The radical transformation of human existence has been brought about by the development of technology that has affected all our lives in nearly all aspects. The concept of life we have now is largely dictated by the limitations and boundaries of gadgets and electronic devices. In terms of our hobbies and interests, we have a greater area of activity to engage in and we also have sophisticated tools that can help us in this endeavor.
The music industry is one such example, where the nature of music and production has altered drastically. Although many factors are still relevant from before, the new wave of technical equipment and gadgets have augmented the possibilities that we have on our fingertips – provided we make the right decisions and invest in the products which really contribute to our overall output.
The case of the best budget DJ controller is a curious one, as it sometimes creates the passionate debate between purists as to the wider implications of its popular use. What we wish to focus on today is that how you can manage to use this marvel of technology to your benefit to do things that were beyond the realms of imagination in terms of sound and music production. Our focus in this article will be to address, the various important factors that determine what makes a DJ controller good.
DJ controllers vary in price to a great extent based on their makeup and this range may well extend form a meager $100 to somewhere around $3000. We have consulted the best industry experts in this field with years of experience, as well as individuals who have dedicated the work of a lifetime to understand the details of technical aspects regarding this product.
And after all those length deliberations and hours of comparisons, we have formulated certain factors that should determine your choice and have also compiled a list of the ten best budget DJ Controllers available in the current market.
Factors To Consider Purchasing Best Budget DJ Controllers
The initial impressions of any product are important as it gives you a rough idea of how the product may function and although we don’t quite subscribe to the view that the first impression is the last impression, in this case, we still appreciate the decisiveness of a good solid first impression.
As intuitive beings, we are hardwired to have a subconscious sense relating to other people, as well as things and the first impression of a DJ controller will give you many important pointers.
If something usually feels right upon first glance or contact, then it is highly probable that it will continue to feel better and improve as you go on using it, and vice versa. It really is a lot like love at first sight and it has been reported to leave a lasting effect of consequence in many cases.
Features and Level Of Functionality
DJ controllers come with a wide range of features and it might prove difficult for you to decide which ones you require the most if you’re only starting out as DJ or if you are still in the infant stages of the profession.
However, there are quite a few factors that you should keep in mind considering that you want to buy a quality and long-standing durable product.
A keen understanding of the basics of music production and mixing will hold you in good stead in this endeavor.
Although DJ Controllers have now become a lot more sophisticated and technical, a good understanding of the basic DJ controllers design, consisting of two turntables and a mixer should be considered essential. Basically, this is all you require to start your basic beats and melodies.
It is, however, tough to get these right at the outset as it requires quite a bit of space. If you really want to get an in-depth understanding of how this works, you should try and arrange for a setup that allows you to get these in place right away as soon as you can.
The possibility may arise that you feel inherently attracted to something a little different such as the Native Instruments S5, that doesn’t have either jog wheels or pitch faders. We recommend you, however, to resist this temptation initially and go for an old school system first – as a beginner that will undoubtedly help you to get better and more refined as DJ in the long run.
We want you to get a greater degree of familiarity with the mechanics of the DJing before you move onto the more critical and technical aspects of exploring your wider options. And to achieve this you would need platters, pitch faders, cue, and play buttons and a mixer with EQing, line faders, and a crossfader.
Time spent in understanding and eventually mastering the basics in this regard will ultimately leave you in a much better position to become one of the best DJ’s around and reach the pinnacle of fame and success. The key is always in the fundamentals.
Thus, it can be said that your first DJ controller should have all the basic tools and operational features that a standard DJ controller should have. We strongly recommend you to ensure that the components are qualitative and of decent size, so that you can be left with more opportunities to grow through experience. Tiny pitch faders and miniscule jog wheels will not help you improve your game in the long run and we strongly advise you against it.
The Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 is a great example of a DJ controller has allowed you to access the basics and finetune your skills slowly but steadily. This controller is a fantastic example of a good option for a beginner especially as the layout is well spaced, the build is qualitative and it works with software. Eventually, you will also be in a position to promote yourself to better and more sophisticated software.
It will also benefit you if you can get a controller which has an onboard sound card that will help you to connect directly to your speakers independent of your PC. This is considered to be standard practice in our times the ones that don’t have a built-in audio interface are usually the cheapest ones.
We have found through experience and serving many clients, that it is better to wait for some time and sharpen up your skills before you decide to buy an expensive DJ controller. This is because, firstly, you will not be able to appreciate the value of an expensive one straight away.
