How To DJ Mix: Best Mixer, Tips for DJ Mixing In 2020

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Do you want to become a DJ? Are you new to DJing? Do you want to learn how to DJ mix?

If you are new to Djing and wondering how to get started, this article is for you.

DJs are very cool, they make you groove into your feet. However, you should know that while it looks fun, the task itself is challenging for starters especially if you are still learning the art of beatmatching.

For beginners, beatmatching involves matching the tempo of two tracks so they hit key points at the same time. It’s challenging at first, but as you go along with DJing, you will eventually learn it naturally. Also, there are DJ software packages to help you DJ mixing fast. So, if you are really into this thing, let’s get started!

DJ MixerPrice CheckRatingProsCons
Traktor Kontrol Z2
Click Here To Check Price4.9Solid construction. Built-in Traktor Audio Interface. Traktor Pro 2.6 Software for DVS Timecode. Additional Aux/Mic Input w/Tone Control. Lots of inputs and outputs. Scratch-worthy Mini-Innofader, Crossfader and LinefadersNo Linefader Curve/Reverse Functions. On-board controls for only one effect per module. Rotary knobs have plastic post instead of metal
Behringer Digital Pro Mixer DDM4000
Click Here To Check Price4.8Has four multi-FX sections. Two BPM counters. Digital crossfade section. Includes photo input. Wonderful USB sound card. Mono/Sterio switch on output. Mic audio extends the base a bitNo MIDI USB connection. Lacks support and user base. Some experienced issues with the crossfader selector switches
Pioneer DJ DJM-S9
Click Here To Check Price4.62 built-in USB soundcards. Filter FX. Style levers. Magvel Fader Pro. Compatible with rekordbox dj dvsFaders are not user-replaceable
Mixars DUO MKII 2-Channel Mixer
Click Here To Check Price4.32-channel battle style mixer. New and better crossfader. 8 dedicated trigger pads. Fully MIDI Mappable. Free softwareLacks post fader effects
Pioneer DJ DJM-900NXS2 Professional
Click Here To Check Price4.2User-friendly interface. Allows you to add echo to vocals. Double-up rhythms. Extensive filter and effects control on board. Can be linked to other DJsCan get hot after running for several hours

What Is Mixing In DJing

A DJ mix or DJ mixset is a sequence of musical tracks typically mixed together to form one continuous track.

DJ mixes are performed using a DJ mixer and multiple sounds sources including turntables, CD players, digital audio players or computer sound cards.

Sometimes DJs add samplers and effects units into their mix, but it’s also possible to create one using sound editing software.

Mixing is very different from live sound mixing. The remix services began in the 1970s to provide music that was more easily beatmixed for the dance floor.

How Do I Learn To DJ Mix?

DJs are popular for mixing music, so I understand if you are an aspiring DJ who wants to learn this skill. The first thing you need to learn when mixing is choosing the right songs.

Basically, you have to choose those music from genres that fit into the more general term “electronic dance music.”

Other genres that DJs usually mix includes hip hop, breakbeat and disco music. Four on the floor disco beats can be used to create seamless mixes to keep the dancers on the dancefloor.

Usually, the tracks used for DJ mixing have two main characters – they have dominant bassline and repetitive beats and tempo between 120 bpm up to 160 bpm.

What I just shared is only the basic in DJ mixing. I have a dedicated section below where I’ll share more tips on how to DJ mix.

How Do You DJ Songs?

Basically, here’s an overview when you DJ mix songs.

1. Choose a song. You can start by choosing two music tracks that are of similar style. You can either choose two house, trance or techno tracks. The idea is to find twos songs that are built around similar bpm (beats per minute).

2. Load two tracks into your decks. Load the tracks and have your pitch faders set to 0. Usually, you’ll notice that even if the tracks of the same genre, they have different bpm’s.

For example, one could have 133 bpm the other with 129 bpm. The bpm counters on the player will give you a good estimate of the BPM but the best DJs who know to sync the songs up by ear alone.

