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Best DJ Controllers for Beginners (2024): Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

DJing is a vibrant and exciting avenue for music enthusiasts to unleash their creativity and rhythm. With the rise of electronic music and club culture, the demand for DJing has surged, creating a need for equipment that caters to both seasoned professionals and beginners. DJ controllers are the modern DJ’s instrument of choice, allowing users to mix, scratch, add effects, and control software, all from a compact and integrated device. These controllers offer a hands-on approach to music curation and have become essential for anyone looking to get into DJing.

For beginners, starting with the right DJ controller is crucial. It serves as the foundation for developing skills and can greatly influence the learning curve of an aspiring DJ. Beginner DJ controllers strike a balance between functionality and user-friendliness, often simplifying complex features while still providing enough control to practice and improve. Understanding the equipment’s layout, its compatibility with different DJ software, and connectivity options are primary considerations when choosing a controller.

When selecting a beginner DJ controller, it is important to consider the build quality, the number of channels, jog wheel responsiveness, input/output options, and software compatibility. You’ll want something durable, yet not overwhelming. The number of features should be manageable so you can focus on the essentials without getting bogged down by complexity. It’s about finding the sweet spot between too elementary and too advanced, ensuring the controller can grow with you as you gain experience.

I spent significant time researching and evaluating various DJ controllers to find options that provide a solid starting point for new DJs without compromising on potential for growth. The next section will introduce you to some of the best DJ controllers for beginners, highlighting their key features and how they stand out in the market.

Choosing the Right DJ Controller for Beginners

I’ve taken the time to carefully evaluate a variety of DJ controllers tailored for those just starting out. The selection I’ve put together comprises the most user-friendly, value-packed options that should make your initial foray into DJing as smooth as possible. These controllers strike an excellent balance between functionality, ease of use, and affordability, making them ideal candidates for beginners eager to learn the craft without feeling overwhelmed.

Numark Party Mix II

Numark Party Mix II DJ Controller

The Numark Party Mix II makes stepping into the DJ world a breeze, with built-in lights adding to the fun.


  • Easy-to-use interface, perfect for beginners
  • The built-in light show enhances the party atmosphere
  • Compatible with popular DJ apps and streaming services


  • Limited functionality for advanced DJing
  • Some may find the build quality less robust
  • The compact size might be restrictive for some users

Exploring the Numark Party Mix II, I was immediately impressed by how intuitive the setup felt. It’s clear that this controller is designed for newcomers to the DJ scene, with controls that are straightforward and responsive. Upon unboxing, it was plug-and-play with my Mac, and I appreciate how it seamlessly works with my Serato DJ Lite software.

Performance-wise, the party lights are a genuine crowd-pleaser. They sync to the beats, creating an immersive experience even in my home study. The touch-sensitive jog wheels responded well to my cues and scratches, and I found the performance pads sufficiently responsive when triggering FX and loops. These features made my first mix feel surprisingly professional.

The numark Party Mix II, despite its beginner-friendly approach, still allows for some creativity with its filter knobs and pitch sliders. I enjoyed tweaking these during my sessions to add texture to tracks. The partnering app, with its vast music library, ensured I had access to a diverse range of tunes without interruption.

Balancing the pros and cons, the Party Mix II is a sound entry-level controller that brings the joy of DJing to novices without overwhelming them. It does have its limitations, as professional DJs may seek more sophisticated features. Nevertheless, for someone just dipping their toes into DJing or looking for a compact, light-hearted setup, I find this controller offers a considerable amount of fun and functional value.

Hercules DJControl Inpulse 200 MK2

Hercules DJControl Inpulse 200 MK2

If you’re taking your first step into DJing, the Hercules DJControl Inpulse 200 MK2 is a solid and intuitive gateway to mastering the mix.


  • Ideal for beginners with interactive light guides
  • Bundled software and practical tutorials enhance learning
  • Compact and easily portable for DJing on the go


  • Plastic build may not appeal to all
  • Limited features compared to professional units
  • Basic controls might be outgrown quickly

I’ve just had a play with the Hercules DJControl Inpulse 200 MK2, and as a beginner-friendly controller, it hits most of the right notes. The interactive light guides are not just for show; they genuinely assist in grasping the concept of beatmatching—something I found particularly useful when starting out. Integrated streaming services support and the STEMS feature have given me the creative freedom to experiment with tracks in a way that’s definitely thrilling for a newcomer.

