ION Audio iCUE3 Discover DJ System Review

Review Summary:

At a friendly price point that nets you a basic feature set, the iCUE3 Discover DJ System is just enough to get your feet wet with Digital DJing. Do take it for a spin if you're just starting out or are curious about making the switch from analog, but pass on it if you want to get serious!

 iCUE3 Discover DJ System
  • iCUE3 Discover DJ System
  • Rating: 2
  • From: ION
  • Price: $89
  • Reviewed by:
  • On September 20, 2010
  • Last modified:November 20, 2014
The ION Audio iCUE3 is a great way to begin DJing on a tiny budget.

The ION Audio iCUE3 is a great way to begin DJing on a tiny budget.

Review: ION Audio iCUE3 Discover DJ System

The ION Audio Discover DJ System is a no-frills, cheap-as-chips DJ controller. A "taster" product for digital DJing, it's been around for a year or so now, but looks set to be a big hit this Christmas with a street price of just US$55.

While clearly not meant to be a professional piece of equipment, it has all the essentials for basic digital DJing: it is certainly possible to DJ "properly" on this thing, and you CAN get decent results out of it. What's more, you can record them. Ever told yourself that one day you'll record that mixtape you've had in your head for years? This piece of kit will let you do just that.

The jogwheels (or "turntables") and the crossfader are touch-sensitive and great for the price, and that means that anyone curious about the DJing experience, whether versed in turntables or not, will enjoy using this. It's imperative to get jog wheels "right" on a hardware controller, or it ceases to be fun to use, and for the price, ION has. There is an autosync feature to match your songs' beats; just as well, because whereas normally DJs have a fader to do this, this unit has buttons that aren't as easy to use.

There's also a browse button to let you flick through your music library, and all the usual controls for cueing, playing and pausing each track, as well as reversing them for added fun. A small button turns the "scratch" function on and off.

ION DJ controller review

It has most of the controls you\'d expect, with one or two exceptions.

What they've not included for the price
It is, however, lacking in some of the basics. For instance, most DJ controllers have three types of tone control - bass, mid and treble - but this only has bass and treble, meaning there's less ability to manipulate the sound of each deck. - especially too as they leave the midrange on the software stationary when you use them.

Also, these controls don't make as much difference to the sound as I would have liked; really they ought to totally take out or greatly boost their respective frequencies.

More importantly, there is no sound card. One of the fundamentals of DJing is two separate sound outputs - one for speakers, one for headphones. It lets the DJ "cue" the next song. This controller, like most cheap controllers, doesn't have one built-in, so the DJ has to cue without hearing the next track. It's possible, but not ideal.

You can correct this easily enough by buying a DJ sound card. (You can read all about sound cards for digital DJing here). They're only simple little things, but something like the Numark DJ-iO pr the Native Instruments Audio 2, which would be ideal to partner with this unit, will cost you as much as the controller again. Still, that would give you a complete DJ setup for US$160, which is really very little.

The software is a cut-down version of MixVibes, which is perfectly capable DJ software, if not one of the big names. It does the job just fine, although if you really get hooked, you may decide to upgrade or switch to another DJ program.

Who this controller would be good for

So plainly this unit is aimed at a certain niche, and I think it would be a good buy if:

    • You are buying it for someone who isn't sure if they like DJing - How can you go wrong at this price? It has everything you need for basic DJing, and if the owner gets hooked, they'll be able to get some decent results out of it before outgrowing it and wanting something intermediate or professional
    • You only want to play at home or at house parties - It's great for domestic situations, but is not up to the standard needed to play out and about. You wouldn't take your home stereo to a bar or club, and you wouldn't take this either
    • You want to buy something for your kids to try DJing on - This unit will be a lot of fun for anyone with a wish to try DJing, especially if they've been brought up on DJ Hero!
ION Audio iCUE 3 controller review

Want to learn how to DJ for very little outlay? This could be the unit for you.

  • You have a professional analogue setup and are curious about digital - If you can't justify the space or the expense and just want the cheapest possible DJ controller to see if digital is for you, again, at this price it would make sense
  • You only DJ occasionally - If DJing is just for fun, or you want to make a mixtape every couple of years just to "keep your end in", you may not be able to justify the expense of anything more expensive that this. for you then, it would be ideal


It's great to see products like this on the market. The more people who can have a go at DJing, the more will get hooked and progress to pro equipment, techniques and gigs. Even having said that, though, this is not a particularly good example of a dirt-cheap controller (the EQ mappings were the deal breaker for me). Yet when it's this cheap, you can forgive practically anything.

