Which is the best beginner Serato controller you should start your DJ journey on?
Serato DJ Lite is a free piece of software that excels in making DJ’ing easy to understand. However, to use the software properly a DJ will need a controller. Working with some of the best DJ manufacturers in the world, Serato has a wide range of decks purpose built for beginners. Deciding on which controller is most suitable for you can be confusing however. So in this guide, we are going to break down the advantages and drawbacks of each controllers design to find the most suitable controller for your progression.
Hercules DJ Control Impulse 500
Released June 2020 – £279 / $299
The Impulse 500 by Hercules DJ is the latest controller featured in this list. Brimmed with advanced features such as RGB performance pads and auxiliarily inputs, this controller is an absolute bargain. With dedicated buttons that can only be accessed by Serato DJ Pro, this controller is one that will last much further into a DJ’s progression, long outlasting the limitations of the beginner Lite software.
Pro’s: Unique beat match feature, Multicoloured Performance Pads, Great Controller for upgrading to Serato DJ Pro
Con’s: Performance pad mode labels don’t always align with software, one of the more expensive models in this list.
Who’s the Impulse 500 great for: This controller is great for those looking for a longer term investment.
PIONEER DJ DDJ-SB3
Released March 2018 – £249 / $249
The Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB3 is one of the best selling DJ controllers of all time. This controller is extremely popular for good reason too, bringing the best of Pioneer DJ to Serato at an accessible price. The mapping of all the pad modes sadly doesn’t allow the SB3 to take full of advantage of Serato DJ Pro. Whilst the build quality is good, the lack of 1/4inch headphone port and basic effects controls now seem dated.
Pro’s: Industry leader Pioneer DJ build quality and feel, unique pad scratch feature designed by DJ Jazzy Jeff.
Con’s: Oldest model in this list, doesn’t take full advantage of Serato DJ Pro if the user upgrades.
Who’s the DDJ-SB3 great for: Any DJ looking to get into the Pioneer DJ eco system or wanting to learn to scratch.
NUMARK MIXTRACK PRO FX
Released May 2020 – £215 / $199.99
The Numark Mixtrack Pro FX features a fantastic build quality for an entry level controller. With both sizes of headphone port, buttery smooth jog wheels and full sized pitch faders, the Pro takes full advantage of its wider chassis. The effects, controlled by paddles, make this controller the ultimate choice for aspiring turntablists, mimicking the effects found on battle mixer such as the Numark Scratch.
Pro’s: Fantastic build quality, including full sized pitch faders and unique paddle style effects.
Con’s: Over shadowed by the Platinum FX model which doesn’t cost too much more.
Who’s the Pro FX great for: Aspiring battle DJ’s on a budget
NUMARK MIXTRACK PLATINUM FX
Released May 2020 – £245 / $249.00
The Numark Mixtrack Platinum FX features the best jog wheels we’ve ever used on an entry level controller. The full size pitch faders add to the superb build quality which also featured both sizes of headphone port. The effects, controlled by paddles, make this controller the ultimate choice for aspiring turntablists. In the unique in jog displays display the tracks BPM and more importatly the needle position, great for scratching. Upgrading to Serato DJ Pro allows for more performance features and the controller is mapped to take advantage of Pitch Play.
Pro’s: LCD displays inside jog wheels, great build quality and decent Serato DJ Pro mapping.
Con’s: Paddle style effects are only used on battle mixers, traditionally only used by scratch DJ’s.
Who’s the Platinum FX great for: Scratch DJ’s looking to move into the world of turntablism.
ROLAND DJ 202
Released June 2018 – £279 / $299.99
The Roland DJ 202 is a unique beginner controller that includes a full sequencer and Roland TR drum machine. Very similar to the layout and feel of a Pioneer DDJ SB3, this controller allows DJ’s to include drum patterns into their mix. Mixing external drum machines into a mix is a trick used usually by tech and house DJ’s. This is a very unique selling point for the 202, a controller that still does the more normal aspects of DJ’ing superbly, with a solid build quality and responsive jog wheels.
Pro’s: Unique inbuilt sequencer and Roland drum machine.
Con’s: Smaller pitch faders, drum machine is a little confusing .
Who’s the DJ 202 great for: DJ’s wanting to inherit drum machines and samples into their mix.
NUMARK DJ2GO2 TOUCH
Released Jan 2020 – £69 / $89
The Numark DJ2GO2 Touch is a tiny controller that is designed around portability. It’s tiny footprint has made for some notable design exclusions, including the lack of a mixer. With no up faders or EQ control, we don’t recommend these style of controllers are used to learn to DJ with. That said these are great fun for DJ’s wanting to mix on the move, ideal for making long train/plane journeys more enjoyable.
Pro’s: Cheap and extremely portable
Con’s: No mixer section, meaning a limited mixing experience.
Who’s the DJ2GO2 Touch great for: DJ’s who have already learnt to mix and want a fun portable set of decks.
HERCULES DJ CONTROL STARLIGHT
Released October 2018 – £69 / $89
Just like the Numark, the Hercules DJ Control Starlight is a tiny controller with no real mixer or audio outputs. The Hercules features better access to effects, tone controls and even includes inbuilt lighting that can help with beat matching. That said though, the lack of up faders, EQ’s and RCA speaker connections means we again can’t recommend this controller for beginner DJ’s.
Pro’s: Great inbuilt lighting, unique pad FX and portable design.
Con’s: No up faders, lack of three band EQ and compromised speaker connections.
Who’s the Hercules Starlight great for: DJ’s who have already learnt to mix and want a fun portable set of decks.
Learn To DJ with Crossfader!
Once you’ve decided your first controller, it’s time to learn how to use it! We have a full range of dedicated Serato DJ courses to help progress a DJ from their very first steps, connecting the controller and downloading tracks, to performing mixes and even learning to creatively use effects! Below you will find our Serato DJ courses which start with Serato DJ Lite before advancing through to the more advanced Serato DJ Pro!