9 Best Starter DJ Controllers of 2020 – Never Too Late to Start!

Want to embark on a career as a professional DJ?

This is one of the most fulfilling career paths, particularly if you are an audiophile with an ear for good music and nimble hands on the deck.

As a DJ, you can mix various music tracks and even add your signature take on the music.

Your DJing style can be in top demand and you can go on to build a very rewarding career as a professional DJ.

There are lots of DJing equipment and software tools that you will need to transform your dream into reality.

You, for example, need a good laptop for DJing, DJing laptop stands, DJing software, and so forth.

One other integral piece of equipment that you will need to build your career as a professional DJ is a good quality and reliable DJ controller for beginners.

If you are just starting out, of course, you will not need something that is too advanced and complex to master.

You will need something which is simple and easy to master but it should be a DJ controller hardware that still does the job and is versatile enough that you can grow in it and develop your skills.

In a rush? Here is a quick rundown for you:

Most Affordable
Numark DJ2GO2 Touch – Compact 2 Deck USB DJ Controller For Serato DJ with a Mixer/Crossfader, Audio Interface and Touch Capacitive Jog Wheels
Most Durable
Behringer CMD Studio 4a 4-Deck DJ MIDI Controller with 4-Channel Audio Interface
Top Pick
Pioneer DJ DJ Controller, Black, (DDJSB3)
Upgradeable
Numark Mixtrack 3 | All-In-One 2-Deck DJ Controller for Serato DJ Including an Long-Throw Pitch Faders, 5-inch High Resolution Jog Wheels and Virtual DJ LE & Prime Loops Remix Tool Kit
Best For Parties
Numark Party Mix | Complete DJ Controller Set for Serato DJ with 2 Decks, Party Lights, Headphone Output, Performance Pads and Crossfader / Mixer
Numark DJ2GO2 Touch – Compact 2 Deck USB DJ Controller For Serato DJ with a Mixer/Crossfader, Audio Interface and Touch Capacitive Jog Wheels
Behringer CMD Studio 4a 4-Deck DJ MIDI Controller with 4-Channel Audio Interface
Pioneer DJ DJ Controller, Black, (DDJSB3)
Numark Mixtrack 3 | All-In-One 2-Deck DJ Controller for Serato DJ Including an Long-Throw Pitch Faders, 5-inch High Resolution Jog Wheels and Virtual DJ LE & Prime Loops Remix Tool Kit
Numark Party Mix | Complete DJ Controller Set for Serato DJ with 2 Decks, Party Lights, Headphone Output, Performance Pads and Crossfader / Mixer
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Most Affordable
Numark DJ2GO2 Touch – Compact 2 Deck USB DJ Controller For Serato DJ with a Mixer/Crossfader, Audio Interface and Touch Capacitive Jog Wheels
Numark DJ2GO2 Touch – Compact 2 Deck USB DJ Controller For Serato DJ with a Mixer/Crossfader, Audio Interface and Touch Capacitive Jog Wheels
Most Durable
Behringer CMD Studio 4a 4-Deck DJ MIDI Controller with 4-Channel Audio Interface
Behringer CMD Studio 4a 4-Deck DJ MIDI Controller with 4-Channel Audio Interface
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Top Pick
Pioneer DJ DJ Controller, Black, (DDJSB3)
Pioneer DJ DJ Controller, Black, (DDJSB3)
Upgradeable
Numark Mixtrack 3 | All-In-One 2-Deck DJ Controller for Serato DJ Including an Long-Throw Pitch Faders, 5-inch High Resolution Jog Wheels and Virtual DJ LE & Prime Loops Remix Tool Kit
Numark Mixtrack 3 | All-In-One 2-Deck DJ Controller for Serato DJ Including an Long-Throw Pitch Faders, 5-inch High Resolution Jog Wheels and Virtual DJ LE & Prime Loops Remix Tool Kit
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Best For Parties
Numark Party Mix | Complete DJ Controller Set for Serato DJ with 2 Decks, Party Lights, Headphone Output, Performance Pads and Crossfader / Mixer
Numark Party Mix | Complete DJ Controller Set for Serato DJ with 2 Decks, Party Lights, Headphone Output, Performance Pads and Crossfader / Mixer

Below is a look at some of the best starter DJ controllers that you can look at if you are a beginner looking to dip their feet into the exciting world of DJing.

