DJing used to be an elusive and expensive hobby. Luckily times have changed and there is now a range of affordable DJ controllers. You can now explore this hobby without breaking the bank. In this guide, we check out the best budget DJ controllers currently available.
Numark Mixtrack Pro FX
While not the absolute cheapest it features long pitch faders, full 3-band EQ, and fun to use FX options.
Pioneer DDJ 200
An excellent budget controller with a focus on smooth integration with mobile DJ apps. Compact and lightweight.
The Cheapest DJ Controllers Reviewed
There is something for everyone that is looking for a cheap DJ controller. From compact and portable to the latest generation of smartphone-compatible controllers. Let’s check out the best cheap DJ controllers available for those on a budget.
Numark Mixtrack Pro FX Review
The Best Budget DJ Controller
- Long Pitch Faders – 100mm faders allow you to make fine adjustments to the BPM making beatmatching easier to learn and execute.
- Full EQ – Low, Mid, and Hi EQ give you full control over the frequencies of the tracks you are playing.
- Jogwheel Displays – Durable jog wheels with onboard displays. An excellent option for new DJs that want to spend less time looking at their PC or laptop.
- FX – Easily accessible FX activation via preset buttons and FX paddles. When coupled with dedicated Hi and Low pass filters it opens the door to lots of creative mixing opportunities.
- Design – The abundance of red may not be to everyone’s tastes. The old-style Cue and Play buttons are also a relic from previous models that I would have liked to see updated.
Budget DJ controllers often lack the features that the Mixtrack Pro FX offers. Beatmatching is a challenging skill to learn so the long faders are a huge positive. The ability to access so many software features directly on the controller keeps you in the mix and not staring at your laptop or PC.
With touch-sensitive jog wheels that feature onboard display, it packs a huge amount of value in. While it isn’t the cheapest controller the extra features are well worth the increased price. If you can stretch your budget that little bit further you won’t regret it.
A smooth plug and play experience for DJs on a budget that is also easy to use. For the price, it’s hard to fault this DJ controller.
Read our full Numark Mixtrack Pro FX review for more detailed information.
Numark Mixtrack Pro FX
Pioneer DDJ 200 Review
Best Choice For Mixing With Mobile DJ Apps
- Compatible Apps – No software comes with the controller but it does support WeDJ, rekordbox DJ, djay, edjing Mix. You can connect the controller to a compatible smartphone, tablet, or laptop. This allows you to mix anywhere.
- Full EQ – A full 3-band EQ is available. This allows you to accurately EQ your tracks with control over the Low, Mid, and Hi frequencies. Also present is a Hi and Low pass Color FX filter. This allows you to add creative FX to your mixes.
- Compact – This controller is lightweight and doesn’t have a big footprint. This makes it ideal for taking it to a party or a friend’s house.
- New DJ Focus – Built-in tutorial features help new DJs learn how to mix tracks and operate the controller. Added Transition FX also helps to get your early mixes sounding good.
- No Connections – The lack of a Master Out or a Headphone Input means you need to rely on your smartphone or laptop to handle the audio. It does come with a mono split cable so that you can cue and prepare mixes in your headphones.
The Pioneer DJ DDJ 200 is a cheap Pioneer DJ controller that works seamlessly with the included full version rekordbox DJ software. It doesn’t offer the audio connections of the DDJ 400 but this compact controller is an innovative step from Pioneer.
It works great with compatible apps and is an excellent way to get into DJing. The addition of a full EQ set and performance pads also allows you to refine and tune your skills as you progress. It is also a stepping stone into industry-standard gear.
A great option for budget-minded DJs that want to DJ using mixing apps.
Pioneer DDJ 200
Numark Party Mix Review
Cheap Serato Compatible Controller
- Serato Included – Out of the box you’ll have instant access to the core features. This makes it easier to move on to more advanced controllers down the track.
- Connection Options – Access to a Master RCA out and Headphone Jack saves you from having to worry about your laptop or PC having to handle the audio.
- Pad Modes – Loop, Hot Cues, and Sampler modes. Switching between pad modes is easy to use and intuitive giving you access to the fundamental components of DJing.
- Integrated Light Show – Beat synchronized lights add atmosphere when you are mixing. It comes with four different light modes. It’s easy to switch between modes with the dedicated button on the back of the controller.