The size and weight of this controller mean it’s no hassle to move around. Whether I’m headed to a small house party or just practicing in a new space, it’s refreshing not to lug around heavy gear. Moreover, the controller feels ready right out of the box, with Serato DJ Lite presenting a user-friendly interface that complements this deck nicely, making the technical side of things less daunting.

As much as I appreciate the compactness, I do notice the dominance of plastic in its construction. It doesn’t detract from its functionality, but for those who are sticklers for a more professional feel, this might be a slight turn-off. Given the target audience, however, I believe the hardware is perfectly adequate—it’s solid enough to take on the road and withstand regular use.

All said and done, the Hercules DJControl Inpulse 200 MK2 has encouraged me to dive deeper into the art of DJing. While I’m aware that I might outgrow its basic feature set someday, it definitely serves its purpose as an introductory tool, offering key learning resources and facilitating skill development in a way that feels far from intimidating.

Numark DJ2GO2 Touch

Numark DJ2GO2 Touch

If you’re stepping into the DJ world, the Numark DJ2GO2 Touch is the compact workhorse that will get you up and running in no time.


  • Portable design easily fits into a backpack for DJs on the move
  • Touch-capacitive jog wheels provide a responsive feel for precision mixing
  • Built-in sound card and headphone output enable hassle-free prepping on the go


  • Limited features compared to full-sized controllers might not satisfy advanced users
  • Small size can be challenging for those with larger hands
  • Plastic build might not withstand heavy usage as a professional’s primary gear

Using the Numark DJ2GO2 Touch, I immediately appreciated its ultra-portable design; it slides easily into my laptop bag, making it ideal for impromptu sessions. The touch-capacitive jog wheels are a charm; they respond to my every scratch and nudge just as a full-scale turntable would, which is impressive considering this controller’s diminutive size.

Setting up was a breeze. It plugs directly into my computer and the bundled Serato DJ Lite detected it instantly. I could also see myself mapping it with other software with no fuss. The on-board audio interface meant that I could listen through my headphones while cueing up the next track without needing additional hardware.

Seeing the powerful performance packed into such a small frame is exhilarating. Flaunting backlit controls, the DJ2GO2 Touch looks slick in dark environments, keeping me at the top of my game without squinting to find the next button. It may not have the bells and whistles of a high-end setup, but for beginner DJing or as a backup for pros, it punches well above its weight.

Novation Launchkey 25 MK3

Novation Launchkey 25 MK3

If you’re a budding music producer, the Novation Launchkey 25 MK3 should be at the top of your list for its impressive ease of use and creative potential.


  • Quick and intuitive control over Ableton Live
  • Expressive performance with velocity-sensitive keys and pads
  • Inspiring chord modes and arpeggiator for easy composition


  • Limited to 25 keys, which may not suit later progression
  • Key feel may not satisfy more experienced players
  • Integration is primarily focused on Ableton Live, which could be limiting for users of other DAWs

After spending some hands-on time with the Novation Launchkey 25 MK3, I was struck by how well it meshes with Ableton Live; it’s evident that Novation crafted this controller to be an extension of the software. Jamming with the pads feels naturally responsive, inviting you to drum out rhythms with precision. They glow intuitively to guide you, which is particularly handy when you’re deep into a creative session.

The keys might be fewer in number, but they’re mighty in functionality. Their touch response is impressive, perfectly capturing the dynamics of your playing style, whether you’re crafting delicate melodies or thunderous chord progressions. And when inspiration hits, the chord modes let you lay down ideas quickly — it’s like having a chord encyclopedia at your fingertips.

Novation’s thoughtful design shines in the creative arpeggiator. It’s not just a robotic pattern generator; it’s a dynamic tool that injects life into sequences, turning simple notes into intricate rhythms. Navigating the controller, I found the knobs and sliders to be sturdy and smooth, which spells reliability for countless sessions to come.

