DJing is about having the best music collection, dropping the perfect tune at the right moment and being able to read the crowd – but you still need the right equipment to unleash your full potential, and at the heart of it all is the mixer.
There are so many mixers available, and choosing the right one for you will depend on many factors, including your style, your genre of music and, of course, your budget.
With such an array of options, selecting the right one can be a challenge – so here are our top picks for best DJ mixer to ensure you make the right choice.
The style of music you play is important in determining the right mixer for you – and specifically, if you are a turntablist rather than a club DJ, you need to opt for a battle mixer.
These mixers are specifically designed to allow you to manipulate the music and pull off all the tricks that you see in DJ competitions – especially techniques that involve scratching.
They also need to be tough and able to stand up to lots of abuse, something that regular mixers might not be able to take.
They also feature a simpler layout, making it easier to find the functions you need quickly.
Check out this video to see turntablist Mr. Switch in action. He is using the Pioneer DJ DJM-S9, which is included in our reviews below.
A major consideration when choosing a mixer is how many channels it has.
A basic mixer has two channels, allowing you to switch between two tracks, either using the crossfader or the channel faders.
If you only want to learn the basics of mixing on inexpensive equipment, choosing a mixer with two channels will allow you to do it.
Battle mixers are also usually two-channel mixers since turntablists generally don’t need more than two channels at a time.
However, for other types of music and styles of DJing, you might prefer to have four channels to allow you to play music from four decks simultaneously, opening up new possibilities.
Most top club DJs nowadays have access to at least three DJ players, and many will prefer to have four, in which case a four-channel mixer is essential.
Pioneer’s new flagship mixer even provides six channels, allowing you to add extra features to your performance, although this is probably excessive and unnecessary for beginners and mid-level DJs.
As well as the number of channels, you should also pay attention to the number of inputs a mixer has.
The number of channels tells you how many sources you can have playing at the same time, but it is also possible to have more than one input per channel.
This means on a two-channel mixer, you could have a DJ turntable and a player connected to the same channel and then use a switch to toggle between the two.
This would only allow you to have either the player or the turntable playing at any particular moment, but you would still have the option of switching between the two inputs.
All but the most basic mixers have EQs to allow you to adjust the amount of hi/mid/lo you can hear. Being able to cut part of the sound and leaving the rest is an important aspect of DJing, and this allows you to create more advanced transitions between tracks.
With EQs, you can either reduce a particular range or kill it completely – so, for example, you have the option of reducing the bass from a track entirely.
Some DJs prefer EQs to leave some sound while others prefer the EQs to kill the sound completely – and the best mixers give you the option of toggling between the two modes.
A crossfader is one of the basic elements of any DJ mixer – it is what allows you to blend two tracks and switch from one to the other.
As such a vital part of the mixer, it is important to pay attention to the crossfader.
First, you should look for a crossfader that is durable and made to last. For DJs who like to scratch especially, the crossfader is likely to take a hammering, and you need one that will stand up to this kind of rough treatment.
Second, many turntablists like to have the option of being able to adjust the contour of the crossfader – essentially, how quickly and sharply it fades from one channel to the other.
This means that any turntablist who is looking for a battle mixer should pay attention to whether the crossfader is customizable – and to what extent it can be customized.
Nowadays, many mixers offer you at least some basic effects to play about with the music, including things like high and low pass, echo, reverb and more.
While most people agree that overdoing it with the effects is something to avoid, having the options to experiment with can open up new levels of creativity in your performance.
Performance pads that allow you to use hot cues and otherwise manipulate the music are sometimes included on the mixer, giving you a range of interesting possibilities when you DJ.
Performance pads may allow you to place hot cues in tracks, use features such as a slicer, add extra percussion to tracks – and much more. For advanced DJ performances, this could be something to consider when choosing.
For the dedicated turntablist looking for a mixer that will unleash their full creative potential, this two-channel beast from Pioneer could be just the thing. It features Pioneer’s famous Magvel crossfader, eight colored performance pads and six customizable FX buttons.
What we like most about this mixer is the way it is so customizable, allowing you to change the settings to most perfectly match your mixing style. All the controls for this are located on the front, making it easy to switch them up during performances too.
With the FX, you can keep the six presets – or you can choose from around 45 other options from Serato Pro DJ’s collection. The style levers are also an awesome addition, giving you even more control over how you mix and create new sounds.
The major downside here is the price since this mixer might be out of reach for many – however, if you can afford pro-level prices, this is an exceptional piece of kit.
That said, the build quality is slightly inferior for the price, and we would have preferred it to be a bit sturdier for a battle mixer.
