DJ Mixers are the heart of any DJ booth.
It doesn’t matter what you’re trying to accomplish with your setup, if you don’t have a DJ mixer, then you’re out of luck. After all, DJ mixers are what allow DJs to mix and manipulate the tracks in their list. Without them, your kit is little more than a home music system.
Since mixers are so valuable, it’s important to think carefully about what you need for your kit.
That’s why we’ve created this ultimate guide to the Best DJ Mixers of 2020.
We’re going to discuss everything from the top features of the leading mixers, to how much you can expect to spend on a sensational system.
Let’s get started.
The features to expect in your DJ Mixer
Let’s start by covering what you can expect from a DJ mixer.
Your mixer is the device that lets you tap into various components of your software. Some of these tools are made with specific software programs in mind; others are intended for use with multiple programs. It all depends on where you buy.
The core of your mixer will be the crossfade functionalities that allow you to fade in and out of effects as smoothly as possible. You’ll need a 3-band EQ at the very least.
Some of the more expensive pieces on the market are pretty extensive, with a host of diverse tools to choose from. However, these products are also more complex, intended for the advanced DJ. On the other hand, you can also find mixers designed specifically for beginners.
Some of the most valuable features to consider when buying your mixer include:
Channels: How many channels are you going to need? Most mixers come with a minimum of two channels, which means plugging in two different audio sources. Four-channel mixers are also quite common, particularly for those with more experience.
Software: Some mixers come with software included, or they’re attached to a specific software solution. Others give you more freedom to work with a tool you choose.
Effects: Effects on a mixer are what allow you to play around with the way your music sounds, these often include volume controls, EQ, crossfaders, headphone jacks, outputs, and other similar options.
A DJ mixer can also come with a range of other options, like USB connectivity to plug in your tools, filters, and integrated audio interfaces. However, the more features you have, the more you’re likely to pay, so keep that in mind.
Identifying the Best DJ Mixer
So, how do you separate the best DJ mixers from the other options?
Well, it all depends on what you need. Most DJ mixers will give you two input channels that you can blend using level controls and cross-faders. The audio you create is then delivered to a main output and a cue headphone output. This means that you can hear the track you’re creating.
If you’re a more advanced user, then you may want to explore options that offer more than this. For instance, four or more input channels often appear on more expensive mixers. Figuring out how many ins and outs or I/O you need means considering your position as a DJ. More I/O means more flexibility and better future-proofing. However, they also mean extra work learning how to use everything, and more cash.
If you’re still in the early stages of your career, or you know you don’t need more than two channels, you may prefer to stick with something more basic.
Other points to think about include:
Durability: Your mixer needs to be well-made and reliable. The best device will be strong enough to take with you to any gig within a moment’s notice. Since you’re going to be using it regularly, look for something that can stand the test of time.
Pricing: As mentioned above, DJ mixers come in a range of sizes and formats. Some are intended for professionals, with high price-tags attached. The more features you want, the more you’ll need to pay. However, there is some variance between different brands too.
Purpose: What are you trying to do with your mixer? Do you want something that’s digitally-compatible so that you can make the most of your available application sand software? Do you need something basic for mixing with CDJs and two channels? The purpose of your set-up will make a huge difference in your decision.
Effects: Most DJ mixers will come with some manner of channel EQ, as well as a low/high pass filter. Higher price mixers also come with additional effects, like phasers, rhythm delays, one-shot FX, and more.
Different types of DJ Mixer
Mixers come in many different styles to support different DJs and set-ups.
Knowing what kind of DJ system you’re looking for will give you a head-start on shopping for the best DJ mixers.
Digital vs analog DJ mixer
Digital mixers are devices that can take an electrical signal and transform it into a numeric representation. In this format, you can split the sound into different frequencies, and organize it with a computer software system. The digital mixer is basically an extension of your laptop, and they all require computer hardware.
On the other hand, an audio or “analog” DJ mixer is more old-school. These tools don’t offer any digital conversion process, which means that you can set up and go without a laptop. Because the sounds are warmer, and more natural, audio mixers that are “analog” tend to be the preference for audiophiles and people who collect records.
Analog mixers are exceptionally reliable and easy to use, and most DJ software can work alongside these mixers if you need some extra effects. Additionally, vinyl turntables can plug naturally into an analog DJ mixer with no issues. Though analog options are cheaper than their digital counterparts, they can still offer a fantastic experience.
Scratch DJ mixer vs. regular DJ mixer
Another consideration to make when choosing your DJ mixer is whether you want a scratch product or a regular “normal” mixer.
