También disponible en/also available in: Español

Last updated on Dec 1, 2017 @ 4:28 pm

If you are a starting DJ, spending a lot of money on your first DJ controller and then realizing it’s nothing for you is probably not the best idea. It is best to start small, figure out if you like it, and then move on the bigger and better.

For that reason, we have put together an overview of what DJ controllers beginners should be looking at. We will focus on DJ controllers that cost up to USD 300, for this amount feels like an appropriate budget barrier for starting DJs, or for parents that don’t want to overspend on a Christmas gift that might end up being used only a few times.

Lastly, if you do have a lot of money to spend on your first controller, by all means, do it, the gear manufacturers will thank you.

Top Pick!

Top picks in this roundup

Also recommended

Top Pick!

Pioneer DJ DDJ-RB Rekordbox DJ Controller

Pioneer DJ DDJ-RB
Pioneer DJ DDJ-RB

 

The DDJ-RB comes with a full license for Rekordbox DJ. And since Rekordbox DJ is part of the free Rekordbox music management software, any tracks that are analyzed there are ready to be used with high-end professional gear such as the Pioneer DJ CDJ-2000nxs2.

So, for starting DJs that want an upgrade path to more professional gear, the DDJ-RB is a very good choice.

The DDJ-RB has a cleaner layout compared to the SB2 (discussed below), more in line with Pioneer DJ’s professional line of gear. The eight pads per deck are all reserved for performance features, the play-pause/cue buttons are similar to those on high-end Pioneer DJ gear. On the SB2, the bottom row of the pads is reserved for transport control.

Both have very small pitch faders, and that won’t help to learn how to beat match properly, but that shouldn’t be a major drawback for beginners.

PROS CONS
  • Great value for the price: Rekordbox DJ license included
  • Supports most Rekordbox DJ function
  • Layout & design mimics CDJ/DJM setup
  • Small pitch fader
  • No AUX input
  • No deck switch button like on the SB2

 

Top Pick!

Numark Mixtrack Pro 3 Serato DJ Controller

Numark Mixtrack Pro 3
Numark Mixtrack Pro 3

 

The Numark Mixtrack Pro 3 is very similar to the Mixtrack 3, with two big differences: first of all, it has a built-in audio interface so you can route sound straight to your headphones for cueing and to your speakers from the controller, and secondly, it supports Serato DJ. The controller comes with Serato DJ Intro in the box, upgrading to Serato DJ will cost you USD 99.

This controller, priced at USD 249, is probably the best option to start Djing with Serato DJ for under 250 USD.

I put it over the Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB2 because of its touch strip, the high-resolution pitch fader, and the overall more spacious layout.

PROS CONS
  • Excellent value for money
  • Serato DJ support is excellent
  • Integrated audio interface
  • No AUX input (normal at this price)

 

Top Pick!

Numark Mixtrack Platinum Serato DJ Controller

Numark Mixtrack Platinum
Numark Mixtrack Platinum

 

The Numark Mixtrack Platinum is very similar in layout and functionalities to the Mixtrack Pro 3, with one big difference: it features a central led screen on every jog wheel that shows essential track information.

This is the first sub 300 controller to feature this to my knowledge, and it’s fantastic use of space. Having the BPM readout right in front of you helps enormously when mixing, especially because finding the BPM readout on your laptop screen can be a challenging task.

The controller is shipped with Serato DJ Intro but works with Serato DJ if you have the license.

So while the Mixtrack Pro 3 is our pick under 250 USD, the Platinum is our overall pick in this feature. It’s pro features (touch strip, high-resolution pitch fader, onboard screen, audio interface) give a (serious) starting Dj all the goodies needed to be off to a good start.

PROS CONS
  • Excellent value for money
  • Full Serato DJ support
  • Integrated LCD screens
  • High resolution pitch fader
  • No AUX input
  • Pad functions are a bit confusing
 

Numark Party Mix Virtual DJ LE Controller

Numark Party Mix
Numark Party Mix

 

The Numark Party Mix is extremely affordable, setting you back no more than USD 99. It contains all the basic features that you need in order to mix two songs together, and even some fancy additions such as back-lit buttons to trigger samples, cue points, and loops. Additionally, this unit has built in lights that pulse, in selectable patterns, to the beat of the playing track.

The Party Mix even has an audio interface, which is remarkable at this price point, so it doesn’t depend on your PC to generate the audio output. The controller comes with Virtual DJ Le which is an established DJ software package that will help starting DJs get familiar with the basics of Digital Djing.

PROS CONS
  • Excellent value for money (comes with an audio interface)
  • Enough controls for basic mixing
  • Usable performance pads
  • Jog wheels are usable as well
  • Lights are nice but feel gimmicky

Hercules DJControl Instinct P8

Hercules DJcontrol Instinct P8
Hercules DJcontrol Instinct P8

 

The Hercules DJcontrol Instinct P8 is a nice little piece of equipment perfect for starting DJs. It does look a bit like a toy, but make no mistake, it does its job well. There are 4 performance pads per channel that allow you to cue loops, trigger samples, loops, and FX. The controller is delivered with Hercules’ owns Djuced 40 software, which is easy to set up and use.

