One of the top questions new DJs always ask—in addition to how do I make it as a DJ—is about how to mix. They want to perfect it because they want to be the best DJ possible, which is a great goal to have. But learning how to DJ mix is about more than being a human jukebox. In fact many people seem to confuse DJ mixing in terms of production and DJ mixing songs. Most DJs want to know the best way to mesh songs so they blend seamlessly into one another.
Also known as beatmixing, this is a skill every beginner DJ will need to perfect at some point in their careers. It is an important part of traditional DJing in bars, clubs and parties. While it is true that this article won’t be able to teach you everything you need to know about how to mix—there are DJ courses for that—these tips will let you know what to practice.
Tip #1: Speed
Have you ever listened to a DJ mix two songs that aren’t at the same speed? If not let me clue you in; it sounds terrible. If you want to play one track over another, both tracks need to be at the same speed. If you don’t do this the beats (in beatmixing) will never line up and it’ll just sound like you’re playing the new track over the previous one.
It’s true that there is plenty of DJ equipment that will sync the tracks for you, but it is also a skill you should learn in case you have to do some pre-digital age DJing. As you practice DJ mixing you’ll be able to hear the difference when the beats are match and when they aren’t.
Tip #2: Okay to Mix
The other thing you need to know about beatmixing is that you have to choose songs that are suitable for mixing. I know as DJs, musicians and artists we don’t often deal in the realm of ‘suitable’ but in this case it is imperative for a good mix.
They key to a successful DJ mix is long beginning and ending sections so you have sufficient time to mix. A good rule of thumb for your beginner DJs is to practice with extended and club mixes of a track because they will have plenty of time at the start and finish of tracks so you can mix.
Tip #3: Volume
The reason many DJs don’t know much about beatmixing is because they have never taken the time to learn what the knobs and buttons on their DJ controller actually do. Much of the DJ software on the market today has the ‘autogain’ option basically syncs the volume appropriately, but you should also learn how to read the EQ controls, crossfader and meters.
Knowing what these features are for will not just make you a better and more confident DJ, it will make sure you have smooth transitions in every DJ mix.
Tip #4: Line Up
You have headphones and you have a DJ controller; both are essential to this step in DJ mixing. To ‘line up’ or cue your next track you will need to listen in your headphones through another channel to make sure the beats are alright.
If you are fairly new to DJing, think back to that whole ‘one ear on and one ear off’ thing you see the DJ at your favorite club doing. It isn’t just to flex his cool muscles; it is so he can make sure the next tune is properly lined up with the current track. This is the equivalent of tasting a dish before you serve it. Don’t let a track loose on the club without making sure it sounds how you want it to sound.
Tip #5: Kick Drums
Pretty much all music in your DJ mix will have a kick drum which also needs to be lined up, in addition to all the other things that need to be lined up. Even if the track is the same speed and volume, that won’t mean much if the kick drums are out of sync. There will be tons of ‘thump thump thumps’ playing out of sync.
You can always switch it so that only one kick drum is playing to the audience, but you need to practice it anyway because you never know when you’ll need this particular skill.
Learning how to be a master DJ mixer is a skill that takes time to learn. Don’t allow yourself to be held hostage by the so-called rules of mixing. Practice these rules but more importantly listen to the results because this will be a bigger help more than anything else. It is the best way to discover what works best for you.
But the best tip for DJ mixing you’ll ever get is this: learn how to do it all on your own. The amount of assistance given my DJ equipment these days is staggering and it makes everyone think they can DJ. To stand out you need to be able to know how to do this stuff without computer assistance. This will set you apart, especially with disaster strikes during a gig.
I hope I helped you be a better DJ mixer. Email in the box below to get access to Free video DJ lessons that will answer all of your questions on how to become a disk jockey!
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