In addition to being a private violin teacher, Alecia started writing music-related articles 3 years ago and has been enjoying this experience greatly. Loves quilting and scrapbooking in her free time.
Marcus has a vast experience in digital audio and sound design. Thanks to his knowledge, he actively helps musicians with technical problems, improving their audio quality and even promoting their tracks so that thousands of listeners could enjoy some really good music.
Last updated: August 20, 2021
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A good DJ mixer should be at the heart of any DJ setup. For many beginners, a two-channel mixer will be sufficient and there are some fantastic models on the market.
Our research team assessed 15 DJ mixers to determine the functionality and performance. We’ve created a list of top picks and our editor’s choice, the Pioneer DJ DJM-450 offers a superb balance of functionality, features and value. However, we’ve also ranked other DJ mixers to ensure a pick for everyone.
Our researchers deliberated to find the best DJ 2-channel mixer for beginners or more experienced DJs. We’ve assessed the functionality of each device including the software compatibility, which will impact the ease of set up and the number of inputs and outputs. However, we also looked at the weight and dimensions, which will determine how easily you can take it to any gig. We’ve compiled our findings into a simple overview table and list of detailed reviews. However, we’ve also included our buying guide to walk you through making a purchase decision.
The Pioneer DJ DJM-450 has received a recent upgrade to include some of the features found on the DJM-900 NX S2 models. This is a 2-channel DJ mixer with high quality 64-bit digital processing for digital and analogue sources. The mixer has a clean and professional layout that beginners and seasoned DJ’s will intuitively understand. A heavy duty Magvel fader ensures smooth EQ control and there is an isolator to cancel an entire EQ band as needed.
This is a great mixer if you want to add turntables into your mix and control your vinyl. There are 8 built-in FX, they are: echo, delay, trans, flange, roll, reverb, spiral and pitch. There is an independent send/return channel so you can use the built-in FX alongside your favorite outboard FX units.
The Pioneer DJ DJM-450 is our editor’s choice because it offers a great value proposition for DJ’s. There are plenty of connections, including: an XLR and ¼” line in, a pair of headphone outputs, two USB ports, a mic and AUX input, a master XLR and RCA output, three RCA connections and a pair of phono/line level ports. This mixer package is rounded out with a license for the Rekordbox DJ software to get you up and running fast.
What makes it stand out?
Many users have reported that this mixer has excellent sound quality
This is a great way to get your hands on most of the DJM-900 NX S2 at a more affordable price
There are plenty of connections making it a flexible piece of gear
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
Absolute beginners may want to try a more basic unit first
The Pioneer DJ DJM-S9 is our premium pick. It’s specifically designed for Serato DJ users and it seamlessly integrates with that software as a MIDI controller via USB. The controls are fully assignable, the 6 FX buttons, pads and Magvel Pro crossfader can be configured to create your own custom controller setups. Even the curve and reverse settings can be adjusted along with full access to control over the operational load.
Every DJ loves access to pads, they are a dynamic way to spice up a set and the Pioneer DJ DJM-S9 pads control slicing, looping, rolling and hot cues. For more advanced users, the pads can be assigned to various Serato functions as a handy remote trigger. It’s easy to keep track of the current status with the EL display, the colors can be adjusted as an extra visual cue to match Serato functions.
The “Beat FX” and “Pro FX” buttons are a great way to access the preset beat FX. But, there are also 2 extra memory banks for custom FX setups that can be easily accessed on the fly. The “Filter FX” dial allows the DJ to dial in other FX, including: noise, pitch, dub and echo. This is a high quality 2 channel DJ mixer, we detect no distortion on the mic input and the clip display used for monitoring the peak levels. The Melodic App is also included and this software is a great way to improve finger drumming technique.
What makes it stand out?
Serato users report that this mixer integrates seamlessly with their DJ software
The controllers are fully assignable to create custom controller setups
The pads are well implemented and they add a great deal of value
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
As a premium 2 channel mixer this is not the cheapest entry point for total beginners
The Mixars DUO MKII is designed to work with the popular Serato DJ software. This is an upgraded variant of the well regarded DUO 2 channel mixer with some exciting new features. The new Japanese made Galileo Essential crossfader has been produced for this mixer in a collaboration with industry stalwarts Pro X Fade. This crossfader features the very latest conductive plastic technologies to facilitate super precise cuts for scratching.
All the tools that you would expect are present and correct, including: 8 RGB backlit pads, a central push encoder for browsing and selection, a pair of push encoders for looping duties and another pair of push encoders for FX and beat sync. The 8 RGB pads are used to trigger your cue points, rolls, one shot samples and loops. The colors can be adjusted for visual feedback in a custom setup to make navigation easier in a dark club.
The Mixars DUO MKII has a 24-bit/96kHz sound card that’s class compliant for Mac but Windows users need to use ASIO drivers. Each of the top panel controls are MIDI assignable so the DJ can easily create their own custom performance surfaces.
Why did it make our list?
