Best beginner DJ controllers 2024: Top picks for budding mix masters (2024)

By Si Truss

Contributions from

Matt Mullen, Harold Heath

last updated

Entry-level devices for rekordbox, Serato, Traktor and more - perfect for beginner DJs

Jump To:

  • Quick list
  • Best overall
  • Best budget
  • Easiest to use
  • Best for scratching
  • Best for Traktor
  • Best compact
  • Best for Serato
  • Best 4 channel
  • Best for parties
  • Buying advice
  • How we choose

Quick menu

Best beginner DJ controllers 2024: Top picks for budding mix masters (1)

1. The quick list
2. Best overall
3. Best budget
4. Easiest to use
5. Best for scratching
6. Best for Traktor
7. Best compact
8. Best for Serato
9. Best 4 channel
10. Best for parties
11. Buying advice
12. How we choose products

There are many potential set-ups for beginner DJs who are looking to start out in the game, but if you’ve got a computer, then a decent controller is one of the best options. But with so many on the market, which beginner DJ controller is the best?

If you want to explore DJing then of the many different gear options currently available, using a controller in combination with a laptop is the most accessible and affordable choice. Although most controllers come equipped with substantial functionality, they’re all still fairly easy to learn to mix with and way cheaper than buying dedicated digital or vinyl decks too.

And although in theory, you can get to grips with mixing and blending via apps on your phone or laptop, using the faders and knobs on a beginner-friendly DJ controller gives you a tactile DJing experience much closer to working on a pro setup in a club.

Controllers work in tandem with DJ software apps, and with some gear only working with certain software, your decision about which controller you choose may affect which software you use. The four main DJ apps are Rekordbox, Serato, Tractor and DJuced and they can all either be tested for free or purchased relatively cheaply.

For this guide, our experts have researched, tested and debated products on the market in 2024 to deduce what they believe to be the best beginner DJ controllers you can buy right now.

Quick list

Best overall

1. Pioneer DJ DDJ-FLX4

The 2-channel DDJ-FLX4 offers a simplified take on Pioneer's high-end options that delivers the essentials - jog wheels, performance pads and a simple mixer - without threatening to overwhelm beginner DJs with too steep a learning curve.

Read more below

Best budget

2. Numark Mixtrack Platinum FX

The Platinum FX is the top end Mixtrack controller, meaning it boasts pro features such as 4-deck mixing, sizeable jog wheels with hi-res displays and a mic input. The FX part of the name signifies the inclusion of a range of cool performance / remix tools such as Hot Cues, Auto Loop, Sampling and Fader Cuts.

Read more below

Easiest to use

3. Pioneer DJ DDJ-200

A smaller sibling to the DDJ-400, the DDJ-200 can be used with Algoriddim Djay, edjing Mix or Pioneer’s own rekordbox and WeDJ applications. The latter of these is an iOS/Android app with some great tutorial features aimed at getting newbies up to speed with the basics of DJing.

Read more below

Best scratch

4. Pioneer DJ DDJ-Rev 1

On the whole, scratch DJs and turntablists are fairly poorly served by entry-level DJ gear, which often features cheap crossfaders and small, unresponsive jogwheels. This affordable entry into Pioneer’s new DDJ Rev addresses that.

Read more below

Best Traktor

5. Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 Mk3

NI’s entry-level Traktor controller is one of the most stylish-looking devices you’ll find at this end of the market. It’s sturdily built too, and certainly feels more ‘pro’ than its price point suggests.

Read more below

Best compact

6. Numark DJ2GO2

In terms of balancing size and features, Numark’s updated DJ2GO is one of the most jam-packed DJ controllers on the market. Its slim form factor could, just about, legitimately be called pocket-sized, but the device still finds space for two jog wheels, a crossfader, built-in interface and four performance pads for each deck.

Read more below

Load the next 3 products... ↓

Best for Serato

7. Hercules DJ Control Inpulse 300 Mk2

Hercules’ Inpulse range is aimed squarely at beginner DJs. Not only are they affordable and easy-to-use, but they’re specifically set up to teach you how to mix. The controllers come supplied with Hercules’ own DJUCED software, which makes use of integrated video tutorials and a light guide on the controller itself to demonstrate what-does-what.

