For many of us, modern-day life is centered around electronic devices such as smartphones and tablets. In fact, around 50% of adults in the US own a tablet. While many use these for games or social media, others are taking advantage of other features. One being, DJ equipment.
iPads are the leading form of tablets. Their ease of use and portability make them ideal for DJing. You could say there has been a revolution in DJ technology on the iPad over the last few years.
So much so that all major manufacturers now offer a DJ app for iOS. Not only that, but controllers for these apps are also available.
Whether you love or hate them, iPads are certainly becoming more popular as viable DJ platforms. As the technology improves, as it is doing, this trend is likely to continue. However, many DJs still haven’t explored the possibilities iPads have to offer.
You may be wondering what options these tablets have as well as what controllers are available for iPad DJing.
To answer these questions and more, we have researched what DJ equipment is compatible with iPads. We will discover the best controller options out there so you can start your DJing journey with iPads as soon as possible.
DJ equipment that is compatible with iPads
One of the best controllers currently available is Traktor Kontrol S2 Mk3 from Native Instruments. With a wide selection of features, you can take your DJing to the next level with this piece of equipment.
If your main objective is to find something that is portable as well as durable, then the Traktor Kontrol S2 Mk3 could be ideal. There is a range of layouts and features with this equipment to make DJing that bit easier.
Integrated into this software is Soundcloud Go+ so you can get full access to all content on Soundcloud.
Traktor Pro 3 is also included to allow you to progress onto more advanced controllers offered by Native Instruments. The full range of controllers is fully compatible with this DJ software as well as Traktor DJ 2 for iOs.
For sheer reliability and a treasure trove of useful iPad DJing features, the S2 Mk3 is certainly one to seriously consider.
- Outstanding layout – Easy to understand for beginners as well as experienced DJs. Won’t take long to understand the controller and can even work well as a backup controller if required.
- Durable – Sturdy design that should be able to withstand the odd scratch and bump when transporting to different locations.
- Excellent jog wheels – Well-sized jog wheels that are incredibly responsive, especially if you want to add some scratching into your tracks.
- Not compatible with other software – This controller only works with iPads but you can use MIDI mapping but even then, it’s not the best suited for other kinds of software.
- Jog mode: Classic spin-to-nudge function, as well as scratch capability
- Beat grid adjust mode: Use the jog wheel to manually adjust beat grid in TRAKTOR
- Club-standard layout with identical deck design, 2-channel mixer, and fast control of key TRAKTOR features
- 16 RGB pads for triggering Hot cues, loops, or samples. Headphone Output - Maximum Output Level - 45 mW @ 33 Ohm load . Frequency Response - 20Hz-20kHz +/- 1.0 dB. Crosstalk @ 1kHz - -55 dB
- 3-band EQs with modeling of industry standard mixer Eqs
If you’re looking for simplicity and durability, then you will probably love another offering from Native Instruments. Traktor Kontrol Z1 is a traveling Dj’s best friend. It has all the basics required when mixing one song into another without any hassle.
Compact in size, the Traktor Kontrol Z1 will easily fit into your backpack so you can DJ whenever and wherever the mood takes you. It features very slick integrations that allow you to plug in and play quickly and with ease.
It also comes with an upgrade voucher which you can use with your PC or laptop to access even more excellent features.
Additionally, there is a high-quality integrated sound card in the Z1. This gives you access to the best possible sound quality instead of relying on your iPad to provide the sound.
Just attach some good quality speakers and your music will be top-class.
You can also use this with a range of other software types. You can add additional components to the Z1 to achieve more mixing results. You can control effects, cue points, and loops to really leave your mark on certain tracks.
- Compact – Since there are no jog wheels or performance pads with this controller, its size remains small. Lightweight and easy to carry, this is a great option for traveling DJs as it can fit in backpacks or satchels with ease.
- Compatible with other software and gear – You can add additional components for better mixing options. You can also combine it with an F1 unit to work on remix decks for even more creative mixing options.
- An integrated sound card – This results in a top sound quality instead of relying on your iPad speakers.
- Lacks arange of functions – Doesn’t include jog wheels, performance pads, and other features so you’re limited when mixing. Not the right choice if you want to incorporate scratching or FX into your mix.
- Complete, ultra-portable setup for TRAKTOR DJ
- Pro-quality knobs, faders, and backlit buttons
- Mixing interface with 3-band EQ, built-in 24-bit soundcard
For those of you who are beginning your DJ journey on iPads, or in general, the Pioneer DDJ 200 is well worth considering. Out of all the Pioneer controllers, this is the cheapest option and is tailored more to the newer DJ who may not want to use a PC or laptop just yet.
You can choose from a wide range of apps thanks to a smart integration. While the DDJ 200 does not come with any software, it is compatible with many apps such as WeDJ, Djay, and Edjing Mix. This opens more possibilities when using the controller with Android devices if you ever needed to.
