Are you interested in learning how to mix on a turntable?
Whether you’re a seasoned DJ or just starting out, mastering the art of beatmatching and mixing on a turntable can take your skills to the next level.
In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of beatmatching, provide tips for adjusting tempo and pitch, and explain how to use your hands to manually control the speed of the record.
We’ll also cover the equipment you’ll need, including direct drive turntables, cartridges, shell heads, slip mats, an interface, and digital records.
So grab your headphones and let’s get started!
How To Mix On A Turntable
The first step to mixing on a turntable is mastering the art of beatmatching. This involves getting two beats in sync with one another, and there are two phases to this process.
Phase 1 involves getting the two beats aligned with each other. This can be done using the pitch shift feature on the turntable. Once you’re good at beatmatching, it’s quite easy to quickly sync up the tracks. Remember, it doesn’t necessarily matter when you cue up and start beatmatching initially, Phase 1 is all about getting two beats aligned.
Phase 2 involves dropping the track in and making minor adjustments to the platter or the pitch shift. Phrase matching is key here, so make sure you mix in at the beginning of a phrase. Your mixes will sound really smooth if you can phrase match.
To adjust the tempo and pitch of the track, use the tempo slider, which is normally on the right-hand side of the turntable marked as pitch shift. Speeding up the rotation of the turntable increases the pitch of the track, whereas slowing down decreases its pitch.
To manually control the speed of the record, use your hands to slow down or speed up the record by lightly touching the sides of the metal part of the turntable (the side of the platter). You can also use your finger to ‘brake’ or speed up the record by lightly brushing it against the ridged side of the turntable or twisting the spindle poking through the center of the record.
Remember to use your headphones to focus your mind on separating the two music track sounds and really hone in on whether the track you’ve just dropped in is slower or faster. Use these techniques above to adjust the tempo accordingly.
The Equipment You’ll Need
To start mixing on a turntable, you’ll need to invest in some essential equipment. Firstly, you’ll need a turntable and pre-amp. This will allow you to play vinyl records and connect them to an amplifier or powered speakers. You can also use standalone media players alongside turntables if you have a 4-channel mixer.
Next, you’ll need a mixer. This is the most important part of any DJ’s setup, as it allows you to tie your sound together and make transitions between tracks. You can use it to scratch properly via the slider, make mashups with your tracks, control levels, panning, and FX. It’s also essential for connecting your headphones and speakers.
In addition to the mixer, you’ll need a pair of high-quality headphones. These will allow you to cue up the next track while the current one is still playing, making it possible to sync them up. Look for headphones specifically designed for DJing purposes with features such as noise isolation and swiveling ear cups.
Finally, you may want to invest in slipmats. These felt mats go between the record and turntable platter and help reduce friction and improve sound quality.
When choosing equipment, consider your budget, space restrictions, and personal preferences. Remember that high-quality equipment can make all the difference in your DJing career.
Beatmatching is the process of synchronizing the beats of two tracks so that they play in perfect harmony. It’s a crucial skill for any DJ who wants to create smooth and seamless transitions between songs. To beatmatch, you need to understand the tempo and timing of each track, and adjust them accordingly.
The first step in beatmatching is to find the beat of each track. This can be done by listening to the kick drum, which is usually the loudest and most prominent element in electronic dance music. Once you’ve found the beat, you can use the pitch shift feature on your turntable to adjust the tempo of one track so that it matches the other.
It’s important to note that beatmatching is not just about matching the tempo of two tracks. You also need to ensure that they are in phase with each other. This means that the beats are aligned so that they hit at the same time. To do this, you may need to make small adjustments to the pitch or speed of one track.
Once you have two tracks in sync, it’s time to start mixing them together. This involves dropping one track in while the other is playing, and gradually bringing up the volume of the new track while lowering the volume of the old one. Phrase matching is key here, as it allows you to create smooth transitions between songs.
To phrase match, listen for a musical phrase or section in one track that sounds similar to a section in the other track. When you drop in the new track, make sure it’s at the beginning of a phrase so that it blends seamlessly with the old track.
It’s important to remember that beatmatching takes practice and patience. Don’t get discouraged if it takes a while to get it right. With time and practice, you’ll develop a feel for how tracks should be mixed together, and you’ll be able to create seamless transitions that keep your audience dancing all night long.
Adjusting Tempo And Pitch
When mixing two songs on a turntable, it’s important to adjust the tempo and pitch to ensure that the beats are in sync. The pitch fader, which is also known as the tempo slider, is the primary tool used to adjust the tempo and pitch of the track. To speed up the rotation of the turntable and increase the pitch of the track, slide the pitch fader up. Conversely, to slow down the rotation of the turntable and decrease the pitch of the track, slide the pitch fader down.
In addition to using the pitch fader, you can also manually control the speed of the record by touching the sides of the metal part of the turntable or twisting the spindle poking through the center of the record. This technique can be useful for making minor adjustments to the tempo and pitch.
It’s important to note that when adjusting tempo and pitch, it’s essential to maintain phrase matching. Phrase matching involves mixing in at the beginning of a phrase to ensure that your mixes sound smooth and seamless. When adjusting tempo and pitch, use your headphones to focus on separating the two music tracks and hone in on whether the track you’ve just dropped in is slower or faster.
While technology has made it easier to adjust tempo and pitch with features like beatgridding and sync buttons, manual pitch fader action is still an essential skill for any DJ. It allows for greater control and precision when mixing tracks and can be especially useful when working with vinyl records.
Using Your Hands To Control The Speed Of The Record
One of the most important skills to master when mixing on a turntable is the ability to manually control the speed of the record. This is especially useful when trying to make minor adjustments to the tempo of a track or when trying to create unique sound effects.
To manually control the speed of the record, start by lightly touching the sides of the metal part of the turntable, also known as the platter. This will slow down the rotation of the record and decrease its pitch. Similarly, you can speed up the record by gently brushing your finger against the ridged side of the turntable or twisting the spindle poking through the center of the record in a clockwise direction.
It’s important to note that while this technique can be very effective, it requires a lot of practice and skill to get it right. You need to have a good sense of timing and rhythm to make sure that you’re not throwing off the beat of the track.
When using this technique, it’s also important to pay attention to any wobbling or instability in the record. If you notice that your record is wobbling in the middle of the turntable spindle, you can try adjusting the tonearm weight or using a slipmat to help stabilize it.
Tips For Successful Mixing
Mixing on a turntable can be challenging, but with practice and the right techniques, you can create seamless transitions between tracks. Here are some tips for successful mixing:
1. Clean your records: Clean records sound better and reduce the risk of skipping or scratching. Invest in a good record cleaning brush and bring it with you to gigs.
2. Keep your needle and stylus clean: Dirt and debris on your needle and stylus can affect the sound quality of your mix sets. Use a stylus cleaner to keep them clean.
3. Be quick with track selection: With vinyl, it’s important to be quick with track selection since it’s harder to lock tracks than with CDJs. Start beatmatching the next vinyl in around 1.5 mins into the current track.
4. Use phrasing: Knowing how one track ends and the next begins is key to creating the right composition where the structure of one track compliments the next. Try to mix in at the beginning of a phrase for smoother transitions.
5. Be gentle with nudging vinyl: When making minor adjustments to the platter or pitch shift, be gentle with nudging the vinyl. Try dragging a finger on the platter edge to slow down and push the same edge ahead to nudge forward.
6. Practice beatmatching: Beatmatching is one of the cornerstones of mixing with vinyl. Practice beatmatching without relying on a computer or digital player.
By following these tips, you can improve your mixing skills on a turntable and create smooth transitions between tracks that will keep your audience dancing all night long.