A guide to DJ mixers

By in Features





Rotary, analogue, and digital mixers for all budgets.

Mixers are fundamental for any DJ, serving as the control hub for blending and manipulating audio tracks from various sources, including vinyl records. These devices enable DJs to transition smoothly between songs, apply effects, and craft soundscapes at home and in the club.

For vinyl DJing, mixers are particularly important because they manage the intricate demands of analogue audio, preserving and enhancing the warmth and richness of vinyl records during a performance.

When purchasing a DJ mixer, several factors should be considered. The number of channels is a primary consideration: 2-channel mixers are perfect for beginners or simpler setups, allowing DJs to mix between two audio sources.

In contrast, 4-channel mixers offer greater flexibility, accommodating additional decks, instruments, or external devices, making them suitable for more complex performances. Some advanced setups might require 6-channel mixers.

Another critical aspect is the type of mixer: rotary, analogue, or digital. Rotary mixers use knobs instead of faders, offering smooth, precise control, ideal for house and techno DJs who prefer gradual transitions. Analogue mixers are renowned for their warm, natural sound, appealing to purists who prioritise audio quality.

Digital mixers, on the other hand, come with numerous features such as built-in effects, digital connectivity, and software integration, making them versatile and convenient for modern DJing.

Hip-hop DJs often prefer mixers with high-quality crossfaders and robust build quality to handle intense scratching and quick cuts. Features like adjustable crossfader curves, cue point controls, and integrated effects are also crucial. For these DJs, 2-channel or 4-channel mixers with a strong emphasis on performance and durability are ideal.

Pioneer mixers are ubiquitous in club environments due to their reliability, sturdy construction, and comprehensive feature sets. Models like the Pioneer DJM series have become industry standards, offering intuitive controls and high-quality sound processing.

Their widespread use ensures that DJs can seamlessly transition between different venues and setups, confident in the familiarity and performance of the equipment.

From the sleek simplicity of a 2-channel analogue mixer to the mind-blowing tech wizardry of a digital 4-channel powerhouse, and even mixers designed specifically for hip-hop vibes, there’s a mixer for every DJ flavour. 

TRM-202 MK3 Mixer

Price: £299.
Pros: Classic rotary design, DJ microphone input, pre-fader listening, adjustable headphones output, and cue mix/split function.
Cons: Limited inputs, entry-level option: may lack advanced features found in higher-priced mixers.

Verdict: The Omnitronic TRM-202 MK3 rotary mixer offers classic design, high-quality components, and versatile features at an unbeatable price, making it an excellent value option.

Omnitronic’s TRM-202 MK3 rotary mixer embodies classic design with vintage ALPS potentiometers and a 3-band frequency isolator, delivering a rich and appealing sound pattern. Its versatile controls, including gain, equalizer, and phono/line switching per channel, cater to diverse mixing needs.

DJ-friendly features such as dedicated boost and kill cut, microphone input, and monitoring options enhance usability. Despite being an entry-level option, its high-quality components and value-for-money proposition make it a compelling choice for DJs seeking a rotary mixer without breaking the bank.

Xone 23 DJ MIXER

Price: £300.
Pros: High-quality analogue sound, versatile inputs, professional features, robust build.
Cons: No built-in effects.

Verdict: The Xone:23 DJ mixer offers legendary analogue sound and professional features in a compact design, ideal for DJs seeking high-quality performance without extensive complexity.

The Xone:23 DJ mixer stands out for its legendary analogue sound quality, thanks to the iconic Xone: VCF filter with comprehensive frequency and resonance controls. Its 2+2 channel setup allows for flexible input routing, perfect for dynamic mixing. While it boasts professional-grade features like 3-band total kill EQ and balanced XLR connections, it remains accessible and compact.

However, the simplified filter controls and limited channels might not meet all advanced needs. Despite this, it’s a powerful tool for DJs prioritizing sound quality and reliability.

Numark Scratch

Price: £379.
Pros: InnoFader crossfader, high-quality audio, versatile connectivity.
Cons: Dependency on Serato.

Verdict: The Numark Scratch delivers professional-grade features, exceptional audio quality, and reliability, making it an ideal choice for scratch DJs seeking performance and versatility.

Numark Scratch stands out as an exceptional 2-channel battle mixer, packed with professional features for creative mixing and scratching. Its dedicated effects buttons, performance pads, and looping encoders offer versatility, while the InnoFader crossfader ensures smooth action and reliability during intense performances.

With high-quality 24-bit audio and versatile connectivity options, including XLR master outputs and a combo mic input, it caters to both beginner and professional DJs. 

