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I do some DJing on the side, and have been working with what I have, which is my computer with 3.5mm out to my home theater receiver via an RCA cable, etc... It's very hackish, and I've been told I need to get a mixer if I want to continue to do this and actually have any kind of usability.

So, I'm looking to get a mixer. I'd like to spend less than $100 to start, and don't mind looking at used equipment. Any suggestions on things I should look for in a mixer? Any specific models I might look for?

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Are you just doing this at home? If you're just amplifying your computer's output it's not clear that a mixer will help you. Do you need to mix multiple audio signals together (like a traditional DJ with turntables has to)? –  Warrior Bob Aug 10 '11 at 16:11
    
I'd need the ability to mix in a microphone somehow. Think more MC at weddings than a club DJ... –  Glen Solsberry Aug 10 '11 at 16:34

3 Answers 3

First off, if you're already mixing tracks in your computer and you just need to combine your computer's output with a microphone, pretty much any mixer, DJ oriented or otherwise, will do.

But if you're planning to mix your tracks as well as the mic using the mixer, read on...

For less technically demanding DJing (such as at home or at a wedding) most any mixer targeted at DJs is probably fine - the most important components to look for are:

  • A crossfader. Usually this is a horizontal slider, and it controls the relative level of two inputs. You use this to fade in one track while the other one is playing.
  • A headphone jack. You use this to cue up other tracks, so make sure it can output a different mix than the master output. This way you can hear what you're about to mix in before the crowd does.
  • A microphone input with a volume knob.

Almost every DJ mixer on the market has these features. Look for brands like Pioneer, Numark, Stanton, and Technics to start with, although I'm sure there are plenty of others.

There are other features you might also want to look at, but aren't as critical:

  • An equalizer section on each input so you can adjust the tonal balance of a track. This is more important for club DJs but has its uses elsewhere.
  • Volume level meters.
  • Effects (either internal or external via an effects send).
  • More inputs and routing options

You do get what you pay for, however - more expensive mixers will have less internal noise and more durable components, so the knobs and sliders will last longer. Wedding DJing is less demanding than, say, scratching and turntablism - and so this may be less important depending on what you're trying to do, but it's a consideration

If possible, try one out that you're looking at. Listen for how much white noise it adds to the signal, and try mixing through it - see if the control layout makes sense to you.

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Something that may help you with mixing in a microphone and also add some legitimacy to your setup (make it less 'hackish') would be an audio interface. Since the sound quality of most internal sound cards for computers is not very good, it will most likely cause your setup to sound better also.

What you would do is plug in the microphone into the interface. You would then run the outputs of the interface into your amplifier. Your computer will act as the mixer.

You can get a fairly high quality USB interface for less than $200, and several are less than $100.

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Instead of a mixer, it sounds like you could use a MIDI interface for your mixing software, as well as an external sound card, which is something you could easily arrange for $100-200 total. Perhaps something like the Numark DJ2Go - inexpensive, functional, but not fully-loaded MIDI interface that will work with a variety of DJ software. See this review for more in depth info: http://www.digitaldjtips.com/2011/08/review-numark-dj2go-portable-dj-controller/

This is an excellent review of budget USB sound cards: http://www.digitaldjtips.com/2010/11/6-budget-dj-sound-cards/

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