If you want to take your music to a whole new level, it’s time to add a DJ mixer to your setup.
A mixer can do more than giving a smooth transition from one track to another, it also gives you unlimited possibilities to manipulate and enhance beats through different frequencies.
DJ mixers are big business – the brands compete hard for your cash. The hype makes it hard to pick out the best fit for you. I’ve looked at five of the best DJ mixers for beginners from the minimal Gemini MM1 to the features packed Mixars Duo Mk2. I think they represent an excellent mix of affordability, usability, and fun times in the spotlight.
Top DJ Mixers Comparison Chart
Below you’ll find a brief comparison of the top five models of beginner mixers I’ve reviewed.
|Product Name||Image||Weight||EQ Band||Rating|
Best DJ Mixer For The Money
|Allen & Heath XONE:23||11lb||3 Band|
|Mixars DUO MKII||11lb||3 Band|
|Gemini MM1||1.2lb||2 Band|
DJ Mixers Buyer’s Guide
A DJ mixer is the key component of any DJ set up in a club, party, wedding, or outdoor festival. The mixer is to a DJ what a wand is to a wizard – it’s how you make the magic happen. Buying any piece of kit for the first time is nerve-wracking – are you going to waste your money? Is it going to do what it says it will do? Are you getting the best DJ mixer for your money?
I’ve put together this DJ mixers buyer’s guide to give you a bit more information on what to look for, and any questions you might be asking yourself.
First, let’s answer the most important question.
What Exactly Is A DJ Mixer?
A mixer is the center piece of any DJ setup. It combines all the instrumental and musical tools a DJ needs. Those are frequency dials, EQ’s, encoders, faders, and crossfaders. Mixers connect up to your left and right decks, amp or powered speakers, and your laptop. It’s main purpose is to mix sounds, hence the name mixer.
The mixer makes smooth transitions between songs as you match the beats, fade one down, and ramp up the next. Or, the DJ uses the mixer to create sounds with loops, beats, and scratches and add in effects. In the hands of a skilled DJ, the mixer becomes a musical instrument, creating and adding to the tracks.
Why Buy a Mixer?
Investing in your own mixer means you don’t struggle with adapting your performance style to account for the installed equipment in clubs. Some clubs have high-quality, top-notch mixers and some, well some do not. Plus, your own mixer gives you a professional set up in any venue, where many DJ’s make their living from private parties, weddings or clubs.
Finally, using a mixer means you can practice your craft in your own time. You get to learn what your equipment will do and develop your preferred style with no one watching. The ability to practice lets you hone your performance, so when you are playing in front of the crowd, you are slick on the controls and can enjoy the event.
Thankfully, the price of mixers start from under $100, and go well in to the thousands. There is a mixer that will fit your budget, and although you might aspire to the top range mixer with the high price tag, there is nothing wrong with starting with a basic mixer when you’re just beginning.
When you start out learning any craft (and DJ’ing is a craft), you master your techniques and tools carefully until the basics become automatic – like driving a car. Starting with a top of the line mixer with heaps of effects and extra functions may not be the best for a beginner.
However, a low-mid range mixer gives you something to practice and master, so when you do get your hands on a deluxe model, you know what to do with it and can use it to enhance your performance and style.
If you don’t have to buy your mixer today, you can put together a shortlist of preferred makes and models and wait for a bargain in the sales. Alternatively, you can look at the models that have been replaced by a new and improved version as these will now be reduced, possibly bringing a higher quality mixer into your budget range.
I’d be cautious with buying second hand, you may pick up an absolute bargain, or the equipment may be too worn to be useful to you. If this is your first DJ mixer, then you don’t have the experience to know if there is a problem with the performance. I’d settle for an affordable model in factory fresh condition and consider a second-hand higher quality model when upgrading if the cost is an issue.
All DJ mixers share some essential features with variable quality between brands and individual preferences.
Mixers come in either a two-channel or a four-channel with the occasional two plus two mixers. The more affordable beginner DJ mixers will have two channels, and the high-end premium mixers may have four.
In simple terms, a channel is a signal path into the mixer – put simply two channels let you hook up two devices or two turntables. The type of devices you connect depends on the inputs available – phono or lines. If you are a fan of vinyl, you need phono input. Some mixers let you have two inputs into each channel, but with a two-channel DJ mixer, you can only mix two inputs at a time, not four. You have two inputs hooked up, but you switch between them.
