DJ digital controller

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M-Audio digital DJ system

DJ digital controllers are MIDI controllers or USB-to-analog devices used for controlling computer-based DJ software, installed on a personal computer, laptop, tablet device or smartphone.


DJ digital controllers aim to emulate the traditional mixer/turntable/CD turntable set up. Most controllers come with shuttle jog dials that mimic turntable control of an audio file, though with slightly less accuracy.

The use of DJ digital controllers with DJ software allows for smaller, more mobile sound systems. Usually, the use of a DJ digital controller frees the DJ from having to transport more expensive, fragile, heavier, analog equipment. With the use of the controllers there is no need to use CDs or records. This is particularly beneficial to mobile disc jockeys who are increasingly using computer-based equipment for this particular reason.

A problem with controllers had been their latency; that is, the time between manipulating the jog shuttle controllers and the effect on the audio file. However, this does vary with computer speed, sound card latency, and MIDI latency. By either changing configuration settings or upgrading hardware, latency problems can often be easily resolved. Currently, with the newer computers, better software, and newer controllers, latency has become a negligible concern.

An advantage of controllers is that the processing power of the computer can be used to manipulate the sound, giving a wide range of effects and sampling options. Native Instruments Traktor software was among the first DJ applications to take advantage of this. Also, controllers are often platform-independent, allowing for highly customized setups. A DJ can choose and configure the software and use a variety of controllers with it. Some DJs even use two or more controllers for different applications during a set.

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