Numark Mixtrack 3

Numark Mixtrack 3 - best dj controllers for beginners under 1000

The Numark Mixtrack 3  is a robust DJ controller for beginners guaranteed to offer you an all-in-one experience.

Numark is a reliable and reputable brand name trusted by DJs across the world so buying a Numark DJ controller gives you the assurance of reliable and good quality equipment.  

If you are aspiring to be a professional DJ, the Mixtrack 3 is just the deck for you.

It is built with various professional features and it offers a reliable performance that differentiates it from other conventional DJ controllers.

It is a portable DJ gear that you can use with your laptop along with an external audio device to begin mixing your tracks.

It includes the features you need for your professional mixing including 5” high-resolution jogwheels, a multi-function touch strip, Prime Loops remix toolkit, backlit pads, and long-throw pitch faders.

The USB connection allows you to easily plug it in for home use.

There are also long pitch sliders that allow you to keep things in sync for your beatmatching.

Pros

  • All-in-one DJ controller with lots of pro features.
  • Solid build.

Cons

  • No built-in soundcard. It’s sold separately and you will need an external interface for the sound output to your speakers and headphones.

Numark Party Mix

Numark Party Mix - best budget cheap starter dj controllers for beginners

Get your parties started with this very portable and feature-packed DJ controller for beginners.

Packed with lots of critical features, this is a cool DJ gear to learn and grow with into a professional DJ.

It offers you smooth connections to either PC or Mac and you can use it to do everything from browsing to playing and mixing your favorite tracks via the included Serato DJ Lite DJ software.

The light show on the Numark Party Mix is quite stunning.

It features three room-filling LED light arrays that will see you deliver an electrifying show.

They auto-sync to the mix and flash from the back of the controller to illuminate the performance.

It also features a built-in soundcard that comes with all the requisite controls for a professional and modern DJ.

Its crossfader, two jogwheels, the auto/manual looping, four responsive performance pads, sample playback as well as the sync/cue/play buttons will see you take charge of your mixes.

They will also put your mixes on point with the on-board headphone cueing.

Pros

  • Two-channel DJ controller with included Serato DJ Lite.
  • Compatible with both Mac and PC.
  • Stunning room-filling LED party light show which will auto-sync to the music for an electrifying and unforgettable performance.
  • Lots of must-have and critical tools for a seamless mixing performance including jog wheels, performance pads, and crossfaders.

Cons

  • Not as sturdy as its competitors. 

Hercules DJControl Starlight

Hercules DJ Control Inpulse 300 - best starter dj controller with large jog wheels and xlr outputs

You can use Hercules DJControl Starlight to do your mixes on the move using Serato software.

It is a portable and fully-featured DJ controller within an affordable package that lets you do lots of stuff.

It packs the bells and whistles including a control playback as well as pressure-sensitive jog wheels.

It is also built with bass/filter along with EQ buttons that allow you to make smooth transitions.

Its powerful and brilliant stroboscopic RGB backlighting will light up your DJing gig with colorful light shows from beneath the controller’s base.

It also features an audio interface with which you can pre-listen to your tracks before you belt them out on the speakers.

Pros

  • This is a powerful beginner DJ controller that you can grow into the advanced skill levels.
  • It comes with an included Serato DJ Lite.
  • Has built-in soundcard that enables you to pre-listen your tracks before you belt them out to the party via the speaker outputs.
  • The RGB and Strobe effects enable you to control the back lights and give stunning light shows in your performance. The lighting is software-controlled.
  • The necessary bells and whistles are present in the Hercules DJControl Starlight including the Sampler, hot cue modes, bass/filter, FX, pressure-sensitive jog wheels and FX.
  • This is a compact DJ controller for beginners that you can easily carry along to your gigs.

Cons

  • You have to buy a separate Serato DJ Pro license for use with this controller.

