Are you interested in learning to DJ? Most of the people believe that DJ’s create the music on the go. Though some of the DJ’s play live, it requires a completely different setup. They create music in a studio where there are synthesizers, instruments, and other technical equipment.
Many DJ’s plays the records in a sequence by mixing and turning them. The key skills of a DJ include sequencing (choosing the next track), beatmatching, count bars, pressing play, and equalizing. With the help of a DJ Music Mixer, the DJ’s produce exceptional sound.
DJ Mixer can be overwhelming to use for beginners. Even the basic mixer has several functions and control that might be hard for a novice to understand. In this post, we have created a comprehensive guide on how to use DJ music mixer. Before you read about using DJ music mixer, you must understand the hardware.
Hardware of a Standard DJ Setup
For a novice, the controls of DJ may look complicated but understanding them is not a challenging task. Take a closer look at the hardware.
The inputs are the source of the sound. When you plug in your iPod to the speakers, the music is sent to the speakers. In the same way, a vinyl deck, or a CD are the sources of the sound. When you play a CD or vinyl decks, it will send the sound to the speakers through the phono cables.
In order to beatmatch, you will need to speed down or slow up the records for having pitch control. This is because they are different. In addition, when you plug in an iPod, you cannot get two tracks, for this you will have to plug in two iPods. The same is with a CDJ or vinyl deck; you are required to have multiple decks for playing several records.
In recent times, you can even connect a laptop. All you need is a laptop with a good sound card and DJ software. This will enable you to send several sounds into the mixer.
Another most imperative hardware is the mixer. It unites all the inputs and enables you to control the frequency and volume of each input. The mixer is responsible for equalizing the sound. Most of the people think that the mixer produces the sound. This is a huge misconception; the mixer just affects the sound. The sound goes in the mixer from one end and comes out from the other. In musical terms, this is known as the envelope.
There are different types of mixers; some are available with two channels while some professional mixers have four or six channels. Every channel has its own frequency controls and volume fader. The sound passes through the channels. With the help of these controls, a DJ mixes the sounds together.
Additionally, the signals of the inputs are sent through these channels and combined into one master output. The master output can be heard by the crowd through the speakers.
The master output is priceless; this is why the DJ’s often use their headphones. This will enable them to listen the beatmatch and EQ various channels. It will allow the DJ to make changes without disrupting the end product. This process is called cueing, the preparation of the next track.
Setting Up the Mixer
The first thing you need to do is set it up properly. You must plug in the speakers, decks, and all other equipment into the mixer. There are line/phono inputs for every channel that will enable you to connect the turntables and players.
In case you will be using multi players or CD players, you need to connect it to the line input. It is recommended to connect the left deck on channel 1 and the right 1 to channel two. Setting up the mixer correctly is crucial for using the DJ mixer without any hassles. This is why you must ensure the white plug is connected to the white connector and the red one is plugged into the red connector.
Setting Up 4 Channel Mixer
If you have a 4 channel mixer along with 4 decks, then connect channel 3 on your left and on right channel 4. You can use the phone inputs for attaching turntables. In case you will be using vinyl decks, you can follow the above-mentioned steps. The only difference is that you will use phono connections. The ground wire on the back of the turntable must be connected to the GND connector.
Furthermore, the main speakers must be plugged into the master 1 or 2 outputs. If you want to attach amplifiers, you can connect it to this output. There are booth outputs for connecting separate booth monitors if you are using one.
Now, you can connect the power lead but you must turn on the mixer slowly. This is to avoid any damage to your equipment.
Adjust the Volume
The next step is to set the volume once the equipment is turned on. For adjusting the volume of the main speaker, you need to use the master volume knob. When you are using the booth monitor, you must use booth control knob. The booth monitors are for professional DJs playing in large venues. For beginners, you do not need booth monitors as beginners.
Additionally, you have to ensure the gain knobs are fixed at 12 o’clock position. You can find the channel trim or gain knobs above the channel EQ. After that, you must adjust the high, low, and mid-channel EQ knobs at 12 o’clock.
You must open the channel faders; this can be done by pushing the faders to the top. An important tip to keep in mind is that you must make sure that the right channel connector is selected. The channel input is located on the top of the mixer, just above the gains. Depending on the mixer, the channel inputs can even be located on the rear.
When you play the track, you must increase the volume gradually. You must keep on increasing the volume until you reach the desired level. Moreover, you can plug in your headphones and turn the volume down. Once you have placed the headphones on your ear, you must slowly increase the volume. Keep in mind that you will mix for a long time so you must not have a high volume. This is because it might damage your hearing.
Once your volumes are set, it will only need a slight adjustment. However, you will need to set the volume again if you will be performing live. For instance, in large environments like a club, you will need more volume. So, you will have to set the volume accordingly.
Getting To Know The Music Mixing Controls
A two-channel mixer contains a crossfader and a channel fader. The crossfader is helpful for changing the channels while mixing the tracks. When you move the crossfader in the middle, it will play both the records. If you push the fader to the left, the deck on the right will become quieter. In case you push the crossfader all the way to the left, the right deck will be completely shut off.
Moreover, the mixer even contains a crossfader curve adjusting knob. It can be found near the slider and this knob is useful for setting the fading speed. For scratching, you must set the speed high. For general mixing, it is advised to set the speed slow.
