6 Best DJ Controllers For Beginners 2023

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Best DJ Controllers For Beginners

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Today, we look at the Best DJ Controllers For Beginners in 2023.

To make things easier for you, we have selected one controller per category, which should give you an idea of what the controllers are more suitable for.

What to Expect

  • Two Channels – At this level, the controllers typically have two channels (meaning you can play a maximum of two tracks at a time). In most cases this is plenty, even though you will see more expensive controllers with four channels, they are used less than you might think.
  • Limited Software – You will mostly get the limited/lite/basic version of the DJ software – limited in features. Though you will be able to upgrade to the full/professional version for a fee.
  • No Balanced Outputs – Controllers in this price range usually come with unbalanced, RCA outputs, rather than professional-grade, XLR connections which eliminate electrical interference.

So, what are the Best DJ Controllers For Beginners..?

In a rush? Quick Look List

Best Beginner DJ Controller: Pioneer DDJ-FLX4

6 Best DJ Controllers For Beginners 2023 1

The Pioneer DDJ-FLX4 (pronounced Flex 4) is a great entry-level DJ controller for beginners. It offers all the features of a professional-grade controller in an easy-to-use and highly affordable package. The Pioneer DDJ-FLX4 is a 2-channel DJ controller, which comes with two large jog wheels, eight performance pads, built-in effects, and intuitive controls that make it easy to learn how to mix tracks quickly.

Notable features include the Smart Fader, which allows you to transition seamlessly between tracks, automatically adjusting the BPM as you move the crossfader. Smart CFX gives you a combination of effects at the twist of a knob.

The Pioneer DDJ-FLX4’s design resembles club-style CDJ-mixer setups, which is a bonus for those looking to progress in the future.

Read Next: How To Become A Club DJ

Connectivity options are ample, with the ability to use both USB and Bluetooth, plus audio input from two devices simultaneously. You can also use a PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Android phone or tablet.

Pioneer DDJ-FLX4

  • Rating: 4/5
  • Software: Rekordbox/Serato DJ
  • Size: W 482 x D 272.8 x H 59.2 mm
  • Weight: 2.1kg
6 Best DJ Controllers For Beginners 2023 1

Pros

  • Club-style layout with the feel of CDJs and mixer
  • Comprehensive FX and Loop controls
  • Multiple connectivity options

Cons

  • Limited features

Best Controller for Creative DJs: Roland DJ-202

6 Best DJ Controllers For Beginners 2023 3

The Roland DJ-202 is a 2-channel Serato controller with features that make it an ideal choice for creative DJs. It offers some unique features not found in other beginner DJ controllers, such as a drum machine, a built-in sequencer and vocal effects for the microphone output. The drum sounds are taken from the iconic Roland TR 909, TR 808, TR 707 and TR 606.

The Roland DJ-202 has two highly responsive, low-latency jog wheels with vinyl and CD control emulation. It also includes two sets of performance pads for triggering loops, hot cues and FX. The built-in sequencer allows you to create beats on the fly and trigger samples while playing live.

Specs

  • Price: $299
  • Rating: 4/5
  • Software: Serato DJ Lite
  • Size: W 478 x D 297 x H 62 mm
  • Weight: 4.11 lbs (2.1 kg)

Pros:

  • Built-in drum machine and sequencer
  • Microphone vocal FX

Cons:

  • Quite complicated to master

Best Value For Money: Numark Mixtrack Pro FX

6 Best DJ Controllers For Beginners 2023 4

The Numark Mixtrack Pro FX is one of the most popular DJ controllers for beginners. It has a full-size layout with two large 6-inch jog wheels, eight performance pads on each side and a two-channel mixer.

The Numark Mixtrack Pro FX features paddles to trigger the dedicated bank of six effects: Echo, Reverb, Flanger, Phaser, HPF (High Pass Filter) and LPF (Low Pass Filter). Push down for instant FX, and push up for continuous FX activation.

The Numark Mixtrack Pro FX also features a built-in sound card, which allows you to plug in your headphones and speakers without the need for an external sound system.

In addition to Serato DJ Lite software, you get two months’ free access to Soundswitch lighting software and a 3-month subscription to TIDAL Premium.

