Best DJ Controller For Beginners

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DJ-ing is a craft. And a craftsperson needs the right tools.

But can you imagine turning up to do a set and you’re landed with someone else’s mind boggling equipment?

A beginner like yourself would be stumped and wouldn’t know where to start. Worst case scenario, your music becomes painful to the crowd’s ears, your reputation is ruined and you’re never invited to DJ again. What a waste.

Sure it’s nice to have a controller with lots of fancy features but too many buttons and sliders etc can be overwhelming when you’re just starting to learn your craft, and something that’s a little more straightforward and simple would be a better option.

Lucky for you, we’ve been checking out some of the best DJ controllers for beginners. Doing the hard work for you, if you will. And we have hand picked our top few favorite ones to review for you here today. That’s coming up very shortly.

But we definitely get that choosing one can be tricky if you’re still new to it all, which is why we’ve also put together a handy buying guide for you that highlights some of the key things to think about before you buy. It makes for a great little checklist.

Then we’re going to top that off with yet another handy section - we’re going to be answering some of your most frequently asked questions on the subject.

Now, let’s get this party started - drum roll please…

Best DJ Controller For Beginners

OUR TOP PICK

Hercules DJControl Inpulse 200 Compact DJ Controller + Headphone + Basic Accessory Bundle

Now, this is the perfect DJ controller for anyone who wants to get into the business gradually and do so without having to break the bank to get started.

This DJ controller has been awarded the title of Amazon’s Choice in the category of “dj controller for beginners”.

Such a title is only awarded to products which are not only of excellent quality but are also available for a good and reasonable price. And coming in at under $200, including accessories, we would argue it's not just a good price, it's a bargain.

It has all the main features of a regular DJ controller, including 2 touch sensitive jog wheels so that you can do vinyl-style cueing, pitchblende functions, scratching and beat matching by ear and tempo faders. 

But what really makes it a great DJ controller for beginners is how it guides you on what you should be doing.

There are onboard light guides for beatmatching, a tempo guide showing you where to move the tempo fader, and beat align, suggesting the best way to turn the jog wheels. 

The accompanying DJing software is Djuiced, and it’s perfect for beginners, fairly comprehensive but at the same time quite streamlined.

Moreover, it features interactive help and also built-in tutorial videos. And there’s an Intelligent Music Assistant which suggests suitable tracks to play. 

There’s a two-channel mixer with an integrated crossfader for mixing two tracks.

We also love how it features multicolored performance pads with four control modes for each track being played, namely FX, rolls, hot-cues, and a sampler.

The controller is also very compact, which makes it very easy to transport to gigs. 

It’s great value for money because not only do you get the DJ controller itself, but you also get quality over-ear dynamic stereo headphones, a cable, and a cleaning cloth.

It’s a bestseller with the leading online retailers and has attracted a lot of praise from customers.

Pros

  • 2 large touch sensitive jog wheels
  • Onboard lights to guide your way
  • The app features built-in tutorials
  • Integrated horizontal crossfader
  • Comes with quality headphones

Cons

  • There’s no built-in sound card, so it doesn’t double as an audio interface
  • It’s only for use with the included DJ software, which some customers have said is slow and limited

EDITORS CHOICE

Numark Party Mix Live - DJ Controller with Built in Speakers, Party Lights and DJ Mixer, Complete Dj Set with Mixer and Audio Interface + Serato DJ Lite

Now, this happens to be THE leading bestseller with the leading online retailers in the category of DJ controllers.

And when we looked into it we could certainly see why. Of course the built-in speakers and party lights were always going to be a big draw, but it’s also quite simple and streamlined, making it something that a beginner could easily get up and get going with. 

It features two large touch-sensitive jog wheels for blending tracks together, along with a nice selection of pitch sliders and filter knobs for each track, and library controls for browsing.

There are also 2-band EQ channel faders and a crossfader. We also love the performance pads FX with their various functions, including cue points, loop, sampler and effect.

And the accompanying party lights are not just some random lights - they change according to the music, effectively creating a visual representation of your creation. Pretty cool huh?

One of the many things we love about this DJ controller is the accompanying software, which comes directly from Serato.

It has all the most important features of Serato’s regular software, but this version, Serato DJ Lite, has been put together with beginner DJs in mind. It’s both intuitive and reliable.