Read more below

Best 4 channel

8. Roland DJ-202

Roland is a relative newcomer to the DJ gear realm, but its range of controllers has a great USP – packing emulations of the brand’s iconic 808, 909 and 707 drum machines into the controller itself. The well-sized performance pads are still more than enough to allow users to jam-out drum patterns on the fly, mid-mix.

Read more below

Best for parties

9. Numark Party Mix II

Somewhat gimmicky and toy-ish, but pleasingly affordable and fun nonetheless. The Party Mix boasts a decent crop of features for its price, including two jog wheels, faders, EQ controls and performance pads for each deck. This version 2 update has recently added more pro-level features including significantly improved jog wheels and per-track filter controls.

Read more below

Best overall

Best beginner DJ controllers 2024: Top picks for budding mix masters (11)

1. Pioneer DJ DDJ-FLX4

The best controller for aspiring DJs or those looking for an affordable at-home setup

Specifications

Connectivity: desktop, mobile (via USB or Bluetooth)

Mixer Channels: 2

Deck control: 2

Audio interface: Yes

Inputs: Mic (1/4inch TS Jack)

Outputs: RCA master out, 3.5mm headphone out

Software: rekordbox (performance feature unlock included), Serato DJ Lite, Djay

Reasons to buy

+

Equipped with some pro-level controls

+

New features make it easier to DJ than ever

+

Bluetooth connectivity for DJing with mobile devices

Reasons to avoid

-

Lack of balanced outputs

-

Build quality may not hold up to heavy and frequent use

At a glance

Buy if you want the best of everything: From pro features and Bluetooth connectivity, to beginner-frindly tools, there's no better model for noobs on the market right now.
Avoid if you're taking it on the road: It's not the most robustly built controller in this guide.

Pioneer’s CDJs are essentially the industry standard - at least for club DJs - and their extensive range of mid and pro-grade DJ controllers rarely fail to hit the mark. The 2-channel DDJ-FLX4, replacing the popular DDJ-400, offers a simplified take on these high-end options that delivers the essentials - jog wheels, performance pads and a simple mixer - without threatening to overwhelm beginner DJs with too steep a learning curve.

The FLX4 is built to work with both the included Serato DJ Lite and rekordbox, Pioneer’s flagship piece of DJ software. This brings with it access to sophisticated performance features and lets you hook up the USB bus-powered controller via Bluetooth to a smartphone or tablet running rekordbox’s mobile app; meaning you can spin an entire set wirelessly and without a laptop in sight, streaming tracks directly from Beatport, Beatsource, Soundcloud or TIDAL.

The DDJ-FLX4 was designed with beginners in mind, from the easily accessible layout right down to the brand new Smart Mixing features that simplify the process of beatmatching, EQing and effects processing to make mixing a breeze. The Smart Fader automatically tweaks volume, EQ and BPM to help create smooth transitions between your tracks, while Smart CFX instantly applies a selection of multi-effects to help emphasize climactic moments in your sets.

All in all, Pioneer’s DDJ-FLX4 is one of the most versatile beginner DJ controllers on the market, offering more than enough in terms of hardware specs and software compatibility to help novices to develop their skills on the decks and perform confidently.

Best budget DJ controller

Best beginner DJ controllers 2024: Top picks for budding mix masters (12)

2. Numark Mixtrack Platinum FX

The best bang-for-your-buck beginner DJ controller

Specifications

Connectivity: desktop

Mixer Channels: 2

Deck control: 4

Audio interface: yes

Inputs: mic in

Outputs: RCA out, headphone out

Software: Serato DJ Lite

Reasons to buy

+

Packs in a lot of features for a good price

+

Great effects controls

+

Control for four decks

Reasons to avoid

-

Not the cheapest

At a glance

Buy if you want a great value controller: For a bang-for-you-buck, budget-friendly controller, look no further.
Avoid if you're on a super tight budget: This isn't actually the cheapest controller in this guide, but we feel it's the one that offers the most for the money.

Numark’s Mixtrack range is one of the more longstanding names in entry-level DJing and has always brought a great balance of features for a low price. Its latest addition, the Platinum FX, might be the best value yet when it comes to bang-for-your-buck.

