What DJ Controllers Work with iPad

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DJing has gone mobile. With the power of iPad and iOS, DJs now have professional-grade performance tools in the palm of their hand.

But to truly unlock expressive potential, tactile hardware control is a must through dedicated iPad DJ controllers.

Let’s explore some of the best DJ controllers across various budgets and use cases that integrate tightly with the iPad ecosystem.

What iPad models support DJ controllers?

A visually stunning composition featuring a lineup of iPad Pro, iPad Air, and the latest iPad Mini models, all linked to diverse DJ controllers through USB-C, lightning, or wireless Bluetooth connections. The image highlights the adaptability of iPads in DJ setups, with a focus on the evolution from traditional lightning ports to the modern convenience of USB-C. This visual journey encapsulates the seamless integration of DJ controllers across iPad generations, offering a glimpse into the expansive possibilities for tactile DJ control

The iPad Pro, iPad Air, and latest iterations of iPad Mini are compatible with various DJ controllers through USB-C, lightning, or wireless Bluetooth connections. Legacy iPad models with traditional lightning ports also support select controllers, though newer USB-C iPads offer more seamless wired connectivity. Now let’s explore some specific gear and adapters to enable tactile DJ control across supported iPad models.

Native iPad DJ Controllers

A professional DJ seamlessly integrates the Roland DJ-202 into an iPad setup. The controller's 16 velocity-sensitive pads, dedicated transport controls, and built-in audio interface provide a versatile and powerful solution for iPad DJing, showcasing a commitment to pro-grade controls and portability

Pioneer DDJ-FP7

The Pioneer DDJ-FP7 is a DJ controller that is made specifically for the iPad. It works seamlessly with the iPad via a USB-C connection or wirelessly over Wi-Fi. The DDJ-FP7 is a full-featured 2 channel controller that was designed to cater to mobile DJs using an iPad. It has a compact and portable size while still retaining pro-grade controls like full-size jog wheels, faders, performance pads, and dedicated cue buttons. The low-latency platters provide accurate scratching capabilities. In terms of mobility, the DDJ-FP7 can run off battery power for up to 4 hours. This makes it easy for DJs to take it on the go without having to rely on AC power. The DDJ-FP7 is a great choice for those wanting a controller tailor made for iPad DJing.

Numark Party Mix Live

The Numark Party Mix Live is a fun and portable iPad DJ controller perfect for parties and beginning DJs. It connects wirelessly to the iPad via integrated Bluetooth functionality. Despite the small size, the Party Mix Live packs in dual jog wheels, illuminated cue buttons, and eight color-coded drum pads. Having the drum pads makes it easy to trigger hot cues and samples on the fly. It has a built-in battery that provides over 5 hours of mix time on a single charge. The Party Mix Live has enough features to pull off simple transitions, EQ blending, and engaging performances. Plus it comes at an affordable price point compared to more advanced controllers. For these reasons, the Party Mix Live is a popular introductory controller choice among new iPad DJs.

Roland DJ-202

The Roland DJ-202 delivers professional level controls in a compact form factor designed for iPad DJing. It works seamlessly with various iPad music apps supporting MIDI over USB, Bluetooth LE or traditional 5-pin MIDI via converters and camera connection kits. The DJ-202 packs in 16 velocity sensitive performance pads, dedicated transport controls, and an intuitive layout ideal for portable use cases. The controller has a built in audio interface making it easy to send crystal clear stereo audio to PA systems right from the iPad. For flexibility, it can also run on 6 x AA batteries allowing mobile DJs to mix anywhere without power outlets. The high-res jog wheels lend themselves well to accurate scratching and intricate track manipulation that iPad DJing demands. If you want pro-grade controls for your iPad DJ setup, the Roland DJ-202 is an excellent choice.

iOS Compatible Third Party Controllers

An affordable yet capable DJ setup featuring the Hercules DJControl Inpulse 300 and iPad. The compact controller, powered through the iPad's lightning port, includes touch-sensitive jog wheels, responsive rubber pads, and optimized low-latency playback for learning DJ fundamentals on a budget.

Pioneer DDJ-SB3

The Pioneer DDJ-SB3 is one of the most popular all-in-one controllers for Serato DJ Pro. This versatile controller also works seamlessly with an iPad running Serato DJ Pro via a Lightning to USB cable. It is a 2-channel controller offering dual jog wheels with high resolution touch detection, Pad Scratch mode, and 8 performance pads per deck. DJs get precise control over looping, cues, effects and samples when using the DDJ-SB3 with an iPad. The layout mirrors the club-standard Nexus mixers making it easy to transition from recreational to professional use cases. For audio connectivity, there is a built in sound card to send stereo or mono audio from the iPad to speakers. The lightweight durable construction and road-ready design also makes the DDJ-SB3 an ideal iPad controller for mobile DJs.

Traktor Kontrol S2 MK3

The Traktor Kontrol S2 MK3 is the flagship 2 channel controller made specifically for Traktor Pro. It offers seamless integration and control when used with an iPad running Traktor mobile apps. Connectivity to iPad is handled well through the USB-C port. The S2 MK3 gives intuitive control over 2 decks simultaneously with high resolution jog wheels, precision knobs, and RGB backlit buttons. Each deck gets 8 RGB pads for triggering Hotcues, Loops and Samples on the fly. Supported mobile workflows include subscribed access to Traktor’s STEMS file format for advanced remixing capabilities. For output, there is a premium quality 24-bit interface for pristine audio. The Traktor Kontrol S2 MK3 brings full featured tactile control to iPad DJ setups whether playing bars, clubs, parties or bedroom practice sessions.

