Best DJ Controller For Beginners In 2024

There has never been a better time to get into DJing. But it can be a daunting prospect if you are a beginner. The large selection of options can make it hard to identify which controller will suit you. This guide will make that process much easier.

Our Editor’s Choice is the high-quality Pioneer DDJ-FLX4 because of its pro-style mixer layout and creative flexibility that allows you to experiment and grow as a DJ.

Our website is built around a passion for music gear. We provide detailed breakdowns on a range of studio equipment, including over twenty in-depth reviews of DJ controllers. This guide covers the best beginner DJ controllers based on our in-depth research and testing process.

We have over 15 years of experience in the industry, but we are constantly researching the latest and greatest offerings. Dozens of controllers went through our comprehensive testing process, which includes spending hundreds of hours using the gear with the mindset of what a beginner needs. These are the stand-out choices if you are ready to start your DJ journey.

Quick Summary

  • Editor’s Choice: Pioneer DDJ-FLX4
    An outstanding beginner DJ controller with extensive performance flexibility, a logical club-style layout, and full version software included.
  • Best For Beatmatching: Hercules DJControl Inpulse 500
    One of the best value-for-money entry-level controllers. Rock solid build quality, excellent connection options, and detailed beatmatching features.
  • Best For Scratching: Pioneer DDJ-REV1
    The battle-style layout with paddle FX and large jog wheels make this beginner DJ controller an ideal choice for scratching-focused DJs.
  • Best With Screens: Numark Mixtrack Platinum FX
    An affordable controller with jog wheel screens to keep you engaged with your gear. Long pitch faders and fun FX paddles are also big highlights.
  • Best For Traktor: Traktor Kontrol S2 Mk3
    The simple and refined layout makes this DJ controller a natural entry point into the Traktor ecosystem. Fantastic build quality and best-in-class looping controls.

Product Reviews

Knowing which controller you should buy can be difficult with so many choices. Let’s check out the best DJ controller currently available for beginners. If you want more information, you can also jump to the full review for many of these controllers.

Pioneer DDJ-FLX4

Editor’s Choice

Top view of the Pioneer DDJ-FLX4 DJ Controller.

Overall Rating (7/10)

How Do We Rate?

Mixer
Jogwheels
Build
Software
Tempo
Pads
FX
Looping
Connections
Value
Mixer
Jogwheels
Build
Software
Tempo
Pads
FX
Looping
Connections
Value

What We Liked

Excellent Layout
Extensive Performance Features
Broad Range Of FX
Multiple Software Platforms

What Could Be Better

No Balanced Outputs

The Pioneer DDJ-FLX4 is a perfect entry point for beginner DJs who want to begin learning and eventually move onto club-standard gear. The layout is logical and inspired by pro-level Pioneer equipment. The central mixer section features everything a new DJ needs, including 3-band EQ controls, Trim controls, Channel FX, Mix/Level controls, and easy-to-use FX controls. For a compact unit, it crams in a lot.

The selection of performance features is also excellent for an entry-level DJ controller—everything from setting Hot Cues to Pad FX, Beat Jump, and more are readily accessible, with eight performance pads for each deck.

The jogwheels are capable enough for beginner scratch routines, but some might want large platters. New features like Smart Fader and Smart FX add to an impressive package and are also excellent tools for new DJs to help with transitions. Even as an experienced DJ, I enjoyed these latest additions in my testing.

Pioneer DDJ-FLX4 Showcase.

Unlike its predecessor, the DDJ-400, this controller supports Rekordbox and Serato DJ. It is worth mentioning that you’ll need to spend a bit more if you want to upgrade to Serato DJ Pro. But Rekordbox is fully unlocked, offering excellent value for money and a smooth, out-of-the-box experience.

The high-quality 24-bit audio interface delivers good sound quality, and the overall construction quality is excellent. It is a plastic controller, but most DJ controllers offer a plastic frame at this price point.

The DDJ-FLX4 does lack balanced outputs, but despite this minor quibble, there is nothing to fault. An outstanding controller with everything a new DJ needs and ample room to grow and evolve with a superb range of performance-focused inclusions.

Read our full Pioneer DDJ-FLX4 review for more detailed information.
Browse customer reviews from people who have purchased this product.

Watch the official video below or visit the manufacturer’s website for more information and full product specifications.