The Platinum FX is the top end Mixtrack controller, meaning it boasts pro features such as 4-deck mixing, sizeable jog wheels with hi-res displays and a mic input. The FX part of the name signifies the inclusion of a range of cool performance/remix tools such as Hot Cues, Auto Loop, Sampling and Fader Cuts. There’s also a pair of neat paddle switches designed for quickly accessing Serato’s built-in effects. It all adds up to a lot of potential fun, making seemingly advanced DJ tricks easy to achieve.

While the top-end Platinum FX is probably the best value, if you can live without 4-deck mixing and the jog wheel displays, the Mixtrack Pro FX packs many of the same features for around $/£50 cheaper than the Platinum.

Best for total beginners

Best beginner DJ controllers 2024: Top picks for budding mix masters (13)

3. Pioneer DJ DDJ-200

A great, easy-to-use package for absolute beginners

Specifications

Connectivity: desktop, mobile (bluetooth or USB)

Mixer Channels: 2

Deck control: 2

Audio interface: no

Inputs: None

Outputs: None

Software: WeDJ (full unlock included), rekordbox (performance feature unlock included), Djay, edjing Mix

Reasons to buy

+

Well priced

+

WeDJ app can help you learn to mix

+

Also works with rekordbox

Reasons to avoid

-

No audio interface

At a glance

Buy if you want a helping hand with your mixing: The accompanying WeDJ app will guide you through your first mixes.
Avoid if you want an audio interface built-in: No interface will limit how you can use this controller, but that's why it's so cheap.

A smaller sibling to the DDJ-400, the DDJ-200 can be used with Algoriddim Djay, edjing Mix or Pioneer’s own rekordbox and WeDJ applications. The latter of these is an iOS/Android app with some great tutorial features aimed at getting newbies up to speed with the basics of DJing.

The ability to step up to the more pro-featured rekordbox software offers a nice route into advanced mixing too. That said, although DDJ-200 users can still unlock some of rekordbox’s advanced performance features, there’s less in the way of hardware control when it comes to things like looping, sampling or effects.

The DDJ-200 is Bluetooth-equipped to connect to mobile devices or laptops wirelessly, and its power demands are low enough for it to happily run off a portable USB charger. The WeDJ app allows users to mix with tracks from SoundCloud Go+ or Beatport LINK too – although separate subscriptions to these services are required.

The notable downside here is the lack of an audio interface, meaning you’ll need a separate device for a proper master out/headphones DJ set-up – which is reflected in the low price. There is a split audio cable included in the box though, which allows for a rudimentary workaround in order to monitor tracks.

Best for scratching

Best beginner DJ controllers 2024: Top picks for budding mix masters (14)

4. Pioneer DJ DDJ-Rev 1

The best beginner controller for budding scratch DJs and turntablists

Specifications

Connectivity: desktop

Mixer Channels: 2

Deck control: 4

Audio interface: yes

Inputs: mic

Outputs: RCA master out, headphone out

Software: Serato DJ Lite, Serato DJ Pro (licence not included)

Reasons to buy

+

Better jog wheels than most rivals at this price

+

Battle-style layout

+

Lightweight and portable

Reasons to avoid

-

Serato DJ Pro licence will cost you extra

At a glance

Buy if you want killer jog wheels: The larger jog wheels in evidence here make this an ideal entry-level controller for budding scratchers.
Avoid if you want Serato Pro: This one only comes with Serato Lite; you'll need to pay to upgrade to Pro.

On the whole, scratch DJs and turntablists are fairly poorly served by entry-level DJ gear, which often features cheap crossfaders and small, unresponsive jogwheels. This affordable entry into Pioneer’s new DDJ Rev range aims to address that.

The REV-1 works with the free Serato DJ Lite. Its mixer section is based on the design of Pioneer’s higher-end DJM-S, flanked by jog wheels based around the brand’s PLX turntables. The Rev 1 is positioned in a ‘battle’ layout – meaning the tempo sliders are positioned above, rather than alongside the jogwheels, which is a set-up generally favoured for scratching and rarely seen on beginner gear.

The Rev 1 also features jogs that are noticeably larger than most other entry-level controllers, which is another factor that should aid those trying to develop their scratch skills. Other key features include an array of performance pads – these can be used for sampling and cue point tricks – and a mic input to suit budding streamers.

