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Written by Ramsey
Whether you are a seasoned club DJ or a newbie just getting your feet wet spinning at home, your mixing board is one of the most important parts of any DJ’s set up. It’s arguably the most important factor because without the proper board and equipment, the show can't go on.
A mixer can be called many different names — audio or mixing console, DJ controller, sound mixer, soundboard, but most often you’ll hear it referred to simply as a DJ board or mixer. No matter what you want to call it, they all are designed to allow the DJ to mix and manipulate audio. Most will use the mixer to make seamless transitions from one song to another and more advanced DJ’s or turntablists will use DJ mixers to create beats, loops, and scratching effects.
If you are someone who's serious about advancing your DJ skills and/or career, you will certainly need to invest in a good mixer and DJ setup in order to elevate. If you have ever stepped foot into a music equipment store before, you probably have seen some hefty price tags on DJ hardware. However as we mentioned already, having the right equipment is essential to your success as a DJ and if you are dedicated to progressing your craft — it’s necessary to make the investment into some decent gear.
This doesn’t mean you have to go out and purchase the fanciest mixer you can find. There are actually a ton of high quality and affordable boards on the market that even the best DJ’s use or have started out with. If you clicked on this article, it’s safe to assume you are beginning your DJ venture or you are looking to improve your skills and enhance your career. So, congratulations to you for taking the steps towards progression!
In this review, we are going to share with you 7 different mixing boards that are not only the best quality options for beginner DJs but also the most affordable, so you don’t have to worry about breaking the bank.
Although there are many different types and brands of mixing boards out there, they all roughly serve the same purpose — just some are better than others. You don’t have to have a big expensive name brand board to mix like a pro. There are many affordable options that are just as good (if not better) and at a fraction of the price.
Before we get into the actual mixers themselves, let’s look into some factors that are important to consider when buying a board. Every DJ is different and will have particular preferences as to what they need and want out of a board. Here are the some of the features you will want to look out for when deciding which mixer is right for you:
The number of channels you require on a board will largely depend on what you are using the board for and how advanced your mixing skills are. The most basic mixer will have at least two channels allowing you to switch between the two tracks using channel faders or the crossfader.
You’ll see other DJ boards with around four or five channels, the new Pioneer flagship mixer even has an impressive six channels — but these are more likely to be used by extremely advanced or club DJs. If you are just starting out, a two channel board will be perfect for you to begin learning on.
The crossfader is the basic element of any DJ board, as it allows you to switch from one track to another and blend the two smoothly together. Look for a lasting, durable crossfader, as your crossfader carries a lot of the load, and it needs to stand up to heavy use. Your crossfader needs to be easily customized and versatile.
Performance pads included on the mixer give you a range of possibilities including adding percussion to tracks and many other things. This makes your music much more interesting to listen to.
Every DJ mixer has a few very basic components and features: channel strips (volume controls and EQ), a crossfader, a jack for your headphones, and outputs to hook the mixer up to your sound system. However, most DJ mixers throw in extra features, some of which will be useful to you and some that you will never touch. This includes effects, filters, USB connectivity, integrated audio interface, and more.
More features will typically mean a more costly board. Do some research on the different components of the board before buying so you don’t waste money on additional features that you don’t need. It is also helpful to talk to other DJs or equipment specialists to see what they feel are the most important and necessary components.
Pioneer is a highly reputable brand for DJ equipment and is one of the most widely used boards across the world. This 2 channel controller is lightweight and easily portable, making it a great option for those traveling to and from events or for mixing at house parties for friends.
It is compatible with your iPhone and other smartphones, featuring a free companion app, WeDJTM which allows you to mix songs directly from your iTunes library. The app also allows you to tap into your SoundCloud Go+, Spotify Premium, and Beatport LINK streaming services, which is an amazing feature for those who haven’t built up their personal music library just yet.
Pricing in at an attractive $149, this board is perfect for beginner DJs looking for professional sound. Even if you are an old-school DJ, the Pioneer DDJ-200 controller can adapt to any skill level. Additionally, it has the ability to play audio through your connected device’s speakers, so you don’t have to spend a ton of money on a PA system to begin DJ'ing.
This controller is also USB bus-powered, so it can run from an optional battery source, such as a power bank, and you have the freedom to DJ anywhere you want. The interface is clean, intuitive, and user-friendly. This among all other points mentioned is what makes it the number one best and most affordable DJ controller on our list.
The DDJ-SB3 controller is another great and affordable option from Pioneer DJ. It is a step up in features and price compared to the DDJ-200 mentioned above. However, if you can afford to come out of pocket a little more, you will find this board completely revolutionizes the portable DJ experience.
This controller is designed specifically for use with Serato DJ Lite and this program comes free with the purchase of the board. It also offers plug-and-play simplicity along with the world's first Pad Scratch for professional-sounding scratch performances. Even if you don't know how to scratch, the highly advanced features of this board will allow you to pull off professional scratch effects without breaking rhythm.
Another great feature you will find with this controller is the FX Fade. This makes smooth mixing a breeze with the ability to reduce the volume and apply FX to a track at the same time. So Whether you’re an experienced DJ or a beginner, you can smoothly transition to your incoming track. There are eight FX patterns to choose from, with two of each of the following types: high-pass filter, low-pass filter, loop playback and back spin.