Hercules DJControl Inpulse 500

Best For Beatmatching

Top view of the Hercules DJControl Inpulse 500

Overall Rating (7/10)

How Do We Rate?

Mixer
Jogwheels
Build
Software
Tempo
Pads
FX
Looping
Connections
Value
Mixer
Jogwheels
Build
Software
Tempo
Pads
FX
Looping
Connections
Value

What We Liked

Excellent Beatmatching Experience
DJ Software Flexibility
High Build Quality
Pro Connections

What Could Be Better

Small Tempo Faders

The Hercules DJControl Inpulse 500 is one of the most extreme glow-ups I’ve ever seen from a DJ gear company. This controller’s level of value is astounding, and it focuses on guiding you to become a better DJ.

The ultra-tough construction is superb, with a metal backing plate that gives the unit a premium feel. But it’s not only tough; it’s also highly capable with a comprehensive mixer section with innovative features for beginner DJs.

The Beat Align and Beatmatch Guides encourage you to manually adjust tracks without relying on Sync functionality—an excellent learning tool for new DJs who want to master the art of manual beatmatching. I wish Hercules had opted for longer tempo faders to drive the point home fully.

Hercules DJControl Inpulse 500 Showcase.

Adding balanced outputs is a superb feature for a controller at this price point. An AUX In is also an excellent inclusion that other entry-level DJ controllers rarely offer.

A complete set of performance pads on each deck compatible with Serato and DJuced are other highlights worth mentioning. Easy loop controls, including an encoder, also set it apart from other beginner DJ controllers.

The amount of value this controller offers is pretty staggering, and it puts the Impulse 500 at the very top of the choices I can recommend. If you want robust quality and extensive features, the Hercules DJControl Inpulse 500 should be on your list of options.

Watch the official video below or visit the manufacturer’s website for more information.

Pioneer DDJ-REV1

Best For Scratching

Top view of the Pioneer DDJ Rev1.

Overall Rating (7/10)

How Do We Rate?

Mixer
Jogwheels
Build
Software
Tempo
Pads
FX
Looping
Connections
Value
Mixer
Jogwheels
Build
Software
Tempo
Pads
FX
Looping
Connections
Value

What We Liked

Big Jog Wheels
Battle Style Layout
4 Channels Available
Affordable Serato Controller

What Could Be Better

Intro Software

Most beginner DJ controllers focus on a traditional club-style layout. But many DJs want to embrace the turntablist side of DJing, and the DDJ-REV1 is the first entry-level offering that gives scratch-focused DJs an affordable entry point.

The large jog wheels are the primary draw and allow for more precise control when executing scratch routines with tactile grooves for maximum grip. But that is not the only element of the DDJ-REV1 that makes it an excellent choice for scratching-focused DJs.

The mixer layout offers a traditional battle-style layout with ample room around the faders, easy-to-access pad modes, and FX. The FX paddles are fun to use, and the selection of FX within Serato is excellent.

Pioneer DDJ-REV1 Showcase.

Getting familiar with the different layout takes a little time for DJs used to a standard club-style layout. But it is an ideal layout to learn if you want to upgrade to turntables and a battle-style mixer eventually.

The DDJ-REV1 also gives you access to two additional decks via the onboard Deck 3 and 4 buttons. This opens up the possibility of mixing with four channels, but it does take some getting used to.

It is worth mentioning that the DDJ-REV1 only offers intro software. It gives you access to the basics, but once you try Serato DJ Pro, you’ll want to upgrade as soon as possible. While not perfect, the Pioneer DDJ-REV1 is the leading choice for beginner DJs focused on scratching.

Read our full Pioneer DDJ-REV1 review for more detailed information.

Watch the official video below or visit the manufacturer’s website for more information.

Numark Mixtrack Platinum FX

Best With Screens

Top view of the Numark Mixtrack Platinum FX

Overall Rating (7/10)

How Do We Rate?

Mixer
Jogwheels
Build
Software
Tempo
Pads
FX
Looping
Connections
Value
Mixer
Jogwheels
Build
Software
Tempo
Pads
FX
Looping
Connections
Value

What We Liked

Screens On Jog Wheels
Long Pitch Faders
Fun FX Controls
Access To 4 Channels

What Could Be Better

Lackluster Appearance

Numark has a long history of offering affordable entry-level controllers that serve as an ideal starting point for new DJs. The Numark Mixtrack Platinum FX might not be the cheapest in the range. Still, it’s also the only beginner DJ controller with screens.