A beginner DJ will meet all their needs with a two-channel mixer, but as you progress, you may want to add in effects and need the extra channels. Part of your buying decision is deciding if you get what you need now and upgrade later. Or, invest in a mixer with some space to grow into with added effects.
Each channel will have faders (volume control), EQ, gain, and routing options.
Three-band EQ (low, mid, high) gives you the most control. A very basic beginner mixer may only have two bands – treble and bass. I find an EQ kill switch essential for precise control.
The cross fader lets you transition from one channel to the other. It controls all the audio output and involves sliding the controls up and down or side to side. Descriptions of cross fader action include reverse and adjust the slope. Reversing how the cross fader works from left to right or right to left, is helpful in scratch DJing.
The curve or the slope of the cross fader controls how fast or slow the volume changes on each channel. Generally, you get sharp or smooth on basic DJ mixers, but it still gives you plenty of DJ mix tricks.
The feel of the knobs and the slide will impact on your experience of using the cross fader. Some DJs prefer a light touch, and others prefer a more decisive action. If possible, try out some different brands of DJ mixer to establish your preferred working style.
The cross fader gets a lot of use, so it’s handy if you can replace the cross fader yourself when it gets worn. When you get your DJ mixer, it pays to clean and lubricate the cross fader regularly, to keep it in optimum working condition.
Inputs and Outputs
I’ve briefly discussed this under channels, but there is a little bit more to it. As standard, you expect to be able to plug in a headphone so you can be lining up the next track, matching your beats, and concentrating on your mix. The best mixers give you a choice of 1/4” and 1/8” connection for your headphones, as this gives you plenty of options. All is not lost if you only get one headphone connection as adapters are available.
A microphone input is crucial so you can talk back to the crowd, make announcements, and all that jazz. Look out for helpful features like an automatic ducking down of the sound when you are talking.
A mixer with plenty of connectivity gives you room to add in an effects unit (FX) or a drum machine. One small feature to look out for is gold-plating – it’s not for bling, but better connections as gold increases the conductivity.
Soundcards and Software
A higher-end DJ mixer has a soundcard and software built-in along with plenty of other goodies. The soundcard turns your audio files into an audio signal you can amplify and play. A pro-sound card performs differently to the low-grade sound card installed in most PCs. Adding in a pro-audio sound card and DJ software into your set up is an additional expense, but it means you don’t need to replace the sound card and DJ software when you change mixer.
Not having a soundcard and DJ software is not a deal-breaker when assessing a DJ mixer, but if these are vital features to you, compare the cost of adding these separately, compared with having them integrated with the mixer.
When comparing one DJ mixer with another, the availability of other features may influence your decision. Other features to look out for are:
- Illuminated buttons – handy when you are working in a dark room
- LED level lights – some are more effective than others as a visual guide to your controls
- Construction – steel gives a robust and durable mixer that will survive knocks in use and transit
- Weight – if you carry your gear about a pound or two makes a difference
- Size – the mixer fits between your decks and compact may suit you better
- Brand reputation – read the reviews, see who is being innovative and who has the experience. A new kid on the block may produce awesome gear, but you would be taking more of a chance than going with a known manufacturer with decades of experience. But sometimes, the new kid on the block is a gamechanger
- Warranty – a lengthy warranty indicates the confidence a manufacturer has in their product
Buying a DJ Mixer
I’ve done a quick tour of the points to look at in this DJ mixers buyer’s guide, but remember it is like buying anything else:
- Set a budget
- Do your research by reading reviews
- List your must-have’ features
- Look for a bargain with plenty of extras
I hope this guide helped you better understand what a mixer is and also what to look for when buying one. Let’s move on to the reviews!
Best Beginner Mixers Reviewed
Let’s jump into the good stuff and review each of the 5 mixers in detail so you can make a better buying decision.
The Numark M2 DJ mixer gives you everything you need and with decent quality thrown in as part of the package. The Numark M2 is an ideal mixer for DJing at weddings, parties, clubs, and any other mobile events. It’s light enough to carry about with ease, and its steel construction means it puts up with on the road abuse.
The M2 is perfect for the classic two turntables and mic set-up. The replaceable crossfaders come with two slope settings (crossfade and cut), and you can use normal or reverse. The mini crossfader makes cue mixing a breeze. I don’t need to worry about the bass because that adjusts automatically. It’s basic but good enough to let me smoothly transition between songs and play it like an extra instrument to create beats, loops, and scratches. Three-band EQ on each channel gives quality tonal control.
