Whats the Difference Between a DJ Mixer and a Live Mixer?

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What's the Difference Between a DJ Mixer and a Live Mixer?

For a disc jockey or an audio technician, combining signals or sounds is both an art and a craft. These people know how to effectively direct and mix sounds so the audience can hear a harmonious output. Knowing how to wield a mixer, the tool of the trade, is the expertise of a professional disc jockey or audio technician. But even aspiring DJs or regular music lovers can learn how to use a mixer to create great music mixes.

There is a variety of mixers out on the market, and it is important to know what type of mixer is suitable for individual needs. A studio mixer, for instance, is a great tool for mixing sounds and recording a final output. Other types of mixers are a DJ mixer and a live mixer. Is there difference between the two mixers? Buyers must know the difference, as well as the different parts and functions of a mixer, in order to make a wise judgement when choosing the right type of mixer to use for either work or leisure.

Difference Between a DJ Mixer and a Live Mixer

All mixers have the same basic function: to combine signals. Mixers only vary because of their intended applications. Essentially, a mixer can either be a "live mixer" when it used in a live setting or a "studio mixer" when used for recording mixes and performances in a studio. A live mixer combines signals from different inputs and then sends it to a finite number of speakers, such as the main speakers, balcony speakers, and monitors. A studio mixer, on the other hand, combines signals to create a recorded master output.

Furthermore, a DJ mixer, which is mostly used in a live function, is in essence a live mixer. Usually, the two mixers both have the basic features, such as stereo channels, an input selector, a gain control, equalisers, and a microphone input. But what sets apart a DJ mixer from a typical live mixer is its ability to route a non-playing source to headphones, as well as the crossfader function that allows easier transition from one source to another.

Basic Parts of DJ and Live Mixer

Both live and DJ mixers have these basic parts: stereo channels, input selector, gain control, equaliser, cue switch, and microphone input. Although they are basic parts, they are important in the process of directing and mixing music during a live function, such as a party or a concert. A live or DJ mixer has two to six stereo channels for connecting source devices, such as a CD player, and sending the signals for mixing.

A DJ mixer has a phono input with RIAA equalisation, which is an essential specification if a DJ wants to attach a turntable to the mixer. Each channel is arranged vertically in both live and DJ mixers, and each channel has a knob or switch for selecting inputs. An equaliser is also present in any type of mixer so a DJ can fade in or fade out the different parts of a track. In mixing two tracks, one common technique is to mute the bass of one track and use only the other. This way, the bass lines of the two tracks do not clash.

There are mixers that feature separate knobs for the low, mid, and high frequency ranges, and controls like a balance knob, aux-sends for external effects unit, and built-in sound effects. A cue switch is important in a DJ mixer because it sends a signal to headphones, allowing a DJ to listen to that signal without it affecting the master output. At the end of a channel strip is a fader that is useful in varying the volume in the final mix. There are also microphone inputs in both a DJ mixer and a live mixer. Larger live mixing consoles have inputs for microphones and source devices to support a band setup.

Analogue Mixers vs. Digital Mixers

In the quest of finding the right DJ or live mixer, another question can come to mind: Should the mixer be analogue or digital? To have a better judgement in this matter, it is necessary to discuss the common desirable qualities in a mixer, such as fast signal processing, ease of use and great sound quality, as well as how an analogue or a digital mixer rate in these qualities.

Ease of Use

In terms of knob-, fader-, or button-function ratio, an analogue mixer wins over a digital mixing console. An analogue mixer has one knob, fader, or button per function, which makes it is easier and faster for a user to perform tasks on the console. A digital mixer, on the other hand, has fewer knobs, buttons, and faders; it has a simpler and clean look that does not intimidate a user.

Most digital mixers make up for the lack of physical controls with virtual pages or layers that change the fader banks into separate controls. The controls are useful in varying equalisation; however, this feature can be quite confusing for a beginning user. It is also harder to make a hardware patch change on a digital mixing console because of internal reassignment, making convenient groupings of inputs appear near each other at the fader bank. Modern digital mixers allow users to store and edit live mixes in a computer, which makes it easier for a DJ to create a remix.

Sound Quality

Both analogue and digital mixers make use of an analogue preamplifier that increases the strength of a signal at line level, so when it comes to sound quality, neither mixer beats the other. For overloading or clipping concerns, both mixers have a solution, with the digital mixer using a digital converter to break down an audio stream into small but measurable increments. The faint hissing sound to the main outputs can be corrected through good gain stage management in an analogue mixer and by low-level gating in a digital mixer.

Signal Processing

It is no secret that a digital mixer delays the release of a signal from the speakers because of the conversion of analogue signals to digital ones. The delay, depending on a digital mixer model and functions that are currently engaged in the process, ranges from 1.5 to 10 milliseconds. Although the delay is not a problem to someone hearing the output from loudspeakers, it is quite confusing and disorienting to an artist wearing in-ear monitors.

Remote Control Capability

Although analogue mixers has had the option of using a wired remote control since the 90s, it is the digital mixer that offers flexibility when it comes to remote controlling. Digital mixing platforms allow the use of both wired and wireless remote controls using a laptop or a tablet computer, especially if there is no need for quick changes in the mixing process during a live performance. There are computer networks linking different elements of a digital system to make it possible to manipulate devices even when they are far from the disc jockey or technician.

Buying a DJ or a Live Mixer on eBay

eBay is a great website to buy DJ mixers and live mixers because you have the option to choose from new, refurbished, and used mixers depending on your budget. Also, there are so many brand options for a DJ mixer or a live mixer on eBay, and you can easily filter your search to a certain brand that you fancy.

Searching on eBay is fast and easy. All you need to do is type the keywords "DJ mixers" or "live mixers" in the search bar to produce a listing of relevant results. You can also do a search based on features, such as an equaliser, USB connection, integrated effects unit, loop function, and more. Always remember to read the product description carefully to make sure that the specifications of a certain mixer is what you are really looking for. Also, check the shipping details of a product before purchasing to know when to expect it to arrive.


A quality mixer is any aspiring disc jockey’s dream. A live mixer or a DJ mixer, as opposed to a studio mixer, is usually a fixture in live events. It is such a versatile device; it allows not only mixing of tracks to produce a desirable output but also controlling of sounds that come out of the speakers to make an event more organized. Both a live mixer and a DJ mixer have the same basic parts, including the stereo channels, input selector, gain control, equaliser, cue switch, microphone input, and headphone input. Knowledge of the similarities and differences of a DJ mixer and a live mixer is essential in understanding their functions.

Moreover, it is also helpful to know the advantages and disadvantages of a digital DJ or live mixer and an analogue DJ or live mixer in order to know the best option for a particular purpose. Knowing a mixer inside and out may take years of experience, but knowing the different types of mixers and the basic parts are a first step to understanding how to maximise the functions of the device.

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