The Best DJ Decks in 2023 - A DJ Buyers Guide

The Best DJ Decks in 2023 - A DJ Buyers Guide

By: Jade Story

The Best DJ Decks in 2023 - A DJ Buyers Guide

Choosing the most suitable DJ gear can feel like a daunting task, with the seemingly endless options from different brands with different softwares, it can become overwhelming. This buyer's guide has been written with the goal in mind to help narrow down this process for you and provide some direction, helping you make an informed decision on your next purchase. Regardless of your skill level, goals, or budget, there is something here for everyone.

In this comprehensive guide, we will take a look at the best equipment on offer in the following categories:


DJ controllers require a connection to a laptop to gain access to your music library; they are more compact and portable, as well as more affordable than standalone systems. Ideal for beginners all the way up to professional gigging laptop DJs.


Standalone DJ systems are all-in-one units that do not require you to use a laptop. Enabling you to access all your tracks and information via USB, just as you would on high-end club equipment. Instead of buying a mixer and two separate CDJ players, standalone systems combine this into one device.


The industry juggernauts of DJ equipment.


Best Entry-Level DJ Controller:

Pioneer DDJ-FLX4

Pioneer DDJ-FLX4

The new entry-level standard. Pioneer's next in line to their extremely successful DDJ-400 (which has since been discontinued but is still a perfect controller to learn on with the same layout as club gear). Dubbed as the new standard of entry-level DJ controllers for the upcoming half decade.

Best suited to: Beginner DJs looking to buy their first controller that will remain relevant for years to come.

Key Features:

The Smart Fader: This allows you to effortlessly mix between any BPM or genre using just the crossfader. It does this by automatically making adjustments to the tempo, while combining effects and smart bass EQ (dropping the bass out of the old track) to blend tracks seamlessly together that you ordinarily wouldn't be able to do without years of experience. The Smart Fader turns what would ordinarily be a challenging, skillful transition into an effortless one.

Obviously, this is not to be relied upon if you want to learn the true art of DJing, as you would never be able to rely on it using club gear. However, it does give beginner DJs more room to explore a range of different music across various genres and BPMs, and this is where it becomes a useful tool to have. It has a place within its target market and has the potential to be a lot of fun to use.

Software: Compatible with both Rekordbox and Serato, enabling beginners to test out both softwares and decide which system they prefer. Before the introduction of the DDJ FLX4, your software choice would be made for you depending on the controller you purchased.

High-End Mixer Resemblance: The layout mimics the basics of what you would find on professional standard club gear, offering up the ability to learn all the basics with a similar interface to the current club standard gear, making the jump from controller to standalone units and CDJs less daunting.

Smart CFX: This gives the user a range of 8 presets of combined effects that offer a unique flair to your mixing game. These are excellent, highly effective, and simple-to-use additions to the filter knob, all available with just the click of a button.

Streaming Compatible: This device is compatible with all streaming services (TIDAL, Soundcloud Go+, Beatport Streaming, Beatsource Streaming). Giving you access to millions of tracks.

USB-C Connections: Enabling connection to your mobile device, tablet, or laptop, for ideal use of the new Rekordbox DJ music manager mobile app, which launched in early 2023. Giving you access to your music library anytime, anywhere, without the hassle of taking a laptop with you. Just pick up your decks and go.

Compatibility: Rekordbox; Serato.

Best Performance Controller

Pioneer DDJ-FLX10

Pioneer DDJ-FLX10

Launched in March 2023.

The controller-CDJ-DJM hybrid. Boasting innovative new features surpassing the DDJ-1000 and DDJ-1000SRT, all packed into a high performance 4-channel club-style layout controller.

Best suited to: Performance DJs; Gigging DJs (as it is light and portable).

Key Features:

Rekordbox Version of Stems: Boasting the inclusion of new track separation technology. Pioneer have used this controller as their first introduction to their version of the Stems feature created by Serato DJ. It is called track separation and allows you to isolate the drums, vocals and instruments of any track with the simple click of a button. With the part-isolator you can blend or take away elements seamlessly.

