Aug 04, 2021

As any DJ will tell you, great controllers simplify the job. But what exactly should you be keeping an eye out for, though? The following article will help you filter your options if you are looking for an ideal DJ controller.

We have done the research and gone through one DJ controller after another in order to determine which ones are worth buying in 2020. Some of the DJ controllers we tested out include ones manufactured by Numark, Native Instruments, Hercules, and Pioneer. DJ controllers are becoming more advanced with each passing year, and yet the best ones continue to be user-friendly.

If you haven’t bought a DJ controller before, or you are looking to upgrade your existing model, this guide will provide you with some fantastic options. This article has been updated recently as well to guarantee that your choices are all contemporary models.

Some of the following products are affordable and won’t necessarily drain your wallet, but others can be more expensive. Now, keep in mind that if DJing is your passion this purchase should be seen as an investment. Using an ideal DJ controller makes all the difference in the world and enhances the quality of the music you create. So, if you’ve been wondering whether you should get a pricier one that is worth every penny, then you’ve come to the right place.

That being said, let’s dive in and review the following products!

A Review of the Best Budget-Friendly DJ Controllers

Best Overall
Our Score 9.4 Out of 10
Check price amazon.com
Best Mid Range
Our Score 9.2 Out of 10
Check price amazon.com
Cheaper Choice
Our Score 8.6 Out of 10
Check price amazon.com
Our Score 8.4 Out of 10
Check price amazon.com
Our Score 8.2 Out of 10
Check price amazon.com

The Best DJ Controller: Pioneer DDJ-SR2

Our Score 9.4 out of 10
Pioneer DJ DDJ-SR2 Portable 2-channel controller for Serato DJ
Pioneer DJ DDJ-SR2 Portable 2-channel controller for Serato DJ amazon.com Check price

A series of dedicated buttons were created to trigger the key-related functions in Serato DJ. Switch between the Key Shift, Key sync and Key Reset to play with keys without ever changing your tempo...

Specifications:

  • Deck controls: 4.
  • Channels: 2.
  • Weight: 6.65 pounds.
  • Size: 10.7” x 19.2” x 2.3”.

The lightweight Pioneer DDJ-SR2 boasts flexibility across all sorts of DAWs, has sensitive jog wheels, and a professional interface. In our eyes, it is the best DJ controller available this year. This DJ controller isn’t very hard to use and is AUX-adaptable. This is why the Pioneer DDJ-SR2 takes the lead as the best DJ controller. But heads up: you will require some sort of phono-adaptor that is not included in the package.

Pioneer produces quality deck controllers. This model will appeal to people experimenting with controllers and jog wheels, especially. It is also compatible with Serato (an entry-level variation of it will be activated after you plug the controller in). Be mindful that a full version upgrade will be necessary for an optimized experience.

The Pioneer DDJ-SR2 will provide you with a comprehensive interface for audio mixing, in addition to various performance pads. You’ll be able to access a unique dual-level meter, which can be upgraded to DVS at your discretion. The model is suitable for beginners, though many DJs end up sticking with it no matter how experienced they’ve become. The sets can be synced up with a computer and DJ software as well. Professional DJs are partial to this controller because it doesn’t hold back on the features they need.

Features:

  • It can be upgraded to DVS anytime.
  • Needle search. 
  • Dual-level meter.
  • Audio mixing feature.
  • Big jog wheels.
  • Performance pads (multicolored).
  • Serato DJ controls (“Pitch ‘n Time”).

Connection: 100% 10 out of 10.

Build and design: 98% 9.8 Out of 10

Overall value: 100% 10 out of 10.

Rating: 100% 10.

We have to say that this is a stunning and stable DJ controller. From the color of the lights to the smoothness of the hot cue, roll, slicer pads, and the play/pause keys you will feel more connected to your musical creation as you feel and hear Pioneer DDJ-SR2’s clicks. Of course, there are some downsides to this DJ controller. For instance, the pitch faders are rather small and because of this, it can cause a bit of a struggle to be accurate with the BPM in a convenient manner. The jog wheels are also a bit odd to scratch on, and for those who are new to scratching, it can be frustrating the oddness. All in all, this is an impressive controller that you can use professionally to develop your musical talent.

The Best Valued DJ Controller: Numark Party Mix 

Our Score 9.2 out of 10
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 amazon.com Check price

Let’s Get This Party Started Portable two channel DJ Controller for Serato DJ Lite (Included) compatible with Mac and PC
Complete DJ System with DJ Lights Built in light show with three room fillin...

