In addition to being a private violin teacher, Alecia started writing music-related articles 3 years ago and has been enjoying this experience greatly. Loves quilting and scrapbooking in her free time.
Marcus has a vast experience in digital audio and sound design. Thanks to his knowledge, he actively helps musicians with technical problems, improving their audio quality and even promoting their tracks so that thousands of listeners could enjoy some really good music.
Last updated: December 24, 2021
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Whether you’re an aspiring DJ or just someone who loves to make music, a DJ controller is an essential device to have in your kit. Many of the top models don’t come cheap, but there are some top-quality DJ controllers for affordable prices, and we’re here to help you find the perfect one.
We reviewed more than 20 different DJ controllers in our search to find the best DJ controller under $300, discovering that the Pioneer DDJSB3 is the best option for most people. It offers all the features and functionality of a much more expensive model, competing with the big boys in terms of its layout, effects, premium material construction, and connectivity options too. We also looked at five more of the best DJ controllers under $300 for you to check out.
Our review team spent hours evaluating the quality and features of these DJ controllers in order to determine which ones really stood out from the crowd. We looked at a range of factors when trying to identify the top models, including the software included with each model, which really has a big impact on how useful and effective the controller really is for making music, and the connectivity options, which allow you to connect the controller to different devices. We looked at the dimensions and weight of each model too, choosing a good selection of different sizes to suit all situations. You can check out the table below for a brief overview of the best controllers, followed by detailed reviews and a buying guide.
Connectivity: Inputs – 1 MIC (1/4 inch Jack), USB – 1 USB B port, Outputs – 1 MASTER (RCA), 1 HEADPHONE MONITOR (Mini-jack)
Dimensions: 19 x 2.3 x 10.7 inch
Weight: 4.6 lbs
Other features: 4 deck control, 2 mixing channels, auto/manual looping, 5-inch high resolution jog wheels, high/low pass filter, FX fade, pad scratch, 4 hot cues, soundcard 24 bit/44.1 kHz., frequency range 20 – 20000 Hz, signal-to-noise ratio 103 dB
If you’re looking for a beginner-friendly DJ controller with a great layout, premium build quality, and incredible options, the Pioneer DDJSB3 is quite simply the ultimate option for you. It’s quite amazing to think that this DJ controller has such a low price, as Pioneer could probably quite easily get away with adding an extra hundred bucks onto the price tag.
Why? Well, the Pioneer DDJSB3 has the same premium build quality, smart controller layout, and advanced features as many more expensive models out there. In short, it can compete with the big boys of the DJ controller world with its features like 4 hot cues, auto/manual looping, 5-inch high resolution jog wheels, pad scratch, FX fade, and built-in Serato sound card.
The presence of the Serato sound card is a big bonus for the Pioneer DDJSB3. It means you don’t actually have to invest in an external sound card, simply hooking the DJ controller up to your laptop, PC, Mac, or other device via the handy USB connection. Overall, with its portable design, durable materials, lightweight build, and advanced features, the Pioneer DDJSB3 is a big winner. The only downside is that it comes with Serato Lite, rather than the full version, but you can always upgrade if you like.
When it comes to DJ controlles, Numark stands out as one of the top brands in the business. They consistently seem to understand the needs of every DJ, from the seasoned pro to the young amateur, and the Numark Mixtrack Pro 3 is a perfect example of what this company is capable of in the field of affordable, beginner-friendly, feature-packed DJ controllers.
The Numark Mixtrack Pro 3 is an amazing controller available at an exceptional price, offering so much value for money. In terms of pure build quality, it’s a real winner. It’s made from plastic but feels strong and firm in use, with big, bold buttons and various backlit pads that are easy to identify and fun to use in dark spaces. The controls layout is definitely one of the top features of this model, and the various dials and wheels have been positioned just right for intuitive mixing.
In terms of features, the Numark Mixtrack Pro 3 continues to impress us. It comes with EQ, metal jog wheels, FX pads, samples, and even a touch strip that lets you navigate around in your tracks. It’s a cheap but mighty machine with a gorgeous design and all of the features you need to have a great time. The only issue we could find is that it comes with Serato Intro, rather than Lite, so your functionality is a little limited out of the box.
