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The best DJ controller under $100? What might have been a fantasy a few years ago is now a reality in amateur DJ desks around the world. Cheap controllers that play like their grown-up counterparts are revolutionizing DJing. Here's our pick of the best DJ controller under $100 right now.
It's a good time to be a DJ. What used to be a niche hobby even until a decade ago has turned into the biggest development in music in years. DJs used to crowd clubs; now they're everywhere.
This also means that it's a good time for companies that make DJ equipment. The market is expected to grow at 6.5% CAGR, moving from $410M in 2019 to $600M+ by 2024.
These developments mean two things:
- People are moving into DJing younger than ever
- DJ equipment makers have more money than ever into building cheaper units
This is the reason why there has been a surfeit of DJ controllers under $100. This isn't an expensive hobby anymore; 16 year olds armed with a free version of VirtualDJ are now getting into it.
In other words, if you're a beginner DJ looking to buy a cheap DJ controller, now is just the right time. As our list of the best DJ controllers under $100 shows, you can get some surprisingly competent equipment for astonishingly cheap.
On that note, let's look at our pick of the best DJ controller under $100 you can buy right now.
Best DJ Controller Under $100: Top Pick
This DJ Controller is an entry-level DJ controller perfect for DJs that are just learning the trade. It is compact and has touch-sensitive jogs. It comes with 4 performance pads. These pads have 4 different modes you can use: Hot Cue, Roll, FX, and Sampler.
The layout of the buttons, knobs, and sliders on this DJ controller are just like those found on a professional controller; thus, any beginner who can master this DJ controller will feel right at home using a professional DJ controller.
Although at first glance, with the colors and size, you will be forgiven for thinking it is a toy, it is surprisingly compact and well made. The small package is durable and can take rough use and bruises.
Despite the compact appearance, this DJ Controller offers quite a lot of useful features. It might be for kids or people who are just setting out to learn music mixing, but the features can also appeal to all music lover and enthusiasts around the world.
This compact board has a plethora of options when it comes to transitioning and mixing music.
It comes with the Beatmatch Guide feature. This feature is meant to serve as a tutor to those learning how to manually beat mix. It has built-in songs that you can use to practice your skills. If you like, you can upload your own songs onto the Controller and play around with it.
We observed that the DJUCED software on the Controller is quite easy to use. It processes the songs you upload and shows you where the beats are and what the speed is. With this feature, we found it very easy to beat match.
We must reiterate how great this DJ Controller is for beginners. The build, software and overall performance are targeted at helping you learn.
What we don’t like: Although the overall design is great, the USB cord is permanently attached to the controller. If it breaks, you are in a lot of trouble.
Best Ultra Portable: Numark DJ2GO2
- 3-feet long interconnecting cable
- MIDI Controller
- Independent Headphone and Main Outputs
This compact DJ Controller is so tiny you can seat it on your laptop. It is easy to stash in a backpack and take on the go.
Unlike previous versions, the Numark DJ2GO2 has dispensed with the cartoony and toy-like buttons in favor of buttons that look more solid and professional. The new layout of the controller looks sleek and serious. It is lightweight and can be carried about with ease.
It has 2 channels with each one having a jog wheel volume control, pitch fader, 4 performance pads that have 4 modes; cue, sampler, auto, and manual loop. Aside from these, it also has a crossfader, master knob and a load of other buttons commonly found on DJ Controllers.
Away from the surface, the board features output jacks by the side: master output, headphone jack, and mini-USB.
The overall design is pleasing and serious, although it will never be mistaken for a professional DJ Controller
The Controller is nice to use. Right off the bat, we observe that the jog wheels do not have a vinyl or scratch mode. While this is a bummer (we love to scratch), the jog wheels are quite responsive and are great for manual beat mixing.
It comes with Serato DJ Intro which offers a lot of useful features. For casual users and beginners, this Controller is a great choice. It has almost every feature that is required for successful “DJing’.
It comes with 4 performance pads on each side of the deck, with each one letting you fiddle with different modes. They work really well and feel solid, unlike the cheap ones on many budget DJ Controllers.
For beginners learning the basic of manual beat matching, the short-throw pitch faders make this controller an ideal one
What we don’t like
As highlighted earlier, the inability to “scratch” the jog wheels is a bummer. Another problem we have with this Controller is the acute lack of EQ controls.
Best for Beginners: Numark Party Mix
- Built-in Lights
- 4 Pads
- 8 rubber trigger pads
- Audio and Headphone Outputs
- Built-in Headphone Output
This is a compact DJ Controller. We like how, despite the small size and the array of knobs and buttons, the board does not feel cramped.
If you are a backpacking DJ or want to go camping and still take your board along, this controller board is just for you. It comes with the functionality common to most DJ Controllers. It has 4 pads that can be used in different modes like sampling, looping, FX, and cue.
