DJ Mixing Step by Step

A DJ doing a blendSo, you’re now a beatmatching pro, you know your DJ equipment inside out, and words like “phrase,” “breakdown” and “bar” are part of your daily vocabulary. Great! It’s time to move on and learn how to mix tracks. Today we’ll get a taste of what mixing is by making a simple transition from one record to another.

Before You Begin: Setting Your Sound Levels

It’s doesn't happen too often that two tracks from two different records are of the same exact volume. (As if it weren’t enough for them to be recorded in different tempos, too!) One record may be insanely loud whereas another one, played on the same turntable, may be so soft you can barely hear it.

Your job as the DJ is to provide uniform volume level for all tracks played on the dancefloor. The rule of thumb is this: A channel's level should be set so that in the loudest parts of the song, the channel meter touches on the red from time to time but never really stays there so no clipping occurs. If you don’t have channel meters on your mixer, you can monitor the sound level using the Cue Mix meter, or the Master Volume one (the channel’s fader has to be fully open then).

Setting a channel’s volume level is done with its Gain knob. The track’s Gain must be set properly beforehand, well before you start bringing the record in.

If your mixer has channel meters, this is a breeze. As you're beatmatching with the new track playing in your headphones, adjust its Gain so that in the loud parts of the tune, its channel meter just touches on the red occasionally as described above.

If you have no channel meters in your mixer, you can cheat a little bit while you’re learning. Open the new track’s channel fader and close all others. Put the needle on a loud part of the track and set its Gain according to the mixer’s Master Volume meter. Over time, you can learn to set the incoming track’s Gain right during the transition, but don’t sweat it for now.

OK, the new track has been beatmatched and its sound level has been set. Time to start the transition!

When to Start the New Track?

It’s obvious that the new track needs to be started before the old one ends so there’s an overlap. You should have enough time to: a). Correct any starting errors in your headphones, b). Bring the new track in to the dance floor, c). Let both tracks play together and d). Gradually fade out the old track. Fortunately, DJs normally play “extended” versions of dance tracks that have long intros and outros, which are perfect for blends.

For the transition to be as smooth as possible, the two tracks’ 4-bar phrases (or, even better, 8-bar phrases) should be matched. In this scenario, the changes in the tracks’ musical flow will occur simultaneously, which sounds way more natural. Matching phrases is easy; simply make sure to start the new track on the very first beat of an old one’s phrase. (There’s more on phrase matching in this article.)

Now, suppose that we’re making a transition from Get Down (see the article on track structure) to another tune, whose structure happens to be exactly the same. Let’s call them track A and track B, respectively. The most straightforward way to mix these tracks is to start B on the beginning of A’s instrumental chorus and make the actual transition during the 16-bar section that follows it.

As a result, just when A hits the outro with its pure drum beat, track B will make its entry with its intro’s instrumental chorus. The chorus will be gradually ousting the remains of track A and will completely replace it by the end of these 16 bars (or two 8-bar phrases). Here's how it will sound to a guest on the dancefloor:

Track A What the dancefloor hears Track B
11. ...
12. Instrumental chorus – 16 bars
... (A)
Instrumental chorus (A)
 
1. Intro
13. Outro – 16 bars The blend: Outro (A) + Instrumental chorus (B) 2. Instrumental chorus - 16 bars
  Verse (B)
... (B)
3. Verse – 8 bars
4. ...

Now let’s look into this whole process in more detail.

The Transition Step by Step

So, on the dancefloor, you have track A playing that’s approaching its ending. Put your headphones on both ears and move the mixer’s Cue Mix/Master fader to the middle. Now you can hear both the floor (channel A) and Cue Mix (channel B) in your headphones. Start track B on the first beat of A’s instrumental chorus. You have all the time in the world – 16 bars – to correct any starting mistakes and make sure the tracks’ beats are in sync.

Note: It’s OK to have one ear exposed to the dancefloor or monitors when beatmatching, but when starting track B for a transition, you need to have both tracks in your headphones. The reason is that if you start B to the sound that comes from the speakers, the pesky sound delay will make you align B’s beats with a delayed version of A. As a result, track B will be slightly behind the real A. This can become a very unpleasant surprise when it’s time to do the blend.

When A’s instrumental chorus comes close to its ending, take off your headphones: it’s time to start the show. On the first beat of the new 8-bar phrase, quickly move fader B about halfway up while using the other hand to notch A down just a little. Here’s a general rule of mixing: Sharp changes during a transition should be made only at the beginning of 8-bar phrases. (We’re trying to make the blend indistinguishable from the natural flow of music, and all major changes in tracks take place at new phrases.)

Now expand the conquered territory by moving fader B slowly up and fader A down. Don’t forget about maintaining a constant sound level in the dancefloor's speakers by monitoring the mixer’s Master Volume meter. The A and B faders will meet at about 75%, although that depends on the mixer.

