Budget could be an important factor in a DJ’s choice of music gear. Unless if you’re a pro DJ who is signed to a label, you got everything you need.
However, for starters and for those who have some scarcity in your budget, you can still find a great DJ controller.
Different controllers are sold from $100 to $3000. The higher you go up in the price spectrum, the fancier your DJ controller gets.
But, you don’t need something fancy – you need something useful and reliable.
Since we’ve had the same sentiment as you, we made a list of the best budget DJ controllers in 2021. We provide a quick review and some consolidated pros and cons per product.
This article will help you weigh your options, at the same time getting to know the best budget DJ controllers that may actually be the perfect one for you.
Here are the best budget DJ controllers in 2021
- Pioneer DDJ-SB3 Controller
- Numark Mixtrack Platinum DJ Controller
- Pioneer DJ DDJ-400
- Denon DJ MC4000
- Roland DJ-202
- Numark Mixtrack Pro II
- Hercules Inpulse 300
- Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S4 MK2
- Reloop Terminal Mix 8
- Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2
Packed with the popular features of the DDJ-SB2 and combined with Serato DJ controller comes the Pioneer DJ Controller DDJ-SB3. It’s a beginning DJ’s best companion, especially in honing and molding your skills.
This two-channel controller has the features you need, in a perfect layout for more accessibility and comfortability while playing.
Among the pro features of this controller are the Pad scratch allowing the addition of the scratch effect, FX Fade making the transition between tracks easier and low-latency jog wheels for greater accuracy of the scratch response.
Made with premium materials and circuitry, it’s the best controller you can have to get positive improvements in your skills. A word of caution, however – don’t install the controller near any heat source or even music gear that might emit heat.
- Awesome startup gear for beginners
- Layout and buttons are better than predecessors
- Excellent jog wheels with a separate loop section
- With ‘auto scratch’
- But manual scratching is still better
- Lacking some features since it’s a budget controller
Having a platinum status in DJing is pretty grand, but not impossible with Numark Mixtrack Platinum DJ Controller. Crafted by a renowned DJ controller maker, this one guarantees great performance whether you’re a pro DJ or just starting out. It’s a two-channel mixer with four-deck layering layout for more mixing capability.
This controller offers a few pro features like multiple FX manipulation, 16 multi-function performance pads, built-in LCD display in each jog wheel, filter and gain controls for each channel, a multi-function touch strip and more.
The long, sensitive 100mm pitch sliders are worth mentioning since it’s excellent in beat matching. It’s USB-powered and can be connected to the computer easily, plus with an onboard sound card, you can directly plug in headphones, speakers, and mics.
- Great metal construction with long and sensitive sliders
- Fun to play with
- Great for those who want to develop their DJing skills
- May produce some buzzes or hums when plugged in
- Jog wheels are not reliable in controlling the audio
- Randomly stops working and halt sending signals to a computer
First-time DJs might find themselves blessed if they buy the Pioneer DJ Controller DDJ-400. It’s easy to set up and you can learn the basics right away since it has features that help you master your skills.
It’s compatible with a new Tutorial feature that provides step-by-step instructions on the basic operation of the controller.
DDJ-400 is also lightweight and has a portable design with built-in sound card and USB plug and play connectivity. It comes with a club-style layout of the controls, so it’s very easy for you to get familiar with leading DJ controllers when you’re ready to step up the next level of your career.
Other functionalities that you can enjoy are the dedicated play/pause and cue buttons, CDJ-style looping controls, Beat FX and a lot more.
- More user-friendly
- Perfect for DJs who are still starting out
- Compact and easy to set up
- Might not play well with other music equipment
- Blue effects could be extremely bright
- Might not be good for pros who want to do more with their controller
Need to be a little classy with your DJ controller? Well, you can do so with Denon DJ MC4000 DJ Controller that has audio manipulation tools and an intuitive deck layout like any premium controller. It has a rugged construction, and no doubt can take on DJ’s increasing demands.
It comes with touch-activated jog wheels that are very reliable for scratching and track cueing tracks. It has dedicated hot cues and sample trigger pads well-designed which are illuminated for quicker visual feedback.
It has balanced outputs, which do all the magic in sending signals to other music gear and adjust the Booth level independently from the main level.