However, this doesn’t affect its performance, and if you are looking for a mixer that will allow you to do everything you imagined – and probably lots more – this one should be high on your list of possibilities…as long as the price tag doesn’t put you off.
Magvel Pro crossfader – designed to endure literally millions of performances
8 colored performance pads per channel – for hot cues, roll, slice and more
6 customizable FX buttons – use presets or choose from Serato’s bank of effects
Style levers give you more control over how you use FX – for extra creativity
Customize feel of crossfader and more – many controls located on front of mixer
Expensive mixer – but what you’d expect for top-end gear
Slightly inferior build-quality – as a battle mixer, it could be tougher
While it doesn’t dominate the field to quite the same extent as Pioneer’s CDJs have in the world of DJ players, this mixer is still considered the “club standard”, and if you turn up to play in a venue, it is most likely that this mixer is what you’ll find.
When Pioneer released this mixer, the company made a big effort to improve the sound quality, with the result that this machine produces a much warmer, smoother and more nuanced sound than any of Pioneer’s mixers previous to this one.
We love all the options it gives you to get creative with how you play. There are loads of different effects, including sound color FX, beat FX and frequency FX, and everything is simple and super-intuitive to use.
We also appreciate the way it’s easy to customize the controls, so you can change the fader profile or set the EQs to kill using the onboard controls.
However, as with lots of Pioneer equipment – but here especially – a major drawback is the price. This is an expensive unit, but if you want to own the worldwide club standard that top-level DJs have relied on for several years, you have to expect to pay the price.
Also, this mixer has been around for a while now and is probably getting ready to pass the baton – Pioneer’s new flagship, the Pioneer DJ DJM-V10, appears to be gaining new converts, although this new six-channel mixer is even more expensive than the DJM-900NXS2.
(Check out this video for more information about Pioneer’s new monster.)
In short, this is a trusted and proven mixer that has been used by some of the best DJs in the world in clubs and festivals for several years. If you can stretch your budget this far, this is a mixer almost any DJ will love owning and using. A big thumbs-up from us.
Club standard around the world – likely to find this in any booth you play in
64-bit mixing processor – for a warmer and more nuanced sound
Lots of effects options – with sound color FX, beat FX and frequency FX
Easily customizable options – including crossfader and EQs
Compatible with Serato and Rekordbox – choose from these powerful DJ packages
Prohibitively expensive – out of reach for most part-time DJs
If you are looking for a battle mixer that gives you most of the features and options of a top-end mixer but that sells at a more affordable price point, this model from Numark should be of interest.
It features an InnoFader crossfader with adjustable slope and reverse functions, which makes it great for adjustments to match your style of playing.
Something we like a lot is the uncluttered and intuitive layout. With this mixer, you won’t be left looking for a function in the heat of the action and lose valuable moments working out what you want to do. The four performance pads are great for getting creative too.
Finally, another huge bonus is the fact that it includes the license for Serato DJ Pro. This will save you a couple of hundred dollars, and this alone makes this mixer excellent value for money.
One drawback is that the effects only work on digital music that goes through Serato. This means they can’t be used if you are playing with vinyl. Also, the mic input is a little low, but this is something you can work with and shouldn’t be a deal-breaker.
To summarize, this is an excellent option for keen turntablists who can’t quite afford to meet the price tag for some of the most top-end equipment. For a mid-range battle mixer, it packs in just about everything you need. A recommended pick.
InnoFader with slope and reverse functions – ideal for scratching
Great value – much more affordable battle mixer
4 performance pads – gives you full control over how you play
Uncluttered design – simple and intuitive to use in the heat of the action
Includes Serato DJ Pro license – saves you a lot of extra cash
FX only work on music played through Serato – won’t work on vinyl
Microphone input a little low – but something you can work with
The DJ-99 mixer from Roland is a no-frills mixer that would be a great option for anyone who wants to try DJing for the first time. It has everything you need to learn the basics, including hi/mid/lo EQs to let you try a few more advanced transition techniques.
At the same time, it is uncluttered and simple to use. If you’re a complete novice, you don’t need lots of extra knobs and buttons to confuse you – so this mixer strips it right down and gives you just what you really need.
That said, once you move past the basics, this mixer doesn’t offer you much more to play with. There are no performance pads, you can’t create loops and there are no effects, so it might end up feeling quite limited.
Also, we’re not sure that everyone will like the way it looks – but that’s purely cosmetic, and it comes down to personal taste, anyway.
In sum, a good option for beginners who want to try mixing for the first time – but a bit more limited if you want to be able to move past the basics and grow as a DJ.
