The best DJ controllers under $200 are going to give us a decent combination of both quality and affordability. The DJ controller world in general is becoming larger and larger as the years pass by and we won’t complain. We’re not only seeing more options in terms of versatility and control over our DJ software, but better options when it comes to certain price-points (as is our case today). As always with our gear guides, there will be a few factors to keep in mind as you sort through our roundups, and we do so on purpose in order to give you some options when it comes to the “best” for you and your particular needs.
Picking the top DJ controller under $200
As seen in our popular DJ controllers guide, there are probably more than 20 controllers we could ultimately recommend. However, as we start to slim down our choices to pick the “best”, we’ll keep some key points in mind here. The first of course, is budget. Although we’ve been able to pin-point our goal at $200 or less today, just how low are you willing to go? Under $100? Or keep it at $200? We always recommend saving up a few more bucks if you do find a controller you feel works well for you. Otherwise, this may limit your choices a bit, even in a guide like this.
Let’s talk DJ controllers under $200 and their different shapes, sizes and personalities. For one, will you be traveling frequently? Many are technically ‘portable’, but some are smaller and of course, friendlier in the weight as well as versatility department when it comes to build. When it comes to ‘personalities’, we mean DJ controller “features”. Keep an eye out for the necessary DJ features and others that really you just won’t use. Here’s our list of essential DJ controller features:
- Jog wheels – These are what you scratch on. Do you even want to scratch? Don’t care for it? Most traditional controllers in here indeed have jog wheels, while a few others don’t.
- Faders – There’s the master fader to allow you to switch between your channels, and others to control specific volume, pitch and more.
- Ins and Outs – Want to connect to traditional turntables or mixers? Look for RCA. Want to get going with a computer? Grab one with USB connection. MIDI may also be of concern if you want to map some sounds with let’s say some performance pads.
- Additional features – We’re talking pitch control, hot cues, loops, and more.
- Software – A lot of these come with software bundles, so if you’re still in need of some that may steer you in a particular direction.
What’s your DJ “level”? We’re always hesitant to add this factor in our guides since it’s quite subjective. However, we want you to at least think about the possibility of “over buying”, or purchasing a DJ controller with just too many knobs, faders and ‘features’ you may not be using. For any type of beginners DJ gear, we recommend going with a model that balances both user-friendliness as well as some advanced features you aren’t familiar with to make sure it lasts us at least a few years before we upgrade to more advanced gear. If of course you want to buy a higher-end DJ controller with a big learning curve for a future investment, be our guest.
The best DJ controllers for an under $200 budget
Hercules DJ Universal
First up, we have one of our favorite budget-friendly DJ controllers in the market right now. The DJ Universal is great for those who want the essentials of a DJ controller with a slight learning curve for when they want to get into the next stage. Some of our favorite highlights include two high quality jog wheels to get your scratch on, a nicely built and smooth fader, two channels (with their own cue, FX, sample and loop), as well as three “modes” — PC\Mac, multi-screen, or tablet mode to tailor to your liking. For one, it allows for mobility by allowing you to control your playlist from both behind your laptop or while hanging out with friends via tablet or smart phone. The external source input allows for you to connect most devices (Android, iOS, PC’s, and Mac) via the included cord, which gives you instant access to your personal playlists on a variety of music streaming apps. The controller also notably includes a Bluetooth feature which allows music to be seamlessly integrated via laptop, controller, and smart phone/tablet. Lastly, we love the fact that this comes access to their user-friendly DJ software called DJUCED, for some great control over your controller and mixes, and another little feature we love which allows the audience to give their opinions on what they want to hear by voting for songs through the DJUCED app and even allows for personalized messages. The sleek appearance, high quality build and essential DJ controller features of the Hercules DJ Universal coupled with its surprisingly light weight makes this in our opinion one of the best DJ controllers under $200 in the market today.