3. Use headphones for beatmatching. You will need DJ controllers that’s why some manual beatmatching using headphones is necessary. Also, using DJ headphones make you work in private without interfering with the master output.

4. Play the two records. Get the two records playing in time with each other by moving the pitch control on the deck up or down. You can slow down or speed up the music and this might appear tricky at first.

5. Use crossfader or center spindle. If you have a mixer with a mini headphone crossfader or cue mix, you will find it helpful. Try fading the one record out slightly and that might help you workout out which way to go.

If you are using vinyl, try to use the center spindle to nudge the beat or touch the platter to slow it down. With a little practice, you will soon be able to move the mixer’s crossfader to the center.

Once you hear both tunes playing in perfect timing, that’s a good sign that you are on track. However, remember, tracks will almost always need a slight nudge to keep the mix in beat during the transition, no matter how the beatmatch is.

Figure out the way before you start the mix. But don’t worry because as you progress, you’ll be able to gently nudge the beat before it drops out.

6. Use the sync button or beatmatch manually. If you are using DJ software, you can use the sync button. This function changes the speed of the selected track to get them both playing at exactly the same BPM and ready to mix.

The “sync” button works on the controller in the software and syncs the tracks you selected to produce a new sound. The sync button is great to get your started with mixing and playing around. If you do this manually, it’s called beatmatching.

You should remember that even the sync button is not always perfect and the tracks may still need some adjustment.

7. Use a production of mixing software. You have to familiarize yourself with mixing and the easiest way to get started using the software. The mixing software usually falls into two categories – production software and mixing software.

Types of Mixing Software for DJing

Here’s an overview of the best software that you will be using for DJing..

Production Software

The production software usually refers to a tool used to make new songs.

It is usually a selection of instruments including drums, pianos, and bass.

Ableton Live – It uses a different approach to mixing which involves sampling a lot of tracks.

It also involves several hardware tools than the normal mixing software uses.

It’s not just for production software, it can also be used for live performances, hence the name, Ableton Live. This software is popular among mainstream artists including Alison Wonderland and Kanye.

Mixing Software

For mixer software, the two major players are Traktor and Serato. The two don’t look and feel the same. However, they are pretty the same in terms of what they can do.

Both can analyze your tracks to tell what musical key and BPM (tempo) each song is. It will also automatically sync any song to match the track that is currently playing.

Traktor Pro – It is an industry-standard and one of the giants when it comes to mixing software. The majority of the DJs used this because it is often sold along with hardware DJ controllers, so you can buy a controller bundled with software to save money. The controller that comes along with perfectly mapped to the software.

Serato – This is also designed with industry standards. It the direct competitor to Traktor. Several users prefer Serato’s interface. However, Traktor has superior features.

How To Choose Songs to DJ Mix

When choosing songs to mix DJ, better consider the following conditions:

1. Make sure that the songs suitable for beat-mixing.

2. Make sure to have both tunes at the same speed, have their kick drums lined up, and are at a similar volume.

3. Consider the song’s BPM. It is ideal if the two songs are 5 BPM from each other. So, when mixing a song t 120 BPM, select a song to mix which has 115 to 125 BPM. Also, make sure that both songs have a “1” beat at the same time before bringing the second song’s volume up.

4. Only one kick drum playing loud at once. You can do so by turning the “bass” or “low” EQ down on the incoming tune and leave it at 12 o’clock on the other.

How Do I Make DJ Mixes On My Computer?

In the former section, I give you an overview of how DJ mixing song works. In this section, we will focus on mixing tracks on your computer.

There is a wealth of filters and effects that can help you seamlessly mix the tracks. However, there are things that you need to consider before you start mixing tracks.

  • Is the musical genre similar?
  • Do the two tracks have ample mix-in and mix-out zones for you to play with?
  • Do the instruments and sounds in the tracks compliment each other?