The long pitch fader length is excellent for learning beatmatching, and the addition of jog wheel screens assists further with vital information that is easily accessible to keep you engaged with your gear.

The jogwheels are decent in size and feel comfortable to use. They are also capable enough for some light scratching work, but dedicated scratch DJs will be better off with a beginner controller that offers larger jogs.

Numark Mixtrack Platinum FX Showcase.

The FX section is also intuitive and a heap of fun to use. The paddles are reminiscent of battle mixers and offer an engaging and effective experience. This controller is also lightweight and easy to transport. Perfect for taking it around to a friend’s house for an impromptu party.

A selection of pad modes is available to add some creative flair to your transitions and allow you to set cue points. Integration with Serato DJ is crisp, but you’ll want to upgrade the software to the Pro version eventually.

While Numark has come a long way, the overall design is still lacking. Primarily the Play, Cue, and Sync buttons, which don’t vibe with the overall aesthetic of the controller. But despite this, there is no denying the Mixtrack Platinum FX offers outstanding value for money if you want a controller with jog wheel screens.

Read our full Numark Mixtrack Platinum FX review for more detailed information.

Watch the official video below or visit the manufacturer’s website for more information.

Traktor Kontrol S2 Mk3

Best For Traktor

Top view of the Traktor Kontrol S2 Mk3

Overall Rating (7/10)

How Do We Rate?

Mixer
Jogwheels
Build
Software
Tempo
Pads
FX
Looping
Connections
Value
Mixer
Jogwheels
Build
Software
Tempo
Pads
FX
Looping
Connections
Value

What We Liked

Refined Layout
Solid Build Quality
Full Version Software
iPad Connectivity

What Could Be Better

Limited FX Controls

The Traktor Kontrol S2 Mk3 is another excellent choice for beginner DJs thanks to its simple-to-understand layout and refined features. While other controllers aim to pack in a lot of features, the S2 Mk3 focuses on the essentials.

The spacious central mixer section features a complete EQ section with convenient Mix/Volume knobs centrally located. The FX select buttons allow you to rapidly activate one of four FX with large knobs to incorporate them into your transitions.

While the implementation is smooth and logical, other DJ controllers offer more expansive and granular FX controls. How much you intend to use FX will determine if this is the DJ controller for you.

Traktor Kontrol S2 MK3 Showcase.

The responsive jog wheels are also great, with easy-to-access transport mode buttons and the ability to alter beatgrids on the fly. Eight pads per deck open up Hot Cues and the Sampler, but other controllers offer more pad modes.

The outstanding loop controls are best-in-class. Easy to use and highly responsive, you’ll have complete and effortless control over loop functionality. Build quality is also high, and the controller offers balanced and unbalanced connections.

Full-version software is always a welcome sight, but the pace of new features and updates is low compared to other DJ software platforms. Despite this, Traktor Pro 3 is still a highly capable piece of DJ software. If you want to get into the Traktor ecosystem, the S2 Mk3 is a superb entry-level choice.

Read our full Traktor S2 Mk3 review for more detailed information.

Watch the official video below or visit the manufacturer’s website for more information.

Buying Advice

When buying your first DJ controller, you must ask yourself a few key questions. These initial answers will help you select something suitable for your needs.

What Type Of DJ Do You Want To Be?

There is a wide variety of DJing styles. Understanding what type of DJ you want to be is the first step in identifying which DJ gear will be right for you.

If you love the turntablist side of DJing, you’ll want to ensure you get a controller with large and capable jog wheels. Executing scratch routines with small jog wheels is difficult. Poor responsiveness can also make this type of DJing hard.

You’ll also want to pick a controller with good faders, especially the crossfader. The crossfader is the backbone of many initial scratches you’ll learn.

Having a crossfader that can handle the rigors of all the practicing you’ll be doing will save you money in the long run.

Close-up photo of a DJ using a DJ controller.

A feature-rich controller can handle various gig types with ease.

If, on the other hand, you are more interested in long and elaborate blends, the jog wheels won’t be as important.

In this case, you’ll want a controller that gives you access to as many creative tools to adjust and manipulate your tracks to create seamless transitions. A good range of FX options and a full 3-band EQ are necessary for this type of DJing.

