When you think of DJ software, Serato DJ is one of the biggest names out there. We’ve used numerous workstations and can say it is one of our favorites out of the handful that are worth looking at. Through research and word of mouth, you’ll hear most people pride themselves for using Serato — you just can’t beat the quality and overall features it gives us, not to mention the huge community that’s there to help with anything you have questions about. However, in order to get the best out of the software, you need a proper DJ controller to pair it up with. Most controllers out there in the market will work, but there are specific models that Serato includes in their ‘compatible gear’ list that have specific functions built-in dedicated to the software. They’ve partnered with some major gear brands in order to collaborate for flawless integration, some even having both the Serato and their brand logo on the thing. We review the best DJ controllers for Serato available today below.
How to choose your Serato DJ controller
Even Serato themselves call the gear they list as ‘official hardware’. There are a few different variations of DJ controllers, and depending on the type as well as amount of features you’re looking at, the price will fluctuate. Here’s our checklist:
- Your budget. We always list this in our buying guides. Although obvious, it’s important to keep into consideration as it helps narrow down your controller choices. The gear here range from cheap to pretty high price points.
- The type of controller you’re looking for. There’s single turntables, FX controllers, mixers, all-in-ones and more. These of course depend on your needs or will help you plan out your setup if you’re looking to build it from scratch.
- What functions you need. There are controllers with dedicated FX controls, beat slicing, looping and more. Some have performance pads, others specific knobs, faders, etc. The more expensive, the more crazy features you have. Remember: will you actually be using these, or will they be a waste? Can you slim some down in terms of features to save a few bucks? That’s all you.
- Do you already have Serato? Some of these come with only Serato Intro (their trial) while others include a free upgrade to the full version. If you want to save some money by purchasing a controller that comes with the software you can do so.
- Preferred brand? Depends on if this is even a factor for you. Brand loyalty and their reputation is always something to think about, but we made sure to only include the top brands in this article.
The best DJ controllers for Serato
Just take note that we haven’t sorted these by price but by controller type (and amount of features). Sift through them to see which one caters to your needs the most.
Numark Mixtrack Pro 3
This is the first all-in-one controller of our list and one of the most solid ones for the price. It’s pretty easy on the wallet and gives us some solid features: an integrated audio interface for solid quality of sound, MIDI mapping, recording, large touch-sensitive control wheels, navigation controls, USB powered and light status indicators. It’s nice since it comes with Serato Intro and is also compatible with Serato Remote and Video. You can purchase some FX expansion packs, too. This is a better DJ controller for those who are looking for something more simple and affordable. The features on this thing actually compete with the heavy hitters pretty well, so you won’t be missing anything that is considered essential. The wheels for scratching and navigation built-in make it worth the money alone. Their Mixtrack II also won our best DJ controller for beginners article.
This thing has all of the essentials: 8 performance pads on each side with hot cue, auto and manual loop and sampler modes, USB 2.0 plug-and-play connectivity, filter fade, a high and low pass filter on each channel, Serato FX control and some microphone inputs. It comes with Serato Intro if you’re still looking to try it out as well. A big step up from the Mixtrack Pro due to the overall quality, performance pads, 4-channel support and it has a nicer sound card built-in. The SX3 here is an upgrade from their original DDJ-SX2 because it is compatible with Serato FLIP and also has a hot cue countdown that can be useful if you know what you’re doing. It’s Serato DVS upgrade ready and the pads are nice quality (multi-colored for some help in mapping, too). It has nice platters for scratches, is USB powered, lighted deck-controls, an entire mixer section with a crossfader, EQ and loop\effect controls. I truly all-in-one controller for Serato.
When we say Numark you think of high quality DJ equipment, period. They’re one of the biggest collaborators with Serato DJ and for good measure. It starts our list off as a lone turntable controller of very high quality. You can obviously purchase two if you want to emulate the full DJ setup, but I’ve had people get by with just one of these, a mixer and an FX controller and they’re set (since you can scratch with just one and be fine). It’s motorized with high and low-torque settings, comes with Serato ITCH, gives extensive loop, cue and track-access controls and more. The build is also a nice all-metal construction with some of the slickest platters ever. It has a built-in multi-channel 24-bit USB digital audio-interface, so the sound quality is perfect. It’s “made-for-Serato” specifically because of the DJ FX controls on the unit. Grab this if it’s what you’re looking for.
This continues our list of controllers for Serato that isn’t an all-in-one but dedicated to a certain function. The AMX by Akai Professional is a two-channel controller for various features of Serato that doesn’t involve mixing or scratching, acting as a perfect complimentary piece of gear to go alongside your existing Serato setup. Some Serato specific controls it has built-in include library navigation, deck load, sync, cue, play/pause, panel/view controls and more. It’s also DVS upgrade ready, but you’ll have to spend some money for that. The overall build is exceptional as Akai typically brings to the table, with 9 touch-activated knobs that work very well (EQ kills and filter sweeps). It’s small and will fit snug right next to your tables,mixer or other controllers. The fader is a mini innoFADER which is pro-grade and adjustable. You can read our full Akai AMX controller review for more info or watch this cool Akai AMX video to see it in action.
Denon DJ MC6000MK2
Denon DJ is another great brand we’ve come to trust with DJ equipment. This particular controller is great for Serato since it gives us 4-deck mixing, 24-bit digital and analog audio interface for high quality sound, transport, pitch, EQ, FX, navigation loop and various sample controls. It’s got USB connectivity and has 8 keys you can assign for effects controls of your choice. Dual balanced mic inputs and MIDI compliant, the MC6000MK2 is a nice all-in-one controller if you’re looking for something a bit cheaper than others. What stands out the most with this is the digital sound quality that is better than a lot of other controllers out there. Give it a look if you’re most concerned with that.
There were a Vestax controllers we were looking at for Serato but this one took the cake for us. The VCI-400 is solid in terms of longevity and has some nifty features attached to it. It’s a beast of a machine with 4-channels, transport buttons (3 banks), instant deck select, soft touch responsive buttons and an optimized layout for knobs (made of a nice aluminium). What’s jacking up the prices with these is the soundcard — this one has a 24-bit, 48 kHz dual-core digital processor that’s almost like having a computer built-in to it. You can also MIDI assign with it so the VCI-400 isn’t about what it lacks, but it may have too much. This is more for advanced users but if you’re in the middle and want to learn something for the long term it’s something to check out.
If you’re looking for one of the craziest controllers we could find, don’t go any further (well, you can’t, it’s the last of our list!). The NS7III is the spaceship of DJ controllers: all-metal chassis platters (motorized with an aluminum build) that can spin 7″ vinyl. You can adjust the torque so these are some of the nicest platters attached to a DJ controller we’ve heard of. You get a free upgrade to the full version of Serato and support for whats called the Numark SFX which is a nice FX controller that can go along with it (yes you’ll have to buy it). You can change the RPM from 33 to 45rpm and also get some MIDI application. What’s most standout of the NS7III is the platters being the best quality available as well as the metal construction and high-quality (and replaceable) CP-PRO crossfader. Grab this if you want the absolute best DJ controller available for Serato (in our opinion).