Best for Traktor

5. Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 Mk3

Plenty to keep beginners and improving DJs happy

Specifications

Connectivity: desktop, mobile

Mixer Channels: 2

Deck control: 2

Audio interface: yes

Inputs: mic in

Outputs: RCA main out, headphone out

Software: Traktor DJ 2, Traktor Pro 3 (full license included)

Reasons to buy

+

Stylish and well-built

+

Includes a full Traktor Pro license

+

Can work on mobile or desktop

Reasons to avoid

-

Two-deck only

At a glance

Buy if you want to get stuck into Traktor Pro: The Traktor Kontrol S2 Mk3 comes bundled with a full Traktor Pro license.
Avoid if you want to control more than 2 decks: If two decks is your bag then fine, but there's no futureproofing here if you want to expand at a later date.

Now in its third generation, NI’s entry-level Traktor controller is one of the most stylish-looking devices you’ll find at this end of the market. It’s sturdily built too, and certainly feels more ‘pro’ than its price point suggests.

The S2 is a controller specifically intended for Native Instruments’ own Traktor ecosystem. It’s designed to work with both the cross-platform, beginner-friendly Traktor DJ app, and the more fully-featured Traktor Pro 3 – and the fact that it ships with a full license for the latter of these is a major selling point.

While the S2 lacks the more complex effect and sampling controls of bigger Traktor controllers, there’s still plenty here for beginners and experienced DJs alike to get their teeth into. It’s far from the cheapest beginner controller out there, but the S2 is likely to satisfy improving DJs even as their needs and ambitions grow.

Read the full Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 Mk3 review

Best compact model

Best beginner DJ controllers 2024: Top picks for budding mix masters (16)

6. Numark DJ2GO2

The best balance of size and features

Specifications

Connectivity: desktop

Mixer Channels: 2

Deck control: 2

Audio interface: yes

Inputs: none

Outputs: 1/8-inch main out, 1/8-inch headphone out

Software: Serato DJ Lite (mapping for Traktor and other software also available to download)

Reasons to buy

+

Compact but well-equipped

+

Crams in jog wheels, pads and more

Reasons to avoid

-

No channel faders

-

Fiddly to use

At a glance

Buy if you want a controller to throw and go: The dimensions of the DJ2GO2 make it the ideal option to DJ anywhere. Chuck in a bag, leave the house and the world becomes your DJ booth.
Avoid if you want a full-size controller: The compact size is great for some, but could prove fiddly if it's your main device.

In terms of balancing size and features, Numark’s updated DJ2GO is one of the most jam-packed DJ controllers on the market. Its slim form factor could, just about, legitimately be called pocket-sized, but the device still finds space for two jog wheels, a crossfader, built-in interface and four performance pads for each deck.

Numark claims the DJ2GO2’s touch-capacitive jog wheels are capable of handling scratching duties, which is technically true, although their compact size means they’re too fiddly for moves with any real finesse. Still, there’s plenty of fun to be had here.

The controller is designed for use right-out-the-box with the free Serato DJ Lite, but it’s mapped and ready for use with the full paid version – as well as other software – if and when you’re ready to upgrade.

Best for Serato

Best beginner DJ controllers 2024: Top picks for budding mix masters (17)

7. Hercules DJ Control Inpulse 300 Mk2

An easy-to-use beginner package that can act as a bridge into Serato

Specifications

Connectivity: desktop

Mixer Channels: 2

Deck control: 2

Audio interface: Yes

Inputs: none

Outputs: RCA master out, headphone out

Software: DJUCED, Serato DJ

Reasons to buy

+

Light guide and video tutorials

+

Beat align and track assistant help newbie DJs

+

Can be used with Serato

Reasons to avoid

-

Looks a little toy-like

At a glance

Buy if you want to get stuck into Serato: This controller is an excellent jumping off point for working with Serato.
Avoid if looks are important to you: It's not the best-looking controller available today, so shop elsewhere if you need style as well as substance.

Hercules’ Inpulse range is aimed squarely at beginner DJs. Not only are they affordable and easy-to-use, but they’re specifically set up to teach you how to mix.

The controllers come supplied with Hercules’ own DJUCED software, which makes use of integrated video tutorials and a light guide on the controller itself to demonstrate what-does-what. These tools are coupled with visual ‘beat align’ guides to help visualise the sync of your two decks, along with an ‘Intelligent Music Assistant’ tool, which will automatically suggest the next track to keep your mix going.