This DJ mixer is designed for Serato but it works well with DVS
Users have reported that the Galileo crossfader is a high quality component
The MIDI mappable controls and RGB pads can be used to create custom setups easily
As the name would suggest, this controller is specifically designed to work with the excellent NI Traktor DJ software. At a glance this may seem like an expensive option compared to the other mixers on our list but it does include a full version of Traktor Scratch Pro 2. This software is a digital vinyl system that’s broadly similar to Serato DJ and it allows users to timecode their CD’s and vinyl for precise scratching.
The “Macro FX” system gives the DJ over 30 high quality FX to use on the fly. These FX are easy to control via a dedicated set of precise RGB knobs and buttons. The chassis of the mixer is made from aluminum and the three Innofaders are high quality components. The 24-bit/48kHz soundcard is a set above many other mixers on the market and there is plenty of connectivity.
For DJs that want a standalone unit to control their digital Traktor rig the Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol Z2 is a no-brainer. Native Instruments have included an impressive bundle of software and the steep learning curve is well worth the effort.
What are our favorite features?
Some users believe that Traktor software sounds better than Serato
The Innofaders are fantastic for cutting and scratching
What could be better?
Some users have reported that this is a complex mixer with a steep learning curve
This is an expensive mixer but it does come with an impressive software bundle
The Numark M2 is our best value mixer because it offers a great deal of functionality at a bargain price. The mixer chassis is made from solid steel making it roadworthy and durable for DJ’s on the road. Both channels have a 3 band EQ to adjust frequencies in real time and the crossfader feels smooth and solid. The low price makes this an ideal choice for new DJ’s and it would be an excellent backup mixer for a pro.
This is an ideal DJ mixer for high quality scratching on a tighter budget and it’s easy to switch between sound sources. The line inputs are switchable so you can use your CD player, mp3 player and turntables and the sound quality is good. The two master outputs are RCA connectors and a ¼” stereo headphone output.
At this price it’s unusual to get a good quality piece of audio gear that’s durable. The Numark M2 is an exception, although it may be basic in terms of features it’s a rock solid choice. Any new DJ looking for a first mixer or more advanced user needing a second mixer should give the Numark M2 some serious consideration.
What makes it stand out?
Users have reported that this is a well made basic mixer
The low price makes this a great mixer for a new DJ or as a backup unit
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
One user reported that the crossfader began to “bleed” sound after a year of use but they upgraded to an Innofader and the Numark M2 was even better than before
If you want to get into Djing, a mixer is a crucial piece of kit. However, with so many models on the market, choosing the best two-channel mixer can be a little overwhelming. So, here we’ve created a buying guide with all the features you should look for, things to consider and answers to some of the most common questions to help you make your purchase decision.
How does a 2-channel DJ mixer work?
A good DJ mixer is the hub of any live setup, it’s used to mix sounds from a variety of sources and add some FX and performance tricks to excite the audience. A 2-channel mixer has CH-1 and CH-2 inputs available for CD decks, mp3 players, a laptop or for the traditionally minded a pair of turntables. Most modern DJ mixers also have a USB port to connect to a laptop running their favorite DJ software. The mixer has controls that allow the DJ to select each sound source as required and feed that output to the main mix. The output can be monitored directly from the headphone output before the mixing occurs. This allows the DJ to match beats, apply FX or prepare some scratching before it reaches the ears of the audience. Some DJ mixers such as the Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol Z2 are more focused on digital DJing using software. However, most modern mixers can perform both functions and they typically have a built-in soundcard.
Features to consider when buying a 2-channel DJ mixer
With so many DJ mixers on the market, it can be tricky to select the best one for your requirements. Here we’ll explore some of the key features you should consider to help you narrow down your options.
The “battle” mixer is focused on the crossfader and using it for the precise cutting of audio in a live performance. These types of mixers need to have a well designed crossfader and a durable construction to stand up to serious use. An excellent example on our list is the Numark M2 with it’s no frills approach and affordable entry point. A scratch DJ typically prefers a simple and accurate mixer and they don’t need all the controls found on other units. Many DJ’s have a dedicated scratch mixer and other units to suit different types of gigs.
Digital Mixers are mixers that feature rich control surfaces and soundcards for easy interfacing with software. A prime example on our list would be the Pioneer DJ DJM-S9 designed for Serato DJ users. A good digital mixer is the hub of a primarily or exclusively software based DJing setup but they can handle external audio from the usual sources. Most modern digital DJ mixers have fully MIDI configurable controls allowing the user to create custom setups. The buttons and pads are often RGB colored for easier navigation in a dark club and there are FX available to spice up the performance.
The only “pure analog” mixer on our list is the Numark M2. These mixers are typically cheaper because they are less complex than digital units. A good analog mixer is very easy to use, they are reliable and many DJ’s have at least one on hand. Many types of DJ software can work with analog mixers, but it’s more common for a DJ to use a digital mixer. A DJ using an analog mixer live is likely to be using turntables or CD decks for mixing live or in their home studio. If the DJ wants to record their mix, they would need to run their main outputs to a separate audio interface and record into a DAW or digital audio workstation.
