What’s the Absolute Best DJ Controller Under $1000? Our Top Picks

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A budget of $1,000 gives you tons of options if you want to buy a DJ controller. This surfeit of options also means that you’ll have a hard time selecting the right controller for your needs. To help you out, we created this guide to help you pick the best DJ controller under $1000.

Our Top Pick
Pioneer DJ DDJ-SR2: Perfect mix of price and performance from a respected brand
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Being a DJ is tough work. If the late nights and keeping up with changing music tastes wasn’t enough, you also have to invest hundreds, even thousands of dollars in the right gear. Pick the wrong DJ controller (and accompanying software) and you might find your fledgling DJ career nipped in the bud.

To help you out, we put together this detailed guide to buying the best DJ controller under $1000.

At this budget, you can choose from virtually all but the most elite DJ controllers (the kind used by David Guetta and Calvin Harris). Highly capable, professional-grade instruments become available to you in this range. From Pioneers that set the industry standards to NI’s phenomenal line of Traktor controllers, you can choose from dozens of highly capable options.

Of course, you don’t need to spend $1,000. Reduce your budget and you might find that you can buy perfectly capable DJ controllers for under $500 or even below $300. If you’re a beginner or don’t really know if DJing is for you, we recommend buying one of these cheaper controllers.

We’ll cover a whole range of DJ controllers in the section below. Some of these are perfect for seasoned pros. Others will fit the needs of beginners better. Jump to the second below to find our list of the best DJ controllers under $1000.

Our 10 Best DJ Controllers Under $1000

Below, we’ve shared our top picks for the best DJ controllers you can buy under $1000.

Best Overall: Pioneer DJ DDJ-SR2

Key features:

  • Pitch ‘N’ Time DJ Controls
  • Large multi-colored performance pads
  • Portable lightweight design
  • Enabled for multiple connections
  • Large jog wheels

Pioneer’s DJ equipment turns out to be a frequently used gear in the world of DJ. Being one of the best DJ under $1,000 controllers, the Pioneer DDJ-SR2 offers great features while being compact enough to move around easily.

It features a series of dedicated buttons created to trigger the key-related functions such as, the Key Shift, Key Sync and Key Reset and making it easy to switch between them without changing tempo which I think it’s impressive.

Just like the Roland DJ-202 controller, it has large jog wheels that are really solid and responsive.

What we don’t like: The jogs although scratch responsive are a bit too light weighted which might turn out too loose for scratch DJ’s.

Recommended for: Professional DJs and very serious beginners

Pros

  • It’s compact and durable
  • Easy to use
  • Versatile with good audio performance

Cons

  • Has small pitch sliders
  • The two-channel deck controls might restrict advanced use
  • Extremely light-weight making it feel cheaply constructed

Best for Beginners: Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB3

Key features:

  • Large, low-latency jog wheels
  • A full 3-band EQ to control low, mid and high frequencies
  • 2-channel controller with the capacity to control up to 4 channels
  • Well-built quality
  • Pad scratch mode

The DDJ-SB3 DJ controller weighs about 4.63 pounds and has a pad scratch and low-latency aluminum jog-wheel. With this controller, you’re sure to enjoy the seamless mixing as a result of the fantastic FX fade feature.

It has a durable solid build with the aluminum jog-wheels being an icing on the cake. This controller is quite portable so you can easily take it to and from gigs. You can use Serato without stress and enjoy the professional feel of DJing with this controller.

What we don’t like: The pad scratch can be perceived as gimmicky.

Recommended for: Beginner and professional DJs.

Pros

  • 8 performance pads with separated cue/play button
  • Original performance functions like the Pad Scratch
  • Great jog wheels

Cons

  • Small Pitch/Tempo Sliders
  • Single Knob FX Controls

Best Performance: Pioneer DJ DDJ-800

Key features:

  • 2-Channel controller with Club style layout
  • 16 performance pads with hot cue, pad FX, beat jump, Sampler, Keyboard Mode, and more
  • Advanced super-fast search
  • Key shift and Key sync function keys
  • Sound beat and color FX

Pioneer DJ’s recent entry into its current line of DJ controllers for Rekordbox DJ adopting a club-style layout is the DDJ-800. Being one of the best DJ controllers under $1,000, we can see that with this DDJ-800, Pioneer DJ seeks to make movement between a club set-up and a home/bar set-up easier.

The performance pads on this controller are made of chunky rubber, not plastic as found on others which I prefer as they’ve got a faster response time for lightning-fast finger drumming.

The DDJ-800 does everything a modern mid-range controller should do without a need to sacrifice its build and functionality.

We can refer to it as the spiritual successor to the DDJ-SR2 and if you’re in search for a new DJ controller within the Pioneer family, look no further.