Furthermore, it also includes Serato software (upgradable to Serato JD Pro) for you to enjoy your DJing according to your preferences.
- Excellent build quality
- Has full-sized pitch sliders
- Excellent jog wheels
- Impressive connectivity
- Limited support for Serato DJ features
- VU meters are very basic and are a bit confusing
Like the Numark Mixtrack Platinum, but the Roland DJ-202 DJ Controller comes with more, given the fact that you’ll also pay a little more.
But, if you’re serious enough, we’ll tell you what more can this DJ controller give you. It offers a lot more like the built-in kits, onboard sequencer, MIDI output and a free upgrade to Serato DJ Pro for purchases made in the US.
With the large, low-latency platters, it’s also optimized for scratching. Built-in drum kits give you eight sounds in each kit including the bass, snare, open hat, closed hat, tom, rim clap, and ride.
Moreover, it’s USB-powered and can be connected to speakers or amplifiers with its RCA stereo outputs. The Serato DJ, as you know, will help you work magic on your music production through this controller.
- Has separate gain and bi-pass filter controls
- Comes with separate transport controls and the trigger pads
- With advanced feature for Serato DJ upgrade
- Smaller pitch sliders
- Headphone output is not that great
- No Booth or AUX output
If you think you don’t have the money to buy a great DJ controller, well think again. Numark Mixtrack Pro II USB DJ Controller offers more than what you paid for with its technology and the features onboard.
Whatever you can think of in a controller – hot cues, effects controls, touch-sensitive platters, looping, built-in Serato DJ software and more – can be found in this very affordable DJ controller.
In addition, it comes with 16 rubber drum pads where you can easily pull up cue points, trigger samples and more. It has a built-in audio interface, so you can easily connect to your headphones, speakers, and mic or to your computer whether Mac or PC.
You’ll always be ready to show your DJ prowess anytime and anywhere with all those effects, controls and those inputs and outputs you have available.
- Easy to use and compatible with Serato DJ software
- Lightweight and compact
- Easy to transport
- Durable with auto-loop feature
- All plastic construction
- It has limited input and outputs
- No gain knobs or level meters
DJing and mixing become more learnable with Hercules DJControl Inpulse 300. Whether you’re self-taught via video tutorials or practicing for your gig, this budget-friendly controller might just be the one you’re looking for.
It has comprehensive DJUCED software that helps you learn the basics of DJing with its interactive help and video tutorials.
Some of the basic functions that you can learn from this DJ controller are the tempo and beat light guides and the assistant function.
Speaking of the Assistant function, it’ll help you prepare the best music production and mixes for it suggest the hottest tracks available. It has 16 pads, modes, and effects with a layout similar to those in premium DJ controllers.
- Comes with extensive features
- Given its low price point
- Awesome quality product
- Jog wheels are touch-sensitive
- Perfect for beat matching
- No audio cables included
- Better to have a digital display on jog wheels
Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S4 DJ Controller is among the few DJ controllers out there, which hardware and software are in perfect harmony. It’s a four-deck mixer with a built-in 24-bit sound card and packed with professional features everyone craves to have.
Easy to use right out of the box, this controller has hi-res aircraft-grade aluminum jog wheels and two effects units to mention just a few great features.
Featuring RGB buttons to trigger cue points, loops, and samples, very suitable to be used on club nights and parties with the lights off.
It’s plug and play with TRAKTOR PRO DJ software that works well with your TRAKTOR DJ app on your iOS for quick preparation and song management before you perform. Perfect for traveling with its slim profile, yet with everything you need to start mixing and scratching right away.
- With good looks
- Feel and visual feedback
- A great upgrade from previous models
- Plug and play feature
- Compatible with iPhones
- iPad and computers
- Come with the ability to tweak the workflow depending on your style
- Controls are very close to each other
- Need spacing
- Haptic Engine is not that awesome in this version
- No XLR balanced outputs
Another controller that works great with the ever-popular Serato DJ is the Reloop Terminal Mix 8 DJ Controller. As the name suggests, it’s a four-deck controller with sturdy club-size construction and quality. Its ergonomic design helps new users to easily get familiarized with all its onboard controls and features.
With 16 velocity-sensitive RGB performance pads, you can easily trigger samples and slicer, hot cues, loops and more. The slick and loop modes help you make quick rearrangement on the fly.
