One of the key components of any DJ equipment setup is the mixer; without this, it would be very hard to DJ at all.
Learning to use a mixer is something that every beginner DJ must go through and even when you have been doing the job for a long time, it pays to hone your skills and continually practice to ensure that you are always on top of your game.
In this article, we will be giving you some handy DJ advice and giving you all the information you will need to know to get started using this essential piece of DJ equipment.
Each mixer channel will have a phono/line input, and you must plug your other equipment into these – turntables, players etc.
Your CD decks will have two coloured lines – red and white, the left one should be plugged into channel one and the right one into channel two with the corresponding colours in the correct plugs.
If you use a turntable, you will use the phono input, but the setup is the same as CDs; you will need to connect the earth wire at the back of the turntables to the mixer also.
You will then need to connect your speakers and amps to the outputs on the mixer, and before you switch it all on, you must be sure to do it in the correct order.
Once everything is switched on, the next step is to adjust the volume. If you are a club DJ, you will need to adjust the booth monitors using the appropriate knob, but this is not something that you need to worry about if you are just learning.
The master volume is used to control the speakers, and the channel trim knobs will need to be at a 12 o’clock position. You will find these below the EQ knobs on most models. After this, ensure that the channel faders are all pushed to the top.
For this example, let’s assume that you are using channel one (your left deck) to control the master volume. In this instance, you should bring the crossfader all the way to the left and then turn the booth and master volumes down entirely. You can then start the track.
Read: 5 Best DJ Mixers
Resist the temptation to quickly rise to full volume; you should use the master and booth volume knobs and turn them slowly until you reach the volume you would like. You can then insert your headphones and adjust the volume accordingly.
Further Tips For Using A DJ Mixer
Once you have your equipment up and running, getting used to using it is another matter, and no DJ guide would be complete without some handy tips for using a DJ mixer.
- A crossfader is used to move across channels, if this control is left in the centre then the channels on either side of it can both be heard. Some mixers also feature a crossfader curve knob which is perfect for use when you are scratching.
- The channel faders are moved up and down with the up position being fully open. When here, that channel will be playing at full volume – which you will have determined with the master volume.
- The best way to get an understanding of how each of the above features works is to turn on the music and fiddle with them to hear the results.
- Your mix will have either a two, three or four-band EQ; this depends on the model and brand with more high-end equipment having a higher band. These are used to change the channels’ volumes separately and may be referred to as gain, level or input, again depending on the particular mixer you are using.
- You will use the EQ to blend between tracks; you will want a smooth transition, so it is important to learn how to use these correctly.
- Next, you will want to consider the lights on the mixer, known as the VU meters. These move along with the music beat, and if the lights go red – known as clipping, you should address them immediately. There are two reasons for this – the music may become distorted, and your equipment could get damaged. You can solve the problem by keeping the EQ knobs at 12 o’clock or lowering the master volume.
- It is worth practising with your headphones as these will allow you to hear both tracks regardless of what can be heard over the main speaker. There is usually a separate knob to control this.
Once you have mastered the two-channel mixer, you may decide to up your game to four channels, and this may take some getting used to.
This isn’t for beginners, but it is worth touching on. In the main, these mixers will operate the same as their two-channel counterparts just with more knobs and sliders.
You may notice an effects panel, a mic panel and booth controls, although these are featured on some smaller mixers too.