The 300 is the highlight of the range, largely because – as of a recent update – it offers integration with Serato DJ. As a result, there’s an obvious route of progression for beginner DJs, who might want to transition to Serato’s pro-level software as they get to grips with the basics of mixing.

The hardware itself still looks a little toy-like, and the short faders don’t allow for much in the way of nuanced mixing, but there’s a decent amount of functionality here for the money.

Best 4 channel

Best beginner DJ controllers 2024: Top picks for budding mix masters (18)

8. Roland DJ-202

A great option for budding beatmakers

Specifications

Connectivity: desktop

Mixer Channels: 2

Deck control: 4

Audio interface: yes

Inputs: mic in

Outputs: master RCA, headphone, MIDI out

Software: Serato DJ Lite

Reasons to buy

+

Includes great drum machine emulations

+

Mic input with vocal effects

+

Comprehensive Serato control

Reasons to avoid

-

The drum and vocal effects make it more expensive than other controllers

At a glance

Buy if you want the option to control 4 decks: Many of the controllers in this guide only have the option for 2 deck control. This gives you double the flexibility.
Avoid if you want a no-frills controller: Added extras such as vocal effects and drum machine also add to the cost.

Roland is a relative newcomer to the DJ gear realm, but its range of controllers has a great USP – packing emulations of the brand’s iconic 808, 909 and 707 drum machines into the controller itself.

There are fewer controls here than on the higher-end DJ-505 and DJ-808 controllers, meaning that sequencing those drum sounds is a little more fiddly. That said, the well-sized performance pads are still more than enough to allow users to jam-out drum patterns on the fly, mid-mix.

The DJ-202 also includes a mic input and several onboard vocal effects, including a gate, filters, reverb and echo.

Software-wise, the DJ-202 is designed for use with Serato Lite (included), but if you own or purchase a Serato Pro license, the 202 is fully mapped to make use of the software’s more pro-level features. You’re paying for those quality drum sounds and vocal effects here, so if those appeal then this is a decent value package, otherwise you may get more for your money elsewhere.

Best for parties

Best beginner DJ controllers 2024: Top picks for budding mix masters (19)

9. Numark Party Mix II

A cheap and cheerful beginner controller for house parties

Specifications

Connectivity: desktop

Mixer Channels: 2

Deck control: 2

Audio interface: yes

Inputs: none

Outputs: RCA master out, headphone out

Software: Serato DJ Lite

Reasons to buy

+

Cheap and easy to use

+

LEDs are a fun gimmick

Reasons to avoid

-

Light show lacks variety

-

Plastic, toy-like feel

At a glance

Buy if you regularly throw, or go-to, house parties: It's easy enough for anyone to use and has a built-in light show!
Avoid if you want a serious controller: While this does the job it's intended for, this isn't one for a pro DJ booth.

Somewhat gimmicky and toy-ish, but pleasingly affordable and fun nonetheless, the USP of Numark’s Party Mix lies in the trio of LEDs along its front edge. These provide what Numark calls a ‘built-in light show’. This is perhaps overselling it a bit – really it’s three coloured lights flashing in sync with the tempo of your tracks; a neat little effect but with little variation and not enough presence to make a difference in any setting larger than a small house party.

Cynicism aside though, the Party Mix boasts a decent crop of features for its price, including two jog wheels, faders, EQ controls and performance pads for each deck. This version 2 update has recently improved things further too, adding more pro-level features including significantly improved jog wheels and per-track filter controls.

As well as the standard Party Mix model, Numark also offers a Party Mix Live device that adds built-in speakers to the mix. You can turn the lights off when desired too.

Buying advice

Best beginner DJ controllers 2024: Top picks for budding mix masters (20)

All the jargon and differing specifications of the many different beginner DJ controllers can be a little overwhelming for the uninitiated, so here’s a guide to a few basic terms to look out for.

What are jog wheels?

These are the circular platters seen on CDJs as well as many DJ controllers and on all the products we’ve covered in this guide. Jog wheels replicate the look and function of traditional vinyl turntables, allowing DJs to scroll through tracks, scratch, and ‘nudge’ the timing of a track back or forwards slightly.