All of this comes from analyzing the tunes in your record box before you try mixing them.

DJs generally group their tracks into complimenting groups of 3 so try to organize yours this way. You can also color code them in your playlists or set ratings and comments so you know which tunes work best with others.

If you are eager to start mixing as a DJ, you can do so with your computer. VirtualDJ lets you do that. With it, you can practice and learn or prepare sets and playlists.

Although learning how to DJ mix can be challenging, there are already tools that can help you accomplish it without a sweat. In fact, MC Arabiani shared some tips on how you can learn the craft within six minutes using your PC.

Also, DJ mixing using your computer is very convenient because you can get it done without any additional hardware. You just need your PC and you are good to go!

Don’t worry, you will not shed any money because you don’t have to pay for the software or hardware.

How To DJ Mix on Computer?

Here are the things you can do to get started.

1. Install Virtual DJ. Just Google the software, download and install it. This software is necessary to make DJing easy.

Also, it comes with powerful features that are more than enough for you to learn and experiment with mixing.

You can choose the free version of the software. It doesn’t include the overhead of complex sound configurations, complex controller setups, broadcasting, or full video output. VirtualDJ Home is built for a simple at-home beginner DJ setup making it the best option for beginners.

2. Choose 2 tracks to mix. I suggest that you choose dance music songs with the words “club mix” or “extended mix” in their names. These song choices are more appropriate for mixing compared to the normal tracks.

3. Launch Virtual DJ. Just open the app after the installation and explore it. You may need to explore the app to better use it. Don’t worry, you can find a lot of tutorials online. Also, you will only use the keyboard, mouse, and built-in sound card to start mixing using this app. So, you can surely make it.

4. Load the 2 songs into Virtual DJ. Place one song on each deck.

5. Press Synch on one of the two decks to get the two songs to be at the same tempo

6. Set crossfader completely on the side of the deck that you want to start playing first

7. Play your first song

8. Play second track. When the first song has about one minute left and its beat marker at the top is at the same location as the beat marker for your second song, then play your second track and immediately hit Synch.

If in case you don’t get the two markers in synch, you can press stop on your second song and try again until you achieve to perfect synch.

9. Move crossfader slowly towards the new song’s deck.


DJ Mixing Tips

Now that you are already aware of the basic things to DJ mix, it’s time to give you some tips to level up your game. In this section, I’ll be sharing with you new ways to make the task easier and more enjoyable. I found these tips from DJ TechTools very helpful, so I’m sharing it with you.

1. To mix live or not

If you are wondering whether you should mix it live or not, consider the purpose of your performance. If you want to get a gig, mix it live. Of course, you want the mix to represent what you can do live. Recording live sets is also the best way for parties.

However, if you are making a mix for a podcast or sale, you can mix with your computer to produce a more polished mix.

2. Know your audience

The DJ mix you will be playing at a nightclub will be very different from the set you will be making for a dinner party with your closest friends. Thus, it’s important to know your audience to narrow your track selection, determine the appropriate length and decide for the energy level.

For instance, if you are mixing for an aerobic class get a high energy track (130bpm), those with upbeat feel. If it’s for yoga, consider downtempo breaks between 90 to 110bpm that reflects the slow focused pace of the workout.

3. Diagram your set’s direction

It will be helpful to diagram your set to illustrate the energy levels. Then, apply the energy diagram to a mix.

The most common include diagram includes:

  • The Ramp – a steady rise from slow BPM to high with matching energy
  • The Mountain – a rise to a peak halfway through the mix and a symmetrical descent
  • The Wave – a series of peaks and valleys where you bring the listener up and down throughout the course of mix

4. Track selection

Many struggle when it comes to selecting tracks, so, let’s make it easy. Choose music that represents the direction of your music collection not necessarily the most popular tracks.

5. Transitions

There are different types of DJs and each of them has different preferences when it comes to mixing.

