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 Best Midi Controller

Q: Which is the best MIDI controller for VirtualDJ?

The best MIDI controller is the one that most closely suits your own personal preferences and requirements as well as your budget.

Every controller has its advantages and disadvantages. You can see a selection of popular controllers that are used with VirtualDJ on the hardware page.

Ideally, before making your decision and/or purchasing, you should visit a local DJ or electronics store which has a variety of controllers available on display, so that you can try them out in person. If you wish to test them on a store computer, VirtualDJ can be downloaded for free and used test the controllers for 10 minutes at a time. After the 10 minutes expires, simply close and relaunch VirtualDJ for an additional 10 minute trial.

You can also ask in the forums for opinions of other users on a particular controller.

For mobile DJ's, a compact all-in-one controller or a rack mountable controller is usually the best choice because these are the easiest to transport and set-up.

For Scratch DJ's, separate CDJ-style decks are usually the best choice. A controller with touch-sensitive and/or active spinning platters is important for scratching.

Features to look for:

  • Natively supported by VirtualDJ - It's important that the controller that you intend to purchase is already natively supported (Plug and play) by VIrtualDJ. Otherwise, you will need to manually map it yourself, which depending on your computer knowledge/experience, may not be an easy task. Controllers that come with VirtualDJ LE included are natively supported.

  • VirtualDJ LE included - This is very useful if you don't already have a VirtualDJ license. VirtualDJ LE is limited software, but you can normally upgrade from it to a VirtualDJ Plus or Pro Infinity license at a discount. The amount of discount depends on the product that you are upgrading from. You can check how much discount a particular product will entitle you to by entering the license code bundled with the controller here.

  • Touch-sensitive jogwheel - This is important if you are a Scratch DJ or wish to learn how to Scratch , otherwise, it is not too important.

  • Built-in sound card - This allows you to headphone pre-listen and/or output decks separately to an external DJ audio mixer without needing any additional hardware and the additional wires that go with it. If you are a Scratch DJ and use a Windows PC, a low-latency capable ASIO sound card is important to provide a good Scratch response.

  • High-resolution pitch slider - This is important if you manually beat match by ear, otherwise its not too important.

  • LED backlit buttons - This allows you to see the controller more easily in the dark along with which functions are currently active. Most controllers usually have button LED's (Although not always for every single button.)

  • Display screens - These can show you useful information such as time remaining, BPM, artist/title, etc. This is useful if your computer is off to one side (NOTE: The display screens of some MIDI controllers are not controllable by software. Please check with the manufacturer first before purchasing.)

  • Rack mountable - Allows you to mount the controller in a 19" rack flightcase, making it easier to transport and protects it from damage. This option is very useful to mobile DJ's or for permanent installation in clubs and bars.

  • Mains-powered with hardware 'thru' feature - This allows you to connect a backup source (E.g: CD player, iPod, etc.) and switch to it in an emergency, should anything happen to your computer.

  • Media player - Allows you to use the controller stand-alone to play music from CD and/or USB media. This is great for an emergency backup or to allow you to play music provided last minute by clients.

  • Real hardware mixer - Allows you to connect and play from other sources such as CD players, vinyl decks, etc. These can also be used as a backup solution should anything happen to your computer. This is especially important if you are a mobile DJ (A bar/club will normally have a house system that you can plug into.) Some controllers with real hardware mixers will also allow you to connect more than 1 microphone, which is important for karaoke DJ's.

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