It has all the buttons backlit, so it is great to use in low light conditions. The scratch button is textured and gives a simulated feel of a vinyl platter just as the professional DJ Controller.
One design feature that makes this stand out, aside from the obviously diminutive size, are the flashing lights. These lights give a party vibe to the Controller and simulate a club experience. If you do not like the lights, you have the option of turning them off. However, if you leave them on, you will be delighted to know that these lights flash in time to whatever music you are playing on the Controller.
The Controller is very easy to use. You don’t need any special knowledge or devices to start using it. Simply plug into your laptop and play via the Virtual DJ LE.
Unlike other controllers, once you have a computer with Virtual DJ installed, you are good to go. The knobs and controls are easy to identify and use accordingly. The audio outputs of the controller are pre-installed in the system. Thus you do not need any special adapters to have a party going.
The jogs on this controller work almost perfectly and feel great under your fingers. At this price point, this is a surprise.
Nevertheless, the performance has some issues which we will shortly highlight. Overall, we found the performance of this controller to be acceptable, considering factors such as the size and the price.
What we don’t like
The jogs feel good, but during use, when you release the jog wheel, it takes some time before the Virtual DJ resumes playing. This causes a gap in play that we are not comfortable with.
Best for Serato: Hercules DJControl Starlight
- Serato DJ Lite comes loaded
- 4 Performance pads
Like most of the other controllers on this list, it a portable device that is aimed at beginners. It is lightweight since it is mainly made of plastic. While not as durable or strong as the more expensive controllers, it still holds up well against punishment. Veteran DJs can use it as a backup controller.
It has mini-jacks on the outer edges. The built-in 4-channel audio interface works with 44.1 kHz and 24 bit.
It features the regular buttons and knobs on most controllers: a jog wheel, transport buttons, pads for FX, samplers, loops, and hot cues.
The volume knob is resistant, albeit a tad sluggish. It has the pitch next to the jog wheel. It also has a cross fader that can be adjusted in the software and measures around 40mm.
In real testing, the sounds from the controller and the overall performance are quite satisfactory.
While the music plays, the Controller starts to flash. The lights can be adjusted. There are 7 different modes, and these are:
- Beat flash
- Beat Fade
- Master Volume
- Waveform color
- Cue point
You can choose whichever setting catches your fancy and helps you mix better. The placement of the buttons makes it easy to mix tracks.
The sounds are respectable, especially considering the price. We like that the Controller works with Serato DJ Lite without any need to fiddle with the controller. We also observe that it is compatible with other DJ software like Virtual DJ.
What we don’t like
It lacks compatibility with Hercules DJUCED. We also are annoyed with the way the jog wheels feels. They are too small for comfort.
Best Single Deck Controller: Behringer CMD PL-1
- Aluminum Top Panel
- 8 Encoders
- 4” touch-sensitive platter
- 14bit Pitch fader
- USB powered
This unit is a deck that gives control of up to 4 decks. The touch-sensitive platter that serves the functions of cueing, scratching, and nudging measures 4”. It looks pretty great.
The build looks more expensive than it actually is. It is made of an aluminum top panel while the base is made of plastic. All of this combines to give a controller that looks quite stunning.
The lower part of the controller has a 4” touch-sensitive platter. This is paired with a 14bit pitch fader. It also has a set of other controls like one to scroll back or forward and tempo adjustment knobs.
As for the upper part, it has 8 cue buttons, LED position indicators, and the lock and load buttons are at the top right corner.
The back of the controller features a singular USB cord for connection to your selected device.
It has the same buttons as the rest of the DJ Controllers on this list. However, it doesn't have a dedicated crossfader. It features MIDI-reactive controls that the manufacturer claims are a substitute for the computer monitor.
The controller works quite satisfactorily. One major thing you will notice immediately you try mixing or making music is the lack of a crossfader. Aside from the problem that arises when trying to switch to a different track, it controls transport and cue points well.
During use, it is quite easy to know the function of each button. The controller comes with Deckdance LE software, which is easy to access and is a great help in getting your first sounds from the controller.
What we don’t like
The device does not have a dedicated crossfader. We are baffled by this considering the manufacturer lists the controller as a full-featured controller.
Over to You
Buying a DJ controller for cheap isn't just a pipe dream anymore. As you can see above, you can get some ferociously competent DJ controllers for less than $100.
Use this list to find the best DJ controller under $100. For more recommendations and advice, don't hesitate to reach out to me here.
- Have a higher budget? Read our list of the best DJ controller under $300.
- Intermediate DJ? You'll want to read our list of the best DJ controllers under $500.
- Experienced DJs should read our guide to the best DJ controllers under $1000.