Mixing Magic: A Guide to Choosing the Best DJ Mixing Equipment

DJing has exploded in popularity in recent years. With the advent of digital DJ gear, it’s now easier than ever for aspiring DJs to get started on their journey toward mixing mastery. One of the first steps is choosing the right DJ mixing equipment. The mixing board, headphones, controllers and other gear are absolutely essential for mixing tracks smoothly and creating great mixes to get the crowd moving.

In this post, we’ll highlight the top 5 DJ mixers on the market and provide tips for choosing the best gear for your needs and budget. Whether you’re a beginner looking for an entry-level option or a pro DJ seeking high-end equipment for the club, we’ve got you covered. Let’s get started!

The Top 5 DJ Mixers for Scratching, Blending and Mixing

Pioneer DJM-S9 – Flagship 2 Channel Mixer for Serato DJs

The Pioneer DJM-S9 is the flagship 2 channel serato DJ mixer packed with features and performance capabilities. This monster mixer has 16 velocity-sensitive RGB illuminated performance pads, dual high-speed USB ports, a built-in 4-channel sound card, and a Magvel crossfader for customized response.

Some of the standout features on the DJM-S9 include the pads, which can be used for setting cue points, triggering samples, and activating cool Serato effects. The mixer has colored, illuminated buttons so you can instantly see what mode you’re in. The FX section offers 5 onboard effects with tons of customizable parameters to twist and manipulate the sound.

In terms of build quality and layout, the DJM-S9 is constructed of durable steel and has a spacious, intuitive layout. The Magvel crossfader is perhaps the most customizable DJ crossfader on the planet. You can adjust the slope, curve, cut lag and tension to perfectly suit your scratching style. The channel faders are also top-notch quality for longevity.

The pros of the Pioneer DJM-S9 are the deep integration with Serato DJ, the ability to operate in DVS mode with turntables/CDJs using control vinyl, and simply the abundance of features for live remixing and manipulations. The only con might be the high price point over $2,000, but for professional Serato DJs, this mixer is well worth the cost.

The verdict: The Pioneer DJM-S9 is arguably the top choice for professional level Serato DJs seeking the absolute best quality mixer packed with features. If you perform regular gigs, enter DJ battles, or just want pro-grade club-style gear, the DJM-S9 is the ideal 2-channel mixer.

Rane Seventy-Two – Premium 2 Channel Battle Mixer

Next up is the Rane Seventy-Two mixer, which is a 2 channel battle-style mixer created with the Serato DJ in mind. This mixer has 12 velocity-sensitive multi-colored RGB pads with aftertouch, a high-definition touchscreen built right into the chassis, 4 USB ports for maximum connectivity, and a replaceable Mag Three fader with perfect tension adjust.

Some of the standout features that make this mixer great for turntablists and club DJs are the extra large pads with the brilliant RGB lights, the multiple pad modes including slicer modes for chopping up beats, the onboard screen so you don’t need the laptop visually, and the adjustable faders with air suspension mechanisms for smooth control.

From a construction standpoint, the Seventy-Two has a sleek matte black metal chassis that looks and feels premium. All of the knobs, buttons, and faders have a quality feel, with the line faders having just the right amount of tension. The spacing and layout make it easy to operate the controls smoothly.

In terms of benefits, the Seventy-Two offers plug-and-play integration with Serato thanks to the built-in interface. The battle-ready durability and customizable controls make this perfect for scratch DJs. The main downside is the high price tag, which is over $1700.

The verdict: The Rane Seventy-Two is arguably the top choice for battle DJs and turntablists who want a premium 2-channel mixer. The blend of customize-ability, Serato integration, and high quality faders and controls make the Seventy-Two the closest thing to the perfect 2-channel battle mixer.

Denon DJ SC6000M – Feature-Packed Media Player

The Denon DJ SC6000M is a professional CDJ-style media player and controller for the modern DJ. It has a huge 10 inch touch screen display with spinning virtual platters, high torque motorized jog wheels, and onboard processing for standalone capability. Other specs include 8 RGB backlit performance pads and balanced XLR outputs.

The SC6000M stands out for the large high resolution display which makes using it feel like a software experience. The jog wheels are high resolution and have adjustable hardware torque to suit your preference. All of the standard playback and cueing controls you’d expect on a CDJ are present.

In terms of construction, the SC6000M has an all-metal chassis that feels premium. The intuitive layout along with the deep integration with Denon’s Engine software and hardware ecosystem make this media player extremely versatile.

Some of the pros are the standalone capability so you don’t need a laptop, the built-in audio interface for easy connectivity, the multitude of input/output options, and the seamless integration Engine Prime software for preparing your tracks and Engine OS hardware for manipulating tracks live. There are hardly any downsides to this media player.

The verdict: The Denon SC6000M is arguably the top choice for DJs who use the Engine ecosystem. The standalone capability, premium quality construction, and adjustable platters make this extremely versatile media player perfect for just about any DJ setup or configuration.

