Djing basics (for beginners)

Discussion in 'DJ's, MC's & Turntablism' started by DJ Catalystix, Jan 13, 2015.

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did you find this helpful?

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  1. DJ Catalystix

    DJ Catalystix Member

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    Hi guys,

    Just wanted to make a thread to help starter dj's. i know i could of used something like this when starting out. Could of really skyrocketed my progress.

    So first off your equipment. Some people may disagree but i think when starting you should use a midi controller with software like VDJ or TRAKTOR. This will let you learn the fundamentals of DJ'ing, how to mix, how to transition while keeping it smooth and it will really bring your style out. No two dj's have the exact same style. thats what makes everyone diffrent!.

    I would highly recommend for a cheap and efficient starting deck the numark mix track pro 2's. They are simplistic yet have alot of features to introduce you to the DJing world.

    now im going to get stick for this but, in my opinion for the first week (maximum) use the sync button, this will take some complexity from mixing so you can start nice and easy and get the hang of what your doing. what does the sync button do? well its kinda 'Cheating' it makes the BPM of both songs the same so you dont need to do this by ear. if both songs are playing and you use the sync button. it will match the beats so it sounds smooth.

    Okay so phasing. Each song (EDM) usually goes in 32 beat phases. so every 32 beats the song will change and very often there will be a breakdown before this phase ends. At first i would recommend counting the 32bars. but as time goes on it becomes natural, you know where 32bars is all the time.

    So Say we have Track A and track B. you play A first and with B you should cue the song 32bars before the drop. depending on how much of the intro of track B you want to play you could do que 64 bars before the drop or 96 bars before the drop. that bits up to you. with drum and bass i would reccommend 32 bars. So then you Play track B on the que (which should be 32bars away from the drop) when track A hits the first beat of the new phase. simplified this means that track A will go into a breakdown as Track B is having a build up and dropping. this makes the mix flow and it just all sounds right.

    now your mixing isnt going to be perfect. Actually it might even sound like a trainwreck BUT don’t worry, no one jumps on the decks and is perfect NO ONE. With djing, Practice makes perfect. That is literally the only way you can excel. Put in the work and I promise you will get results. Some people ask me tips in reply I tell them to go and mix. Know your tunes. Know your style. The more you practice the clearer everything will get. Now your going to have to upgrade to something more complex in around a year because you are going to get BORED. There is nothing to midi mixing once you get the hang of it. It becomes simplistic and you get bored.
    This is where I would recommend buying a pair of Turntables or CD player. I recommend as a started buying CDJ 350’s they are amazing CD players, will really give you an insight to what club setup’s are like. The difference with CDJ’s and midi being that on a midi you can see the music, Hot Cue, Sync and other functions that are ‘cheating’, Now im not going to go into CD players and beatmatching but when you can finally beat match in my eyes you’re a ‘real dj’.

    Thank you for reading and I hope I helped. Its been a long time since I used midi but if you have any questions, drop me a message and ill make sure I can help you.

    Thanks again,
    Dj catalystix
     
  2. Dannyboy93

    Dannyboy93 EL CAPITAIN

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    I would personally say go straight to the real thing.

    I went down the route of buying a MIDI, used it for about a month, got bored and sold it for a q.

    The next year I got onto vinyl and now I can't stop mixing, it's all about fun not being the next superstar DJ. I personally couldn't stand looking at a computer screen, scrolling through millions of tracks and letting the computer do all the work, no fun at all might as well make a playlist on itunes (again this is my opinion and from personal experience)

    The 3 most important things to mixing in order are:

    1. Selection - without good selection your not going to have a good set

    2. EQing - without good EQing your mix will sound sloppy and not flow

    3. Beatmatching - As said before in OP, any real DJ can beatmatch, this is the thing you have to practice the most at first but when you get this, it feels good.

    Once you get these down to a point where you feel happy with it, start recording mixes then listen back to yourself to see how it sounds, might sound weird but you find alot more mistakes when listening back to yourself because your not focusing on the mixing but more how your mix sounds, does it compare to your favourite DJ's? if so send it out, if not keep practicing!

    My 2p
     
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  3. DJ Catalystix

    DJ Catalystix Member

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    hm everyones different, personally if i jumped on cd players or vinyl straight away i would of quit within a week. its too hard, would of made next to no progress and would be put off using them. the best thing about midi is you can tell your progressing and this keeps motivation. as this post is for the very beginners.

    i agree with all your points yet i think as a beginner getting the VERY basic's down to a T helps ridiculously.

