How to Use a DJ Mixer Properly

If you're working with a DJ mixer for the first time, you might be hesitant to even touch it. A plethora of knobs, meters, faders, and multiple inputs and outputs appear to be highly sophisticated. However, if you start tweaking the mixing parameters and experimenting with different combinations, it's not that tough. Just make sure that all of your sources are plugged into the correct inputs, and your amp and speakers are plugged into the outputs. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to start mixing! 

Master the Volume

Many DJ mixers feature a master volume knob that sets the limit for the output sound. For example, if you turn the Master volume to 5 o'clock, any channel (source) or its joint output won't get louder than that level.

Beside the main volume regulator, the mixer also features the volume faders or knobs for each channel, letting you tweak them separately. However, the volume set by the channel knobs cannot be more than a master volume established.

Experiment with the Crossfader

A crossfader is the fader knob that in the majority of mixers is moved horizontally. It regulates the amount of signal from each channel connected to the mixer. If you hook up a turntable with the hard rock record and the computer with the samples of the beats, moving the crossfader to the left or to the right will let you hear more rock or more beats accordingly. When the crossfader is in the middle position, the output of both channels is equally loud.

EQ the Sound

Depending on your mixer model, you'll be able to tweak from 2 to 4 EQ parameters. Each channel of the mixer often has its own EQ controls, which are situated next to the channel volume knobs. EQ regulators allow you to adjust the frequencies of channels to obtain non-distorted or distorted results.

Light Up with the VU Meters

The blinking lights of the VU meters can be entertaining, but they have a practical purpose as well. You can control the output of each of your channels and its rhythm. Besides, the VU meter warns you about the possible overdrive features. If the light goes red, it's better to decrease the Master volume to avoid possible damage to your mixer and connected equipment.

Add Effects

The upgraded DJ mixers have a panel with incorporated sound effects, which is often marked as an FX panel. The assortment of effects can be different depending on the model, while the majority of mixers let you add echo or delay to your mixes, for example. The effects are applied to the common output of all channels. If you want to mix effects with one channel, set the crossfader fully toward that channel, and set the volume knobs of the other channel to zero.

Use a Microphone

Even if you don't plan to speak, sing, or beatmake throughout your performance, you can still use the microphone if the mixer has that option. The microphone input also makes a channel, and you can apply the effects, EQ, and volume controls to it. So having a microphone greatly expands the range of sound available for mixing. Learn where your mixer's microphone controls are, as well as the mute button. It will allow you to avoid undesirable sounds during mixing, such as the sound of your breath.

Keep Control on Speakers with the Booth Control

This feature is typically seen in professional DJ mixers, as it allows for the attachment of additional speakers/amps for sound output. The booth control allows you to separate and group specific speakers, performing control over a single group (booth) with the controls panel.

Apply the Software Tools

The DJ mixer may come with the software installed or require a connection to a computer for installation. The software determines the variety of available effects, the layout of available settings, and the ability to tweak them. DJ software is usually categorized according to what music style it best suits. For instance, the Traktor Pro software is popular among DJs who mix hip-hop tracks.

Wear Headphones

Even with a separate room for mixing your tracks, once, you might need to use the headphones with your DJ mixer. That's why it's better to learn how to do it in advance. Besides, headphones can help you adjust the rhythm of two channels, as you can set them up to hear both channels at once. With the single speaker output, there's usually only one track to hear at a time.

A DJ mixer usually has a mini headphone fader that allows you to control the output and apply EQ and other controls in real-time.

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