fbpx
Displayed is a variety of DJ controllers set against a gradient background transitioning from purple to orange. These controllers showcase diverse designs, equipped with multiple buttons, knobs, and sliders. Additionally, they feature jog wheels and colorful pads essential for mixing music.

The Best Beginner DJ Controllers: The Ultimate List for 2024

This page contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you purchase through links on my site, at no additional cost to you. Find out more here: affiliate disclosure.

DJ setups have evolved over the years and have become more diverse than ever. You can now DJ with a laptop and controller, CDJs, vinyl turntables, and a wide selection of other devices on the market. The many ways to DJ seem endless. The good news is, if you’re a beginner, all you need is a computer and a DJ controller to get started.

But, which is the best beginner DJ controller?

In this guide, I will look at a few of the best beginner DJ controllers to start your DJ Journey. I will be looking at the best DJ controllers that pair up with a laptop, as this is generally the most accessible and affordable choice for most beginner DJs.

The DJ controllers chosen in this article focus on the entry-level and beginner markets, favoring affordability and features that will benefit beginner DJs. There are a few things to consider when buying a new DJ controller, such as which DJ software is right for you. Towards the end of this article, there’s a guide that’ll help you work out what you need in a DJ controller… Happy mixing!

Summary of the Best Beginner DJ Controllers

Best DJ controller – Pioneer DJ DDJ-FLX4 
Best Budget DJ Controller – Hercules Impulse 500
Best Beginner DJ controller – Pioneer DJ DDJ-FLX4 
Best Budget DJ controller for Traktor – Native Instruments Traktor S2 MK3
Best Budget DJ controller for Rekordbox – Pioneer DJ DDJ-FLX4 
Best DJ controller for scratching – Pioneer DJ Rev 1

Best DJ Controllers Under $500 (Beginner DJ Controllers)

Do I need a beginner DJ controller?

To help you decide if Begginer’s DJ controller is for you, see if you fall into one of the four categories:

  1. You’re just starting out as a DJ.
  2. You’re on a tight budget.
  3. You’re DJing ‘just for fun’ at house parties.
  4. You’re a gigging DJ looking for a budget backup controller.


Related: Best DJ Courses Online

A top-view photo of the Pioneer DDJ flx4 controller showcases dual jog wheels alongside countless buttons, sliders, and knobs used for mixing, effects, and navigation. The controller boasts a predominantly black design accented with orange highlights and white text that labels the various controls.

Pioneer DJ DDJ-FLX4 

Designed specifically for beginners

View on Amazon
View on Sweetwater


Suited to:Aspiring Club DJs who want to use Pioneer rekordbox
Channels2
Deck Control2
Software:rekordbox, Serato DJ Lite, Serato DJ Pro, djay for iOS/Android
Connectivity1 x MIC input, 1 x RCA, 1 x 3.5mm stereo jack, 2 x USB-C ports
FXYes
LoopingYes
ProsVery User Friendly,
reasonable price,
built-in sound card
ConsNo balanced outputs

Pioneer DJ designed the DJ DDJ-FLX4 specifically to be a beginner DJ controller. They have taken ideas from their DDJ 400 controller and slimmed it down to make it even easier to learn how to DJ.

The DJ controller comes with Rekordbox and works with Serato DJ software (Serato DJ lite is included with the controller). Using either of these pieces of DJ software, you can DJ local files and streaming services such as TIDAL, Beatport Streaming, Beatsource Streaming, or SoundCloud Go+. Note that you will need a subscription to those streaming services.

Close-up of a person's hands adjusting controls on a Pioneer DJ mixer reveals various knobs, sliders, and two turntables, all situated on a table. The individual is dressed in a green long-sleeve shirt.
Pioneer DJ-DDJ FLX4

A nice feature for beginner DJs is that rekordbox has several tutorials built into it that can help to teach you the basics of mixing. Another good feature for beginner DJs is the Smart Fader, which helps you create transitions between tracks. Pioneer has also included a function called Smart CFX, which applies combinations of FX with a single knob.

Despite being a budget DJ controller, the build quality and layout of jog wheels, faders, and knobs are of high quality. You will certainly be able to learn how to DJ and create some professional-sounding mixes on this entry-level controller.