    Everyone learns differently so i am not going to say my opinions right, which goes for yours aswell. i was just relating this post to what i would of liked to been taught at the very start. without phasing its just a big big mes. on a midi anyway phasing is probably the most important thing (ofc song selection, eqing and beatmatching are all very important but they all come with time.)

    Thanks for the reply :) ,

    Dj Catalystix
     
  4. hyperd4eva

    hyperd4eva H&M SCARVES

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    This is what i thought until i brought traktor.. its actually harder to mix on turntables with! plus its harder to set up and much less stable than vinyl. If anything i would say overall it makes it harder!
     
  5. Solace

    Solace Active Member

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    I'm just going to leave a few tips here that are basic knowledge when you are mixing a while, but not for a starting dj.
    And these could help quite a bit


    1: 32 bars are (about) 44 seconds in d&b.

    This can help cueing up tunes, or knowing where you are in the tune.


    2: If you don't use sync, 0,6% is 0,5 BPM

    What I mean with this, if you move the pitch 1,2% (up or down), you changed the tune by a whole BPM
    (only works in the 170bpm range ofcourse)


    3: Almost all breakdowns are 32 bars.

    intros can be longer, but almost all breakdowns are 32 bars.



    And a little note for the OP: get some space in that text, more step by step approach. Way easier to read
     
  6. MARKLAR

    MARKLAR International Tracksuit Salesman

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    start on vinyl like a real man:teeth:
     
  7. Dannyboy93

    Dannyboy93 EL CAPITAIN

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    got traktor scratch myself man, know what you mean because it can be a ball ache to set up, laptop fucking up when mixing etc but MIDI controllers completely different mate, does the work for you big time (unless you don't use the sync button and pitch ride but loads of MIDI controllers don't have anything to ride the pitch, well, my old one didn't)
     
  8. Teddy

    Teddy 60% Staff Member

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    Yeah. i couldn't disagree more with some of that.
    Lots of text there so I'm just gonna sum up what I think is the best way to start. (in brief, and i'm no qualified expert)

    1. buy turntables / mixer. 2nd hand technics are best if not then just some direct drive.

    2. configure turntables.. no really set them up properly from the get go. tonearm height, counterweights, anti skating. there are vids on pootube to help you. do this every time you move your set up.

    3. buy 2 of the same record. (or at least a track using the same break) practice beat matching for ages, then some more, then until ur so bored it hurts. use only the pitch, dont touch the platter, you'll become a better dj in the long run. trust. ive taught many people to mix and this has been the best bit of advise. the dj tutor has a great video where he compares the pitch to 2 toy cars on a motorway. watch that.

    4. now ur ready to start mixing. if you've practiced beat matching properly you've almost certainly discovered that most tracks are broken up into segments / bars. at the beginning of one of these segments is a good place to introduce a new track into the mix. you'll find that both track start doing things at the same time. this is good! you're learning how tracks are made up. Something alot of "sync djs" havent worked out.

    5. learn to eq - the basics....
    full bass on bass is 99% of the time a real no no.. even during the intro drums.
    use mid as ur overall volume. works a treat.
    go easy on treble when introducing a new track.

    with eq's.. if ur playing a track.. ur playing it full volume full eq's.. when introducing a new track there is only so much room for it.. create room by lowering an eq on ur master track. practice practice practice. nobody gets this overnight.


    5. buy lots of tunes... be picky about what you buy. the tracks you buy will define you as a dj (in some ways)

    6. practice practice practice and record yourself while you do.. listen back, ask others for feedback..

    7. rinse lather, repeat until its 15 years later and your giving advise to others on the internet.
     
  9. muzzadj

    muzzadj POW!

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    Just try to relax and have an enjoyable time with it. Don't let it stress you out. Nowadays still after mixing 7 years when i'm stressed and tense it tends to show in my mixing. When i'm truly relaxed and confident i'm going to have a good mix is when I perform best. So especially at a beginner level where more mistakes will be made which just piss you off just let it slide, (it happens to us all i'm sure) and try again!
     
  10. WhoSayReload?

    WhoSayReload? Well-Known Member

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    You can drop the tune every 16 bars.

    Don't overthink beatmatching, it becomes easier over time. You'll start out and take maybe 5 minutes to get a tune locked, but it becomes instinctive over time.

    Have in mind where you want the mix to go; what direction, what styles - play for your audience.

