If you are serious about DJing, it’s a good idea to invest in a quality mixer. However, finding the best DJ mixer isn’t an easy thing to do. While a lot of DJ controllers already come with a mixer built-in, it’s usually lower quality and less flexible, so investing in a decent mixer is one of the best investment you’ll make in your carrier.
What DJ mixer is the best for a beginner? Well, there are a few – all have different functions, are for various purposes, and, of course, budgets. My list will help you learn a little more about popular mixer brands, main functions and parameters you should consider, and what to avoid when buying a DJ mixer.
If you aren’t ready to get a mixer or don’t feel like investing in one – get a DJ controller instead. However, I can’t stress enough how once you advance you’ll need to invest in a proper mixer setup – there is just no other way – you need to grow after all. And the more flexible you are – the more opportunities you’ll end up having.
That’s why I suggest getting one at the beginning – but at the end of the day, it’s entirely up to you!
Alright, let’s get to the list already!
1) Mixars Duo MKII
Check out Mixars Duo Review.
This mixer is one of the best budget mixers on the market due to its flexibility and built-quality right now – all thanks to Mixars. It was developers to seamlessly integrate with Serato DJ – one of the most popular DJ software applications on the market. The best part is – it’s affordable – which isn’t a common thing in the world of DJ mixers that can cost up to thousands of dollars.
Don’t get me wrong – it’s still pricey, but you get more than what you pay for here. Mixars Duo is nothing less of a powerhouse – despite its small size. A lot of people compare it to its main competitor S9, and while S9 is a little more powerful and flexible, it’s also 3 times the price!
It’s famous for its simplicity, rugged design, and the general feel of the device. Built-in audio interface and sound card make sure the sound delivered is always top-notch. The pads are placed right the upfaders, which I personally love. Another cool thing I couldn’t help by notice is the number of effects and loops of fantastic quality – too bad you can only use on setting per channel – but that’s fine for most DJs.
If you are into scratching – you are in luck too – it’s so easy to do with Mixars Duo. The above-mentioned Serato DJ integration is like the cherry on the top. After all, the easier it is to use the mixer with your DJ app, the better results it will yield – forget about having to set every parameter up – it’s time-consuming and tedious, and no one likes that.
2) Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 Mk3
Another fantastic candidate for the place of your first battle mixer is NI Traktor Kontrol S2. As you probably know already, Native Instruments is the same company that made Traktor DJ software app. Therefore, you can expect seamless integration of the mixer and your application. Actually, Traktor Kontrol already comes with the full version Traktor Pro – so there is no need to spend extra on soft – it’s all packaged together!
The setup is a breeze – considering the fact you already have the software included – it’s close to a plug-and-play function. If you go to the developers' website, it’ll guide you step-by-step – no hassle whatsoever. The entire build is sturdy – which is crucial, considering that a battle mixer is actively used during every gig. Therefore, the sturdier – the better.
Alright, so we got incredibly functionality and great build – why not buy it? Well, some producers have mentioned a number of bugs in the software, which are quite noticeable. Once the bugs are all patched – the software will be a gem. For now, it’s still a good deal if you can bear with a few minor bugs.
You have to also understand that a controller is more than just a mixer – it has turntables and all. The quality, however, will be lower – which is expected. Look, instead of spending $500+ on a mixer and having to buy turntables and all – you just get an all-in-one package at a very affordable price.
3) Pioneer DJ DJM-S9
Have you ever heard of Pioneer? You must have! They make all kinds of DJ gear – for any taste and budget. Speaking of budget, this particular mixer is not the most affordable one out there. While isn’t the cheapest mixer on the market, it’s surely one of the most high-quality and reliable ones. If you aren’t afraid to spend some cash to invest in your DJ career – DJ DJM-S9 is one of the best investments you can make.
Just by the looks of it, you can tell that it’s not the most straightforward mixer out there. Actually, the learning curve is actually quite steep if you’ve never had a mixer before – it will take you some time to get the hang of everything that’s going on – and that’s the best part about the premium mixer. The second you think you’ve learned everything you could and utilize it to its full potential – you should take a step back and think – “Have I really?”
If you have Serato DJ already – you are in luck. The mixer integrates with the application seamlessly and is ready to rock pretty much right away. There are tons of users to a mixer – and you can use this particular one for pretty much anything – loop rolls, slicing, scratching, cue point jumping, and more. You can even switch effects in the software with a simple press of a button or switch over to the sampler, which comes in handy during gigs at the club, for instance.
The layout, as mentioned before, may seem a little complicated, but it’s nothing short of intuitive. If you’ve used any other mixer before – you’ll have no issues using this one. DJM-S9 also comes with a ton of presets that will make your life easier, plus you can create your own. The biggest drawback is the fact that you have to purchase a DJ workstation separately, but that shouldn’t be a big deal considering you’ll have to get one either way.
4) Allen & Heath XONE:23
Allen & Heath is a big name in the DJ industry, primarily for their high-quality mixers for affordable (and not-so-affordable) prices. XONE:23 is an excellent alternative to the pricey Pioneers that most beginner DJs can’t afford – and the quality is fantastic.