Numark Mixtrack 3
Up next, Numark’s Mixtrack 3 allows the user to perform all of the features of their previously popular Mixtrack 2 but with enhanced precision. This one made it as our pick for the best beginners DJ controller. The newly added 16 multi-function performance pads allows users for more personalize their music via loops, launch samples, and the control of hot cues. Each of your channels has a dedicated filter knob that allows for precise tonal control. There are also great jog wheels for some scratching and a 100 mm pitch slider which gives you control over the slightest pitch adjustments, making this board superior to others with the 60 mm pitch slider. This feature is pretty high quality for the price, as there aren’t a lot of controllers with 100 mm pitch sliders at this price-point. A purchase of this board also gives you access to a Free Prim Loops Toolkit which allows for access to drum kits, one-shots, and over 380 instrumental loops in case you needed some sounds to play with. This Toolkit is valued alone at $200, so having access to it makes purchasing the Numark Mixtrack 3 worthwhile and another one of our favorite picks as the best DJ controllers under $200.
The Slate has been called the smallest Serato DJ controller on the market due to its light weight and small width (25mm), allowing the controller to be moved and transported easily. People claim it is so thin and light that it could be easily transported via backpack with a laptop — just make sure you keep it secure. A convenient aspect of Gemini’s controller is the fact that it does not require an external power source, allowing for even more mobility. The SLATE DJ tools allow for great control with filters for each channel, key-lock, and a myriad of advanced effect controls. The RGB pads are well implemented and have hot cues on them which can be put on a manual loop. This is a great basic controller with the added bonus of Serato DJ Intro in case you don’t have software yet — it’s one of the biggest DJ software out there, so you may end up just upgrading buying the full version when you become accustomed to it. Many of the essentials are included in this one as well, such as pitch control, two channels, jogs for scratching, pitch fader, key-lock and more. The ins and outs also cover ground, giving us RCA’s, mic, and headphone outs. It’s also MIDI mappable. The Gemini Slate is a great product for a beginner and should last you a long time, all at $200 or less.
Numark DJ 2 Go 2
Numark’s controller here is notably claimed as the smallest models on the market but definitely isn’t what many would consider a ‘DJ controller’ at first look. Keep in mind this term is quite broad, so this particular model still falls in the category so we wanted to give you a look at it in case it’s what you wanted. For one, it is nearly pocket-sized, making it one of the most portable controllers on our list. It is a great controller for mobile DJs who want to practice or prep their sets. It’s also great as a backup controller in case something goes wrong with your main one. The controller has a built-in sound card and Serato DJ introduction program so you will have the capacity of a regular sized controller at the tips of your fingers wherever you go and Despite the small size, Numark gives you access to the features of traditional controllers just minus the jog wheels. You have two channels available to you, a crossfader which makes blending simple, and pad modes that allow for the same control you would get on a larger controller. Even though the Numark DJ 2 Go 2 may seem small and different, it is definitely powerful and gives you a full range of features allowing you to have the same feel as a larger, more expensive controller. Or perhaps you’d like to add this in to your existing DJ gear setup.
BEHRINGER CMD STUDIO 4a
The CMD Studio 4a is definitely one of the most impressive looking controllers on our list. Coming right under our budget cap, the large size and sturdy weight gives you a more professional feel when using it. The 6-inch high-resolution jog wheels are both eye-catching and allow for extreme precision over your scratching and music. There are also great 100mm pitch faders as well as a 60mm volume fader, making this controller generate the ultimate experience for listeners. For show, it lights up beautifully with LED backlit buttons which indicate your activity, making knowing what buttons you are using easy to see. The lit up buttons also make seeing in the dark simple for those who club or perform at bars. There are also a generous number of hot cues which are easily usable as well as kill switches included on the board which lets you cut tone in and out, something that makes the CMD Studio 4a stand out among others. The design is sleek and the build is of high quality, all at just under $200.