Roland DJ-505

Roland DJ-505 - best new starter dj controller coming out soon

If you are a beginner or bedroom producer looking for powerful DJing gear, then you won’t go wrong with the Roland DJ-505.

Roland is a relatively new brand in the DJ controller market but its Aira-branded controllers have been a hit. With the Roland DJ-505, you get a Serato controller deck with classic sounds.

This controller features a ‘TR-S’ drum machine.

It produces sounds similar to those in the first-generation TR-8 that will give you close digital recreations of Roland’s 707, 808, and 909 beatmakers.

These emulations are undoubtedly some of the most impressive that you can get using modern hardware.

The Roland DJ-505 gives you a two-channel and four-deck DJ controller kitted with a Serato DJ Pro.

It is an affordable DJ controller.

With the DJ-500, you get the advanced performance of a Serato DJ Pro blended with the classic and legendary sounds as well as sequencing from Roland’s drum machines: TR-909, TR-808, TR-707 and the TR-606.

This DJ controller equips you with tools that you need to transition from mixing songs to easily creating the beats and rhythms that sync to the tracks on your Serato DJ Pro.

These powerful features will enable you to create unique transitions, beefed-up classics, and live remixes.

You can even use it to create your original music!

While the DJ-505 isn’t a top-range Roland controller model, it is affordable, convenient and feature-packed.

It is not as visually impressive but its compact size makes it a great option for many bedroom producers that are looking for a hardware drum machine along with a DJ scratchpad.  

Overall, this is a powerful and inspiring DJ controller that gives you lots of flexibility whether you are a beginner or a seasoned DJ.

You can use it to remix, produce, and churn out new creative ideas to your musical performances.

Pros

  • Features tow channels as well as a deck select that allows for up to four channels.
  • Packed with Roland’s legendary drum kits built into the deck.
  • Serrate D Pro dedicated controls including slicer, hot cue, pattern, roll, contemporary, sampler modes, and pattern.
  • The platters are large, low latency, and optimized to enable you to scratch easily.
  • A total of eight sounds in the TR.
  • Easy to use.
  • Simple plug and play setup.
  • Top-quality and built-in sounds.

Cons

  • The look is a little garish.

Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB3

Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB3 - best starter deck controller for djing under 500 dollars

If you are a beginner, you wouldn’t go wrong with this Serato DJ controller.

This is one of the best options for you if you are just starting out.

It is a two-channel DJ controller that has been designed for the Serato DJ Lite software.

It has a similar layout to the more advanced DDJ-S hardware and includes various features such as performance pads, jog wheels, independent auto loop buttons, performance pads as well as cue and play buttons.

The SB3 is an upgrade from the DDJ-SB2 and includes a Pad Scratch feature that was designed in concert with DJ Jazzy Jeff.

You can use this feature to initiate eight of Jeff’s trademark scratch techniques and the controller will automatically match the scratch to the BPM of the track.

You can use this in isolation or with your own scratching technique.

Pros

  • The perfect Serato DJ controller for beginners.
  • It ships bundled with the Serato DJ Lite software.
  • Features the Pad Scratch function designed in collaboration with DJ jazzy Jeff.

Cons

  • The pitch faders are small.

Hercules DJ Control Inpulse 300

Hercules DJ Control Inpulse 300 - best starter dj controller with large jog wheels and xlr outputs

The Hercules DJ Control is another great choice for beginners.

It is quite affordable and has a bevy of features for the starter DJ.

It also features really nice jog wheels.

It will cater to all your control needs including loop, mix, cue as well as performance pads.

This Hercules DJ controller for beginners is quite cheap so if you are just starting out and are looking to save money on your gear, this would be a great affordable option with lots of the features a DJ would need.

It is built with solid wheels and the mixing unit works perfectly.

It also ships with the DJUCED DJ software which is still effective even though it is not as widely used as the likes of Serato.

Pros

  • Affordable.
  • Packs lots of features.
  • Comprehensive DJUCED software included with shipments.
  • Intelligent music assistant.
  • Slider and button layout enable you to easily learn the moves.

