The Best DJ Controller Under $300 for Budget-Conscious DJs

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Becoming a DJ doesn’t have to be expensive. As our pick of the best DJ controller under $300 shows, you can have perfectly capable, highly powerful DJ gear without burning a hole in your pocket.

Our Top Pick
Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB3: A “grown-up” DJ controller from the biggest name in the business
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The first time I considered becoming a DJ, I almost gave up. Everything about this hobby (or profession- depending on your experience and expertise) was so expensive. The most basic of DJ controllers would cost hundreds of dollars. Through in all the software, DJ mixers, cables, and headphones you need to become remotely competent and you’re looking at an initial expense of thousands of dollars.

It doesn’t have to be that way though. As an increasingly wider range of offerings in the market show, you can have a perfectly capable DJ controller for under $300 (or sometimes, even $100). These controllers might not have all the bells and whistles of their more pro counterparts, but for beginners and even intermediate DJs on a budget, they offer a great mix of features and affordability.

In the section below, we’ll share our list of the best DJ controllers under $300, what’s good about each pick, and the right option if you want performance, affordability, or portability.

Our 7 Best DJ Controllers Under $300

The under $300 category has tons of options. It doesn’t matter whether you want portability, value for money, performance, Serato/Traktor/VirtualDJ compatibility, there’s a DJ controller that can fit in your budget.

Let’s look at our top picks for each category below:

Best Overall: Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB3

Key features:

  • Comes with Serato DJ Lite
  • Dedicated Cue & Play buttons
  • 8 Performance Pads
  • 2-channel mixer

This entry-level controller looks quite impressive. Although it is not directed at professional DJs or meant for use in the professional market, they look like professional controllers.

It is a great-looking beginner DJ controller that looks and performs as one of the best budget controllers on the market. One design feature that has been a bone of contention is the introduction of a specific button that scratches. We found it a great and impressive addition to an already good product.

The design is professional with the muted colors, 8 performance pads, individual channel filters, and a host of buttons and functions found in professional controllers.

Performance

The performance is outstanding considering the price it comes at.

  • It comes with the Serato DJ Lite, which as the name implies, is a toned-down version of the Serato Pro. The software is a good fit with this controller, and it assists beginners to grasp the basics of mixing fully. It is easy to setup.
  • Aside from the software, the responsiveness and performance of the knobs and buttons on the controller are great. The jog wheels are of solid build and respond quickly and reliably.
  • The transport buttons are similarly decent, while tempo controls are very responsive. We found that they are very accurate for manual beat mixing and related functions.
  • The controller comes with 2 effects engines that house 3 effects.
  • In all, this controller exudes quality at an affordable price.

What we don’t like: The jog wheels and the tempo controls are a tad smaller than we like. Nevertheless, they work well.

Recommended for: Starting DJs and beginners looking for a mature controller.

Pros

  • Solid build
  • Professional design
  • Responsive buttons
  • Impressive performance

Cons

  • Tempo controls and jog wheels are small and take some getting used to

Best Entry-Level: Hercules DJControl Inpulse 200

Key features:

  • Comes with DJUCED software
  • RCA master output
  • 44.1 kHz / 24-bit
  • 2 Deck Controller
  • 3.5mm stereo mini-jack output

This deck comes with a dual-deck layout. The 2 decks have jog wheels that give you a professional feel because of the vinyl-style cueing and overall functions. The 2 decks provide gain control, feature a 2-band equalizer and a level fader.

It features 8 pads, with each pad coming in different colors. The pads can be used for four different modes: hot cueing, rolling, FX, and sampling.

Smack in the middle of the controller is a 2-channel mixer that is accompanied by a dedicated crossfader.

The overall design is aesthetically pleasing and will please every DJ with an eye for style.

Performance

It should be noted that this DJ controller is primarily directed at folks who are learning the trade. As a result, it does not offer all the functionalities expected of a professional controller. That said, the performance is quite impressive.

  • It comes with the DJUCED software, which helps the beginner learn how to mix and perform. The controller also has a variety of features, for example, light guides that help students learn the correct moves, a Music Assistant that even suggests to the user the best type of music to play, and the impressive video tutorials from the DJ Academy.
  • It offers all this at a cheap price. Furthermore, it has a 24-bit/ 96 kHz soundcard that has outputs for connecting both to headphones and a Public Address system.
  • The jog wheels are nice to the touch, although we must add that they felt cheap. The vinyl style cueing and scratch mode are pleasant additions considering the price of the controller.