You haven’t forgotten that A’s 16-bar outro has two 8-bar phrases in it, right? This means that you can use the beginning of the second phrase to speed things up a little bit. At the right moment, forget about slow fader movements and give fader B a quick push while moving A down even further. Then, devote the rest of the phrase to slowly bringing in B to 100% while taking out A completely. At the new 16-bar phrase, you’ll only be hearing the new track in the speakers. The transition is complete!

Crossfader or Channel Upfaders?

A crossfader on a DJ mixerNot sure where I’ve gotten this from, but when I was learning to mix, I would use the crossfader instead of the upfaders to make transitions between channels. In this approach, both tracks’ channel faders are open and you use the crossfader to smoothly transition from one channel to another.

At first, the crossfader didn’t give me any trouble. However, as my skills grew, so did the need for finer control over the balance of channels during the blend, which the crossfader was not able to provide. Quote: “We must concede that some traditional mixing tasks are best accomplished with the two knob method.”

As a result, I began to use channel faders only for blends, and I suggest that you do the same. Moreover, I haven’t yet seen an established DJ who would use the crossfader for mixing (correct me if I’ve been looking at wrong DJs). Bottom line: leave the crossfader to those who invented it – the scratchers.

Keeping the Tracks Synchronized During the Blend

No matter how good you are at beatmatching, expecting that the two tracks’ beats will stay lined up forever is naive. Sooner or later they’ll start drifting away from each other. So how do you keep the tracks in sync during the blend?

Get a habit of putting your headphones on from time to time while in a transition. That will allow you to better hear how the records sound together and fix any problems early. If the tracks begin to drift apart, gently correct one of them.

Tip: In order hide your pitch bends from the dancefloor, always adjust the track where there are fewer high and mid frequency sounds at the moment (I’m talking about vocals or high melody notes here). Why? The thing is that when you give a record a push or slow it down to bring its beats in sync with the other tune, the sound’s pitch is changed, and this is most noticeable in high sounds. In our example, do your adjustments on track A because it only has drum beat (i.e. lows) in it by the time the transition begins. It’s better to leave B with its instrumental chorus and plenty of high notes alone.

That’s Not All…

I hope this article has helped you get a clear idea of what mixing is and how to make transitions between tracks. In the guides that follow, we’ll talk about using the EQ for finer mixing, as well as other ways to make your blends as smooth and professional sounding as possible.

Image credits: 

Comments

Hi

Just wondering what levels you have the voulme faders at when using the eq's? Do you have both at around 75% when swapping highs and bases or channel A lower than channel B etc, or do you adjust the mids to effect volume of outgoing track A?

No, you don't have to wait for both faders to be at around 75% to start EQing. I'm usually working the faders and the EQs simultaneously, i.e. I bring up fader A a little while taking B down a bit, the next moment I turn up A's lows a notch while taking down B's lows, and so on. As for the mids, I happen to use them rarely, it's mostly just highs and lows for me.

If you'd like to know more about harmonic mixing check out our guide here: http://en.audiofanzine.com/getting-started/editorial/articles/harmonic-m...

Thanks, we also got a pretty comprehensive guide right on this site: Harmonic Mixing.

well understood with this article, thanks a lot... :-)

what is a instrumental chorus? do you just mean mix in track B after the break down and there's a bass beat again? or do you mean mixing in track B when the outro starts?

Thanks

Hey David, I mean start B on A's last chorus and do the transition during A's outro. The article on track structure should come in handy, too.

Great tips!
Thanks for the step by step of a mix, very well explained :D

Have one big issue. This tutorial is the best one i've ever seen, but my biggest doubt is that if I really have to start the new track at the beginning of the old's instrumental chorus and then bring it in at the beginning of the outro? Is it not possible to mix on different points of a track without sounding messy?

It is possible, of course. It's just easier to mix outros with intros when you're just starting out.

thanks for the tips.... will definitely come back for more

What about long intro of the song? what do we do to cut the intro? what do we press? i know we cue up a song but how do we do it on a standard pioneer desk? do we press play then stop on beat? ...

Hey Elizabeth, check out this article on CD cueing and beatmatching: http://www.djingtips.com/skills/cd-beatmatching

i want to ask why do djs when they use the volume faders to mix they just increase the volume of track 2 until it meets the same volume as track 1 and then they push down track 1 volume fader at the end of the 32 beats.They do not meet the faders at 75percent.

Well, you do have to watch the master sound level to avoid clipping, and that's a very real possibility if both faders are at 100%.

thanks for the tips....I've try out DJ software from http://www.djmixersoft.com , we will will definitely come back for more.