In conclusion, the Novation Launchkey 25 MK3 is a robust and intuitive controller perfect for those diving into music production or looking to control Ableton Live in more creative ways. Its compact size makes it an ideal companion for musicians on the move or those with restricted studio space. The Launchkey might just be the key to unlocking your musical potential.

Pyle 6-Channel Mixer

PylePro Model : PYD1964B

After spinning some tracks on the Pyle 6-Channel Mixer, I must say, DJs starting out will appreciate its versatility and Bluetooth capabilities that make mixing tracks a breeze.


  • Integrated Bluetooth for convenient wireless streaming
  • Intuitive voice manipulation features for creative DJing
  • Effortlessly remix by routing any source to any of the channels


  • Build quality may feel insubstantial for some users
  • Could be challenging for complete beginners to operate initially
  • Some users might be looking for more advanced effects

In my hands-on session with the Pyle 6-Channel Mixer, its Bluetooth functionality immediately stood out to me. I synced up my phone and streamed my playlists into the mixer without any hiccups. The convenience of wireless music streaming is a game-changer for DJs who want to keep their setup clean and avoid the jumble of cords.

The voice manipulation tools caught my ear next—tweaking the high, mid, and bass of the microphone inputs added depth to my announcements. There’s a certain satisfaction in using the kill switch, dropping out frequencies to emphasize your voice at just the right moment.

One aspect that makes this mixer a delight is the ease with which I could redirect music sources to different channels. This capacity lends itself to a level of experimentation that’s vital for developing unique mixes. For DJs learning to layer their sounds, this mixer is a springboard for creativity.

Yet, while I was exploring the mixer, I did notice the knobs and faders felt a bit on the lighter side. I wouldn’t go as far as to question its durability just yet, though I can understand that some may prefer a more solid feeling to their equipment.

For those just starting their DJ journey, the array of buttons and settings might be a bit daunting. But like any instrument, practice paves the path to perfection, and with time, all these features will become second nature.

Finally, while this mixer has a strong array of built-in effects, seasoned DJs or those looking to really push the envelope might find themselves seeking more advanced options. Nevertheless, what’s offered here is still quite ample for those cutting their teeth in the DJ world.

Pyle PMX648 Mixer

Pyle Professional DJ Audio Mixer Controller

If you’re stepping into the DJ world, the Pyle PMX648 mixer is a solid starting point, providing flexibility and decent effects for your mixes.


  • Simplified setup with plug-and-play USB connectivity.
  • Versatile effects suitable for various audio mixing needs.
  • Robust construction with a metal chassis adds to its durability.


  • The learning curve for beginners can be steep with advanced controls.
  • Occasional sticking of mute buttons can be an annoyance.
  • Might be overwhelming if you’re only looking for basic mixing functions.

I recently got hands-on with the Pyle PMX648 Mixer, and its rugged build struck me first. Playing around with the 380 preset digital effects, I could craft a sound that was uniquely mine. Switching between the rock, classical, and jazz effects gave a distinct flair to different tracks. It takes your sets beyond plain transitions, adding layers of depth to performances.

Fiddling with the EQ controls, I appreciated the fine control they offered over the audio output. The mixer’s ability to connect to both Mac and PC via USB without any hassle is great for those who jump straight into a mix after a quick setup. Whether you’re incorporating MP3s or live vocals, the input options give you the freedom you need.

While I explored this mixer’s capabilities, I observed that some of the features might challenge novices. However, if you’re eager to learn, the Pyle PMX648 offers a playground of options. It’s more than just a beginner’s mixer; it has the potential to accompany you as you grow from novice to a more experienced DJ.

Pioneer DJ REV1

Pioneer DJ DDJ-REV1

Clearly, the Pioneer DJ REV1 is a robust choice for beginners eager to learn the DJ craft, packing a punch with its intuitive controls and portability.


  • Battle-style setup mimics professional equipment
  • Built-in microphone input enhances versatility
  • Tracking Scratch feature is ideal for learning to scratch


  • Limited by two channels for mixing
  • Light weight might not appeal to all
  • May feel basic for DJs as they progress

Having spent some quality time with the Pioneer DJ REV1, I’ve found its battle-style layout to be a real game-changer. It simplifies the transition to a professional setup, which is crucial for those starting out. The tactile jog wheels and performance pads feel responsive, giving you that hands-on experience crucial for building confidence.

