Modern DJs have moved away from tradition turntable and CDJ setups, and towards DJ controllers. A DJ controller is a standalone DJ device that usually includes all the elements of a DJ setup – those elements being two turntables and a mixer.
The way a controller works is by connecting it to a laptop that is running compatible software. You can then load MP3 songs into the software and manipulate the sound further with the DJ controller.
There have been many groundbreaking DJ devices from Native Instruments, Numark and Pioneer in the past. While most DJs prefer traditional setups, a DJ controller is much more affordable and convenient. It is also perfect for beginner DJs, who are still getting to grips with the concept of DJing. Pioneer and Roland have recently announced some exciting budget DJ controllers with high-end features.
You can programme a complete set of drum beats, which you can then layer on top of the track you are playing.
Roland is a Japanese company known for manufacturing excellent musical instruments such as pianos, synthesisers and drum machines. It recently released its Roland DJ202 entry-level DJ controller. It's a stunning first attempt at breaking into the world of DJ controllers. The DJ202 is a two-channel DJ controller that comes with Serato DJ Intro software.
The Roland DJ202 has a built-in sound card, which means you can simply connect the controller to any audio system. The controller processes your MP3s. Apart from the great build quality and looks, the DJ202 has a groundbreaking feature built in. You can programme a complete set of drum beats, which you can then layer on top of the track you are playing.
These drum sounds are not just samples; they are synthesised within the controller. The sounds are similar to Roland TRS drum machines and feature TR808 and TR909 drum kits. For example, you can programme a solid beat on top of an old-school, poorly mastered track. This will give the song an updated sound and will mix well with more modern tracks.
Apart from showcasing expert scratches, the purpose of this feature is to help teach beginner DJs how to scratch.
Pioneer DDJ SB3
Pioneer DJ has been responsible for changing the market with constant releases of innovative DJ controllers over the past few years. Its most impressive controllers feature industry-leading hardware similar to their flagship CDJ and Turntable products. Pioneer has also seen considerable success in the lower end of the market with its budget controllers. The Pioneer DDJ SB2 was the bestselling DJ controller of 2017.
This year, Pioneer announced an update to that same DJ controller. It is the Pioneer DDJ SB3 controller that comes with Serato DJ Intro software. It has very much the same excellent features and builds quality as the previous generation. But the DDJ SB3 has a special function that was developed in partnership with DJ Jazzy Jeff.
This feature is the performance scratch pads at the bottom of the controller. Tapping a pad will trigger a programmed scratch. The intensity of the scratch increases from basic to expert scratching. Apart from showcasing expert scratches, the purpose of this feature is to help teach beginner DJs how to scratch. You can practise with the pads first, and then try to replicate those scratches on your own.