Before choosing the best DJ mixers for beginners, it’s definitely worth learning more about the role of the mixer and how it’s different compared to a standard audio mixer. I’ll cover the features to look for in your new mixer and discuss, in-depth, the best pro-quality mixer for the beginner who’s serious about a new career in DJing.
The best DJ mixers for beginners will depend on your skill level, where you play, the type of genres you love to spin, and your budget. If you’re planning on making DJing a full-time gig, then you need a mixer that’s not only beginner-friendly but a model that also comes loaded with all the controls and features that the professional DJ will use to mix intricate, unique tracks that will help to showcase their skills in the club.
Learning how to choose the right mixer based on your skill level and DJing goals will allow you to experiment with new sounds, create unique mixes, and learn important mixing techniques that can make you stand out from the competition. Keep reading to find out what features to look for and be sure to check out my top recommendation for a beginner-friendly mixer that offers a pro-quality setup.
The Difference Between an Audio Mixer and a DJ Mixer
The basic audio mixer will give the DJ the ability to create a mix using different volume levels, as it passes the effects through several outputs and channels in order to master a channel. Audio mixers are often used more with live orchestras and bands. You can definitely DJ with an audio mixer, however, this style of mixer isn’t specifically designed for DJing.
So, what’s the real difference between an audio mixer and a DJ mixer?
The DJ mixer is specifically designed to handle a number of tasks that a basic audio mixer is not able to handle. This includes beat matching a couple of tracks, helping to give a mix more of a creative flair, and filtering and applying effects to audio channels.
Some mixers can do even more than this, while others will do less. In general, these capabilities are what set the audio mixer apart from the DJ mixer.
Key Features of the DJ Mixer
When I say the DJ mixer can handle beat matching, this means the DJ will use headphones in order to preview the upcoming track. This gives the DJ the ability to match the beat of the upcoming song to the beat of the song that’s currently playing for the crowd. While this is one of the most basic features you’ll find on a mixer, it’s one that differs a lot from model to model. As an example, one mixer may offer the ability to listen to both the master channel and the track you want to beat match, via the headphones, so you won’t even need to use a monitor speaker.
Of course, preview mixing is one of the best features a mixer offers and I definitely recommend buying a model that offers this, especially if protecting your ears from damage is a major concern of yours.
The Ability to Explore New Sounds
Of course, there are faders that can bring a track’s volume from zero all the way to one hundred percent, but the entire mixing process would be pretty boring if that was the only option one of these devices offered. Most mixers will come equipped with crossfaders which offer a more interesting sound and ultimate control over the quality of a mix.
This will allow you to quickly switch and chop between a couple of beat matched tracks. You can also get really creative with the kill switches and gates, and scratch mix your tracks.
An audio mixer will allow you to patch other effects hardware in, but the DJ mixer already comes loaded with this feature. The number of effects on a mixer will increase with the price.
DJ mixers can offer more than low, mid, and high-frequency gain dials. Especially a digital mixer, which allows the user to layer multiple effects and filters over a variety of channels. This can basically transform a set into something that sounds more unique while distorting the original track to make it more your own, allowing you to showcase your own style as a DJ.
Digital and Analog Mixers
If you’ve spent any time researching mixers, then you’ve probably come across both analog and digital mixers. Over the years the mixer has evolved and now includes effects that are software driven, and include USB connections, and soundcards. Some even have the ability to select loop samples or browse a playlist.
Since the days of the basic analog mixer, the digital mixer has definitely taken mixing to the next level. However, an analog mixer can also be useful and can make a great addition to your setup.
The digital mixer will provide an impressive array of features and are almost like computers themselves. They work as an extension of a PC and most will require the use of a laptop in order to run software or adjust certain controls. Top of the line models will contain pro-grade audio cards that are designed to handle audio from a variety of sources. They also come with optional outputs and inputs, two to four decks, and plenty of other features that the analog mixer doesn’t possess. The digital mixer contains an onboard computer that allows the DJ to add certain effects including gates, reverbs, and echos. Because of this, you’ll typically see models with a ton of buttons, switches, knobs, and dials. The addition of a shift key means multiple functions for one button.
While these features are great and can add a lot of value to a mix, some DJs simply won’t need them. This can depend on the DJs mixing skills and style. Does a complicated, tech heavy mixer really help a DJ to show off their skills in the club? Is the ability to layer more than a few tracks necessary?