Crossfader curve adjust – set it up the way you like
Simple and easy to use – ideal for beginners
Affordable price – a good entry-level option
Heavy-duty mixer – should last a long time
Good sound – produces clear and clean music
Lacking in features – a very basic mixer
Questionable aesthetics – style will not appeal to everyone
In the world of DJing equipment, everyone knows Pioneer is the industry standard and the one you expect to see being used by the world’s top DJs in clubs or at festivals around the world.
That means that any challengers are inevitably compared to the Pioneer equivalent, and with Denon’s flagship Prime range – whisper it – this gear might actually be better.
This mixer is a super-slick piece of equipment with all the features and adaptability a DJ could ask for. It includes advanced audio routing with the option of running phono/line, digital, switchable USB and more, giving you ultimate flexibility over how you play.
The mixer is laid out in a logical way, and it’s extremely simple and intuitive to use, even if you are used to using other equipment. It also boasts customizable features like a contour-adjustable crossfader so you can set it up the way you prefer.
With this mixer, there’s very little not to like.
Its main crime is simply that it’s not a Pioneer – but for many people, buying anything other than the industry standard is just not possible. However, if you are willing to try something else, this mixer is arguably better – and better value – than the Pioneer equivalent.
There’s a reason why people don’t want to try new equipment, though, and that’s because they like to stick with what’s familiar. If you own this mixer and then play on a club’s standard setup, it’s more likely to be a Pioneer mixer, which will mean you won’t be familiar with it.
In many ways, Denon DJ gear is treated unfairly. You can make a case for it being better than Pioneer equipment, and it is certainly better value for money. However, it’s still not the industry’s Number One, and for some people, that’s enough to put them off.
On the other hand, for smart DJs willing to take a risk on another brand, this Denon Prime mixer is one that is likely to repay your faith.
Advanced audio routing – gives you plenty of customizable options
Contour adjustable crossfader – set up the way you want it
Intuitive and easy to use – easy to master, even if you’re used to other brands
Great bang for your buck – offers you more performance for less money
Excellent FX features – allows you to be more creative with your mixes
It’s not Pioneer – some people prefer the standard, even if other options are better
Less common option – you might not find this in the club when you turn up to play
Some of the mixers on the market today cost a fortune and are way beyond what any beginner would be willing to spend, but if you are a budding turntablist looking for an affordable mixer that will allow you to hone your skills, this could be a solid choice.
We love how the layout is so simple. It just has the features you really need and nothing more, meaning you can concentrate on mastering the basics. The sound is crisp and clean, and we also like the customizable crossfader that allows you to set it up the way you prefer.
One complaint we have is that is quite a large mixer. Since it doesn’t have loads of features, it probably could have been smaller.
Also, it doesn’t come with any detailed instructions, so if you’re a complete beginner, it might not be so obvious how to use it.
However, apart from these minor gripes, we think this is an excellent beginner’s mixer. It is a solid, no-frills unit that does the basics well – and that doesn’t cost a fortune. If you need a simple and inexpensive battle mixer, this could be an option that’s worth a look.
Affordable price – great entry-level battle mixer
Simple and intuitive layout – easy for anyone to use
Solid and sturdy – built to last
Clean sound – allows you to mix smoothly and precisely
Customizable crossfader – change it to suit your music and style
Large footprint – bigger than it needs to be
Instructions lacking – but easy enough to pick it up if you know what you’re doing
This mixer from Native Instruments is a mid-level option that’s perfect for turntablists who don’t want to spend the money for a true top-end unit.
Compared to something like the Pioneer DJM-S9, this one costs a lot less, and while it doesn’t pack in all the features, it still includes a lot.
We like the tidy layout that makes it easy to use. Everything is logical and intuitive, and if you know your way around a mixer, this one won’t take long to get used to.
Something we like a lot is the fact that it’s tough and built to last. You should be using this mixer for a long time to come, however much rough treatment you subject it to.
One complaint we have is not so much with the mixer but with the software. When an update is released, it takes a while for the Mac version to come out. This means Apple users will have to wait each time for the new version.
Also, the paint tends to wear off with use which, although only cosmetic, is annoying when you pay this much for a piece of kit.
However, if you don’t mind these minor irritations, this is an excellent mixer that mid-level turntablists will love. It’s a reliable unit that will allow you to develop your skills, whatever your style. As far as battle mixers in this price bracket are concerned, this one is a winner.
Tough and solid – built to last
Excellent value – great quality mixer for the price
Adjustable crossfader curve – easy to customize performance
Sleek design – looks great
Intuitive layout – easy to master for pros and novices alike
Some software issues with Mac – takes time for updates to arrive
As you can see, there is a huge range of mixers available to suit all styles and almost any budget. If you are looking for the best DJ mixer but still don’t know which one to go for, any of the options in our review would be a great place to start your search.