Best DJ Controller For Beginners In 2018 – Buyer’s Guide

Starting out as a DJ can be hard enough without the right kind of equipment. A DJ controller that’s beginner-friendly can make your journey from beginner to pro much smoother.

There’s a lot you need to keep in mind to make the right choice, so before we get to the reviews, I want to take the time to give you a mini buyer’s guide that you can refer back to when looking for the best DJ controller for beginners, even if you decide to progress beyond your beginner DJ controller.

At a Glance: Our Choice Of The Best DJ Controller For Beginners On The Market

Note: The links above take you to more information, current prices and customer reviews on Amazon. If you do purchase something we get a small commission, which has absolutely no effect on the eventual price that you pay.

Buyer's Tips: What to look for when buying the best DJ controller for beginners

Modular vs all-in-one

  • DJ controllers don’t all come in the form of one piece of equipment. As a beginner, a design that incorporates both a mixing desk for physical control of your digital audio workstation (DAW) and decks for vinyls, or jog wheels if you’re using digital formats, is the best way to go.


  • Although most DJ controllers can be used with any DAW software, they will often come configured to be used with one in particular, such as Serato. If you already have DAW software, then choosing a DJ controller that’s already set up for it can save a lot of time and prevent any difficulties in remapping the numerous controls to their appropriate functions within the DAW.


  • DJ controllers can range from just a few hundred dollars to several thousand. Lower end models are perfectly functional, and the reduced controls can actually make it easier to learn as you don’t have as much to worry about when you’re getting started. They also tend to be smaller and therefore more portable, and as such are great for getting your feet wet with gigs.

Ok let's look at each product in more detail. To make things easier for you, we've added pros and cons for each one, as well as a video demonstration so you can see them in action. So without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the best DJ controller for beginners.

5 Best DJ Controller For Beginners

1. Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 MK2 (Editor's Choice)

Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 MK2 DJ Controller

Built from the ground up with the Traktor software in mind, making it perfect if you have this DAW already. It’s also one of the best value for money DJ controllers at this level.

The following link contains the specs.

  • Can be remapped completely to correspond with any other software
  • Comes with the full version of Traktor Pro 2
  • Compact design, and can be used with an iPad for even more portability
  • Compared to the larger S4 model, it lacks a few features
  • Because of the Traktor Pro design, it can be difficult to map to other DAWs - though definitely not impossible
  • Can’t be expanded with extra decks

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2. Pioneer DDJ-SB2

Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB2 Portable 2-channel controller for Serato DJ

This is built for the Serato DAW software, and also works pretty well with the free Mixxx software too, making it the perfect option for a beginner DJ on a budget. It’s one of the most popular DJ controllers at the entry level, and easily one of the best for Serato.

  • Can control all 4 Serato DJ decks with two jog wheels using a simple switch
  • Jog wheels are exceptionally high quality, making them perfect for scratching and other live performance flair
  • Has a built-in soundcard allowing you to hook it straight up to a sound system or headphones
  • Only includes the stripped down Serato DJ Intro rather than the full version
  • Not the sturdiest construction, so keep it in a sturdy case or protective bag at the least

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3. Numark Mixtrack Pro 3

Numark Mixtrack Pro 3 | USB DJ Controller with Trigger Pads & Serato DJ Lite Download (Includes Built-In Sound Card)

Another Serato based DJ controller that comes bundled with the Intro version of the software.

  • Has a built-in soundcard for previewing tracks through headphones
  • Metal jog wheels make it easier to make tiny adjustments compared to the more common plastic design on budget DJ controllers
  • Apart from a 3.5mm headphone jack, it only has one output, which is an unbalanced left/right RCA
  • Doesn’t come with the full version of Serato DJ

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4. Hercules DJ Control Compact (Budget Choice)

Hercules DJControl Compact

As an absolute beginner, the less buttons, knobs and sliders there are to overwhelm you the better. This is one of the simplest and best DJ controllers for beginners around thanks to bare bones design without sacrificing essential functionality.

  • Shallow learning curve compared to other entry level DJ controllers
  • Extremely small design makes it perfect for taking to live sets
  • Includes DJuiced 18° software
  • No onboard soundcard
  • You can quickly outgrow this, and the bundled software isn’t one of the common choices
  • Lack of controls means you’ll be working within the software more frequently

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5. Korg KAOSSDJ USB DJ Controller

Korg KAOSSDJ USB DJ Controller with Kaoss FX

One of the only DJ controllers with an integrated KAOSS pad and still priced with a tight budget in mind. It’s pre-mapped for the Serato software. Many familiar features are replaced with touch-sensitive pads, including the jog wheels.

  • Kaoss pad lets you control multiple effects with one finger
  • Super compact design lets you DJ from anywhere
  • Has a built in audio interface with two stereo inputs, one mic input and one stereo + headphone outputs
  • The lack of physical jog wheels can make scratching and tiny bumps more difficult
  • As it’s made completely from plastic, this DJ controller is a little flimsy compared to heavier units
  • Doesn’t include the full version of Serato, and doesn’t always play well with other DJ software

Let's take a look at this product...

So what is the best DJ controller for beginners?

The best DJ controller for beginners is mostly defined by your software. If you’re using Traktor, then the Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 is the clear winner for you - although you may also want to check out the S4 model for a more expensive and feature-heavy version once you’ve mastered the basics. It’s also the best choice if you don’t already have a full Dj software since you get the pro version with it.

For Serato, your choices are a lot more varied. The Pioneer and Numark are the most conventional and very similar in most respects, so it will be down to whatever aspect matters most to you personally. The Hercules is a great beginners DJ controller due to its simplicity, and the Korg is the ultimate for Kaoss pad fans or DJs who want to try out the novelty of touch based jog wheels.

Image Credits:

Featured image source: tatsuhicoCC BY 2.0

Ged is Founder and Editor-in-chief at Zing Instruments. He’s a guitarist for London based gypsy jazz band ‘Django Mango’ and a lover of all things music. When he’s not ripping up and down the fretboard, he’s tinkering with his ’79 Campervan.

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