Following last week’s look at the top five DJ CD / media players, here we’ve listed our top five entry-level DJ mixers for you to consider (in no particular order).
Now, you might ask: “Why would a digital DJ want a standalone mixer? Why not just get a controller with everything you need built-in Standalone mixers are a flexible choice for DJs who have used CDs and vinyl in the past and they typically offer features you only find on the higher-end controllers (FX send/return, hardware filters, multiple line/phone inputs, record outs, for example).
Some standalone mixers also have built-in sound cards, giving you the best of both worlds, and we’ve favoured those here (and generally here, we’ve favoured mixers with digital-friendly innovations).
But even if you already have a larger mixer (or no mixer at all), it is always worth having a two-channel one knocking around for those times when you just need to, well, mix a couple of sources together.
So, let’s take a look…
4 Budget DJ mixers
Allen & Heath Xone:23C
The Allen & Heath Xone:23C is a well-built, great sounding and versatile two-channel analogue/digital hybrid mixer. Each channel has full-kill three-band EQ and there are headphones level and cue/mix controls – but no split cue. The main draw of this mixer (aside from the sound card) is the Allen & Heath trademark VCF filter section. There is only one filter, this is an entry-level mixer after all, but one is better than none and we all know how good they sound. Overall, the Xone:23C is a great choice for the digital DJ who also has analogue sources to mix with.
Pros: Versatile and has the much-loved Allen & Heath filters (without the click detents), popular with the modding community (Joey reports seeing one modded into a rotary mixer!).
Cons: The most expensive mixer on the list, (the Xone:23 is US$100 cheaper but that doesn’t have a built-in sound card). Only comes boxed with MixVibes Cross DJ LE software, not something more well-known.
Buy it on Amazon: Allen & Heath Xone:23C
Read our full review: Review & Video: Allen & Heath Xone:23C Digital DJ Mixer
The two-channel DJM-250MK2 is built like a tank with metal construction all around. The original DJM-250 was an excellent mixer, and the MK2 comes with everything that you would expect with a few extras. A Magvel crossfader like the one used in the DJM-900NXS2 has been included alongside Sound Color FX filter and parameter knobs.
The addition of a sound card means you can use the DJM-250MK2 with Rekordbox DJ and it is also DVS-ready (the mixer comes bundled with licence keys for both Rekordbox DJ and Rekordbox DVS), although you will have to purchase the timecoded vinyl separately. You can switch between USB (for Rekordbox DJ use), line, or phono inputs for each of the two channels. This means once you’re set up, you don’t need to keep meddling with cables at the back.
Pros: It’s a solid, DVS-enabled mixer that gets you on the Pioneer DJ “ladder”.
Cons: On the expensive side for an entry-level mixer.
Buy it on Amazon: Pioneer DJ DJM-250MK2 Mixer
Read our full review: Review & Video: Pioneer DJ DJM-250MK2 Two-Channel Mixer
DJ-Tech DIF-1S Scratch Mixer
The DJ-Tech DIF-1S is a great value scratch mixer that comes with a mini Innofader as standard. It is well-built and has been made with DVS in mind. Overall, it is a standard two-channel mixer but it doesn’t have full-kill EQs and its VU meters aren’t the best.
It has some fancy internal circuitry that allows you to quickly switch into / from DVS mode (using your own sound card), saving you the aggro of manually changing your cables around whenever you want. Not having a master/cue mix knob will for some be a big oversight, but for the price, there isn’t a lot else to moan about.
Pros: Fantastic value and perfect crossfader for scratching.
Cons: No balanced outputs and no full-kill EQ. The lack of master cue will disappoint some.
Buy it on Amazon: DJ-Tech DIF-1S Scratch Mixer
In form, the Reloop RMX22i is a traditional two-channel mixer with decent VU meters and full-kill EQs. It does come with a few twists in its tail though. Firstly, it has four onboard effects (filter, white noise, bit crush and gate) with two knobs per channel for easy tweaking. Secondly, it comes with a splitter cable that allows you to connect an iPad running DJ software in mono splitter mode, and control its audio output with the mixer.
There is no audio interface though, so this is a fully analogue affair.
Pros: Good build quality, comes onboard effects and a mono splitter cable for externally mixing with DJ software on an iPad. The addition of an Innofader will please scratch DJs.
Cons: No built-in sound card and no USB for charging said iPad.
Buy it on Amazon: Reloop RMX-22i
Read our full review: Review & Video: Reloop RMX-22i Mixer
As this list shows, there are several quality budget options out there for those beginner DJs and controller DJs who want a mixer for a modular set-up. Some of the mixers included have built-in sound cards, so you can get the best of both worlds. All of the mixers listed are good options for first-time buyers and the more experienced alike.
Finally, if you’re really strapped for cash, you can’t go wrong with the Numark M2 – a long-running, stripped down model that’s an absolute bargain for US$85.
Which other DJ mixers do you think should be on this list? Which one are you using now? Which is the best you have used? Let us know in the comments below…