In the DJing world, there are few manufacturers that are as well known as Pioneer and Numark. In fact, many people would consider them among the best gear brands on the market, with an established track record for making reliable, well-made controllers with very innovative features released constantly. However, a big debate in the DJing community has always been which one of them is better. In fact, there have been many forum threads talking about the topic, comparing specific products of each brand to see which one is best. Because of this, I decided to do some research to provide the ultimate answer to this inquiry.
And the answer is that the best brand between these 2 will depend mainly on one factor: the purchasing power of the individual using/purchasing the controller. In other words, Pioneer is the best choice for people willing to spend a little bit more money, and Numark is best suited for people looking for the best bang for your buck controller. Both are great choices for all kinds of DJs though, both newbie and experienced.
As I said above, there have been many folks that have made detailed comparisons between specific controllers, and I have had the privilege of thoroughly using both brands' products over the years, so I have learned a lot about the pros & cons of each brand. If you want to learn more about them and other characteristics of each particular company, check below!
So let’s first talk about Pioneer and the pros & cons of their products. As you probably know already, there is no perfect brand or gear, so as good as most of their products might be, their cons might be bad enough to turn some people off their stuff. Anyways, here are the pros & cons of Pioneer controllers.
This is one of the main reasons why people buy Pioneer gear in the first place. They have cemented their reputation by making rock-solid controllers that tend to be the first choice among many major DJs all over the world. It’s often said that Pioneer products produce the best sound, and I think that I’m going to agree on that. Compared to gear like entry-level Hercules controllers, the average Pioneer controller sounds godly. There are even some rumors that the software used on CDJs tends to handle lossy formats much better than other brands.
Another reason why they are the gold standard is because of the reliability and dependability of their product. It tends to be a little bit better than other brands. I have asked many DJs about why they prefer Pioneer controllers and many of them have commented that their gear has never failed or gave them any problems, especially their more advanced stuff like CDJs. While their entry-level stuff isn’t as good reliability-wise as CDJs for obvious reasons, it’s still held to high regard, especially when the pricing is considered.
Since Pioneer is more of a household name, their products are a bit more reliable and they have more of a rep than Numark, their controllers tend to hold their value better. In fact, many people accept the fact that Pioneer gear is kind of overpriced because they know that their new controller isn’t going to lose much value anyways. Many DJs also buy new Pioneer gear just to sell it 6 months later at pretty much the same price.
This is something that applies to even Pioneer’s entry-level stuff, which is the reason that I actually recommend it to people just getting into DJing. The gear is easy to use, and if they eventually stop trying to learn how to DJ, they can always sell the controller without losing too much money. As long as the owner takes good care of the equipment, they can expect to resell it for over 80% of the original purchase price, which is excellent, especially when compared to other brands out there. If you want to check out the history of Pioneer you can check out the article on Wikipedia.
Yup, everybody knows that most Pioneer controllers should be 100 to 200 bucks cheaper than what they sell them for. Lots of people have started hating on them because of this, many even calling Pioneer the Apple of DJ gear: flashy marketing with little substance, all attached to a hefty price tag. Anyways, if you are on a very tight budget and are looking for something accessible, Pioneer gear might not be for you. Just something to keep in mind.
This is especially common with the Pioneer CDJ line. Many fellow DJs have talked about this in forums, and in real life, specifically commenting on the fact that many brands make better-made gear that provides more technology than CDJs of equivalent price. Nonetheless, they have been very popular with the EDM crowd that often values image over performance in their equipment.
Now that we have talked about the good and bad about Pioneer gear, it’s time to do so for Numark. The following statements will apply for most of their gear lineup, but there are some exceptions though.
While Numark controllers have always been popular for all kinds of DJs, the truth is that Pioneer gear has always been more widespread than them. Numark executives knew this and they decided to focus their products towards the crowd that Pioneer wasn’t targeting: people on a limited budget. Because of this, Numark has kind of become the to-go choice for the money-conscious DJ that still wants a quality controller or one that doesn’t want to go buy used Pioneer stuff.
This is especially apparent in the Numark Mixtrack 3, perhaps one of the best bang for your buck controllers on the market. This is one of my tops picks for aspiring DJs and many other DJs think the same too. If you are looking for a proper controller on a budget that won’t let you down, I strongly recommend that you check this controller out.
Many other folks have also commented that Numark controllers are also cheaper to repair. Pioneer not only makes their controllers overpriced, but they also sell parts for their controllers, and they are overpriced too. When compared to Pioneer, repairing a Numark controller can be hundreds of dollars more affordable, so while their customer service isn’t that good, at least repairing the controller won’t make a hole in your wallet.
This is something that many people won’t care about or will be willing to compromise on, but I personally prefer a certain aesthetic on my DJ gear. I typically eschew the modern but complicated look of most modern gear, instead preferring something that is more colorful and juvenile, a look that Numark has embraced over the years. The average Numark controller will be much flashier than a Pioneer controller, and that is something that I love.
Not only that, but their controllers also have some very cool features that really improve the DJ experience, at least in my opinion. For example, the Party Mix features a built-in light show, which is perfect for house parties and smaller events with limited attendance. If you want to check out the history or Numark you can check out the link to the article on Wikipedia.
While Numark gear has a lot of pros, one of the cons is the fact that they are not as well built/ reliable as Pioneer. In fact, if you are looking for the controller that will last you the longest, I would recommend that you skip Numark and go right ahead and purchase a decent Pioneer controller. Not saying that Numark is a piece of garbage, but they are outclassed in this department by Pioneer.
Another big problem about Numark is the fact that while their gear is cheaper, it also loses more value over time than Pioneer stuff, so while you are saving up some cash immediately, it might be wise to go for Pioneer gear if you are thinking of reselling the controller to get something better in a few years. This is especially true with Numark’s mid and upper-level controllers and mixers.
Something that I don’t like about Numark is the fact that they have inferior customer support, at least when compared to Pioneer. Numark is much smaller than Pioneer, and that means that there is less of a budget for customer service. Because of this, people looking for troubleshooting or getting their gear repaired tend to have a pretty hard time which Is a bummer. Numark has improved the situation over the years, but it’s still a pretty significant con of them.
Expect to be waiting a lot of time on the phone for even minuscule issues, so if you have a Numark authorized service center, it's often better to just take your complaints there. They will probably resolve your issues much more quickly than over the phone.
Why is DJ equipment so expensive?
One of the most common complaints new DJs have is that the equipment is not affordable at all. The equipment is expensive because of several reasons. One of them is the fact that Pioneer controls a significant part of the DJ gear market. They have been accused of overpricing their gear as I said above, and many other DJ equipment manufacturers have followed suit by doing the same thing. If you are interested in learning more about more reasons why DJ equipment is so costly, I have made an article which you should check out!
I’m not interested in either Numark or Pioneer controllers. Which are the best alternatives?
Just like many, there are many folks who love Pioneer and Numark gear, there’s also a sizable crowd that hates those brands, especially the former because of the already mentioned overpricing issues. If you won’t buy controllers from either of these 2, I would recommend that you look into Native Instruments, Roland, Akai, or Hercules controllers and mixers. All of these are worthy alternatives with established track records, especially Roland and Native Instruments.