You can use it to stream literally millions of tracks. And if you decide that Serato DJ Lite is not for you, you can also use other DJ apps, including djay Pro AI.  

And thanks to the built-in sound card, it also doubles as an audio interface.

And another thing that impressed was the unbeatable price - even with the speakers included in the price, it still comes to under $200.

Pros

  • Has beat synchronized party lights
  • Comes with top quality speakers
  • Simple, streamlined DJ controller
  • Use with Serato DJ Lite or Pro AI
  • It can double as an audio interface
  • Reasonable, affordable price tag

Cons

  • Streaming music normally requires a monthly subscription (unless you decide to buy it all)

BEST VALUE

Pioneer DJ DDJ-200 - 2-deck Digital DJ Controller with USB/Bluetooth Connectivity, WeDJ App, and 16 Performance Pads

Now, what makes this such a great DJ controller for beginners, amongst other things, is how it comes complete with a comprehensive 5-day DJing class in collaboration with The DJ Coach, worth $149 that you can access totally free of charge.

As for the controller itself, it was designed with beginners in mind. It features two large jog wheels to mix two tracks together, and Transition FX sliders for super smooth transitions.

There are tempo faders  for each channel, and a whopping 11 different effect styles to enjoy, and a horizontal crossfader to surreptitiously switch tracks. 

It’s compatible with a wide range of DJing apps, including WeDJ for iPhone, rekordbox for PC or Mac (which is full of great features), djay for iOS, and edjing Mix for iOS and Android.

And this in turn really opens up what compatible music streaming services you can use for your DJing, including the likes of SoundCloud, Deezer and even Spotify.

If possible, we recommend that beginners start with the WeDJ iPhone app, because it features handy tutorials and lots of hints.

Although it doesn’t feature a built-in sound card, doubling as an audio interface, it does offer split output, so you can listen to and cue the next track while everyone else is still listening to the master sound. 

Now wonder it’s a best seller with the leading online retailers!

Amazon occasionally has deals on this particular controller, simply click on “Check Price” to see if there’s a deal on now. But to be perfectly honest, it’s still great value for money if you end up paying the full listing price.

Pros

  • Free 5-day DJ class worth $149
  • Large touch sensitive jog wheels
  • Works with a range of apps
  • Has a horizontal crossfader
  • 11 different effect styles
  • It offers split audio output
  • Excellent value for money

Cons

  • There’s no built-in sound card, so it doesn’t double as an audio interface
  • Streaming music normally requires a monthly subscription

RUNNER UP

Roland Two-channel, Four-deck Serato DJ Controller with Serato DJ Pro upgrade (DJ-202)

Now, this is no ordinary DJ controller - this is a DJ controller with a built-in drum kit!

You get 8 different drum sounds with each controller, including bass drum, snare drum, Tom, rim, open hat, closed hat, clap and ride. Perfect way to get your set off to a great start. And it really opens up what genres of music you can use.

There are two large jog wheels to help you blend tracks together, featuring the lowest available latency, so they’re perfectly optimized for scratching. There’s also a horizontal crossfader for seamless switching between tracks.

And there’s all manner of other faders, and dials you can take advantage of. We particularly like the onboard sequencer that controls the app’s sampler for creating on-the-fly beats.

It also features some additional vocal effects, which work to reduce unwanted background noise. 

One of the many things we love about this DJ controller is the accompanying software, which comes directly from Serato.

It has all the most important features of Serato’s regular software, but this version, Serato DJ Lite, has been put together with beginner DJs in mind. It’s both intuitive and reliable. You can use it to stream literally millions of tracks.

You can use the software to organize all your tracks, and it integrates songs from iTunes. And if you buy in the US, you’re also eligible for a free upgrade to Serato DJ Pro. Not bad hey?

The other great thing about this controller is how it features a mic input, so you can get talking to the crowd, and letting them know what to expect.

Pros

  • Features a built-in drum kit
  • Large low latency jog wheels
  • Features an onboard sequencer
  • Reduces background noise at whim
  • Can be used with Serato Lite or Pro
  • Mic input for talking to the crowd

Cons

  • This is the priciest of the controllers that made our shortlist

RUNNER UP

Hercules DJ DJControl Starlight | Pocket USB DJ Controller with Serato DJ Lite, Touch-Sensitive Jog Wheels, Built-in Sound Card and Built-in Light Show

If it’s a bargain you’re looking for, you need look no further - this DJ controller is available for under $100.

