What are DJ controllers? (and what do they do)

Over the last decade or so, there has been a tremendous change in DJ’ing technology.

There’s been a quest to make entertainment livelier whilst making DJ tech more portable. The result of this has been the evolution and innovation of the DJ controller.

What is a DJ controller?

This is a piece of digital music equipment that is connected to computer software to help the DJ mix different music.

A DJ controller is said to be a combination of a DJ turntable and DJ mixer with some significant advancement. This means that a the controller can perform all the functions of a DJ turntable and mixer all at once.

What do DJ controllers do?

DJ’ing is an art that enables DJs to showcase their skills and prowess through mixing music. This can only be achieved using musical equipment such as a DJ controller.

Many DJs have embraced this equipment because of its convenience. Gone are the days when a DJ had to move with multiple heavy crates of vinyl’s or pack CDs to play at an event.

Are you old enough to remember carrying crates like this into gigs?

NOW, with the use of a DJ controller, a DJ only requires a laptop, and perhaps a flash/hard drive to entertain his audience at an event or club night.

How does a DJ controller works

A DJ controller cannot effectively work on its own. Usually, a laptop or computer is needed with DJ software installed to make it work. Also, the software must be compatible with the DJ controller. Mostly, this DJ software must be approved by the manufacturer.

The laptop connects to the DJ controller usually using USB, although MIDI connections and sometimes Ethernet cable can be used.

This means that anything the DJ does on the DJ controller will automatically relay on the software installed in a laptop. It allows the DJ to manipulate music and records via the DJ controller, instead of having to rely on key presses and using the mouse/track pad.

Once the connection is established between the two, the computer transmits audio signals to the DJ controller or sometimes to an external soundcard. It’s at this point where the DJ needs to show their skills by playing around and manipulating the audio. The actions the DJ do on the controller are directly relayed back to the software installed in the computer or laptop.

Comparing a DJ controller with older DJing equipment

It’s no doubt that these controllers have transformed the industry for good. Years ago, the traditional DJ’ing gear (mixers, decks, CDJ’s) used to look similar and be quite distinct.

However, the DJ controller has emulated the DJ mixer and DJ turntables and now the latest DJ mixers have merged all the available technology. A good example of this is the very latest Rane mixers. They’re DJ mixers, scratching mixers, and controllers all merged in one convenient unit (and my next purchase).

You can now effectively get controllers combined with the best scratch DJ equipment

DJ Controller Prices

The advent of DJ controllers made getting in mixing much more affordable. When I started DJ’ing back in the 90’s you had to buy turntables, a mixer, and spend a large portion of your wage on vinyl.

DJ controllers, on the other hand, are much cheaper than CDJs and a DJ mixer, or two turntables with a mixer.

DJ controllers have also taken advantage of the computer software, unlike the turntables. For now, DJs can use the computer software to remap the components of the controllers and make them perform other functions the manufacturers did not intend them to do. Also, DJs are now able to save music files with multiple cue points too.

Portability and Size

DJ controllers do not occupy much space either. This makes them convenient for DJs who need portability, and it makes them handy when plugging into the PA system. Because of their small size, they’re easy to fit in next to the house mixer, or at the side of the booth equipment.

Also, the old DJing equipment’s brought much inconvenience when a DJ had to travel to an event. And traditional DJ equipment was heavy and delicate to handle. By contrast, a DJ controller is portable and light, making it the ideal companion for DJs when going anywhere.

Who wrote this?

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