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Thread: is it really worth spending any more than $300 dollars on a controller anymore?

  1. #1

    is it really worth spending any more than $300 dollars on a controller anymore?

    i have come to the conclusion in my old age, that a 300 dollar controller is probably the best investment that you can make
    they are light to carry around, and if you can get 2-3 years use out of it, you can happily bin it or give it away to somebody, or just store it away as a backup, since they dont take up much space anyways.

    another hidden benefit is that, this range of controller are often USB powered, which i think is an advantage because if the power is interrupted during the night momentarily your system is not affected
    only drawback to this is that the headphones are generally not quite as loud, but that might not be a problem.

    compare that to a $1300-$1500 + controller
    this isnt like buying a set of technics that you can still use in 50 years time.
    i mean, in 3 years time that controller is going to be a dinosaur , and you will actually have difficulty shifting it because nobody wants a clunky heavy dinosaur.
    by the time you get to the 5, 6 , 7, 8 year mark, your controller might not even work with newer operating systems.

    ok, the cheap controllers dont generally have XLR outputs, and dont generally function as standalone mixers, but this is actually a blessing in disguise because you are always better off having everything hooked up to a seperate analogue mixer. that way if your controller or laptop have problems, your show goes on. you are not depending on the controller, and they do fail, and if you are using it as a mixer, you might find yourself with another DJ hooked into your controller, or your backup is going through it, what do you do then?

    so moral of the story is that the $300 approx range is the best idea.
    that is where im at anyways


    what are your thoughts?
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  2. #2
    Technoez Rek_Aviles's Avatar
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    I can't speak much to this but from what I see, the trend is trying to get away from the laptop and adding all to the controller. Maybe not getting rid of completely for the CPU use but to allow you to close and not need the monitor or screen.

    $300 seems like the sweet spot for a durable, well-built controller with a good layout. If you're spending more, it should have the builtin screens/monitors. With that said, we've gotten so used to having he laptop open there's no need to go high-end right now.

  3. #3
    All seems like mobile DJ arguments to me.

    As a casual user, I doubt a $300 controller has good enough trigger pads for myself personally. Plus it's nice to have onboard effects in addition to Serato's effects. (Something my controller does not have, but I would like.) And MIDI equipment never becomes outdated, it just means you'll have to eventually manually map them like we did with our stuff back in the 1980s & 1990s.

    Frankly, though, I rarely use my controller.

    I still prefer my old DVS system.
    Two record players, SSL1, a Windows XP laptop, a Rane TTM 56S mixer, and a DJ-Tech "CTRL" DVS MIDI controller.
    "In the early 1990s, the Bose AM-5 held some 30% of the US speaker market. Not Bose the company. Just the AM-5."
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  4. #4
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    All good points, EXCEPT for USB only power. This can cause real problems if used with 6 ft or longer, light gauge (28 gauge or thinner), USB cables - especially with Serato, which must see the hardware at all times to enable the license. You can get a voltage drop of over .5 VDC, (4.5 VDC at the controller), a 10% drop. Only use 3' or shorter USB cables, preferably with "24" printed someplace on them.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Windows 95 View Post
    All seems like mobile DJ arguments to me.
    well, the nature of controllers is such that it often just suits better for a DJ to bring his own. which is another point in favour of smaller less expensive controllers.
    I dont think i would trust an in-house controller very much.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rek_Aviles View Post
    the trend is trying to get away from the laptop
    for me the screen isnt the problem, in fact its the most practical and useful thing you could have, I work in Video and use a 17" screen, there isnt any DJ hardware that i know of that could compete with that. for me the problem is the fact that everything is going through a USB cable. It just seems like such a weak and flimsy link. every time somebody walks near my equipment im expecting them to knock it out.
    Last edited by DJ Matt; 09-25-2019 at 08:40 AM.
    My Neighbours listen to good music
    weather they like it or not
    www.djmatt.net

  6. #6
    You need a laptop anyway and the ones worth getting are from 1k upwards (this might have changed though as technology advances)

    I think for "professional" DJ work a controller won't just cut it although they are very portable (this stems from the fact that I used to own one, but it could be used in conjunction with external gear too)

    The newer high end models are starting to look and feel like squeezed-in CDJ setups with larger jog wheels, sturdy knobs, displays etc but latency is still an issue, around 20-30ms is quite usual I think although you very quickly get used to it.