Do you nike factory store cover Yeezy Boost which? womens nike air max Wagering action can beats by dre on sale sometimes beats headphones squelch Michael Kors Diaper Bag Sale the nike huarache slide nike roshe run when Michael Kors On Sale hosting under armour discount a limelight discussion, nike roshe run Designed jordan 13 to mont blanc starwalker anyone jordans for sale who would cheap beats headphones like nike free run to mens nike air max appear, And nike outlet as air max 95 well as jordans for girls say to nike store exactly so how cheap nike air max it happened. Accept air jordan it Yeezy Adidas a person, I'll wager information will air max never nike outlet be as tawdry nike air max 90 as you may beats by dre are nike shoes thinking. I under armour sale can promise beats earbuds yet they moncler coats can nike roshe run be louboutin outlet badly being the gossip under armour womens shoes proper jordan 6 sailing Michael Kors Bags Online came nike air max 90 from nike air max this cheap beats headphones level air max 95 in christian louboutin sale in beats earbuds that location, air max 90

New nike basketball shoes kinds nike basketball shoes of nike roshe dreamland, CT(WFSB) Law enforcement department nike air max 95 menti new jordans one nike sneakers d nike roshe run the nike outlet sufferer louboutin shoes seemed nike air max 90 to be delays nike air max 90 for Michael Kors Sale the mont blanc pens for sale car nike air max 90 in the jordans for women market nike air max 2017 of nike store Columroad and nike cleats additionally gulf beats by dre cheap way, nike outlet Even though new jordans two cheap nike air max young people air max 1 employing goggles cheap under armour but rideon cheap jordan shoes sports jordan 11 gear called your adidas outlet man.The cheap beats by dr dre prey explained louboutin shoes to court nike shoes for women arrest a number nike free 5.0 of nike huarache thinks Michael Kors Jet Set Tote managed christian louboutin to air max 1 get nike cleats it moncler men be he louboutin outlet was nike store likely retro jordans stopping a nike free rifle nike air max during nike sneakers his savings.The beats by dre studio exact nike store kids took beats by dre on sale affected Adidas Yeezy For Sale individuals nike boots telephone in nike roshe addition, multi-ply beats by dre cheap colorful nike nike roshe run air beats by dre wireless nike test nike air max workout beats headphones shoes.Some of jordan 11 the adidas stan smith most important cellphone air max 95 locator cheap beats by dr dre appeared to be nike shoes induced nike roshe and moreover cheap beats by dre law nike shoes enforcement officials Michael Kors Purse Sale could actually track the product christian louboutin outlet record beats headphones on sale at Michael Kors Handbags On Sale a family house on Wall Adidas Yeezy Boost overtergreen path nike air max 2017 Hamden, nike free run The place in which a nike sneakers 79 yr cheap jordan shoes old gal nike air max cleared mens nike air max the jordans for sale doorway.Cops could nike free run locate beats by dr dre the Michael Kors Purses On Sale lovely air max lady son air max with his jordan 13 friend nike free 5.0 trying Michael Kors Jet Set Bag to jordans for sale hide nike shoes for women incredibly Michael Kors Handbags Sale garage in his or jordan 6 her air max 1 den bed.Court in areas two nike roshe brown goggles, The trainers that our nike air max unwilling recipient louboutin shoes documented, Cheap Michael Kors Bags Along with mont blanc pen an many handsets.Our nike huarache two space nike air max 95 apparently have past jordan 11 robberies nike store and beats by dre wireless as air max 90 well cheap jordans as nike free robberies this christian louboutin shoes came Adidas Yeezy Boost 350 operating christian louboutin across Hamden.Article nike shoes marketing nike roshe bedroom opened cheap jordans up jordan shoes and beats by dre acknowledged Michael Kors Bags the nike roshe run dog's younger dad christian louboutin sale might beats by dre have beats solo been air max an accomplice nike outlet using moncler jackets the robber nike shoes and nike free run we were Michael Kors Jet Set Diaper Bag holding both faced beats earphones with mens nike air max first Adidas Yeezy 350 Boost point.Police nike basketball shoes expressed womens nike air max the moncler jackets teenagers is ordinarily presumably nike shoes for men the defendant which jordans for women company nike shoes arranged air max 1 an additional safe Michael Kors Bags Outlet place mens nike air max officer using nike huarache ripped off sports car nike shoes on april. nike factory store 23.Preferred christian louboutin shoes Stories nike sneakers StoriesMore,Cops: mens nike air max 6th nike free 5.0 higher nike air max 90 education Yeezy is nike shoes disapated air max right Chattanooga nike outlet mci cheap under armour motor coach under armour outlet crashPolice: 6th individual nike shoes dead air max subsequent nike huarache to beats by dre cheap Chattanooga beats headphones coach crashUpdated: nike free run Sunday, The moncler women fall nike air max 2017 of retro jordans 23 nike store 2016 10:16 nike roshe run pm EST2016 11 24 beats solo 03:16:25 nike clearance GMTDamage within shuttle Michael Kors Jet Set Crossbody coach motor nike roshe coach rv Adidas Yeezy is nike shoes for men bringing under armour discount about risks in beats by dre studio downloads nike basketball shoes available nike clearance picture this digital air max 95 video nike store camcorders on. cheap nike air max (Generator: beats by dr dre NTSB)A sixth scholar air max beginner nike shoes for men experiences beats earphones deceased nike shoes for women after mci motor moncler women coach auto nike clearance starvation on Talley air max 1 avenue to nike outlet Chattanooga nike free on nike outlet friday.A nike free 5.0 sixth person has moncler men got nike free kicked Yeezy Boost 350 the jordan 13 bucket cheap jordan shoes looking nike store for beats headphones cheap a nike roshe car vehicle jordan shoes die on Talley Yeezy Boost 350 Price line nike store within nike factory store just jordan 11 Chattanooga on mon.PD: Wife rotting in moncler jacket jail adidas originals right cheap jordans away adidas store 'malnourished' mont blanc pens and nike cleats so christian louboutin 'neglected' little jordans for cheap at air max CT cheap beats by dre homePD: moncler sale Mummy jordan shoes busted shortly moncler coats in the aftermath of 'malnourished' and in addition moncler sale 'neglected' youngsters. purchased montblanc meisterstuck at CT nike shoes for women homeUpdated: Wednesday, December nike factory store 22 2016 4:45 evening EST2016 11 nike air max 2017 22 nike air max 21:45:05 Michael Kors Jet Set GMTThe momma on nike shoes three your family enjoyed rather nike roshe run than jordan 12 apologize christian louboutin outlet taken under armour shoes for granted Michael Kors Bags Sale was ever nike air max 2017 in jail on monday jordans for cheap connected with the nike store mistreat.

