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Be a DJ without a laptop with our pick of the best DJ controller for iPad
Our Top Picks
Best overall: Pioneer DDJ-WeGO4-K
“Portable size, excellent Pioneer build-quality, and great iPad compatibility makes this a mobile winner”
Best for Traktor: NI Traktor Kontrol S2 Mk3
“Built from the ground up for Traktor and perfectly compatible with iPad (including the Traktor app)”
Best performance: Reloop MIXON 4
“It's not cheap but if performance is a top priority, the Mixon 4 is an excellent controller”
Best iPad compatibility: Reloop Beatpad-2
“More than most controllers, the Beatpad 2 is perfectly tuned to work with iPad”
I remember the first time I tried to DJ with an iPad.
It was…awkward. This was way back when the iPad 2 was just released. The hardware was still slow and the apps were still clunky. I remember thinking: no way this thing could ever make it to a club.
Fast forward to 2020 and a brand new iPad Pro has more power than most laptops. The quality of apps has increased so much that you can do nearly everything on iPad as you can on a laptop. The iOS versions of Traktor and Serato are as full-featured as their laptop counterparts.
The one missing link is the DJ controller.
Blame it on the resistance of club performers or the slowness of controller manufacturers, but out of the box support for iPad is still limited in the world of DJ controllers. There are only a few models across brands that offer a plug-and-play performance experience.
In this guide, we'll look at a few of these models. I'll cover six controllers and tell you which is the best DJ controller for iPad right now.
The Best DJ Controller for iPad
Here's a closer look at our favorite DJ controllers for iPad across budgets:
Pioneer's dual-deck DJ controller DDJ WeGo4 can mix music from rekordbox, Traktor, Virtual DJ, Djay, or the WeDJ app. It gets along with other MIDI-learning programs such as Mixvibes Cross or Mixxx. The compact command center with VDJ LE and rekordbox DJ is delivered at an under 400 price. Not a snap, but maybe just the right tool for the ambitious hobby DJ.
A look inside the box: you have the controller, power supply, USB cable, serial cards for VDJ LE, and rekordbox DJ. The most obvious innovation: Pioneer has dispensed with the proprietary iOS connection and does not include a cable set for mobile devices. Instead, there is a USB type A and type B socket, to which you can dock your tablet/smartphone using the manufacturer's cable.
Thus, the WeGo4 is basically compatible with Android devices, according to the website. The WeG04 also runs with rekordbox DJ, Algoriddim vjay as well as Atomix VirtualDJ and tractor. Serato, which was still listed on the DDJ-WEGO3, is no longer listed on the Pioneer homepage.
The compact device weighs just under two kilograms. It cuts a fine figure on closer inspection of the hardware in terms of processing quality and space. The plastic housing is elegant, free of burrs, and stable, thanks to the rubber feet. You have faders with pleasant resistance, central locking knobs for frequency bands, and filters.
Also, there is a battalion of predominantly illuminated click-clack buttons. Only the level pots for Mike and Master, which, unlike their brothers, sit on metal axes instead of plastic in the channels, are a bit fiddly.
Headphone connections in mini and standard jack are on the side. The microphone socket and the master output can be seen at the back. There is also a Kensington cut-out, the USB sockets, and the power adapter connection. You can't go wrong here.
Of course, the DDJ does not deviate from the market-dominant deck mixer deck layout. But what is remarkable here is that the function keys nestle in a circle around the jog wheel. Looks good and saves space.
What I don't like
There are no gain controls and level meters. Also, Serato DJ is no longer supported. Several audio glitches have been reported in certain Android setups.
Best for Traktor: NI Traktor Kontrol S2 Mk3
The Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 MK3 is the entry-level controller for the in-house Traktor DJ software. In terms of design, the Traktor Kontrol S2 MK3 is a classic 2-channel all-in-one controller. And, above all, it looks like a stripped-down Kontrol S4Mk3.
Since the jog wheels are externally identical to those of the larger sister model (but the controller is a lot smaller), the search wheels dominate the look of the small model. It looks pretty chic in my opinion. As always, the mixer section is in the middle between the channel strips. There is no separate master area with a separate level meter.
