The Dj mixer market has advanced significantly from its basic PA origins in the last decade. It has split into three very distinct segments depending on budget and features.
The basic mixer, also refereed to as a scratch or bedroom mixer is where it all began, and is still popular for its physical size, low cost, and simplicity of function.
At its core, it is usually a two or three channel design, with crossfader, and some form of basic EQ control. Switchable inputs from line or turntable, and a headphone monitoring output is all that's required for playing and mixing from two sources, and this simple approach is just as popular now as ever for the budding Dj.
They have been modernised along the way with added features such as direct usb or 3.5mm inputs for mp3 file playback, or bluetooth receivers for wireless audio streaming from mobile phones, but their simple layout and functionality remain.
The mid level price point gets you a much wider choice, with mixers either having a larger rectangular footprint or the taking on the industry standard size of 19” wide or ‘rack mount’ width as its known.
Features vary depending on price and brand, but all will atleast have three or four channels available, with most now including some form of full band equaliser, either in control knob or slider format. They will often feature dual master outputs or booth outputs for club use, direct recording outputs, channel assignable cross faders, microphone inputs with talkover, and many include effects sections. The increase in cost also means greater component and circuit quality, which means better input signal sensitivity, lower noise being introduced to your output, and also the longevity and trouble free use that is required for a life ‘on the road’
At the high end of the market, things once again split into a wide selection, with each being specifically designed to cater for usage related requirements. An installation mixer, catering for a multi input and multi output club or bar system, has very different features than that of a studio or professional mobile Dj mixer, or competition based mixer. Each is designed to provide the best quality and ease of use for that specific task, which is why most manufacturers offer a whole range of what seem on the surface to be similar looking units. Again the component quality will be higher, and the overall components and materials will be nicer to the touch and built to last.
Mixers also drift into the media player arena now, with many, if not all new MIDI based controller systems featuring the mixer as an inbuilt part of the unit, along with turntable style control platters, midi triggers, system EQ, effects, and the ability to control, que and mix from four channels at the same time using a separate monitor or inbuilt displays. These inbuilt mixers also allow exterior inputs, so cd players or even turntables can be connected to work alongside your newer digital library.