Jog Wheels: Full-sized mechanical jog wheels, including jog adjust options and in-built display screens in the centre. These screens contain four display modes depending on your preference;

  • Scrolling stacked waveforms of the two tracks being mixed.
  • Solid Waveform with track information.
  • Album artwork.
  • DJ logo mode, here you can just drag and drop any image file that you want displayed in the centre.

Jogs come with LED rings around each jog wheel which match the active stems, making it easy to tell at a glance what has been activated.

Part Instant Doubles Mode: This feature allows for splitting the parts of the song across two channels.

For example, taking vocals and drums and placing vocals on channel 1 and drums on channel 3. Exactly like the Stem Split feature found on the Rane Four. Splitting the one track into two parts and being able to use them independently of one another brings an exciting new element of control and creativity to the mix.

Mix Point Link Mode: A Rekordbox-only feature. Allowing DJs to set a mix-out and mix-in point between two songs and then let the software automatically play the next song in time, giving the DJ the creative freedom to add effects and include other advanced features to the mix.

This feature is as simple as scrolling through the track you want to mix in and setting a cue point wherever you want the incoming track to begin, at the same time you set a cue point at the point you want to mix out of the outgoing track, hit the link button next to the mix point select options on the decks and your mix will happen automatically.

FX Part Select: With the options of vocals, drums, and instruments. You can now apply any of the 14 beat FX, or any of the 6 sound colour FX to any of the stems of the song. This allows the DJ to take full creative advantage of their mixes and the effects they can add to independent aspects of one track.

FX Part Select

For example, we could create an echo and high pass filter combination to only the vocals, drums, or instruments of the track, or just the vocals and drums. Being able to isolate effects on certain parts of a song is an excellent addition to add to your mixing arsenal.

Compatibility: Rekordbox; Serato DJ Pro.

The New Best Mid-Range Controller

Pioneer DDJ-REV5

Pioneer DDJ-REV5

The latest high-performance controller on the market features some unique tools made specifically to benefit open-format DJs. A creative DJs dream for a middle of the range controller. Boasting performance features that make it a stand out. One of the most fun, creative-based controllers on the market.

Best suited to: Open-format DJs.

Key Features:

Layout: Full-size CDJ-style mechanical jog wheels with jog adjust.

Stem Controls with Dual Layer Modes: A futuristic feature allowing the DJ to separate the different aspects of a track in real time. This gives the DJ a tool like never before where they can essentially create something unique in real time. Stems enable the isolation of certain aspects of a track, be they the drums, bass, melody, or vocals. Dedicated buttons on the controller make this highly intuitive and a lot of fun for those wanting to get creative while mixing and creating something that can't be performed on just any equipment. This feature is a huge selling point.

Although stems can also be accessed via performance pad mode, it's great to have the added feature of the dedicated buttons above each jogwheel. This allows for ease of use and for combinations of any other performance pad feature with stem control at the same time.

If you hold down shift and press the headphone cue on the track you wish to manipulate, this switches the EQs to stems control, giving you the ability to use the EQs to fade in and out of individual stems.

Stem Controls with Dual Layer Modes

Auto BPM Transition: A feature that very specifically suits the target market for this controller. Open-format DJs need to mix between different genres, often for very lengthy sets. This requires large bpm jumps, and this feature really helps to clean up some of these harder transitions. Offering a gradual beat match through widely differing tempos.

Piano play mode: an improvement on pitch play mode, which is still a feature. However, in piano play mode, all 16 pads become available on one deck; this ultimately replicates a piano layout with white keys along the bottom and black keys along the top. The scale is changeable using the parameter buttons, as is the option to choose between three different scales using the opposite parameter buttons. The pads turn white to indicate which ones are on that scale. This feature opens the door to a lot of creative exploration and freedom.

Piano play mode allows the performance pads to take on a whole new form, giving DJs the opportunity to play a whole octave in a more musically intuitive manner.

Dual deck mode: excellent for DJs who make a lot of mash-ups. This feature allows for different aspects of a track playing on each side to be blended together on just one side of the controller. For example, taking a vocal from one side and an instrumental from the other and using dual deck to combine them.

Compatibility: Serato; Rekordbox. Although designed specifically for Serato DJ Pro.

The Ultimate Serato Performance Controller


Rane 4

The first ever 4-channel DJ controller from Rane, equipped with specific controls for Serato Stems. The Rane Four is also the first professional 4-channel controller to be released with a battle-style influence.