While many of the best DJ controllers cost hundreds of dollars, brands like Numark continue to prove that you can find a lot of great quality and enjoy plenty of mixing fun for a fraction of those big prices. The Numark DJ2GO2 is a testament to that, winning our Budget Pick award for this list as one of the most affordable DJ controllers on the market right now. It’s also one of the lightest, weighing in at only 11.8 oz, making it ultra portable and super easy to travel around with.
Naturally, since it’s such a cheap model, the Numark DJ2GO2 doesn’t have the same features and functionality as some of its more advanced and expensive counterparts. Right from the start, you can see that this is quite a basic and beginner model. It’s smaller and lighter than a lot of the competition, with smaller buttons and fewer features overall.
In short, the Numark DJ2GO2 is quite a basic option, but it’s absolutely perfect for those who are just getting into DJing and want something simple to introduce themselves gradually to the art of mixing. It’s a great option for kids too who like the idea of being a DJ someday but don’t want to be too overwhelmed with anything too complicated. It offers 2 channels, an on board audio interface, and standard MIDI mapping, all you need to get started.
In the world of DJ controllers, everyone has their opinion on what matters the most. Some people favor great quality software, other users prefer to have a well-made model that can stand up to a lot of usage and pressure. If you’re someone who likes your DJ controllers to have tons of buttons and dials and connectivity options, the Roland DJ-202 has to be the best option for you.
It stands out as one of the top options in terms of controls and connectivity, with a whole host of ports, buttons, sliders, knobs, and pads to play around with. In fact, when you first take a look at the Roland DJ-202, you’d expect it to have a higher price tag as it looks much more like an advanced, expensive model than a budget alternative. It’s a great choice for advanced users who really want to take their mixing game to the next level, but total beginners might be a little bamboozled at first by all those different dials and options.
This 2 channel, 4 deck controller features large platters with low latency, great for scratching. It also comes with built-in drum kits featuring a range of different sound types, along with a 16-step sequencer feature that lets you program and sync various beats into the sound library, giving you even more options when making your own unique tracks and mixes.
Next up, we come to the Hercules DJControl Inpulse 200, and the first thing we have to point out about this model is its software. In the world of DJ controllers, software is often spoken about as the most important factor of any device, and if you really care about using the best software available for less than $300, this model will hold a lot of appeal for you.
The Hercules DJControl Inpulse 200 comes with DJUCED Version 4 and DJ Academy software packages. It’s one of the most comprehensive software options you can find on a sub-$300 DJ controller. Ideal for both beginners and advanced users alike DJUCED offers a range of great features like the Intelligent Music Assistant which lets you choose and change tracks with ease, plus a bunch of integrated tutorial videos to help you understand the various features of your device.
The Hercules DJControl Inpulse 200 is also a very compact and lightweight DJ controller, easy to pack up and carry around for your parties, gigs, and nights out with your friends. It’s available at a super cheap price too, so you can save a ton of cash with this model. The only real downside we can find with the Hercules DJControl Inpulse 200 is that the build quality is just a little lacking, so it might not last quite as long as an alternative from a brand like Pioneer or Numark.
Last but not least, we come to the Gemini GV Series G2V. While many of the entries on our list have been standard 2 channel DJ controllers, this one takes things up to the next level, offering 4 channel functionality. In actual fact, the Gemini GV Series G2V is a virtual DJ controller that has 2 physical DJ decks offering control of 4 virtual software decks. It comes with 16 multi function performance pads and a great range of other premium features too like pre-mapped FX controls, letting you enjoy advanced mixing right out of the box.
With its 2 channel mixed, 3 band EQ, hot cues, auto loop, manual loop, and sampler features, the Gemini GV Series G2V can really appeal to both advanced and beginner users alike, and it’s the least we’d expect from such an esteemed and prestigious brand as Gemini, which has been around since the 1970s and always done an impressive job of moving with the times and adapting to new technologies.
