Over the past few years, the DJ industry has changed significantly in a positive way. Gear and equipment have become more powerful, more accessible, and more affordable.
Obviously, the old schoolers still claim that vinyl decks are the only way to practice the art. Additionally, there are hundreds of CDJ users who choose to spend their load on mixers and pioneer decks.
The way forward? Well, with everything taken into account, it would undoubtedly be controllers. The main reason for this is because they simply offer more of everything for the money, not to mention the fact that they make the creative process so much simpler and more straightforward.
Even though CDJs are still considered to be the club standard, major clubs like Ministry have had their top DJs frequently turn up and plug their controllers directly into the system. Furthermore, if you learn to mix on a controller, then the skills you gain won’t be completely untransferable. They’re a good way of getting into DJing of all forms, but they’re definitely not limited to basic level; they’re suited to the very highest level as well.
In this article, we will be reviewing the best dj controller under 300. However, it might look like a reasonable amount of money if you are thinking of purchasing a state-of-the-art bit of kit, as you can still get some amazing results for the money.
DJ Controller Guide
Although DJ controllers might possess some very strong similarities in format and shape, there are some pretty significant differences.
At their core, Pioneer DJ controllers are MIDI controllers that connect to a laptop or PC through a USB cable. They control software, either Traktor, Serato DJ, RekordBox, or the less frequently used Virtual DJ.
Each hardware control on the Pioneer DJ controller (jog wheels, knobs, faders, etc.) is mapped to the software. Therefore, your cue points and playlists will be stored on your laptop; however, you will be controlling them via your hardware setup.
You Get What You Pay For
For best dj controller under 300, you’re most likely going to be looking at controllers with plastic hardware and housings. Although it might not look so great in terms of appearance, plastic is more durable, depending on the occasion, as it is capable of absorbing knocks and shocks efficiently. Furthermore, plastic is much lighter, making cheaper controllers more portable.
Top Features to look for
Controllers will often come with the same basic core features. These include a mixer and two physical decks. The decks contain the usual functions: play and pause buttons, tempo and pitch faders, and jog wheels, which can be used in CDJ or vinyl mode. The mixer includes at least two rotary EQs for frequencies considered as high, mid, and low, as well as a crossfader and volume faders.
Controllers also usually have trigger pads, an effect control panel, and other mappable buttons for controlling your software.
What You Need To Work
Controllers possess both inputs and outputs. Inputs allow for the connection of exterior devices, such as other decks.
Some controllers allow you to connect two more external decks, either CDJ or vinyl, and then run these through your software or straight through the controller’s mixer. This had originally been a feature that was exclusive to expensive decks.
Regarding the output, every controller will have either an XLR or RCA for connection to speaker systems. These outputs can vary in quality. The outputs on more expensive controllers can be considerably better, however the general standard is pretty much the same across the board.
Quality Compatible Software
Pioneer DJ controllers share a lot of similarities, but software is where they differentiate quite significantly. As mentioned before, controllers are used to control DJ software installed on a laptop. Different controller manufacturers will tend to use different software.
All Pioneer controllers use RekordBox.
All Native Instruments controllers use Traktor.
Most other controllers (Numark, Roland, Denon, etc.) use Serato DJ.
It is important to note that most Pioneer DJ controllers can be mapped onto software that isn’t included by default. As an example, it is actually possible to map a Native Instruments controller to RekordBox. However, this is a tricky process, so it’s recommended that you pick your Pioneer DJ controller and software carefully as you will have to stick with it.
Each software has their own strengths and weaknesses. They essentially share most of the same functions. Nevertheless, it is impossible to single one out as the best.
Pioneer DJ DJ Controller
DDJ-SB3: 2-Channel DJ Controller for Serato DJ Lite
This company has managed to merge the most well-known characteristics of the DDJ-SB2 with those of the most popular Serato DJ controllers to make learning to DJ a whole lot easier. The perfect equipment for newbies looking to sharpen their abilities, this two-channel controller can be easily navigated. It boasts a professional arrangement that takes inspiration from the DDJ-S range. Master Serato DJ Lite, then when you’re ready, purchase Serato DJ Pro to progress on one machine.
