Best DJ Controller For Beginners (Reviewed In Detail)
Despite growing up a rock and metalhead, I have started appreciating DJs more and more. The combination of DJ plus rock, and the classic nu-metal genre made me realize the potential behind DJing and respect it as a musician.
If you are out there looking for the best DJ controller for beginners, you must have realized that these controllers are expensive!
This is because, the DJ controllers are complicated pieces of technology, and, naturally, the higher-priced ones offer performance equivalent to their price. So, what do you do in case you want to start DJing? Start saving up? I do not think you need to go to that extreme. In this list, I will provide you with the 10 best DJ controllers for beginners. Without further adieu, let us start the list.
Table of Contents
- LIST OF BEST DJ CONTROLLER FOR BEGINNERS
- 10 BEST DJ CONTROLLER FOR BEGINNERS
- PIONEER DJ DDJ-SB3 - BEST PORTABLE DJ CONTROLLER
- HERCULES DJ STARLIGHT - BEST BUDGET DJ CONTROLLER FOR BEGINNERS
- NUMARK MIXTRACK PRO FX - BEST MULTI EFFECT DJ CONTROLLER FOR BEGINNERS
- NATIVE INSTRUMENTS - BEST DJ CONTROLLER FOR SCRATCHING
- PIONEER PRO DJ DDJ200 - BEST PORTABLE DJ CONTROLLER
- HERCULES INPULSE 200 - BEST ADVANCED DJ CONTROLLER FOR BEGINNERS
- ROLAND DJ-202 FOUR-DECK DJ CONTROLLER - BEST CHEAP DJ MIXER
- GEMINI GV SERIES G4V 4-CHANNEL DJ CONTROLLER
- PIONEER DJ SET DDJ-SR2 CONTROLLER FOR SERATO DJ
- NUMARK MIXDECK EXPRESS 2-CHANNEL DJ CONTROLLER
- BUYING GUIDE FOR THE BEST DJ CONTROLLER FOR BEGINNERS
LIST OF BEST DJ CONTROLLER FOR BEGINNERS
10 BEST DJ CONTROLLER FOR BEGINNERS
PIONEER DJ DDJ-SB3 - BEST PORTABLE DJ CONTROLLER
Pioneer is a pretty respected and popular brand in the music industry, and their DJ controller certainly lives up to the company's reputation. It is made with premium material and thus is quite durable and gives a professional look.
The DDJ-SB3 is the successor of SB2. Though they may look quite similar, the SB3 indeed boasts more advanced features.
It allows you to add scratch effects to cued and prerecorded songs with prerecorded patterns created by DJ Jazzy Jeff. It is yet another thing to experiment with, and as a musician, I think, especially for DJ, it is an exciting feature.
Also, this DJ controller is perfect for beginners considering how it has a full 3 band EQ, a gain knob, and filter knob per channel, which is essentially all you need for mixing as a beginner prospect.
Another exciting feature that this DJ controller offers is the smooth transitions, where the FX Fade feature makes the mixing part seamless. With suitable adjustments, this feature can smoothly blend tracks. You can also choose eight different combinations for four different FX patterns.
It comes with the Serato DJ Lite, a decent software package that is a lighter version, and as a beginner, this would be sufficient. But if you want, you can upgrade to the Serato DJ Pro to reach the potential of this controller, but you might need to shed some extra cash.
Apart from this, this Serato dj controller has a portable design and handles allow you to take it anywhere you go. You get crystal clear audio without any kind of distortion even at high input levels, thanks to its mic input circuit. Honestly, I like this controller. Reasonably affordable, has the excellent quality, and looks cool too. So this is a beginner dj controller.
HERCULES DJ STARLIGHT - BEST BUDGET DJ CONTROLLER FOR BEGINNERS
Considering its features, simplicity, portability, and aesthetically pleasing look, the Hercules DJ controller made the Starlight specifically for beginners. This DJ controller packs quite a punch at a low budget.