Read Next: Where Do DJs Get Their Music?

Specs

  • Price: $199
  • Rating: 4.5/5
  • Software: Serato DJ Lite
  • Size: W 563 x D 246 x H 51 mm
  • Weight: 5.35 lbs (2.4 kg)

Pros:

  • Low price
  • Large platform for mixing
  • Dedicated FX banks for each channel

Cons:

  • Not USB-C
  • Mic connection and volume control on the rear

Best For Scratch DJs: Pioneer DJ DDJ-REV1

6 Best DJ Controllers For Beginners 2023 5

If you’re looking for a controller more suitable for scratching and battle DJs, the Pioneer DJ DDJ-REV1 is a great choice. This is thanks to the turntable-mixer-style layout, different to most controllers in this budget. You will immediately notice the location of the performance pads and the way the pitch faders are located horizontally and at the top of the device, similar to the arrangement of PLX turntables and a DJM-S mixer.

The Pioneer DJ DDJ-REV1 has two large 6-inch jog wheels with a responsive and accurate platter, plus eight performance pads for triggering loops, hot cues and FX.

It also features Lever FX seen in battle-style mixers such as the DJM-S range. Simply pull the lever down to apply effects momentarily, or push it up to lock the effects on.

Specs

  • Price: $249 / £259
  • Rating: 4/5
  • Software: Serato DJ Lite
  • Size: W 526 x D 255 x H 59.2 mm
  • Weight: 4.6 lbs (2.08 kg)

Pros

  • Scratch/Battle-style layout
  • Large jogwheels

Cons

  • Small performance pads

Best For Traktor: Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 MK3

6 Best DJ Controllers For Beginners 2023 6

If you are an avid Traktor software user, you might want to consider the Traktor Kontrol S2 MK3 from Native Instruments. This is a great all-in-one DJ controller for beginners, offering all the necessary features for performing and producing great mixes with Traktor.

The Traktor Kontrol S2 MK3 has two large jog wheels, dedicated controls for activating effects and loops and eight RGB performance pads per side.

There is a Mixer FX section which allows you to choose up to four different effects per channel, with a range of parameters available for each.

Useful features include Reverse and Flux modes, activated by buttons on the top corners of the controller.

Traktor DJ 2 is included for use with a laptop or iPad, or you can choose the full version of TRAKTOR PRO 3.

Specs

  • Price: $299 / £249
  • Rating: 4.5/5
  • Software: Traktor DJ 2, TRAKTOR PRO 3
  • Size: W 486 x D 265 x H 59 mm
  • Weight: 5.2 lbs (2.36 kg)

Pros

  • RGB performance pads
  • Large jogwheels
  • Full software included

Cons

  • Limited performance pad features

Best For Portability/Backup: Numark DJ2GO2

6 Best DJ Controllers For Beginners 2023 7

The Numark DJ2GO2 could be used as a beginner controller, something to use solely at home or on the move, or as a handy backup.

Measuring just 85 x 430 x 33.5mm, it is perfect for keeping in your backpack, either for travel or as a backup controller. Numark describes it as a “Pocket DJ Controller with Audio Interface

Though basic in look and feel, the Numark DJ2GO2 has all the essential features needed in a DJ controller: a built-in soundcard, 4 performance pads and even touch-sensitive jogwheels!

The three ports consist of a USB for your laptop, 1/8″ headphone jack and 1/8″ master output for speakers.

Specs

  • Price: $89 / £65
  • Rating: 3.5/5
  • Software: Serato DJ Lite
  • Size: W 430 x D 85 x H 33.5 mm
  • Weight: 1.4 lbs (0.63 kg)

Pros

  • Ultra-portable
  • Touch-sensitive jogwheels

Cons

  • Not useable for long periods

Conclusion

Hopefully, we have given you at least somewhere to start looking for a Beginner DJ Controller. There are so many factors and choices out there, and only you know what is right for you. My best bit of advice would be to get an idea of what you want – maybe 3 or 4 choices – and go to your local DJ store/showroom and ask if you can try them. Don’t feel pressured into buying there and then, but do see what the best price they will offer you is before making up your mind.