The jog wheels are not very effective and are of lesser quality than those on the Numark Party Mix. They look cool and consumers will expect them on entry-level controllers, but they are pretty much useless for any serious nudging and/or scratching. On the other hand, the build, even though it’s fully made out of plastic, feels sturdy enough.

If you are a parent looking for a great DJ Christmas gift for your kid, this is a very good option!

PROS CONS
  • Excellent value for money
  • Enough controls for basic mixing
  • Nice performance pads
  • Jog wheels are not very usable

Numark Mixtrack 3 Virtual DJ Controller

Numark Mixtrack 3
Numark Mixtrack 3

 

The Numark Mixtrack 3 is the little brother of the Mixtrack Pro 3 controller. It has a very clean layout, and feature wise it has many things you would rather expect on more high-end controllers.

It features nice looking brushed aluminum jog wheels, a 3 band EQ, a filter knob, 8 pads per channel for triggering loops, cues, and samples, a touch strip (!), a high-resolution pitch fader, which is so important for scratching, the possibility to activate 3 effects per deck…

But there is one very important omission here: this controller doesn’t have a built-in audio interface, which means you need to output your laptop/PC sound to your speakers and use a split cable to cue your tracks in your headphones. That is acceptable considering the price (USD 149), but unless you really, REALLY don’t have more than that to spend, I recommend to go for a controller with a built-in audio interface.

Nevertheless, this is a very good offering at the price for those that don’t mind the lack of audio interface.

PROS CONS
  • High-resolution pitch fader
  • Touch strip is nice at this price
  • Excellent jog wheels
  • Lack of audio interface

 

Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB2 Serato DJ Controller

Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB2
Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB2

 

The Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB2 is the successor of the DDJ-SB, and while both are very similar, the SB2 features a VU meter and some additional performance features.

The DDJ-SB2 is delivered with Serato DJ intro, and while that is a good starting software package, it has not all the bells & whistles of the professional version Serato DJ. If you want to upgrade to Serato DJ, you will have to pay USD 99 for the full license.

The SB2 can trigger 3 effects at the same time, it also has a deck switch button making it compatible with 4 deck software.

While also very similar compared to the RB discussed below, it does have a few things the RB has not: the Pad Trans effect, 3 effect knobs per deck and a deck switch button per deck.

PROS CONS
  • Pioneer DJ build quality at a sharp price
  • Nice set of features that support upgrade to Serato DJ
  • Excellent jog wheels
  • Small pitch fader makes beatmatching a bit of a challenge
 

Hercules DJControl Jogvision Serato DJ Controller

Hercules DJcontrol Jogvision
Hercules DJcontrol Jogvision

 

The Hercules DJControl Jogvision stands out for one important thing: The enormous, CDJ like jog wheels. This controller will sure make an impression and probably up the Dj’s “street cred”, but the jog wheels have also some functional aspects: a LED ring indicates the progress of the track and another led indicates needle position. All very handy when playing and it helps to keep your eyes away from your laptop screen.

The layout of this controller is quite special, and some DJs might be put off by a few choices made. The whole looping and FX area above each jog is a bit complicated but when you get the hang of it, it works fine.

Lastly, this controller features what Hercules calls Air FX, which allows you to control the amount of filter applied with hand movements. Pretty cool when playing out and for sure something that can be used as a performance element in a set.

PROS CONS
  • Fantastic jog wheels
  • Air FX is cool to use
  • Excellent sound quality and input/output options
  • Confusing ergonomics, particularly in the effects/loop section
 

 

Pioneer DJ DDJ-WeGO4 WeDJ Controller

Pioneer DJ DDJ-WeGO4
Pioneer DJ DDJ-WeGO4

 

The Pioneer DJ DDJ-Wego4 has an unconventional look, with all its transport controls such as cue, play, FX and looping wrapped around both led illuminated jog wheels. The controller works with a wide range of software and devices, as it has a slot to fit an IOS or Android device. It supports Algoriddim djay software for IOS or Android, or you can use Pioneer DJ’s new WeDJ IOS application.  Apart from that it also supports Rekordbox DJ on Mac or PC, and it comes with e free license key in the box.

You will have to deal with the small pitch fader (a common flaw on Pioneer DJ entry level gear), but considering the target audience that should not be a big issue.

PROS CONS
  • Very good build quality
  • Clean and simple design
  • Lot’s of flexibility (support for IOS and Android devices, Rekordbox DJ, djay Pro…)
  • Ergonomically a very different approach from other (DDJ) controllers, upgrading could bring a steep learning curve
 

 

*Price ranges: In order to avoid showing incorrect price ranges for the gear discussed, we work with price ranges. Click on the “check current price” link to find out the current price on Amazon.com at any time.

Between 0 and 300 USD $
Between 100 and 200 USD $$
Between 200 and 300 USD $$$
Between 300 and 400 USD $$$$
Above 400 USD $$$$$

WIN A NUMARK DJ2GO2!

Win a Numark DJ2GO2

Join our mailinglist and enter our our Prize Draw to win a Numark DJ2GO2!

Full prize draw rules and details here.