Pioneer DJM-S5 

Price: £750.
Pros: Customisable crossfader, versatile effects control, 4 performance pads per deck with 13 modes for creative live remixing.  Beginner-friendly scratch feature, crossfader hot cue, USB bus power.
Cons: Learning curve, dependency on Serato, complex.

Verdict: The DJM-S5 offers customisable crossfader and versatile effects, ideal for DJs seeking innovative scratching techniques and portable performance flexibility.

Combining customisable features and innovative tools for DJs is what sits at the forefront of the DJM-S5 mixer. Its MAGVEL FADER PRO crossfader allows personalised resistance adjustments, while large effect levers control up to 57 Serato DJ Pro effects. Performance pads and the Scratch Cutter feature make live remixing and scratching accessible, even for beginners.

The Crossfader Hot Cue adds further creative potential. With USB bus power, the mixer offers unparalleled portability and standalone functionality. Though advanced, the DJM-S5’s robust design and versatile features make it a valuable asset for professional and aspiring DJs alike.

MasterSounds Radius MK2 Mixer

Price: £1300.
Pros:  4/3 band isolator, variable Q high pass filter, ADD MIX function, dual headphone jack points, and individual auxiliary return knob, enhanced headphone control.
Cons: Some features may require additional accessories for full functionality.

Verdict: MasterSounds Radius MK2 offers a feature-rich, high-fidelity rotary mixer with advanced controls, making it ideal for DJs seeking superior sound and versatile performance.

From the versatile 4/3 band isolator to the Variable Q high pass filter and ADD MIX function, you’ll have total control over your audio and headphone monitoring.

Plus, its redesigned internal circuitry guarantees a rich, natural soundstage with minimal distortion. Sure, it might cost a bit more, but for DJs who demand the best, the Radius MK2 delivers unmatched performance and a next-level mixing experience.

Ecler WARM4 Four-Channel Analogue Rotary Mixer 

Price: £1500.
Pros: High-quality components, versatile EQ, effect integration.
Cons: Designed for sound systems with subwoofers, may not be ideal for all setups, large size.

Verdict: The Ecler WARM4 combines classic rotary mixer charm with modern innovations, making it ideal for DJs aiming to elevate their sound system’s performance.

Ecler’s WARM4 DJ mixer is a masterful blend of classic design and innovative features. Inspired by New York’s Paradise Garage, it includes a unique analogue subharmonic synthesizer, offering DJs unprecedented control over subsonic frequencies.

With high-quality Alps potentiometers and a redesigned PCB for superior sound clarity, the WARM4 is built to last. Its 3-band EQ, 4 mixing channels, and seamless external effects integration provide versatility.

Pioneer DJ DJM-V10 6 Channel Mixer

Price: £2899
Pros: Dual Headphone Outputs,  6 channels, 3-band master isolator, Expanded send/return section for external and built-in FX combinations, Newly developed 4-band EQ and built-in compressor.
Cons: Huge size, might be overkill for home setups

Verdict: The DJM-V10 offers elite sound quality and comprehensive control, making it ideal for professional DJs seeking versatility and precision in their performances.

The DJM-V10 mixer excels in delivering elite sound quality with 64-bit mixing and high-quality converters. Its 6 channels and varied inputs allow for a highly customizable setup, while the 4-band EQ and built-in compressor provide precise control over your mix. The expanded send/return section fosters creative expression with external and built-in FX.

The 3-band master isolator and dual headphone outputs enhance usability in professional settings. Though its advanced features and complexity may challenge beginners, it stands out as a top-tier choice for experienced DJs.

Condesa Carmen V

Price: $4090 (Australian Dollars)
Pros: Versatile design, high-quality EQ, discrete phono preamps:, class-A master isolator, global shipping and 2 year warranty
Cons: Approximate build time of 24-26 weeks may be too long for some users

Verdict: The Carmen V offers exceptional versatility and high-quality sound, making it ideal for professional DJs seeking both aesthetic appeal and precise control.

This mixer excels as a versatile, high-quality DJ tool with a classic design. Its four channels, large VU meters, and bespoke wooden framing offer a sophisticated look, while the 3-way channel EQ ensures precise track tuning.

Three discrete phono preamps enhance vinyl playback, and the re-tuned class-A master isolator provides a dramatic boost and cut effect. The optional 4-way configuration adds further control. Despite its long build time and higher cost, the Carmen V is a top-tier choice for professional DJs.

Read more: A guide to DJ turntables