Hardware FX – What Does This Mean? (DJ Controllers)

You might have just come across the term “a DJ controller featuring hardware FX”. So, what does this actually mean? The phrase “hardware FX” can actually be used to describe something other than simple external FX processors. You can find DJ controllers with access to on-board hardware FX processors and DJ controllers that can only utilize audio FX your chosen DJ software gives you access to. Without a lengthy introduction, let’s get straight to the explanation!

  1. What is a DJ controller with hardware FX?
  2. Are there any standalone hardware FX processors for DJs?
  3. Which DJ controllers feature in-built FX processors?
  4. The conclusion

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What is a DJ controller with hardware FX?

The main explanation is pretty simple: a DJ controller with hardware effects onboard is a DJ controller that features an in-built FX processor that is able to apply the audio FX directly on the controller, without using your DJ software’s audio FX.

DJ controllers that feature in-built FX processors (so DJ controllers supporting “hardware FX”) in many cases also have mixers that can function in “standalone mode”. This simply means that using such a controller you will be able to utilize both the mixer and its FX section with external audio devices, when your DJ controller is not plugged into a laptop (with the deck sections deactivated).

A good example of such a DJ controller is the new Pioneer DDJ-Rev7.

You can learn more about this device here: New Pioneer DDJ-Rev7 – DJ Controller Detailed Review

Most entry-level DJ controllers do not have any kind of hardware FX built in. Instead, they simply give you a set of physical controls (buttons and knobs) that you can use to control audio FX processed in the DJ software you’re using.

Remember: The phrase “hardware FX” alone might also refer to external FX processors, independent on your main DJ controller or DJ mixer (such as the Pioneer RMX FX stations).

Are there any standalone hardware FX processors for DJs?

Yes, there are external hardware FX made for DJs out there, and the most popular ones are the pretty dated Pioneer RMX-500 and the Pioneer RMX-1000. Both of these are hardware FX stations that can be connected to your DJ mixer to further extend your FX set.

RMX-500 & RMX-1000 VST Plugins

The Pioneer RMX-500 and RMX-1000 also come in the official VST plugin form, although to make use of these you have to actually own the appropriate RMX devices first. The plugins will activate only when they detect that the RMX hardware is actually connected to your computer. You can read more about the Pioneer RMX VST plugins here.

Which DJ controllers feature in-built FX processors?

Here are some examples of popular DJ controllers that make use of in-built hardware FX:

To sum it all up

We hope we answered your question! DJ controllers that give you access to in-built FX processors are often either fully standalone devices or devices with mixers that can function in standalone mode that we mentioned earlier.

In terms of sheer quality of the audio FX, most of the time there is no real noticeable difference between the hardware or software effects when it comes to DJ equipment. Both hardware and software FX are processed digitally and use similar processing methods, and so in most cases (and most real-life situations) you won’t be able tell the difference between them.

The only thing that’s important here, is that some DJ controllers with hardware FX on board might feature some creative effects that would be otherwise inaccessible from the DJ software you’re currently using. In that case, if you desire to use such an effect, a DJ controller with hardware FX might be the only way for you to do that.

If you want to know more about DJ controllers overall, check out this article: DJ Controllers Explained! (What Do All These Buttons Do?)

If you’re searching for a best DJ controller for you, take a look at this one: 8 Best Top-Notch DJ Controllers You Can Get This Year!

Rock on!

Main article photo: Gaby Tenda

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