- Limited EQ – You can only adjust Low and Hi frequencies. Enough to get started but as your skills evolve you’ll want access to be able to manipulate the Mids.
The Party Mix is a cheap Numark DJ controller. The built-in light show is a unique feature. As a compact controller, it still offers connections that other budget DJ controllers don’t offer.
It also stands out as one of the cheapest Serato controllers. This makes it a good choice as a gateway to more advanced gear. Despite a restricted feature set, it is still one of the best cheap DJ controllers to pick up if you are on a tight budget.
Read our full Numark Party Mix review for more detailed information.
Numark Party Mix
Hercules DJControl Inpulse 200 Review
Budget Controller With Tutorials
- Beatmatching Guide – The Inpulse 200 offers a light guide below the jog wheels and also on the tempo faders. This feature lights up when two tracks are not in sync and helps guide you to fix the issue. It an extra bit of help for new DJs that are still learning how to beatmatch.
- DJ Academy Tutorials – This is great for new DJs that want to learn the fundamentals of DJing. It offers video guides and step by step instructions.
- Energy and Song Selection – Energy level from blue to red that expresses the mood of the song. Intelligent song selection assistant suggests tracks that can help you out when you’re stuck on deciding what to mix in.
- Outputs Included – The Inpulse 200 offers the basic connection types you need to get mixing. You won’t need to worry about buying an audio interface or an appropriate sound card.
- DJUCED – This DJ software is not the best. While it has a good feature set and does what it needs to do it does lack more advanced features. It’s also not the best-designed interface when compared to other DJ software offerings.
The Hercules DJControl Inpulse 200 is a budget DJ controller option for brand-new DJs. The range of beginner-friendly features helps ease the learning curve for a new DJ. The light guide underneath the jog wheels is especially helpful. Cue Points are also easy to set and recall with the included pads.
Hercules once again has created a cheap DJ controller for beginners that is ideal for those overwhelmed by more advanced controllers. One of the best choices for new DJs.
Hercules DJControl Inpulse 200
Numark DJ2GO2 Touch Review
Ultra-Compact DJ Controller
- Super Portable – This tiny DJ controller is the smallest on this list. If you have limited space available it’s an excellent choice. It’s also great as a controller you can take anywhere with you.
- Very Affordable – The DJ2GO2 Touch is very cheap. While limited in features it is one of the best cheap ways to get into DJing.
- Audio Interface Included – Plug and play ready. To have an audio interface included at this price point is fantastic.
- Serato Compatible – Comes pre-mapped for Serato and includes the lite version of the software. A cheap way to get familiar with one of the leading pieces of DJ software but you’ll need to pay extra to unlock the full version.
- No EQ – The small size has resulted in no EQ options. You’ll need to make any alterations within the software.
There are times where it is not possible to take a full DJ controller with you. This is where the Numark DJ2GO2 Touch shines. It offers a compact and portable option for those on a tight budget. Not only is it the cheapest Serato DJ controller it’s also one of the cheapest DJ controllers currently available.
Keep in mind the touch-sensitive jog wheels are exceptionally small, so it will be difficult to scratch using them. If you want to focus on scratching it’s best to look for a controller with larger jog wheels. Despite this, it is a capable and intelligently designed beginner DJ controller that’s perfect for travel.
Numark DJ2GO2 Touch
Our Expert Buying Guide
Budget DJ controllers can fill a variety of needs. They are excellent for people wanting to try DJing without a huge financial commitment. They’re also great as backup DJ controllers if you find your main gear stops working. The compact nature of these controllers also makes them ideal as portable options to take when traveling. A dependable cheap DJ controller is a great addition to your DJ setup.
While they can fill a variety of needs there are some keys things to consider before buying a budget DJ controller.
The first major consideration is software. All budget controllers rely on software. All budget DJ controllers rely on software. You’ll need to connect the controllers to a laptop/PC and in some cases, you can also connect to smartphones and tablets.
The DJ controller becomes an extension to the software allowing you to control the features of the software. This helps bridge the gap between software mixing and tactile mixing.
Most DJ software that is packaged with cheap DJ controllers can handle the fundamentals. Serato DJ Pro, rekordbox DJ, Traktor Pro 3, and Virtual DJ 8 are the leaders in DJ software. You want to get a budget DJ controller that is compatible with these leading applications. This becomes even more important if you want to progress to more advanced DJ gear in the future.
