A Pancake Turner’s Guide To Affordable Controllers
Are you an aspiring DJ? Or maybe a rookie? Conversely, you could be jockeying as a side hobby. Whatever might be the case, it has always been known that you are born to mix and match the music.
The only thing holding you back is the lack of suitable gear. Whether you are a rookie or a veteran in the world of DJ-ing, having a reliable, good quality, and affordable DJ controller is a must.
There is an enormous repository of DJ controllers to choose from and debut. But choosing the right controller, or even one that is good and fits your budget, can be a bit of a hassle. That’s why we have come up with this guide to help you choose a suitable controller and make shopping a breeze.
Starting your gigs as a DJ shouldn’t be an expensive or intimidating activity. You might want to create a small side-hobby, or probably want to make some side-income, or perhaps, you’re gunning to be the next Hardwell or Aviciësto. Whatever might be your motivations, these controllers are just a small budget away.
Technology innovation has spawned some excellent and affordable choices. That is why we have compiled this list of the top ten best DJ controllers under $300 for you to buy.
Top 10 Best DJ Controllers Under $300 2021
Are you looking for a beginner-friendly DJ controller? Do most of the entry-level controllers leave you wanting? If you answered affirmatively, then Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB3 DJ Controller is the right choice for you.
This controller provides all effects, buttons, and sliders you need in a neat and intuitive layout. In addition to that, you get a Pad Scratch that you can use to add scratch effect to currently playing easily and songs in queue. Moreover, the FX Fade feature allows the users to blend tracks, even if they are clashing genres smoothly.
The cherry on top, though, is the Serato sound card. This piece of technology allows you to connect to your workstation via USB, neglecting the need for an external sound card. This dramatically increases its useability and makes it an excellent and stable investment. All these features and accessibility options propel it to the top on this list of best DJ controllers under $300.
Wrapping up the goodies is its mic input circuitry, which gives crystal clear and noiseless audio. Overall, you cannot go wrong with this choice.
We recommend this preppy little controller for beginners, especially as it is easily connectable to a laptop. It has an excellent build quality and is just as sensitive as the higher-end pioneer controllers. The mixer section has all the features for delivering a professionally sounding performance. There’s little resistance to the movement. Pair it with any other additions such as DJ Pro (to integrate Spotify), which is fully compatible without you needing to map anything, and you would have a winner on your hands.
- Intuitive Layout
- Premium finishing
- Lightweight, Portable
- Beginner as well as veteran-friendly
- Some features can only be used using Serato software
- Average customizability
Are you someone who knows their way around a DJ controller? Do you consider yourself more advanced than a beginner but are yet to hit the professional level? If yes, then this is your best bet. The Numark Mixtrack Pro 3 is jam-packed with features for mid to advantage range Disc Jockeys. Numark takes connectivity very seriously. Hence, it developed various options for headphones, a mic, and even a PA.
The Mixtrack Pro 3 sports 5-inch capacitive jog wheels, dual-channel mixing capabilities. In addition to this, it is also fitted with a filter and gain controls for each channel. It also has a multi-functional touch strip that gives it a premium finish and sports an excellent, high-resolution audio output. It has everything that an experienced DJ would want and appreciate to have in layman’s terms.
If you’re an experienced DJ looking to purchase a perfect DJ controller without burning a hole through your pockets, this choice could be a desirable option.
For those still on edge over this nifty controller, it is quite heavy for an entry-level one. It is set apart by its premium feel and case and works great as a mobile DJ controller. However, it’s not just premium looks that set it apart. It comes with many features, including essential connectivity options for headphones or mics and dual-channel mixing capabilities. It’s designed to let you express both DJ-ing abilities and creativity, with the unlimited avenues it gives you.
- Pro-grade class-compliant audio interface
- Two dedicated headphone outputs
- Includes Prime Loops Remix Tool Kit along with Numark Expansions Remix Toolkit
- Serato DJ intro
- Lacks dedicated sound card
- Complicated setup
- Wheels retain fingerprint marks easily
Are you high on portability? Does the prospect of having a controller that you can take anywhere ignite your passion? In that case, the Pioneer DDJ-RB could be your new travel buddy.
Light in weight and sporting a portable design, this DJ controller was built for travel. It is a very user-friendly controller and comes with a built-in laptop stand, which is durable and adjustable so that all you need to do is plug and play via USB. This DJ controller would be all you need for your road trip.