Best suited to: Performance focused DJs; Battle DJs (battle style DJing is where DJs compete in tournaments to show off their advanced skills); Open format DJs.

Key Features:

Decks and Displays: 8.5-inch static jog wheels, with internal display screens showing important information, such as: Waveform, bpm, cue points, time elapsed, key. The layout of the mixer resembles a hybrid between a scratch mixer and club mixer. Also featuring 8 full sized pads on each deck, enabling you to control all of Serato's performance modes easily.

FX: There are 3 types available on this unit; Serato main FX, channel FX, and Rane hardware main FX. There are 22 built-in hardware effects that have been engineered specifically to complement the Serato 3.0 software effects.

The default effects, printed above each button, can be replaced by holding down an effect button and choosing from the inbuilt list, displayed on the main FX screen.

Effects levers found on the mixer are very typical of battle-style DJ mixers as they are a convenient and fast way to apply effects while performing technical mixes.

Stem Split: There was another intention behind the 4-channels, which goes beyond just the potential to mix 4-decks at once. The additional channels on the Rane Four were added for deeper control of the new Stems feature. Stems is essentially an audio separation tool, enabling isolation of vocals, bass, melodies, and drums in your mixes. It allows for instant possibilities to sample and create your own unique sounds by flipping, layering and chopping up the isolated sounds, giving DJs a precision they have never had before over creating a unique sound and blending elements to their mixes that would ordinarily be impossible. These isolated aspects of each track can be manipulated across various channels using EQs, effects and the channel faders.

The stem split feature automatically splits the vocal and the instrumental across 2 channels.

For example, you can load a track into deck 1, press the stem split button, it will then split the track between decks 3 and 1. It could put the instrumental onto channel 3 and the vocal onto channel 1. This allows for different aspects of one track to be controlled independently to one another, adding a lot of functionality and creative freedom.

Performance Pads with Mini OLED Screens: Featuring 8 performance pads with 8 modes. Each mode button has a mini OLED screen beneath it, displaying data about the mode selected. The inclusion of 'performance pad mode combination' gives the option for two performance pad modes to be engaged at the same time per deck, with the top row controlling the first mode, and the bottom row controlling the second.

For example, Stems and hot cues are a great combination. This allows the DJ to jump around the track while being able to easily take out or add elements back in.

Compatibility: Serato.


Best Overall Standalone System:

Denon DJ Prime 4+

Denon DJ Prime 4+

An improvement on the most powerful, advanced standalone DJ system the market has seen thus far (the Prime 4), boasting new features and a more refined look, featuring unrivaled music streaming accessibility, larger jog wheels, new fx options, as well as the consistently expanding performance features of Engine DJ software. Last but not least, the Prime 4+ leads the charge with the inclusion of the industry's first stem separation on a standalone unit./

Best suited to: Mobile DJs who value the latest technology, innovation, versatility and creative opportunity.

Key Features:

4-Deck Mixing Capabilities Across Just 2-Decks: This 4-channel, 2-deck system enables you to play as if you have 4-decks in front of you. The 4-decks will be visible to you on the screen, with all waveforms and necessary track information loaded across all 4-channels. Each player has two layers that can be accessed by the 1, 2, 3, and 4 buttons located alongside each deck. Each deck has its own colour profile that matches the one on the screen, making it easier to tell which deck you're on at a glance. This is a standout feature as it unlocks the creative potential to explore 4-deck mixing. Making this unit a powerhouse among standalone systems and providing great value for money.

Real-time Stems: The first standalone unit to include this feature. Offering just the separation of vocals and instrumentals at this stage. Great for creating your own acapellas from any song or removing vocals as you please. Great for mash-ups and live remixes.

Player Section: 6-inch jog wheels which are highly responsive (perfect for scratch DJs) and have a centre display; full-size tempo adjusts. Includes a key sync button, making mixing in key effortless. There is also a key-changing option embedded in the unit rather than purely software-based. There is also a beat grid edit button that enables you to edit the beat grid on the fly if the track is slightly off or hasn't been analysed perfectly.

Engine DJ Software: Fully integrated with its very own music management software, allowing you to import your existing playlists from other software such as Rekordbox with all pre-saved information intact.

