How to Play a DJ Mixer

A Brief Introduction

A DJ Mixer is a type of audio mixing console. It is used by Disc Jockeys or DJs to manipulate and control multiple audio signals simultaneously. DJ Mixers come into play when a DJ needs to transition smoothly from one song to the next or to create sound effects like loops or scratches to enhance the electronic dance music playing and so on.

A DJ mixer will have a minimum of two connection channels to which the music sources such as record players, CD players or laptops will be connected. However, bigger mixers used in high-end discotheques can have up to 4 channels for connections.

How To Play or Use DJ Mixers

Like any piece of specialized equipment, it is important to understand the workings of either a standard DJ Mixer or online DJ Mixing Board before trying to put it into use. Here are some of the basic things to be kept in mind while playing a DJ Mixer:

  • Setting Up – The first step is setting up the mixer correctly and that involves connecting the CD players, decks, speakers or turntables you will be using to the DJ mixer. Amy DJ mixer is fitted with phono/line inputs into which the players/turntables have to be plugged. If you are using CD players or any other digital sources, connect them to the line inputs. Use the phono channels however if you’re using vinyl turntables. The main speakers should then be connected to the main Audio 1 and 2 outputs respectively.
  • Adjusting Volume Controls: This is a really important step in the process of using your DJ Mixer. Once the connection setup is complete you can set the desired volume levels for your main audio outputs using the main volume knob. Also, check that the channel trim/gain knobs along with the high mid and low channel EQ knobs are positioned at 12 o’clock. The channel fades need to be pushed to the top in order to be opened. It is important that the correct channel inputs be selected depending on the equipment being used, phono for vinyl and line for digital sources. Turn the main volume knobs for the channels to minimum and press ‘Play’ on the track/tracks. Once the tracks are playing you can turn the master volume knob slowly clockwise to increase the volume and set it at the desired level. Follow the same process to adjust the volume levels on your DJ headphones and plug them in.
  • Using Music Mixing Controls: A basic 2 channel DJ Mixer will have a crossfader and channel faders respectively. The crossfader control knob allows you to direct focus to one or both channels as and when required. When it is at the center, both decks will be audible in equal measure while the further left it is pushed, the less the right deck is audible and vice versa. A crossfader curve knob, if present, controls the speed at which a track fades in or out.

The channel fades on the other hand control the volume levels of each given channel/deck. For instance, If they’re pushed right to the top and are ‘fully open’, they’ll be playing at the maximum volume as previously set by the Main Volume knob. The two music mixing controls have to operate in conjunction by the DJ for optimal output of the DJ Mixer.

  • Additional Information: In addition to the above basic knowledge needed to operate or play a DJ Mixer, remember to keep a check on the VU Meter. This refers to the lights you can see on the mixer, jumping in tandem with the beat of the music. There are different sets of these for each channel. If any of the lights on the meters go Red it indicates clipping audio levels on the given channel. This should be fixed immediately as it could cause distortions, damaging your equipment. You can lower the master volume and turn up that of the active amplifiers instead to fix the audio clipping or control the EQ/trim of the channel. The lights on the active amplifiers shouldn’t be Red either as that too could spell damage for them.

Summing It Up

Following the outlined steps should enable you to successfully master the basic use of a DJ Mixer to create your own mix or simply play music using your equipment.