Allen & Heath Xone 96 – Flagship 4+1 Channel Analog Mixer

The Xone 96 from Allen & Heath is the flagship 4+1 channel analog DJ mixer. This high quality mixer has dual stereo USB ports, a 25-bit 96 kHz DAC (digital-to-analog converter), 4 stereo channels, a flexible mic/aux channel, and Allen & Heath’s legendary analog voltage controlled filter.

The Xone 96 stands out for its exceptional sound quality and the array of customizable analog controls. You get 3-band EQs with sweepable mids and Allen & Heath’s unique analog Xone filter to shape the sound. The build quality has strong attention to detail from the sturdy chassis to the high-grade components.

In terms of layout, the Xone 96 provides a spacious, clearly labeled interface that makes mixing intuitive. The abundance of knobs and buttons give you endless sound-shaping possibilities. Combine this with the warm, rich analog sound and you have an extremely versatile mixer.

The benefits of the Xone 96 are the excellent warm, rich sound quality, the versatility of integrating external digital sources via the dual USB ports, and the top-tier quality components that should stand the test of time. The only minor downside is the lack of a built-in multi-channel sound card.

The verdict: The Allen & Heath Xone 96 is arguably the top choice for DJs who want a high quality, versatile analog 4+1 channel mixer. It’s perfect for house, techno, and disco DJs who love that classic Xone sound and want endless creative possibilities when mixing and performing.

Pioneer DJM-450 – Feature-Packed 2-Channel Mixer for New DJs

The Pioneer DJM-450 is a professional 2 channel DJ mixer with built in sound card targeted at new and intermediate level DJs. It has 16 multi-colored velocity sensitive pads, USB ports for computer connection, a Magvel crossfader, and balanced XLR master outputs.

Some key features on the DJM-450 are the pads, which allow you to set cues, loop sections, and trigger samples on the fly. The Sound Color FX let you spice up your mixes with filter sweeps, noise, pitch, and more. The smooth Magvel crossfader maintains the quality and feel Pioneer is known for.

In terms of construction, the metal chassis is reinforced for durability, and the layout is compact while allowing ample room to operate the various controls. The knobs and buttons feel firmly attached, which is important for gear that will get heavy use.

Pros of the DJM-450 are the integrated sound card for easy software connectivity, compatibility with Serato DJ software, the high-quality Magvel fader, and the performance pads in an affordable package for new DJs. A minor con is the lack of individual FX sections for each pad. But the FX loop gets the job done.

The verdict: The Pioneer DJM-450 is arguably the best DJ mixer for beginner and intermediate DJs who want professional features on a budget. It packs essentials like the Magvel fader, performance pads, Sound Color FX, and Serato support into a high quality yet affordable package that new DJs will appreciate.

How to Choose the Best DJ Mixing Equipment

Now that we’ve highlighted some of the top mixers, let’s discuss the factors to consider when choosing the right mixer and related gear to suit your needs:

Factor 1 – Software Compatibility

Make sure the mixer integrates seamlessly with whichever DJ software you use, whether it’s Serato DJ, Traktor Pro, Rekordbox, Virtual DJ, or another piece of software. Many mixers are designed specifically for certain software, so do research to ensure compatibility. You may need special Timecode vinyl or CDs to work with DVS systems.

Factor 2 – Number of Channels

Most beginner mixers have 2 channels which is enough for blending two turntables or CDJs. As you advance, you may want a 4 or 6+ channel mixer to allow connecting additional media players, samplers, synthesizers and other gear. Consider both your current needs and future ambitions when deciding on channels.

Factor 3 – Analog vs Digital Mixers

Analog mixers like the Xone offer the classic hands-on control feel preferred by scratch DJs and turntablists. The knobs and buttons physically alter circuitry. Digital mixes integrate better with DJ software and usually offer more effects, cues, loops, samples and extras. There are also hybrid digital/analog mixers. Choose the format that best fits your DJing goals and style.

Factor 4 – Fader & Crossfader Quality

Most professional mixers have replaceable faders rated for longevity and resistance to dust/corrosion. Ensure the line faders and crossfaders are high enough quality to withstand heavy usage. You want faders that will last years, not months before needing replacement. Good faders prevent sudden failure mid-set.

Factor 5 – Sound Quality

DJ mixers range from cheap options with budget components to elite club-level sound quality. Key factors that affect audio clarity and resolution are high-bit A/D D/A converters, balanced XLR outputs, quality capacitors/op-amps, and internal circuitry design. Be prepared to upgrade your mixer as your ears improve over time.

Factor 6 – Effects & Additional Features

Consider your need for built-in effects processors like echo, flanger, filter, phaser and reverb. Such FX allow you to add creativity and texture to mixes on the fly. Also look for extras like touch screens, BPM counters, booth monitoring, microphone inputs, and pad modes for cues and loops. More options provide greater creative versatility.

