The 3 Best Mixers with Phono Preamps – Reviews 2018

mixer with phono preamp

Photo by DJpedia™ / CC BY

Mixers with phono preamps—in the modern era of digital recording interfaces, a lot of people think of these as anachronisms. The truth is, though, there are still a lot of reasons you might want to have this option on your mixer, whether you’re using it for live DJ performance, amplification of a live band, or as a tool in the recording studio.

The signal that’s produced by a turntable is phono by default and will need to be converted to an aux or line-level signal before it can be manipulated or played by other audio equipment. This is why you’ll still find a phono preamp on the majority of DJ mixers—they’re the group you can count on to still consistently use analog equipment. They’re not the only ones who might have use of such a feature, though. If you’re looking for a phono preamp in your mixer, check out the models below.

These are our recommendations for the 3 best mixers with phono preamps on the market:

Behringer DDM4000 Digital Pro 5-Channel Mixer

We’ll start things off with this impressive 5-channel mixer from Behringer, the DDM4000. Along with high-quality phono preamps, it has a variety of inputs for different signal sources, and all the tactile controls you need to easily add effects and shape your sound.

Each of the channels on this mixer has independent controls and programmable EQ. There is also a slew of useful tools like assignable crossfaders and a BPM-synched sampler so you can seamlessly record and loop. The on-board pre-sets let you save settings to pull them up quickly when you’re changing tracks or styles. The 4 stereo channels give you 8 inputs, and two XLR inputs for a mic further expand your options.

The DDM4000 has a built to match its impressive features. It’s solid, from the metal casing to the smooth action of the knobs and faders. This is an excellent mid-range option that has the functions and sound quality a pro DJ needs but is affordable and user-friendly enough for anyone.

Infinium X1 Optical Fader in DJ Mixer DDM4000 (Behringer)

Numark M2Black 2-Channel Scratch Mixer

If you need a mixer with phono preamps on a budget, a 2-channel scratch mixer like the Numark M2 can be a great way to go. The simplicity of the interface makes it easy to work with, and you can’t beat the price.

The Numark M2 doesn’t have as many features as the other options on this list. You’ll get basic fader, level, and EQ controls for each of the two channels, but for sampling loops and adding effects you’ll need to use effects pedals or mixing software.

Another advantage of the simplicity of this model is that it’s the smallest model on the list. It weighs right around 8 pounds and will fit easily on any mixing deck. It’s built like a tank, too, durable outside and in and definitely road-worthy.

This is definitely a great option for battle DJs and venues as well as scratch DJs. Honestly, though, it’s a versatile little machine that will serve most set-ups well, with the high-quality phono preamps you need to make the signals from your turntable sound great. This should be on anyone’s list of the best mixer with phono preamps for the money.

Allen & Heath Xone:96 Professional 6-Channel Analog DJ Mixer

Allen & Heath mixers are the cream of the crop, and they’re one of the companies you’ll still find making options that include phono preamps. While the Xone 96 is designed for DJs, it has the independent channel knobs and faders familiar to more traditional recording studio mixers. It’s a pricier option, certainly, but worth the investment for the sound quality, number of channels, and range of features.

Let’s start with the phono preamps, since that’s the topic of this article. The preamps on the Allen & Heath Xone 96 are high-gain. They’ve also been carefully matched with the level of the line inputs so you won’t need to adjust the gain as much when switching between channels.

The Allen & Heath Xone 96 has a similar look and feel to previous Xone models, but with a few important upgrades. These include USB inputs, making the mixer more adaptable for mixed digital/analog setups. They’ve also added a mini innoFader, enhancing the tactile options.

Professional DJs will love the filters, effects, and other options on the Allen & Heath Xone 96. If you have the budget for it, this is arguably the best mixer with phono preamps on the current market.

How to Choose the Best Mixer with Phono Preamps

All of these models will give you reliable, balanced tone across inputs and signal types. It really comes down to two things: the number of channels and the extent of the tactile controls. If you want a full array of faders and knobs, you’ll want to spend the extra money for something like the Allen & Heath above (see full specs).

The cost of a mixer tends to be proportional to the number of channels it offers. If you use a lot of signal sources, expect to pay a bit more for the inputs you need. If you only need a couple channels, though a smaller mixer like the Numark (see full specs) isn’t just a great way to save some money, it’ll also take up less space and generally be easier to both move and use.

Remember that you’ll only need a phono preamp on the inputs that are coming from a turntable. If you plan to use microphones, make sure the mixer also has mic-line XLR inputs. Also think about the configuration of the inputs and channels, and which signals you’ll want to be able to control independently.

If none of these mixers seem to do the trick, you do have another option. You can buy external phono preamps, like the one below:

Just put this in between the turntable and your mixer. This does mean investing in a bit more equipment, but since these external preamps tend to be fairly affordable, it shouldn’t add much expense. It’s still a better option to find a mixer you like that has phono preamps built right in, since this will preserve the signal integrity and ultimately give you a better sound.

Mixers with phono inputs can be difficult to find, but that doesn’t mean they’re the outdated equipment some people claim. All three mixers on this list combine high-quality phono preamps with all the modern features a DJ needs. Depending on your wallet size, each could in its own way qualify as the best mixer with phono preamps around. We hope this has helped you find exactly what you’re looking for! Good luck!

GOgroove Phono Preamp vs Pyle PP999

  • Micah Johnson started playing music in high school, when he taught himself the bass to join his friend’s band. He added guitar and drums during his twenties playing in local clubs, and along the way, he picked up unique, hands-on experience from hand drums to studio mixers. On Song Simian, he aims to share this knowledge from 20+ years playing and recording music. When not in gearhead mode, he enjoys photography and travel.

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