Types of Mixing
Beat-matching is a prerequisite for mixing. Once you have mastered beat-matching it is up to you to develop your own style of mixing, giving you the chance to express yourself as the type of DJ you want to be. Here are a few types of basic mixes to give you a foundation to develop your own style from.
Before starting the mix
1. Beat-match the incoming record (2) with the outgoing one (record 1)
2. Set the EQ levels using the LEDs on your mixer as a gauge. Do this whilst record 2 is still playing (so that there is an input signal going to the mixer). The aim is to get the levels so that they are at most as loud as the outgoing track. This way there is a constant volume for the audience without too many fluctuations and the incoming mix will be subtle.
3. Read how long is left of record 1 (see reading records if you are unsure of how to do this) as this may determine you type and length of mix its no good planning a two minute long mix if theres only 20 seconds of the outgoing song left.
4. Re-cue record 2 at the first beat.
NB: Whilst in the middle of a mix you will need to pay constant attention to the beats of the two songs, and make adjustments regarding the speed of record 2 as and when they are necessary.
This is simply where you move the cross fader from channel 1 all the way over to channel 2 on the first beat of the bar. You literally cut from one record to another. This style of mixing, often used when mixing hip-hop or in conjunction with scratching, and doesnt really require any beat matching as two records are never playing at the same time. If you are mixing house, drum and bass etc., where the beats are faster and the songs are more progressive in their design, cutting is not an appropriate way of mixing and you will loose the energy of the set by dropping the next tune straight in, probably making you look unprofessional at the same time.
Short mix (1 bar, 32 beats)
Ideal for beginners and records with short intros, and is often used for hip hop mixing and on radio stations.
1. Set the EQ levels to match those of the outgoing song.
2. Cue record 2 up and drop the first beat in time with the first beat of a new bar on record 1. Unless you really have to start the mix now, i.e. record 1 is about to end, it is advisable to wait (at least) one bar (i.e. 32 beats) before starting the mix as this allows you to ensure that the two records are in time and allows for any final adjustments to be made
3. After 4 beats move the cross fader 1ž4 of the way towards channel 2
4. Count another 4 beats, then move the fader into the middle
5. After another bar move the fader 3ž4 of the way to channel 2
6. Count another bar and move the fader all the way to channel 2
7. You have now completed the mix, can remove record 1 and start the whole process again
Long mix (4 bars, 128 beats)
This requires better beat-matching skills as you are going to hold the mix for longer. Ideal for house, trance, drum & bass, breakbeat mixing etc.
1. Set the EQ levels so that the bass and treble on channel two are less than that of channel 1 this will disguise any beats that are slightly out of line and make the mix more progressive - you are aiming for a smooth transition between tracks.
2. Cue record 2 up and drop the first beat in time with the first beat of a new bar on record 1. Ideally wait for a break in the outgoing record, then drop record 2 on the first beat after the break in track 1 this requires reading the record and anticipating when the first beat will heat.
3. After one bar (32 beats) move the cross fader into the middle.
4. Count another bar, then increase the treble on channel 2, aiming to have the treble increased by the time the first beat of the next bar hits.
5. After another bar simultaneously increase the bass on channel 2 and slightly decrease the gain on channel 1. You should be able to hear record 2 start to take over now.
6. After the next bar decrease the bass on channel 1.
7. Count another bar and move the fader all the way to channel 2
Progressive mixing (ideal for house or trance)
Simply an extension of the long mix, using the EQs to slowly progress from track one to the next. How long the mix lasts is entirely up to you. Whilst learning try to keep your mixes running for as long as possible, as this will help you beat-matching skills immensely. Experiment with using the EQs and the crossfader equally whilst mixing, finding new ways to change the sound of an existing song and create new audio experiences. Play around and have fun.
There really is no set formula to mixing, the above mixes are intended to give you a starting point for you to develop your own style from. I find that the way I mix a song depends on the incoming song itself. Sometimes a long two-minute-plus mix is required, particularly if the incoming track is progressive and builds energy slowly (very common with house and trance tunes). Other times there may only be a one bar intro, hence requiring a very quick mix. When mixing drum & bass or breakbeat I try to tease in certain beats and sounds with flicks of the crossfader before leaving the fader in the middle. If there is a vocal line you want to bring in before the rest of the song, increase the mid range and decrease the bass and treble. If, however, its the bass line you want to bring in first, turn the bass up and the others down.
Keep practising and keep experimenting.