Pioneer has created a solid, affordable, entry-level control for the beginner DJ. Price at around £279; it’s one of the best DJ controllers for learning how to DJ. If you’re looking for more advanced features, you may find it a little limited, but you could check out the more advanced models DDJ-FLX6 & DDJ-FLX10.

Alternatives:
Midrange: DDJ-FLX6
Top of the Range: DDJ-FLX10


Related: The Best DJ Books Every DJ Should Read

A photo of a Traktor Kontrol S2 DJ controller. Adorned with two large jog wheels, multiple faders, knobs, and an array of brightly colored performance pads. The Traktor logo is prominently visible on the bottom left corner of the device.

Native Instruments Traktor S2 MK3

Best Beginner DJ Controller for Traktor

View on Amazon
View on Thomann


Suited to:Beginner DJs looking for a budget Traktor controller
Channels2
Deck Control2
Software:Traktor Pro 3, Traktor DJ 2 
Connectivity2 x stereo out (line and 1/8″ / 3.5mm TRS Jack), 1 x Headphone Output (3.5mm TRS Jack), 1 x Mic Input (6.3mm TRA)
FXYes
LoopingYes
ProsWell Built.
Affordable Price.
ConsNo extra inputs.

The NI Traktor S2 mk3 is Native Instrument’s entry-level Traktor controller suited for beginner DJs using the Traktor Software. If you’re starting to learn how to DJ, you’ll be pleased to know you get the Traktor Pro DJ software thrown in with the decks.

Although the Traktor DJ software might not have as much of a market share as it used to, it’s still worthwhile considering for live remixing and electronic performances.

Related: Free Online DJ Courses

The controller provides good value for money, with solid build quality, although the jog wheels aren’t as good as the more expensive models. Overall, it’s a decent controller and great fun for playing parties or home DJ sets.

Alternatives:
Midrange: Native Instruments Traktor S4 MK3


Related: How to Get DJ Gigs

Hercules 500 DJ controller featuring two prominent jog wheels labeled 1 and 2, along with various knobs, buttons, and sliders to facilitate mixing and producing music. Multicolored pads enhance its versatility, while the Hercules branding and labels for Serato DJ software assure quality. The device also has a red cable connected to the top left corner.

Hercules DJControl Inpulse 500

Best DJ controller for those on a budget

View on Amazon
View on Thomann


Suited to:Beginner DJs
Channels2
Deck Control2
Software:DJUCED and Serato DJ Lite
ConnectivityMaster Output: 2 x 1/4” / 6.35 mm jack + 2 x RCA, Headphone Output: 1/8” / 3.5 mm stereo mini-jack + 1/4” / 6.35 mm stereo jack, Auxiliary Input:  2 x RCA + 1/8” / 3.5 mm stereo mini-jack, Mic Input: balanced 1/4” / 6.35 mm jack
FXYes
LoopingYes
ProsLots of controls.
The addition of performance pads.
Works with Serato & DJUCED.
ConsSensitive Jog Wheels.
Pads not too sturdy.

The Hercules DJControl Impulse 500 is the latest release from the Inpulse lineup, aiming to be their flagship DJ Controller. It’s a reasonably priced beginner DJ controller that doesn’t feel like a budget controller in terms of performance and feel. It has a sleek, robust design with a high-performance metal backing plate and extendable feet.

The device is designed with entry-level DJs in mind, featuring the AI assistant and beat match directional guide to help you learn how to DJ. It will also suit mid-level professionals too.

Hercules 500 DJ controller equipped with various buttons, knobs, and two jog wheels sits ready for action. It boasts colorful performance pads on each side and connects via a cable. The device displays "DJUCED" and "Hercules" logos.

The layout appears to be more tailored to Serato users than the Hercules-owned DJUCED platform, even with the DJUCED platform specifically designed for Hercules hardware. The Serato DJ Lite comes bundled with the controller and the DJUCED DJ software, so you can decide which suits you best. Both of those pieces of software offer streaming compatibility, significantly expanding your repertoire.