Scratch mixers focus a lot more heavily on the cross-fading functionality. They have a very robust crossfader, which allows them to cut scratch audio in and out of your music with precision and speed. While many basic mixers have cross-fading built-in, it doesn’t compare to what you get from a scratch mixer.
Scratch mixers are often amazingly simple and elegant devices because DJs don’t want too many bells and whistles to keep track of. However, regular mixers are generally much more accessible for beginners. If you’re not particularly interested in scratch mixing, then a regular mixer will give you all the functionality you need, without this extra feature.
What is a Rotary DJ mixer?
There’s also one other form of DJ mixer that you may need to be aware of when you’re choosing the solution that’s right for you. Rotary mixers are designed to use knobs to control your sound, rather than faders. This means that you twist something, rather than pushing a button up and down.
As DJs continue to move away from heavily digital-focused gear and search for more natural sounds, rotary mixers are gaining steam. Many of these models come with expensive components, high-definition audio, and a huge price tag.
The Best DJ Mixer options of 2020
Now we’ve introduced you to what you might need to consider when choosing the best DJ mixer, let’s take a look at some of the top performers on the market.
This is one of the most popular DJ mixer models on the market today, offering an analog design with a 6+2 channel layout. That means that you get a lot of freedom for creating the perfect sounds. There are two independent USB connections, each offering 6 stereo inputs and outputs. Additionally, the Allen & Heath also comes with Traktor Scratch Pro 2 certification.
There are two independent headphone cueing systems, and a range of Dual Xone VCF filters and crunch distortion to experiment with. However, some people won’t appreciate the fact that they can only access two external channels.
Pioneer is one of the market leaders in the DJ landscape for a good reason. This DJM-900NXS2 is one of the most attractive products on the market, offering the company’s first 64-bit mixing processor for a more nuanced sound experience. The fader curves and EQ are fine-tuned for performance, and the versatile system comes with an independent send/return function.
With 2 USB ports and 4 phono inputs, you have a lot of freedom to set your device up in the way that works best for you. However, some people feel that this device isn’t as robust as it should be. Additionally, it’s not compatible with Traktor DVS.
Another excellent option from Pioneer DJ mixer is the DJM-V10. This solution comes with an excellent audio spec and some of the best controllability you’ll find on the market. One particularly compelling feature of this device is the per-channel compression, isolator, and the wide range of routing options. This means that the mixer will appeal massively to more advanced DJs.
The Pioneer DJM-V10 DJ mixer could definitely do with a better screen, and we’d appreciate seeing some more flexibility when it comes to channel filters. However, there’s still a great deal to offer in this fantastic device.
The full-featured battle mixer from Rane is built to stand the test of time, with die cast aluminium FX paddles and a 180-degree rotation functionality. There’s a 4.3 inch touchscreen for managing your wave display, and an X/Y control along with user customizations and song selection.
Rane provides an unrestricted performance with dual Flex FX engines, and stacked Serato FX. You can also access a full on-board Serato DJ pro transport and pad control. Unfortunately, the on-screen events are a lot to take in sometimes, and it’s worth noting that this device is a little more expensive than its counterparts.
If you’re looking for something a little more straightforward, then take a look at this Pioneer DJM-250MK2. Without doubt, this is a wonderful option if you are looking for the best DJ mixer for beginners. This fantastic device comes with a similar compact footprint to its original version, but it comes with extra features, like an updated Magvel crossfader, and color FX filter knobs.
The built-in soundcard is DVS Rekordbox ready, and the mixer also comes with all the Rekordbox software you need. Because you get the license included with the box, you can jump straight into your mixing. However, there are no midi controls or control vinyl options included.
If you’re looking for something sensational from the rotary DJ mixer landscape, the Rane MP2015 could be it. This digital mixer comes with fantastic build-quality, great sound, and a very natural music mixing experience, with knobs instead of faders. The Rane comes with four channels and a sub-mix channel that you can use to link other options together.
Another big bonus of the Rane as one of the best DJ mixers is that it comes with compatibility for both Serato and Traktor with no additional hardware.
If you’re looking for something that’s particularly good for use with Traktor, then you’ll love the Native Instruments solution here. This comes with a sturdy and reliable aluminium chassis, as well as intuitive control for flux and Macro modes. There’s a scratch timecode for vinyl and CDs, and this device is absolutely packed full of functionality.
Great for those who want to jump into their mixing with ease and simplicity, this compact device is great for beginners and anyone who loves experimenting with Traktor software. However, it’s not the most powerful controller on the market.
