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What Is a DJ Mixer?

Disc jockeys use DJ mixers to combine audio sources and sound effects.
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  • Written By: Alex Newth
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 04 September 2014
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A DJ mixer is a piece of hardware used by disc jockeys (DJs) to combine audio sources and sound effects during live performances. Beyond allowing the DJ to create his or her own audio through other sources, a DJ mixer makes it easier for a DJ to continuously play music without any downtime, so people keep dancing without interruption or a single moment of silence. In many ways, a DJ mixer unit is similar to other audio mixers, but there are differences in the DJ’s equipment that make a DJ mixer special. Most mixers can record audio, allowing the DJ to make an original mix that can be played on cue.

The DJ mixer is almost like any other audio mixer. It takes one or more audio sources and applies changes by altering the basic components of the audio’s sound. One of the defining features of a mixer is the crossfader, which acts as two faders colliding with each other. This allows the DJ to quickly transition from one song to the next, fading out one audio source and simultaneously fading in another source. Another defining feature is the ability to feed a non-playing audio source into headphones.

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Aside from crossfading, DJ mixers have many other features that allow a DJ to create his or her own mix. There are often a variety of knobs and controls that permit the DJ to change the bass, treble and beat of the audio, along with other basic audio components. Sound effects are normally an afterthought with these units, so the DJ focuses more on mixing pre-existing music rather than adding sound effects, but most units have a few effects that can be used. These effects are typically generic and may be included on many different mixer models.

One obvious benefit from using a DJ mixer is that the DJ is able to keep music playing continuously without any downtime. This is done via the crossfader, because it generally allows the audio to decrease in volume for less than a second before picking back up. By using this technique, the DJ can keep people dancing and entertained all night, without there being any party-stopping silence between songs.

Another benefit of using a DJ mixer model is that the DJ can create his or her own DJ mixes. While some DJs prefer impromptu performances, others prefer to plan the event and have a list of songs and effects ready. DJ mixers can typically record a mix, so the DJ can have the lineup ready before the event occurs, and he or she can fine-tune the sound for his or her preference.

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