Another, and perhaps the more pertinent reason, we ask this of you is that it’s basically poor economics going by the statistics. It has been observed that many individuals purchase various expensive controllers on sites like eBay only to get bored of it in just a few weeks and harbor aspirations of getting a new one.
As a general rule, we have also seen that the pricier a DJ controller is, the more you stand to lose even if you manage to get a good buyer for it later on and sell it at a decent price.
Another crucial aspect of this factor is that at the initial stages of your activities, you will still only be understanding the type of DJ you want to become and hence buying expensive premium gear right at the outset would be very disingenuous and much like putting the cart before the horse. For all these reasons, we ask you not to spend more than $400 for your first DJ controller in any situation.
A DJ controller is a technical device and just like with any other device of its kind, it also depends upon the quality and nature of software to get the best out of it. In reality, it can also be argued that the quality of your software is actually more important in determining the limits of what your DJ controller can or cannot do. It’s important to have an understanding of the type of software you are signing up for.
Top 10 Best Budget DJ Controllers 2018
1. Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB3 DJ Controller
The Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB3 has been a steady choice for many as their first go-to DJ controller, and that is why it makes it onto our list.
The layout is intuitive, and all the features have been designed, so that you get the best convenience while using them. Also thanks to the pad scratch, you can now get great scratch effects to cue while playing songs. The FX Fade feature is another great addition to this fine controller and makes mixing fell seamless.
The 5-inch ultra-durable aluminum jog wheel will go a long way in helping you achieve this. This fine controller is constructed using premium materials and audio circuitry, that always keeps all bases covered.
Finally, you have the pleasure of using large, low-latency jog wheels that give you a superior level of scratch response and accuracy. With this controller, you will not only be able to learn the basics of DJing at a great pace but also carry out the basic functions that are expected of you as a DJ without having to compromise on any functional or operational aspect.
Hence, it should come as no surprise that we feel the Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB3 DJ Controller is one of the best budget DJ controllers around and is worthy of its place on this illustrious list.
2. Numark Mixtrack 3
Coming in at number two on our list, is this all-in-one Controller from Numark that has been very well received from all sections of the market, and has acquired a very high reputation for flexibility and performance.
This device comes with a USB controller, so that you can seamlessly connect it to your personal computer and get the joy of using your favorite tracks right in the comfort of your own home.
You should also keep in mind that this device requires an external audio interface, so that you can have the convenience of a sound output through your headphones or speakers. Apart from this, the Numark Mixtrack 3 is responsible for giving you a complementary software which you can download after you register yourself for free. Many of the modern DJ controllers exhibit problems when it comes to synchronization of sound distribution.
This controller has also addressed that issue, as it has elongated 100mm pitch sliders to make sure that you get nothing short of the perfect sync. Other impressive pro features include touch-sensitive metal jog wheels, multi-function touchstrip, 16 backlit, rubber trigger pads, volume levels display.
It is easy to see after this discussion as to why this controller has its name on everyone’s lips and how it has come to set the market ablaze. Considering its modest price and sharp features, this is definitely a great choice for you.
3. Gemini GV Series G4V
The Gemini GV Series has blessed us with numerous quality products in the past, and it does so again with our latest addition on this list coming in the form of the G4V Professional Audio 4-Channel MIDI Mappable Virtual DJ Controller.
Allowing you complete control of 4 Virtual Software Decks, and also featuring 16 multi-function performance pads and numerous assignable rotary encoders this device is top-notch. This device also features exclusive intuitive control with Touch-Sensitive Jog Wheels along with an LED monitor responsible for giving you the best visual feedback.
The G4V DG Controller also features an AUX RCA Line Input. Besides these features it has Balanced XLR & RCA Master Outputs, an RCA Booth Output that is equipped with Dedicated Volume Control and even a Front ¼” Headphone Output, all so that you are in the best position to get the most out of your controller.
Gemini as one of the undisputed leaders of the industry, really got it right with this one and the extremely favorable price also points towards why you should trust this product.
4. Pioneer DJ DDJ-SX2 Professional DJ Controller
Pioneer has been championing the art of making DJing equipment and it has been in the market for long enough to have perfected this trade. With different buttons for Serato FLIP and an updated jog wheel with a “hot cue countdown”, this controller stretches the limits of possibilities in the realm of music production and mixing.
Considering all the fancy features this controller comes up with, such as Velocity Sensitive Performance Pads and Serta DVS upgrades, it is easy to see why it has created quite the stir in the market amongst veterans, as well as newbies alike.
