Which is the best controller for beginner DJs?
Recently we did a comparison review for all three of the most popular beginner DJ controllers. The Pioneer DDJ RB using Rekordbox, the Pioneer DDJ SB2, using Serato DJ and the Numark Mixtrack Pro 3 also using Serato. Each controller sits within a very similar price bracket so what features set them apart form each other?
Watch our comparison video for an in depth look at what features each controller has compared to the others and what we think is the best for beginner DJs!
Numark Mixtrack Pro 3
- Long pitch faders for accurate beat matching.
- Performance Pads - Hot Cues, Auto Loop and Sampler.
- It has a multi functional touch strip for use with effects plus it provides an easy way to search through a track.
- Comes with Serato DJ Intro, but you will have to pay to upgrade to the full version of Serato DJ.
- The extra features accessed within the full version of Serato DJ aren't labelled on the controller so it's tricky to remember which buttons to press to use them. For example; Slip mode and the tempo range adjust aren't labelled but can be access on the controller itself.
The Numark Mixtrack Pro 3 is the perfect controller for new DJs who want to master beat matching by ear because of the full size pitch faders. It's also a good universal controller that works well with Virtual DJ. We aren't a huge fan of how plastic it feels compared to the other controllers but this also makes it very lightweight and portable.
Pioneer DDJ SB2
- Can access the 3rd and 4th decks when using the full version of Serato DJ.
- Can also access extra performance features on the controller when using the full version of Serato DJ; The Cue Loop, Roll, all 8 Hot Cues, and change the sampler bank.
- A lot more of the extra features are actually labelled on the controller.
- Small pitch faders.
- Only come's with Serato DJ intro, you will need to pay for the complete version of Serato to make the most of this controller.
- Not a huge deal, but it has rubber cue and play buttons which don't feel very tactile.
The Pioneer DDJ SB2 is the perfect controller for those who need something basic to start with but are looking at upgrading to the full version of Serato DJ at some point. If you want to start doing a few more creative things in your DJ sets then this controller has those extra performance features!
It has some extra effects built into the unit, both the filter fade on the crossfader and the Pad Trans effect on the performance pads. These can be useful but this is the only DJ equipment that really has access to them, so if you then play on a different set up or upgrade your equipment you won't be able to make use of these in your sets. This isn't a big deal, but something worth noting.
Pioneer DDJ RB
- This controller comes with the complete version of Rekordbox, meaning you can access all the features without having to pay to upgrade the software. It also means you can then plug and play into the range of Pioneer CDJs and XDJs without having to buy extra sound cards.
- 8 performance pads for each performance mode.
- It has PAD FX which are an easy way to start using FX as a beginner and are exclusive to Rekordbox.
- It has a slicer mode for extra creative possibilities.
- Plastic cue and play buttons which feel very similar to their CDJ and XDJ range.
- It has an in built soundcard meaning you can use the controller just with your laptop speakers rather than have to buy external monitors.
- It can be a very confusing piece of software for new DJs because its packed with so many features.
- The pitch faders are very small making it hard to set your bpm or beat match.
- There isn't an auto loop mode built onto the controller. Note that you can still set a loop manually though or set an auto loop within the software with your mouse.
The Pioneer DDJ RB is definitely the most advanced controller of the three. It's well worth its money just for the complete version of the Rekordbox software, however it can also be a very confusing and daunting way to learn to DJ. It's really the software that makes this controller stand out!
Click to check the current price on Amazon: Pioneer DDJ-RB
All three controllers have their pro's and con's. Each controller is better suited for different DJs and different mixing styles. No controller works without software so when buying a controller consider which software you want to use just as much as the controller itself.
If you're totally new to the concept of DJing then we would recommend one of the first two in our list. Either the Numark Mixtrack Pro 3 or the Pioneer DDJ SB2. If you understand a bit about DJing already and feel confident with new technology then the Pioneer DDJ RB will be the perfect match. If your goal is to eventually upgrade and move onto more advanced pieces of equipment or play in bars and clubs then the Pioneer DDJ RB is a great match because the software allow you to use other Pioneer products with ease.
Did you know?
We have online DJ courses available for all three of these DJ controllers. If you own one why not click here to check them out? From beginner to advanced techniques for both the new and established DJ. We can guarantee to get you started on your journey with our easy to follow online DJ courses.