Related: Best Midi Controller for Ableton

Overhead photo of a Numark Mixtrack Platinum FX DJ controller, displaying two large jog wheels, numerous buttons and knobs, and a central mixing section. Predominantly black with red accents, the device also showcases Serato branding.

Numark Mixtrack Platinum FX

Best Value Beginner DJ Controller

View on Amazon
View on Thomann


Suited to:Beginner DJs who want to use Serato DJ Software
Channels2
Deck Control4
Software:Serato DJ Lite
Connectivity1 x MIC input, 1 x RCA, 1 x 3.5mm stereo jack, 1 x USB-C ports
FXYes
LoopingYes
ProsIntegrated displays.
Large Jog Wheels
ConsSerato DJ Lite is limited.

The Numark Mixtrack Platinum FX is a fantastic option for DJs looking for a beginner-friendly controller that also helps you learn how to DJ. The DJ controller is priced reasonably and features some decent full-sized pitch channel faders and robust jog wheels with a ‘hi res’ on-jog display. This is a nice feature at this price point – and also saves you having to reference your PC.

Although it falls into the entry-level category, Numark’s DJ gear stands out as a versatile controller packed with premium tech. It’s important to note that this is still a beginner controller with limited access to Serato DJ Lite DJ software. For a better experience with this Serato DJ controller, upgrading to the full-featured Serato DJ Pro software is recommended. So factor that upgrade cost into your budget 😉

Alternatives:
Cheaper model – Numark Mixtrack Pro.
Midrange – Numark NS4 FX


Photo of a Traktor Konrol S4 DJ controller featuring two vinyl-style jog wheels, complemented by an array of knobs, faders, and buttons that cater to diverse functions. LCD screens are prominently placed on either side, accompanied by performance pads and controls designed for mixing and manipulating music tracks.

Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S4 Mk3

Best DJ Controller for Traktor Kontrol

View on Amazon
View on Thomann


Suited to:Beginner DJs who want to use Traktor DJ software.
Channels4
Deck Control4
Software:Traktor Pro 3 included
Connectivity2 x phono / line inputs, 2 x line inputs, 2 x main outputs (RCA / XLR), TRS booth output and 1/8 / 1/4 headphone outputs, 2 x mic inputs, 2 USB ports and DVS support
FXYes
LoopingYes
ProsDedicated FX knobs.
Solid feel of a premium controller.
ConsMaybe a little pricey for some beginners.

Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol mk3 marks a significant advancement with its third-generation update. The standout feature of the mk3 is the motorized jog wheels, which provide tactile feedback via the NI’s innovative ‘haptic’ technology. This means you can learn how the cue points feel while beat matching and mixing. It’s nice to get this feedback, especially when working in dark environments.

The Kontrol’s design has been updated. Similar to a CDJ-style layout, the pitch faders have been repositioned, departing from their previous placement along the outer edges as seen in the Mk2.

A new Mixer FX section has been introduced, each with small displays beneath each jog wheel. The FX section offers a wide range of sound manipulation options, which allow you to mangle up your mixes and stems with unique sounds. Which is a lot of fun 🙂

You also have the ability to perform with stems, loops, and samples. I like this as it allows you to play more layered sets, hybrid sets, and DJ performances of your own tracks. The fact that it doubles up as a way to perform and remix your own tracks on the fly makes it great value for money.

Cheaper Alternative – its smaller cousin, the Native Instruments Traktor S2 MK3


Related: Free Ableton Templates

The photo depicts a Pioneer DJ DDJ-REV7 DJ controller, showcasing two large jog wheels alongside numerous knobs and buttons dedicated to mixing, sampling, and effects manipulation. Tailored for Serato DJ Pro software use, the device sports a predominantly black finish accented with orange highlights.

Pioneer DJ Rev 1

Best DJ Controller for Scratch DJs

View on Amazon
View on Sweetwater


Suited to:Scratch DJs & Beginner DJs
Channels2
Deck Control4
Software:Serato DJ Lite 
ConnectivityUSB, 1 x 4-inch microphone input / 1 x 4-inch headphone jack, RCA Output
FXYes
LoopingYes
ProsBattle Style Config & DJM syle layout.
Includes performances pads.
ConsPerformance pads might be a little small for some.