The built-in microphone input is a surprisingly welcome feature. Beyond just mixing tracks, being able to grab the mic for shoutouts adds a layer of versatility to performances, making it feel like a more complete DJ experience.

But it’s the Tracking Scratch feature that stands out. As someone who had aspirations of mastering scratching, this feature provides immediate satisfaction, delivering a hands-on approach that emulates the feel of vinyl, which is amazing for honing those skills.

Admittedly, I did notice the limitations of having only two channels to work with. While it’s sufficient for learning, as you grow, there will be a craving for more complexity. Also, the lightweight design, although great for mobility, might not satisfy those who prefer the heft of traditional turntables. This controller is compact, but as I’ve improved, I’ve started feeling the itch for more advanced features and additional mixing channels.

In retrospect, the Pioneer DJ REV1 is a solid stepping stone for aspiring DJs. It’s perfect for learning the basics before moving on to more complex pieces of equipment. And for a beginner, that’s really what it’s all about – starting strong and building a solid foundation for the future.

Hercules DJ Inpulse 200

Hercules DJControl Inpulse 200

In my time spinning tracks on the Hercules DJ Inpulse 200, I’ve found it’s a solid launching pad for any novice DJ eager to learn the craft.


  • Integrated tutorials accelerate the learning process
  • Lightweight and portable, perfect for moving from gig to gig
  • Intelligent Music Assistant makes track selection a breeze


  • The plastic build may not convey a professional feel
  • Limited features compared to professional-grade controllers
  • The software might be too basic for DJs as they advance beyond beginner level

Just yesterday, I had my hands on the Hercules DJ Inpulse 200 again, and its user-friendly layout made it a joy to navigate. The tempo and beat align lights kept me in sync with the music, guiding me effortlessly as I mixed. It’s just like having a DJ tutor at your fingertips, especially with the interactive help and tutorial videos embedded in the Djuced software. The feeling of executing a smooth transition between tracks using the beat-match guide is undeniably gratifying.

But what truly shines for me is its portability. Despite its plastic composition, the Inpulse 200 is rugged enough to withstand the bumpy ride to my friend’s house party, where it performed without a hitch. Moreover, its Intelligent Music Assistant was a hit, suggesting an array of tracks that kept the party energized without me having to dig through my collection.

Certainly, as my skills mature, I notice the limitations of the Hercules DJ Inpulse 200. Its more plastic feel might not impress veterans, and the simplicity of the software can feel restrictive over time. Yet, for someone starting and looking to own their first controller without breaking the bank, the Hercules DJ Inpulse 200 has the essentials covered. It remains a recommendation of mine for new DJs not yet ready to invest heavily but eager to get their feet wet in the world of DJing.

Hercules DJControl Mix

Hercules DJControl Mix

After mixing some fresh beats on this controller, I believe it’s a solid choice for beginners dipping their toes into the DJing world.


  • Wireless connectivity to my smartphone was a breeze
  • The included foldable stand is super handy
  • Intuitive control layout that eased me into mixing like a pro


  • Feels a bit on the lighter side, which might affect durability
  • Volume controls can be a tad sensitive during transitions
  • Dependence on smartphone app means you’re at the mercy of software compatibility and updates

The moment I hooked up my smartphone to the Hercules DJControl Mix, I was spinning tracks effortlessly—credit to its seamless Bluetooth connection. The jog wheels responded accurately to my touch, which made beat-matching and scratching feel intuitive for someone just starting.

Design-wise, the Hercules DJControl Mix caught my eye with its compact form factor. I easily slotted it into my backpack, which makes it perfect for mobile setups. Despite its plastic build, it didn’t feel cheap. The controls, including pads and faders, gave me a tactile experience similar to higher-end equipment.

Battery life longevity is key for any wireless device, and during my use, the Hercules DJControl Mix didn’t disappoint. I managed to play through my set without worrying about running out of juice. And the included smartphone stand? A nice bonus that added to the convenience, keeping my phone in clear view as I worked the decks.