Multi-format DJs that play a variety of genres have other more pressing needs. Good software that accurately detects BPM will help you go from one genre to another.

This is where practical tagging tools come into play as well. Having a well-organized and easily searchable database makes playing different genres easier.

For more creative and production-focused DJs, performance tools are essential. Injecting your personality via FX, samples, and one-shots is extremely fun.

Close-up of a jog wheel on a DJ controller.

Performance features are essential if you want to do creative transitions.

Having good-quality pads and software will make this easier. Likewise, having access to additional decks allows layering several tracks simultaneously, further pushing your creative potential.

Finally, working mobile DJs will have a deeper focus on connectivity options. You’ll likely connect your controller to DJ speakers that may require a specific cable type.

Access to a mic output will also be high on your list of wants. The option to MC or allow your customers to make speeches can set you apart from competitors.

There is no singular definition of a DJ. However, understanding what you want from DJing can help narrow and refine your choices.

Do You Plan On Scratching?

As mentioned in the section above, if you want to incorporate scratching into your DJing, you must ensure the DJ controller you buy has solid jog wheels. Touch-sensitive platters that offer high resolution are ideal.

DJ scratching a DJ controller.

It is challenging to execute scratch routines on small jog wheels.

This is also an area where size does matter. Small jog wheels can be challenging to control and make scratching more difficult. While not impossible, you also don’t want to hinder your learning and progress because of poor hardware.

Poor build quality is also something to be mindful of. Scratch DJs will be aggressively using the jog wheels, so they need to be able to handle the constant use.

Is The Mixer Section Fully Featured?

The DJ controller needs a solid mixer section with all the required controls to alter the music and play with effects.

Access to a good EQ range (Low, Mid, High) will help you learn the subtleties of mixing. EQing is also one of the most used skills to execute smooth mixes. Removing frequencies from one track opens space in the audio scape for the next track to find its spot. It also opens up the possibilities of extended blends.

DJ controller connected to a laptop.

A DJ controller needs a comprehensive mixer section for complete control over the music.

All good beginner controllers also need a proper cue/master output for your headphones. This allows you to preview and prepare your mix. You’ll be able to hear both what is currently playing and what you intend on playing.

The DJ controller should also have good pitch faders. These allow you to alter the track’s tempo to align it with the next song. Most starter DJ controllers offer Sync functionality, automatically matching up the beats. But to truly become a well-rounded DJ, it is worth learning the skill of beat matching by ear. Long faders make this learning process more accessible and beginner-friendly.

Other extras like Filters or onboard FX are also good features to look out for in the mixer section. These further open up your mixing possibilities.

What DJ Software To Use?

Multiple DJ software platforms exist, but not all are created equal. Modern DJ controllers require software, and the quality of that software will directly impact your enjoyment of preparing and playing your sets.

When selecting a DJ controller, the software included can also play a significant role in determining value. High-quality software that offers lots of features but is still beginner-friendly is essential. It’s also worth knowing if the software is introductory software or a full version.

Laptop with DJ software on the screen.

DJ software is the backbone of many DJ controllers.

You’ll want full-version software that unlocks all the features to get the most out of your purchase. This may involve having to spend extra.

Many controllers require specific software with easy plug-and-play capability. If you already have DJ software, you’ll need to check if it’s compatible.

How Often Will You Be Using The Controller?

Build quality is essential when choosing a beginner DJ controller. Most beginner gear features a primarily plastic build. However, how thick and rigid that plastic is will vary between manufacturers.

Close-up photo of a DJ controller.

Good build quality ensures your DJ controller can handle frequent use.

If you plan to jump on the decks regularly, you’ll want something that will be able to take the punishment. This becomes even more important if you bring your DJ setup to a friend’s house or party.

Does It Have An In-Built Soundcard?

A dedicated sound card is a good feature. It will allow you to plug and play without having to rely on the capabilities of your computer or laptop. The best DJ controllers will offer a 24-bit sound card that can deliver crisp and clear audio. These controllers will also allow you to send the sound directly to your sound system.

DJ using a jog wheel and manipulating EQ controls on DJ equipment.

High quality sound cards ensure you experience the best possible sound quality.

While modern PCs offer good sound cards, it’s best to pick up a controller that can handle the heavy lifting of sending the audio signals.

What Extra Features Does The Controller Offer?