The stand out feature of this controller is how it features stroboscopic RGB backlighting under the base, which is designed to sync perfectly with your tracks.

Admittedly this isn’t quite as fancy as the party show available with the Numark Party Mix II Live DJ Controller that we showed you earlier, but it has strobe effects and is still pretty funky.

There are two touch sensitive jog wheels, and you can create some amazing transitions between tracks, and great sound effects using the bass/filter knobs. There are 4 modes you can select for each of the two decks, including loop, FX, sampler, and hot cue modes. 

One of the many things we love about this DJ controller is the accompanying software, which comes directly from Serato.

It has all the most important features of Serato’s regular software, but this version, Serato DJ Lite, has been put together with beginner DJs in mind. It’s both intuitive and reliable. You can use it to stream literally millions of tracks.

And thanks to the built-in sound card, it also doubles as an audio interface. Which means you can use it to preview tracks before they go live. 

It’s also one of the most compact controllers on our shortlist, and is easy to pack and transport to gigs.

Pros

  • Bargain affordable price tag
  • Stroboscopic RGB backlighting
  • Simple, streamlined DJ controller
  • You can use it with Serato DJ Lite
  • It can double as an audio interface

Cons

  • The jog wheels are a little small
  • Streaming music normally requires a monthly subscription

Buying Guide

As promised, here’s your buying guide. We’re going to cover all the key things to think about before you buy.

Best DJ Controller For Beginners

Jog Wheels

So, there are two ways of beat matching. You can either rely on the automatic beat-matching on your software, or you can use the jog wheels of your controller.

These are designed to replicate the look and the function of vinyl turntables, so that you can scratch or nudge the timing of tracks back and forth.

We prefer large touch sensitive jog wheels, but you can easily learn to mix with smaller ones.

Faders / Crossfader

On your DJ controller you will also need vertical channel faders to adjust the volume of individual tracks, and also a horizontal crossfader to blend between two channels.

Audio Interface

Unless you already have a separate audio interface, we recommend that you go for a one that doubles as an audio interface with its own sound card. That way you don’t have to rely on your laptop’s on-board audio, which may not be up to the task of playing a gig.

DJ controllers with audio interfaces often offer additional inputs and outputs, which is great for previewing a song without it being heard through the main output.

It’s not necessarily an essential but it’s a big plus/

Compatible Software

Most DJ controllers come with their very own software, and it’s worth looking into this software to see if it’s for you. Ideally you might want to look for a controller that’s compatible with a wide range of software so that you can use practically any software you like.

The DJ software apps that we like and would recommend include Serato, Serato Lite, Rekordbox, and Traktor.

For a more in depth look at different DJing software, why not check out our article titled “Is rekordbox better than Serato?” which is available on this link.

Bonus Features

DJ controllers can often come with bonus features, including accessories such as headphones or speakers.

Two of the controllers that made our shortlist also feature synchronized lighting which can really bring a party to life.

Value For Money

We recommend that beginners to DJing start with cheaper, more affordable equipment to begin with, since more expensive ones are not only more expensive but they’re also more to get your head around. You can always upgrade your equipment at a later stage further down the line.

We haven’t included the prices of the controllers on our reviews in case they change, but you can click on “Check Price” to see current prices, and check whether they’re within your particular budget.

Answers To Your Most Frequently Asked Question

Which DJ Controller Is Best For Beginners?

You know, this is quite a tricky one to answer. Any of the 5 controllers that made our shortlist would make an excellent choice for a beginner. I guess you should probably base your decision on how much money you’re prepared to spend and what software you want to use. 

Bear in mind that some software, such as Serato DJ Lite is purpose built for beginners, whereas there’s more complex software available for seasoned professionals, such as Serato DJ Pro.

If you want to take advantage of a 5-day DJ course that comes free of charge with your controller, we recommend our number 3 pick, the Pioneer PRO DJ DDJ200 Pioneer Smart DJ Controller.

Or alternatively, if you would simply prefer a controller that lights up to signal what you should be doing next, we would recommend our number one pick, the Hercules DJControl Inpulse 200 Compact DJ Controller.