What we don’t like:

  • None of the effects on the DDJ 800 works without plugging in Rekordbox thereby rendering the standalone feature of this controller, extremely basic.
  • DVS might not work properly on this controller.

Recommended for: Someone who needs a reliable and easily transportable console

Pros

  • Compact and durable
  • Great jog display
  • Microphone feedback reducer

Cons

  • Crossfader can’t be disabled in stand-alone
  • Beat FX can’t be assigned to the microphone inputs
  • Lacks effects and filters in stand-alone

Best for iPad: Reloop Beatpad 2

Key features:

  • Multi-sensorial pad mode section
  • Advanced track management
  • 4 performance buttons
  • EQ preset switch for Filter/3-Band EQ; harmonic mixing
  • Color-coded Hot Cue and Sampler mode, Auto-Loop/Bounce Loop, Touch FX/Jog FX, and Slicer/Slice Loop modes

The Reloop Beatpad 2, which is an update of the original Beatpad, is a professional two-deck controller that can be used for iOS, Android, macOS, and Windows.

I like the professional build and premium feel of this controller. It looks good and feels durable with its high-quality knobs, buttons, and components, as well as the metal construction.

This controller can be compared with higher-end controllers, is club-worthy and won’t make you feel like you’re compromising while DJing with a mobile device.

Not into IOS or Android DJing? Well, the controller is quite versatile and supports Virtual DJ and Traktor Pro too.

What we don’t like

  • The area for the jog wheels and mobile device stand deducts from dedicated effects controls and filter knobs.
  • Not compatible with other iOS DJ apps.

Recommended for: A DJ who wants a physical controller that’s reasonably sized to pair with his/her mobile device running the DJay 2 app.

Pros

  • Solid professional build
  • Large jog wheels
  • Flexible support for Algoriddim djay on Mac, IOS and Android

Cons

  • No dedicated HP/LP filter
  • No FX knobs on the decks
  • Lightshow around jog wheels reducing professional feel

Best for Traktor: NI Traktor Kontrol S4 MK3

Key features:

  • High-resolution color displays
  • Large motorized jog wheels surrounded by RGB LED Ring
  • Pro Mixer Layout with long-life Carbon Protect faders
  • Mixer FX for instant one-knob effects and filters
  • 16 RGB pads

First hand, I found the Kontrol S4 Mk3 fun to use. It comes with lots of new stuff that would keep you engaged. I think it’s a well thought out controller in the sense that it doesn’t have absolutely imaginable on it but the motorized jogs are awesome fun and its haptic feedback is curious but promising with welcoming screens.

It’s small enough to throw in a bag, but still big enough to have all the features you need, it is the best DJ controller under $1,000 out there for Traktor Pro 3.

What we don’t like: Lacks a dual sound card with dual USBs for easy DJ switchovers, and the current lack of true standalone is not ideal.

Recommended for: Serious professionals

Pros

  • Excellent jog wheels
  • Lots of inputs and outputs
  • Quality build

Cons

  • Faders might cause issues
  • Jog wheel needle indicator doesn’t work
  • Not so durable like the MK2

Other options

Besides the top 5 options above, let’s look at a few more alternatives below:

6. Numark MixTrack Platinum

Key features:

  • Multiple FX manipulation
  • 4-deck capability
  • 16 multi-function performance pads
  • Hi-res LCD multi-function displays on each jog wheel
  • Dual 5-inch metal platters w/Numark-exclusive touch-capacitance response

Numark sets the pace as the world’s leading innovator of DJ equipment and technologies by presenting the Mixtrack Platinum DJ controller as one of the best DJ controllers under $1,000.

Drawing inspiration from its predecessors, I feel this controller offers many exciting features including multiple FX manipulation and LCD function screens on each jog wheel that gives easy access to information such as BPM, key and time remaining.

What we don’t like: Might notice constant humming in speakers and headphones when connected with DJ software.

Recommended for: Aspiring DJs and starting professionals.

Pros

  • Useful LCD screen in jog wheels
  • High-res pitch fader
  • Has touchstrip

Cons

  • Lacks AUX input.
  • Performance features can be confusing to use

7. Denon DJ MC6000MK2

Key features:

  • Intuitive 4 deck control, with independent deck buttons
  • Included USB Audio Interface (Soundcard) 2in/2out (stereo)
  • Smooth 60mm long Pitch Slider with high 14-bit resolution
  • High-resolution 105mm Touch-Sensitive Jog Wheel
  • 3 EFX adjustment Knobs with on/off buttons and Beats Knob selector

I find the Denon DJ MC6000 MK2 to be a nice update to the original version. It’s filled with professional level inputs & outputs, even for the professional mobile DJ, as it has everything from microphone inputs with EQ, duck and echo function to small but high-quality jog wheels and a rigid feel.