Engine DJ Software

10.1-inch Touchscreen: Boasting the most advanced multi-gesture touchscreen available on a standalone DJ system, giving you the most advanced music library interaction experience you can have as a DJ. View 4-deck waveforms in full colour along with all other essential track information with ease.

10.1-inch Touchscreen

Dual Zone Output: Who said you can't be in two places at once? The Prime 4+ comes with an independent XLR Zone Output, allowing DJs to send either the master or a dedicated playlist to a separate independent output for playing music in a different room. A club experience in one room, a chill out playlist in the next room.

Built-In SATA Hard Drive: With market-leading hard drive space, you can store your entire music library on the device itself. Allowing the other option of plug-in and play compatibility from your current DJ software program to USB.

Amazon Music Streaming: Built into this unit as an added choice alongside other streaming services, such as: Beatport LINK, Soundcloud Go+, TIDAL and Beatsource LINK. Built-in wifi makes this possible.

Compatibility: Engine DJ, Serato DJ Pro, Rekordbox, Traktor.

Latest Pioneer Standalone System:



Launched in March 2023.

A new type of product from Pioneer combining design and performance. Pioneer's official response to the competitor standalone systems on the market, answering back with the release of their most powerful and elegantly designed standalone DJ system ever.

Best Suited to: Pro mobile DJs; Those who want a serious home DJ system, bars, lounges, smaller venues where the DJ gear is on show and needs to look good.

Aimed at a different market sector to what Pioneer normally go for, they have broken away from club gear, which has been their main focus and are aiming at the same market the Denon Prime 4+ are appealing to.

Key Features:

4-Channel Standalone Mixer: 4-deck standalone playback is now available for the first time ever on a Pioneer DJ standalone system. Enabling 4-deck mixing on a 2-deck standalone system. Making this unit a powerful and far more compact option, yet just as functional as a full 4-deck set up (which takes up a lot more space and is a lot more expensive).

Pioneer have also made it simple to tell at a glance which deck you're on as you can assign colours to all tracks loaded to decks 1,2,3, and 4, which are matched by the illuminated jog ring. There are also layer options next to each screen above the jog wheels with 1 and 3 on the left and 2 and 4 on the right, making it easy to load tracks and assign them to 4 decks if you want to.

Design: A sleek and elegant design which surpasses all competitors on the market. Boasting a 10.1-inch screen which makes the whole user interface focused around providing the best overall engaging experience possible to the user.

Multiple Screens: One main 10.1-inch modern, glass topped high-resolution touchscreen. There are 5 screens in total; Main screen, deck screens for left and right decks, as well as screens in the centre of each jog-wheel.

Next Generation CPU Tech: A massive improvement for Pioneer DJ, placing them right up there with the best standalone systems on the market, the OPUS-QUAD essentially includes a built-in computer, boasting the most powerful CPU (central processing unit) ever built into a standalone DJ system.

Beat FX - XY control pad: This enables you to blend two effects at the same time by sliding your finger over the screen, each beat FX you select has its own combination. Taken directly from the djay Pro AI app from Algoriddim, it is fun and easy to use while adding a totally different sound to your mixes. The option to have filters tied to effects on an XY pad is an excellent performance addition.

Smart Cue: The ability to override temporary cues with hot cues. Smart cues are an innovative way to use your cues. You can set hot cues A-H to trigger on the temporary cue button, which will also change to the same colour as the chosen hot cue. Simply tap the hot cue you want and it will transfer down to the temporary cue button. This does not appear on any other controller, either from Pioneer or any other manufacturer.

Smooth Echo: This allows you the option of turning on an echo when you specifically want it turned on without having to do anything else. This feature includes beat duration options and volume level settings of the echo. Unique to the OPUS-QUAD, it gives you a visual overview of where your triggers are on the system while you're selecting them.

The options available on the screen to select a trigger include: hot cue, cue, pause, load, channel fader, crossfader. You are also able to choose the number of beats it echoes out by.

Touch Preview: A really useful feature that enables the DJ to preview a track in their headphones without having to load the song to a deck, it can be previewed directly from the playlist, saving you time and making it easier to choose what to play next.