The Allen & Heath Xone: 23 comes with a 4 stereo channel USB soundcard, a USB X:Link for power and midi data, and an ethernet connection for your Xone controllers. There’s a voltage control filter system so you can have more control over the high-pass and low-pass filters in your set-up.
Additionally, the Allen & Heath ensures that you can seamlessly integrate all of your external FX into your set-up too. There’s even a 3 band total kill EQ included. However, you won’t have any gain control for your software inputs.
This sensational product from Pioneer comes with MAGVEL Fader Pro, which is the durable magentic crossfader offered for smoother control. You also get custom FX buttons, and a filter FX to add high or low-pass filters to your channels.
There are style levels included that allow you to turn effects on and off quickly using large and convenient levers. You can also trigger your FX for a few seconds, or lock arrangements according to your needs. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to combine multiple Pioneer DJ or Serato DJ effects.
The Reloop Elite is a high-level DVS mixer designed for the Serato DJ Pro software. This product was developed in collaboration with turntable artists around the world, so you know it’s good. The system comes with 16 velocity sensitive RGB performance pads, as well as a dual 24—bit interface with non-contact Innofader Pro solutions.
The Reloop Elite comes with Serato DJ pro with DVS support and 2 Serato Control records with noise mapping technology. This mixer sounds and loos great, but it’s missing some of the paddles and high FX standards that you might be sued to with other devices.
This 2-channel battle style mixer was designed for the Serato DJ + DVS environment. The system is upgraded with an exclusive GALILEO crossfader that was co-designed with the Pro X Fade team. Additionally, it comes with 8 RGB color pads for controlling samples and cues.
The Mixars product is fully MIDI mappable, and it has an integrated 24-bit audio interface. This device is also surprisingly affordable when you consider the amount of control you get. However, it is still quite basic compared to some of the other options on the market.
With the Behringer Pro mixer, you can enjoy a versatile and engaging piece of music technology. The device comes with a fantastic performance and a convenient setup that’s easy to work with. You get a lot of customization options to choose from, and the ultra low-noise setup means that you can deliver a professional experience.
This product seems to be a good option for beginners who are learning how to make the most of their DJ equipment and effects. The knobs on this device can be a little inconsistent, however, and the faders can have issues too.
The Pioneer DJM-450 is a fantastic piece of equipment with a robust professional layout. Mixing on this device feels highly intuitive and instinctive thanks to the compelling design, which takes its roots from the DJM-900NXS2 mixer. You get a smooth mixing experience with a robust Magvel fader setup for excellent control.
This device also comes with a free Rekordbox DJ license included, so you don’t have to splash out extra for your software. However, there’s no booth output on this product.
An incredible piece of hardware and a robust machine, the Reloop RMX-90 DJ Mixer has a lot to offer. This extremely well-built powerhouse is excellent for handling a range of conditions, including club-quality sessions. You get a clear and punchy sound with plenty of customization to transform your music experience.
The small nature of this product does mean that it’s more likely to be used in smaller environments, like a lounge, or in the home. However, you will need to spend quite a bit on this device, which could take it out of some people’s range.
The Numark brand is famous for producing some of the best high-quality DJ equipment on the market, with sleek and responsive controls that are perfect for beginners and pros alike. The M6 USB DJ mixer comes with everything you need to unlock cutting edge tech and amazing functionality.
This mixer comes with four channels, which means that you get a lot more flexibility than you would with the average entry-level mixer. On the down-side, this device is quite large and clunky, which means it’s exceedingly difficult to transport.
The amazing Behringer pro mixer DX626 is a professional 4-channel low-noise DJ mixer that comes with it’s own exceedingly good phono preamps. This device features an intelligence dual 1BPM counter with super-smooth faders that are designed to stand the test of time. Additionally, the VCA-controlled crossfader ensures reliability too.
This product feels very professional to use, but it’s generally better for those who are in the early stages of their DJ journey. The BPM monitor can be problematic at times, and the headphone jack is a little fiddly.
So, which is the Best DJ Mixer?
Giving a definitive answer for “which DJ mixer is best?” is complicated.
Your choice will depend heavily on you. You’ll need to think carefully about what you want to accomplish with your tech, and where you are in your DJ journey. The right choice will always depend on personal preference, which means that you might need to do some experimentation before you find something that really resonates with you.
If you need something that will deliver on a budget, then the Numark M6 is an excellent choice. It’s great if you want four channels to start with. On the other hand, if you’re looking for something with club-level performance, you can’t go wrong with the Allen & Heath Xone:96.
What’s your favourite and best DJ mixer? Let us know in the comments!