On a different note, this device was created while keeping rookies in mind. So it has all the basics covered. The two-channel controller comes with rekordbox DJ software that could be an immense help to beginners. It allows users to create samples and prototype sequences directly on the hardware using the Sequence Call button. This could be an excellent investment for newbies who like to travel.
Mandatory warning, this controller has a bad reputation of being a ‘baby’ controller. However, if you want to just play around with the notes and do your own thing, this controller can overcome that hurdle as well. All you need to do is gather the elementary prerequisite knowledge required to operate a controller, and you will be churning out unique melodies without any trouble.
It’s smooth with the platters and offers many options like recording sound effects, sampling everything you need to rock a party. It may not be the best for scratching but is good enough for simple transitions and is great with blending. It is a highly recommended option if you’ve just started.
- Has inbuilt speakers but can also be attached to external or wireless ones
- Durable Laptop Stand
- Average sound output quality
- Only for rookies
It can be hard to become a pro on an affordable budget. But the Numark Mixtrack Pro 3 is here to save the day. It is filled with features that would be of immense use to both mid-level and professional DJs.
Numark is a company that listens to the feedback from its fans and critics alike. Keeping in line with that ideology, this controller has various options for headphones, mics, and PA, which many other controllers at this price point lack.
It also sports 5-inch capacitive jog wheels, dual-channel mixing capabilities, along with filter and gains controls for each channel. On top of that, it has a multi-functional touch strip that gives it a premium feel without being too heavy on your pocket.
Mixtrack Pro 3 also has 5-inch capacitive jog wheels, 2-channel mixing capabilities with filter and gain controls for each channel. Plus, it also has a multi-function touch strip and a high-resolution audio output. Everything a pro could ever ask for.
This Next generation, functionality loaded controller is a beautiful starter for a beginner. It is a full-bodied unit packed to the brim with features. The price point for its components is optimum. On each jog wheel, it has a compact four-deck DJ controller for Serato DJ intro, included for MAC and PC with high-resolution multi-functional LCDs.
For complete control of cue points, auto / manual looping, and sample replay, it has 16 multi-functional backlit pads with multiple pad modes to add some flair to your output, along with 100 mm pitch controls and a multi-functional touch strip for dynamic FX control and strip check.
If you’re an experienced DJ looking to purchase a great-quality DJ controller without hurting your wallet, this is your best bet.
- An excellent option for both rookie and professional DJs.
- A comprehensive set of effects and mixing features.
- Plug and play capabilities
- Glitch prone software
- Instances of desktop freezing have been reported
This brand has been around for more than 50 years now. And believe me, it has paved the way for a lot of innovation and invention in the world of jockeys. The G2V does not disappoint, being one of the best in class. If you are looking for a no-frills DJ Controller that fits your $300 budget, this DJ controller may be the option for you.
This dual-channel DJ Controller sports two physical DJ decks and complete and precise control of around four virtual software decks. Moreover, it also features 16 multi-functional performance pads and has one of the most easy-to-use touch controls.
But what takes the cake is that it has plenty of outputs–balanced, unbalanced master and booth outputs. The sheer useability and innovation, priced at such a competitive range, makes it one of the top contenders on this list of the best DJ controllers under $300.
It is a professional controller for any DJ out there. The sound and build quality are exceptional. Balanced outputs, aux, four channels of control, huge responsive jog wheels- everything comes together entirely and blends into this beast of a machine. This controller also has VU meters for every channel hard to find at this price point.
The buttons and knobs have a great firm feel and provide plenty of control with the jog wheels. With this controller by your side, you can rest assured and produce your masterpieces without any worries
- Lightweight and Portable
- Compatible with many Virtual DJ software, including Virtual DJ 8
- Software not included with the product
- Not very attractive
Are you looking for a compact yet feature-packed DJ controller at an affordable price? Pioneer’s DDJ-WEGO3-K is here to take care of all your problems. It is a portable and compact controller that does not compromise on quality. It is one of the most travel-friendly controllers on this list. It can just be packed in your bag and taken for a ride. With this controller beside you, you can dish out bangers on your road trips and parties.
