Best Beginner DJ Controllers in 2019 – A Complete Review and Buying Guide

If you are starting in your career as a DJ, spending lots of money on a DJ controller without evaluating whether it’s right for you can be an expensive mistake. Music technology keeps improving, so you need to know the ins and outs to ensure you keep up with the technology and avoid getting stuck with the wrong equipment.

We have put together these comprehensive reviews of the best DJ controllers for beginners to help you make the right choice. We will focus on accessible DJ controllers that are readily available online and look at their best features, cost, value for money, performance, and durability.

Our Top Beginner DJ Controller

The most popular of this batch is the Pioneer DDJ-400. It’s an awesome all-rounder that is easy to set-up and use—perfect for a beginner.

 

 

The Best Beginner DJ Controllers Reviewed

Pioneer DDJ-400 Rekordbox –Best Starter DJ Controller Overall

The Pioneer DDJ-400 is a feature-packed DJ controller, ideal for beginner DJs who want to master their skills. Beneficial features include dedicated play, pause, and cue buttons, as well as CDJ-style and Beat FX looping controls. It is also lightweight and portable, perfect for practice sessions and gigs.

 

Key Features

  • Power supply – mains or USB
  • Input – 1 MIC input
  • Outputs – 1 RCA master cable, 1 headphone
  • Built-in soundcard
  • Dimensions – 13.46 x 22.95 x 5.16 inches
  • DJ software – Rekordbox DJ

 

What I Like About This Product

This machine has a high-end feel, good for aspiring DJs who want to build on their skills. It has all the pads, buttons, and knobs necessary for most music effects and functions.

 

What I Don’t Like About This Product

The blue effect button is too bright and harsh on the eye, and the controller does not have a master tempo button.

 

Pros

  • Excellent CD/DJM layout and design
  • User-friendly and easy to set up
  • Perfect portable size for DJs on the move
  • Well-built and durable

 

Cons

  • It has no AUX output feature

 

The Pioneer DDJ-400 is the ideal entry-level controller. It is easy to use, compact, and includes a professional DJ mixer with excellent music effects. If you’re starting in the DJ world, this would be a unique controller to consider, thanks to its ultra-portability and durability.

 

Overall Rating: 8.2/10

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Roland DJ-202 Serato DJ Controller – Most Features for the Price

The Roland DJ-202 has excellent features for its price, including a built-in sequencer and a drum machine. The jog wheels have very low latency, and although the performance pads are not the rubber type, they do the job.

 

Key Features

  • Power supply – USB
  • Input – 1 MIC input
  • Outputs – 1 RCA master cable, 1 headphone
  • Built-in drum kits
  • Dimensions – 2.5 x 18.87 x 11.75 inches
  • DJ software – Serato DJ Lite

 

What I Like About This Product

The jog wheels are heavier than on other controllers in the same price range, making this the perfect controller to practice scratching.

 

What I Don’t Like About This Product

The crossfader is slightly light but does the job. It also does not have a booth output and main power connection.

 

Pros

  • Compact, lightweight design
  • Excellent jog wheels
  • Built-in drum kit makes this unit stand out
  • Great value for the money

 

Cons

  • It has a plastic body, which affects its durability

 

This is the controller for you if a lower price is at the top of your list of priorities. The added sequencer and drum kit are a charming touch, and the fact that this model remains compact and portable despite these features is remarkable.

 

Overall Rating: 8.0/10

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Numark Mixtrack Pro 3 Serato DJ Controller – Best Added Feature

The Numark Mixtrack Pro 3 comes with eight performance pads per deck, high-resolution pitch faders, and excellent jog wheels. It also has a built-in soundcard that allows you to connect the controller directly to a PA system.

 

Key Features

  • Power supply – USB
  • Inputs – 1 MIC input
  • Outputs – 1 RCA master cable, 1 headphone
  • Built-in soundcard
  • Dimensions – 9.1 x 1.1 x 21.6 inches
  • DJ software – Serato DJ Lite

 

What I Like About This Product

This more portable model is easy to pack up and set up for gigs, and that integrated soundcard is a convenient feature. I also love how durable this controller feels.