If you are an aspiring scratch DJ, Pioneer’s DJ Rev 1 is for you! Pioneer has developed an entry-level two-channel, scratch DJ controller for the beginner scratch djs. Pioneer’s aim is to provide a solid budget controller with the precision and dexterity that Turntablism requires.

The close-up photo reveals a Numark Mixtracks jogwheel, where the central digital screen indicates 126.3 BPM along with a timer, pitch adjustmen, beats per mintute and platter position.
Numark Jog Wheel Display

The design layout of the DJ controller includes specialized features for open-format and scratch DJs by emulating a professional DJM-S mixer + PLX turntable setup. This sees the REV-1 is laid out in a battle configuration, to help you show off your Turntablism skills. This means the 60mm pitch faders are placed above rather than beside the jog wheels. The pitch sliders are longer than on the DDJ-SB3 to give you finer control. The Performance Pads are housed in the mixer section, so you can intuitively combine effects and trigger samples and scratch your tracks. You’ll also find that the jog wheels are larger than average jog wheels, which helps this DJ controller feel a little more premium.

The REV-1 is designed for use with the free Serato DJ Lite – which is bundled with the controller. You will have to upgrade to Serato DJ Pro separately.

Alternative: Rane Twelve mk II


Related: How to DJ in Ableton

How to Choose the Right DJ Controller

We have looked at a few options for the best DJ controllers for beginners; however, it’s important to note there’s no one-size-fits-all. Several factors will influence your buying decision. Consider your skill level, which DJ software you want to use, features on the DJ controller, what kind of DJing you want to do, and your budget.

Let’s have a look at other things to consider:

  • What level are you at? Investing in the most expensive DJ controllers may be overkill if you’re a beginner DJ. It makes more sense to find a controller that helps you learn and master DJ skills. The Pioneer DDJ-FLX4 or the Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 MK3 do just that. You can then upgrade when you realize what other features your DJing style will benefit from. If you’re an advanced DJ, you’ll require a DJ controller that can provide more features than your existing controller, like the DDJ-FLX10, which offers more control over your music.
  • Connectivity options: What types of connections will you require? CD and USB connectivity typically come as standard. If you have many music libraries to browse through, you may require multiple USB connections or the ability to connect your phone to your device.
    Also, consider if you require audio inputs built-in or the ability to connect turntables, CDJs, or an instrument to your setup. Would you want to expand with timecoded vinyl or CDs in the future?
  • Which DJ software? The main DJ software options available are Serato, Rekordbox, and Traktor. The DJ software you favor will influence the DJ controller that suits your needs, as most DJ controllers are designed with a particular software in mind. For example, if you’re a fan of rekordbox DJ technology, then you’ll need a rekordbox compatible controller. A suitable rekordbox beginner DJ controller is the Pioneer DDJ-FLX4.

    If you prefer Serato, consider the Numark Platinum FX or Hercules DJControl Impulse 500 DJ controller. You can see which DJ controllers are compatible with Serato on their site.The best DJ controller for Traktor is the Native Instruments Traktor S4 MK3. Or, if you have a smaller budget, the Native Instruments Traktor S2 MK3.
  • What’s your budget? There is a wide range of DJ controllers at different price points, with the beginner market offering cheaper options. If you can’t afford the priciest options straight away, remember that you can always build your way up to more advanced controllers. It’s worth investing time in practicing your DJ skills and understanding the features you require for your next controller.
  • Where are you going to use it? Consider how you’re going to use your DJ controller. An entry-level controller will suffice if you want to do the odd mix at home. However, if you want to be a professional DJ, a full standalone DJ controller (all-in-one system) you can take to gigs makes more sense. If you want to go pro, it will also benefit you to be aware of the industry standard technology in your genre of choice. This way, when you turn up to play at a club, you are familiar with using their kit.

