A lot of people say that DJ controllers look intimidating. With a lot of knobs and controls, it looks more like a machine or a computer than a musical instrument. And because of this, many also have the impression that a DJ controller must come with a hefty price tag. But actually, it’s not as expensive as they think it is
Like most musical instruments, the price of a DJ controller says nothing about its potentials. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to start DJ-ing, and you definitely don’t need an expensive tool to become a professional DJ. In fact, you can still get a good set of advanced controls and features from a $500 DJ Controller.
And to prove that, we made a roundup of the best DJ controllers under $500. Believe it or not, the list is quite extensive but below is a list of our favorites. We believe that the best DJ Controller under $500 is just waiting for you within that list.
So check it out and who knows? You might find exactly what you’ve been looking for.
Top 10 Best DJ Controllers Under $500 in 2021
Denon DJ MC4000
If you love working with Serato, then that’s enough reason for you to get the Denon DJ MC4000. This 2-deck controller comes with touch-activated jog wheels and dedicated Hot Cue and sampler triggers. It also has the Serato DJ Intro, a software that can help you get started easily.
That said, the Denon DJ MC4000 may be the friendliest option for newbies as well. But no matter if you are a beginner or an experienced mixer, this controller has a lot of robust features to offer.
Apart from the hardware and action, the Denon DJ MC4000 also has a premium 24-bit audio output path for crystal clear sound quality. Personally, the intuitive layout is enough for me to fall in love with this DJ controller.
- Super lightweight and portable
- Built for the mobile DJ
- Has a robust steel chassis
- Durable and made to last through wear and tear
- Features a wide array of features and premium quality audio
- Jog wheels not made for scratching
Looking for something super lightweight but full of amazing possibilities? The Numark Mixtrack Pro II may look simple and plain but it packs a lot of features, from the 16 backlit multifunction drum pads and illuminated touch-activated platters.
It comes with a long list of professional controls, and that is perhaps the number one reason why I love this DJ Controller. It is perfect for anyone who wants something simple-looking but also offers creative freedom to experiment with their own style and music taste.
I highly recommend the Numark Mixtrack Pro II for the DJ with a bit of experience and someone who is looking for their personal style.
- Comes with a long list of professional controls and features
- Features an intuitive design that’s easy to get used to
- Durable but lightweight
- Perfect for the traveling DJ
- Includes Numark Remix Toolkit download ($200 value)
- Extra payments required for the full version of the Serato software
Pioneer DDJ-RB Portable 2-Channel Controller
Are you a traveling DJ who is looking for a DJ Controller that you can easily bring with you on your journeys? The Pioneer DDJ-RB might just be your new travel buddy. It is ultra-lightweight and is also has a super portable design. It seems as if this DJ Controller is made for traveling.
The Pioneer DDJ-RB comes with a sturdy and adjustable laptop stand so that you can easily plug and play this machine via USB. If all you need are the basics for your next road trip, this DJ Controller is a great option.
If you are a beginner at DJ-ing, this controller may also be the best option for you simply because it has all the basics covered in a design that is both intuitive and convenient. This 2-channel controller also comes with the rekordbox dj DJ software to help beginners get started with mixing and scratching.
It also allows users to easily create sample sequences directly on the hardware by using the Sequence Call buttons. Personally, I love how this package also comes with headphones – making this set a perfect starter kit for any beginner.
- Super lightweight
- And comes with the Gearlux laptop stand
- Includes the rekordbox dj software and a pair of headphones
- Perfect for newbies
- Has internal speakers but can also be connected to a wireless speaker
- Or to desktop speakers
- Headphones can be used at the same time
- Sound quality from the headphones and master output could be improved
If you’re a novice learner who’s not afraid to tackle a complex machine, or if you are a master DJ who is looking for a controller that can match your skills, then the Roland DJ-202 may be just the thing you are looking for.
