I Wanna Be A DJ! Equipment Essentials: All-In-One Controllers

I Wanna Be A DJ!

Equipment Essentials: All-In-One Controllers

In case you have been living under a rock for the last few years, DJ’s are now the new rock stars.  The DJ industry has seeped into every aspect of pop culture, and now learning to become a DJ has now become what the becoming a rock guitarist was in the 80’s.  From TV advertisements to reality shows, DJing has clawed its way into the mainstream and is here to stay.

Because of the rising popularity, the numbers of people wanting learn this secret art of making asses shake is on the rise also.  From beatmatching (synchronizing different BPMs) to mixing (cause when you just hit stop on one track and play on another, it’s called Paris Hilton), there is quite a lot to learn about this craft.  But most importantly, getting the right gear can save you a good deal of time and money.

Over the next six weeks, we’ll take a tour through the business, checking out all the major players in the DJ gear industry today.  We’ll be providing a pretty comprehensive review of the major categories.  From headphones to MIDI controllers, we will cover it all to make sure you are making the most informed decision kitting out your DJ arsenal.


 “All-In-One” DJ Controllers

Today? Three of the top “All-In-One” DJ MIDI controllers found on the market today.  We will analyze each, and give you the pros and cons.  We chose the all in one format because of its inclusion of a soundcard, ease of use and lack of need to purchase extra gear to get up and running.


CMD-STUDIO-4A_P0809_Left_XXLBEHRINGER CMD STUDIO 4A – Full disclosure: I used to work for Behringer. But even if I hadn’t, in my opinion, this 4-deck MIDI controller gives you the best value of the bunch.  For under $200 you can get a quality controller, which comes with included DJ software (Deckadance), 6” platters, rubberized buttons and a very ergonomic layout.  This is a great choice for the beginning DJ on a budget.  This controller also has mappings for software suites like Traktor and Virtual DJ (something we’ll get into in upcoming weeks).

$299                               Product Page


pioneer xdjr1

PIONEER XDJ-R1 – For those who are used to the ecosystem of the Pioneer line, this 2-deck controller should feel very familiar to you.  Pioneer has craftily taken components from their popular line of mixers and CDJs and added them to this all in one controller.  Pioneer’s industry standard layout can be found in the mixer and FX sections.  There are a few things that set this controller apart from the competition: one being the inclusion of CDJs (for those of you still using CDs) and the other being the use of the Rekordbox software (something else we’ll address in the future) used to manage song libraries.  Both features get users ready to use their industry standard gear, so once someone graduates from the XDJ-R1 they will have no problem DJing in most clubs.

$1099  Product Page  


S4_MK2_00292_LNative Instruments Traktor S4 – This controller is the one that put “all-in-one” controllers on the map.  Controllers have existed before this, but none that gave you the full Traktor functionality in one controller.  This controller comes with the industry leading Native Instruments Traktor Pro 2 software, and with its recent facelift, its second iteration gives users access to Traktor’s newest functions such as Flux Mode and looping control.  This four-channel controller gives a great deal of power at their fingertips.  Debuting at just under $800, this power comes at a significant price.  But rest assured, if you do buy the S4, you wont need to buy much else.


$799    Product Page  


There you have it.  The basics on controllers.  But don’t rush out to put down your hard earned cash just yet.  Over the coming weeks, we’ll breakdown DJ software, media players (CDJs, turntables), headphones (so critical), monitors (the speakers the DJ hears) and powered speaker systems (so all your friends can hear you too).  In the mean time, hit @beatsnoiselight on twitter with any questions and we’ll try to address those for you.


– Gene Lee


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