Switch from one track to another with ease, thanks to the added FX Fade feature. You can also start experimenting of different scratch effects without having to use turntables with the very useful and novel Pad Scratch function. DJ Jazzy Jeff collaborated and co-developed this feature. By using this method, scratch recordings can be added to tracks by only using the Performance Pads.
Every single one of this product’s features has been designed to be exactly where you need it, when you need it. The layout itself takes on elements from the companies DDJ-S series, with performance pads, jog wheels, independent Auto Loop buttons, play and cue buttons.
Add scratch effects to cued and currently playing songs without a turntable, thanks to Pad Scratch.
Whether you’re an experienced DJ or just a beginner, mixing is flawless with the FX Fade feature.
The DDJ-SB3 is made using the highest quality materials and audio circuitry. Its sturdy build speaks volumes about its durability, whereas its distinctive styling and aluminum jog wheel provide a professional feel.
Intuitive layout, all of the features were designed to be where you need them and when you need them. Mixing is seamless with the FX Fade feature.
Native Instruments Traktor DJ Controller Kontrol S2 Mk3
Native Instruments Traktor DJ controller Kontrol S2 MK3
Play-Anywhere 2-Channel DJ System
If it’s peak-time rewinds, bass-heavy breakdowns, or steppy synths that define your style, the Traktor DJ controller Kontrol S2 will have everything you need in order to make your mix happen. Craft sets on two decks and get creative with its user-friendly tools, such as club-grade effects, looping, and beat syncing. Get spinning right away on the full version of this company’s flagship DJ software, Traktor Pro 3, as seen being used on the world’s largest stages. Find visceral professional tools that quickly help you determine your style. This product contains everything you will need to mix your music in a setup and is easily portable for when you are on the move. Try using professional features, such as Hotcues, Mixer FX, and loop controls, that present a club-standard layout. The Traktor DJ controller has an integrated premium-quality audio interface, USB power, and the full version of Traktor Pro 3 included, which means that you will be ready to do your mixes, regardless of where you are.
Classic spin-to-nudge function, as well as scratch capability with beat grid adjust mode, 2-channel mixer, and fast control of key TRAKTOR features.
Gemini DJ controller CDM Series CDM-4000 DJ Media Player Console
The Gemini DJ controller CDM Series presents a flawless addition to any DJ equipment collection. Gemini’s CDM-4000 CD/MP3/USB Media Console is a robust installation that boasts of dual CD decks. This also has a centrally arranged mixer section that facilitates a flexible experience to fit any location or event.
The Gemini DJ controller offers you limitless customization over your music. It also possesses useful playback features, such as Single and Continuous play modes. It also has Instant-start and Program. These provide you with the ability to generate great music without having to continuously control and monitor the unit.
This product also features anti-shock with RAM Buffer Memory to ensure persistent, seamless performance night after night, without the worry of external disruptions. For a more hands-on approach, the controller hosts two independent jog wheels to search through tracks, as well as to modify the pitch and do some professional-level scratching.
Use the Pitch Control slider for maximum beat matching control while the Loop Section and Re-loop functions keep your tune creations ever-evolving. Create your own great mix confidently as you immediately master cue points and preview your cues. Navigating your library is incredibly easy on this controller, thanks to the large blue backlit LCD display that provides additional info like track number, pitch value, and time.
Control your playlist with the central mixer section’s two-band EQ. This product also contains a vast sample of inputs and outputs to connect external tools, including monitors, amplifiers, microphones, recording devices, and headphones. Gemini DJ controller also includes crossfaders that give your mixes an even clarity as you jump from one source to another, outputting smooth expert sound.
Features anti-shock with RAM Buffer Memory to ensure persistent, seamless performance night after night