This two-channel, 4-deck controller has large platters with the lowest available latency that is best for scratching. It also has built-in drum kits made with legendary Roland technology. It has eight sounds in each TR kit: Bass Drum, Snare Drum, Closed Hat, Open Hat, Tom, Rim, Clap, and Ride.
But personally, I really like this DJ Controller’s 16-step sequencer. Accessible via the performance pads, you can easily program and sync beats and live performances to the Senator library, giving you more freedom and creativity to make more unique transitions and remixes.
- Comes with a wide array of features
- Ability to control music from a laptop and has a full sequencer and drum sounds
- Professional quality and durability from the Roland brand name
- Not friendly for absolute beginners or for novice learners
Looking for a beginner-friendly DJ controller with a more advanced set of features? The Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB3 DJ Controller has everything you need and more. It comes with features not all entry-level DJ Controllers would have.
It gives you all the basic effects, all the buttons and sliders you need in a smart and intuitive layout. Plus, you get a Pad Scratch so you can easily add scratch effects to currently playing songs and songs in queue. You also have the FX Fade feature that allows users to smoothly blend tracks even if the songs have clashing genres!
There are many reasons to love the Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB3 controller, but here’s one of the reasons why it is one of my favorites: it comes with a Serato sound card which allows you to easily connect to your PC/Mac via USB – no need for an external sound card, and so that is one less thing to purchase!
And if you still aren’t satisfied with that, this robust machine also comes with a mic input circuity for crystal clear audio.
- Features an intuitive layout
- Made with durable premium materials
- Sports a portable design
- Comes with easy grab handles
- Comes with features that are useful for advanced DJs and friendly for beginners as well
- Some features may only be used with the Serato software
On the lookout for a practice DJ Controller? Numark has got you covered. The Numark Mixtrack Platinum is one of their newest additions to their DJ Controller catalog. It is a robust 4-deck DJ controller that houses all your DJ-ing needs in a beginner-friendly interface.
First, it has a built-in custom LCD display screen in each 5” capacitive jog wheel – a beautiful addition to an intuitively designed controller. It also has 4-channel mixing capabilities with filter and gain controllers for each channel.
And like the other controllers in the Numark Mixtrack series, the Mixtrack Platinum also has a multi-function touch strip and 24-bit audio output.
Personally, if there is one DJ Controller that I would recommend to both newbies and veterans, it would be the Numark Mixtrack Platinum. I like that it has a lot of features but not too much to the point where beginners might feel overwhelmed.
- Great option for both beginners and advanced DJs
- Comes with a good set of effects and mixing features
- Easy to set up
- Just plug and play onto your computer
- The software may cause glitches
- Desktop freezes occasionally
Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB2 Portable 2-channel controller
Like all the other controllers in the Pioneer DJ catalog, the DDJ-SB2 also comes with a wide array of advanced features – but with a few irresistible additions.
The DDJ-SB2 has been upgraded with 4-deck control. It has dedicated buttons so that users can switch between channels without extra trouble. And it also has a trim knob and level meters, allowing users to master the input volume. This DJ Controller also has Pad Trans beat effects that can help you take your DJ-ing skills to the next level.
But what attracted me to this DJ Controller is its top and bottom rubber pads; giving users easy access to Hot Cue, Auto Loop, Manual Loop, and Sampler at the top, Play, Sync, Cue, and Shift at the bottom.
Thanks to the placement of these rubber pads, you don’t have to keep looking for the buttons you need. Getting used to this DJ Controller is a breeze.
- Super easy setup
- Not much of a learning curve while getting used to this DJ Controller
- Features an intuitive layout with immediate access to important functions found at the top and bottom rubber pads
- Does not come with the full version of the Serato software
Pioneer Pro DJ Black
Looking for a DJ controller with a simple-looking layout? Most DJ Controllers come with tons of buttons, sliders, and trackpads, making it difficult for newbies to get used to the machine. The Pioneer Pro DJ Black aims to reduce the amount of overwhelm by simplifying its design and layout.