Yet again, this is another robust controller. While it may lack the durability levels of the S2 Mk3 or the Z1, it is still more than capable of handling possible bumps when in transit. Therefore, regular gigging DJs can take full advantage of this lightweight controller when traveling between shows.
Also offered with the DDJ 200 is access to Soundcloud Go+, Beatport LINK, Deezer, and Spotify. If you do not already have a music collection, these could be invaluable resources to use, especially for inexperienced DJs.
- Compatible with a selection of apps – Its capability to work with a selection of apps broadens your mixing possibilities and gives you more options when working with Android devices as well as iOs.
- Affordable – You get great value for money when you consider the range of features on show with this controller.
- Provides a full mixer selection – Offers a full 3 band EQ with a filter so you can easily manipulate the different frequencies of the tracks you are DJing.
- Lacking outputs – There are no external outputs with the DDJ 200. Therefore, you will have to use an iPad, iPhone, or external speakers through a split cable to run your sound properly.
- Lightweight and compact with a pro-style layout it’ll help you learn to mix
The Numark iDJ Live Controller is for those of you who prefer DJing on iPads rather than laptops. Unlike the Pioneer DDJ 200, this controller from Numark is for pro-level DJs. It allows you to do more when using your iPad’s touch interface.
Available with this controller is Algoriddim’s Djay app for the iPad. For one of the most dynamic DJ experiences, this app is one of the best. As well as this, there is a wide selection of tools and functionalities to take advantage of.
With these, you can explore new areas of music that you have never experienced before. To gain access to these various functions, you just have to connect your iPad to the controller by sliding it into the dock.
Then, you’re ready to mix. Once you are connected, you will have full access to the touch screen turntables, die-cast aluminum volume controls, hot cues, looping, pitch and effects, and much more.
With a brushed aluminum casing, this controller looks and feels professional. It may not be the most compact and lightest controller on the market, but its superb design and features can make DJing easier than ever.
Boasting large jog wheels, this controller can be used for scratching and beatmatching. Along with rotary encoders, your transition from one track to the next can be as smooth as butter.
- Easy to use – You can combine the use of the touchscreen with physical controls to suit your preferences and make your DJing experience as smooth as possible.
- Features large jog wheels – Can take full advantage of the scratching beat-matching capabilities of this controller.
- Smart integration with the touchscreen – Gives you full access to a range of features such as looping and a touchscreen turntable resulting in a more professional Djing experience.
- Not compatible with all gear – The iDJ Live is not compatible with Mac or PCs. Therefore, it is recommended for DJs who just want to use their iPad for mixes.
- Not compatible with all tablets – Can only fit a 9.7-inch iPad in its docking bay.
- DJ with the music on your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch with this incredible, portable DJ controller
- Single plug design is easy to set up and use; plug it in, open your favorite DJ app and start mixing
- Large, touch-sensitive scratch wheels provide natural scratch feel
- Crossfader enables you to mix between songs as smooth or as quick as your hands
- Bass and treble controls for fine-tuning your mix
Software can be restrictive but not when you use Reloop Beatpad 2. This is designed to support iPads, Mac, and Androids. It is certainly one of the most reliable and cross-platform professional controllers on the market.
Based on the original Beat Pad controller, this second-generation model can help you unlock all of the possibilities that come with Djay 2 mixing software from Algoriddim.
The best thing about Reloop Beatpad 2 is that you do not have to install any additional software during its setup because it already supports a variety of platforms.
Included are numerous remixing features such as a sampler, a loop, a slicer, and an efficient multi-effect control option. Combined with touch-sensitive drum pads (that are illuminated with RGB lights to give feedback for your selected mode), your mixes can reach a whole new stratosphere.
You are capable of controlling 8 cue points as well as 6 samples on each deck. This can be achieved straight from the controller’s surface. Thankfully, the process is made easier due to the matching colors of the controller and the software.
- Extremely robust and durable – The go-to choice for DJs who play frequently and travel a lot with their equipment.
- Compatible with different platforms – Can be used with Mac, PC, iOs, and Android so you’re not stuck with the limitations of one form of technology.
- Top-quality jog wheels – Many options for scratching and beat-matching with this controller.
- Unable to recognize Djay 2 software on occasions – Some users have had to unplug and re-plug the controller for it to work with Djay 2 which is not ideal when doing live shows.
- Multi-sensorial pad mode section
- Color-coded Hot Cue and Sampler mode, Auto-Loop/Bounce Loop, Touch FX/Jog FX, and Slicer/Slice Loop modes
- EQ preset switch for Filter/3-Band EQ; harmonic mixing
- Mix millions of tracks with DJAY and Spotify instantly
- Advanced track management
Before you decide on which DJ equipment you want to buy, there are a few more considerations you need to take into account.
DJing with iPads requires certain features that other controllers may not guarantee. Below are some of the most important factors and features to look out for when buying DJ equipment for iPad use.