The Starlight comes equipped with two pressure-sensitive job wheels, 4 pads per deck, and pad modes like Loop, FX, Sampler, and more. You can control pause, play songs, or even scratch with the pressure-sensitive jog wheels. In terms of aesthetics, it boasts RGB lighting with strobe effects which instantly makes it look 10 times better in dim lighting.
Talking more about its features, it comes with a built-in audio interface and runs on the Serato DJ Lite software, which is also present in the previous entries on our list. The audio interface feature allows you to pre-listen to your mix in your headphones before playing it through the speakers.
The knobs are heavy and give you a premium feel. That said, with the Bass/Filter EQ knob, you can easily create transitions and sound effects. So mixing is effortless, as all the functions are conveniently placed and straightforward.
If I pointed out 1 drawback in this mini dj set, it would be that it does not have the 3 three EQ knobs. However, even that has an easy fix. To sum it all up, if you are looking for an affordable, portable DJ controller as a beginner, I would highly recommend the Hercules Starlight.
NUMARK MIXTRACK PRO FX - BEST MULTI EFFECT DJ CONTROLLER FOR BEGINNERS
If you are ready to begin your journey as a DJ, then we strongly recommend you to start with Numark Pro FX to DJ. This DJ controller makes it extremely easy and fun as it is packed with features that will help you develop your skills quickly. And also it makes you feel comfortable while using more advanced DJ controllers in the future.
The Numark Mixtrack Pro FX is quite a unique and special DJ controller which certainly deserves your attention for just how high-tech it looks. However, despite the cool looks, the Numark Pro FX has much more to offer.
It is a 2 channel DJ controller that comes equipped with the lite version of Serato DJ software and is also compatible with other DJing software. If needed, you can also upgrade to Serato DJ Pro and unlock many features.
You can spice up your mixing with the 16 multi-function backlit performance pads along with the pad mode buttons per deck. Not only that, but it also has a dedicated auto loop that makes the mixing job simple with its onboard loop multiplier buttons.
However, the highlight is the large 6-inch surface for supreme reliability and total control of your mix. Overall, this controller is feature-packed with all the things a Dj performer would need. It has a fusing plug and plays USB connectivity, a mixer section with 3-band EQ, channel faders, and crossfaders with onboard mic input and headphone output. A great buy!
NATIVE INSTRUMENTS - BEST DJ CONTROLLER FOR SCRATCHING
The Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 Mk3 is another fantastic budget option for all who want to start Djing and, well, do not want to empty your wallet getting an equipment. This is a native 2-channel Traktor model, and it offers enough features which a beginner might require.
This plug-n-play DJ controller comes with the full version of the software Traktor Pro and considering this is a 2 deck controller, it opens up a ton of creative opportunities for the upcoming DJ in you.
The Kontrol S2 comes with a 3-band EQ with modeling of the industry-standard mixer; it boasts what is called a Jog Mode, which gives it the spin-to-nudge function along with the ability to scratch.
Talking more about its features, there is a beat-grid adjust mode where you can use the jog wheel to manually adjust the beat and club-standard effects like reverb, EQ, delay, and more.
Coming to the body of this controller, it is very lightweight and portable, adding to the Mix anywhere ability. Its layout is the club-standard, where it boasts 2 identical dj decks, a 2-channel mixer, and control keys.
It has 16 RGB pads for triggering hot cues, loops, or samples that give it a nice look. Overall, the Native Traktor Kontrol S2 MK3 is worth checking out the DJ controller if you want to start DJing. It would serve a beginner just fine.
PIONEER PRO DJ DDJ200 - BEST PORTABLE DJ CONTROLLER
The Pioneer DDJ-200 is a smart DJ controller. What makes it innovative isn’t its 200+ IQ but the fact that it is compatible with your smartphone or laptop (Bluetooth Equipped) and can run many apps, tutorials, and music streaming services.
The DDJ-200 is made for beginners, keeping in mind their needs and budget. This is a stripped-down version of the higher-end DJ controllers by Pioneer, which has cut down certain features to make it affordable.
Speaking of features, the DDJ-200 has a mixer, a jog wheel, and performance pads, so its body looks pretty clean and straightforward and would not overwhelm a newbie. It can run on software like rekordbox, Djay, edjing Mix, but you get a fully unlocked WeDj right out of the box, so that is good.
The WeDj has a beneficial Android and iOS app that provides newbies with much-needed tutorials and hints. The praise-worthy feature of this controller is its split output.
The DJ can hear the next set of songs and can cue the next track on your headphone. So you can take advantage of this feature with the help of split cables to separate the audio. However, they cut back that price; some sacrifices had to be made.
There is no built-in audio interface which means you need to get one separately. Instead, Pioneer includes a split audio cable. But still, it does not make up for the lack of it, and getting an audio interface now becomes an additional purchase. If you can look past that, you will like this entry-level controller, which compact, lightweight controller.
HERCULES INPULSE 200 - BEST ADVANCED DJ CONTROLLER FOR BEGINNERS
Hercules makes a return on this list with yet another budget-friendly option with their Inpulse 200 which I always read as “Impulse”. The Inpulse 200 is tailored towards newbies in order to teach them the basics the DJing at an affordable cost.
The controller has 2 channels and is made entirely of plastic, making it extremely lightweight, naturally making it quite lightweight. It comes equipped with Hercules’ own software, DJUCED, which has a number of integrated video tutorials and guides to know how everything works.
The 2 best features of this DJ controller are, the Hercules Inpulse 200 offers you the Beatmatch Guide and Intelligent Music Assistant. The Beatmatch guide basically allows you to sync up a song that you were not able to play on time. A light will turn on, below the jog wheel, which is called the “beat align” lights, they will indicate where you must turn the wheel to sync things up.
Coming to the Intelligent Music Assistant, this features offers real-time suggestions of songs based on the type of music you play, the energy level (the knob sets energy level atop the controller) and the songs in your DJUCED library. Just at a push the assistant button, you will get real-time song suggestions, songs from all over the world.
It is a budget option at the end of the day, so there are some sacrifices that had to be made. The only major complaint I have though is the fact that it has no integration option with a major DJing software and maybe, the plastic build but I will give it a pass considering the price.
ROLAND DJ-202 FOUR-DECK DJ CONTROLLER - BEST CHEAP DJ MIXER
Roland is a major player in the music industry, their musical equipment is well made, and the company is quite respected. I myself own a Roland Synthesizer which I love. However, we are not talking about keyboards. It is fairly new in the DJ controller game, but I think they have done a fantastic job with their DJ-202 which is the newest addition to their DJ controller line-up.
The DJ-202 is small and compact, but it is jam-packed with features. It comes with Serato Lite so you can start making music instantly. This DJ controller has a two-channel, four-deck controller and large platters with the lowest available latency allow you to scratch with ease and more control.
Roland provides you with built-in drum kits that use the Analog Circuit Behavior (ACB) technology which adds another layer to your creativity on top of the performance pads having Hot Cue, Loop, Sequencer, and Sampler modes.
GEMINI GV SERIES G4V 4-CHANNEL DJ CONTROLLER
The Gemini GV Series G4V takes a break from all the RGB colors and sticks to one… blue. A bright blue. That aside, the GV is a great option considering its price and the features it offers at the said price.
It is quite a simple looking DJ controller and also simply in terms of controls which makes it ideal for beginners. It is compatible with Virtual DJ software which is a favorite of many and it is equipped with large jog wheels, which makes scratching on it real easy and fun.
The build quality surprised me, I expected it to be rather disappointing, but it is a solid metal construction which I am a fan of! An awesome choice for newbies.
PIONEER DJ SET DDJ-SR2 CONTROLLER FOR SERATO DJ
This best DJ controller for beginners is the successor of the DDJ-SR and oh boy, it lives up to the expectations. The build is as good as you would expect out of Pioneer and the DDJ-SR2 is easily one of the best budget options out there. Just like the rest of their line up, it too comes with Serato DJ.