But make no mistake – just because it looks like it has less stuff on it, doesn’t mean that it does not come with an enviable number of effects.
Like other DJ controllers of the Pioneer DJ brand, this one comes with a free rekordbox dj license key. It also has a host of professional features like Hot Cues, Pad FX, ampler, and loops – all in a super lightweight and compact body.
Apart from the capability to connect to your desktop, I also like how this DJ controller can be used with Pioneer’s own app for iPad.
- Super simple and easy to understand layout
- Perfect for beginners and for practice as well
- Lightweight and portable but comes with professional features advanced DJs would love
- Compatible with Pioneer’s DJ performance app for iPad
- The durability of materials can be improved
Gemini GV Series G2V Professional Audio
Some may not be very familiar with the Gemini name brand, but they’ve been creating some of the most innovative DJ products since the 1970s. The G2V is another great addition to their fantastic catalog of DJ controllers.
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 2-channel DJ Controller has 2 physical DJ decks and complete control of 4 virtual software decks. It features 16 multi-function performance pads and has easy-to-use touch controls.
But what I love most about this DJ Controller is the fact that it has plenty of outputs – balanced and unbalanced master and booth outputs.
- Lightweight and portable
- Perfect for the mobile DJ
- Compatible with Virtual DJ 8 and a multiple of other DJ software
- Comes with high-resolution platters
- Mix and scratch the feel of real vinyl
- The software is not included with the purchase of this DJ Controller
Numark Mixtrack Pro DJ Controller
Are you a novice DJ looking for a no-frills DJ Controller? Do you want a complete package that will stay with you no matter what your skill level may be? The Numark Mixtrack Pro DJ Controller is here to stay with you from your novice days up until you become a pro.
This DJ Controller is friendly enough to be your first controller, but it also has the right amount of difficulty that will help you keep developing your skills.
The Mixtrack Pro comes with large, touch-sensitive control wheels and audio interface. With just a single USB connection, you can connect the Mixtrack Pro with your desktop. Mix and scratch via the controller’s dual-deck layout and a mixer section.
I also appreciate the fact that the Mixtrack Pro is a MIDI-over-USB controller, making it compatible with all DJ software.
- Compatible with multiple DJ software
- Works with Mac or PC via USB connection
- Easy to set up
- Class-compliant which means that there are no drivers that need installing
- Great as a starter controller
- Not many possibilities or room to grow as a DJ
- Does not come with a sampler
How To Pick The Best DJ Controllers Under $500
DJ controllers may look intimidating to many, especially for the clueless beginner. Many have the impression that there’s a lot to consider when purchasing their first controller.
But actually, there are only a few simple tips to remember if you are on the lookout for the best DJ controller under $500. There are 2 main factors which you need to consider: layout and the list of effects.
With the overwhelming amount of knobs, pads, sliders, and buttons, having an intuitive layout really helps when learning how to use the controller. A DJ controller must have an intuitive layout.
The controls should not just be readily available when you need them, but they also need to make sense to you. There’s no right or wrong layout – just a suitable one for you.
That said, it is also important to identify what you’d like to achieve with your DJ controller. Discover what effects you’d like and which ones you are most likely to use.
Having a full palette of effects is ideal but starting out, you may not be able to use all of them anyway. It is better to have all the right things you need on your DJ controller than to have a huge list of features which you rarely use anyway.
Choosing the best of the best DJ Controllers under 500 dollar is a tough challenge. With so many points to consider and interesting features to debate over, choosing the best among the rest was close to impossible.
But as always, picking one selection from our roundup is inevitable and with that said, our choice for the best DJ Controller is the Denon DJ MC4000.
Although it does not have a complete list of professional features and controls, the Denon DJ MC4000 has all the must-haves covered. It’s not intimidating for beginners to take on, but it gives users a lot of freedom to play around with some additional pro features.
It’s easy to use, and even easier to bring around. In other words, it is a great choice for many aspiring DJs, no matter their skills or experience level.