On the other hand, the channel fader is useful for adjusting the volume of every deck. When you push the fader to the top, it means the volume is full. If you push volume down, then the sound will be cut off and the channel will be closed.
EQ Adjustment and Trim
On the top of the every channel fader, you can find three band EQ segment and trim adjustment knobs. The number of EQ depends on the mixers; some of the mixers have two-band EQ. The mixer that is packed with features might have four EQ band.
The trim knobs are helpful for managing the volume of the channels. On some mixers, the will be labeled as input, gain or level. When you mix the sounds, you will notice that the levels of the track vary. With the help of the trim, you can have the same volume throughout the record. It will help in preventing high levels of volumes that may cause distortions.
Furthermore, the EQ band are used for combining the various types of frequencies to produce a smooth mix. It is crucial for a DJ to use the EQ properly for being able to produce excellent master output.
Using VU Meters
The term VU meters refer to the lights that are jumping with the beat of the music. Some mixers have a separate light for every channel while some lights are there for the end product as well. It is recommended to keep an eye on the audio levels.
If the audio level clips, then it might cause the distortion and may even damage the equipment. When the lights go red on the mixer, this indicates the audio level is clipped. In such a circumstance, you should decrease the level of the master volume. You can even turn up the speakers or amplifiers. Another thing that you can do is change the EQ or adjust the trim of the clipping channel. For beginners, you should keep in mind that the EQ and trim knobs must be positioned at 12 o’clock.
You must ensure that the lights on your speaker are not clipping. This may cause damage to the speakers and other equipment.
Importance of Headphones For Mixing
One of the most important components for a DJ is a headphone. In order to produce quality sound, you need to have headphones. This is because you can hear both the records even when only one track can be heard through the speakers. With the help of the headphones, you can get the track to play at the similar beats per minute (BPM). It is helpful for lining the beats before you can mix the tracks.
On the headphone segment, you can find a cue; it will be either in shape of a mini crossfader or a knob. This will enable you to turn the knob and slide the crossfader to choose the channel that is leading in headphones. You can even EQ the track and set the gains for the record by using the headphones.
How to Use 4 Channel DJ Mixers?
Though it is advised for the beginners to use 2 channel mixers, you can use 4 channel mixers as well. There are some software that supports 4 channel mixers, such as Rekordbox. You might want to use 4 channel mixers if you will be using separate 4 decks. It will be similar to two multiplayer along with two turntables.
To amateurs, a 4 channel mixer might seem complex. Fortunately, using a 4 channel mixer is not complicated. It is easy to use just like the 2 channel mixer with a slight difference. There are few additional knobs for controlling the extra two channels; the rest of the functions are the same.
Mostly 4 channel mixers are used by the professional club DJs or those who are more interested in mixing. A 4 channel mixer consolidates an effect panel, a microphone panel, and a booth control.
The DJs who perform at large venues requires separate booth control. There are additional outputs on the back of the mixer to connect the booth monitor. You can control the monitor using a single knob. In recent times, there are many 2 channel mixers that come with a separate booth control.
The effects panel is useful for adding extra sounds to your track. This is usually named as FX; a most common FX will have Flanger, Echo, Reverb, Delay, and Phaser. As the prices of the mixers increase, the number of FX will increase as well.
The microphone panel can be found on both, 2 and 4 channel mixers. Although the channel 2 have microphone capability, the channel 4 mixers will have enhanced functionality. You can even use the FX on the microphone in order to add sounds like an echo on your voice.
Hence, it is advised to get 4 channel mixers if you will be buying one in the future. Though it is an expensive choice, you will be saving more as you will not be wasting your money on 2 channel mixer. It is advised to close the faders on the channel 3 and 4. You can mix with the 2 channels until you have improved your skills.
Software for DJing
With so many choices, it gets daunting to choose a software. This because not all of the software are reliable. This is why we have listed few of the best DJ software.
One of the popular software you can use is provided by Native Instruments. This software is packed with tons of features for the hip-hop and EDM DJs. The software is not free, but you can have a free demo to make sure this software is a perfect fit for you.
Another most commonly used software is Rekordbox offered by Pioneer. This is a free DJ software that will enable you to create your library and export music to USB. You can even play the track directly from your laptop. However, this software is not compatible with all the hardware, you need to check if it compatible with your hardware.
Serato DJ Pro
The best DJ software for all levels of DJs is Serato DJ Pro. A remarkable thing about this software is its Practice Mode. This will allow you to DJ without any hardware.
The most downloaded software for DJing is Virtual DJ. This is easy to use and handle software that comes with the latest DJing technologies. You can get it free and it has a huge community of users. Moreover, it is compatible with most of the DJ controllers. Another reason that makes it a great choice is its bundle of features and effects. This software enables you to sing karaoke and supports video mixing.
Beatmatching Tips for Beginners
For all the beginners who want to be good at DJing, must follow these tips.
- For beatmixing, you will need steady tunes along with a long section in the beginning and end. This will provide you enough time to perform the beatmatch. It is because a great beatmatch will have both the tracks running together.
- It is advised to choose a club or extended mix. You can even select the techno or trance for Beatmatching.
- You have to make sure the speed of the tunes is the same.
- Another thing you need to focus on is the volume of the records. It must also be the same for producing an excellent end product.
Therefore, DJing is more than just mixing the beats or scratching over the songs. If you want to be a great DJ, you should be reactive, empathic, and observant. With the help of these tips, you will know how to use a DJ music mixer correctly.