FAQ

u003cstrongu003eWhat’s the best DJ equipment to buy for beginners?u003c/strongu003e

Are you wondering what the best DJ controller for a beginner is? Although this partly depends on your DJ software and budget, some of the best DJ controllers available are:u003cbru003eBest DJ Controller for Beginners – u003cstrongu003eu003cta href=u0022https://thevelvetshadow.com/go/pioneer-dj-ddj-flx4-amzu0022 linkid=u00228666u0022u003ePioneer DDJFLX4,u003c/tau003eu003c/strongu003eu003cbru003eBest DJ Controller for Scratch DJs – u003cstrongu003eu003cta href=u0022https://thevelvetshadow.com/go/pioneerdjddj-rev1-amzu0022 linkid=u00228682u0022u003ePioneer DJ Rev 1u003c/tau003eu003c/strongu003eu003cbru003eBest DJ Controller for Traktor – u003cstrongu003eu003cta href=u0022https://thevelvetshadow.com/go/nitraktorkontrols4-amzu0022 linkid=u00228670u0022u003eTraktor Kontrol S4 MK3u003c/tau003e.u003c/strongu003eu003cbru003eBest Budget DJ Controller – u003cstrongu003eu003cta href=u0022https://thevelvetshadow.com/go/hercules500amzu0022 linkid=u00228675u0022u003eHercules DJControl Inpulse 500u003c/tau003eu003c/strongu003eu003cbru003eAll of these DJ controllers are perfect for beginners.

u003cstrongu003eWhat Is The Best Controller For DJing?u003c/strongu003e

The best DJ controller for you depends on your budget, skill level, and DJ software choice. If you’re looking for an affordable beginner DJ Controller, consider the Pioneer DJ DDJ-FLX4.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eIf you want a mid-range controller, go for the Pioneer DJ DDJ-SR2. For the ultimate DJ controller, the Pioneer DJ DDJ-FLX10 is the top choice. Additionally, make sure to explore other DJ controllers that are compatible with specific software like Serato and Rekordbox.

u003cstrongu003eWhat Controller Do Pro DJs Use?u003c/strongu003e

Professional DJs use a range of DJ controllers. For instance, the Pioneer DJ DDJ-1000 has been notably employed by renowned DJs such as David Guetta, Armin Van Buuren, Martin Garrix, and Tiesto, to name just a few. Additionally, the Pioneer DJ DDJ-SX3 has found favor with Calvin Harris and Diplo.

u003cstrongu003eAre DJ Controllers Good For Beginners?u003c/strongu003e

DJ controllers offer a fantastic entry point for beginners who want to start DJing. Compared to purchasing a full DJ setup, which can amount to thousands of dollars, the cost savings is a significant advantage. Additionally, the wide variety of DJ controllers catering to different skill levels is a definite plus, increasing the likelihood of finding the best DJ controller for your needs.

u003cstrongu003eAre Pioneer DJ controllers good?u003c/strongu003e

Pioneer DJ produces some of the best DJ controllers in the market. Pioneer DJ produces some of the best DJ controllers in the market.

What does a DJ controller do?

A DJ mixer or controller is an electronic device that enables DJs to control software for mixing and playing music. It usually features a two-channel mixer, EQs, faders, jog wheels, platters, and pitch controls. Some advanced controllers also come with built-in effects and drum machines. By utilizing these devices, DJs can mix tracks in creative ways while having a greater level of control over their music.

How much is a DJ controller?

The cost of a DJ controller depends on various factors, such as its features and brand. Generally, prices can range from $100 to $2,000, but it’s important to consider your individual needs before purchasing. If you’re starting out, there are more affordable options available that will give you the basics of mixing and playing music. For more advanced users, the pricier DJ controllers offer a greater range of features and functionality that will take your mixing to the next level.

Related DJ Articles

The Best DJ Courses Online – Increase your technical skills and learn more about DJ promotion.
The Best DJing Books Every DJ Should Read – Geek up on DJ techniques & history.
The Best Beginner DJ Controllers – Start your mixing journey with a beginner-friendly DJ controller.
How to Make and Sell Merch – Boost your DJ brand & income.
How to get DJ Gigs – Follow these tips to get more DJ gigs.
The Best Music Marketing Books – Get your DJ marketing on point and get more DJ gigs.
13 Strategies for Better Music Marketing – Apply these strategies to grow your DJ brand.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *