Discovering the Best Beginner DJ Controller for 2023: Top Picks and Reviews

The rhythmic beats, the pulsating lights, and the electrifying energy of a dance floor – all of these are often orchestrated by a single individual: the DJ. The world of DJing is as vibrant as it is intricate, a realm where art meets technology. For those embarking on their DJ journey, the first step often…


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November 8, 2023 |

Reading Time: 17 minutes

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The rhythmic beats, the pulsating lights, and the electrifying energy of a dance floor – all of these are often orchestrated by a single individual: the DJ. The world of DJing is as vibrant as it is intricate, a realm where art meets technology.

For those embarking on their DJ journey, the first step often involves choosing the best beginner DJ controller. This piece of equipment acts as the heart of a DJ setup, bridging the gap between creativity and the digital music collection.

Why the Right DJ Controller Matters

  • Foundation for Skills: A good DJ controller lays the groundwork for honing DJ skills. From mastering the art of blending tracks to understanding the nuances of jog wheels and performance pads, the right controller can make all the difference.
  • Seamless Integration with Software: In today’s digital age, DJing isn’t just about the hardware. DJ software plays a pivotal role. Popular platforms like Serato DJ Lite and Rekordbox DJ Software offer a plethora of features, and the ideal controller should integrate seamlessly with them.
  • Value for Money: While some might be tempted to opt for the cheapest DJ controller, it’s essential to ensure that the controller offers the best value in terms of features and performance.

Popular DJ Software: The Digital Backbone

  • Serato DJ Lite: A favorite among beginner DJs, Serato DJ Lite offers an intuitive interface paired with robust features, making it a top choice for those starting their DJ journey.
  • Rekordbox DJ Software: Developed by Pioneer DJ, a titan in the DJ equipment industry, Rekordbox DJ is renowned for its stability and comprehensive features, catering to both novices and professional DJs.

In the subsequent sections, we’ll delve deeper into the world of DJ controllers, exploring the top contenders in the market, their key features, and how they can elevate your DJing experience. Whether you’re an aspiring DJ looking to play at local gigs or someone diving into DJing as a passionate hobby, this guide promises to be your compass in the mesmerizing world of mixing and mastering tracks.

Decoding the Perfect Beginner DJ Controller

Navigating the vast world of DJ controllers can be a daunting task, especially for budding DJs. With a plethora of options available, how does one determine the ideal fit? Let’s break it down!

DJ Software Compatibility: The Digital Heartbeat

  • Why Software Matters: At the core of every DJ controller is the software it integrates with. This software acts as the digital canvas where DJs paint their musical masterpieces.
  • Top Picks:
    • Serato DJ Lite: A favorite among beginner DJs, this software offers a user-friendly interface, making it easier for newcomers to get started.
    • Virtual DJ: Another heavyweight in the DJ software realm, Virtual DJ boasts a range of features suitable for both novices and pros.

Key Features: The Building Blocks of DJing

  • Jog Wheels: These touch-sensitive jog wheels allow DJs to scratch, rewind, and fast-forward tracks, offering a tactile experience.
  • Performance Tools:
    • Performance Pads: These pads trigger hot cues, loops, and samples, adding flair to mixes.
    • Hot Cues: Mark specific points in a track for instant playback.
  • Sound Essentials:
    • Audio Interface: Ensures high-quality sound output.
    • USB Audio Output: Facilitates easy connection to external devices.
  • Connectivity:
    • Bluetooth Connectivity: For wireless connections to mobile devices and other equipment.
    • USB Bus Powered: Power your controller directly from your computer, eliminating the need for an external power source.

Build and Design: The Aesthetics and Functionality

  • Sound Card: A built-in sound card ensures that the audio output is of top-notch quality, eliminating the need for external sound cards.
  • Microphone Sound: For those moments when you want to hype up the crowd or make announcements, the quality of the microphone sound is crucial.

Price and Value: Striking the Right Balance

  • Budget-Friendly Options: While it might be tempting to go for the cheapest DJ controller, it’s essential to ensure you’re not compromising on essential features.
  • Value for Money: The best controllers offer a harmonious blend of price and features, ensuring that every penny spent is worth it.

In the subsequent sections, we’ll dive deeper, exploring the top DJ controllers in the market, their standout features, and how they cater to the unique needs of beginner DJs. Whether you’re taking your first steps in the DJing world or looking to upgrade your gear, this guide promises to light the way!

Top 5 Best Beginner DJ Controllers: A Deep Dive

Embarking on your DJ journey? The right equipment can make all the difference. Let’s explore the top 5 DJ controllers tailored for beginners, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable learning curve.

1. Numark Mixtrack Platinum FX

The Numark Mixtrack Platinum FX is a stellar choice for those venturing into the DJ realm. This 24-bit 4-deck digital DJ controller is designed to provide both novices and seasoned DJs with a seamless blend of functionality and user-friendliness. With its large 6-inch capacitive-touch jog wheels, multi-function touch strip, and dedicated FX paddles, it’s evident that Numark has prioritized innovation and ease of use.

Key Features:

  • USB Bus Powered: The Mixtrack Platinum FX eliminates the need for external power sources. A simple connection to your computer is all it takes to power up.
  • Jog Wheel Displays: The high-resolution displays on the jog wheels relay crucial song information, such as BPM, Platter Position, Time Remaining, Pitch adjustment, and key.
  • Performance Pads: The controller’s 16 multi-function backlit performance pads are designed for more than just aesthetics. They offer quick access to hot cues, auto loops, samples, and even fader cuts.
  • Serato DJ Integration: The Mixtrack Platinum FX is pre-mapped with Serato DJ Lite for Mac & PC and is upgrade-ready for the full version of Serato DJ. Plus, with Serato DJ Lite, DJs can stream millions of songs via WIFI from platforms like TIDAL or SoundCloud.
  • SoundSwitch Premium: A 2-month trial of SoundSwitch premium DJ lighting software is included, allowing DJs to synchronize lighting visuals with live audio in Serato DJ.

Build and Design:

The Mixtrack Platinum FX boasts a robust and sleek design, ensuring durability and a professional look. The large jog wheels, performance pads, and FX controls are strategically placed for optimal performance, making it a favorite among many DJs.

Price and Value:

The Mixtrack Platinum FX offers excellent value for its price point. Given its range of features, build quality, and the reputation of Numark, it’s a worthy investment for both beginners and professionals.

Numark Mixtrack Platinum FX


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2. Pioneer DJ DDJ FLX4

The Pioneer DJ DDJ FLX4 is a 2-channel DJ controller that showcases Pioneer DJ’s dedication to producing top-notch DJ equipment. With its user-friendly design and professional feel, the DDJ FLX4 is a versatile tool that caters to both beginners and seasoned DJs.

Key Features:

  • Software Compatibility: The DDJ FLX4 is compatible with popular DJ software like rekordbox, Serato DJ Lite, and djay. Whether you’re using a PC, Mac, or mobile device, you can seamlessly integrate your chosen software with the controller.
  • Multi-Device Support: This controller is designed for versatility. Whether you’re connecting to a PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, or an Android device, the DDJ FLX4 has got you covered. Plus, with Bluetooth® and USB connectivity options, setting up is a breeze.
  • User-Friendly Design: The DDJ FLX4 boasts a layout inherited from professional Pioneer DJ products. Its controls are straightforward and intuitively arranged, making it compact and perfect for on-the-go DJs.
  • Smart Mixing Features: For those new to DJing, the DDJ FLX4 offers features like Smart Fader and Smart CFX. These tools allow for smooth transitions between tracks and the addition of dramatic sound effects with just a turn of a knob.

Build and Design:

The DDJ FLX4’s design is a blend of simplicity and professionalism. Its layout is inspired by Pioneer DJ’s high-end products, ensuring that even beginners get a taste of a professional DJing experience. The back-lit performance pads, high-quality jog wheels, and FX controls are all neatly arranged, making the controller compact and portable.

Price and Value:

The DDJ FLX4 offers exceptional value for its features. Considering Pioneer DJ’s reputation and the controller’s range of functionalities, it’s a worthy investment for anyone looking to delve into the world of DJing or upgrade their current setup.

Pioneer DJ DDJ FLX4


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3. Hercules DJControl Inpulse 300

The Hercules DJControl Inpulse 300 is an entry-level controller specifically designed for beginner DJs aiming to hone their beat matching skills. With built-in tools to assist DJs in mastering the basics, this controller challenges the dominance of bigger brands in the market.

Key Features:

  • Beat Match Guide: Unique to the Inpulse 300, the beat match guide functionality uses LED arrows on each jog wheel and tempo fader to guide DJs in matching beats. This feature can be turned off as DJs become more confident.
  • Performance Pads: Eight rubberized pads per deck offer multiple modes, including Hot Cue, Roll, Slicer, and Sampler. Secondary modes like Tone play, FX, Slicer Loop, and Beat Jump are also available.
  • Looping: Manual looping is made easy with dedicated IN and OUT buttons, and a four-beat loop can be set by holding the IN button.
  • Effects Controls: Dedicated controls for inbuilt effects are placed at the top of each deck section. However, changing the effect requires interaction with the computer.
  • DJUICED Software: Bundled with the controller, DJUCED offers features like the beat align guide and virtual assistant. While it’s tailored for Hercules controllers, mappings for other software like Virtual DJ, Algoriddim DJay, and Traktor Pro 2 are available.

Build and Design:

Constructed primarily of plastic, the Inpulse 300 is comparable in size to controllers like the Pioneer DDJ-400. It features large 14cm jog wheels that are touch-sensitive, with a dedicated vinyl mode button.

All buttons on the controller are made of hard plastic, which feels a bit cheaper than rival units but remains responsive. The controller is powered by the computer, eliminating the need for an external power source.

Price and Value:

Given its price point, the Inpulse 300 offers significant value, especially for beginners. While it shares many performance features with controllers like the Pioneer DJ DDJ-400, it stands out with its beat guide and assistant tools, all at a lower price.

The DJUCED platform, though limited, provides a good starting point for new DJs. However, as one progresses in their DJ journey, they might look towards more established software platforms.

Hercules DJControl Inpulse 300


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4. Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 Mk3

The Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 Mk3 is a versatile DJ controller that promises to elevate your mixing experience. Whether you’re diving into the world of DJing for the first time or you’re a seasoned pro, this controller offers a blend of professional features in a user-friendly package.

Key Features:

  • 2-Channel DJ Controller: The S2 Mk3 provides flexibility for a wide range of DJ applications, ensuring that DJs can craft their unique sound with ease.
  • Seamless Software Integration: The controller boasts smooth integration with TRAKTOR PRO 3 and TRAKTOR DJ 2, offering DJs a hassle-free experience.
  • Performance-Driven Design: From high-quality jog wheels to performance pads and FX controls, the S2 Mk3 ensures that DJs have essential tools at their fingertips.
  • Mixer FX: Elevate your transitions with new Mixer FX, allowing DJs to craft unique soundscapes with club-grade effects.

Build and Design:

The Traktor Kontrol S2 Mk3 sports a club-standard layout that feels familiar yet innovative. With upsized, touch-sensitive jog wheels, DJs can cue, scratch, and nudge tracks with precision. The controller also features RGB pads, offering a tactile experience for setting and triggering cue points or samples.

Price and Value:

The Traktor Kontrol S2 Mk3 offers a balance of quality and value. Given its range of features, seamless software integration, and the reputation of Native Instruments, it’s a worthy investment for DJs looking to enhance their setup.

Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 Mk3


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5. Numark Party Mix II

The Numark Party Mix II is a budget-friendly DJ controller that offers a surprising amount of value for its price. Designed with the beginner DJ in mind, this controller provides essential features that make it easy for newcomers to dive into the world of DJing.

DJ Software Compatibility:

The Party Mix II is compatible with Serato DJ Lite, allowing users to start mixing right away. Serato is one of the most popular DJ software platforms, and with the Party Mix II, DJs can also integrate with streaming platforms like SoundCloud and Tidal. For those who wish to expand their capabilities, they can upgrade to Serato DJ Pro to unlock additional features, including the ability to record mixes.

Key Features:

  • Mixer Section: The controller features a basic but functional mixer section with 2 channels, dedicated faders, and a crossfader. Each channel offers a 2-band EQ for Bass and Treble adjustments.
  • Performance Pads: The Party Mix II boasts performance pads that provide access to cue points, loop functions, basic FX, and a sampler section.
  • Jogwheels: The touch-capacitive jogwheels are an improvement over the original Party Mix, allowing for more precise track adjustments and basic scratch routines.
  • Integrated Lights: A unique feature of the Party Mix II is its integrated lights on the back panel, which flash in sync with the music, adding an atmospheric touch to DJ performances.

Build and Design:

Constructed primarily of plastic, the Party Mix II is lightweight and portable, making it easy to transport. While it may not have the robustness of higher-end controllers, its design is more refined compared to its predecessor. The controller also features a removable USB cable, a change from the original Party Mix.

Price and Value:

Given its affordable price point, the Numark Party Mix II offers a lot of value, especially for those new to DJing. While it may have some limitations in terms of features, it provides all the essential tools for beginners to learn the fundamentals of DJing.

With the right DJ controller in hand, the world of music is at your fingertips. Whether you’re mixing tracks in your bedroom or getting the crowd grooving at a local gig, these controllers promise to be your trusted companions on this exhilarating journey.

Numark Party Mix II


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Software and Digital Music Collection: The Heartbeat of DJing

DJ Software Overview

In the realm of DJing, software plays a pivotal role, acting as the bridge between the artist and the audience. Two giants in this domain are Serato DJ Pro and Serato DJ Lite. While both hail from the same family, they cater to different needs.

  • Serato DJ Pro vs. Serato DJ Lite:
    • Serato DJ Pro is the advanced version, packed with features that cater to experienced DJs. It offers a plethora of functionalities, from expanded FX packs to the ability to record sets.
    • On the other hand, Serato DJ Lite is tailored for beginner DJs. It’s intuitive, user-friendly, and a perfect starting point for those dipping their toes in the DJing world.

Another noteworthy software is the Rekordbox DJ Software. Developed by Pioneer DJ, it’s renowned for its seamless integration with Pioneer DJ gear. Its benefits include:

  • A user-friendly interface that’s perfect for novice DJs.
  • Advanced features like auto loop and smart mixing that appeal to club DJs.
  • A robust music library management system.

Building a Digital Music Collection

For a DJ, their music library is their arsenal. It’s essential for beginner DJs to understand the importance of curating a diverse and high-quality collection.

  • Importance of a Music Library:
    • It provides a vast palette of sounds to craft unique sets.
    • A well-organized library ensures quick access to tracks, enhancing the flow of a set.

In today’s digital age, streaming services have become invaluable. Platforms like Spotify and Apple Music offer vast collections, but it’s crucial to ensure the sound quality is top-notch. Managing digital music involves:

  • Regularly updating the library with fresh tracks.
  • Ensuring tracks are appropriately labeled and categorized.
  • Backing up the collection to avoid any potential losses.

The right DJ controller and gear are crucial, but the software and music collection are the soul of the performance. They empower the DJ, allowing them to craft memorable experiences for the audience. Whether you’re an aspiring DJ or a seasoned pro, always remember – your music and software choices will shape your unique sound.

Advanced Features for Progressing DJs

Jog Wheels and Performance Pads

As DJs progress in their craft, mastering the intricacies of their equipment becomes paramount. Central to this are the Jog Wheel and Performance Pads.

  • Advanced use of Jog Wheel and Performance Pads:
    • These tools allow DJs to scratch, cue, and manipulate tracks in real-time, offering a tactile experience that’s crucial for live performances.
    • Touch Sensitive Jog Wheels are a game-changer. They respond to the slightest touch, allowing for precise control and seamless transitions.

Software Features

The software is the brain behind the DJ setup, and advanced features can elevate a DJ’s performance to new heights.

  • Auto Loop: This feature lets DJs create seamless loops, adding layers to their mixes and building energy in their sets.
  • Smart Mixing Features: These tools, often found in software like Serato DJ Lite, allow DJs to match beats, keys, and tempos effortlessly.
  • Software Compatibility: In today’s digital age, DJs often switch between various devices, from mobile devices to laptops. Ensuring software compatibility across devices is crucial for a hassle-free experience.

Additional Equipment

Beyond the controller and software, a DJ’s arsenal includes a range of equipment that enhances their performance.

Importance of DJ Equipment and DJ Gear:

  • Quality gear ensures reliability during live sets, minimizing technical glitches.
  • It also allows DJs to add unique elements to their mixes, from vocal snippets to instrumentals.

Mic Input:

  • An often-overlooked feature, the mic input allows DJs to interact with their audience, make announcements, or even add live vocals to their mixes.

As DJs progress from beginners to professionals, understanding and leveraging advanced features and equipment becomes crucial. It’s not just about playing tracks; it’s about crafting a unique sonic experience for the audience. Whether you’re an aspiring DJ or a seasoned pro, always remember – your choice of features and equipment will shape your unique sound.


What’s the difference between “Serato DJ Lite” and “Serato DJ Pro”?

Serato DJ Lite is a free, introductory version of the software, perfect for those just starting out. It offers basic functionalities. On the other hand, Serato DJ Pro is a premium version, boasting advanced features and enhanced performance capabilities, tailored for professional DJs.

How important is “Sound Quality” in a DJ controller?

Sound Quality is paramount in a DJ controller. It ensures that the music is clear, crisp, and powerful, enhancing the overall listening experience for the audience. A controller with poor sound quality can hinder a DJ’s performance and reputation.

Can I use my “Mobile Device” or “Computer” with most DJ controllers?

Absolutely! Most modern DJ controllers are designed to be compatible with both mobile devices and computers. This flexibility allows DJs to mix and perform using a variety of sources, making setups versatile and adaptable to different scenarios.

What are “Hot Cues” and how do they benefit beginner DJs?

Hot Cues are markers set on tracks, allowing DJs to instantly jump to specific parts of a song. For beginner DJs, they’re invaluable, enabling quick transitions, remixing on-the-fly, and adding a personal touch to mixes without extensive manual searching.

Are “Built-in Drum Machines” common in beginner DJ controllers?

While not standard in every beginner DJ controller, some models do feature built-in drum machines. These allow DJs to overlay beats and rhythms, adding depth to their mixes and enabling creative experimentation.

How does “Bluetooth Connectivity” enhance the DJing experience?

Bluetooth Connectivity offers wireless freedom, allowing DJs to connect devices without the clutter of cables. It’s especially handy for setups in tight spaces or when using multiple devices, ensuring a seamless and hassle-free connection.

What is the best DJ controller for beginners?

The best DJ controller for beginners offers a balance of functionality, ease of use, and affordability. Many consider entry-level DJ controllers and beginner controllers to be ideal for those just starting out, as they often come with integrated video tutorials to help novices learn the ropes.

Who is DJ Jazzy Jeff and why is he significant in the DJing world?

DJ Jazzy Jeff is a legendary DJ and producer known for his pioneering techniques and contributions to hip-hop and DJ culture. He’s especially revered among scratch DJs for his innovative scratching techniques.

Do I need a Serato DJ Pro licence to use all the features of my DJ controller?

Yes, while many controllers come with Serato DJ Lite, upgrading to a Serato DJ Pro licence unlocks advanced features, including the ability to use more decks, advanced FX, and other professional tools.

Conclusion and Final Thoughts

Recap of the Top 5 DJ Controllers

In our exploration of the DJing realm, we’ve delved deep into the intricacies of the best DJ controllers available in the market. From the versatility of the Numark Mixtrack Platinum FX to the innovative features of the Pioneer DJ DDJ FLX4, each controller offers a unique blend of functionalities tailored to elevate the mixing experience. These devices aren’t just top-of-the-line; they’re specially curated for both the seasoned maestros and the budding dj controllers for beginners.

Encouragement for Beginner DJs

To every novice DJ embarking on this musical odyssey: your DJ journey is more than just mixing tracks—it’s about expressing yourself, connecting with audiences, and creating unforgettable moments. The road might seem daunting initially, but with dedication, practice, and the right equipment, you’ll soon master the art of DJing. Remember, every professional once started as a beginner, so embrace the learning curve and enjoy every beat of the process.

Resources for Learning

The world of DJing is vast, and continuous learning is the key to success. The DJ Academy stands as a beacon for all aspiring DJs, offering a plethora of resources, tutorials, and courses to hone your skills.

From understanding the nuances of serato dj lite software to mastering advanced mixing techniques, the academy ensures you’re always at the forefront of the DJing world. So, gear up, dive into these resources, and let your musical journey soar to new heights! 🎶🎧🔥



Written By w00tw00t111

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