A DJ mixer is the centre piece of any serious DJ set-up, the thing you plug everything else into. Unless you DJ using an “all-in-one” controller or console (that therefore has a mixer built-in), you’ll need one of these.
As well as mixing the music sources together, mixers nowadays tend to have built-in audio interfaces, meaning they give you a way of plugging in a laptop and using DJ software.. Furthermore, they can also be Midi controllers, meaning you sometimes use their knobs, buttons and faders to control your DJ software.
Read this next: Roundup: 13 Best DJ Turntables
In this article, we’ll look at the different types of mixers, give you some of the questions you should be asking when choosing a DJ mixer, and then look at 13 of the best DJ mixers on the market right now. We also link to full Digital DJ Tips reviews for the majority of them.
- Different types of mixers
- Questions to ask when choosing a DJ mixer
- 5 Best Club Mixers
- 6 Best Scratch Mixers
- 3 Best Specialist Mixers
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Different types of mixers
On the outside, mixers fall into two main categories, scratch and club – we’ll discuss those in a second (there are also specialist/niche mixers, and we’ll look at a handful of those in this article, too).
As far as how mixers work, the big “divide” is whether the mixer is analogue or digital, which describes how it handles the signals fed to it, and whether or not it can interface with computers. Let’s look more closely at these differences:
A club mixer has the classic “four-channel” layout, and this category describes the mixers you’ll typically find in nightclubs, in a sector led by Pioneer DJ. That said, there are notable models from other brands too.
They tend to be designed to fit all kinds of purposes, and therefore have lots of inputs, outputs and features, for maximum flexibility.
Sometimes called “battle mixers”, they usually have just two channels, and a very clean “bottom third” around the crossfader, to facilitate quick crossfader tricks.
Scratch mixers usually also have Midi controls and a built-in audio interface, so you can use them to control DJ software while DJing with control vinyl on traditional turntables.
Any mixers that don’t easily fall into the “scratch” or “club” categories. These could be purists mixers designed for certain genres of music, or rotary mixers with no faders… look hard enough, and there are lots of weird and wonderful, super-niche models out there…
Digital mixers process audio signals digitally, accepting digital inputs from media players, and also converting signals to digital if needed, converting them back to analogue again to feed to speakers and headphones etc.
This type of mixer is usually also designed to work with laptop DJ software, without the need for separate audio interfaces, because they have analogue-to-digital and digital-to-analogue converters built-in.
Internally, an “analogue” mixer contains no digital audio circuitry, simply working with the analogue audio signals fed to it from media players, microphones and turntables.
These can be the simplest and cheapest, the most “traditional” type of DJ mixer, but at the same time, audiophiles may prefer high-end all-analogue mixers for their sound quality and audio characteristics.
However, to use this type of mixer with DJ software, you’ll need an external audio interface.
Read this next: Club Mixers vs Battle Mixers – Which Is Right For You?
Questions to ask when choosing a DJ mixer
Do I want a club-style mixer, a scratch-style mixer, or a specialist, niche model?
This will depend very much upon the type of DJ you are or want to be – but it’s worth getting this right, as the mixer types are very different in appearance and to use.
Do I want analogue or digital?
The answer will usually be “digital”, but if you’re not going to use the digital features (eg you want a mixer to just mix vinyl, or you already own an audio interface), or you just prefer the analogue “sound”, you still may want to consider an analogue mixer.
Is there a mixer that matches the media players I’m going for?
If so, it might be a good choice as it will match looks-wise, but more importantly it may have features that only work when you pair the units up.
Does it have replaceable faders?
At the very least you’ll be looking for a replaceable crossfader, but in many mixers, all the faders are replaceable.
What kind of on-board effects does it have?
Some mixers have few or none, others are comprehensive offering both manual controller effects, and “LFO” effects, which cycle in relation to the beat/BPM.
How many inputs does it have?
If you want to DJ with four decks, make sure your choice can accept four inputs and has four channels to control them. Mixers designed for scratch DJs only have two main channels, for instance.
Mixers tend to have more inputs than channels, which is normal, as you can normally switch which input you’d like each channel to handle at any given time.
How tightly can it tie to DJ software?
If you’re planning on using your mixer with a laptop, what controls can it give you over the software? Some mixers are designed to give you lots of this, others, not so much.
Do I really need to buy a mixer at all?
If you already own an older mixer, it could be that you can just add an audio interface to it in order to “convert” it and your existing turntables or media players into a DVS (Digital Vinyl System) to use with software, saving you the expense of replacing it.
Want more gear help? Grab your free PDF: The Digital DJ Gear Buyer’s Guide
5 Best Club Mixers
Allen & Heath Xone PX5
A four-channel club-style mixer with Allen & Heath’s analogue filter plus extra DJ effects, and a built-in audio interface.
✅ Allen & Heath quality at a cut-down price compared to the Xone:96
❌ Only a single filter for all the channels, audio interface doesn’t work with Serato
Allen & Heath Xone:96
The 2018 update to the iconic Xone:92 mixer, and a worthy successor.