 

What I Don’t Like About This Product

The supported DJ software, Serato DJ Lite, does not allow you to record performances, so you may have to upgrade to the more expensive Serato DJ Pro.

 

Pros

  • Great value for the money
  • Sturdy, durable design
  • Convenient, small footprint
  • Excellent pitch fader

 

Cons

  • This controller does not have an AUX input

 

Should you be interested in explicitly upping your DJ scratching skills, this is the feature-packed DJ controller that will help you get there. The jog wheels are more substantial than in other controllers, which makes the process of scratching easier. Considering all these features for the price, this model is an excellent choice for DJs of all skill levels.

 

Overall Rating: 7.5/10

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Hercules DJControl Inpulse 300 DJUCED DJ Controller – Best for Mixing

The price of the Hercules DJControl Inpulse belies its features. This controller comes with a slip and quantize button, 16 performance pads, and large jog wheels. Also, Hercules has included a beat-match guide, which syncs beat-matching with the pitch faders and jog wheels by indicating the direction in which to move the jogs and faders to align two tracks.

 

Key Features

  • Power supply – mains or USB
  • Inputs – none
  • Outputs – 1 RCA master cable, 1 headphone
  • Built-in soundcard
  • Weight – 10.45 lbs.
  • DJ software –DJUCED

 

What I Like About This Product

The Intelligent Music Assist (IMA) software feature is a welcome addition. It gives users the best suggestions on what music to play, and the DJUCED software has a DJ Academy that teaches DJ skills using video tutorials and guides.

 

What I Don’t Like About This Product

It has a minute pitch fader, which can make the beat-matching process slightly more complicated.

 

Pros

  • Feature-packed controller for the price
  • Durable and excellent quality build
  • Easy to use and informative Beat-match guide included
  • Great sounding unit with a sturdy and high-performance cartridge

 

Cons

  • It has a small pitch fader

 

This controller is an excellent resource for the beginner DJ learning how to mix. It focuses on teaching the novice to practice listening skills, learn how to choose the best songs to play, and to master manual beat-matching. It’s the next best thing to learning alongside a pro!

 

Overall Rating: 7.0/10

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Numark Mixtrack Platinum Serato DJ Controller – Best Value

The Numark Mixtrack Platinum packs some serious features, including a high-resolution pitch fader, onboard screen, and touch strip—features that help a DJ who’s just starting out. The connectivity is also on-point with two headphone outputs and a main output for connection to PA systems or mixers.

 

Key Features

  • Power supply – main power
  • Input – 1 MIC input
  • Outputs – 1 RCA master cable, 2 headphones
  • Built-in soundcard
  • Dimensions – 2.01 x 9.49 x 21.61 inches
  • Inclusive DJ software – Serato DJ Lite

 

What I Like About This Product

I love the 16 multi-function backlit pads with multiple pad modes. This feature allows for the total control of auto/manual looping, sample playbacks, and cue-points, to add flair to your DJ performance.

 

What I Don’t Like About This Product

On some units, an unwelcome buzz in sync with the LED fading sometimes occurs, which can be disconcerting.

 

Pros

  • Integrated handy LCD screens
  • Excellent value for money
  • Well-built, solid, and durable
  • The controller also works well with other software like Virtual DJ

 

Cons

  • The jog wheels do not always control the audio

 

This durable controller is excellent for beginners because it features LCD screens that integrate into the jogs. It also has a high-resolution pitch fader and decent jog wheels; a lot of value for the price!

 

Overall Rating: 8.0/10

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Hercules DJ Control Instinct P8 – Most Compatible

The Hercules DJ Control Instinct is one of those dual-deck controllers that scream design, performance, and compatibility. It comes with a built-in soundcard, pressure-sensitive jog wheels, loop mode, detachable USB cable, and the unique DJUCED 40° software that is compatible with both Mac and PC.

