Art of Deejaying, WK 8 – Which DJ Hardware?

Welcome to SKAH DJ Blog! We will be looking at the preferable choice of DJ Hardware this week.

The choice of hardware is not dependent on the choice of software. This is because the leading manufacturers of DJ software support CDJs, Controllers and DVS (Vinyl). Hence, you can choose to use CDJs, Controllers or DVS on Serato DJ, Virtual DJ, RekordBox, Traktor or any other top DJ software.

Just like the software, there is not right or wrong answer to this. Your choice of hardware should be hinged on some or all of the following issues;

  1. Are you a club owner, equipment leasing company, mobile DJ or hobbyist?
  2. Cost/Budget – How much is the hardware you have in mind? What is your budget?
  3. Features – Does this hardware have all the features I need?
  4. Maintenance/Support – How frequently do I need to maintain or replace parts? (Especially, Vinyl users). Is support locally available for my choice of hardware? Firmware upgrades etc.
  5. Portability – As a traveling or mobile DJ, How much cost will I incur in excess or irregular-sized luggage?
  6. Background – Which hardware did I use to learn or practice with?

Now we will look at the 3 types of DJ hardware in light of the above-listed points:

Controller Setup

A controller (all-in-one unit) is an integrated DJ unit or console that consists of 2 decks and a mixer and it communicates with the DJ software via midi through the USB port. They are the cheapest type of DJ hardware for similar features across all types of hardware. We mean that, if you have to get a controller that has equal or nearly equal features as a setup with 2 CDs and a DJ mixer, it would be cheaper to go for the controller than the latter setup. For instance, getting a Pioneer DDJ RZX is a better option than 2 units of Pioneer CDJ 2000 Nexus 2 and Pioneer DJM 900 Nexus 2. Both setups have similar features and functionality. However, in terms of cost the latter setup up will probably cost over 200% of the cost of the Pioneer DDJ RZX.


In terms of maintenance the controllers have the least maintenance cost as there is no lens to clean, load/eject mechanism to service, usually no spinning platter (except for a few controllers that have spinning platter, like Numark). Controllers are the most portable and easiest to carry around. The learning curve of transiting different DJ hardware is pretty steep so in a matter of minutes or hours a Pro or intermediate DJ should be able to adapt to almost any DJ hardware if properly schooled.

CDJ Setup

CDJs setup as mentioned earlier consists of 2 separate (standalone) CDJs and a mixer. A CDJ setup is typically the most expensive DJ setup, that is, for similar, equal or nearly equal features and performance as the controller and turntables (except technics turntables). A major advantage of this is that, if 1 deck is faulty you can still perform with the 2nd deck and the mixer (using instant doubles and internal mode). If the faulty deck is beyond repair, you can replace the faulty deck with another deck at a reduced cost that the initial complete CDJ setup. In comparison, if a controller is faulty, you will need another complete setup entirely to be able to play until the controller returns from the technician.


CDJs come with extra weight and luggage for a mobile/travelling DJ. However, based on the fact that this setup is typically used by Pro-DJs, the cost of extra or irregular-sized luggage might be borne by the promoter or client. Other that cleaning the lens, a CDJ from a top equipment manufacturer will outlive its worth.


This setup is similar to a CDJ setup. Typically consists of 2 turntables and a mixer, used by Pro-DJs and turntablists. Older hip-hop DJs that started their careers in 90s prefer this setup. It is also noteworthy to state that DMC competitions are usually with this kind of setup. Check out turntablism history here.


Turntables are usually very heavy and they lack most features on the CDJs and even the decks on controllers. However, newer models of turntables like the Reloop 8000 has in-built cue-point. The main catch of the turntable is the ‘feel of the vinyl’, the scratching, the cutting and the manual tricks that controllers and CDJs now do with the flip of a button. Turntables also come with high maintenance cost, which includes replacement of spares such as the cartridge and even the actual vinyl records.

In conclusion, it is all a matter of choice. There is no right or wrong answer to this. If you are in this for the money or a mobile DJ, you should go for a controller. If you are a club owner you should for a controller or CDJs and need I say more for turntablists and performers???

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Stay tuned to SKAH DJ Blog for more. Bye for now.



Option 1 Controller Setup

Pioneer DDJ-RZX controller costs $3000 *

Option 2 CDJ Setup

Pioneer CDJ 2000 Nexus 2 costs $2,200. 2 units of this will be $4,400*

Pioneer DJM 900 Nexus 2 DJ Mixer costs $2,200*

Option 3 Turntable Setup

Pioneer PLX 1000 costs $700. 2 units of this will be $1,400*

Pioneer DJM 900 Nexus 2 DJ Mixer costs $2,200*

That is $3,000 for the controller, $6,600 for the CDJ setup (which is 220% of the cost of the controller setup) and $3,600 for the turntable setup.

* Excluding tax and shipping from the U.S

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