It is also compatible with Spotify and iTunes. Hence, users can play songs directly from their library using their iPhone or iPod. This is in addition to its already existing plug and plays facility.
This pick on our list is a great, economic, and straightforward controller with an intuitive and well-designed layout. It is recommended to anyone who wants a bare-bone DJ controller for a reasonable price. To top all that off, it unlocks you from the hassle of cords, which offers you an authentic experience to mix and scratch.
It even charges the i-device when playing, so you’ve got one less thing to think about. The Pulse Control Lights add a tangible aspect to DJing. They show you when the track is loaded and the effects and filters engaged.
As everyone already knows by now, this controller comes with its inbuilt sound card, hence saving you from having to buy one extra component. Seeing all these advancements and features–that too at such an aggressive price point–is almost unheard of, and that is precisely what propels this entry to one of the top controllers on this list of the best DJ controllers under $300.
- Super lightweight
- Extremely portable (can even fit inside your backpack)
- Has inbuilt sound card
- Compatible with Spotify and iTunes
- Virtual DJ software preloaded
- Is relatively basic in terms of features offered
- Ideal for beginners, not so much for mid to pro lever DJs
The DJ-202 is almost perfect for DJs who are after entry-level, yet reliable and long-lived. This durable and feature-packed DJ controller is one of the best in class and provides many features at an overly aggressive price point.
It is a four-deck controller. It has two larger, low-latency platters that are ideal for beginners who want to try out and learn new stuff. There are eight dedicated pads, which include Hot Cue, Loop, Sequencer, and Sampler modes. Along with this, it also has eight built-in preset drum sounds so that you can create beats on the fly.
It is a leading Serato DJ Lite controller with the characteristics and setup of a large, robust, and compact DJ-505 system, offering unnerving versatility for DJ players, remixing and making fly beats when playing live or in the studio. Additional voice effects involve low-cut EQ to refine the tone, and a noise port, sound problems, and an undesirable background noise are cleared automatically.
The DJ-202 is fitted with any controller’s most capabilities in its class. Its vast, low latency platters, dedicated pad and transport controls, onboard sequencer, and micro input with vocal FX protocol. It performs as well as Pioneer, and the sound quality is excellent. So although it may not be well known, it certainly offers enough to be featured on this list of best DJ controllers under $300.
It has the Roland sequencer onboard that you can use to trigger sounds and samples in Serato DJ Lite. It also contains a mic input with vocal FX, in case you ever want to try out your MCing skills for your friends. Overall, it is an attractive investment for growing artists looking to learn and make a name for themselves.
- Aggressively priced
- Contains a lot of input varieties
- Ideal for beginners
- Suited to rookies, not meant for mid or pro jockeys
- Lacks a bit in the portability department
Do you fancy yourself a trendsetter? Are you always looking for ways to defy the ordinary and break norms? Then this controller would be the perfect choice for you. It is one of the first hybrid DJ controllers ever made. Its plug n play design makes it stand out. Keeping the jockey’s comfort at the top with their motto, this controller features multi-platform support.
It is designed to work with Mac, PC, Android as well as iOS devices. Moreover, owing to its impressive makro FX mode, it combines filters and effects, irrespective of the channel being used.
This mixer, combined with DJ Pro 2 for Mac OS, includes Spotify integration. Having 30 million songs in the crate (thanks to Spotify) will help ramp your creativity and the array of themes available. It also contains the unique “match” feature, which serves up songs that mix well with the music being played (both in key and bpm).
The extra headroom provided by this feature enables you to mix songs (even the ones that you are experimenting with for the first time), going down rabbit holes and finding gems along the way. It is very reliable and robust, truly a genius piece of software. The Reloop Mixon 4 has a far superior software ecosystem around iOS devices.
It also sports aluminum jog wheels, master LEDs, channel strips, and multiple ports for input and output. All in all, this is a perfect choice for people who want to get the most bang for their buck. And being one of the best DJ controllers under $300, this controller deserves some serious thought, as you would not regret investing in it.
- Amazing reloop quality
- Exceptional output quality
- Can also be used for professional work
- Premium finishing
- Microphone quality leaves something to be desired.
- Some buttons are reported to be shaky
This is one of the few controllers recommended for both pro and rookie DJs. This all-in-one controller is designed to be powered using a universal serial bus (USB) connector. One of its most outstanding features is its 100mm pitch sliders, which play a massive part in maintaining perfect synchronization.