    Watch the gain levels; I still struggle with this somewhat but I blame my mixer, to make myself feel better.

    Learn your tracks; important for knowing when breakdowns are and makes beatmatching easier.

    Also, trade secret Pioneers; +0.60 on the pitch is +1 bpm about 90% of the time.
     
  11. djemz

    djemz Member

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    I'd say Never start from sync button. Start the hard way then later on it is easier, otherwise there could be tendancy to stick with the easy way of things

    Easiest way to learn beatmatching is to get 2 vinyl/cd from the same producer, so ideally same bpm, then off you go and look at structure before you start mixing so four beats to a bar, four bars to a phrase...and just keep mixing till it clicks and flows

    Also for beatmatching house music is often said to be easist to learn beatmatching, so even if you want to mix drum and bass if you start from house and look at structure it could help
     
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  12. DJ Catalystix

    DJ Catalystix Member

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    hi,

    I agree with you in some ways, as i have expressed not everyone learns the same way nor does everyone think the same way. Im sure your way works!.

    This relates to the people who dont know how to DJ and want to get into it but have no idea where to start. A BIG proportion of people who want to DJ arent as lucky as me and alot of others in this forum to have someone to guide us in person and teach us/ motivate us.

    If you're starting off on your own and you jump onto a vinyl player or CDJ, Yes your progress in the long run may not be as limited as using a midi but the progress will be a ridiculously lot slower. (im saying this as i know how easy midi is to progress on) and this makes people frustrated and can very very easily lose all motivation.

    I would seriously reccommend getting midi first, for many reasons:

    1. your progression will be very fast leading you to keep up motivation and find your style.

    2.you can really nail down on the fundementals of mixing (eq'ing, Phasing etc)

    3. you dont yet know if your going to like mixing. if you buy expensive CD players and you realise its not for you then you got yourself into a situation, instead of buying a Hercules instinct (not the best midi controller by FAR, but very simplistic and cheap for begginers) which can easily be looked over.

    4. you can start to really get to know your music.

    Everyone will have different opinions on it, not saying my way is right because its my opinions and opinions isnt fact and respectfully yours is not 'right' for the exact same reason, everyone learns diffrent so i hope that this post collaborating everyone's opinions helps :)

    Thanks
     
  13. RUSSLA

    RUSSLA DNBF Monarch

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    This is actually the whole point tho is it not? I totally understand there are easier ways to learn how to mix these days but if you really wana be an ACTUAL DJ, then you need to start from the bottom up.

    All these shortcuts will, and emphasise WILL bite you in the ass later down the line.

    If people quit within a week cos they cant beat match then pfft, they have no passion for it so they are best off not being a DJ imo.

    Now my question; can you mix vinyl?
     
  14. DJ Catalystix

    DJ Catalystix Member

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    as i said i can understand your reasoning, and your way is a good path to go down. but as much as you say that, ive seen enough people ambitious to start Dj'ing get knocked down when for the first week there mixing sounds like a train wreck. they will become an 'Actual Dj' i did not recommend they STAY on midi i just said they should start on them. i was not encouraging them to stay on midi so eventually they will become as you stated an 'Actual Dj' if they enjoy it and enjoy the music there is nothing in there way.

    and why do you see it as 'Shortcuts' some people like to start slowly and build there way up. my opinion is for them people. it would only take a month or two to get good enough on midi to move on. so even if it was a shortcut as you say, its very short lived.

    And hmm ive played on vinyl before but i prefer CD's, just something about CDJ's i love. played vinyls for a few days and just personal preference vinyl isnt for me, too fiddly. saying that i do aspire to have 2 vinyl players in my future set up. but that is as of when i have my nexus 2000.

    Thanks for the reply :)
     
  15. Agent Smith

    Agent Smith Currently Putins Koala

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    This 100%. Not naming names but i've played on a small lineup years ago where the guy after me synced every mix, was blatantly obvious. When the promoter found out that was pretty much the end of him. Funny how you can't sync on vinyl eh.

    Teddy knows the score. Big the fuck up man one of the guys who gave me feedback on my early mixes which spurred me on.

    My advice, get to know your tunes. I have records that I have played so much practicing over and over and over that i've had to buy 2nd, 3rd even 4th copies of. That's how much I know my records. Its taken years of hard work, but I know 100% because I can mix records I can play on any format, midi's, controllers, CDJ's, DVS whatever.

    I loathe this new wave of lazy DJ's.