Specifications:

  • Channels 2.
  • Weight: 1.76 pounds.
  • Dimensions: 7.8” x 12.8” x 2”.

The Numark Party Mix DJ controller will impress you from the moment you take it out of the box. Its colorful dials and buttons certainly jump out at first glance. The Numark Party Mix comes with a soundcard built into it and is quite easy to hook up with all sorts of speakers. If you’re interested, a light show can even be blasted out! Unquestionably, you will rock any event with this best-valued DJ controller.

The Numark Party Mix will be a great option for beginner DJs. It comes with an assortment of different features, including scratch platters, eight performance pads, and a couple of channels that can be used with the Serato DJ Lite. It also serves as a standalone mixer, too. Upgrading to the Professional Edition of the software will likely be necessary in order to optimize the controller, though.

Many people see the Numark Party Mix as an affordable alternative to a lot of the older and bigger tack the manufacturer produces. While this may be true, the Numark Party Mix endeavors to hold its own. While there are more professional options to build your career around, the Numark Party Mix will be fine for a party or occasional gig use. It doesn’t take long to familiarize yourself with it, either. This DJ controller can be rigged up with your tracks. Headphones can be plugged into your controller directly. You’ll be able to listen to mixes while they are being created. Not very many controllers have a soundcard built into them, making it quite a draw for the average DJ.

Features:

  • Four performance pads (responsive).
  • Soundcard built-in.
  • DJ Lights – and embedded light show that includes three LED room-filling light arrays, which you can auto-sync directly to music.
  • PC and Mac compatible.
  • Portable 2 channel controller for the Serato DJ Lite (which is included).

Connection: 96% 9.6 out of 10.

Build and design: 90% 9 out of 10.

Overall value: 100% 10 out of 10.

Rating: 94%, 9.4 out of 10.

To sum it up, the Numark Party Mix comes with the software Virtual DJ 8 LE which is not as common compared to the Virtual DJ 8 Pro. But if you’re familiar with VDJ software, then this dynamic DJ controller will meet all of your wants and needs. Now, make sure to follow the instructions to the letter. As mentioned above, get your Numark account and all the necessary details that it requires for you to have an account. For the price and the potential this controller has, you’ll be astonished when you use it. With the Numark Party Mix, you can sit back, enjoy, and –––rock the house!

The Premium DJ Controller Pick: Pioneer DDJ-SX3

Our Score 8.6 out of 10
Pioneer Pro DJ DJ Controller (DDJ-SX3)
Pioneer Pro DJ DJ Controller (DDJ-SX3) amazon.com Check price

Three mic inputs, plus mic FX
Dual USB ports; Frequency Range: 20 - 20000 Hertz
Sound color FX including filter, echo, jet, and noise FX. Software System Requirements- Mac – macOS High Sierra 10.13...

Specifications:

  • Channels: 4.
  • Weight: 13.4 pounds.
  • Dimensions: 13.9” x 26.1” x 2.7”.

The DDJ-SX3 is an upgrade to Pioneer’s already impressive DDJ-SX2. It’s one of the best controllers for DJs with its flawless performance, bar none. The performance pads––which are multicolor––are simple to use and find. And they do not distract you from what is otherwise an intuitive interface and layout. The categorized functions and dials are what make this DJ controller series shine. Since its sound engineering and sheer power are just as impressive, the Pioneer DDJ-SX3 is the premium choice in this list.

The DDJ-SX3 controller boasts a frequency range of as much as 20 kHz. Multiple outputs and input jacks are available as well. There is a distinction between playing and mixing here, giving beginners using professional controllers for the first time the ability to manage them easily.

With that said, the SX3 happens to be a premium controller. There are a wide variety of tweaks FX available on its sliders and decks that are worth exploring.

The DDJ-SX3 might seem somewhat feature-heavy for beginners, but it is incredibly intuitive. The controller might appeal to DJs looking for professional outcomes without needing to relearn things from scratch. Those who have used Pioneer products in the past will be familiar with the outstanding functionality and engineering the brand is known for. You will require a fast machine for plug-and-play ability, and some patience will be needed to become accustomed to this DJ controller, but it’s totally worth it – trust us.

Features:

  • Large performance pads (multicolored)
  • Professional interface.
  • Two USB ports.
  • Needle search.
  • Slip mode.
  • FX sound color.
  • Expansion packs like Serato Flip and Pitch ‘n Time DJ are included.
  • Jog wheels are low latency.