In this modern world of technology, DJing has become easier. Looking back to the days when I learnt to DJ using vinyl records and turntables to today, using a DJ Controller running from a MacBook Pro and DJ Software. It is quicker, easier and requires less equipment to carry.

I should add – there is nothing wrong with learning the authentic way with turntables. In fact, you will undoubtedly become a better DJ if you learn the hard way. It will give you more appreciation and better mixing skills. You cannot always rely on tech to work 100% of the time.

Read Next:

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I choose my first DJ controller?

There are a few things to look out for when looking for your first DJ Controller. And this may vary, depending on your level of experience – If you are used to DJing on vinyl turntables or CDJs, you may be more particular about the look and feel of the controller, the jog wheels/platters and the layout of the mixer section. If you are a complete beginner, you may overlook some basic features in favour of an affordable piece of equipment.

Budget – It is important to set a budget that you can afford, but when you do your research, if you find that what you really want is a little more than you currently have, try to save the extra for it rather than making do.

Features – Have a look at some YouTube or other review videos and figure out what features and controls you will want and actually use, such as performance pads, effects controls, scratch modes etc.

Jogwheels – The platters need to be of good quality, responsive and useable. There are some great-looking controllers out there but have small jog wheels that just aren’t practical. Make sure they have the ability to beat-match, pitch-adjust and scroll through the track.

Inputs/Outputs – The basic requirement is a USB port to connect your computer or laptop, a suitable output to connect to your speakers and at least a headphone socket. Having a number of ports for each is even better as it should last you longer. Think about if you are planning on using a microphone – or multiple mics, an additional music source – an iPad or MP3 player, and consider the size and number of headphone jacks.

Number of Channels – Something easy to overlook is how many channels a controller has. A basic  DJ controller will generally have two channels. You need one channel per track being played at a time. Plan ahead – if you are looking to progress, you may want four channels in the future, so you may end up having to upgrade your entire controller in the future.

Read Next: Do DJs Use All Four Decks?

DJ Software – Check what software the controller is bundled with and if it is something you have used before or heard good or bad reviews about. If you want a particular controller but different software, see if it is compatible. You can usually MIDI-Map a controller to work with software that is not ‘compatible’ but this can be very difficult.

What is the best and cheapest DJ controller?

This is a tough question and almost contradicting. As with any equipment, quality costs and cheap is not usually the best. That being said, if you look for the best available for your budget there are some great options around. Don’t be afraid to look for used controllers from reputable stores or friends – just make sure you carry out due diligence first.

In our review, The Best Value for Money Controller is the Traktor S2 MK3 by Native Instruments.

What do I need to buy to start DJing?

We have a whole article on this question, but in brief, you will need;

Depending on the type of DJ you are or want to be, you may need more or less equipment. A Mobile DJ will need the most amount of equipment – usually, a whole setup with lights, a DJ booth and stands, whereas a Club DJ will generally need the least – sometimes just a USB stick with music, or a laptop, or a laptop and controller.

Do I need a mixer with my DJ controller?

A DJ Controller, as we have been reviewing and comparing in this article, is a dual playout system with an integrated mixer. It allows the DJ to play and control two or more tracks, mix and fade between them, all in one piece of equipment. No additional mixer is needed. You can plug in the same things to a controller as you would a traditional, standalone mixer.

How hard is it to learn to DJ?

This depends on your understanding or definition of a DJ, or what particular skillset you are hoping to achieve. The basic description of a DJ is someone who plays recorded music for an audience. That part is relatively easy, but I imagine you want a bit more than just standing in front of a crowd, playing one song after the other, you may want to learn how to mix, beat-match or scratch. Again, this depends on the type of DJ you want to be, and what equipment you hope to use.

There are simple instructions available online, YouTube videos, online courses and even DJ Schools you can attend to learn your craft. How difficult it is, is determined by your ability to pick things up, your individual learning style and, obviously, the quality of the instruction you receive. The more time you can dedicate to practising will also have a huge benefit, especially if you have equipment at home that you can practice on.

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  1. […] The add-on allows you to DJ from home for free using just your laptop, without the need for any additional hardware (controller). […]

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