✅ Everything that made the Xone:92 great, updated for the digital age
❌ No onboard effects
Denon DJ X1850 Prime
✅ Designed to integrate tightly with the SC Prime players, using its built-in hub
❌ Not worth the upgrade for owners of its predecessor, the X1800 Prime
Pioneer DJ DJM-750Mk2
Basically this looks and feels like the DJM-900NXS2 club-standard mixer, and inherits most of its features, but at half the price.
✅ For many DJs, this is all they’ll ever need
❌ On-board audio interface won’t work with Serato DJ
Pioneer DJ DJM-900NXS2
The club standard mixer, meaning you’ll find it just about everywhere you DJ, anywhere in the world.
✅ You can’t go wrong with a DJM-9000NXS2 – It’s the one mixer every pro DJ knows inside out
❌ Getting very old now, and surely due for a replacement at some point?
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6 Best Scratch Mixers
Pioneer DJ DJM-S7
The simpler of Pioneer DJ’s two current Serato DJ Pro scratch mixers/controllers alongside the DJM-S11, which together replace the iconic but old DJM-S9.
✅ Same look and feel as the DJM-S9, but with better specs and a lower price
❌ No screen to show you your waveforms like the DJM-S11
Pioneer DJ DJM-S11
Pioneer DJ’s flagship two-channel scratch mixer and Midi controller, that works with both Serato DJ Pro and Rekordbox DJ software.
✅ Unusual for a scratch mixer, this can also give you rudimentary control over decks three and four in software, via the touchscreen
❌ It goes too far towards fiddly/complicated for some scratch DJs, for whom the DJM-S7 would be a better choice
Read this next: Head To Head: Pioneer DJ DJM-S7 vs DJM-S11 Battle Mixers
Rane Seventy & Rane Seventy A-Trak Edition
Rane’s answer to the Pioneer DJ DJM-S7, this is a pro two-channel Serato DJ Pro-enabled mixer/Midi controller, particularly attractive in its A-Trak special edition.
✅ Does pretty much everything right, and pairs particularly nicely with the Rane Twelve deck controllers
❌ No screen to show you your waveforms like the Rane Seventy-Two
Rane’s flagship Serato DJ Pro enabled mixer/Midi controller, including a great built-in screen to show you your waveforms and to use for scrolling through your music library.
✅ If you want the ultimate Rane scratch set-up, this paired with the Rane Twelves is it
❌ Can feel quite complicated to use, with a steeper learning curve than some
A Serato DJ Pro-enabled two-channel scratch mixer and Midi controller along the lines of the Pioneer DJ DJM-S7.
✅ A pro mixer that pairs nicely with Reloop’s own RP8000Mk2 turntables
❌ Scratch DJs may miss paddle FX, and the hardware FX don’t sound as good as Pioneer DJ’s
Traktor Kontrol Z2
Two channel digital scratch mixer designed specially for Traktor software, with Midi controls onboard too.
✅ High quality mixer at a great price nowadays
❌ For Traktor users wanting a scratch mixer, nothing
3 Best Specialist Mixers
Pioneer DJM-V10 & DJM-V10-LF
A brace of six-channel digital mixers (one with a crossfader, one without) aimed at DJs with more complex mixing, routing and performing needs than average.
✅ A unique mixer, with many features you won’t find on anything else
❌ Surprisingly limited filters, and a tiny control screen
Price: $3299 / £2899 / €3399 (DJM-V10) and $3399 / £3089 / €3299 (DJM-V10-LF)
Our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Full reviews: Pioneer DJ DJM-V10 Mixer / Pioneer DJ DJM-V10-LF Mixer
Buy now: DJM-V10 Official Website / DJM-V10-LF Official Website
PLAYdifferently Model 1 & Model 1.4
With six and four channels respectively, otherwise these mixers are identical – fully analogue, with features designed to appeal to purist electronic DJs, a la Richie Hawtin.
✅ There’s nothing else quite like these mixers out there, meaning for the niche they appeal to, they’re perfect
❌ You may miss the crossfader, or an onboard audio interface
Price: $3249 / £3059 / €3111 (Model 1) and $2299 / £1950 / €2222 (Model 1.4)
Our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Full reviews: PLAYdifferently Model 1 Mixer / PLAYdifferently Model 1.4 Mixer
Buy now: Model 1 Official Website / Model 1.4 Official Website
Rotary mixers have a rich legacy in DJing, and with the MP2015, Rane brought the idea totally up to date with a one-of-a-kind four-channel model.
✅ Looks retro, but is actually a digital/analogue hybrid, certified to work as a DVS mixer with Serato DJ and Traktor Pro
❌ Can be hard to find nowadays
Want more gear help? Grab your free PDF: The Digital DJ Gear Buyer’s Guide
While there are many more mixers out there than just the 13 (or 15 if you count the variations discussed) featured here, if you’re planning on building a system of separates, you’re probably also looking to spend good money on it, so we’ve not included some of the very cheap, cut-down mixers that are out there.
One mixer that is maybe worthy of a mention is the Numark Scratch, which for $500 is actually a great intro mixer to Serato DJ Pro DVS – although even then, we think you’ll be looking to upgrade before too long. Save up and buy one on this list, though, and it will last you for years if not decades – you’ll never outgrow it.
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As always if you have any questions or we can help you in any way, please use the comments below – we’re an active DJ school run by real people, and would love to help.