DJ Mixer: Sorting Out the Different Types

By Barbara Applebaum
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There is no doubt that music can sooth the savage beast – and people too. Piped into cramped elevators, music can calm an individual as they ascend to a building's upper floors. Eating establishments serve music along with fine food and spirits. Additionally, lovers serenade themselves with soothing tones as they exchange vows of faithfulness in marriage ceremonies. Not one aspect of our modern culture is untouched by music. Music genres and tastes are varied. Some people prefer techno, while others enjoy old school, commercial, underground, hip-hop, new school and more. Crowds gather to hear DJ mixer music. Gatherings take place in raves, lounges and clubs all over the country.

A DJ music mixer can blend, mingle, mangle and merge favored sounds. However, DJ mixer boards are just as varied as the music they produce. Choosing the right type of an audio mixer for a music preference is a challenging task.

Combined with our DJ Mixer Review, we want to help you sort out the different types of audio DJ equipment. Our hope is to provide you with the information you need to assist you in selecting the best mixer for your own music preferences. In our review of DJ mixing boards, the Dennon DJ DN-X1600, Pioneer DJM-700 and Behringer DDM4000 are our top-rated music mixers.

 

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What is a DJ Mixer?
A disc jockey entertains by playing recorded music for an audience. A DJ uses equipment to combine audio effects and songs into a single music track. A few features separate a DJ’s mixing board from other types of audio mixers. Cuing gives the DJ the ability to redirect and listen to music in a set of headphones before playing it for a waiting crowd.

Another distinguishing factor is the presence of a crossfader. The crossfader allows the DJ to fade one sound clip out as another slowly fades in. This transition is either abrupt or smooth depending on the type of music played.

There are multiple kinds of DJ music mixers available on the market. Prices vary from under a hundred dollars to tens of thousands. A two-channel music mixer is best suited for beginners. However, even the advanced professional DJ will often use a two-channel DJ audio mixer. A two-channel music mixer allows the beginner to learn what all the knobs, switches and lights do. The DJ equipment can mix music from vinyl records, CD players and MP3 players. In general, the best DJ boards come equipped with two or more channels, multiple onboard effects and a replaceable crossfader.

Pioneer is the granddaddy manufacturer of all DJ audio mixers. Most know this company as the maker of high-quality home and car stereo systems. Allen & Heath primarily makes studio-mixing consoles. Recently they have successfully ventured into the DJ audio mixer market. American DJ, Dennon, Behringer, Stanton, Numark and others are notable for making complete DJ packages. These package offerings can consist of cartridges, speakers, headphones, mixers and more. DJ equipment is seldom a manufacturer's only product. Sold in conjunction with other product offerings, DJ mixing boards can target both the beginning DJ and the professional.

Scratch DJ Mixer
Sometimes referred to as a battle mixer, a scratchboard is the music mixer of choice for hip-hop. A scratchboard uses actual vinyl records. Scratching is a technique that requires the manipulation of a turntable. The method requires the DJ to move a record back and forth with the phono cartridge in the play position. The result is a variety of sound patterns. Scratching causes heavy wear and tear on the DJ equipment's crossfader. The best scratch mixers come equipped with a robust replaceable crossfader and at least two channel inputs.

Club DJ Mixer
The Club DJ board is not for scratching. The Club DJ music mixer can keep the dance floor's crowd energized. This type of music mixer plays dance beats while one song ends and another begins. Some common features of a Club DJ audio mixer include sound filtering, equalizers for each channel, automatic beat detection and more. The best club board usually has more inputs than a scratch DJ audio mixer. Other names for this type of DJ equipment are bedroom mixer and dance mixer.

General DJ Mixer
Giving the DJ the best of both worlds, the general DJ board combines the feature sets of the scratch mixer and club mixer. Professional DJs frequently utilize a general DJ mixer. It is common for these DJ music mixers to have three or more channels and numerous onboard special effects. Another common name for the general mixer is house board or mixer.

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