Advanced Track Search: Finding tracks has never been easier, particularly if you have a very large music library. The large touchscreen gives you the option to use the keyboard to search for a track that comes to mind or to use the playlist bank option for quick navigation between playlists.

The inclusion of the new smart rotary selector offers a joystick control built for moving through your library fast instead of scrolling through hundreds of tracks individually, you can make large jumps with ease up or down your playlist.

Zone Output: This gives you the ability to play music in two different rooms at once by outputting sound separate from the master.

Connectivity: Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity options available. Wi-Fi allows for the use of rekordbox cloud library sync so you can DJ directly from this unit without needing anything exported to USB. Bluetooth allows you to pair your device and stream directly from your phone to the unit.

32-BIT ESS Technology Converters: Producing the highest quality sound that is most comfortable to listen to for long periods of time, giving your audience the ultimate experience. Also found in the DJM-V10 and DJM-A9 mixers, a huge leap ahead of previous standalone DJ gear. This low distortion, smooth sound is due to the way the unit is configurated, ultimately eliminating transmission loss as well as AD-DA conversion loss.

Compatibility: Rekordbox; Serato DJ Pro; Rekordbox Mobile App.

Best 'Club Experience' Standalone DJ System:

Pioneer XDJ-RX3

Pioneer XDJ-RX3

The full Pioneer experience, which comes close to that of CDJs, at a much more affordable price. Boasting a similar feel, build quality, and features in an all-in-one unit. Combining the fun and freedom of a controller-style system with the features of a standalone performance product and the look, feel, and placement of high-end Pioneer DJ gear.

Best suited to: aspiring or resident club DJs, who want a similar experience to high-end club equipment.

Key Features:

Club Layout: A nearly identical replication of the club experience, with Pioneer familiarity present throughout.

10.1-inch touch screen: easy to navigate with a replication of the CDJ 3000 style interface.

Playlist Banks: This brand new feature allows you to save four playlists into the four available banks along the side of the screen. This feature comes in handy if you've got a lot of folders and playlists on your USB. Being able to bank your most important ones so they're available to toggle between at a glance can make your life a lot easier during a gig. Removing the need to scroll through your whole USB each time you require a specific playlist. Bank what you're most likely to use for the gig ahead.

Touchscreen Track Preview: This allows you to feature a track in your headphones without having to load it to a deck; simply holding your finger down on the waveform on the screen saves you a lot of time when deciding what to play next.

Beat FX Mode: This allows for easy navigation through your favourite FX. This provides the ability to log your favourite FX, so they will appear on screen pre-loaded with your beat division of choice assigned to each. They are logged into the four spare banks located on the screen above the waveform. Making it far more intuitive to toggle between different FX options and beat divisions you like best, added functionality = time saver.

On Screen X-Pad: it works in the same way as on the DJM 900. A touch-screen interface which will apply the effect as soon as you touch the screen. You can also drag your finger across to change the beat division seamlessly for a unique sound.

Jog Wheels: the same size as the previous generation RX models, they are not full-size CDJ mechanical jog wheels but rather capacitive jog wheels with a jog adjust, allowing you to set your preferred tension.

Secondary Pad Layer Mode: offers up a range of new possibilities on this player. For example, if you hit the hot cue pad to set up a hot cue and then hit the hot cue button above, this will put you into gate-cue mode. Instead of just playing the song from the hot cue, it will only play the track while you have the pad held down. If you let go, it will jump back to the beginning, which is excellent for finger drumming as you can set up a few different hot cues on different sounds and toggle between them. A first for a standalone unit.

Mixer: All the beat FX included that you would find on the DJM 900 mixer, so the similarities to club gear are obvious. All sound colour FX included too, bringing it on par with the XDJ-XZ.

Compatibility: Rekordbox, Serato DJ Pro

Most portable Standalone unit

Denon DJ Prime GO

Denon DJ Prime GO

A powerful, innovative, compact, and unique all-in-one standalone, 2-channel battery-powered DJ unit. It includes everything you would need in a much smaller, travel-friendly package without losing functionality.

Best suited to: mobile DJs (battery-powered and streaming service support) DJs who travel a lot, as its size makes it easy to move around with.