Cons

  • Not suited for serious DJing.

Pioneer DJ DDJ-RB

Pioneer DJ DDJ-RB - best starter dj controller under $700 for beginners

The Pioneer DJ DDJ-RB is an affordable entry-level option.

It is a compact and relatively lightweight DJ controller that will easily fit into your backpack.

It is a good choice for the DJ on the go. This DJ controller also comes bundled with the rekordox DJ software.

You can pay for an upgrade to also access the rekordbox DVS.  

In spite of it being an entry-level controller, the DDJ-RB also has some really advanced features.

There is the Sequence Call function with which you can create sample sequences and even play these directly.

It also features other performance functionalities via the Pad FX, Hot Cues, Beat Jump, and the Slicer effect courtesy of its 16 performance pads.

Pros

  • Ships with an included rekordbox DJ software.
  • An affordable DJ controller option.
  • Plug and play functionality.

Cons

  • The pitch faders are relatively small.

Numark DJ2GO2

Numark DJ2GO2 - best cheapest starter dj controller under 100 dollars

The Numark DJ2GO2 is a super-compact DJ controller with a built-in sound card.

The soundcard features a headphone output for cueing, master gain as well as the channel gain knobs.

Its two channels have pitch faders and crossfader to enable you to blend easily.

The DJ2GO2 also features pad modes that enable you to gain access to the performance controls that are more commonly found in the more robust DJ controllers.

This is not necessarily at the top of everyone’s priorities but it is an affordable DJ controller that still packs plenty of features.

It is perfect for a beginner or a professional DJ looking for a backup control that they can carry around with them.

Pros

  • Built-in soundcard.
  • Performance pad modes.
  • Affordable.
  • A good beginner DJ controller.
  • Portable design.

Cons

  • Limited growth potential.

Behringer CMD Studio 4A

Behringer CMD Studio 4A - best starter midi dj controller for scratching

Behringer is a trusted music brand that makes very good music hardware and instruments.

Behringer gear tends to be of top quality and affordably priced.

The CMD Studio 4A features a solid and durable build.

While it does not have much of the fancy stuff that you would find in fully-featured and advanced DJ controllers, it still offers you the essentials.

There is the 4-deck control as well as a built-in audio interface.

It comes with an included software known as Deckadance LE.

It is not one of the best known but it is robust enough and it is also compatible with different kinds of hardware.

The platters are touch-sensitive and impressively built.

They are also fun to scratch.

Pros

  • Affordably priced and perfect for beginners.
  • Built-in audio interface.

Cons

  • It does not have the performance pads.

What is a DJ Controller?

buyers guide - how to choose the best starter dj controllers for beginners

A DJ controller is external DJing hardware that is hooked on a computer or iPad to recreate the workflow and the traditional DJ setup.

They are useful pieces of DJing equipment that you can use to accomplish different kinds of DJing tasks such as mixing, manipulating the control effects, scratching, or going through your music libraries on your laptop or computer.

In the years gone by, the DJ controller setup actually consisted of DJ mixers and DJ turntables, two separate pieces of DJing equipment.

The DJ hardware technology has since evolved and now merges these two pieces of gear into a single gear that you can seamlessly connect to your computer.

When choosing DJ controllers for beginners, you have to take a number of factors into account such as the brand, sizes, and shapes of the equipment.

Some DJ controllers are better suited for beginners while others will work best for the more seasoned DJs.

There are also all-in-one DJ controllers for beginners as well as controllers that are basically a network of several DJ controls encompassing the mixers, FX control gear, and the scratching platters.

If you are a beginner, simplicity is key and it would be prudent to opt for an all-in-one DJ controller.  

It is also important to keep in mind that most of the DJ controllers are universal and will be compatible with some of the most popular pieces of DJ software.

However, there are some DJ controllers that operate within a restricted DJ software ecosystem.

This is therefore something that you need to keep in mind when shopping for a DJ controller.

Some of the top DJ controller brands include Native Instruments, Traktor, Numark, Behringer, and Serato DJ.

Last update on 2020-10-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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