Reloop Neon USB
This controller stands apart from others on our list due to the lack of jog wheels and a few other ‘traditional DJ controller features’ we listed. Instead, the focus of the board are the 8 touch sensitive RGB drum pads. These drum pads have aftertouch affects and used for great cues, loops, and effects. There are also eight different power modes that can be accessed when using this controller. There is a new FLIP mode which allows the user to record and listen to personal mixes or cue trigger sequences on the go. The Neon USB‘s drum pads have the ability to be color coded which is used to relay feedback in each mode, keeping you organized mid performance. The board as a whole is compact and sturdy, and the pads have a great feel, making the user experience great. One downfall of the Reloop Neon USB is the fact that the unit does not come with any DJ software, but that really won’t be a big deal if you already it or want to download a trial version for free. It all hooks up via MIDI, so any DAW will do, or you can even hook it up to a smart device and use their app.
Hercules DJ Control AIR S
Here’s another Hecrules model that brings us the great essential DJ controller features plus a little more. The most notable additional aspect, and hence the name, is the Air Control function of the unit. This feature allows for ‘contactless control’ over your mix — a sensor allows for the control of your unit from above without having to physically touch the board, making your hand essentially into a MIDI command. Also noted, the jog wheels are pressure detecting, meaning you are able to scratch by pressing on the jog wheels, as you would with an actual vinyl record. The faders and the controls are solid and the whole board is a good size and easy to take with you. The pads have an inner back-light which shows the pad’s activation. A lot of people around the user review world say that trying to figure the Hercules DJ Control AIR S out at first can be tricky as the manual that comes with it provides little to no information, but with a little time and effort it becomes easier and easier to understand. The learning curve will also help for your future skills as well. This is a great pick as the best DJ controller under $200 if you think that AIR Control is something you’ll be using, otherwise stick with their previous model first recommended.
Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol X1
The Traktor Kontrol X1 is a compact unit that puts the Traktor Pro 2’s decks and features into one. One can control effects and loops without ever having to utilize a laptop. The touch-sensitive strip allows the user to utilize playback, loop, and FX, as well as precision of position and pitch bend. The easily accessible knobs on this board make looping and browsing easy, and you are given control of a variety of effects with 2 different FX units. The sleep design and simplicity of the LED, color coordinated buttons allow for one to stay focused during a performance. The board as a whole looks very attractive and one will always know what is going on with the Traktor Kontrol X1. Many reviews show that it is a product that is loved by more than just me, however just keep in mind you’ll need to also invest in their DJ software Traktor. It is claimed to be a great product for both beginners and advanced DJs.
The look of this controller is modern and sleek and nears our end of this best DJ controllers under $200 guide. It is lightweight and portable, making this another attractive unit that has all of the utilities of a traditional controller. The jog wheels can have their touch-sensitivity adjusted allowing the user to customize their experience which is an interesting feature and allows for some versatility here. The wheels are steady and feel of high quality and each deck on the Typhoon has their own 3-band EQ and LOOP SET function which gives the user the chance to set a loop point and increase or decrease the loop length from there. There is also a short-throw fader, no curve adjustment, which has low traction and is easy to move. The interface as a whole makes the Vestax Typhoon fairly easy to use and learn, which makes this a great controller for beginning DJs. There is also the added bonus of seamless Serato integration, which will help if that’s your preferred DJ software.
SKP Pro SMX-800
At first glance this appears to be a pretty simple board. This is a USB powered controller with a built-in high quality sound card, and there is a three-band EQ and Virtual DJ LE software included. It is easy to use and has all of the basic functions and necessities of a good controller, however if you’re super concerned with scratching we’d go with something else, as the jog wheels aren’t the highest of quality. Unlike the Hercules DJ Control AIR or the Numark DJ 2 Go 2, this controller is stripped of its pomp and frills. It is a solid, professional looking board, and does not have the striking aesthetically attractive qualities that some of the other controllers on this list have, such as RGB lights and the like. Not many ins and outs here aside from the USB port for power, so it’ll be pretty standalone. However, The SKP Pro SMX-800 is still a solid pick if you find yourself needing the smaller features a DJ controller can bring, not to mention it is a pretty small controller weighing about 10 pounds and super portable — it just gives us a different spin to a $200 or less DJ controller.