If we told you that all you need for the ultimate DJ setup is a tablet, headphones, and a controller, you may not believe us. But, this is the case for most DJs. This is good news if you need to transport your DJ equipment to different locations on a regular basis.
A portable controller is a necessity for many DJs. The lighter and smaller it is, the easier it will be to take to a friend’s house, on vacations, or to certain gigs. If this is what you are looking for, then you must pay closer attention to the size of the controller.
Larger controllers will be too cumbersome to fit into backpacks or even laptop bags. This will cause a great inconvenience to you and limit the places where you can DJ.
Another key factor is the weight of the controller. Portable setups need to be as lightweight as possible. Fortunately, most controllers that are compatible with iPads are quite lightweight but when you add the speakers, headphones, and iPad into the mix, the weight can start to build up.
Therefore, you want a kit that can be easily set up or packed up quickly. The easier it is, the less strain you put on yourself.
Of course, some DJs only use their equipment at home so weight and portability are not such a big deal. If this is the case, focus on equipment that can be set up in a space permanently such as a bedroom or studio. Some DJ controllers include screens so these may be a better alternative for home use.
A robust mixer section is important, especially for newer DJs using one with an iPad. Because you will not have access to a mouse to make adjustments to your mix, a controller can make it easier than using a touchscreen interface all the time.
A controller that has all of the key features needed for DJing can make mixing music far easier.
We recommend finding a mixer that has a full 3-band EQ. This is so you can adjust Low, Mid, and Hi frequencies with more ease. High-quality faders are another feature to look out for. Beatmatching is made much easier through the use of a long pitch fader.
The majority of modern DJ software also offers quality auto-sync options but different software is better than others. When you have good pitch faders at your disposal, you have a better chance of a smoother mix.
One of the most vital aspects of quality DJ equipment is how durable and robust it is. You should always aim for high build quality. While this is important for “stay at home” controllers, it becomes even more crucial when transporting the controller to different locations.
Your equipment is bound to experience bumps when in transport so you want it to withstand such knocks. If it does not have a strong build, even the slightest jerk could stop its functioning. Consider the environment you’ll be using your equipment in.
Certain gig venues have a certain type of grime so you need to ensure your controller can put up with this kind of location.
As with most products, you get what you pay for. Cheaper DJing equipment will undoubtedly use cheaper and flimsier components. Although striking a balance between quality and price is difficult, it is not impossible.
As the products in our list above shows, there are a range of options that achieve this balance.
We suggest sticking to established brands such as Pioneer and Native Instruments. These have a rich, reliable history behind them in the DJ world so you can be pretty sure you’ll be getting good quality gear.
There are affordable options, even with these big-name brands, and the entry-level choices can still be of great quality.
It goes without saying but you will need a connection point between your iPad and your controller. However, there are some other factors to consider.
While iPad speakers can produce adequate sounds, they are not always the best quality for DJing. If you don’t want to use your iPad speakers, you will need additional connection points for other speakers.
Most controllers will offer an RCA option but you may not be able to use these as some speakers are not compatible. However, these are the most common audio cables used for connecting your speakers and iPad DJ controllers but make sure your speakers and your desired controller are compatible.
You may need to have access to a microphone too. If so, you will require a controller with a Mic In connection. This is crucial if you intend to MC certain events.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I access music subscription services with DJ controllers for iPads?
Yes, this is possible but not all offer this feature. Of course, music is the most important part of DJing. Streaming now dominates the way people listen to music which can make it harder for new DJs to break into the market.
However, with the emergence of iPad compatible controllers, integration with streaming services had to be improved. Therefore, many DJ manufacturers now incorporate music subscription services into their gear.
Apps that include Soundcloud Go+, Spotify, Beatport LINK, and more will give you access to millions of songs instantly. This is an amazing way to get started but we recommend building a personal music library collection over time to make your DJing style more unique.
How do I connect my DJ controller to my iPad?
Unless you use the Pioneer DDJ 200 controller, you will have to connect via cables. The DDJ 200 is currently the only controller that connects via Bluetooth. Because it has no sound card, it relies on the iPad to output any audio and a splitter cable to use headphones.
If your controller connects via USB, as most do, it means it carries its own soundboard. Here’s how to connect your controller to your iPad via USB:
- If your iPad features a lightning port, you need to purchase a Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter.
- If you own an iPad Pro with USB C, you will need to purchase a USB C hub that has a pass-through charging capability.
- Firstly, connect your iPad charger and controller to the USB hub.
- Now, plug your speakers into the controller.
- Launch the Djay application.
- That’s it! Get mixing!
Which one should I choose?
Factoring in all of the features a DJ would want from an iPad DJ controller, we would say the Traktor Kontrol S2 Mk3 is the best option currently on the market. Compact and durable, this is ideal for new and established DJs alike.
Along with a selection of high-quality DJ apps, you will be able to DJ just about anywhere with this DJ equipment.