Many people will want a DJ mixer purely for mixing at home. This is a fun hobby, but it may turn into something else. If you want to play at parties or a club the mixer needs to be light, portable and durable. A mixer such as the Pioneer DJ DJM-450 represents a significant investment so it makes sense to transport it in a hard case or a well-padded DJ bag. Most modern DJ mixers and control surfaces are shock resistant but it’s a good idea to avoid dropping one to test that theory out.
Software and system requirements
Some of the DJ mixers such as the Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol Z2 are bundled with all the software you need. However, if there is a specific piece of DJ software that you want to use it makes sense to check that it will pair up with your mixer before buying. The specifications of your laptop are also important, many DJ mixers are plug and play but it’s always wise to check first.
The inputs are the connections where the sound sources come into the mixer. When you plug your smartphone or turntables or other sound source into the mixer you will need appropriate phono cables. Generally speaking, it’s a bad idea to use different types of sound sources although with experience it is possible. Most people use two similar sound sources to keep things simple and coherent. When you mix together or transition between two separate sound sources they may be different pitches. So, when you want to Beatmatch them together you will need to adjust on sound source using pitch control. If you’re using a digital mixer and DJ software this entire process can take place entirely inside the software.
The majority of DJ mixers such as the Mixars DUO MKII have a dedicated microphone input that allows the user to speak, rap or sing along with the main mix. Some mixers drop the audio volume of the other channels to boost the mic volume and this is called “talkover mode”. This is a popular feature with radio and disco DJs that may need to make an important announcement. The best mixers have a separate EQ for the microphone to control feedback and cut out bass frequencies when the mic is in use.
On most mixers, the channel equalization or EQs are found above the channel fader.
Most modern mixers have a three band EQ and a trim adjustment knob to adjust the frequencies. Cheaper mixers may have a two band EQ and a more expensive mixer might have a four band EQ on each channel.
Once the sound levels are set the EQ can be adjusted to further tailor the sound by boosting frequencies that may be lower in the mix and cutting out annoying frequencies. EQing is an art in itself, each room has different characteristics and this will affect how your DJ mixer and speaker system works in that room. This is why soundchecks are so important before you begin your set.
At the side of each channel fader, you will find a level meter that displays the current volume on that channel. As the music plays, this will move showing the relative volume and on a modern DJ mixer this is usually an LED strip of lights. The progression is green at lower volumes through to yellow in the middle range and red at the top end of the volume spectrum. It’s tempting to push the levels into the red, but this is a bad idea because the sound will start to distort. Try to keep the level meters at the top end of the middle range without clipping into the red as much as possible.
The trim level knobs can be used to adjust the volume of each channel to mix the sound and create a coherent sound. High levels of sound will introduce distortion into the mix and it’s a good idea to lower the trim levels slowly to get the best balance of loudness and clarity.
The outputs are where the sound leaves the mixer to go to a house speaker system or a PA system at a party. The outputs may be ¼” or RCA depending on the mixer and you will need to ensure you have the right cables or adapters to hook everything up together. The best mixers may have a choice of outputs available and you can route the sound to the ones you prefer. A mixer may have a “tape out” output and this is used to send a main mix out for recording. Another output type is an FX send, this allows the DJ to route the audio to an external sound processor and then back into the mixer.
BPM counters, FX, sampler
The mixer is likely to have a BPM counter for easy reference and this allows the DJ to accurately match a beat before making a transition or cutting. On-board FX are great fun to play with and they can add a great deal to a performance. If the mixer has a built-in sampler or looper the DJ can take a phrase, manipulate it and then drop back into the source sound easily. This is a fun way to get experimental and snap back if things get a little out of hand.
Many modern mixers have a built-in FX processor that can add multiple FX at the same time. FX such as: delays, flangers and reverbs are a particularly useful way to add a little spice to your set. But, if you have an FX send output and return on your mixer you can always add external FX units to your set later.
Dimensions and weight
Generally speaking, a modern DJ mixer will be light, portable and shock resistant if dropped. Digital mixers may be a little more fragile because more plastic is used to keep the prices down. If the mixer is a permanent installation at a home studio or a residency, then portability is less of an issue. If you need to travel with your DJ mixer, check the weight and dimensions carefully before you make a purchase. It’s also a good idea to get a padded DJ bag or flight case to protect your mixer and add the mixer to your home insurance for peace of mind.
While a DJ controller is an all in one package, featuring transport controls for the speed, volume, EQs and decks, a DJ mixer is a dedicated mixing suite, taking the inputs from the CD, record deck or external sound card running the software on your laptop.
The Numark M2 is a basic mixer that allows beginners to get to grips with the fundamentals without becoming overwhelmed by more complicated settings and features.
As we’ve demonstrated, there are some fantastic two channel DJ mixers on the market today. From the Mixars DUO MKII that not only provides a full suite of tools and is compatible with Serato and DVS, to the Pioneer DJ DJM-S9, which offers seamless integration with software and fully assignable controllers for custom setups.
However, the stand out as the best 2 channel DJ mixer has to be our editor’s choice, the Pioneer DJ DJM-450. This impressive piece of kit offers excellent sound quality and superb value for any DJ. The DJM-450 has lots of connections and the mixer package features a Rekordbox DJ software license, so you can get up and running quickly.