DJ Mixers Guide: Introduction to DJ Mixers

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Once you get a handle on what DJ mixers are and what you can do with them, let us help you pick out the perfect mixer.

What are DJ mixers?

If you’re new to the world of DJing you might have never heard of the term mixer before. Whether you’ve seen videos of your favorite DJ performing live or you’ve seen the setup of a local DJ at a club or wedding, chances are you’ve seen one and not even realized it.

Simply put, mixers are the middle part between the two turntables or CDJs with lots of knobs and slides. You have the option of buying mixers both with CDJs (decks) or without (only the mixer).

What do DJ mixers do?

At its most basic function, mixers allow you to manipulate audio. It sounds complicated and actually doing it well is, but understanding what that means is easy to grasp. Audio manipulation can be anything from fading in and out of music (changing volume) to adding filters and changing the pitch of the sound.

Think about when your favorite DJ is performing. They don’t hit pause on the song that’s playing and then press play on the next song. Not only would that sound horrible, but it would ruin the energy. Nobody wants to dance to music that’s constantly stopping and starting back up.

Instead, they use mixers to transition between and mashup music so that the energy stays high and you keep dancing.

Who needs a mixer?

The simple answer is that anyone who is looking to do any sort of performance that involves changing from one song to the other in real time needs one.

If you’re only doing music production and can do all of your mixing/audio manipulation through music software, you’re fine without a mixer.

What is a channel, and how many channels does my mixer need?

While it’s great that there are a ton of options when it comes to mixers, that can make things difficult as a beginner. It’s overwhelming to try and read through features and product information and know which one is best for you.

Mixers are classified by the number of channels that they work with. You’ll hear terms like “4-channel mixer”, which simply means that that mixer can handle up to four different audio sources at one time. Audio sources can be anything from microphones, to drum pads, to audio tracks from your decks.

You can have two audio sources assigned to a single channel, but only one audio source can be active on a channel at a time.

If you’re only using your mixer for DJ performances you won’t need anything more than a 4-channel mixer. Venues and recording studios handling a ton of different audio sources (guitars, vocalists, percussion, etc.) may have mixers that handle up to 72 different channels.

What other equipment do I need?

You’ll need a few other pieces of equipment to get rocking and rolling with your new mixer.

First and foremost you need something to feed audio signals to your mixer. This could be something as simple as a microphone (maybe you like singing with no music in the background?) to your decks feeding your mixer music.

You’ll also need speakers to play the sound out of. Remember, mixers don’t play or produce sound, they just change how the audio actually sounds.