The extensive effects section has three rotary knobs with endless encoder and four buttons to have full control over the Serato DJ’s iZotope-powered effects.
Terminal Mix 8 is an easy plug and play controller that can be easily connected to your computer to start mixing MP3s right away. In addition, it can also be connected to any PA or home setup with its built-in audio interface.
- Durable build quality
- Works out of the box
- Excellent controller
- Fully compatible with Serato DJ
- Has no dedicated master out
- Can’t be used as a standalone mixer
A club-standard mixer, the Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 DJ Controller accommodates whatever DJ style you practice or might be practicing.
Comes with two channels with large 14cm smooth precision jog wheels that has two jog modes. You can either take advantage of the spin-to-nudge function or be more creative with its scratch capability.
Additionally, you can take advantage of the 16 RGB pads, which help you access hot cues, loops, and trigger samples. With the Beat grid adjust mode, you can use the jog wheel to manually make some adjustments on the beat grid in the TRAKTOR software.
USB-connected with a high-end audio interface, so you can connect it to other music gear you have.
- You can access features of the TRAKTOR software from the deck
- Reliable and solid build quality
- Has only RCA output
- No XLR
- Though it offers scratching capability
- But there are other better alternatives
- Has great hardware
- But not as good as its predecessors
How to Choose the Best Budget DJ Controller?
While maybe the budget is not an issue for some, but other dedicated DJs really strive to save money for controllers they need.
Since you’ve come this far, you know that there are still tons of controllers out there that are packed with features you need and offered at an affordable price.
Here are some tips on how to choose the best DJ controller if you’re in a budget:
Check the Built-in Software
Understand the software that comes along with the DJ controller you want to have, DJTechZone emphasizes on this one. If possible, make a quick peek online, read some reviews and even have the trial version and check the software before buying the controller.
If you like the overall presentation and layout of the software, then, you’ll be doing great with that budget DJ controller you wish to have.
Don’t go for Older Models
Older versions may be offered at a discounted price, and most people love something that has some ‘% off’ of the original price. Check if the software is still supported and see if the jog wheels are still perfect in shape.
If you think it’s worth the bargain, then, you’ve just found a great deal, otherwise, you’re just another fallen guy.
Connectivity and Ports
Check the ports – the inputs and outputs – and see if it supports USB connectivity or you can connect external audio sources to it, like CD players or turntables.
This is very important since controllers are not always standalone mixers. Or, you need some interfacing if you really want to get more creative with your music mixes.
Features and Functionalities
For newbies, perhaps you’ll be overwhelmed by all the knobs, buttons and sliders onboard in some complex controllers. However, bear in mind that, the DJ controller you’re looking for must work for your convenience and application.
So, start learning the basic features – mixer, jog wheels, pitch faders, crossfaders and so on.
Next thing to check is whether the size is just right for you, whether it has a decent feel and the parts don’t look and feel flimsy. You might want to check if it has room to accommodate more experimentation if you want to go to the next level.
Maybe you’re still in doubt that you can’t go to a gig or live show with your budget DJ controller. However, this YouTube video will teach you otherwise.
It explains why it’s advantageous to go for entry-level DJ controllers and not those expensive ones. Watch it now and maybe you’ll be convinced to buy the best budget DJ controller.
What is the best budget DJ Controller?
Now that you know how wise and cunning it is to look for a budget DJ controller, it’s time to pick the best. While our bet might not be the one that you’re eyeing on this list, it’s just fine. After all, we are on the same page now in buying entry-level, budget-friendly DJ controllers.
Quick answer: Our choice for the best budget DJ controller is the Pioneer DJ Controller DDJ-SB3. It surprisingly has full-packed features at its price point, which is a good thing for budget-seekers.
It’s a USB-compatible DJ controller, with 2 channels, 4 deck controls, trim knob, 128 mm durable aluminium jog wheel, and a whole lot of other features included in it.
Again, let me re-iterate – premium DJ controllers or budget controllers, they are just the same if one has the skill on DJing. So, don’t focus yourself on buying the coolest music gear in the market. Rather direct your energy on mastering this craft.
After all, a great DJ is really great whatever DJ controller is thrown in front of him. Right? Let me know what you thinks by leaving a comment below.