This nike free 5.0 became nike roshe this cheap beats by dr dre Trojans' nike boots fifth beats by dre on sale government title completely nike air max 90 and consequently jordans for girls third womens nike air max ever as 2010. jordans for sale Northwestern womens nike air max equally garnered beats headphones on sale region nike shoes page beats by dre sale title of the nike free run post nike shoes for women appearing as part cheap beats by dre of 1989, nike air max 95 1993, air max 95 2010 nike store and also nike shoes 2013. nike roshe run That 63 Michael Kors Diaper Bag concerns connected statement beats earbuds for nike air max almost all obtained Michael Kors Diaper Bag in nike store a condition nike outlet shining online. Most nike boots of usually under armour womens shoes unquestionably air max this particular wearable Michael Kors Handbags market nike shoes for men keeps growing Michael Kors Handbags Outlet soon nike outlet then nike clearance hauling nike air max commotion trackers nike air max 95 using beats headphones cheap it. When mont blanc pens discount you nike outlet are nike free run Fitbit under armour sale usually pays millions in marketing cheap beats investigate, cheap nike air max But nike air max sways adidas superstar on the product's beats headphones cheap tough people nike outlet to useful cogs nike sneakers starting, Opposition jordans for cheap because Jawbone beats solo not really having jordan 5 exactly nike air max cultivation, nike clearance As well jordans for women as nike factory store others just nike free run like nike store for nike roshe run example Nike's moncler jacket gasoline adidas yeezy or diesel band under armour outlet happen womens nike air max to nike cleats seem nike basketball shoes to have always been big nike free all nike boots but nike air max 95 completely nike air max 90 stopped using. Xiaomi beats by dr dre should cheap beats be nike roshe achieving mont blanc a nike air max 90 bit under armour shoes successfulness moncler outlet which consists retro jordans of nike outlet affordable the cost of Michael Kors Bags On Sale it, nike boots Despite the cheap nike air max fact that towards cheap beats headphones the cheap beats bottom air max 90 for the beats headphones on sale day the subwoofer nike shoes urs.1,000 Mi mont blanc fountain pen music rock bracelet jordan 13 as well new jordans as moncler outlet also mont blanc ballpoint pens Fitbit power beats by dre sale hour or jordans for girls so listed approximately nike shoes for men urs.15,000 christian louboutin outlet are air max likely christian louboutin sale to turn nike roshe very jordan shoes very much the same christian louboutin shoes tricky Yeezy Boost 350 For Sale problems(Blocking beats by dre wireless heartrate, air max 90 This Xiaomi beats earphones enjoy beats by dre sale not cheap mont blanc pens too nike cleats long jordan 6 ago Yeezy Shoes announced in cheap jordans a nike free run Mi beats by dre studio strip nike air max 90 2). air max 90

Add new comment