DJ Controllers vs All-in-One Controllers

dj controller vs all in one
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DJ Controller vs All-in-One Controller

DJ controllers are a wonderful choice for anybody who wants to become a professional DJ without emptying out their bank account to invest in their setup. Not all DJ controllers are the same though. All-in-one controllers tend to have some different functions. Here are the differences we find when we compare a DJ controller vs an all-in-one controller.

What is a DJ Controller?

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A DJ controller is a MIDI-powered device which connects to your computer and/or audio interface to play tracks either on your computer speakers or live PA system. A DJ controller is typically a lot more affordable than an all-in-one DJ controller. They require that you have a laptop. Many MIDI DJ controllers also require you to hook up to a separate audio interface.

What is an All-in-One DJ Controller?

Also known as standalone DJ controllers, all-in-one DJ controllers have their own built-in audio interface. They also have an interface which allows you to DJ without the use of a laptop. This makes them ideal to many DJs.

After all, they don’t need to hook up to a laptop or software. This allows them to avoid common technical issues such as MIDI mapping and go straight to playing tracks. Many standalone controllers work with MIDI to use DJ software, making them work as normal MIDI DJ controllers.

MIDI DJ Controller: Benefits & Drawbacks

Your average DJ controller is not able to play sound on its own. Instead, it relies on the DJ having a separate laptop and DJ software. Many of the best DJ controllers are not standalone. On the contrary, DJs who use normal MIDI DJ controllers really love the ability to store music on their laptop and use a controller straight from the DJ software they love.

Here are some of the main benefits and drawbacks of using an average MIDI DJ controller:


  • Small & Portable.
  • Very Affordable.
  • Easily hooks up to a laptop.
  • Better customization of buttons.
  • Can be used with all types of DJ software.

MIDI DJ controllers stand out from standalone controllers in that they are smaller and more portable. They also can easily hook up to a laptop if they have a built-in audio interface. At the end of the day, a MIDI controller is capable of all the same features as an all-in-one DJ controller. The magic is in the talent of the controller’s user.

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  • Require a laptop.
  • Require DJ software.
  • May require a separate audio interface.

When you get a MIDI DJ controller, you will need to have a laptop and DJ software to get it working properly. You can’t simply plug in your mp3 device and start mixing tracks with your average DJ controller. This isn’t much of a concern for any serious DJ that wants to use their laptop library though.

All-in-One Controller: Benefits & Drawbacks

Using an all-in-one (or standalone) DJ controller comes with many different perks. If you are willing to invest a little extra, getting a standalone controller will grant you the ability to take a laptop and separate audio interface out of the question. Built to look and feel a lot like a classic DJ setup, they make it easier for a DJ to minimize what they carry with them to their gigs.


  • Don’t require software.
  • No laptop is necessary.
  • Much easier to set up.
  • No MIDI mapping required.
  • Ready to play out of the box.
  • Can sometimes be used as MIDI controllers.

Knowing how to use a standalone controller will help a professional club DJ easily prepare for their next gig. If your venue already has their own standalone setup, simply get your tracks ready on a thumb drive, and bring it with you to the event. You don’t have to connect to your laptop and/or audio interface separately. Clearly, having a standalone controller has many benefits to certain types of DJs.

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  • More expensive.
  • Larger & heavier.
  • Music files stored separately.
  • Require speakers to play music.
  • Don’t work well as MIDI devices.

If you have speakers with the proper connection, you will be ready to play standalone controllers right out of the box. However, this is something you have to invest in separately if you want to practice on your own. MIDI DJ controllers, on the other hand, will be able to easily play out of your laptop’s speakers. Standalone devices are also typically a lot more expensive, larger, and heavier.

DJ Controller vs All-in-One: Major Points & Summary

The main difference we see when we compare a DJ controller vs all-in-one controllers are how the device is used, and what they are capable of. An all-in-one controller (or standalone controller) will be able to work on its own without an audio interface or software. A normal MIDI DJ controller, on the other hand, requires that you are able to hook up to a laptop and/or audio interface. If you want one of the best DJ controllers, though, it really doesn’t matter if you use a MIDI or standalone device.

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oprol evorter - September 22, 2019 Reply

Very interesting information!Perfect just what I was looking for!

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