Mixtrack 3 boasts of the best in class performance and a range of exceptional features. Its features, combined with its portability and affordability, give it an edge over its competitors and make it stand out.
Combine this controller with any external audio device and pair it with a laptop; you will have your workstation ready. All you need to do is plug and play, and you can go on about mixing and producing your masterpieces. The rubber trigger pads, multi-function touch strip, metal jog wheels, and volume display levels are sure to make your work an entertaining and enjoyable activity.
The fantastic DJ controller, from Numark, is an innovator in DJ equipment and technology. Mixtrack PRO 3 has an arsenal of functionality, including vital headphone/ mic/PA communication options, 5-inch jog wheels, 2-channel mixing functionality, a multi-functional Touch Strip (MSS), and a high-resolution audio quality monitor for each channel.
It incorporates critical DJ features for instant artistic expression and a design that stands above traditional DJ controls. A built-in sound card and mic output make this controller superb at a price. They use interactive DJ 8 and Traktor Pro 2 web DJ facilities.
- Exceptional Design
- Recommended for beginners
- Poorly designed fader
- Durability leaves something to be desired
Pioneer goes a step ahead to get that extra oomph from their controllers, in terms of ease of accessibility and layout, all the while keeping affordability in mind. The low latency and large jog wheels provide excellent response and make DJ-ing an enjoyable activity. Moreover, its input volume can also be checked quite frequently and adjusted using its level meters and trim knob.
Unlike other DJ controllers available, this controller is designed to improve your DJ skills. It also boasts of quite improved and impressive functions that would make playing with this controller quite a memorable experience. The features and affordability factored in along with the brand name make it the ideal choice in this loss of best DJ controllers under $300.
With a pretty high-quality build and function, this is the controller to get for the budget. This is a terrific beginner-deck that you can invest hundreds of hours in without feeling like you’re being held back by hardware. While it is true that DJs would want to upgrade their controllers, this is an exceptionally unique controller that will keep the rookies going even after going pro.
- Easy to set up
- Easy to get hold of
- Has intuitive layout
- Lots of features
- Affordable and economical
- Serato Software is not fully activated
- Some people might find it lacking
- Average finishing
Best DJ Controllers Under $300 – Conclusion
To an unskilled person, a DJ controller might look very technologically advanced and intimidating. But the only way it can seem incomprehensible is if you are unwilling to learn.
With buttons and discs of various shapes and sizes, dangerous-looking sliders and controls, and all the usual DJ terminologies, it can seem like a bit of a hassle to get the hang of stuff. Therefore, it is not hard to guess why so many newcomers find purchasing a DJ controller hectic.
In reality, however, it is not so difficult once you put your mind to it. While it is true that it takes time to get used to terminologies, it is easy sailing for anyone willing to learn once you do. Moreover, you don’t need to be a jockey pundit to settle on a suitable controller.
All you need to do is consolidate your preferences in one place and then search accordingly. But still, for those who want a more detailed guide, two main factors determine the choice of controller: layout and list of effects.
As we said earlier, it can get a bit hard to keep track of so many buttons and sliders. That said, you would ideally look for a controller with everything right where you need it, i.e., it must have an intuitive layout.
The controls should be available to you readily and should also make sense to you. There is no right or perfect layout–just the one that fits you like a glove. Hence, you should always be clear with what you want in and from a controller.
As for effects, they too are dependent on your preferences. Start from whatever effects you like or want to try out. In the beginning, you may be unable to use all the effects right away, but once you find the combination that works for you, you may not even need to use the whole palette.
Aside from these, there are several other things to keep in mind while shopping for a controller. The first, arguably the biggest, concern is the choice of software that you will be using. All controllers are not compatible with AI software, and that’s fine. You just need to see whether you favor Serato DJ or lean towards Rekordbox, and finding the right controller will be a walk in the park.
Most controllers are designed with two or three specific bits of software in mind. Moreover, many come with specific preloaded applications (included in the price), which increases the variety of software you can test and try out. In the end, your final choice is going to be influenced by your choice of software, or it could very well be true the other way round.