The DDJ-SB3 is powered by a single USB connection to a laptop, so there's no need for a separate power supply, allowing mobile DJs to streamline their portable setup and spend less time fumbling with cables and set up. It has a sleek design and interface, aluminum jog wheels, dedicated play and cue buttons, and the independent Auto Loop button. This board gives you the quality and feel you would find in a professional DJ booth and will only set you back a mere $249.
The Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 MK3 is an excellent entry-level DJ controller that is designed for new Traktor Pro 3 software. This 2-channel mixer comes with larger, redesigned 5.5” precision jog-wheels, yet the board is still compact enough to easily carry around and fit in smaller DJ booths.
The features include sixteen RGB performance pads that let you trigger hot cues, loops and samples, eight FX and three filter types to assign to four hardware FX slots. It’s equipped with 3-band EQ, mic input, USB input, and the ability to deliver professional sounding mixes while only costing you around $339.
This Serato DJ controller from Numark is designed to develop and build your DJ skills, making it a perfect option for beginners. It has all the features you need to start sounding like a pro right with 2 channels, 6-inch jog wheels, 8 performance pads per deck to access cues, loops, fader cuts and samples, 6 quick-launch effects with dual paddle triggers, microphone input, RCA output and headphone output, and includes a Serato DJ Lite download, so you can begin performing right away.
Everything you need for creating build-ups, crafting unforgettable transitions and adding your own unique spin to your mix is all available with this board. With the 16 multi-function backlit performance pads, you can inject a dose of true DJ performance and remix, mash-up and transform your tracks. If you are looking for a board that allows your true creativity to flourish without spending an arm and a leg, the Numark Mixtrack Pro FX could easily be the board for you at only $229.
This 2 channel mixer comes with large filter effect knobs on each deck, sync, play/pause and cue buttons, pitch sliders for tempo adjustments, performance pads with effect, cue, loop and sampler modes, library controls for scrolling and loading tracks, and all other basics for putting on a great performance as a beginner DJ.
This forward-thinking Serato DJ controller gives DJs the features and layout of a full-size professional controller in a rugged and portable unit that is perfect for beginner and veteran DJ alike. It comes with a free upgrade to Serato DJ Pro, which is a feature packed upgrade from the Serato Lite software.
The dedicated Serato controls allow quick creation and triggering of hot cues, loops, and samples, plus switching between four decks with the Deck Select button. Use the channel filters or Serato FX to finesse blends or accentuate scratches. With dedicated Play/Pause and Cue buttons, you have the same direct control found on high-end controllers and standalone audio players, but for a much lower cost at $300.
Powered by USB, this 2-channel, 4-deck controller can be transported and set up with minimal effort. Its compact, lightweight design and easy-grab handles allow DJs to mix on the go or set up for a party in no time. The DJ-202 easily packs in the most features of any controller in its class. If you are a step up from a beginner DJ but wouldn’t quite call yourself advanced just yet, I’d highly recommend this mixing board for you.
The Hercules DJControl Inpulse 300 helps you learn the basics of DJ'ing. It's easy-to-use and comfortable design plus features can easily have you mixing like a beginner to mixing like a pro in no time. If you’re not a fan of Pioneer or Numark, Hercules is a reputable brand that you should definitely give a try.
Controlled by DJUCED software, the DJControl Inpulse 300 features DJ Academy with onboard video tutorials along with other features to help you learn quickly such as the BeatMatch Guide that you can deactivate once you have mastered the art of mixing. Light guides on the controller assist you in getting down the right moves, the Intelligent Music Assistant (IMA) helps you pick the best songs to play. The ENERGY feature manages the party mood.
It is equipped with a 2-channel mixer section with 3-band EQ and separate volume faders, built-in effects, 16 performance pads, large jog wheels, beat alignment and BPM matching features, plus a free DJUCED DJ software download — all for the cost of $199.99.
The Numark Party Mix II controller is the cheapest board on the list and arguably the best, low costing DJ board found on the market today. For only $129, you get a high-quality name brand controller packed with all of the essential DJ performance features. Plus, it has an additional built-in LED light show that synchronizes to your music, which will add another layer of creativity to your live DJ set.
It’s seamless integration with Serato DJ Lite software allows you to access an existing music library or you can hook up your device directly to the board and integrate popular different DJ mobile apps such as Algoriddim djay or DJ Player Pro.
At such a low price, it would also be the perfect gift for the aspiring DJ in your life. Although it is not as feature-packed as some of the other boards on this list, it does have the essentials any beginner would need to start learning the basics of DJ'ing and mixing.
Finding high-quality and affordable DJ gear is not impossible, despite what you may have heard from others. The 7 mixing boards we listed in this review will be perfect for any beginner DJs who are looking to start mixing more efficiently.
Each of these boards can be purchased for less than $350, which is the going rate that the average DJ would be paid for one night of performing. Think about that, your entire board could be paid off from one gig!
Coughing out money is never fun, but when it is an investment on high quality gear that will only benefit you and your future career, it is well worth any expense. We wish you the best of luck on your new DJ ventures — feel free to comment below and share this article with any of your DJ friends!
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