The Gemini GV Series G2V is a little on the heavy side, weighing in at over 10lbs, but it’s still pretty portable and relatively easy to carry around with you to enjoy DJing adventures far and wide. It comes with a super selection of connectivity options too, including both XLR and RCA speaker options, plus ports for headphones, microphones, and USB devices. It’s a great overall option, but the lack of branded software leaves a little to be desired.
What makes it stand out?
Lots of connectivity options
Works with a range of software
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
A bit heavy
No branded software
Things to Consider
Now that you’ve seen some of the best cheap DJ controller options out there, it’s time to take a closer look at what these devices are, how they work, what kinds of features they can offer, and how you can choose between them. As you’ve seen, there are plenty of great DJ controllers available for under $300, and the more you know about them, the easier it will be to make the right decision when trying to buy one.
What are DJ controllers for?
We’re living in a technological age, with a lot of new gadgets and devices that have changed many aspects of the way we live, work, and play, including how we enjoy music. With the likes of dance, techno, and electronic music on the rise, DJs have never been so popular.
And while DJs of old needed to make use of gigantic turntables and mixers that take up tons of space, modern DJs can make use of much smaller and more convenient equipment in the form of DJ controllers.
Put simply, a DJ controller is a device used by DJs to mix music, in conjunction with DJ software, using a variety of knobs, wheels, dials, touch strips, and other features. They’re basically like turntables that have been minimized and digitized, making the whole DJing process simpler.
They work in conjunction with a laptop, tablet, computer, or even a smartphone. The DJ software gets loaded up on the connected device and then the controller is used to send signals to the computer/laptop/etc. to tell it how to mix the music and what sounds to output.
For whom are DJ controller under $300 advisable
If you head online and browse through most of the best DJ controllers out there, you’ll quickly see that the prices tend to be quite high on average. This means that many young and aspiring DJs out there can struggle to break into the DJ world due to the high costs of the typical controller.
Fortunately, there are many excellent options for anyone in need of a DJ controller under 300. These controllers are simply perfect for young DJs and those who want to get into DJing but don’t have a big budget to start off. They’re great for beginners who want to play around with a controller without making a huge investment.
As you can see by options like the Pioneer DDJSB3, these cheaper models have plenty of features and functionality, so you aren’t missing out on much at all by buying one and you can still have fun DJing at parties, at home, or with your friends with even the cheapest DJ controller.
Features to consider when buying a DJ controller under $300
Before you buy a budget DJ controller, there are some things you need to think about. Not all DJ controllers are created equal. Some of them are far better in terms of certain aspects like software, build quality, channels, connectivity options, and more.
Some have longer warranties than others. Some have better additional features than others. You need to weigh up all of these aspects in your mind when trying to choose between them and decide what matters most to you in order to find the perfect DJ controller for your needs.
When it comes to DJ controllers, build quality is one of the most fundamental aspects to think about. You’re probably going to be using your DJ controller quite a lot, flicking the wheels, adjusting the dials, turning the switches, and more again and again.
Under all that pressure, weak and poorly made DJ controllers can crack, but high quality DJ controllers, like the Numark DJ2GO2, for example, will stay strong and offer long term usage and enjoyment for years to come without any issues.
Software and system requirements
Whenever you start shopping for the best DJ controller under 300, the software is probably the most important aspect for you to think about. It’s important to note that DJ controllers all come with some kind of software package, since their primary function is to ‘control’ the software itself in order to mix and play audio.
Different controllers can use different forms of software, and it’s quite common for many of the top models to make use of some version of Serato DJ, as this is a popular choice with amateur and aspiring DJs. Each software has its own pros and cons, and while it is possible to map your controller onto another form of software in the future, that process can be quite complicated and is best left to advanced users, so you should always look at the included software package and see if it works for you.
Serato DJ Lite, as featured on the Roland DJ-202, is the most common option and is enjoyed by pro and amateur DJs alike. DJUCED Version 4, as featured on the Hercules DJControl Inpulse 200, is another terrific software option, perfect for beginners. Don’t forget to check the system requirements too and ensure that your devices can actually run the software. You can use different controllers on different devices, and there are even iPad DJ controller models out there.