The other thing to look out for is the EQ options available on the DJ controller. For effective mixing, you’ll need to be able to adjust the Low, Mid, and Hi frequencies. This allows you to craft smooth transitions. Proper EQing of your mixes is a fundamental skill all DJs need to learn and master.
You don’t need a full EQ set but having access to alter the Low, Mid and Hi is ideal.
If the DJ controller doesn’t have EQ controls you’ll need to make these changes within the software. While not impossible it is more cumbersome to have to use your mouse or keyboard to adjust this. For straight or quick cuts you can get by without the EQ. For more elaborate and detailed mixes, you’ll need to have access to EQ controls.
The next item to consider is the connection options. Unfortunately, budget DJ controllers don’t usually have any Inputs. You won’t be able to connect a microphone to these controllers as they all lack a mic input. If you want to layer a vocal performance or need a microphone for MCing you’ll need a more advanced and more expensive controller.
Outputs are another key consideration. A DJ controller that doesn’t include outputs will be relying on your PC or laptop. It is best to investigate this before you do make a purchase. Otherwise, you may end up having to buy a new soundcard for your PC or an audio interface for your laptop. Luckily most modern PCs are well equipped to handle the outputs.
All the DJ controllers I’ve covered are affordable options but there is still a price gap between them. Usually, the more you have to spend the better the controller will be. This doesn’t mean that cheap DJ controllers are bad. The best cheap DJ controllers offer the bare essentials to get you started on your DJ journey.
When you are first starting out you’ll also need to allocate some money to other DJ equipment like headphones and speakers. It’s best to factor all of these costs in before getting a DJ controller.
The first DJ controller I used was a cheap entry-level DJ controller. The jog wheels were poor yet I spent countless hours practicing and had a blast. As time went on and I became more invested in DJing I then upgraded my DJ setup looking for the best equipment I could afford at the time. If you are on a tight budget don’t overextend yourself. It’s better to start small and build up to better DJ equipment down the track.
Keep in mind these cheap DJ controllers do require you to have a PC or laptop. If you don’t own a decent one already but have a tablet you can check out our best iPad DJ controller review.
From Beginner To Pro With Affordable Gear
Everyone who tackles a new hobby has to start somewhere. DJing was very difficult to get into 20 years ago. The best DJs in the world honed their skills on whatever equipment they could get their hands on. Equipment was expensive and technology hadn’t embedded itself into DJing to the level it has now.
Having these budget-minded options helps open the door to new up and coming DJs. It’s the best time ever to get into DJing. Granted these cheap DJ controllers don’t have all the bells and whistles of high-end gear. But that isn’t what makes a good DJ. You can learn the fundamental skills of DJing with a cheap DJ controller that is designed for the entry-level market.
What makes a beginner DJ become a pro is practice. The best DJs have a passion for music and how to craft a well-constructed set. This is more important than how much money you spent on your equipment. Whether it’s a budget DJ controller or one of the options from our best DJ controller for beginners guide they can all execute the basic functions of DJing. Check out this video from DJ Carlo Atendido showing what you can achieve with a budget DJ controller.
As your skills evolve you’ll become more aware of what features are important to you. This will help you make smarter buying choices when you upgrade your DJ controller.
It’s okay if you can’t afford one of the top of the line DJ controllers. You can craft amazing mixes on cheap controllers and begin your journey from beginner to pro. Just focus on buying the best DJ gear you can afford.
Which One Should You Buy?
The Numark Mixtrack Pro FX ticks all the boxes to be the best budget DJ controller. Offering long pitch faders and a full EQ allows you to master the fundamentals of DJing. While it’s not the cheapest DJ controller it’s loaded with features. If you want the best cheap DJ controller to begin your journey this DJ controller is a great option that should be on your list.
A close second is the Pioneer DJ’s DDJ 200 as another contender for the best budget DJ controller. If you don’t have a laptop or PC it’s a great alternative to the Mixtrack Pro FX.
All the top manufacturers are putting in their best effort to lower the bar of entry for new DJs. And I for one can’t wait to see the future DJ stars that this new era will create.
Numark Mixtrack Pro FX