While most controllers follow the same overall design philosophy, there are a lot of differences in features. Layering multiple effects will require plenty of in-built effects options and controls.

Most beginner DJ controllers support two channels, but a few do have some workarounds for four-deck mixing. Knowing how likely you are to use these features is essential. It will help you get a DJ controller that allows you to fully explore the side of DJing you are most passionate about.

DJ controller sitting on a desk with headphones.

Beginner controllers can still offer extensive extra features.

Performance pads often form the backbone of many of the extra features on a DJ controller. At the bare minimum, you’ll use these to set Hot Cues. These are markers in the track for your reference.

Beyond Hot Cues, the performance pads can handle many other functions. These pads can offer options like extra FX, samplers, and other performance-orientated features that allow you to inject creativity into your transitions and routines.

Does The Controller Have The Inputs You Need?

DJ controllers for beginners often have minimal inputs and outputs. Knowing the type of connection options available can heavily impact which controller will suit you.

Master audio output is the first connection to examine. Many beginner controllers offer only one output source, and often, it will be an unbalanced connection.

DJ using a DJ controller in a nightclub.

Understanding what inputs and outputs you need is critical.

While not a big issue for new and hobby DJs, it can be critical if you plan on performing gigs where you’ll use professional-grade speakers. Access to balanced outputs is ideal for maximum sound quality for these gigs.

Remember that most beginner DJ controllers require a USB connection, so you’ll need a spare USB port on your computer or laptop.

All the best starter DJ controllers are not standalone and require you to plug them into a laptop or computer. Unfortunately, there is no all-in-one option at the beginner price point. If you’re looking for something along those lines, you’ll need to increase your budget considerably.

What Is Your Budget?

Speaking of budget, there are a lot of differences in price points for DJ controllers. Luckily, there are many choices if you are looking for a cheap DJ controller for beginners.

Knowing how much you have to spend can quickly eliminate some options. Remember that just because a DJ controller is inexpensive doesn’t mean you cannot craft amazing mixes on it as long as it has all the essential features for mixing.

DJ controller, laptop, and headphones on a desk.

Keep in mind everything else that you’ll need like headphones, speakers, and a laptop/PC.

It’s also worth considering if you plan on purchasing headphones and speakers. In most cases, you’ll be able to get started with the headphones and speakers you already own.

It’s not uncommon to get a cheap DJ controller you can afford to start with. You can then look at an upgrade once you have a deeper understanding of what features you need.

Though a word of warning, you get what you pay for. Higher build quality, more features, and more inputs will cost more. You won’t regret buying a more expensive DJ controller if you have the extra funds available.

Cheap Doesn’t Mean Bad

There is a misconception that you’re not a real DJ unless you have expensive gear. That cannot be further from the truth. Many pro DJs love the compact and refined nature of beginner DJ controllers. 

Check out this YouTube video from Pri yon Yoni explaining why he loves to use beginner DJ controllers targeted to beginners.

Our Verdict

The Pioneer DDJ-FLX4 is the best DJ controller for beginners. It has all the features a new DJ needs and a healthy dose of creative flexibility.

Rekordbox and Serato DJ software are the two most trusted and popular DJ software platforms, and this controller provides an easy-on-ramp to learn the core features of both. And with so many performance features, you’ll be able to evolve and grow as a DJ.

We have tested this controller extensively and believe that while all the options on this list are worth your attention, the DDJ-FLX4 is the best all-rounder.

No matter what DJ controller you select from this list, you’re in for a great experience. DJing is a fun and rewarding hobby, and there’s never been a better time to get started with so many quality beginner controllers available.

Pioneer DDJ-FLX4

Editor’s Choice

Top view of the Pioneer DDJ-FLX4 DJ Controller.

Overall Rating (7/10)

How Do We Rate?

Mixer
Jogwheels
Build
Software
Tempo
Pads
FX
Looping
Connections
Value
Mixer
Jogwheels
Build
Software
Tempo
Pads
FX
Looping
Connections
Value

Why You Can Trust Our Advice

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Article by Patryk Biernacki
Article by Patryk Biernacki

Patryk has been immersed in the world of music since the early 90s. This coupled with his creative talents, drove his passion to become an expert writer in the music industry. He constantly researches and tests new products, and enjoys playing with all types of gear in his spare time. Electronic music runs through his veins and he absolutely loves DJing in his home studio.

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