Dance music DJs favor beatmatching, Hip Hop DJs cutting and radio DJs fading.

While you can make an excellent mix with a single transition type, using a combination of transition can help some tracks to fit together.

However, if you are only playing a single genre, then use a seamless beat matching all the way through is the way to go.

6. Mixed in Key

When it comes to mixing, take note that not all tracks of the same genre and BPM fit together. Most musicians find the answer to the track’s key. Mixing in key will improve the mix.

Mixed in Key is a piece of software that you can use to update your music library’s ID3 tags with the musical keys of each track. The keys will serve as a reference for playing tracks in the same or complementary key via harmonic mixing.

7. Phrasing in your DJ mix

Good phrasing is knowing how one track ends and the next begins. When one track builds up to a big drop at the peak of the song, you should create space before you drop the next track. Dropping the next track too early could burn out the listener. Using mixers like Traktor or Serato can help you to seamlessly phrase your mixes.

8. Create your signature DJ mixing style

Manipulate your tracks and explore your own mixing technique using various tools like looping, filters, EQing and effects. This is the only way to make a difference from other DJs and create your own mark in the DJing world.

9. Packaging and distribution

For packaging, you must choose the right name and artwork that reflects your style. As for distribution, it’s easier to go digital and use media sharing sites like Mixcloud.com, Mixcrate.com or House-mixes.

What Is A Good DJ Mixer To Start With?

DJ mixers and controllers can now be easily connected to computers and smartphones. So you can use them with various apps.

If you are serious with DJing, I suggest that you spend a bit extra on a more capable mixer or controller it is a necessity.

Also, by doing so, you can avoid outgrowing the device quickly and maximize its full potential instead.

There are tons of mixers in the market, but among the top choices for me are the following:

1. Traktor Kontrol Z2

This is a 2-in-1 device making it a wise investment for beginner DJs. It gives you the best of both worlds because it can serve as your controller and mixer at the same time.

It comes with two stand-alone channels and offers hands-on control for two remix decks.

Also, it comes with a sturdy with aluminum chassis and plenty of power and connectivity ports. It ha a spacious control surface, a three-band EQ section, and dedicated filter knobs for each channel. Also, for a more convenient mixing experience, its four trigger buttons were color-coded which helps you avoid getting things mixed when during your setlist.

Pros
  • Solid construction
  • Built-in Traktor Audio Interface
  • Traktor Pro 2.6 Software for DVS Timecode
  • Additional Aux/Mic Input w/Tone Control
  • Lots of inputs and outputs
  • Scratch-worthy Mini-Innofader, Crossfader and Linefaders
Cons
  • No Linefader Curve/Reverse Functions
  • On-board controls for only one effect per module
  • Rotary knobs have plastic post instead of metal

2. Behringer Digital Pro Mixer DDM4000

If you are in a tight budget and want a mixer under $500, this is highly recommended. At first glance, you might find this intimidating due to the numerous buttons and knobs. But you once you use it, you’ll see that it isn’t really that intimidating.

It offers a beat-synchronized sampler, four multi-FX sections, two BPM counters, and a digital crossfade section. It has an intuitive layout and many helpful features for its prices. But it doesn’t include a USB MIDI connection. So, you can connect it to your computer straight from the box. You have to spend more to connect this to your PC.

Pros
  • Has four multi-FX sections
  • Two BPM counters
  • Digital crossfade section
  • Includes photo input
  • Wonderful USB sound card
  • Mono/Sterio switch on output
  • Mic audio extends the base a bit
Cons
  • No MIDI USB connection
  • Lacks support and user base
  • Some experienced issues with the crossfader selector switches

3. Pioneer DJ DJM-S9

This is the first two-channel battle mixer for Serato DJ, the fully customizable Magvel Pro crossfader, tactile performance pads and FX buttons let you tailor the mixer according to your preferences.