Key Features:

7-inch multi-gesture touch display screen: a great size screen for a unit of this size. Just like the Prime 2, it comes fully loaded with the Engine DJ operating system, as found on the rest of the Denon DJ Prime range. Meaning you will have access to all continued updates across the range at a lower price point than the rest. The power of denon and engine, all in one compact, travel-friendly piece of DJ equipment. Can analyze files on the unit itself. Can create playlists on the unit on the fly.

Denon DJ Key Features

Layout: The first thing you will notice is the different placement of the EQs on this unit. They are in a horizontal position on either side of the screen instead of the universal vertical placement above the channel faders. This simply takes some getting used to, but functionality is exactly the same.

Battery-powered: a full charge will last 4 hours, with the battery percentage displayed on the screen so you won't be caught short. It can obviously be used normally with a power cable too.

Jog wheels: low-profile, 3-inch touch capacitive jogs, with vinyl mode.

Pitch tempo adjust: smaller than the bigger products on the market, but without losing function. You can still control the tempo perfectly and change the pitch range using the pitch bend buttons while holding down shift, enabling you to still reach the higher or lower bpm values with time-stretching ability while still sounding great. Perfect for mixing lots of different styles of music at largely differing bpm ranges while still sounding clean.

Performance features: 13 different FX, 3 different performance modes (hot cue, loop, and roll), and four tactile rubber pads underneath. Pressing the bank button allows you to store four more of whichever assigned performance feature you're on. Essentially, it gives you access to eight modes on just four pads.

Streaming Service Support: Offering a vast array of streaming service options such as Beatport LINK, Beatsource LINK, Soundcloud GO+, and Tidal. This is super convenient as it gives you access to millions of tracks at your fingertips, which is great for any song requests and being prepared for anything. You're also able to connect your Dropbox account to easily access your entire personal music collection without the need for a USB if you so choose. The future of streaming in the DJ world is really exciting.

Compatibility: Engine DJ


The King

Pioneer CDJ 3000s and DJM-A9 Mixer

Pioneer CDJ 3000s and DJM-A9 Mixer

The gold-standard of club DJ equipment. Offering the latest technology combined with the familiarity of the tried and tested Pioneer workflow. Designed specifically to be the go-to standard gear for the biggest music events around the world.

Best suited to: Owners of Clubs; Professional DJs.

Key Features: CDJ 3000s

Display: A major upgrade from previous CDJs, this 9-inch, full-colour, LCD touchscreen display makes a statement. 150% brighter than the previous model, a feature that will have DJs who have suffered the glare of daytime parties feeling very grateful going forward.

Preview Waveforms: This new feature is a welcome addition, allowing you to quickly and easily preview tracks in your library while you're scrolling without having to load them to a deck to preview. Saving you time, easing the pressure and helping you make the best decisions about what to play next. If you hold your finger down on the waveform next to the song name on the screen with the link cue button on, you will be able to preview the song in your headphones.

Customization: There are many options to set the layout to your preference. You can change the font size, as well as get to choose what is displayed in your library and in what order, with options such as; Default, track name, artist, bpm, key, album, rating, DJ play count (letting you see at a glance which are your most popular tracks).

The track filter option allows you to filter your playlists by what you specifically want shown to you, helping you narrow down options of what to play next in regards to a certain bpm variation or key. Making it easier at a glance to filter out any options that aren't within that range next.

Waveform/Phase Meter Display: This all-new feature includes the option to have either a waveform or phase meter displayed at the top of your screen. This gives the option for stacked waveforms if you prefer the view of a more visual reference. Whichever deck you have selected as the master, the stacked waveform will move over to the opposite side.

Touch Cue System: If you're playing back-to-back, this feature allows you to preview the song that you're going to mix into while it's already playing out to the audience, this way you can know what's coming up in a track you may never have heard before. This can be done by turning the link cue button on and scrolling through any part you may want to preview on the track currently playing.

Performance Features: 8 hot cues underneath the display screens. 4 and 8 beat autoloops with half and 2x underneath respectively. There are beat loop touchscreen options available too. The beat jump buttons make it easier to quickly jump through the track.

Key Shift and Key Sync: Key shift enables you to shift the track up and down multiple keys, with the ability to just tap the middle to reset to the original key. You can also use the key sync button if you want to bring in a new track which is out of key with the current track playing.

