A DJ turntable is the midpoint of a DJ’s art form. It can be labeled as a rebellious branch of sound engineering due to its carefree and wild nature. It is a digitized turntable that is used to orchestrate prerecorded music. The devices are CD players that have a slip-pad disc like a platter on an analog turntable. Basically, they use it to mash up sounds to create new music for parties and events.
Turntables originated in the hip-hop culture and they have become their main tool in creating soundtracks for new songs and party events. Since then, the turntable has evolved into many shapes, from the vinyl types to new digital CDJ decks. This list breaks down the best 5 turntables for scratching, and they will be graded on these five criteria:
- Ease of Use
Below, please take a moment to view our interactive table, which showcases some of the more popular DJ turntables on the market.
|Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2||$$||★★★★||Silicone-Damped Jog Wheels|
|Numark Mixtrack Platinum DJ Controller||$$||★★★||Sensitive 100mm Pitch Sliders|
|Numark Party Mix||$||★★★||Built-in Sound Card|
|Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB2||$$||★★★★||2-c=Channel Controller for Serato DJ|
|Pioneer Pro DJ DDJ-WeGO3K||$$||★★★★||Has Pulse Control Lights|
|Stanton T62||$||★★★★||33 or 45 RPM Speeds|
|Audio-Technica AT-LP120USB||$$||★★★★||USB Direct Drive|
And before we get this article started, it should be noted that this list won’t include the Technics SL 1200. But it’s worth going into why it’s so iconic.
The Technics, and the Bar for DJ Turntables
Technics as a brand was founded by Matsushita Electric Industrial Corp. (now Panasonic) in 1965, as a producer for audio equipment for both Japan and around the world. The SL-1200 was first released in 1972, with the ubiquitous 1200 MK2 update coming seven years later, in 1979. The second iteration of the SL 1200 included a slider control for pitch, as opposed to the rotary knobs that distinguish the original 1200.
In addition to this useful feature, the 1200 Mk2 has a direct drive motor, where the platter (which in itself is a beast, weighing in at nearly 2kg) is driven by a magnetic electric motor in the Mk2, as opposed to the vast majority of turntables which just utilise a simple belt drive from the motor to the platter.
Because the SL 1200 has a direct drive motor, the high torque of 0.15Nm allows the platter to spin up to 33 1/3 RPM almost instantly (Panasonic claims 0.7 seconds). The fact that the SL’s direct drive system allowed the record to reach its speed almost instantly, along with the weighty platter, it soon allowed the experimentation necessary for new kinds of music.
All in all, the Technics SL 1200 has been the ride or die scratching turntable for decades. Here, we begin a look at 5 DJ scratching turntables that are not the SL 1200, but are worth a look if you are in the market!
Poised to revolutionize the portable DJ experience, the highly compact Pioneer DDJ-SB3 controller offers plug-and-play simplicity along with the world’s first Pad Scratch for professional-sounding scratch performances. Designed specifically for use with Serato DJ Lite, this powerhouse controller offers 4-deck control and a lightweight, yet rugged design that’s ideal for the modern mobile DJ on the go.
Any track that you’re playing or have cued up will be scratched, and the scratch speed automatically matches the track’s BPM. So even if you don’t know how to scratch, you can pull off professional scratch effects without breaking rhythm. Use the Pad Scratch feature alone or combine it with your own scratching on the other deck for limitless creative possibilities.
Smooth mixing on the DDJ-SB3 is also a breeze, thanks to another innovative feature called FX Fade, which allows you to reduce the volume and apply FX to a track at the same time. Whether you’re an experienced DJ or a beginner, this enables you to smoothly transition to your incoming track, even if you’re playing with different genres of music. There are eight FX patterns to choose from, with two of each of the following types: high-pass filter, low-pass filter, loop playback and back spin.
Ideal for beginners as well as more experienced DJs, the DDJ-SB3 includes a free download of Serato DJ Lite, formally known as Serato DJ Intro. As your skill level increases, the DDJ-SB3 grows with you, thanks to its compatibility with Serato DJ Pro, which is available as a paid download. Both programs are powerful, flexible tools that feature customizable layouts and expansion options.
Thanks to the clear visual division between the player and mixer sections, the DDJ-SB3 feels natural to use. The low-latency, capacitive aluminum jog wheels create a quality look and feel that you’d expect to find in a professional DJ booth, all in a highly capable and portable package.
With the PT01 Scratch portable turntable, you can scratch and cut anywhere. Built with Numark’s exclusive Adjustable Scratch Switch, PT01 Scratch enables you to grab your favorite scratch record and perform any turntablist scratch routine, whether you have access to AC wall power or you’re outdoors with your friends.
There’s an Adjustable Scratch Switch that gives you the perfect way to scratch, plus it’s adjustable for either right-handed or left-handed scratching styles. PT01 Scratch comes equipped with a red slip-mat to perform light to heavy-handed scratches with your scratch records. You’ll love the durable platter and the special cartridge, with its non-slip tracking ability that maintains excellent contact with the record groove, regardless of the playing angle or external environmental vibrations.
