Choosing the right beginner DJ Controller
Updated: Feb 4, 2019
n't get me wrong: one of the coolest aspects of becoming a DJ is...electronics and gadgets. Who doesn't love things with flashing lights and new technology? That is the reason that companies like #Pioneer are in the game making controllers and selling the dream of becoming a DJ and playing at a large music festival. If you've come across this page, chances are you've had that dream. Don't be bashful-the opportunity is truly there for anyone that puts in the time and dedication.
That being said, I want to push you in the right direction to help save you from spending a bunch of money that you may not have and also money you DO NOT NEED to spend. I will preface and say that in this beginner arena, you may experience some pushback on controllers and "sync" buttons which is totally fine and you need to respect that because anyone that has the knowledge and skills to work vinyl turntables has most likely been in the game for years and have spent a lot of time honing their craft. I will also say that you DO NOT need to know how to work vinyl turntables or know how to scratch to be a good DJ or to become a great DJ. Most importantly, you need a passion for the music and a passion for the experience you are trying to create during your DJ set.
I will keep this simple for you because choosing the right controller 100% depends on where you are at in your journey of becoming a DJ because each controller will have its pros and cons and more importantly, it's limitations. The best Dj's in the world can use any controller out there and absolutely kill it but to start, I suggest you stay in your lane and spend your money wisely (because you'll need it if you want to stick with it and upgrade your gear...)
BEST BEGINNER CONTROLLER FOR SERATO:
Hands down the #Pioneer DDJ SB3. You will spend $250 on a 2 channel mixer with pads. It even has a Pad Scratch feature that will make you sound like you're scratching like DJ Jazzy Jeff. Seriously. Go to a guitar center and try one out.
I chose this one because it's unreal for the price for everything it offers and what it can do for you-especially starting out. Here are a few things that I'd like to point out:
Lightweight, portable, and can run on USB power only without having an external power source.
8 FX patterns to choose from which is totally sufficient for a beginners needs
Pad scratch so you can literally hit a pad to create a scratch effect.
Descent sized aluminum job wheels to help you get the feel.
Comes with #Serato lite
Priced perfectly for a beginner. I feel like you could easily resell this also when the time comes.
BEST BEGINNER CONTROLLER FOR TRAKTOR:
The only other beginner controller I would recommend is the Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 MK3. This one actually just came out recently so it's an upgrade from the S2 MK2 that I was going to originally going to suggest but this controller is solid and will really help you fall in love with Traktor. This controller sells for $300 and it comes with a full version of Traktor Pro 3. Overall I feel like this is a better value than the Pioneer SB3 but that again is depending on if you want to go with Serato or Traktor.
Here are a few key features:
Larger jog wheels for better hands-on control with magnetic brakes giving you a much more realistic feel
Comes with a full version of Traktor Pro 3, not a trial or lite version.
Has a 24bit audio interface with two main outputs, headphone output, mic input, and USB bus power.
My personal favorite: the looping button is to easy to use, much easier than on a Pioneer controller.
FX are very easy and intuitive.
Honestly, this is a toss up in my opinion and I think the driving decision is what software you'd like to stick with in the long run. Both of these controllers are powerful and great to learn on and you couldn't go wrong with either one.
Let me know in the comments which controller you used to get started.