Connection: 92% 9.2 out of 10.

Build and design: 94%, 9.4 out of 10.

Overall value: 91% 9.1 out of 10.

Rating: 90% 9/10.

That being said, the Pioneer Pro DJ controller is a fully-fledged DJ device. With its robust 4 channel mixer and external inputs on RCA connections, Pioneer Pro provides full deck control. When it comes to the large pads on the rear top of the device, you’ll fall in love with the feel, playing with these pads. Without a doubt, you’ll have fun with its loop samples and cues. So overall, if you want to upgrade to a professional level, the Pioneer ProDJ controller is the one for you.

Newmark NV II

Our Score 8.4 out of 10
Numark NV II | Four Deck DJ Controller for Serato DJ (Included) With Dual High Resolution Displays, 16 Performance Pads and 5-Inch Metal Platters
Numark NV II | Four Deck DJ Controller for Serato DJ (Included) With Dual High Resolution Displays, 16 Performance Pads and 5-Inch Metal Platters amazon.com Check price

Upgrade Your DJ Decks and Experience Total Serato DJ Control: DJ controller for Serato DJ (Included); sleek, low profile design; high res displays let you focus on your DJ set, not the computer
Vis...

Specifications:

  • High-resolution dual displays.
  • Weight: 7.05 pounds.
  • Dimensions: 13.4” x 21.6” x 2.1”.

The Newmark NV II happens to be a terrific DJ controller, especially for budding DJs starting with simple interfaces (and dream of reaching stardom). Your interface will include a series of screens in full color and for debts. What makes the Newmark NV II unique from its counterparts is that there isn’t any need to continuously check either eat your plugged device or computer. Information about your mixes will be displayed on-screen. They should appeal to people interested in optimizing Serato – even entry-level DJs.

You’ll have the ability to manage cues, track positions, FX, and much more via pace that’s intuitive displays. Its controls are also easy to get used to. Your EQ can be adjusted easily and effortlessly, too.

This DJ controller contains multiple decks, trigger pads, and fantastic displays. In other words, it was developed to be a unit that has everything you need in one place. DJs who endeavored to regulate and mix things in a single setting will be particularly fond of it. Mixing in real-time, in conjunction with Serato minimizes the need to watch your DAW on a separate display. Setting up will not be a hassle thanks to the USB ports, along with the sensitive platter controls, which will allow you to emulate vinyl in the way you expect.

Features:

  • Plug-and-play into a computer using a USB cable and Serato software (which is included).
  • Loop slicing, sample triggering, and hot cues are possible thanks to 10 different pad modes.
  • Sensitive trigger pads with 16 velocities that contain backlit RPG feedback.
  • 25 Inc. metal platters that are hyper-responsive, which contain both scratch and search modes.
  • On-screen grid lines allow beat matching perfection.
  • Displays and full-color offer 1:1 Serato DJ visualization in real-time.
  • 4 Serato DJ control tax (now with a low profile and sleek design).

Connection: 92% 9.2 out of 10.

Build and design: 95%, 9.5 out of 10.

Overall value: 94% 9.4 out of 10.

Rating: 93%, 9.3 out of 10.

Overall, Newmark NV II is an impressive DJ controller all around. Make sure to have a high-speed computer to hook it up because this DJ controller can run slow while you’re searching for music on the board screens. Now, hooking the Newmark NV II controller up is incredibly easy. Once again, we recommend you to follow the instructions to the letter when setting this controller up.

Pioneer XDJ-RX2

Our Score 8.2 out of 10
Pioneer DJ DJ System (XDJ-RX2)
Pioneer DJ DJ System (XDJ-RX2) amazon.com Check price

7-Inch large touch screen and other features from the CDJ-2000NXS2
Layout and performance features from the DJM-900NXS2
Multicolored performance pads
Usb connection (link export) for rekordbox
Incl...

Specifications:

  • Channels: 2.
  • Weight: 24.9 pounds.
  • Dimensions: 20.9” x 32.4” x 8.2”.

This DJ controller is both clear and heavier than its counterparts, but contains the functionality and power you expect from this trusted brand. Pioneer is renowned for their controller tech. Their Pioneer XDJ-RX2 model is quite different from other controllers they have put out in the past, as it contains a vibrant color display – this 7 in. screen will provide you with what you need for onboard mix control. You won’t have any need for your laptop or PC.