    The USB power is unfortunate in many units but I think it can be worked around by using a powered USB hub in case of laptop crashing (I never did but I like to live dangerously)

    Great choice for mobile DJs and someone practicing at home, or retiring and selling away a setup to save space for instance (OT : if this was the case you could hit the bar with that $300; it buys you a lot of beer, although at a high profile nightclub you could brush your teeth with it)

    I sold away mine because I got CDJs to use with Traktor but I did throw quite a few gigs with it. These days I use CDs only, because my MBP started acting up; the HD is migrated from a 2008 Macbook so there's pretty much every hit song I've played at bars during the past 10+ years and all my digital downloads (I did backup to an external HD as well as burnt CDs in case of crashes but am now burning CDs in Safe mode because USB drives don't seem to work and to my surprise it lets me)

  7. #7
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    Someone's having serious confirmation bias!

  8. #8
    Jingle Bans Manu's Avatar
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    Buy cheap buy twice.

    Pro gear is what is able to get the job done in the long run, reliability is one of those factors. If the unit fails, you have no equipment.

    I stopped trusting cheaper equipment a long time ago. The question borderline feels like," what's the cheapest I can get away with."
    Last edited by Manu; 09-26-2019 at 09:14 AM.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Manu View Post
    Buy cheap buy twice.

    Pro gear is what is able to get the job done in the long run, reliability is one of those factors. If the unit fails, you have no equipment.

    I stopped trusting cheaper equipment a long time ago. The question borderline feels like," what's the cheapest I can get away with."
    how cheap are we talking here? i have had expensive equipment fail on me. and i have had cheap equipment that never failed

    when i say expensive i mean 700 or 800 euros controllers. my MC6000 for example, failed on me. (maybe this is really midrange) but i have also had controllers like the NS7 that cost €1300+ and they have failed, not by malfunctioning but by becoming outdated.
    My CD players costed in excess of that, and became outdated too.


    the good thing about cheap equipment is you CAN buy twice if you want to :-)


    Quote Originally Posted by efinque View Post

    I think for "professional" DJ work a controller won't just cut it although they are very portable
    depends what you mean by professional, i have worked professionally for 10+ years using controllers now, and a lot of people do.
    but im doing bars and clubs, not arenas like.... and its not for huge money either
    so I guess the point i am putting out here is about staying well within your means as a club/bar DJ
    Last edited by DJ Matt; 09-26-2019 at 04:59 PM.
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  10. #10
    Moderator DJ Bobcat's Avatar
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    is it really worth spending any more than $300 dollars on a controller anymore?

    Price is certainly a consideration. It is true that GENERALLY you get what you pay for, but not always. When I started DJing, I had a budget. Buying a $800-$1000 controller was not in the budget. I ended up buying an American Audio VMS 4.1 for $299. It was built like a tank and had all the features I could handle at the time. After 3 years of solid, dependable use, I moved up to Denon MC6000 MK2ís (I have two rack systems in which they mount in the top sections). The Denonís cost about three times as much, and though they have more features, they donít sound any better than the VMS 4.1, and the mic channels donít work as well as the VMS 4.1.

    I still have the VMS 4.1, which I use occasionally. I could probably sell it for close to what I paid for it 5 years ago, and it still works and looks like new because I take good care of my gear. Iíve looked on eBay and itís not common to find one listed, but when they are they typically sell for $180-$220 range. Iíve never had a speck of trouble with mine. It might easily last another 5 years or more.😊
    Last edited by DJ Bobcat; 09-26-2019 at 05:07 PM.

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