It comes with a durable Magvel Fader Pro magnetic crossfader that delivers a smooth response. It has Performance Pads too for dynamic mixing. The 16 multi-color touch pads give you access to Hot Cue, Roll, Slice, Loop, and more. They are designed with an optimized shape and seat switch connections for great accuracy and responsiveness.

Aside from the aforementioned, it has six customizable FX buttons, high/low pass filter to FX on each channel, style levers, and two-built-in USB soundcards.

Pros
  • 2 built-in USB soundcards
  • Filter FX
  • Style levers
  • Magvel Fader Pro
  • Compatible with rekordbox dj & dvs
Cons
  • Faders are not user-replaceable

4. Mixars DUO MKII 2-Channel Mixer

This mixer is an update to the popular DUO two channel Serato DJ mixer. It features the all-new Galileo Essential crossfader that is exclusively designed in collaboration with Pro X Fade.

It is built using the latest conductive plastic technology and includes razor-sharp cuts for precise scratching. That’s not all, it has eight RGB backlit selection, two push-encoders for looping, two push-encoders for effects controls with beat buttons for the speed of the effect. In fact, it has tons of positive reviews.

This mixer is visually appealing, has very good construction and solid feel. It is simple to use and work really well. The crossfader is also very light. Overall, this is an excellent mixer for its price. It is very impressive and highly recommended.

Pros
  • 2-channel battle style mixer
  • New and better crossfader
  • 8 dedicated trigger pads
  • Fully MIDI Mappable
  • Free software
Cons
  • Lacks post fader effects

5. Pioneer DJ DJM-900NXS2 Professional

This is the pro version of the first Pioneer DJ DJM mixer I mentioned above. It offers studio-quality refined on-board digital signal processing that results in a truer representation of analog sound. This is worth ugprade as it can perform at 96kHz/64-bit. With it, you will get a high quality, low jitter clocking studio-level piece of equipment.

It also comes with 6-studio-quality sound FX- Sweep, Filter, Crush, Dub Echo, Noise, and Space. It has 4 types of Beat FX and Frequency FX that allows you to add echo to the vocals or double the rhythm of hi-hat with the touch of a button.

It uses built-in FX and external FX units at the same time. It also comes with a USB sound card, advanced connectivity, advanced robust faders. It also has a smoother mixer, clip display, and multiple inputs. Everything about it very impressive.

Pros
  • User-friendly interface
  • Allows you to add echo to vocals
  • Double-up rhythms with a touch of a button
  • Link feature allows you to collaborate with your mates in real-time
  • 64-bit premium quality product
  • Extensive filter and effects control on board
  • Can be linked to other DJs
Cons
  • Can get hot after running for several hours

Conclusion

DJING is challenging but fun. It might be difficult at the start but you can easily learn it especially if you are into music and you are really interested in mixing.

There are also tons of DJ software in the market that can help you get started DJing without spending too much.

In fact, you can start mixing using your computer and it’s the best and cheapest way to do it.

However, you need to learn and master the art of beatmatching and listening with your ears because it is very important in DJing even if there are already several technologies available to help you.

For more information, guides, and resources on becoming a DJ, check out our homepage.

Related:

Club DJ Pro Features, What is Club DJ Pro

References

  • medium.com/@asantash/how-to-get-started-with-djing-495c275be5e4
  • djingpro.com/how-to-dj-mix/
  • djtoptips.com/advanced-dj-mixing-tutorials/
  • djtimes.com/2016/04/how-to-dj-mixing-fundamentals-remain-valuable/
  • digitaldjtips.com/2014/08/how-to-mix-beatmix-beatmatch/
  • passionatedj.com/how-to-become-a-dj-ultimate-guide/#Step_1_Learning_What_DJs_Do
  • quora.com/How-can-I-create-my-own-DJ-mix-with-just-using-my-computer
  • bestproducts.com/tech/electronics/g1565/dj-music-mixers-for-beginners/
  • youtube.com/watch?v=-pWAljFxBUk