We found the overall experience with this controller to be very positive especially considering the throwaway price.

What we don’t like

The fact that the USB cord is permanently attached to the controller is a bummer. It also does not have 3mm audio output jack.

Recommended for: If you are looking for an advanced deck, then this one isn’t for you. It is recommended for beginners and someone looking to test the waters of mixing and production.

Pros

  • Very compact
  • Easy to use and affordable
  • The controller comes with tutorials to help beginners

Cons

  • The controller has the USB cord permanently attached
  • It does not work with Serato software
  • Only has a 3mm audio output jack

Best for Portability: Numark DJ2GO2

Key features:

  • MIDI Controller
  • Independent Headphone and Main Outputs
  • 2-channel Controller

Design

The controller is serious looking compared to the previous versions from Numark. It has a sleek, professional design and a layout that gets down to business. Gone are the shiny bells and whistles. Nevertheless, it still looks like an entry-level controller despite the changed appearance.

It is a 2 channel controller. On either side of the controller is a small jog wheel, cue, play/pause buttons, a pitch fader, 4 pads with options for 4 modes (Sampler, Manual Loop, Auto Loop, and Cue).

In the centre of the controller, there is a crossfader, master volume knob, cue volume knob, deck load buttons, and a browse knob.

At the sides of the board, there are output ports ( headphone jack, mini-USB jack), and a 1/8″ master output jack.

Altogether, the controller looks compact and stylish. It is very portable and can even sit on your laptop.

Performance

The controller delivers efficient performance. Although it is not a professional controller, the output is respectable for the price.

It comes loaded with the Serato DJ Intro and works perfectly with Virtual DJ 8.

When in use, the jog wheels and other knobs and button work acceptably. We are not thrilled with the lack of a “scratch” or “vinyl” option on the jog wheels, but aside from that, the overall performance is quite satisfactory.

The 4 performance pads with the 4 modes (Sampler, Auto Loop, Manual Loop, and hot cueing) are decent, and you should not expect any mind-blowing performances.

The controller comes with short-throw pitch faders that allow you to beat mix manually. This is a great feature, especially for beginners who are just learning the ropes.

What we don’t like

The inability to use “vinyl” or “scratch” mode on the jog wheels is sad and something we did not like.

Recommended for: Beginner DJs who want something portable and DJs that need a backup controller at a dirt-cheap price.

Pros

  • It has a small and compact size
  • Comes with the Serato DJ Intro software

Cons

  • No vinyl or scratch mode on the jog wheels

Best for iPad: Pioneer DDJ-WeGO4-K

Key features:

  • Plug and Play
  • 2-channel controller
  • 2-Deck Control
  • RCA Master Output

The Pioneer DJ DDJ-WeGO4 is a good-looking controller that has an all-plastic body. On each side of the controller are a jog wheel flanked by 4 switchable buttons each. North of each jog wheel is the loop control buttons and 3 Pad FX buttons.

At the sides of the controller, there are RCA jacks for Master output, a USB jack, a power receptacle for power, and jacks for headphones.

Performance

The controller is compatible with a variety of apps which enhance the overall performance. In use, the jog wheels perform well. This is in spite of their small size. They are responsive and have a certain tightness in them that feels great when scratching.

The hot cue sampler buttons at the top of the jog wheels work well and switching their function is very easy. It is compatible with IOS and Android devices via the djay and the djay apps, respectively.

What we don’t like

The all-plastic build is not as durable as other rivals. The plastic hot cue buttons feel uncomfortable.

Recommended for: Anyone DJing on a tablet or even a smartphone. Great for beginners and even professionals who want a portable backup DJ controller under $300.

Pros

  • Small and portable
  • Compatible with tablets out of the box
  • Good looking white base design

Cons

  • All-plastic build feels tacky

Best for Serato: Numark Mixtrack Pro 3

Key features:

  • Long-throw pitch controls
  • 24-bit Sound Card
  • 100mm sliders / 128mm jog wheels
  • 8 Performance Pads
  • Full-sized pitch fader

Design

This controller is hands-down one of the best looking and feature-rich controllers under $300, if not the best. It is sleek, shallow, and wide while coming with a plethora of knobs, buttons and controls that offer sweet, efficient performance.

