The first step to becoming a master DJ is to understand the equipment that you will be using on a regular basis. You should take some time to learn the inner workings of each piece of equipment as this will help you troubleshoot in a pinch while learning how to become excellent at your craft. Learning about your DJ headphones and how to work a pair of speakers will not take much effort. However, learning how to operate a turntable, mixer, or controller may take a bit more time before you will feel completely comfortable in using them. This article is one that you will want to bookmark as it will serve as a cheat sheet for understanding the details of a DJ mixer. We will break the DJ mixer down into 17 components.
Before we get started, it is important to remember that the mixer is the heart of your DJ setup and should not be spared. A mixer allows you to route sounds from the turntable decks. In addition, the mixer is what gives you the ability to perform DJ tricks such as mixing.
1. Inputs. Channel 1 and 2 are hooked up to the inputs. The inputs are usually used for hooking up a vinyl turntable with the usage of Phono or hooking up either a CD player or a computer by using the Line In option.
2. Input switches. These switches allow the DJ to choose the channel input that will access the signal. When looking at your mixer, look for the knob that is directly off of the channel. This will lead to your gain also known as trim.
3. Trim. The trim or gain knob will help you set your sound level of the channel you have chosen to use. The best thing to remember is that the trim’s sole purpose is to make sure that the level of sound coming from the channels is equal to one another. The best way to think about this is that if your record is too loud, you will want to reduce the gain or trim. If the record is too soft, you will want to increase the gain or trim.
4. Understanding the EQ. The signal comes to the EQ after making its way through the gain. Your mixer will likely have 3 bands to it. The treble or hi, midrange or mid, and bass or low.
5. Channel’s level meter. Once through the EQ, the sound will work its way to the channel’s level meter which sets the signals volume.
6. Channel upfader. The fader has the ability to decrease volume once the signal hits it. If the fader is closed, the sound will decrease. However, if the fader is open, the sound will increase. When a DJ transitions their tracks, they often use this feature to decrease or increase the sound.
7. Rec Out Output. This area is where the recording equipment is most often hooked up. It is important to note that the level usually cannot be adjusted.
8. Booth Out Output. This is where the speakers are hooked up.
9. Monitor knob. This area allows you to adjust the volume for the rec out output or the booth out output.
10. Master Out Output. This area of the mixer is where you will hook up your amplifier if you are in need of one. The amplifier will turn the sound up and help blast it through the speakers and onto the dancefloor.
11. Master knob. This knob will allow you the ability to set the Master out level appropriately.
12. Master volume meter. This meter is a great visual that will depict the level sound that is being transmitted through the amp.
13. Crossfader. The crossfader bar is a critical component as it allows the DJ to create transitions between channel 1 and 2. The best way to think of this is that if the crossfader bar is located in the middle of the sliding scale, the speakers will project both channels. If the crossfader is towards one side of the scale over another, that side will have more sound outsourced through the amp than the other side.
14. Cue mix selection buttons. This feature allows you to choose the channels that you want to play.
15. Cue mix level meter. This is a feature that not all mixers have. Some mixers will require you to set your channel with this meter instead of a built-in per channel selector.
16. Cue mix or master knob and fader. Think of this feature as a type of crossfader, however this one allows the DJ to seamlessly go between the Cue mix and the Master out.
17. Cue knob (headphones). Last but not least, this knob allows the DJ to adjust the noise level in their headphones.