The most obvious upgrade on the SR2 over the SR is the RGB lighting that you get on the performance pads (that are used to trigger the Hot Cues, Roll and Sampler feature) which I am a fan of! The Jog wheels are… fine? I feel they scratch too easily, they are a bit lost in that sense. With that said, that is a personal preference.
This is a plug-n-play DJ controller, meaning it comes with both handles for easy portability and it is quite lightweight. Good things aside, naturally, there are some shortcomings, but they features overshadow the bad.
NUMARK MIXDECK EXPRESS 2-CHANNEL DJ CONTROLLER
The Numark Mixdeck Express is an all-in-one DJ controller, media player at a fairly reasonable price. It is all you need. It is able to handle CDs!
Now, though, admittedly, not many people care for CDs anymore and it maybe is not as big of an advantage to an ordinary person but, as a future DJ, it is not out of the realm of possibilities that you have a CD collection with you. So, that could really come in handy in that situation.
That aside, the Numark Mixdeck certainly gives off an outdated look but it still boasts decent features that you would need. It runs on Serato Lite, a single screen per deck that displays basic track information, 3 channels and large, capable jog wheels. This best DJ controller is an all-in-one controller for those that do not care for many modern features and just want something basic.
BUYING GUIDE FOR THE BEST DJ CONTROLLER FOR BEGINNERS
You cannot afford to choose the wrong DJ controller, which is why we have come up with a buying guide that can help you choose the best DJ controller for beginners.
Also, the market is filled with a wide range of options at different budgets. I am assuming that you are a beginner we have prepared the buying guide. So don’t miss this out.
The basic features
The first and foremost thing to check is the basic features of the DJ controllers.
- Check whether the DJ controller has the basic features like
- Control panel - The control panel must have buttons, knobs, pads, wheels, and faders that allow you to take full control of the product.
- The audio interface transmits the MIDI signals to the laptops and sound effects.
- Whether the controller has the control for tablet or smartphone apps, you use.
- The controller must have display lights or meters that can describe the system status, audio levels, and other necessary parameters.
- Lastly, check for jacks and inputs/outputs options for headphones, mics.
This is an essential factor to consider. Investing your hard-earned money in a soft or easily breakable DJ controller is not accepted. Also, if you are traveling with your controller, then chances are there for damaging it. So it is necessary to check the quality of the build.
We recommend you to go for a sturdy build; even if it is plastic-made, it must have a robust body. Apart from this, aesthetics is also playing a primary role. A cheap or budget-friendly controller might have a toy kind of look. So choose the one that has a professional look.
The type of DJ controller
There are two main types of DJ controllers. One is modular DJ rigs, an old-school thing with separate sound sources like CD/media players or turntables. This type is not popular these days.
The second type is the all-in-one DJ controller. This type of controller can support mobiles, laptops and can operate with software or apps. Not only this, it consists of high physical knobs, buttons, and sliders.
Software compatibility is another crucial factor to check because it is responsible for handling the music files. It is a program that manages almost all functions and helps in playing your music files. Also, it loads the music library on your device and sends them to playback to create virtual decks for mixing your music.
That said, most DJ controllers come with inbuilt software. Though you get only lite versions of software, for the sake of beginners, it is okay.
Last but not least, the price must not be ignored. Since you are a beginner looking for a DJ controller, we recommend you pick budget ones as investing in the high-value product is not needed. Also, the more significant controllers consist of advanced features and many functions that might be confusing for you as a beginner. So choosing a budget pick is pretty much suggested.
DJing started taking over in the 2000s and it never stopped. Even this year, it feels every song requires a DJ. The biggest artists aren’t rockstars; they are DJs. So, if you are thinking about learning how to be a DJ, you are going down the right path.
In this list, I listed out a number of best DJ controller for beginners. Beginners need not invest in an expensive DJ controller right from the start. You should work your way up. I hope you the best of luck in your journey and I hope this best DJ controller for beginners list helped you choose your first DJ controller.