When it comes to DJ controllers, they’re usually broken up into two main categories: 2 channel and 4 channel. The number of channels basically determines how many audio sources or tracks you can have running at any one time. The more channels, the more audio sources you can have.
An example of a 4 channel DJ controller is the Gemini GV Series G2V, which offers more flexibility and options than a standard 2 channel alternative. However, in most cases, especially for beginners, 2 channels are all you really need.
Connectivity and ports
DJ controllers all come with a range of inputs and outputs that allow you to connect other devices. Every controller will come with either an RCA or XLR (or both), which is used for connecting speaker systems, but they can also come with inputs and outputs for additional decks, headphones, microphones, USB devices, and more.
The Roland DJ-202, for example, comes with a vast array of inputs and outputs to offer maximum connectivity. The more options you have in this area, the more flexible your DJ controller will be in terms of what you can do with it. However, you might not really need to even use some of the inputs/outputs, so have a think about what you actually need when shopping for a DJ controller of your own.
The controls of a DJ controller are an essential part of the whole package, as they’re what you’ll be using to actually control the audio and mix your tracks. The controls usually come in various sizes and forms from jog wheels to switches, sliders, and dials of all kinds.
When you’re DJing, you want to be able to quickly and seamlessly make use of your controls, so they need to be well-made, easy to move around, and simple to navigate. The Numark Mixtrack Pro 3 is an example of a top quality DJ controller under $300 with a super control layout.
Dimensions and weight
One additional factor to think about when choosing your next DJ controller under $300 is the dimensions. These controllers are way more compact than traditional turntables ever were, but they can still get quite big, depending on the model you buy.
Be sure to think about how much space you have to use your controller and choose a model that works for you. Think about the weight as well, especially if you want to travel with your controller. The Hercules DJControl Inpulse 200 is an example of a compact and lightweight model.
Many of the best DJ controllers will come with a range of extra features too. The Gemini GV Series G2V, for example, comes with 2 virtual software decks and preset FX controls. Meanwhile, the Pioneer DDJSB3 comes with FX fade, 5-inch high resolution jog wheels, 4 hot cues, and more.
Last but not least, don’t forget to think about the warranty of your DJ controller. It would be a real disaster for you to invest cash in such an important item and then have to deal with technical issues and repair costs that aren’t covered by the manufacturer after just a year or two of usage. Some of the best DJ controllers come with lengthy warranties, providing much-needed peace of mind.
This really depends on how far you want to take your music making and music playing. If you just enjoy doing a little amateur DJ-ing at home or at parties with your buddies, a DJ controller is probably all you need to get started and have some fun. However, if you want to take your DJ game to the next level, there are a range of extras and add-ons you can consider buying. Examples include DJ speakers, turntables, and even additional forms of software to play around with. Yes, even though all DJ controllers come with their own software, it is possible to map them onto other forms of software too, but this can be quite a tricky process so, at the beginning, it’s best to just start off with the kit you have.
There are a few different ways in which you can consider upgrading your DJ controller. In terms of actually changing the features of functionality of your controller, this isn’t really possible in most cases, but you can buy additional equipment in order to enhance your music playing abilities and get more out of your controller. Some good DJ speakers, for example, can totally change the game and turn a basic DJ controller into so much more. Some DJ controllers, like the Pioneer DDJSB3, for example, also come with software that can be upgraded. In this case, the DDJSB3 comes with Serato DJ Lite which can be upgraded to the full version of Serato DJ in order to give you even more options.
Overall, our favorite DJ controller is the Pioneer DDJSB3. With its stylish design and enormous array of features, amazing build quality and lightweight nature, this DJ controller offers the same levels of functionality as many more expensive alternatives.
The next best DJ controller under $300 is the Numark Mixtrack Pro 3. It’s one of the best-designed budget DJ controllers you can buy, with a really impressive control layout and some excellent connectivity options too, not to mention the extra features like sample packs and 16 multi-function backlit pads.
Finally, our third top rated DJ controller for less than $300 is the Numark DJ2GO2. It’s one of the cheapest DJ controllers you can buy, and even though it doesn’t have a super long list of features, it’s got a great design, premium build quality, and the perfect beginner-friendly layout, ideal for newbie DJs and kids.