In continuation to this, you would also have to choose between whether you would need any inbuilt audio inputs (this is worthwhile for people who want to connect turntables, CDJs, or instruments to their setups) or if you’re going to expand with the help of time-coded types of vinyl or CDs in the near or far future. Pay attention to the description. Some controllers also work as standalone mixers, without the hassle or need to connect to a laptop.
Finally, there are generic things to keep in mind. Size, looks, build quality, affordability. It is an endless list. And that is the reason why there isn’t a sure-shot way of buying the “best” controller. Because every entry has its pros and cons and suits every person differently, while it may not be possible to give the best controller, it is possible to consolidate the best and most popular ones from the existing repository.
What Are DJ Controllers? How Do They Work?
These are sound equipment that a disc jockey (DJ) uses to create and mix songs. This is done in conjunction with some DJ software that the DJ uses and the trendy and prominent jog wheels and knobs.
Improvement in this area of technology and their relative ease of setup have increased upcoming jockeys’ skills. They have also made the neighborhood parties even livelier, as so many of them are available at such an affordable rate. With these technologies, the world of music has had a significant facelift, and it can only go upward from here.
On connecting a DJ controller to a laptop, the software allows you to drag and drop MP3 music files onto each turntable. It also gives the user a great deal of control over song effects such as EQ and finally using the crossfader to mix and mash into another track.
Some controllers allow you to connect turntables, therefore adding the capability of offering mixer capabilities. Hence, CDJs can be connected to DJ controllers. This increases the flexibility to mix music from turntables as well as a laptop.
FAQs on DJ Controllers Under $300
Q1. Do You Need A Mixer With A Dj Controller?
The controllers can be used easily without the presence of an external mixer. These controllers are meant to be standalone devices, and hence as such, come with their inbuilt mixers. For this very reason, many controllers are incompatible with many of the DJ software in the market.
Q2. Which One Is Better Of The Two: Serato Or Rekordbox?
The answer to this question lies in your ability to invest. If you are on a tight budget but still want a comparatively modern look, Rekorbox would be the better choice of the two. However, if you want better compatibility with various DJ controllers, all the while being more reliable, then Serato would be the ideal pick.
Q3. What Are The Various Parts Of A Controller That I Should Be Paying Attention To?
1. Controller Types
Generic controllers: As the name suggests, they are “generic.” Their main qualities include being cheaper than the dedicated controllers and having incomplete software (or limited functionalities). In layman’s terms, they are the “lite” versions of the better and dedicated ones. They involve a lot of work, and updating them can be a very tedious task. Therefore, such controllers and drivers are recommended for beginners who do not want to spend much.
Dedicated controllers: Now these are the real deal in the jockeying world. They have the full versions of preinstalled programs, so you can try out and test each and every avenue that they have to offer. But all of these functionalities come at the cost of being hurtful to your pockets. But overall, they are well worth the investment and are generally recommended for mid to pro-level jockeys.
2. Sound Card
A sound card for a controller is analogous to a graphic card for a computer. A controller with an excellent built-in sound card will offer exceptional sound quality along with access to all the controller features. Having a good sound card would let you make the most of your controller.
Since it is such an integral part of a controller, it is recommended to buy controllers with built-in sound cards instead of relying on your computer or any external sound card. But on the other hand, if you want to start the jockeying business as a hobby and are looking for some cheap options, you can use a cheap sound card while you save up for a better one and then replace it down the line.
If you are just starting, it is recommended to buy a cheap controller first. However, if you regard yourself a pro at this occupation, you go for the higher-end versions without a shred of doubt. In any case, some of the basic requirements would include a mic input, gain control, dual outputs, and balanced outputs.
3. Software Compatibility
As stated earlier, choosing the controller that fits the type of software that you are accustomed to or feel the most familiar with is a crucial aspect to pay attention to. Almost all the controllers are compatible with Windows and macOS, with some being compatible with iOS and Android. These compatibility options decide the range of what you can achieve and the extent of what you can produce.
4. Size And Weight
Finally, the size and weight of the controllers should be kept in mind. But keep this as your last criteria, and keep it flexible unless necessary to buy lightweight or travel-friendly ones. While it won’t be much of an issue for established professionals, it can be a very decisive factor in the type of music they produce for the jockey just starting.
You should indeed verify the measurements and size of the device. As an example, you should know in advance whether you can fit your laptop and other paraphernalia on the deck or whether you would need to buy additional equipment.