 

Key Features

  • Power supply – USB
  • Input – none
  • Outputs – 1 RCA master cable, 1 headphone
  • Built-in soundcard
  • Dimensions – 10.4 x 7.4 x 1.9inches
  • DJ software – DJUCED 40° for Mac/PC

 

What I Like About This Product

The Hercules is extremely compatible and has an easy-to-install, detachable USB cable. You won’t require any drivers, and better still, it is compatible with PC and Mac, as well as iOS and Android.

 

What I Don’t Like About This Product

As excellent and highly compatible as the software is, it still has to analyze your music first, which can take ages.

 

Pros

  • It has competent controls for necessary mixing
  • Excellent high-performance pads
  • High compatibility with external devices

 

Cons

  • It can be challenging to set up, especially for novices

 

This DJ controller is the top performance and compatibility controller. The Hercules is highly adaptable with responsive DJUCED software to boot, and you can connect it to your PCS or Mac with ease. It is notable, however, that you must first load any high-volume digital libraries to enjoy the full experience.

 

Overall Rating: 7.8/10

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Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 MK2 – Best for Beginners

The Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol is an intuitive, 2+1 channel DJ performance system. This DJ controller also comes with high-resolution jog wheels, high-performance pads, and durable, heavy aluminum plates that deliver pressure-sensitive track control, tempo nudging, and natural pitch bending.

 

Key Features

  • Power supply – mains
  • Input – 1 MIC input
  • Outputs – 2 RCA master cable, 1 headphone, 1 stereo
  • Built-in soundcard
  • Dimensions – 22 x 5 x 13 inches
  • DJ software – TRAKTOR

 

What I Like About This Product

I really enjoy the optimal sound quality coupled with the high-performance software. This DJ controller has a powerful audio interface built to handle the most powerful sound systems.

 

What I Don’t Like About This Product

The crossfaders are light, which could affect your scratching practice.

 

Pros

  • Durable and well-built product
  • Excellent fader reliability
  • Lightweight and highly portable
  • Well-designed and user-friendly Traktor software with direct iTunes integration

 

Cons

  • The manual can be a bit hard to follow

 

This user-friendly controller is by far the best DJ controller for beginners. Not only does it come with the leading Traktor DJ software that allows you to experiment with and up your DJ skills, but it also gives the novice DJ some excellent plug-and-play, hands-on control.

 

Overall Rating: 8.5/10

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Behringer CMD Studio 4A – Best Sound Quality for the Price

This four-deck DJ mixer is loaded with high-quality pitch faders, touch-sensitive platters, and volume faders, as well as transport controls. It has a small footprint and is incredibly lightweight, perfect for the DJ to carry gig to gig. The Behringer CMD Studio 4A also has the capability to playback any music file without set-up or drivers. You can record your concerts directly to a computer, too.

 

Key Features

  • Power supply – USB
  • Input – 1 MIC input
  • Outputs – 1 RCA master cable, 1 headphone
  • Built-in soundcard
  • Dimensions – 23 x 19 x 8 inches

 

What I Like About This Product

The 24-bit converters are a huge plus. These high-quality components deliver superior sound quality, and the USB connection offers low latency, compatible with Windows and Mac OS X.

 

What I Don’t Like About This Product

The unit does not have performance pads, and for those who consider this a must-have, this could be a deal-breaker.

 

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Solid and durable build
  • Extremely lightweight and easy to carry around
  • Comes with a micro-fiber cleaning cloth

 

Cons

  • It has no supported DJ software

 

Behringer delivers long-lasting quality but at more affordable prices. This DJ controller is well-built, with lots of fun and high-quality accessories. Note, however, that it does not have the performance pads to match and does not come with any supported software. Nevertheless, it is one of the best beginner DJ controllers out there.

 

Overall Rating: 8.0/10

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Reloop Mix Tour DJ Controller – Best All-in-One

The Reloop comes with eight multi-color and high-quality performance pads. It is the only portable DJ controller that supports PC and Mac as well as iOS and Android. This controller also has terrific club-ready sound with very low latency and low-noise playback.