This controller is Serato DJ compatible and comes with a hardware mixer to make it easy to plug in your media players and/or turntables and use them with Serato DVS.

What we don’t like: There are no backlit velocity-sensitive performance pads on this controller and so, the advanced performance features in Serato DJ can’t be used them with it

Recommended for: Professional DJs and someone who wants a solid, reliable, durable and portable controller.

Pros

  • Solid build
  • Hardware mixer
  • 3 band EQ for each mic input

Cons

  • Lacks performance pads
  • Small jog wheels
  • Could feel a bit cramped

8. Numark MixDeck Express

Key features:

  • Smooth, fast, slot-loading drives with large, touch-sensitive platters
  • Dual-channel audio mixer
  • 2-deck computer controller with screens and Serato DJ Intro software included
  • 3-channel mixer with EQ/rotary kills, replaceable crossfader and external inputs
  • Jog wheels for searching and scratching

As one of the best DJ controllers under $1,000, the Numark Mixdeck Express is a three-channel all-in-one with CD/MP3/USB capability that can also be set-up as a Midi controller for any DJ software of your choice.

I feel this controller has a couple of mic input for good measure and really like how, though being a simple unit, still covers all the essentials.

What we don’t like: Scrolling through your music library using USB can prove a bit difficult since the unit only has a single knob for navigation.

Recommended for: Hobbyists looking to upgrade or seasoned DJs looking for something easy to carry around.

Pros

  • Essential features are easy to access and operate
  • Portable for easy movement

Cons

  • Might have outdated software
  • Has delays on the cue to master

9. Numark NVII

Key features:

  • 4 decks of Serato DJ software control
  • 16 velocity-sensitive trigger pads with backlit RGB feedback
  • 10 pad modes for hot cues, loop slicing, and sample triggering
  • Two 4.3-inch full-color screen for real-time feedback of Serato DJ
  • Gridlines on the screen that enable perfect beat matching

Numark is a brand that’s well-known for producing equipment with pro features available only on platforms that are very costly. You would agree with me that it’s quite rare to find a DJ controller with two high-resolution display screens and jog-wheels and still be worth the price as the Numark NVII.

I feel it’s great that the Numark NVII has 4 decks of Serato DJ software control, works with Virtual DJ and can still be manually mapped with any other popular DJ software.

This controller surely stands out with its two 4.3-inch full-color screen for real-time feedback for viewing as well as track waveforms and gridlines to make beat matching your tracks so easy.

Plus, if you’re like me who would like to focus on the deck rather than my laptop screen, then you’ll find the NVII quite satisfying.

What we don’t like: Unless you don’t mind leaving it in a permanent position, you’d need to get a protective casing for it.

Recommended for: I recommend them to everyone who wants something with nice performance and a decent price.

Pros

  • Compact size
  • Fantastic jog wheels
  • Full Serato DJ features

Cons

  • Compact size
  • Fantastic jog wheels
  • Full Serato DJ features

10. Roland DJ-202

Key features:

  • Independent sampler volume control
  • Two-channel, four-deck controller for Serato DJ Lite
  • 8 sounds in each TR kit: Bass Drum, Snare Drum, Closed Hat, Open Hat, Tom, Rim, Clap, and Ride
  • 8 dedicated pads for controlling Serato DJ Lite or Serato DJ Pro software
  • USB enabled for simple connectivity

The release of the Roland DJ 202 in late 2017 is an exciting product for DJ beginners. Just like most of its competitors, the 202 is used with Serato DJ Lite. I like how this controller uniquely manages to pack a full Roland drum machine inside.

The jog wheels are small sized when compared with the Pioneer DJ DDJ SR2 but don’t be put off just yet, you’d likely find these wheels to be great.

For a drum machine performing live remixes on the go, this controller remains a great package that covers all basics quite well.

What we don’t like: It’s complicated accessing majority of this controller’s main selling points from its extensive hardware settings to the drum sequencer unless you’re willing to sit down with the owner’s manual for long.

Recommended for: Beginners or if you’re into sampling and sequencing

Pros

  • Remarkable jog wheels
  • Ample performance pads functions
  • Sequencer and drum machines included

Cons

  • The performance pads aren’t very responsive
  • The body’s made of plastic
  • Lacks AUX input

Over to You

Buying DJ controllers isn’t easy, especially when you have hundreds of products to choose from. Hopefully, this guide would have made your selection process a little easier.

For more recommendations and advice, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Also read:

References:

Changelog
  • August 31, 2019: Article published with 10 reviewed products