Let’s start from the fact that the mixer has incredibly warm sound – which DJs all over the world love. Another cool feature is a killer EQ system – and you know that proper equalization is a must. I totally loved HPF and LPF filters – they aren’t crucial but can be incredibly handy if you know what you are doing.
On top of that, the crossfader is upgradeable if you are into scratching – install innofader if you want to be more precise. And if you ever like changing the volume of the mix on the fly to add some spiciness to your gig – you can always use the channel fader – which has some resistance but is easy to get used to. Expect everything to last a while – the construction is sturdy and robust – it will take a lot of abuse from you to break something.
It comes with a quality sound card and acts as an audio interface if you decide to plug it into your laptop. XONE:23 also offers complete mix control (so you can stop going back to your computer every time you want to change a parameter). For the price of this unit of DJ setup, you can’t really go wrong.
5) Pioneer DJ DJM-450
And here is another product from the most popular DJ gear company out there – DJM-450. It’s a smaller and more budget version of the mixer we’ve looked at earlier – with a few differences, of course. If you are debating what mixer to choose as your first one – try this bad boy. While it’s not the perfect fit for professional gigs due to the lack of monitors-out, it can be used for playing at parties and practicing at your home studio.
Coming with 8 effects, you can make your tracks more unique. Speaking of the effects, the most popular must-try ones are a delay, roll, and spiral – my personal favourites to add a cherry on the top of the cake. The layout is professional and intuitive – you’ll find your way around in no time. Remember – you don’t have to assign every fader, knob, and button – make this battle mixer to work the way you want it to.
Another thing I like is that it comes with a rekordbox DJ software activation code -which means you don’t have to spend any extra money to try it out. And it works with both Windows and Mac. Note the quality of the faders of this particular mixer – they will last you a while even with the most intense scratching practices. It’s a sore spot for every DJ, but there is nothing to worry about with DJM-450.
The equalizer on the mixer lets you create the balance in your mix – by adjusting highs, mids, and lows on each channel. It’s all pretty straightforward and standard here – everything a beginner is looking for. Plus, considering it’s one of the most popular budget mixers out there – you’ll find a million tutorials on how to set it up and use it.
Things to Consider When Buying a DJ Mixer
Battle mixers aren’t the most affordable piece of gear – so you should know what you are looking for. This little checklist will help you a little, so let’s get to it.
1) How many channels does a mixer need?
Before you start worrying about sound quality and a number of other features, you should make sure the mixer you buy has the desired number of channels. Depending on your DJ setup, you need at least two channels for both your decks.
2) How many inputs does a mixer need?
As a rule of thumb, the number of inputs is always higher than the number of channels. That’s because you can usually choose the input signal for the channel with a press of a button of a flick of a switch. As a result, you can have 2 turntables, for example, and switch between them whenever you please – that’s the essence of DJing after all.
3) Does a mixer need a mic input?
While microphones aren’t incredibly popular among DJs, you can often see them announcing something at night clubs – that’s pretty much all you need a mic input in your mixer for – plug in your mic, preferably dynamic, and you are good to go — nothing complicated here.
4) Does a mixer need a channel EQ?
Most of the mixers these days have channel equalizers built-in, even the budget ones. It’s a set of knobs to adjust the high, mid, and low frequencies of your mix up to your liking. The best bet is to get one with separate EQs for each channel.
However, it’s still worth noting. The last thing you want to do is to return your piece of gear simply because you’ve overlooked one of the essential elements of every mixer.
5) How many level meters does a mixer need?
Level meters indicate the volume levels of either the main output or each channel’s outputs. The clearer the picture you have – the better. That’s why it’s always better to get a battle mixer with a level meter for each channel. However, if the device only comes with one – it’s not a big deal – it’s relatively simple to find your way around it – especially when first starting out.
6) How many gain knobs does a mixer need?
Gain knobs are there to control the output volume. Your best bet is looking for a mixer with a gain knob on each channel to have more control of your mix.
7) How many outputs does a mixer need?
There are typically at least 3 outputs on every somewhat professional battle mixer – master, recording, and monitor – 4 if you include the headphones jack. However, not all beginner mixers have all 4 – sometimes they only carry a bare minimum of 2 – master output and the headphones jack (check out which headphones are the best for DJing)
8) Does a mixer need any effects or a sampler?
Good question. The short answer is “no” – everything can be done through your laptop in 99% of situations. Moreover, most beginner DJs barely ever use these function – there are far more critical fundamentals out there that they need to get a hold of. After all, what’s the point of using a number of effects on a sound that’s done poorly – get the fundamentals right first!
Hopefully, this list of best DJ mixers was helpful for you – we talked about the main features and capabilities of the 5 mixers mentioned above, learned what you should consider before buying one, and a few other things. Remember that oftentimes, especially with mixers, you get what you pay for.
You can find a few diamonds in the dirt here and there but if it seems to be too good to be true – it’s likely it – so be cautious! Overall, the DJ gear elements I’ve mentioned here are trendy among DJs, and you can’t really go wrong with them – just decide on what budget you have and what features you need – the previous section will help you with that if you’ve skipped it.
Last update on 2021-01-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API