Advanced MPU and Sound Quality: The micro-processing unit that has been built into this player allows for better sound and faster overall workflow and updates than previous models. Instant loading time with all hot cues and memory cues in-tact. It is the first player that has 96khz and 32-bit float. It has the ability to take tracks that aren't at that quality and allows you to hear it at a far more detailed sound quality.

A processor this powerful also gives Pioneer the platform to add more updates and features to this model over time. Enabling more developments to be added to the unit instead of Pioneer needing to come out with an entirely new model to keep up with, or to set, the latest trends and standards in the industry.

CloudDirectPlay: users of the CDJ 3000s can now access their music files directly from the cloud if they are subscribed to either the Creative or Pro Rekordbox software plans.

Compatibility: Rekordbox; Rekordbox Mobile App; Serato.

Key Features: DJM-A9 Mixer

Headphone Controls: Boasting dual headphone controls, it has never been easier to play back-to-back sets, or to nail your changeovers with ease. On the mixer, there is a Headphones A and Headphones B section, each comes with its own level knob, as well as its own cue, mix, and master knob.

Sound Colour-FX Centre Lock: When this is activated, you can use the knob one way or the other and it doesn't go past the centre, it locks the knob in the centre until you release it and can use it again. This feature stops you from whipping it back on the drop but over-extending by mistake and going past the centre and changing the overall sound.

3 New beat-FX: Mobius, Triplet Roll, Triplet Filter. There is an X-pad located above all the filters, this makes sweeping the extent of your filters, left and right, simple and accessible.

Connectivity: Bluetooth is available to pair any device with the mixer and play it through a chosen channel.

A/D Converter: The channel input has been equipped with an ESS technology 32-bit high-quality A/D converter. This produces high-resolution, crystal-clear sound. Even the mic inputs and headphone outputs have improved sound.

Stagehand: A PRO DJ LINK Manager app. Stagehand enables sound engineers to keep an eye on level meters and mixing controls. This addition makes it possible to maximize sound systems and overall sound performance without needing to interrupt the DJ, or enter the booth.

Key differences between the DJM-A9 and its predecessor, the DJM-900NXS2.

DJM-A9 and DJM-900NXS2

  • Rather than being a complete redesign, the DJM-A9 simply includes more tweaks and refinements overall. This is great as it makes the mixer feel really familiar with what club DJs have been using for years.
  • The DJM-A9 is larger than the DJM-900NXS2, offering a lot more control on the front panel. It is also a perfect match to play alongside the CDJ 3000s.
  • The DJM-900NXS2 was released in 2016, and the DJM-A9 was released in 2023.
  • The faders on the DJM-A9 have been upgraded, as well as the crossfader being upgraded to a magvel crossfader (meaning it is now controlled by sensors rather than gears, making it lighter and slicker).
  • The DJM-900NXS2 did not have a booth EQ.
  • The DJM-A9 trumps the 900NXS2 in terms of the addition of USBC on both inputs, as well as the inclusion of wireless capability where Bluetooth can be paired and run through any of the channels you choose.
  • The DJM-A9 has improved sound quality compared to the DJM-900NXS2. The DJM-900NXS2 had a combination of 24-bit and 32-bit sound. The DJM-A9 boasts 32-bit for in and out, giving you more dynamic range, higher headroom, and more overall detail in your sound.
  • The DJM-A9 has a dual cue system, giving each DJ in a back-to-back, their own level and cue/mix/master controls. The DJM-900NXS2 does not include this feature.
  • The DJM-A9 has included three new FX.
  • The x-pad on the DJM-A9 is a single line, whereas on the DJM-900NXS2, it has two rows displaying the different beat divisions.
  • The channel select on the DJM-A9 is displayed with buttons as opposed to the rotary encoder as found on the DJM-900NXS2. The buttons make it easier to see and select at a glance.

The Runner up

Denon SC6000 and Denon Mixer (X1850)

Denon SC6000

Best suited to: Open format event DJs looking for a powerhouse unit with a focus on creativity, workflow, and performance.

Key Features:

- 10.1-inch touchscreen, which is really responsive and tactile.
- 8.5-inch jog wheels with jog adjust.
- 8 performance pads.

