Top critical review
Fine controller, good value, but crappy sound card/shielding inside means you hear lots of electronic interference garbage
August 2, 2018
Lots of feelings about this unit.
As a controller, I like it; it was what I was looking for control-wise. The layout is familiar, and most controls can be mastered if you spend some quality time reading and experimenting.
The faders are quite light, with little resistance to movement. This is convenient for abrupt changes, but feels cheap. The tempo fader in particular on the right half also isn't mounted well and slants to the side, adding to the cheap feel. All bottom pads are the same color on this unit, while on the more expensive decks they are a variety of colors, which really would aid in operation and hardly add cost to the unit. Seems a stupid way to differentiate product pricing tiers (this is one of the cheapest models in the line), but Serato does the same thing to a greater degree (more on that in a minute). The platters feel sufficiently hefty so I'm glad at least that feels like it has decent construction and quality of material there. Time will tell. Knobs and pads feel just fine.
Serato has a clever scheme which only allows their software to output to a sound card in a Serato-branded controller. No using this controller for only control with Serato software. I bring this up because the sound card in this DDJ-SB3 really sucks. Tons of electronic noise when not playing anything (or playing something really quiet), which is particularly noticeable when the controller initializes (when loading/clearing a play deck, starting/closing out of Serato, etc). Poorly shielded and crappy sound card (with only RCA outs) drives me bananas when setting up in the studio with headphones on.
MIXXX, on the other hand, (free software!) allows you to direct the sound anywhere you want, bypassing the DDJ-SB3, while still keeping control over the trim, EQ, filtering, and playback control from the DDJ. This is possible because they have a plug-in for the SB2 (hopefully soon the SB3), which is almost a shoe-in (tempo fader is backwards, and a number of features Serato DJ Pro enables such as beat matching don't work).
Serato DJ Lite (included with the controller) is a sad application which goes out of its way to be a money grab and get you on DJ Pro. Don't buy from them direct at $129, it's $99 elsewhere. The two aren't even the same application; I have both installed and I hope all the audio analyzing I did in my library for DJ Lite wasn't a waste. With DJ Pro, you're allowed two installs (a desktop and laptop, for instance), but only one can run at a time. A number of things that DJ Pro gets you come free with MIXXX, and DJ Pro is $49 if you're on Mac. Serato has it in their head they own the business and everybody else is an also-ran. They constantly remind you they "are legendary".
I would in hindsight probably have led with DJay Pro, not Serato DJ Pro (I could always buy DJay and have both). With how crappy the sound card is in this thing, I will only plan on using it with Serato for dancing, not for other events/functions.