The 9 Best DJ Controllers (Tested)
The most essential piece of DJ gear where it all starts with. The DJ controllers themselves. With the many choices out there it may be hard for you to choose the right DJ controller. So, what DJ controller should you buy?
I have ordered the best DJ controller by price for the most popular type of DJ software out there, Rekordbox DJ, Serato DJ, and Traktor Pro 3. This list guide will help you find the right controller. I have also made a table that you can check out below.
|1. Hercules DJ Control Starlight||$89.99|
|2. Hercules DJ Control Inpulse 300||$199.99|
|3. Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB3||$249.00|
|4. Pioneer DJ DDJ-400||$249.00|
|5. Traktor Control S2 MK3||$329.00|
|6. Rane Twelve MKII||$899.99|
|7. Traktor Control S4 MK3||$999.99|
|8. Pioneer DJ DDJ-1000||$1,199.99|
|9. Pioneer DJ XDJ-RX3||$1,999.99|
1. Hercules DJ Control Starlight
The cheapest one on this list and in my opinion one of the most fun ways to DJ. Every critical function you need to DJ is included and you can start right away. It might not exactly fit in your pocket but it certainly does fit in your backpack and that makes it a great controller to play with at house parties for fun.
It comes with the Serato DJ software. It has the exact things you would need to DJ, It has jog wheels to scratch with, and beat-sync your next track, it has a mid/high filter and a bass filter, tempo, performance pads, an onboard soundcard, and more. It even lights up a good amount when you plug it in.
This is for people who want a very portable DJ controller that you can bring just about anywhere you go for under 100 bucks.
There is another controller that looks just like this one for around the same price from Numark but I don't recommend that one over this one because that doesn't even have an EQ section at all. Something that is mandatory for djing in my personal opinion.
2. Hercules DJ Control Inpulse 300
A wonderful feature that this controller has and which is focussed on beginner DJs is a feature that tells you which way and how much to adjust the tempo and spin the Jog wheels. This is great if you want to learn beatmatching as it takes the guesswork out. If you're struggling with beatmatching but still want to learn it rather quickly, This controller does that.
Something else that Hercules does really well with this controller is the overall build quality of the controller. It really feels like a sturdy controller. It has all the features that you need and it really competes with the Traktor and Pioneer alternatives.
The DJ controller comes with Hercules their own software and is a controller for someone who wants something a bit more capable than the starlight variant without the big price tag.
3. Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB3
One of the most popular beginner controllers. This controller from Pioneer is made in collaboration with DJ Jazzy Jeff. A big name in the scratching industry. And that's for who this controller is aimed at. Coming with the Serato DJ Lite software in combination with an excellent controller and even a pad scratch feature it's a solid controller for DJs starting out and wanting to scratch.
The start and cue buttons even look exactly like the ones found on the real CDJs from Pioneer. It also has a solid traditional-looking effects section that I really like. Something that is a strong point as well is that it offers 4 deck support but it has only 2 deck EQ sections of course.
So, if you're a beginner DJ wanting to start playing and learning to scratch this is a great controller for you. If however, you don't focus on scratching you might want to read on to the next DJ controller from Pioneer.
4. Pioneer DJ DDJ-400
Another very popular beginner controller from Pioneer. And this time around it comes with Rekordbox DJ instead of Serato DJ software. Rekordbox DJ is software that is used as the current club DJ software standard. That makes it a big win if you plan to upgrade down the line or if you plan on playing on DJ club-like or DJ club gear.
This controller also has better jog wheels with some great rubberized outer edges. In combination with the longer tempo faders, this is a very great controller to beatmatch with for the size of the thing. This controller also has a layout that looks more like those in clubs which is another strong point for this DJ controller.
With the full version of the Rekordbox DJ software, you are certain when you're upgrading your controllers down the line, and with the great build quality, this is a solid option. This controller is for people who like to DJ with the full Rekordbox DJ software and don't focus on scratching but want a solid layout that looks like the gear they use in clubs.
5. Traktor Control S2 MK3
A wonderful beginner controller from Traktor. Something that really stands out is the build quality compared to the other 2 brands for this type of controller. I really think Traktor has a really great overall build quality of all their products.
There are 4 preset effects you can use per deck with 2 separate effects controllers. The rest looks almost like the pioneers DDJ-400 layout and you will get familiar with it fast switching from this controller to DJ club gear.
For djing on the go this controller can also be hooked up to the Traktor DJ software on iPads. For djing, via a laptop, this comes with the Traktor Pro 3 software.
If you're looking for an even better build controller with an amazing looping section and browse section as well running Traktor Pro 3 this is a great beginner controller for your starting out DJs.
6. Rane Twelve MKII
After the great success of the first Rane 12, they have released the mark version 2 of this piece of equipment. This is the right thing for DJs that want to have something that looks and feels like a vinyl player but doesn't want the needle, it's all digital. With all the new optimizations and for the same price it's simply a steal.
7. Traktor Control S4 MK3
Two steps up from the Traktor Control S2 and you get this great looking and feeling beast. Apart from all the extra bells and whistles (and RGB). The controller also has a lot more features than the other controller does. It has a larger tempo fader which is very nice to have when you're constantly changing BPM for more accuracy. It also comes with the Traktor Pro 3 software.
Maybe the most obvious change is the 4 deck support which is really something amazing to have for the more advanced DJs out there. That also helps if you're planning to mix with double drops. Coming with these 4 deck supports it also has an EQ for every deck.
With the heftier pricetag and 4 deck support, it also comes with all the extra bells and whistles. With some amazing lighting around the jog wheels, an LCD screen, and a full effects section. The jog wheels even have a mode where they rotate forward when the tracks are playing.
This is a very solid option for people who want to step up from the Traktor Control S2. I feel like the Traktor Control S3 doesn't do justice to its price and I think you can better choose this wonderful Traktor Control S4 DJ controller instead.
8. Pioneer DJ DDJ-1000
The top of the line in the DDJ line-up from Pioneer. And that's not without reason.
9. Pioneer DJ XDJ-RX3
When choosing the right DJ controller you also need equally great headphones. I have compiled a list of the best DJ headphones for you to check out.
I love researching and writing about new and exciting things in the world of mixing, including tutorials, reviews on hardware and software, as well as finding the latest and greatest. My goal is to help people become better DJs by providing them with all the knowledge they need to do just that!