As with the MK1 and MK2 versions, the device only has two full mixer channels. But it can control the volume of decks C and D via a common potentiometer. The decks are no longer mirrored on the S2 Mk2 either. The club-style layout is now also preferred by the inexpensive machines, regardless of the manufacturer. I like this.
Less surprising than with the effect banks, the connectivity of the Traktor Kontrol S2 MK3 is greatly reduced compared to its big sister. It goes without saying that external inputs or even stand-alone mixer functionality are not required. Only a microphone can be connected to the device.
You will also look in vain for a monitor output in this device class. The master signal can be picked up via a cinch and a stereo jack socket. The fact that the headphones can only be connected to the device via mini-jack fits into the rest of the picture.
It's an excellent entry-level controller at an attractive price. No question about it! The buttons, the encoders for loops or browsing and the jog wheels come across as professional and very valuable. However, the faders and rotary controls convey the feeling of having toys in hand.
Apart from that, the device is an excellent introduction to DJing. And, in my opinion, it's the perfect second controller for hand luggage or the emergency setup at a very attractive price.
What I don't like
The faders and rotary controls convey the feeling of having toys in hand. They feel wobbly.
Most Portable: Numark DJ2GO2 Touch
There's room in the smallest hut. At least that could be the motto of the Numark DJ2Go2, a MIDI controller and USB audio interface certified for Serato DJ. Many controllers want to display the tools they need in a compact space to enable digital DJ beginners to have a mix session on the laptop and to manage their DJ software without a mouse or keyboard. If the device is not needed or if you are on the go, it can be easily stowed in a bag, desk drawer, or flight luggage. Which is great.
Numark DJ2Go2 draws its power supply via the USB port. It can easily be set up on or in front of the laptop and you're ready to go.
The packaging in which it is delivered is hardly larger than the tool itself. It measures 314 x 86 x 16 millimeters, weighs just 350 grams. In terms of design, it looks a lot more appealing to me than its predecessor.
The package includes a USB cable, a mini-jack to RCA cable, a package insert, a download card, and a set of stickers. The most important innovation compared to the original model is the integrated four-channel USB audio interface.
The mini-jack socket for (desktop) speakers, amplifiers, or mixers is located on the left-hand side at the rear. Meanwhile, the USB socket is located on the rear-right, and the headphone output is moved a little to the front.
In detail, the small Numark controller has three flat track controls, 19 partly backlit buttons, and two “jog wheels.” You also have four rotary controls for the channel volume and the master and cue levels. In between, there is a browser encoder with a push function. Channel faders are not on board, nor are tone controls.
But it can be navigated, listened to, pitched, synced, played back, and faded over using a crossfader. That should be enough for some interested casual DJs or traveling Serato track preppers. As a special treat, Numark equips the DJGO2 with four multifunctional pads per deck. So, there's a bit more to it than “Play, Sync & Fade”.
What I don't like
Lack of hardware access to subdirectories. There's a small space between the jog wheel and potentiometer/pitch fader. There is also no EQ/FX control.
Best Performance: Reloop MIXON 4
With the Mixon 4, the people of Reloop from Münster are once again entering the hotly contested battlefield of DJ controllers. The Mixon brings with it ingredients such as effects sections, loop displays, and trigger pads for creative performance.
For mixing the Serato or Algoriddim decks, Reloop Mixon 4 offers a total of four channels. Each is equipped with three controls for the software-internal equalizer as well as a gain potentiometer with an associated level display that determines the volume in the mix. In the layout, an FX/filter controller stands out. Here, a high or low pass filter can be dosed and additionally combined with an effect of the software. Below that there is a cue button that activates the preview function, as well as a track load button to load songs into the individual decks. Once loaded, the channel fader allows you to control the volume in a targeted manner. A crossfader with three different adjustable course curves rounds off the mixing section. The individual channels A or B can be assigned here or channeled directly into the sum.