Maybe people who whinge at this kind of kit do so because they're secretly scared that the cat's out of the bag, and their tired old techniques are about to be usurped by some 12-year-old on an ION Audio iCUE3 Discover DJ System, some kid who really doesn't care if anyone says he looks silly! Bring it on, I say.

The ION Audio iCUE3 retails for around US$85, the Numark DJ I/O for US$87, and the Native Instruments AUDIO 2 DJ Interface for US$99.

Product Summary

Review Summary:

At a friendly price point that nets you a basic feature set, the iCUE3 Discover DJ System is just enough to get your feet wet with Digital DJing. Do take it for a spin if you're just starting out or are curious about making the switch from analog, but pass on it if you want to get serious!

 iCUE3 Discover DJ System

  • iCUE3 Discover DJ System
  • Rating: 2
  • From: ION
  • Price: $89
  • Reviewed by:
  • On September 20, 2010
  • Last modified:November 20, 2014

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  1. Can you do a review of this? h I was going to buy the icue 3 and bought this instead because of the 3- band eq. (at the time it was 82 USD.

  2. There is a lot of interest in ultra-cheap controllers at the moment, and we will feature some more of them in the near future. Thanks for the suggestion.

  3. I reviewed this particular item an I'd like to expand a bit. First off I like this controller and I have a mass hatred for all in ones which technically it is and isnt. Biggest note to make is when buying this product if you are a hip hop dj do not buy. The scratching on this product is absolutely abysmal sounding. The thing I like most about this is its lightweight portability. Plus if you have a tendency to flesh your mixes out while drinking some do some dont not recommended when mixing your levels usually come out too high but you can go to a house party and not give a crap whether some drunk knocks your drink on to this thing. Overall a solid buy. This could be your piece of training you need to decipher whether you should warrant spending the money on cdjs or what have you. The prepackaged software is kinda weak too.

  4. that is exactly why some whinge digital mixing. just imagine all that time, money, and effort mixing on tables. then one day modern technology starts handing it out to anyone with $80.

    strictly digital music being mixed digitally. go figure.

    i wish all reviews were this good. very professional

    . thx

  5. I just hooked up my discover dj today for the first time and the problem i'm having is that it's not working and all the lights (sync, rev, cue, & play/pause) come on, which I'm sure it's not suppose to. I'll probably have to take it back and get another one.

    • Phil Morse says:

      Have you installed the DJ software and followed the instructions for setting it up?

      • Phil Zajic says:

        Hey, i'm having the exact same problem with my controller. I installed the mixvibes program that it came with and followed all of the quickstart instructions, but it wont control anything on the program. The lights are all lit up, but thats about it. I had a similiar problem with the ableton live launchpad, but i got it to work by switching the usb port and quickly turning on the program. Although that worked for ableton, its not working for this new program and controller. Any help?

  6. I installed and plugged mine in last night and i thought it was great. The only thing that I noticed was that when I was going through my iTunes library, it excluded songs. Does anyone know why? I went to my actual iTunes library and they where there but not in the "Mix Vibe" library. Other then that... I liked it. Now I have to get a sound card to ACTUALLY know what and how I'll be mixing. Thanks!

  7. Will the SIIG SoundWave 7.1 PCI Sound Card work with ION virtual Dj?

  8. Im not gonna lie, Ive been Djing for 11+ years professionally. I use Vestax pdx-200's with Traktor, along with a DDM4000 mixer and plenty of other toys. I came across this on CL for 40$. I found it was 100% MIDI capable... I bought it, brought it home, hooked her up, and had a blast using it strictly for the MIDI functions... I will def keep this thing in my Arsenal... No joke!!! Worth every penny!!!

  9. uno with these decks can you use virtual dj?

  10. Bought this on clearance from Kohl's for $30. Am I missing something, or is there no way to alter tempo WITHOUT altering pitch?

  11. My lights stay on and it won't work. I don't understand why it does this. Is there a button I should press to get it working?

  12. Hello!
    This is the first time I am using the discover DJ. I am following the alterantive described in this website to use headphones with USB connection but it is not working. Is there any configuration I should do before starting?

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