A DJ mixer is the heart and soul of a professional DJ setup. From the birth of the DJ era mixers have continued to evolve to meet the needs of all types of DJs.
While many mixers share similar layouts and features there are also many differences that you need to be aware of. Selecting the right mixer for your needs will give you all the tools you’ll need to mix the way you want to mix.
In this guide, we cover the main categories of DJ mixers and the key features you need to consider. If you keep these elements in mind you’ll be well on your way to your perfect DJ mixer.
Navigating the wide range of mixers can be a daunting and challenging task. There is a staggering selection available at a wide array of price points.
Sticking to well-established brands is quite important. There is a reason why some brands are continually at the top of recommendation lists.
A good-quality DJ mixer is the centerpiece of a DJ setup.
These brands have a long and established history in the DJ scene. And depending on your career ambitions some are essential to make your transition to pro work seamless.
Here are some key features you need to consider when selecting a DJ mixer.
- The most important consideration is the type of layout that you prefer. Most DJ mixers will fall into one of two categories. Battle Style or Club Style layout. A Battle Style layout is more suited to scratch DJs while a Club Style layout is better for most other DJs.
- Performance features are another important factor. You want a DJ mixer that will allow you to express your creativity. This could be via extensive FX options to performance pads. Understanding how you DJ or how you want to DJ can guide your purchasing decisions.
- Connection options should also be high on your list of priorities. The top DJ mixers will feature an extensive selection of input and output options. This allows you to connect a wide variety of gear from turntables, media players, microphones, and more.
DJ Mixers For Beginners
DJ mixers can be complicated pieces of gear. The vast array of buttons, knobs, and features can be overwhelming. Especially for new DJs.
New DJs should focus on high-quality DJ mixers that provide you with access to all the essential features you need. A full EQ section with robust and capable faders and crossfaders should be the priority.
You don’t need a complicated mixer to get into DJing.
While new DJs most likely won’t need all the bells and whistles it is still worthwhile to pick up a DJ mixer that has some room for growth. That way as you transition beyond beginner you can flex your creative skills.
Below is a snapshot of some of the essentials when picking a DJ mixer in this category.
- The central section should be clutter-free and offer easy access to the essentials. This minimizes distractions and allows you to focus on nailing the fundamentals. 3-band EQ along with level meters will ensure you keep your mixes clean and distortion-free.
- I would also suggest you select a DJ mixer with a high-quality audio interface. This will allow you to plug and play easily with a wide range of gear. There is already a lot to learn when you are a beginner so having a dependable audio interface will let you focus on DJing.
- Selecting a DJ mixer from a reputable brand is also advisable. It will be easier to find tutorials and guides for popular mixers. Plus these brands offer consistent performance across their full range. Many also offer various levels which can make transitioning to more complex gear feel more natural.
Budget DJ Mixers
DJing has never been a cheap interest when it comes to gear. Thankfully over the years, there has been a range of affordably priced options hitting the market.
But as with any budget option, you need to be especially mindful of several factors. The last thing you want is to spend your hard-earned money on a crappy DJ mixer.
Sticking to well-known brands is ideal when choosing a budget DJ mixer.
There will naturally be some trade-offs in this category. You can’t expect the absolute best materials or extensive features. Despite offering lesser features you can pick up a capable and cheap DJ mixer that is suitable for your needs.
Before exploring budget options these are the main points to keep in mind.
- Build quality is the biggest potential issue with budget DJ mixers. Avoid plastic as much as possible. A steel chassis is achievable at a lower price point. Once again bigger name brands will likely be your best bet to ensure a reasonable level of quality.
- Budget mixers often have fewer features. Take some time to ensure that the most important features you need are present. While you do need to make some compromises you’ll be better off spending more than settling for a DJ mixer that doesn’t meet your needs.
- It is also worth checking if the mixer offers software support. This can be another way where you can save a lot of money. Some budget mixers come with access to the premier DJ software options like rekordbox DJ or Serato DJ Pro.
4 Channel DJ Mixers
These large mixers give you access to playing four sources at the same time. They are often comprehensive when it comes to features and connection flexibility.
But this increased capacity often results in a higher price tag. Depending on what type of DJ you are you may not need access to all 4 channels.
4 channel DJ mixers give you plenty of options to craft unique DJ sets.
Four-channel mixers are also often the DJ mixers you’ll find at clubs. If you become familiar with them it can make the transition to pro work more seamless. Especially if you stick to DJ mixers from the Pioneer DJ brand.
If you are wanting to buy a 4 channel mixer here are some key features to watch out for.
- Mixing four channels is both challenging and satisfying. But keeping control of your volume levels is critical. Aim to pick a 4 channel mixer with clear and bright level meters. This allows you to balance all 4 signals for a smooth DJ set.
- High-quality faders and EQ knobs are also important. You’ll be spending a lot of time adjusting frequencies and volume levels. You need these knobs to be up to the task. Full kill EQs are also preferable to avoid frequency bleed in complex transitions.
- Access to FX is also another consideration. Layering 4 channels can be easier if you have access to an extensive FX suite that you can apply to various channels.
2 Channel DJ Mixers
2 Channel DJ mixers are often the best way to get started in DJing. These mixers range from very basic to extensively feature-rich.
Your budget will likely decide what options are available to you. Simple two-channel DJ mixers can be very affordable. But premium options can be upwards of several thousands of dollars.
2 channel DJ mixers are a great choice for scratch DJs.
Understanding your mixing style will also help point you in the right direction. Some two-channel DJ mixers are better for certain types of DJing. Also, keep in mind if you want to mix with digital files as that can impact which mixer will be right for you.
Take into account these features before buying a two-channel DJ mixer.
- If you are a scratch DJ a two-channel mixer is likely all you’ll ever need. The quality of the crossfader should be one of the first things you assess. Countless cuts and aggressive scratch routines demand a solid and dependable crossfader with no lag.
- Extra performance features are also worth factoring in. When mixing just two channels you may want to incorporate additional elements via sample banks or FX. Well-positioned performance pads and FX controls are ideal.
- If you are not a scratch DJ aim for a two-channel mixer with a club-style layout. This gets you familiar with pro gear and the usual workflow for most DJs. Also, be mindful that you’ll still want connection flexibility and high-quality components.
Deciding Which One Is Right For You
For such an integral piece of DJ gear, it is important to get the right mixer for your needs. I’ve seen it countless times where DJs overspend and end up not using half of the functions. Likewise, I’ve seen DJs become restricted because their DJ mixer isn’t able to let them express their full creativity.
The right DJ mixer for you is all dependent on how you mix and what your ambitions are. Taking time to consider the rest of your gear is also important.
Some simple questions can help point you in the right direction. Do you scratch? Do you want to eventually play in clubs? Do you love playing with FX? All these can help guide you to the correct choice.
Luckily there has never been a better time to get into DJing. There are some fantastic options available for all types of DJs. And at a range of price points. So don’t hold back. Narrow down your choices and get yourself a new centerpiece of your DJ setup. From there the sky is the limit.