The two decks of the Mixon 4 are constructed identically. First of all, the 15.5cm aluminum jog wheels lie flat on the device. They are surrounded by a plastic ring with notches. The virtual needle lighting in the form of an LED ring helps you keep your bearings when beat matching and scratching. Above the “turntable” is the FX group with parameter controls and tempo control. This is set automatically synchronously using an encoder or manually using a tap button.
An interesting feature is the harmonic mixing section. The normal keylock keeps the pitch of the audio material played in the same tone even when the tempo is pitched. It can also be used to synchronize a track with the key of the other decks.
Last but not least, Mixon 4 provides eight large performance pads (3×3 cm) per deck. With these, for example, eight Cuepoints can be placed on the controller, which can also be set in RGB colors. In addition, there are various modes, some of which can be reached using the shift function. In cue loop mode, the noted position and the set loop are fired. Saved Loop allows a loop to be recorded and played. The sampler mode enables individual audio snippets to be played back, optionally also with velocity sensitivity.
The front houses the output for headphones. Mini and standard jacks are installed here. Further to the right, there is the possibility to feed in a microphone or instrument via the jack. The signal is leveled using the gain control.
What I don't like
It's a shame that the Reloops controller has no audio input. The level meter sometimes freezes when using an iPhone.
Best for iPhone: Numark iDJ3
Numark iDJ3 is a complete DJ system that works both in a computer network and with the iPod. Connected to a computer, tracks can be mixed very easily on the computer. The dock for iPod or iPhone also allows you to play back songs directly from popular music players or record complete mixes on it.
iDJ3 consists of two decks. Everything feels like working on a classic turntable. The two decks are complemented by an easy-to-use audio mixer that not only experienced DJs will get along with straight away. Since skills can be transferred to any other DJ system, iDJ3 is also perfect for DJ beginners.
As a professional DJ, you can use it to create loops and set hot cues. iDJ3 is not only a powerful software controller, it also offers a fully equipped audio interface that offers high-quality inputs and outputs. Regardless of whether you want to use it with a computer, a sound system, or for recording purposes.
You can also use it for listening purposes with headphones or for use with a microphone. It doesn't matter which iPod or iPhone is used. All can be played, mixed, and used for recording with the iDJ3.
What I don't like
First, it is only partially scratch-compatible. Also, its midi mappings only possible with a chargeable software upgrade.
Also Consider: Reloop Beatpad-2
Performance meets streaming with the Reloop Beatpad 2! It is a DJ controller for tablets, smartphones, and computers. It's equipped with numerous interesting functions and designed for Algoriddim Djay 2 and Djay Pro. Its integrated USB sound card offers two headphone connections, professional XLR outputs, microphone, and aux inputs. The innovations include touch-sensitive RGB pads for samplers, slicers, etc., as well as touch and jog FX. In addition to extended track management, the bundle also relies on Spotify integration, regardless of whether you work with Djay on a Mac, PC, or iOS or Android.
Reloop Beatpad 2 looks compact and solid. The device is made of metal and plastic. It measures 46 x 32.5 x 4.2 centimeters and weighs 4 kilograms. The performance pads that are now often found on modern DJ controllers come into their own on the black. It has a very clearly designed user interface. The flat XXL jog wheels with a diameter of 15.5 centimeters are also illuminated in multiple colors. This helps to display different modes and functions more clearly.
There's the possibility of controlling smartphones via various adapters and the computer via USB. But at the same time feeding in a further signal via an additional analog input or via a microphone, is appealing. USB, Lightning, Android OTG cables, and power supply are included.
On the back, I find the USB port for the internal four-channel sound card. The DIN-to-iOS adapter also included in the package has an additional connection (for iPhone or iPad). The master signal can be routed to the PA either via XLR or cinch cables. Simultaneous connection to both outputs is possible, but with a slight loss of volume.
What I don't like
First, there's no separately adjustable booth output. Also, I think the headphone output could be louder.
Over to You
If you prefer the iPad over the laptop, pick from one of these recommendations for the best DJ controller for iPad.
For more suggestions and recommendations, email us using this contact form.
Check our other DJ recommendations
- Our favorite DJ controllers by budget: $300, $500, and $1000
- Our favorite DJ headphones right now
- Our top most recommended DJ mixers