The art of DJing has changed and progressed since it started in the 1940s, but one part of the setup that continues to play a key role is the Mixer. Historically, the mixer basically allowed DJs to mix or blend at least 2 sources of music together, but as technology and the art form have evolved hand in hand, modern mixers are capable of doing so much more. These innovations are providing DJs with new ways of playing with music, manipulating sounds, and performing with even more creative expression.
Mixers are typically capable of receiving audio from various inputs, such as analog sources (vinyl records) or digital media (such as CDs and flash drives). In recent years, a third option has emerged with the integration of built-in audio soundcards combined with computer technology and sophisticated DJ software (such as Serato DJ, allowing music to be delivered and streamed via compatible control signals and digital vinyl systems (DVS). As wireless technology continues to develop as a stable option for DJing, some mixers are now also capable of receiving and playing music from Bluetooth sources.
In addition to these different input types, mixers can feature additional Aux In or Session In ports for playing music from external sources or even secondary DJ setups.
It’s now a standard feature for mixers to be able to have 1 or 2 microphones connected up, with controls for volume and sometimes a dedicated tone or EQ function.
Mixers typically have either 2, 3, or 4 line fader channels and vary in size accordingly. Each line fader channel can receive a different input, while the volume of each is controlled by sliding the dedicated vertical fader up or down. In addition to the individual faders, some mixers also incorporate Gain or Trim dials which control the volume level input into the channel. The benefit of having more channels means that more tracks can be mixed together simultaneously (1 channel for each track). Traditionally, a DJ just needs 2 channels to perform a continuous set by mixing music back and forth independently between deck A and deck B, creating a seamless mix. However, depending on their choice of music genre and performance style, some DJs may opt to utilise more channels to create layered mixes with various elements playing at the same time.
In addition to being able to adjust the input and output volume levels of individual mixer channels, it is also common to find EQ controls (otherwise known as Equalizers) on most DJ mixers. Where Gains allow you to adjust the volume of audio being input into a mixer channel, EQs allow you to adjust the levels of specific frequency bands within the audio signal. An EQ section typically consists of a Low, a Mid, and a High knob to individually boost or cut the Bass, Midrange or High band of frequencies in the music. Having this added level of control over the music they play allows DJs to shape their sound and smoothly transition between songs to a high degree. 3-band EQs are the most common, however, smaller more simple DJ mixers may only feature a 2-band EQ for controlling Low and High frequencies.
In addition to the vertical channel faders (otherwise known as Line Faders), most mixers also feature a Crossfader, which is operated horizontally, blending the inputs of different channels together in a single control. Crossfaders (as well as Line Faders) are typically the most used functions on a mixer and so their characteristics play an important part in the performance style of many DJ’s. Standard faders with smooth contours are usually adequate for those who only intend to mix and blend songs together, whereas scratch DJs and Turntablists often demand specialised durable faders with additional customisation options for sharpness, and even tension in order for them to perform effectively. Many mixers today come pre-fitted with faders that can be adjusted with dedicated onboard controls, and some mixers can even be retro-fitted with 3rd party faders (in most cases Crossfaders) to replace the original stock faders.
One of the most fundamental functions of a mixer is to enable the DJ to create continuous live mixes. A cue section allows DJs to discreetly prepare (or cue) tracks through headphones whilst simultaneously playing other tracks through the loudspeakers for an audience. This is particularly important where tracks are manually beatmatched, as DJs will be able to listen and sequence incoming music ahead of the crowd being able to hear it. Typically, a mixer will allow you to cue individual decks, the master out audio, and a combination of both through headphones via the dedicated cue section controls.
To further shape their sound and introduce new live characteristics to their music in the mix, DJs often perform with effects, either generated from the mixer itself (Onboard FX) or triggered from the external DJ software which can also be the source of the music (Software FX). Effects such as Echo, Reverb, Flanger, Gate and more are often built into DJ mixers or DJ software and are used to add both colour and tension, enhancing transitions between different songs. Another common effect featured on many mixers today is an onboard Filter knob for each channel. These typically work in a bipolar capacity, so if the knob is turned clockwise, a sweeping high pass filter is applied to the music (only high frequencies can be heard as low frequencies are carved out), and inversely, if the knob is turned anti-clockwise, a low pass filter is applied (only low frequencies can be heard as high frequencies are carved out).
The worlds of DJing, computer software, and music technology continuing to merge is great for the creative ambitions of DJs, providing them with new ways to perform and manipulate sounds. One of these innovations is the introduction of Mixers with integrated sound cards and Midi capabilities featuring dedicated (and customisable) controls which can trigger specific functions in corresponding software, such as Serato DJ. This makes it possible to do such things as controlling loops, FX, and Cue Points in the software using performance pads, faders, and encoders on the Mixer. Many of these functions can be also customized or mapped to the needs of each DJ, offering the most flexible and personalized setups to enhance individual performance styles.
Mixers of all types are designed to be connected to a speaker system via Master Out ports which are usually found at the rear of the unit. Depending on their intended use, some mixers offer additional outputs for connecting monitor speakers (Booth Out) to allow DJs to closely monitor the master out audio through personal speakers close by. This is typical for club mixers where a DJ is performing in a designated DJ booth area inside a nightclub which may be situated far from the main speakers meaning the DJ is unable to clearly hear what the audience would be experiencing. More sophisticated mixers can offer an additional Master Out, Session Out, or Record Out allowing DJs to connect to additional sound systems, other mixers, or to record their performance to external audio devices.
As with other creative artforms, DJing can be expressed in many ways according to your taste in music and style of performance. There are mixer solutions on the market to suit all the different ways in which we can choose to DJ.
The different types of DJs can be categorised as:
With so many mixer options on the market, from analog to digital, midi, and hybrid solutions, there are a number of things to consider before choosing the right model for your needs.
Through these questions you may find the right mixer from our product range:
RMX-44 BT - 4-Channel Bluetooth DJ Club Mixer (Introduction))
RMX-10 BT - Compact Bluetooth DJ Mixer (Introduction)
ELITE - High Performance DVS Mixer for Serato (Introduction)
KUT - 2 Channel Battle FX DJ Mixer With innoFADER (Official Introduction)
RMX-22i & 33i DJ Scratch Mixer - Digital FX Mixer With iPad Split Connection (Introduction)
RMX-60 Digital DJ Club Mixer - 4-Channel First Class Mixer (Introduction)
RP-8000 MK2 & ELITE feat. Chris Karns (Performance)
RP-8000 MK2 & ELITE feat. The Fresh Crew (Performance)
ELITE Series: Behind the decks with DJ Angelo, DJ Brace, Chris Karns, JFB, DJ Flip, Fong Fong
RP-8000 MK2 & ELITE feat. DJ Flip (Performance)
RP-8000 MK2 & ELITE feat. DJ Brace (Performance)
RP-8000 MK2 & ELITE feat. DJ JFB (Performance)
RP-8000 MK2 & ELITE feat. DJ Angelo (Performance)
ELITE High Performance DVS Mixer for Serato - Did You Know? (Tutorial)
RMX-22i DJ Scratch/Battle Mixer - Analog vs. Digital Performance w/ DJ Angelo (Routine)
Reloop RP-8000 MK2 & ELITE feat. DJ Robert Smith (Performance)
Here you will find useful information about DJing. We share our knowledge with you, keeping this area updated regularly with new content.
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