How To Setup Laptop And Mixer DJing

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How To Setup Laptop And Mixer DJing
How To Setup Laptop And Mixer DJing

DJ’ing, the shortened name of disc jockeying, is playing existing songs for an audience. DJs can be found at clubs, on the radio, at music festivals, and at various smaller live events like weddings and parties. The needs, wants, and skills of each DJ is different depending on the type of party, audience, and the DJ’s individual skill, so the setup used varies from DJ to DJ and could include old school setups like turntables and mixers or more modern setups like all-in-one devices or tablets. One of the most common setups, however, is the laptop and controller/mixer setup. Here is how you set up Laptop and Mixer.

Is it possible to DJ with a laptop and mixer?

Yes! One of the most common, portable, and versatile DJ setups is the laptop and mixer setup. All of your tracks can be stored in your laptop rather than on a stack of burned CDs, the laptop gives you the capability to easily beat-match and remix tons of hits, and depending on the size of your mixer/controller, if you’ve got a big enough backpack, you can take your entire setup with you practically anywhere with relative ease.

How can you DJ with a laptop and mixer?

To start DJing with a laptop and mixer, you’ll need some supplies:
1. Laptop of your choice
2. Charger for your laptop, as you’ll need to keep it plugged in
3. Mixer/controller of your choice
4. Power source for mixer/controller (if necessary, not all require an external power source)
5. Power conditioner
6. Surge protector
7. Headphones
8. DJing software

To get started with DJing on a laptop and mixer/controller setup, you first need to connect your devices so that they will work together. By looking at your devices, determine whether or not you’ll be using a separate USB cord to connect the devices or if you’ll be plugging your mixer/controller directly into your laptop.

If you’re using a separate USB cord to connect the two devices, plug one end into your laptop and the other into your mixer/controller. DO NOT use any kind of USB hub or splitter, only use a regular USB cord that connects directly from your laptop’s built in USB port to the mixer/controller. Using a USB hub or splitter will bottleneck the data traveling back and forth and will prevent it from transferring properly and/or quickly, especially if you end up chaining too many devices to one USB port – even more so if any of those devices are power-grabbing machines like DJ mixers and controllers. Also, when possible, use a USB 3.0 port rather than a 2.0 port, as 3.0 ports have a higher speed of transfer and transfer rate with a significantly lower chance of glitching than 2.0 ports.

If you’re not using a separate USB cord to connect the two machines, first make sure that your laptop and mixer/controller are compatible, as some mixers are only compatible with specific computers and operating systems. Once you’ve determined that they’re compatible, plug the device directly into your laptop’s built in USB port. DO NOT use any kind of USB hub or splitter, only use a regular USB cord that connects directly from your laptop’s built in USB port to the mixer/controller. Using a USB hub or splitter will bottleneck the data traveling back and forth and will prevent it from transferring properly and/or quickly, especially if you end up chaining too many devices to one USB port – even more so if any of those devices are power-grabbing machines like DJ mixers and controllers. Also, when possible, use a USB 3.0 port rather than a 2.0 port, as 3.0 ports have a higher speed of transfer and transfer rate with a significantly lower chance of glitching than 2.0 ports.

What do I do once my devices are connected?

Once you have your devices properly connected, open up your DJing software of choice. There are thousands of software options, but some favorites of other DJs include:

  • Ableton Live
  • Serato Scratch Live/DJ
  • Native Instruments Traktor Pro 2
  • Imagine-Line Deckadance
  • Magix Digital DJ 2
  • Mixvibes CrossDJ
  • Atomix VirtualDJ Pro 7
  • Pioneer Rekordbox

Once in your DJing software of choice, go to the Audio Device tab. From there, select the device plugged into your USB port. From here, the directions vary based on whether or not your device has a built in sound card.

What do I do next if my device DOES have a built in sound card?

If your device has a built in sound card, go to System Preferences > Sound > Input > USB Audio Codec option > close System Preferences. From there, repeat the previous step again but replace “Input” with “Output.” Plug in your DJ’ing headphones and test your sound settings, making sure that the cue sound is being routed through your headphones. If it’s not, unplug your headphones, re-connect your headphones to the headphone jack on your computer, and from there go to Audio Settings > Routing > Cue/Monitor/Preview, and select “headphones” to switch your sound to your connected headphones.

What do I do next if my device DOES NOT have a built in sound card?

If your device does not have a built in sound card, connect a USB sound card to your computer through an available USB port. Do not use a USB hub or splitter for this, either. From there, select the USB sound card as the output device in your DJ’ing software’s settings. From there, repeat the previous step again but replace “Input” with “Output.” Plug in your DJ’ing headphones and test your sound settings, making sure that the cue sound is being routed through your headphones. If it’s not, unplug your headphones, re-connect your headphones to the headphone jack on your computer, and from there go to Audio Settings > Routing > Cue/Monitor/Preview, and select “headphones” to switch your sound to your connected headphones.

If you do not have any kind of sound card – external or built in – create a short-term workaround by plugging your speakers and/or headphones directly into your computer’s built in headphone jack. This workaround is not suggested for long-term use as it lowers sound quality and complicates the setup, making it more difficult for the DJ to be successful.

I’ve got my DJ’ing program’s sound settings in order. Now what?

Now that you’ve got the basic program setup complete, begin experimenting with your software of choice to ensure it fits your wants and needs and that you can properly use it. Each DJ’ing program works differently, so you have to learn how to use and experiment with each program individually. Going through the tutorials of your program of choice, if available, is an excellent place to start. Aside from that, looking at the features of the program and experimenting with the program is the best way to learn. You won’t know which program is the best for your individual taste, skill level, and for what you’re looking to use in your setup without experimentation.

I’ve picked out my DJ’ing program and learned how to use it. What do I do next?

Once you’ve properly learned how to use your DJ’ing program of choice and have implemented it into your laptop and mixer DJ setup, the next step is to start DJ’ing for public audiences. While a laptop and mixer setup is, as stated above, extremely versatile, you’re not going to start off by playing massive music festivals in the desert for a captive audience like world famous DJs do, you’ll have to start off smaller than that. A great place to start is by DJ’ing for parties your friends throw, and from there build up to bigger parties and weddings. A laptop and mixer setup is perfect for weddings and similar parties, as there’s not necessarily a particular need for complex remixes, computer generated beat matching is ideal for the remixes that do occur, and the setup being so portable and compact makes it ideal for traveling to and from gigs like that.

Once you’ve used this article to cover the basics, the answer is always to keep learning, getting better, and honing your skill as a DJ. Congratulations on selecting your DJ setup and learning how to use it!