Factor 7 – Portability

Smaller compact 2-channel mixers are better suited for mobile DJs who need to transport gear frequently. Larger club-oriented mixers with 4+ channels can be quite heavy. Make sure the mixer’s size and weight meets your portability needs. Some have rack ears to conveniently install in gear cases.

Factor 8 – Build Quality & Durability

For active DJs, a mixer will see a lot of wear and tear. Look for metal housings and internal reinforcement to withstand abuse. The knobs, buttons, and pads should all be strongly attached – cheap plastic builds won’t hold up. Pay for quality now to avoid replacing an entire mixer shortly down the road.

Factor 9 – Your Budget

As with any gear purchase, your budget helps narrow down the options. You can find entry-level mixers under $300 targeted at beginners who want to learn the basics of mixing. Expect to spend roughly $500-700 for standard professional-grade sound quality and features. For the ultimate club experience, go premium.

Factor 10 – Ergonomics

If possible, try using the mixer in person at a DJ gear shop. Make sure the positioning of the knobs, faders, buttons and pads fits your workflow and style. You want to be able to smoothly operate controls without excessive reaching. Proper spacing prevents fatigue when DJing extended sets.

Frequently Asked Questions About DJ Mixing Equipment

Q: What are the essential pieces of gear every DJ needs to get started?

A: The essentials that every DJ needs to get started are 1) Something to play the music on – this could be turntables, CD decks, controllers, or a laptop. 2) A DJ mixer – preferably at least a 2-channel mixer. 3) Headphones for cueing up tracks and pre-listening. Quality powered speakers are also vital for anyone doing gigs. With those core items, you can learn the basics of beatmatching and blending music.

Q: For a starter 2-channel DJ mixer, what key features should I look for?

A: The key features to look for in a starter 2-channel DJ mixer are replaceable faders rated for durability, usually around 100,000 cycles or more. At least 2 stereo line inputs for connecting your decks, whether turntables or CDJs. Basic EQ knobs for controlling high, mid and low frequencies. Gain knobs for each channel to balance track volumes. Headphone cue section for pre-listening to tracks. And finally, master stereo outputs to send the audio to speakers or a PA system. Extra features like effects are a nice bonus.

Q: Is it better for new DJs to use DJ software or hardware when first starting out?

A: For brand new DJs who are just learning, an all-in-one digital DJ controller that comes bundled with DJ software is recommended. This simplifies the setup process and gives you all the waveforms, visual aids, and utilities provided by software. Once comfortable with the basics of beatmatching and blending, you can add turntables, CDJs or modular gear to customize your setup.

Q: What is the main difference between a battle DJ mixer and a club DJ mixer?

A: Battle style DJ mixers like the Rane Seventy-Two are specifically designed for scratch DJs and turntablists. They have shorter faders for quick manipulation, easier access to customization controls, replaceable crossfader parts, and signatures features like hamster switches and adjustable crossfader curves. Club mixers on the other hand focus more on premium sound quality and built-in effects tailored towards blended, seamless mixing.

Q: Why do some high-end professional DJ mixers cost well over $2000 dollars?

A: Premium high-end club mixers have ultra high quality components that justify the steep price tag. This includes quartz or optical faders that never need replacing, discrete analog circuitry for the cleanest possible sound, balanced XLR outputs, additional channels and inputs, professional-grade effects processors, and extremely durable metal construction built to withstand nightly club use for decades. They are designed for longevity and maximum audio quality.

Q: What is the easiest way to hook up my DJ mixer to my laptop computer?

A: If your mixer lacks a built-in multi-channel sound card, you can purchase an external USB audio interface that connects to your mixer’s output. You then route your DJ software through that interface. Many modern pro mixers have dedicated USB ports to send and receive audio directly to computer software for easy integration.

Q: What should I look out for when buying used DJ mixers and gear?

A: When buying used gear, carefully test every knob, fader, button, and connection to check functionality. Physically inspect equipment for any signs of corrosion, abuse or excess dirt/dust buildup which could indicate neglect. Ask sellers specifics such as the age of parts like the crossfader and whether they are still operable or need replacement. And as always, confirm the used equipment works flawlessly with your existing configuration before purchasing.

In Conclusion…Choose Your Mixer Wisely!

In summary, choosing the right DJ mixer is incredibly important, as it literally serves as the central “brain” that connects all your gear and controls the blend. Take time to carefully consider your budget, current needs vs future ambitions in terms of channels, software integration, analog vs digital, features tailored to your DJ style, and connectivity options. Do your research and read reviews before choosing a mixer. While entry models get the basic job done, you ideally want gear that will last for years of gigging.

Setting up the mixer properly to integrate with turntables, CDJs, laptops, drum machines and other components is also crucial – don’t hesitate to ask other DJs for advice. A quality mixer that suits your workflow will take your DJ skills to the next level. Seamless transitions, crisp EQs and robust effects let the creativity flow. Thank you for reading our guide to picking the perfect DJ mixer and related gear! Let us know if you have any other equipment questions. Now get mixing!

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