 

Key Features

  • Power supply – main
  • Input – 1 MIC input
  • Outputs – 1 RCA master cable, 1 headphone
  • Built-in soundcard
  • Dimensions – 5.08 x 12.2 x 1.02 inches
  • DJ software – MIDI-mappable software like Virtual DJ or Traktor

 

What I Like About This Product

This DJ controller is an awesome device for those who move around a lot. The compact two-channel size and layout, as well as the iOS compatibility and direct Spotify integration, add to this beneficial feature.

 

What I Don’t Like About This Product

The fact that this unit doesn’t come with jog wheels may be a real problem for some.

 

Pros

  • Durable build
  • A compact and portable unit
  • Simple and user-friendly
  • Compatible with Virtual DJ and Traktor with direct Spotify integration

 

Cons

  • The cable connecting to an iOS device is short and may need an extension

 

This is a robust, all-in-one DJ controller, excellent for use with a laptop or in the studio. The compact size is convenient and comfortable for mobile DJs to carry from gig to gig, and its compatibility is a big plus.

 

Overall Rating: 8.8/10

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Buying Guide – The Best Beginner DJ Controllers

What is a DJ Controller?

These devices connect to computers to mimic the traditional DJ set-up. It allows DJs to mix, scratch, navigate the digital music library, and control special music effects. This process once consisted of mixers and turntables, but with the evolution of music technology, these two components are now combined into a controller.

This equipment comes with features such as jog wheels, knobs, looping and effects controls, microphone inputs, faders, integrated sound cards, and a variety of other options. All of these features help to access controls without complex commands on the attached smartphone or computer.

DJ controllers are not mixers, though. A mixer sends signals to the computer software to enable it to mix the audio, whereas these devices edit music through onboard components. They do this by having built-in sound cards that connect to headphones, allowing a preview of the music before playing it on the main outputs.

Controllers come in various sizes and shapes. For novice DJs, we would recommend this type of all-in-one controller—which in our opinion, is the best DJ controller for beginners.

 

 

Things to Look for When Buying a Beginner DJ Controller

Technical Features

When considering features that come with the best beginner DJ controllers, here are the ones to look for:

  • DJ Mixer

The associated mixer needs to at least have a gain knob, three-band EQ, and two channels or more. Also, most of the best beginner DJ controllers come with a master VU meter.

  • Soundcard or Audio card

Unless your budget is restricted, a built-in audio card or sound card helps. These enable you to connect directly to a sound system through the built-in master out, without the hassle of first going through your computer.

  • High-Quality Jog Wheels

Many basic DJ techniques require a pair of jog wheels, and if you are an aspiring scratch DJ, this feature is indispensable.

  • Headphone Outputs

The best dj headphone outputs help you to effortlessly cue your next track while enabling you to split the master sound going to your speakers from the incoming track’s sound.

  • Basic Functions

The best DJ controllers for beginners must have built-in audio interfaces, scratch plates, knobs, faders, performance pads, and sliders for music effects.

  • DJ Software

You may not necessarily get built-in software with beginner controllers, but some are universal and work for all software, while the more specialized controllers work with particular software. Should you consider DJ software that did not come with your controller, there mappings available that will help make the switch without switching your controller.

 

How You Will Use Your DJ Controller

How you are going to use it will play a massive role in your choice. If you’re using it to practice at home, perhaps a DJ controller without a sound card is a perfect choice. If, however, you are exercising your mixing, key match, scratch, flip, or beatmatch skills, you may need a DJ controller with more advanced features.

Furthermore, if you perform in public, a top-notch DJ controller is necessary, as you’ll need real-time mixing features.

 

Budget

If possible, avoid choosing the cheapest controller. There are plenty of DJ controllers in the $150 range, but chances are with a little more research, you may find a far better one for $250. This price jump is not excessive and could land you a device that has far more quality features. These upgrades are worth stretching your budget, and can up your DJ game tremendously.

 

 

Final Thoughts

When it comes to buying the best DJ controllers for beginners, our advice is to focus on the features. After all, this device will help you to enjoy your hobby or profession to the fullest. A higher-end DJ controller can be intimidating, but it will help you to hone your skills, and allow you to improve without the hassle of having to buy a new controller!

That’s why this review of the best beginner DJ controllers has focused on the features over budget. Happy shopping!

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