    And I don't think advocating syncing is helping so no I don't find this thread helpful. Follow Teddy's advice IMO.
     
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  16. RUSSLA

    RUSSLA DNBF Monarch

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    I can see you're point breh but if people learn an easier route at the start then they aren't guna start making things more difficult for themselves and go back to learning beatmatching. you might have done, but not everyone will.

    I genuinely know people that play out all the time and can't beatmatch for shit, just literally use numbers on the CDJs. Put them infront of vinyl decks and i'd piss in their faces - Wastecunts imo/ rant.

    I commend your effort in trying to help DJs out, so hats off, but I really really disagree with your advice so i can't ignore it
     
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  17. jimjimjim

    jimjimjim oldskool

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    ironically - years n years ago i played about with some virtual dj thing and i hated it.
    then about 2 years ago bought some entry level cdjs and a mixer (and one turntable) and i love it.

    i see what youre saying about its cheaper to start with virtual.
    but like peeps have said - if you start easy why would you make it harder for yourself. i say take the plunge - if you really wanna do it you will .
    also having forked out a load of money you are more likely to stick at it :D
    wish i cud afford an extra turntable tho lol
     
  18. DJ Catalystix

    DJ Catalystix Member

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    tbf thinking your all getting the wrong idea, this advice was not a permanent thing one two month at most.

    80% the dj's ive played with or befriended have started on midi, only a handful actually started on CD's or vinyl and tbf alot of the people who i know started on midi have, in the time given made ridiculously more progress and both can now beat match.

    This post is not encouraging anyone even booking for a set untill you can beatmatch 100% without that BPM read out, alike you guys i do look down on it, dont get me wrong i understand you all, but this is for beginners and its from my personal experience and from what ive seen. when i started djing personally i didnt even know what beatmatching was XD. and it helped me so much getting on that midi, messing around, changing it up, trying different genres, practicing, phasing and if you have a good enough mixer you can even dabble in the art of beatmatching. ive met alot of good dj's come from midi to cd or vinyl and flourish more then someone who just jumped on. everyones different, Alot people like to start off and challenge themselves. but undeniably there are also alot of people that like to take it slow.

    I hate the idea of a laptop dj probably more then you. but you cannot deny that it's a better idea for SOME while starting. i wouldnt call myself a guru at all but i have taught a few people how to mix. most of them starting on midi. but now all play with CD's at a very good level. At the end of the day in the long run they both have the same outcomes, just one has more steps (progressive steps) then the other.

    but russla something you did say caught my eye. yes there are some nasty habits that you can acquire from long use of midi (while i was saving for my cdj's) the shitty sync button, your used to just banging it on and then your done (press play and walk away). if a new dj is reading this thread i do hope they get the idea that this is in no way a permanent thing, you SHOULD learn to beat match and play properly as soon as you feel possible.

    There are alot of cons for midi player, i did not imply i liked them in my post, i was just putting my personal experiences and what ive seen into this thread for those people who dont want to jump straight into it. and you cant deny there aren't people out there with that view, ive seen them, ive talked to them and ive taught a few.

    if i ever saw anyone using a midi at a venue i would piss myself. Yet i would think reasonably someone who has just begun.

    Thanks
     
  19. Teddy

    Teddy 60% Staff Member

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    am i the only one that finds beat matching a piece of fucking piss? and i'm not brilliant at it either.

    in recent years there has been so much emphasis on it and so many people trying to find shortcuts, including "know ur bpms" and " yo mang, it's + 0.6 for 1 bpm" etc etc etc..

    sorry but just practice. it really is easy
    here is all u need to know.
    1. start the pitch at speed = obviously too slow
    2. speed up too much
    3. ahhh its too fast, quick slow down,
    4. too slow so speed up
    5. up > down > up > down > up > down... the trick is smaller gaps between too slow and too fast each time until its where it should be.

    literally takes 10 seconds. So why are so many people going out of their way to avoid it?
    answer because they didn't learn how from the start and now its too difficult.
     
  20. DJ Catalystix

    DJ Catalystix Member

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    Yeah alot of people learn differently, its not making it harder for yourself, as if you jumped on vinyl you would have to be able to beatmatch before you can learn phasing , eqing etc tbf just realized that both paths are the opposite of each other , midi you learn phasing etc then beat matching and on cd or vinyl you learn beat matching first then everything to come after.

    I knew i was going to russel some jimmys putting this post up, but as i said its for the people that dont wanna jump straight into it.