The Pioneer XDJ-RX2 comes with eight different performance pads, dials, and clear switches, which makes it ideal for casual DJs. With that said, the sheer amount of dials and FX will appeal to professionals, also. The decks have a nice assortment of different hot cues, allowing you to layer in some more FX and sounds if desired. Beats can be synced easily, and filters can be tweaked while checking track positions on the 7-inches screen.

The Pioneer XDJ-RX2 isn’t marketed as a DJ controller for beginners, there is plenty that budding DJs can learn from using it. DJs interested in playing with mixes should know that not very many controllers provide the number of options this one does. Also, Pioneer is a brand that can be trusted to deliver a quality interface and sound quality all around. Not very many controllers are capable of standing side-by-side with the Pioneer XDJ-RX2.

Have a look at some of the Amazon reviews for feedback about this particular DJ controller.

Features:

  • Each tech has eight different hot cues, along with waveZoom, Quantize, Beat Sync, and slip mode.
  • FX sound color: Echo, Dub, Sweep, Filter, Noise.
  • Two channels.
  • MIDI control.
  • Plug-in and play.
  • Two microphone inputs.
  • USB connection – connect the laptop to the DJ controller directly.
  • Eight large performance pads (tactical, multicolored) per deck.
  • Full-color 7-inch touchscreen.

Connections: 96% 9.6 out of 10.

Build and design: 93%, 9.3 out of 10.

Overall value: 90% 9/10.

Rating: 94%, 9.4 out of 10.

With Pioneer XDJ-RX2, you only have to throw in a USB stick and you’re ready to rock the whole house, jamming with your musical genius. Don’t you think it’s great not worrying about live computer issues all the time? With this DJ controller, you can relax and rest assured there won’t be any technical issue if it’s set up before. It’s great for finding the correct track in a timely manner. Now, there are some cons to this controller. The tracks can automatically play when loaded even though you can set them not to. But other than these reported issues, this DJ controller can do wonders and is worth its price. From the professional controls and effects to the BPM sorting and touchscreen search, Pioneer XDJ-RX2 is an amazing device.

How Were DJ Controllers on This List Chosen?

Just how does one determine which DJ controller is the best option out there? This process warranted plenty of testing and time, that’s for sure. We sought out equipment that appealed to experienced DJs and beginners alike.

The only products we looked at were ones with a professional build and sound quality. Everything required to be simple-to-use and sturdy, taking into consideration the feel and use of the sliders, dials, or jog wheels. Also as important as the frame and reliability were the appearances of the interface. Because it’s more preferable that the interface has a short learning curve. They have to provide an assortment of functions and features to avoid any possible confusion and frustration to the user. We also highlighted its utility because we believe that the price of the product can justify its functionality and build.

Portability and connectivity were also something we looked at. DJs need to be able to move freely and require portability when moving from one gig to another. We check to see if the hardware offered was compatible with various DAWs and systems. The more versatile and flexible the DJ controller was, the greater interest we had in it.

Online Vs In-store

Now that we’ve mentioned the best DJ controllers according to our research, you must be wondering where’s the best place to purchase these DJ controllers? There must be a music store that has models ––the ones mentioned above––and more. But if you want to order them online, there might be some issues that could take you longer to resolve. So, the real question is not where to buy them since they’re accessible online and probably near you. The real question is: Is it better to buy online or in-store?

Well, we’re faithful believers that shopping online offers more pros than purchasing in store. Why? For instance, websites oftentimes have more exclusive deals and discounts than most stores near you. And if they do, you have to be on the lookout for these sales every Red Moon. Compared to DJ controllers in stores that are at a more expensive price, you are more likely to find DJ controllers available online for an unbelievably affordable price. 

For this reason, we enjoy buying DJ controllers online, but the power is in your hands. It’s your money and you can do however you like.

Final Thoughts

We all know that not DJing isn’t pressing any key or button. It’s more difficult when you’re using a DJ controller. Certainly, DJ controllers have become so difficult that their controls, faders, flashing lights, and keys might as well belong in a space shuttle.

A DJ controller is a hands-on interface that provides DJs a stable way to operate their software in real-time. In short, a DJ controller renders a hands-on, hardware version of virtual DJ software. For this reason, DJ controllers need a computer connection and compatible DJ software. To determine the best DJ controller, study what’s within your budget, the needed controls, and its compatibility with various DJ applications. 

Whether you’re DJing at a party or creating tracks for your audio platform, the ideal DJ controller will make your life easier. Now get down in any party or event with one of these DJ controllers.

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