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What you need to know about the right DJ mixer?

Elvis Elvis

CLUB MIXERS vs. SCRATCH MIXERS

There are two distinct categories of dj mixers on the market today. Mixers that cater to the club dj and mixers that cater to the battle dj. This stems from the distinctly different requirements that each type of dj possesses. Some companies have used their ingenuity to come up with mixers that contain a hybrid of feature sets, but for the most part mixing and scratching djs look for different things in a mixer.

Both the club mixer and scratch mixer categories have their high and low end mixers, which tends to make things complicated if you don’t know what you’re looking for in a dj mixer. Fortunately, once you are able to sift through the details and figure out the features that are important to you, decision time should get a bit easier. The features that most club djs look for in a mixer are the number of channels that the mixer has and the amount of effects that come with it. Scratch djs really only care about the quality of the mixer’s cross and vertical faders, how fast they are, and the adjustable curve on them. Its important to understand what these features provide so that you are able to make an informed decision before you drop a wad of cash on something you that isn’t for you:

What you need to know about the right DJ mixer?

CHANNELS

Think of your turntable as your input device to your mixer. Mixers dedicate channels to input devices. Each channel on a mixer has both a phono and a line input that can be toggled through the transformer switch, usually located above each vertical crossfader. Therefore, the number of dedicated channels that your mixer contains, equals the number of devices you can hook up to it at once–times two. A two channel mixer can have four input devices hooked into it at once, while four channels equals eight input devices. So if you have a two channel mixer you can assign two turntables and two cd decks to the mixer and toggle back and forth between devices via the transformer and the crossfader. If you have a four channel mixer, you can assign eight input devices to the mixer; for example 2 turntables, 2 cd turntables, a sampler, a synthesizer, a drum machine, and the kitchen sink…

EFFECTS

Effects alter the sound from your input device in some way. Some people think that the number of effects that a mixer has built in is directly related to how badass it is; but if your mixer doesn’t have any built in effects you can always buy a separate, stand-alone device to plug into one of your channels, so no worries. Standard effects on both high and low end mixers include the flange, reverb, and best of all the echo effect; but individual effects, and their quality, will vary on each mixer. One thing to remember is that effects are cool and all but they are super easy to get carried away with and before you know it you can seriously ruin a slammen track because you were feeling it with the flange button. So just be aware of that.

CROSSFADERS

The single most important part of the mixer to scratch djs. The crossfader and vertical faders are used during song transition. The most important aspect of the crossfader is how fast you can flick it back and forth. The crossfader on your mixer can aid in your development as a scratch dj, or completely hinder any and all improvement, depending on its quality. Fader technology has come a long way over the past five years with the advent of the optical and non-contact crossfader. Both types have their pros and cons but they are both leaps and bounds ahead of the old standard, so party on.

CURVE ADJUSTMENT

Curve adjustment relates to the mixer’s faders. For all you calculus buffs out there, if your crossfader is all the way to the left (on channel one), the term “curve” correlates to the area under a curve required to hear sound from channel two. Or, how far you have to push the fader to the right before the input device on your right is heard. If you need a lot of area under your curve in order to bring in the device you have on channel two, then you won’t hear sound from channel two until your crossfader moves farther to the right. If you only need a little area under your curve, then you barely have to move the crossfader to the right before you are able to hear sound from channel two. Adjustable curve means that you can customize your curve the way you want it, which is an important feature to the battle dj.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Make sure that you have a good idea of what you will be trying to do with the mixer, before you purchase one. As mentioned earlier, you can always buy stand-alone samplers and effects processors but you’re pretty much stuck with your mixer’s fader so if you’re thinking about scratching at all be sure to buy a mixer with a decent crossfader.