Reloop BeatPad 2

The Reloop BeatPad 2 is an expressive and portable DJ controller tailored for creative iPad performance. Weighing in at just 2.2 pounds, it’s lightweight and compact taking up little space in a gig bag or backpack. It works seamlessly with various DJ apps on iPad thanks to plug-and-play connectivity over Bluetooth. Each deck gets 8 velocity sensitive trigger pads for playing samples, cues, and loops with nuance and precision. Jog wheels provide vinyl-like control for scrubbing, nudging or manual beatmatching tracks if needed. During performances, the on-board accelerometer even allows iPad control through motion gestures. Battery operation lasts up to 5 hours on a single charge for untethered mixing freedom. If you want tactile iPad control focused on creative expression through pads and motion gestures, the ultra-portable Reloop BeatPad 2 delivers.

Hercules DJControl Inpulse 300

On a budget but still want tangible DJ controls tailored for iPad use? The Hercules DJControl Inpulse 300 delivers just that at an affordable price point. It is a compact controller with integrated audio interface designed for iPad DJing on the go. The Inpulse 300 is bus-powered through the iPad’s lightning port allowing mobile use without needing batteries or AC power. Key features include touch sensitive jog wheels, responsive rubber pads, and dedicated filter knobs per channel. It works out of the box with various iOS DJ apps like djay Pro, edjing Mix, Virtual DJ, and more. iPad specific features include optimized low latency playback even with complex time-stretching routines. If you want basic pro-grade controls to learn DJ fundamentals on iPad, the Hercules DJControl Inpulse 300 is a cost effective mobile solution.

Using Adapters and Dongles

A DJ preparing for a mobile set-up, connecting a Pioneer DDJ-400 controller to an iPad using Apple's Lightning to USB Camera Adapter. The compact dongle allows the controller's traditional USB connector to interface with the iPad's lightning port, enabling seamless iPad DJing without additional apps or mappings

Many existing DJ controllers support connecting to and controlling iPad DJ apps through the use of adapters and dongles. This opens up compatibility allowing you to use gear you may already own instead of having to purchase new equipment.

Lightning to USB Camera Adapter

One of the most common solutions is using Apple’s official Lightning to USB Camera Adapter. This tiny dongle features a female USB-A port allowing controllers with traditional USB connectors to interface with the iPad’s lightning port. Many modern DJ controllers use class compliant audio drivers meaning no special apps or mappings are required. They play nicely with various iOS DJ platforms when routing signals through the camera adapter dongle into the iPad. Some popular controllers like the Pioneer DDJ-400 and Numark Mixtrack Pro 3 leverage the lightning adapter to unlock iOS capability and mobile use cases.

USB-C to USB-A Adapter

For USB-C equipped iPads, a simple USB-C to USB-A adapter cable can enable support for existing controller gear as well. The iPad Pro and latest iterations of iPad Air and iPad Mini contain a USB-C port instead of lightning. This allows even more seamless connections to pro DJ controllers through USB-C. A basic USB-C to USB-A adapter cable can pass through power, MIDI, and audio between controller and iPad. Enabling tactile mobile DJ control for gear like the Denon MC4000, Roland DJ 202, or Akai AMX without any excess bulk or cost.

Tips for Choosing an iPad DJ Controller

A DJ carefully evaluating various iPad DJ controllers, surrounded by factors to consider. In the image, the DJ holds an iPad, contemplating workflow considerations, connectivity options, portability needs, driver support, and spatial planning with dimensions. This thoughtful process is crucial in choosing the right gear for an optimal iPad DJ setup

There are a few key factors to consider when selecting a DJ controller to use with an iPad set up. Thinking through these elements will help choose the right gear that caters to your use cases, connectivity requirements, and budget constraints.

Consider Workflow

It’s important to take into account which DJ platform you want to use and if the controller hardware properly supports it. For example, some gear works exclusively with Serato, while others integrate tightly with Traktor or Virtual DJ Pro. If planning to use a particular app, ensure compatibility and mappings before purchasing equipment. Also factor in workflow needs regarding STEMs, remix decks, standalone use, etc.

Evaluate Connectivity Options

Determine connectivity requirements between the iPad and controller gear. Key decision points include wired USB vs wireless Bluetooth support. Wired options like USB-A, Lightning, or USB-C offer maximum low latency response for DJ performance. However wireless Bluetooth adds flexibility for portability and stage presence. Also consider if you need a controller with integrated audio interface vs using a splitter cable for stereo output.

Assess Portability Needs

Factor in your intended use cases regarding portability and mobility. Will you be traveling often with the gear for mobile gigs requiring battery power? Do you need a compact form factor that’s road ready in a backpack or luggage? Or will it mostly reside in a fixed bedroom or studio setup? Answering these questions will help narrow options.

Check for Proper Driver Support on iOS

Confirm that the shortlisted controllers have proper molded support for iPad and iOS environments. Many modern controllers use class compliant drivers that seamlessly interface with the OS. But some, especially older gear may have compatibility issues or require app specific mappings. Checking for native iPad support through the vendor will prevent headaches down the road.

Review Dimensions To Fit iPad in Case

Lastly, think about sizing constraints – how will you situate your iPad alongside or above the controller? Look at dimensions and layouts to visualize spatial planning with various protective cases, stands or mounts. Ensure enough room to house both devices ergonomically during performance. A little planning here goes a long way for long term viability.

Conclusion

In conclusion, there are a variety of great DJ controller options for the iPad – from purpose-built mobile gear to adapters enabling traditional controllers. Key factors like workflow, connectivity, portability and dimensions help dictate the right fit. By evaluating these elements against budget and use-cases, iPad DJs can find the perfect controller hardware that unlocks more creative expression.

Dominic

Dominic is the chief editor of the Burton Acoustix blog which writes about acoustics and soundproofing to help readers with their queries and questions they might have with regard to improving any sound or noise issues that they faced in their life.