If you plan on traditional beat-matching - ie. syncing up the timing of two records by ear - or hip-hop style turntablism and record scratching, then jog wheels are a must. And while most DJ software now comes with automatic beat-matching capabilities meaning that you might not actually need to use the jog wheels, most DJs still use them in some way, even if it’s just to perform a re-load.

What are faders/crossfaders?

All DJ setups have two main sections, the players - vinyl decks, digital decks, the jog wheel section of a controller - and the mixer, where the DJ blends the songs together. Faders are the controls on the mixer that you use to ‘fade’ between different songs. They’re usually vertical channel controls which you move up to increase the volume, and down to decrease the volume of an individual track.

A crossfader is a horizontal fader that blends two songs together: as you move the crossfader from one side to the other, the volume of one song gradually fades out as the other gradually fades in. Most DJ controllers have faders in some form, although smaller devices may opt for a simple volume knob instead.

Can you tell me more about the audio interface?

An audio interface is the part of your setup that controls how sound comes in and out of your computer. Most computers come with some kind of internal audio interface while many people choose to use external devices, depending on their requirements. Some DJ controllers double up as an audio interface - like an external sound card - and will have an audio output that can be connected to speakers or a PA system. This is likely to provide a better quality audio signal than using your laptop’s onboard audio, especially if you’re playing at a party, event or in a club/bar.

In most cases, audio interfaces will also include a headphone output which enables the DJ to monitor tracks, which means they can preview a song without it being heard through the main output. This is an essential part of a DJ set up so unless you’re already using a separate audio interface, you’ll need a controller with these capabilities.

Controllers with inbuilt interfaces may offer additional inputs and outputs too, such as a secondary ‘booth’ output (for a separate speaker for the DJ booth), or an input for a vocal microphone or external sound source, allowing you to also play a turntable, MP3 player or synth/drum machine through your controller.

What about DJ controller software?

To DJ using a controller you need a laptop, a controller and DJ software. The controller, as the name suggests, controls the software which allows you to mix your music together. None of these controllers can be used standalone, they all need to run in tandem with a piece of software and laptop.

Most controllers come bundled with a DJing software license or free download. Some controllers are designed to work with multiple applications, while others are limited to use with just one specific piece of software, so your choice of controller is also going to be a choice of DJ software too.

For help deciding which is right for you, check out our handy guide to the best DJ software applications.

What are common features in DJ controllers?

Along with volume faders, most DJ controllers will include EQ controls and often filters, too.

EQ is usually the next tool DJs learn after basic volume blending. The EQ controls allow the

DJ to cut or boost separate parts of the frequency spectrum - the bass, mids and highs - and is a super-useful mixing tool for DJs. Filters can perform a similar but more extreme role and there are lots of DJ tricks and techniques involving EQ and filters - see our feature.

Most modern controllers also include some form of ‘performance pads’ for each deck. These can fulfil a variety of roles, from jumping to different ‘cue points’ within a track to triggering loops, samples and effects. While pads aren’t essential for mixing tracks by any means, they’re a fun and creative tool to have in your DJing arsenal.

How we choose products for this guide

Here at MusicRadar, we are experts in our field, with many years of playing, creating and product testing between us. We live and breathe everything music gear related, and we draw on this knowledge and experience of using products in live, recording and rehearsal scenarios when selecting the products for our guides.

When choosing what we believe to be the best beginner DJ controllers available right now, we combine our hands-on experience, user reviews and testimonies and engage in lengthy discussions with our editorial colleagues to reach a consensus about the top products in any given category.

First and foremost, we are musicians, and we want other players to find the right product for them. So we take into careful consideration everything from budget to feature set, ease of use and durability to come up with a list of what we can safely say are the best beginner DJ controllers on the market right now.

Find out more about how we test music gear and services at MusicRadar.

MusicRadar's got your back Our team of expert musicians and producers spends hours testing products to help you choose the best music-making gear for you. Find out more about how we test.

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Best beginner DJ controllers 2024: Top picks for budding mix masters (21)

Si Truss

I'm Editor-in-Chief of Music Technology, working with Future Music, Computer Music, Electronic Musician and MusicRadar. I've been messing around with music tech in various forms for over two decades. I've also spent the last 10 years forgetting how to play guitar. Find me in the chillout room at raves complaining that it's past my bedtime.

With contributions from

  • Matt MullenTech Editor
  • Harold Heath

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