Connect your phone or any audio source to play a background beat through the 1/8” stereo input and scratch along to the beat. Increase the volume with the gain control knob and play it loud on the built-in speaker. You can also connect PT01 Scratch to other equipment via the RCA stereo outputs or use the headphone output for private listening.
Aside from scratching and having fun, you also have the capability to record your vinyl digitally via USB to your laptop (with free downloadable software). Plus, you can record your scratch sessions directly in to your laptop. PT01 Scratch plugs into a wall outlet (AC wall adapter included) and it also runs on six “D” batteries. It’s enclosed in a hard case for protection and has a sleek red handle to carry it anywhere you desire.
The Roland DJ-202 is a forward-thinking Serato DJ controller that gives DJs the features and layout of a full-size professional controller in a rugged and portable unit. The DJ-202 includes a free upgrade to Serato DJ Pro, which transforms an already powerful controller into a potent, feature-rich instrument.
The compact DJ-202 preserves the concept of the flagship DJ-808 and streamlined DJ-505, allowing unparalleled flexibility to DJ, remix, and produce beats on the fly while performing live or creating in the studio. With its large, low-latency platters, dedicated pad and transport controls, onboard sequencer, and mic input with professional vocal FX, the DJ-202 packs in the most features of any controller in its class.
Powered by USB, this 2-channel, 4-deck controller can be transported and set up with minimal effort. Its compact, lightweight design and easy-grab handles allow DJs the portability they need for mobile applications, house parties, club rocking, beat battles, and more. The intuitive layout of the DJ-202 and its plug-and-play connectivity will have you DJing in no time at all. And with 24-bit/48 kHz fidelity and Roland’s high-resolution audio hardware, your performances will sound amazing on any sound system.
Scratch and cue with confidence using the DJ-202’s large, low-latency platters, which are the absolute best in their class. Dedicated Serato controls allow quick creation and triggering of hot cues, loops, and samples, plus switching between four decks with the Deck Select button.
Use the channel filters or Serato FX (accessible via three FX Select buttons per deck) to finesse blends or accentuate scratches. And with dedicated Play/Pause and Cue buttons, you have the same direct control found on high-end controllers and standalone audio players.
Add new life to your DJ voice, radio drops, guest vocals, or external instruments via the 1/4-inch TS mic input with onboard reverb and echo FX. Additional vocal effects include low-cut EQ to refine the sound and a noise gate to automatically clean up sound issues and unwanted background noise.
With larger, redesigned 5.5” precision jog wheels, the TRAKTOR KONTROL S2 MK3 2-channel DJ system boasts a club-standard layout, 2-channel mixer and fast control of key TRAKTOR features. Sixteen RGB performance pads let you trigger hot cues, loops and samples, while the mixer section’s 3-band EQ lets you dial in the perfect sound on the fly.
The smooth, accurate jog wheels offer two operation modes. Jog mode delivers the classic, spin-to-nudge function, as well as scratch capability. Beatgrid adjust mode lets you use the jogwheel to manually adjust beatgrid in TRAKTOR.
Updated mixer FX give you instant one-knob FX and filter control on each channel. Choose from eight FX and three filter types to assign to four hardware FX slots. Pro mixer layout boasts a redesigned monitoring section and four dedicated slots for mixer FX plus filters.
The Native Instruments turntable features an impressive setup overall, including mic and USB inputs, built in FX and pitch control, and a 3-band EQ meant for any level DJ.
ODYSSEY 12” DJ Mixer
This Odyssey mixer turntable holds one 12″ format mixer and two turntables in battle position. It features include roller wheels, sturdy 90 degree handles on the lid, recessed latches and spring-loaded handles, and heavy-duty ball corners. Cabling is clean and easy with convenient access ports throughout the rear of the case. Odyssey’s turntable DJ coffins can accommodate Technics as well as Numark, Pioneer, Stanton, and similar sized turntables.
With an impressive setup and design, this turntable offers you the thrill of looking like a true battle DJ, even if you’re still learning. Best of all, the Odyssey lineup features many accessories and cases to move your equipment in style once you leave your home to start battling.
The humble turntable has put music in a spin over the last 50 years – giving rise to a whole new genre of sound, artistic skill and culture. The turntable has been used as a musical instrument since the 1940s and 1950s when experimental composers began sampling and creating music entirely produced by the turntable.
However, it wasn’t until the 1990s that the term ‘turntablism’ was coined. This definition marked a significant transformation in the role of the disk jockey (DJ), which had been evolving since the 1970s. Traditionally the role of the DJ was to play records on the turntable, mixing in one track after the other. The emergence of a new music genre, hip hop, produced DJs who were significantly more skilled.
These DJs – or turntablists, as they came to be known – were performers and musical artists in their own right who moved records whilst playing on the turntable to manipulate the sound and create original compositions. No DJ is complete without their instrument, and that’s why this list features some of the best options you have to get scratching. Consider these when seeking out new ways to hone your DJ craft!
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