Built-in SATA Hard drive: This feature enables you to store your music internally on the hard drive located in the player. Convenient and powerful.

Engine OS: A really powerful operating system is built into each player. This, combined with the large touchscreen, gives you instant, easy access to all library options, music management, and streaming services.

Preview songs on a separate layer: While a track is already playing, you can preview a song you might want to play next without having to load it into the player. If you simply tap the album artwork, you can skip through the song with your finger to preview it quickly.

Create folders and playlists on the go: You can create folders and playlists on the screen and then select and drag tracks to their respective places. This shows just how powerful and convenient it is to have an operating system built into the player. This eliminates the need to keep going back to your laptop to prepare your music. The convenience of being able to play and manage music on one piece of equipment is unrivaled.

Streaming service support: WiFi connectivity and wired internet connectivity giving you full access to millions of songs at your fingertips through streaming services such as Tidal, Soundcloud GO+, Beatport LINK, and Beatsource LINK, as well as access to onboard Dropbox. This feature ensures you're prepared for any gig and any song request. Engine OS also caches the streamed track, so if you were to lose internet connectivity, the song wouldn't just stop playing.

2 layer players: Each player has 2 available layers that you can switch between using the layer button. There are two outputs on the back that go into the mixer, allowing you to use two separate channels on the mixer with just one player. Essentially, getting two players in one.

Compatibility: Engine OS

Denon X1850 mixer

Denon X1850 mixer

- 4 channel mixer
- Familiar layout for any DJ
- FX Quantize feature: this locks the FX and plays it in time with the music.
- 3/4 beat FX parameter.

Cheaper Version

Pioneer XDJ-1000MK2 and DJM-750MK2

Pioneer XDJ-1000MK2 and DJM-750MK2

A refinement of the original XDJ-1000 full-size club-style set-up.

Best suited to: Club owners and DJs wanting a club-style home setup for a fraction of the price of the current top-of-the range equipment.

Key Features: XDJ-1000MK2
- 7-inch full-colour touchscreen.
- The overall layout remains the same as what you would expect from club- standard Pioneer gear, with all standard CDJ features included.
- It should be noted that the jog wheels have no tension adjustment option. However, it is set to a nice compromise between tight and loose. Over years of use, they could loosen up more than you'd like, which could be something to take note of if they're being purchased for club use and are going to be used by many people in that environment more often than one would use them at home.
- Supports all audio formats.
- Substantially cheaper than other club equipment with no lack of functionality.

Key Features: DJM-750MK2
- 4-channel performance DJ mixer.
- Professional layout: it inherits design elements and key features from the DJM-900NXS2. Any club DJ would feel instantly at home using one of these and easily be able to navigate their way around without hesitation.
- Professional sound quality.
- EQs and faders feature curves equivalent to those found on the DJM-900NXS2. Includes a Magvel crossfader.

Compatibility: Rekordbox

In conclusion, all DJ gear essentially does the same thing; however, different units will have key features that stand out for them. In the end, it comes down to personal preference and what you need based on your budget, goals, skill level, and overall required use. A great DJ is not made by their equipment, but a great DJ can mix on any equipment. When playing gigs, it is common to run into old or just badly maintained equipment that doesn't operate to the best of its ability, so it's important to be prepared for anything and have the confidence that you can mix well no matter what is in front of you.

If you're looking for a more organized approach to learning how to DJ and avoiding the most common beginner mistakes while getting into good habits right from the get-go, check out the Club Ready DJ Courses! These courses have been designed as if you're in a private one-on-one class with Andrew, who has mastered the formula for making you club-ready in a very short period of time, packaged in the most user-friendly manner possible, enabling you to work at your own pace and re-watch lessons as many times as you need to until you grasp each concept.

Designed for you to follow along no matter what setup you may have at home, each course will give you an in-depth understanding of the fundamentals of DJing and an unshakable confidence going forward that will enable you to mix like a pro on any gear.

A priceless bonus of signing up for any of the Club Ready DJ courses is being given access to wonderful opportunities such as joining the Club Ready Tribe and playing on Club Ready Radio, Club Ready Live Streams, and at Club Ready Events. Providing a platform for the skills you learn to be showcased to a network of passionate, like-minded individuals.


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