Pioneer DDJ 400 vs Pioneer DDJ SB3 vs Roland DJ-202 vs Traktor Kontrol S2 MK3
Choosing your first piece of DJ equipment can be a confusing process. There are so many controllers, CDJ’s, XDJ’s, prime players, turntables or decks on the market. They all have random code names and offer so many different features. In this detailed post we will be comparing the 3 most popular beginner DJ controllers in 2018; the Pioneer DDJ 400 vs Pioneer DDJ SB3 vs Roland DJ 202 vs Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 Mk3.
There are complete review videos for each DJ controller plus performance videos to see them in action and finally a comparison video to help you choose the right one!
DJ Controller Comparison
What is a DJ controller?
To keep this bit simple a DJ controller is a device that ‘controls’ a piece of software on your computer/laptop. It’s important to remember that a controller won’t work without being connected to a computer or laptop so make sure you have one ready to store your music library and run DJ software from.
If you don’t want to have a laptop involved in your DJ set up then there are a few other options. You could buy a Pioneer XDJ RX2, an all in one DJ unit that works from a USB drive. This however, is a much more expensive piece of equipmnt.
DJ controllers offer the most functionality at the lowest price!
DJ Software Comparison - Rekordbox vs Serato DJ vs Traktor Pro 3
DJ software plays a huge part in your decision making when it comes to buying your first DJ controller. Without the software the controller doesn’t work! The main DJ softwares we will be discussing are Rekordbox DJ, Traktor Pro 3 and Serato DJ.
Rekordbox DJ is developed by Pioneer DJ, one of the most popular DJ brands. Their CDJs and mixers are found in nearly every DJ booth around the world. Pioneer DJ have developed their own range of controllers to work with their own DJ software, Rekordbox.
By doing this they have created an Apple like market in the DJ industry. New products/models released every year and only their products work with their software.
The software is very powerful and has an abundance of features, bells, whistles and settings. This can be very confusing for a beginner DJ to understand. However, Rekordbox does provide an all in one solution for DJs in the current market. It has expansion packs for syncing lighting up to it as well as using something called DVS (which you won’t need to worry bout just yet). You can export your same music library to a USB device to play on Pioneer DJ’s CDJ and XDJ range of players, so transitioning to a club set up is very easy.
- It can do everything any other DJ software can do plus more!
- It’s an all in one solution that’s adaptable to a range of controllers, players, CDJs and mixers.
- It’s proven to be very reliable with constant updates!
- It’s very complex for beginner DJ’s to get started with.
- The software only supports a small range of Pioneer DJ equipment. No other brands supported.
Serato DJ Lite vs Serato DJ Pro
Serato DJ is a software company that doesn’t make any hardware. They rely on other companies like Pioneer, Rane & Numark (+ many more) to develop the hardware. Serato DJ has been the leading DJ software in the market for years. They worked closely with Pioneer and together released some of the biggest selling DJ controllers to date.
Serato DJ has an entry level version of their software called Serato DJ Lite. This software is totally free to download and you can even get started mixing just on your laptop. We have a full tutorial series here on how to do this!
It plugs and plays with a wide range of controllers from lots of different brands. Serato DJ Lite is a stripped back version of Serato DJ Pro. It just includes the basic features any DJ needs to get started. We love this software for total beginners as it takes away all those other distractions.
Then you can upgrade to the Serato DJ Pro version of the software by paying for a license. This will unlock a wide range of new features both in the software and on your DJ controller.
- Much cleaner and simpler software to get started as a DJ.
- One of the oldest & most popular DJ softwares on the market.
- Works with multiple brands and various equipment.
- You have to pay to unlock different features and packs to expand your set up.
- You can’t export your tracks to a USB to play on CDJs etc.
Traktor Pro 3
Native Instruments launched Traktor way back in 2000, making it one of the oldest DJ softwares still available. In that time we have only had 3 major revisions of the software and until the recent release of Traktor Pro 3 many of us thought Native Instruments may have shelved the DJ products to focus efforts on their music production.
How ever Traktor Pro 3 is here and better than ever, packed with powerful features. Well known for its fantastic music analysis and effects, Traktor also allows extensive MIDI mapping. Back in 2005 Native Instruments started making their own DJ controllers and hardware to compliment Traktor. Meaning it’s easier than ever to get started with a wide range of plug and play controllers.
- Powerful and highly customisable.
- One of the oldest DJ softwares on the market.
- Works with multiple brands and various equipment.
- Four Deck control with various modes including unique remix and stem decks
- Still lacks some of the advanced library management.
- Low Resolution interface looks a bit dated.
- No Streaming Support
Pioneer DDJ 400 Review
The Pioneer DDJ 400 is an entry level controller for Rekordbox DJ. It’s the newest controller of the 3 we’re comparing in this post. The DDJ 400 has been designed to replicate a similar layout to Pioneer DJ’s CDJ & DJM range of club equipment. This means an easier transition onto a club set up.
Click below to see our full in depth review of this controller.
Pioneer DDJ 400 Performance Mix
In our weekly #SundayDJSkills series we put different pieces of DJ equipment to the test, showcasing the different features in a real mix!
It’s all good and well telling you what features the controller has but what better than to see them in action.
This fast paced mix on the Pioneer DDJ 400 combines EDM, Reggaeton and House.
You can follow the rest of our #SundayDJSkills and other performance videos here.
Pioneer DDJ SB3 Review
The Pioneer DDJ SB3 is a Serato DJ Lite and Serato DJ Pro enabled controller. It has been designed in conjunction with DJ Jazzy Jeff who has developed a mode of automated scratch patterns. This is a unique feature to this controller as well as the FX fade pad mode.
Click below to watch our full in depth review of the DDJ SB3!
Pioneer DDJ SB3 Performance Mix
Here is a DJ performance on the Pioneer DDJ SB3.
Roland DJ 202 Review
The Roland DJ 202 is a Serato DJ Lite & Serato DJ Pro enabled controller. The drum machine built into this controller really is powerful! There are a lot of settings to get used to but once you know where all the different layers are located you can get really creative!
This controller is a really good option for any DJ/producer who wants to incorporate a live element to their mixing.
Watch the full review video below:
Roland DJ 202 Performance Mix
To really highlight how unique the Roland DJ-202 controller is we remade the instrumental of a drake song using the built in TR Drums. This is a concept mix that we did specifically to show off how you could use the drum machine.
Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 MK3
The Kontrol S2 Mk3 is a lightweight two channel controller designed in house by the creators of Traktor Pro 3. Featuring a premium build with metal jog wheels, the controller boasts a simple design which is great for beginners. With 8 RGB pads which is rare at this price point, the S2 perfectly compliments Traktor with full control over the sample decks. The controller will also be the first to work with the upcoming Traktor DJ for IOS app, meaning you can use it with your iPhone or iPad.
Roland DJ 202 Performance Mix
The Kontrol S2 Mk3 is a great controller and in this video we combined the new mixer effects and the remix decks as well as some basic mixing techniques to showcase the inner performance features of Traktor.
Which DJ setup is right for you?
Now you have learn’t about each controller individually lets put them head to head. Which controller is right for you? Which one is the best piece of DJ equipment for you to get started with?
The video below shows the similarities and differences between the Pioneer DDJ 400 vs DDJ SB3 vs Roland DJ-202.