The mixer is the centre point of any set-up, the control station from which all the magic happens. Here are some of the most desirable on the planet right now...
As Rane make Serato, this mixer integrates perfectly with the software. You can attach two laptops via USB 2.0, meaning Serato changeovers are seamless and two DJs can even both play at once (two channels each) from their respective laptops. As the most stable and with the lowest latency of any digital vinyl system, pro phono pre-amps for exceptional sound and all the usual effects, this is perfect for Serato users. A small American company, Rane, made this bespoke gold version for the 2011 DMC champion.
As used by... DJ Vajra (DMC Champion 2011)
This classic mixer came about after mash-up pioneer Froggy met Larry Levan at Paradise Garage. He wanted a mixer as good as Larry's Bozak, but with a crossfader and sliders; he got Matt Matthias to design the circuitry (he was behind some of the most desirable valve guitar amps ever made). No two Supernovas are alike as it comes as modules that the user puts together themselves.
As used by... Greg Wilson on The Tube in 1983
Bozak (With reconditioning)
An original Bozak (ie the CMA 10-2-DL series) is highly desirable and was built to an incredibly high standard. But after 30 years they'll probably need reconditioning by a Bozak specialist such as Justin Greenslade from Isonoe (who is also custom making a mixer for DFA's James Murphy). The Bozak differs from any other mixer in that it's entirely based around discrete transistors and contains no integrated circuits (chips) whatsoever. Users have to learn how to use rotary dials properly, but once they do, many insist that they have way more feel than a crossfader.
As used by... Trojan Sound System, Larry Levan, Masters At Work, DJ Harvey
E&S DJR 400
(two-year waiting list)
Jerôme Barbé and DJ Deep wanted to make a modern rotary mixer that was portable and easy to set up in the club environment but still embodied the sound quality of the Bosaks and Ureis of old. This is it. Joakim brought one into the Mixmag DJ Lab: no fancy effects (though you can hook up an external unit), just a warm rich sound in a compact package, hand made with love by Jerôme himself.
As used by... Kerri Chandler, Danny Krivit, Dimitri from Paris
Allen & Heath Xone:DB4
For the DJ who wants full control, the DB4 excels. You can sync up Traktor, Ableton Live and other bits of software – Andy C uses this as the centrepoint of his Alive show, so he doesn't have to touch a computer at any point. With BPM-synced, studio-quality effects including a low- and high-pass filter on each channel, messing with tracks is easy as you don't have to keep reassigning an FX unit. Also available with rotary knobs, this is next level... though many DJs (like Sven Väth) still swear by the Xone:92.
As used by...Andy C, Dubfire
Mark levinson ML-1
£4,000–£5,000 (ebay, then recoditioned)
The likes of Colleen 'Cosmo' Murphy and David Mancuso use this at The Loft parties in NYC, London and Japan. Technically it's not a mixer, but an audiophile pre-amp made by Mark Levinson. First produced in 1977 and discontinued in 1980, it was so good it launched his empire. It has two phono and two line stages but no crossfader. Sound-wise, nothing comes close.
As used by... Cosmo, David Mancuso
For the scratch DJ this is the one. A touch-sensitive screen gives you access to 50 BPM-synced effects and you can hook up a foot pedal to control those effects while scratching (or assign them to the faders, which can also be assigned to start a track on CDJs). But it's really the crossfader that makes this stand out. Using fader curve control technology you can adjust the crossfader to your exact specification, customising its feel so those flares and orbits just roll off the tips of your fingers.
As used by... Jazzy Jeff (who also had Serato SL3 built into his DJM909)
Originally released in 1995, the PMC 05 is an iconic mixer that was made for, and has been the staple diet of, scratch DJs for years. With a crossfader built to endure abuse (but that's easily replaceable), the Pro 3 version got a hamster switch and moved the monitor level controls to free up space for dynamic scratches and moves.
As used by... Shortkut and Q-Bert (back in the day)
Pioneer DJM 2000
Hook up four CDJ2000s and two laptops to this and go nuts on the central effects section (based on the EFX-1000 outboard effects unit). The mixer 'talks' to the CDJs so that when the faders are up the CDJ jog-wheel turns red. No more stopping the wrong track! Includes a noise oscillator, which, when used with a phaser, means you can create your own builds and drops. The multi-band crossfader is split into seven frequency bands: never mind just taking the bass out of the incoming track, try gently replacing each range for the smoothest mix ever. Sampler mode lets you record an MC and instantly assign it to a CDJ to scratch the sample.
As used by... James Zabiela, Roger Sanchez