It’s all too easy for the mixer manufacturer to pile on a bunch of features that most DJs won’t even use, just in order to hike up the price of a model.
Most pro-quality DJ software can handle an analog mixer if it’s equipped with the right type of sound outputs.
Vinyl turntables can plug directly into an analog mixer, so if you scratch or enjoy spinning vinyl, then this type of mixer will be a better choice compared to a digital model. And since they feature older tech, they’re often a more affordable choice compared to digital models. Additionally, they’re usually much smaller and highly portable, so they’re perfect for the mobile DJ. Of course, they’re not nearly as versatile as digital models, but you can easily find feature heavy models that are much more affordable than digital mixers.
If you have plans to use an analog model with your PC, then you’ll need more than one sound output. You can easily remedy this issue with the use of a USB soundcard.
My Top Mixer Recommendation
Before you buy a mixer, one of the most important questions you should ask yourself is whether or not a particular model is right for your DJing style. These days, there’s a mixer out there for every type of DJ. So, before you buy, consider the type of genres you enjoy spinning, where you’ll be using the mixer, and the type of mixing you want to perform. The answers to these questions can easily help to determine which type of mixer is right for you. If you mix slower tempo music or hip hop, then you’ll find that the right mixer for those genres is very different than the type you’d buy for house music or EDM. So, if you get the wrong style of mixer you may finder it harder to achieve the type of sound you’re striving for, based on genre.
There’s no shortage of feature-packed mixers on the market, which can make choosing the best model to suit your needs and DJing style difficult. I’ve spent time dedicated to finding the best DJ mixers based on skill level, DJing style, and preferred genre. While my one of my leading choices is definitely the Old Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S4 MK2, which is versatile, powerful, and equipped with some great features, I found myself really digging one of Pioneer DJ’s latest models. The Pioneer DJ DJ Mixer DJS1000 allows you to create your own unique mixes on the fly or when you’re mixing up a set at home. The interface has a reputation for being very beginner-friendly and comes loaded with some great features that can really allow your style to shine. Features include a large seven-inch color display screen, multicolored performance pads, which will help to keep you organized, and sixteen multicolored step input keys.
Basically, this mixer is very tech-heavy, so while it’s a great choice for the newbie, it comes loaded with all of the features that the professional DJ can rely on to make some seriously intricate mixes.
It’s also a very lightweight model, weighing in at just eleven pounds, which makes it travel-friendly. To learn more about this exciting model by Pioneer DJ, click the button bellow:
What’s the Difference Between a Controller and a Mixer?
Most beginners don’t understand the main differences between the DJ mixer and the controller and tend to use the term controller and mixer interchangeably, but in reality, they’re both two very different pieces of DJ gear.
The controller can work as both a controller and a mixer, while the mixer just offers mixing capabilities. With a controller, you can use DJing software to incorporate different sounds and blend one track with another to create a song that sounds like one long piece. The mixer is much more limited in terms of what it can do, which is why many pro DJs choose a DJ controller that also operates as a standalone mixer.
What DJ Software is the Best for Beginners?
I recommend going with Serato. It’s currently the most versatile software on the market. It’s also available in a variety of versions that are designed to match the skill level and mixing needs of the DJ. This means you can purchase the basic Serato software program and learn about beginner-level mixing and effects techniques, then upgrade to the pro version once you feel like you’re ready. Many of the top-selling controllers on the market also work as dedicated Serato controllers, so you’ll have no problem finding a controller that can handle this type of software program. Additionally, many controllers will come with the basic or lite version of Serato, so you can try it out for free and then pay for the upgraded version, later down the line.
Now that you know what’s the best DJ mixer for beginners, you’ll be more prepared to choose a model that you can handle and one that comes loaded with features you’ll find yourself relying on for most of your mixes.
Most beginners don’t realize that the type of mixer they choose can have a major impact on the quality of a mix or the final results in general. Before you hit that buy now button, do your research and learn more about the top models on the market, the types of features they have to offer, and whether or not they have a reputation as being beginner-friendly.
The best DJ mixer for beginners is a model that will work for the DJ’s spinning style, skill level, and mixing goals. There are many models to choose from, whether you decide to go with an analog or digital model, you’ll be sure to find a mixer that will help to take your mixing skills to the next level.