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DJ Software Controller - Do I need one? Which one do I buy?

Updated on January 5, 2016

The Digital DJ, the Software controller

So you're ready to DJ huh? Ok well, I'm sure you've heard of DJs who used their tablet to DJ or just their laptop. Others prefer the controller and yet there are others who can't do without the feel of the classic turtable.

Let's talk about the digital DJ

The digital DJ is great if you don't mind just cuing and clicking and of course, you probably have to get good at it since clicking your button on a laptop or pressing the tablet might not be on time at times. Don't get me wrong, I'm not putting down the digital DJ, it is just that the digital DJ does have some technicalities that come with the technology. To see what I'm saying, download a copy of Virtual DJ so that you can get a feel for what it's like.

Here are some pros and cons about the digital dj experience:

pros:

  • No controller necessary
  • Less cabling needed
  • Ready to go anywhere anytime

Cons:

  • Less control for those who want to scratch
  • Cues might be a problem if you want to mix smoothly
  • If you want to be a professinal DJ, you're missing out on the real feel

The digital dj with a controller

When a DJ uses a controller, he/she experiences a feel for the music a sense of tighter control over the sound. In my opinion a DJ has to have a physical feeling to the music which comes when using turntables or controllers. When I transitioned from vinyl DJ to digital/controller I experienced something that you need to consider. Most ninyl DJs are used to the big platter for the record, the arm of the needle and the fact that the platter is spinning. When using a controller, miss out on this experience. So going from vinyl to digital I felt weird using the controller because the platter was not spinning. I finally realized got used to it but you can see where I'm going when I tell you, that you're missing quite an experience when you're not at the very least using a controller.

Perhaps I have control issue but most DJs will tell you that they need to be able to touch and control their music. Of course, with a controller comes an investment but at $250 for an entry level controller from Numark or other vendors, it is not a bad investment if you're just starting. If you're serious about becoming a DJ, the investment will pay off and as you get better and you create a demand for your skills, you can invest more with a controller or DJ set you feel would be better for your own experience.

For those experiencing the digital software, pay attention to these buttons:

Load: Loads your music from your computer
Sync: Syncs your song to the other loaded song
Fader: The slider between the two turtables that help you mix one song to the other
Cue: Helps you listen to the song before you play it
BPM: Beats Per Minute, when mixing both songs should be going at the same BPM speed

Learn more by searching YouTube for videos and look up some of the topics discussed in this article. One word of advice, don't look at DJing as a technical experience, it should first be an enjoyable music experience. The techicalities will follow and you willl learn to adjust to these as you go but first you should just be trying to mix songs and enjoying to do so. Love it because if you start looking at it as a technicality, you're going to hate it.

Lastly, watch other DJs and see how they mix, learn from their styles. Emulate their styles which eventually will help you find your own groove. Join some forums and talk to other DJs who are always willing to help. We are a friendly bunch and many times wiling to help one another. Remember, like anything else, getting good takes time. Experience doesn't just appear on the next day, you must practice, practice, practice. Success is the fruit of commitment, and devotion to the game so put some time and love into it and you'll find your groove.

If you have any questions or comments regarding my article, feel free to comment below. If you're a DJ, I would love to hear from you share your thoughts and experiences as a beginner to some of our young jedis!

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