Coming in at a width of 21.6″, it is a bit wider than many other budget controllers, but it still remains firm in the portable category. It looks much more expensive than it is. It does not look cheap, unlike other budget controllers we tested.

It comes in a plastic casing. This does not mean it is easy to break. Rather, the plastic casing is quite durable and resistant to shocks and knocks.

The pitch sliders on this baby are bigger than usual. They offer DJs an impressive 100mm of travel.

The jog wheels on this controller are also big and offer 128mm of touch-sensitive magic. Right next to the jog wheels, you have performance pads on each deck, and to the right of either pads, there are the generic cue, sync, play/pause, and shift controls.

The middle of the controller houses the crossfader, 3-band EQ, library browse knob, and the cue mix, master gain, and cue gain buttons.

Performance

While in use, we absolutely loved the performance of this controller.

The jog wheels are very responsive and are great to use with the Serato DJ Intro software that comes with the controller.

The long-throw pitch faders of the controllers deserve special mention because we found them simply terrific to use. Beginners will appreciate the simplicity of the 3 single effects per side that the effects section offers.

Although the performance pads aren’t as great as those found in more expensive and professional DJ controllers, they work quite well.

What we don’t like

During testing, we observed that the FX section is a tad under-featured. Furthermore, we do not like the difficult auto-looping.

Recommended for: Beginner DJs and DJs looking for a cheap controller with basic features.

Pros

  • The long-pitch fader is impressive
  • Jog wheels are very responsive
  • Quality design and build

Cons

  • No means of connecting to an external source
  • Auto Looping is cumbersome.

Best for Serato (Alternative): Roland DJ-202

Key features:

  • 2-channel controller
  • Serato DJ Lite software
  • 4-deck controller
  • 16 Performance Pads

The controller feels light and hollow, which is not surprising considering the plastic make. Nevertheless, it does not feel cheap. It has a solid build.

The knobs and buttons, including the jog wheels, feel weighted and great.

Unlike the Numark Mixtrack Pro 3, the controller has ultra-short-throw pitch faders. These faders are a dent on an otherwise excellent controller; they feel plastic and cheap.

Performance

The controller offers satisfactory performance. All the buttons and knobs are very responsive. It has built-in sounds that sound great and ensure that you don’t need to install any software to hear them or use them.

However, it is quite frustrating that we can’t change the controls to edit, save and playback these sounds. The controller doesn’t have dedicated controls for the sequencer.

As it is not a professional controller, it is not easy to create sequences on the controller. Nevertheless, if all you want to do is make simple drum patterns, the controller is manageable.

It comes with vocal FX which we find interesting. Although you have to use a different mode (system settings), to do this, it is worth it. You should just be careful that you do not enter this mode while in the middle of a set or else you lose all your work as the controller is basically restarting by entering this mode.

What we don’t like

The vocal FX and the advanced features are not as refined on these controllers as they are on professional controllers.

Recommended for: It is great for DJs that want a controller with sequencing abilities but comes at a cheap price

Pros

  • Jog wheels are responsive and feel great
  • Numerous performance pad options

Cons

  • The sequence machine functionality is cumbersome

Best for VirtualDJ: Gemini GV Series G2V

Key features:

  • 2-channel controller
  • Long-throw Tempo Controls
  • Virtual DJ LE
  • Auxiliary RCA line input

The controller is made of steel and painted all over in grey. It is slightly bigger than most of the other controllers on this list.

The pads are made of rubber, and the jog wheels are large sized.

We observe that the feet at the bottom of the controller are glued. This is a potential issue as sooner, or later, the feet will come off.

Performance

We enjoyed our experience during use. It is quite easy to use, and it feels good. The jog wheels offer ample space, and the buttons are solid.

The Virtual DJ LE software is great, especially for beginners. Furthermore, with the master and per-channel VU meters on the controller, pro-gain staging is feasible.

What we don’t like

There are no mixer-routed external inputs. This means the external inputs only control the volume and nothing aside from that.

Recommended for: If you are in the market for a compact drum set because you don’t have a lot of space, then I recommend the Yamaha DD75.

Pros

  • Offers a wide range of control
  • VU metering is impressive

Cons

  • Zero mixer-routed external inputs.

Over to You

Choosing from the best DJ controller under $300 isn’t easy. Hopefully this guide would have made things easier for you.

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

Also read:

References:

Changelog
  • September 3, 2019: Article published with 7 reviewed products