The Numark M2 is a brilliant entry-level two-channel mixture for the professional and the aspiring professional DJ. It’s a nice bit of kit that does what you need at a price you can afford even if you are just beginning to dip your toe in the DJ world. I like the stripped down to basics style, and I especially like the price for this no-nonsense DJ mixer.
Behringer NOX101uses high-quality components, and the essential features work as described. RCA connectors for turntables, CD players, tape decks, and anything else you can hook up. Throw in a balanced TRS mic input and plenty of outputs, and this beginner DJ mixer connects and performs insanely well, considering the low price.
For busy gigs the Behringer NOX101 DJ mixer gives you everything you need with a 130dB dynamic range and an excellent 10Hz o 20KHz frequency response with the XENYX preamps, did I mention these are the same quality as their top range models?
Control is a breeze with three-mode curve control on the volume faders and sharp and soft setting on the fader curve. This DJ Mixer is a premium two-channel mixer with high-end features at a great price that performs brilliantly, wherever you set it up.
Behringer has upped their game to cater for the upcoming DJ moving from basic set-up to a more professional rig. The NOX101 packs in the features for the up and coming DJ and plenty to satisfy the hardworking professional with a full booking diary. The kit is built like a tank and is super-easy to use, even if you don’t know what you are doing it is intuitive, you get the hang of it really quick.
The Allen Heath Xone 23 gives you extra capacity as it is a two plus two plus mic DJ mixer. What does that mean? You can run a turntable and a CD deck into one channel where they share the faders and the EQ – you can plug in four inputs into this DJ mixer. The XONE 23 is not a stupendous battle mixer or a best in show scratch mixer, but it is reliable, robust DJ mixer that lets you practice any DJ style while you are developing your skills and preferences.
I like the full kill EQ and the fact that I can integrate external effects units so I can access them at the push of a button when the party is in full swing. Illuminated buttons are a plus, and I’d recommend spending a bit extra to upgrade the installed crossfader with a higher grade innofader as it enhances the performance.
The Xone 23 is one of the best DJ mixers for beginners because it gives some room for growth, You’ll pay a bit more for it than other beginner mixers, but you get some tremendous high-end features and can explore plenty of DJ styles while you find your feet and develop your performance.
Mixars are currently a low-key brand, so you get more for your money as you are not paying for the band name. It costs more than other mixers in it’s range, but it gives you more in a seamless package with the Serato DJ software thrown in.
This plug and play two-channel mixer is packed with all the features you need, plus some extra goodies like loop control encoder, FX and beat buttons, mapping control and a soundcard, and heaps more. Its got bags of room for growth and development.
If you’re ambitions to be a master chef, you buy high-quality knives because they last you a lifetime and feel good in your hand. I think the same way about being a DJ; my gear is the tools of my trade, my knives if you will – I want it to last and give me the performance I need. Mixars Duo MKII has quality features that you might not need now, but as you progress and grow into your craft, you’ll be glad to have it in your toolkit.
5. Gemini MM1
The Gemini MM1 gives you the necessary features you need at an affordable price, and although it does not have all the bells and whistles, it does the job reliably and dependably. Plus, it’s small size means it is super portable.
You get enough professional connections with two RCA line inputs and a master RCA output. You can hook up a microphone and a headphone set, really that is all you need for a basic set-up. You don’t get special effects, beat buttons, and it’s a two-band EQ rather than three. None of that is a problem if you want to set up and play the music at a club or party. You can hook up two decks, and the crossfader does what a crossfader needs to do, and it does it well.
The Gemini MM1 is not ashamed of what it is – a professional compact mixer with basic features at an affordable price within the beginner DJ’s reach. You might be dipping a toe in the DJ world but unwilling to spend too much. The basic no-frills Gemini MM1 will meet your needs. Plus, you’ll continue using it when you can afford a more feature-packed mixer because it is portable and easy to use, and for some gigs, that’s all you need.
When browsing for the best DJ mixers out there, you should keep in mind all the factors we listed for you. Still, there are things that we cannot guide you on, for example – the way the model looks. Most DJs are looking for the “wow” factor and will get a controller that will surely impress everyone at the club.
If you are interested in a model just to practice on, then make sure to consider all the important aspects such as control options, overall construction and sturdiness and price.
We hope that you have the necessary tools to go out there and choose the ideal model for you by this point. If you are unsure of which one you want to get, you can always check some of our carefully selected top 5 models. They are the best for a reason and people who get them are rarely disappointed.
Whatever you get always remember that being a good DJ takes a ton of practice and dedication and you can only get there through consistency and love for the art of DJing.