Weighing in at 16.5 pounds, it is easy to transport to different locations and does not give you much hassle if you require to move it or your purposes. Finally, the fact that this product is available for such a cheap price in the market even while providing so many impressive features, is a testament to the fact that it is one of the best of its kind and one you should definitely consider purchasing.
5. Numark Mixtrack Platinum
Numark brings to you another classy and high performing DJ controller as our fifth product on this list and it has truly lived up to its extremely high standards with the Mixtrack Platinum.
It is easy to point out that this controller is one of those that immediately sticks out to you just based on how it looks, even before you know about its features. The 16 multi-function performance pads that this controller provides, is great for aspiring DJ’s to hone their craft and improve as fast as possible.
Furthermore, you will also get an LCD screen built into jog wheels to monitor critical information, without having to continuously look at the computer screen time and again. A 2-channel mixer with 4-deck layering and mixing capability comes with Serato DJ Lite, which you can download for free upon registration.
This model allows you to connect it directly to your PC through USB, and also comes with an inbuilt sound card that allows you to directly plug in headphones, microphones, and speakers. Considering the price of this product and the range of features it offers, this deal really is a steal.
6. Pioneer DJ DDJ-RB
Pioneer brings to you the sixth product on this list and it continues to maintain the high standards that have been set before it. The DDJ-RB Portable 2-channel Controller is highly efficient and extremely sleek in design.
This device allows you to access free software by simply activating the access key. It also allows you to mix and produce music instinctively and intuitively with the jog wheels, play/cue buttons, mixer knobs, and faders, gain pots, VU meter etc.
The sequence call button also lets you make simple sequences, and then manipulate them to your wish and play them directly on the hardware. This model also gives you an extended range of flexibility in operations. You can use the PC’s internal speakers, or connect to them, or even use a wireless speaker – the choice is yours. This, along with the modest pricing of this controller, shows that it has been setting the market ablaze.
7. Denon DJ MC4000
The Denon DJ MC4000, is an example of the modern variant of controllers that allow you augmented control of dynamics. and a capacity for intuitive mixing and production.
This fine Premium 2-deck controller for Serato is one of the most flexible and comprehensive models found in the market today. It comes with Serato intro that can be upgraded to Serato DJ. Moreover, it also comes with touch-activated jog wheels for accurate scratching along with track cueing features.
Complementing these impressive features, are dedicated hot cue and sample trigger pads with the added potion of illuminated feedback. This product has been a favorite or many new and upcoming DJ’s who are looking for a dynamic approach to mixing and trying to venture into more unknown territories.
It is perhaps easy to see why this has been so well received, when we also consider the budgetary dimension which will allow you to procure an A-grade product at a very modest price.
8. Gator Cases G-TOUR Series
Gator Cases is one of the companies that has slowly, but surely widened its scope of operations and functioning by virtue of which it has ended up securing a significant market following.
The Tour Case style DJ controller is equipped with an extremely useful platform for laptop that facilitates easy setup, although it is patent pending. It is a great choice for individuals who are required to move around, and access different workstations at different places.
The design and construction of this controller are based upon the fundamental parameters of flexibility and long-term durability, with additional aspects such as tough commercial-grade recessed handles and twist latches that makes it such a powerhouse.
9. Magma DJ Controller Workstation NV
The penultimate product on this list is the NV – Numark NV Road Case from Magma that comes with a highly functional removable sliding laptop platform that gives you much more room to access your device.
The 9 mm vinyl laminated plywood exemplifies the durability aspect of this product. It also comes with solid aluminum profiles, and spring loaded latches that improve stability and make this product the highly functional one that it is.
10. Roland Two-channel, Four-deck Serato DJ Controller
Roland comes in with our final product on this list as a company that really needs to introduction. This sublime two-channel, four-deck controller is equipped with large platters that have the lowest available latency, that has been specially optimized for scratching.
It also has built-in drum kits that with advanced ACB (Analog Circuit Behavior) technology coming with eight different sounds with each TR kit.
It also gives you the benefits of an onboard sequencer that controls Serato DJ’s sampler for on-the-fly beat creation, so that you can get going on your task at any time. This fantastic compact and functional DJ controller is available for a very meager price and that definitely justifies its position as one of the best budget DJ controllers found in markets today.
We hope that our guide on best budget DJ controllers was quite helpful to you. Ensure that you have idea of the type of DJ controller you want to buy. This allows you choose the best DJ controller among the many available options.