Hercules Starlight

Hercules DJControl Starlight

I found the Hercules Starlight to be an excellent gateway for aspiring DJs, blending portability and functionality seamlessly.


  • Intuitive for beginners with essential controls
  • Compact build makes it highly travel-friendly
  • Features an entertaining built-in light show


  • Lacks advanced controls for when skills progress
  • Small jog wheels might be less suitable for intricate scratching
  • The light show, while fun, isn’t necessary for mixing

My hands-on experience with the Hercules Starlight was predominantly positive. Its small size is deceptive; the controller packs enough punch to get you started on DJing. I appreciated the pre-listen feature provided by the built-in sound card, letting me cue up tracks with precision. The touch-sensitive jog wheels responded well to my touch—although they may seem small, they did the job for fundamental mixing techniques.

Transporting the Starlight was a breeze. It fit easily into my backpack, and setting it up was straightforward wherever I went. The unit feels sturdy; despite its plastic construction, it seems durable enough for regular use. The Serato DJ Lite software included is perfect for beginners and lightheartedly introduces users to the art of DJing.

The light show, featuring RGB and strobe effects on the base, added a fun visual aspect to my sets. Granted, it’s more of a bonus than a necessity. Prospective buyers should consider that this model won’t satiate the thirst for advancement—its feature set is tailored to newcomers. As I progressed, I started to miss having more advanced features and larger jog wheels for finer control and scratching. Nevertheless, the Hercules Starlight is an accessible starting point that promises to make learning to DJ an enjoyable journey.

Buying Guide

My Approach to Selecting a Controller

When I’m in the market for a DJ controller that suits beginners, my first step is to evaluate the essential features that can make or break the user experience. I start by considering the build quality and user interface. For beginners, it’s crucial to have a controller that withstands constant practice and has an intuitive design.

Key Features to Consider

Thinking about the needs of a novice DJ, there are a few key features I focus on:

  • Jog Wheels: The size and sensitivity of jog wheels are important. They should be responsive enough for accurate scratching and beat matching.
  • Software Compatibility: It’s essential to ensure the controller is compatible with widely-used DJ software.
  • Connectivity: I check for sufficient inputs and outputs, including the ability to connect headphones for cueing and speakers for live performance.
  • Portability: As a beginner, having a lightweight and compact controller can be beneficial for easy transportation.

Importance of a User-Friendly Interface

The complexity of buttons, knobs, and faders must be balanced with ease of use. I look for a layout that feels natural and not overwhelming, with clearly labeled controls.

Feature Table

To aid in comparison, I make a feature table for side-by-side evaluation:

FeatureWhy It Matters
Jog Wheel SizeLarger wheels can offer better control.
SoftwareDetermines the range of music and effects.
Inputs/OutputsEssential for playing out and using external gear.
Weight & SizeAffects portability and setup space required.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, I cover the most common inquiries for beginners entering the world of DJing, focusing on choosing the right controller and understanding the essential features.

What should a beginner look for when choosing a DJ controller?

When selecting a DJ controller, beginners should prioritize ease of use, integration with DJ software, and affordability. Entry-level controllers with a simple layout help in learning the basics without overwhelming complexity.

Which entry-level Pioneer DJ controller is most suitable for beginners?

The Pioneer DDJ-200 stands out as an ideal option for beginners. It balances functionality and simplicity, offering a smooth entry point for those new to DJing.

What features are essential in a DJ controller for novices?

For novices, a DJ controller should have a user-friendly interface, responsive jog wheels, a built-in mixer, and pads for cue points and basic effects to develop mixing skills.

How much should one expect to spend on a quality beginner DJ controller?

Quality beginner DJ controllers typically range between $100 to $300. This price bracket offers a blend of essential features and durability without a steep investment.

What DJ setup is recommended for someone just starting out?

I recommend a two-channel DJ controller with integrated audio interface, DJ software compatibility, and active monitor speakers for those starting out. This setup provides the necessary tools to practice and improve.

Are there any highly recommended DJ controllers for beginners released in 2024?

One of the standout beginner controllers released in 2024 is the Numark Mixtrack Platinum FX. It brings updated features perfect for beginners, such as large jog wheels and FX paddles, at a competitive price point.