over time.

3 scenarios that I am wondering about:

Scenario 1:
Reloop Mixtour
Gives me control of the tracks off my Mac; do I have ANY access to the NeuralMix and FXs?
After learning some and ensuring i even want to do more add:
Launch Pad Control XL
Map to give full exposure to the software, let the Mixtour manage the track controls and use the XL for fx, presets, and live stemming and fun there…
If the above is possible, I’ve seen some super super interesting other scenarious I could expand on if I enjoy it and have time interest.

Scenario 2
Pioneer DDJ-SB3. I found one near me, NIB for $150 with a case. Is that got enough exposure to the features I want and the price seems good …

Scenario 3:
I could be good enough for a “long time” with one of the Hercules’ less expensive units I could be fine with that – sitting on my desk and playing with: DJControl Mix, Starlight, etc. The problem I fear in this space is “cheap plastic” or “clackking” feel. Some of my research has had reviewers making statements to this effect. I do appreciate quality equipment and don’t want to buy “garbage” or throw-away. I want to buy something that’s good kit and good value.

I’d rather spend a little more and grow into it vs. have to sort reselling and rebuying. I appreciate everyone’s time and feedback - hoping this might help contribute to the OP as well.

Hey @AdithyaB and @sawdog ,

Welcome to the djay Community, glad to have you here and congrats on your first post :slight_smile:

Genuinely curious about the other posting users’ feedback for @sawdog in this thread.


The DDJ-SB3 sounds great for your use case. I wouldn’t go for one of the mini controllers (DJ2GO2, Starlight, etc) as a beginner controller. Rather get them when you already know what you want. They’re for a special use case - portability - and make a lot of sacrifices to get there that you will understand better once you have worked with a „regular“ controller. From the ones officially supported, I would recommend the Beatpad 2 or, alternatively, a Pioneer DDJ-400.

@djjoejoe - Thank you, that’s sort of what I expected somewhere. I think the only thing to understand is, how is the DDJ-400 “more supported” than the DDJ-SB3. From my extensive research I’ll be very lucky to get a DDJ-400 under 300; almost 0 chance at $200. The DDJ-SB3 is definitely a little less expensive; but they’re in the high $200’s used. If it’s because you can do say 99-100% of the software functionality in the 400 and 75% in the SB3 – I’d probably wait and find a good deal on the 400. I’m having fun doing some mapping to my trackpad and midi keyboard; probably keep me entertained long enough to hold to get what I want. What I’d found between the SB3 and 400 was what appeared to be more layout preferences… and I have 0 that i know of now. Simplicity would shine in this case. Further thoughts?

Super appreciate it by the way

Go for the DDJ-SB3 if that’s the better deal. The biggest difference I see is in the headphone control: in the DDJ-400, you can easily transition between hearing Cue signal and Master signal in headphones which often makes mixing easier. In the DDJ-SB3, you only get on/off for cue and master*. The other difference is in the effects and loop control, here the DDJ-SB3 is even closer to how djay works because the DDJ-400 is optimized for Pioneer‘s own software rekordbox.

*Cue is if you want to hear audio that your audience can‘t hear as it won’t go to your speakers. Master is the same signal that gets to your speakers. Depending on how your speakers are positioned, you might not pick up on the complete spectrum of the signal from where you stand in the room with your DJ controller.

@djjoejoe – Sweet, I was hoping for that really. You likely missed this - but I don’t ever plan on playing in front of anyone; I’m just having fun and creating mixes that I may record down the road. I should be fine for cueing. IIRC DJay Pro AI has settings for internal and external audio sources: main, pre, booth, etc… right? If so, and I decide to use my PA or however I end up setting in my space, I could use headphones and get the cue from the Macbook right?

I do plan on learning some features in rekordbox; I have it - but really only intending on the cleaning and preparation of my music via that app. We’ll see – I gotta walk before I can run and when I’m ready I have 4 CDJ-3000s and a DJM-900 NXS2 to mix down the road.

Thanks again, super appreciate you input.

  • D

Didn’t miss your note. Pre-listening to both your cue and master is relevant even if you only play at home. :slight_smile:

The Mixtour is one of my favorite portable controllers and it works great when paired with a 2nd micro-controller, like the DJ2Go2 or Starlight. Maybe not the best for beginners, but they both fit neatly in a single laptop bag (especially with Decksavers.). I like using the Mixtour with the Starlight, and re-map the Starlight controls for FX and Neural Mix functions. If you’re on an iPad - there’s the bluetooth version of the Starlight called the DJControl - a really portable setup!!! One thing to watch out for, if you have an M1 MacBook - it only has 1 usable USB-C port (unless you really like USB dongles). A Mixtour + 2nd controller works better with older Mac or the newer M2.

Generally, controllers built for Serato (like the SB3) are more djay Pro friendly. They give you more accessible controls for FX and Neural Mix. The Rekordbox controllers are good (e.g. DDJ-400) - but have a different approach to working with FX etc. - so not as djay Pro friendly.

Everything under US$300 is going to be of similar build quality, but for me the stand outs are the Hercules InPulse 500 and the Traktor Kontrol S2 mk3 - build quality is very good for the price range. But they’re not significantly better built than the Pioneer/Numark controllers - features will probably be more of a deciding factor.

Unfortunately, it’s discontinued, but my workhorse controller is a Denon MC4000. They sold for around US$300-400 and had a better build, design and sound quality than almost anything out now in the sub-US$500 range. They just don’t build them like that anymore. It’s built for working open-format event DJs - so it’s pretty solid with good connections. If you can find one out in the wild it’s a great piece of kit.

Re Starlight/DJ2Go2: The Starlight has a better build quality but it’s not significantly better. And the list of things I like on both controllers tend to cancel each other out.

Numark - my main problem with Numark has been electronic audio problems, usually odd dropouts and noisy headphone amps. The DJ2Go2 in particular has a very noisy amp if you’ll be using it in a a quiet bedroom setting.

Well, it depends on what you want. And that also determines how “closer” the SB3 really is. In the club sector, at least, it’s the DDJ-400 with the standard club layout. Ultimately, however, you can get used to everything, although I really find that especially the loop section is really good to use with Pioneer with the two large buttons, which also provide a very good visual feedback :wink:

I ended up getting the Pioneer DDJ-SB3
It was used for $110 bucks. I don’t see any midi mappings in the DDJ-SB3 default mapping. I might be missing something. I def. want that functionality - hoping i can figure out how to map shift and one of the EQs for this functionality

Yeah - integration seems fine so for. Just can’t find anything for the SB3 mapped for the NeuralMix stuff.

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