Do you want to learn to DJ? There’s many products, brands and varieties of equipment on the market these days and it can become very confusing to newcomers on where to begin. Well fear not, here at Crossfader we specialise in teaching DJ’s of all abilities. So if you’ve just purchased a Pioneer DDJ 400 and want to know how to plug in your speakers. Or maybe you’ve got a Serato Controller and want to know how to import your music.
In this article we are going to give a brief overview on how to get started with any DJ controller and software. From importing your music to learning about the basics of your controller, such as the jog wheels, tempo adjust and mixing features. Make sure to sign up for our free music pack at the end of the article to help you get started mixing!
Import your music to DJ
To start DJ’ing we must first load music into our software. This process allows the software to analyse our music, which will make it easier to DJ with. Information such as the BPM of the track, its key and the waveform will all be displayed once the track has been imported and analysed properly. To import the music into the software simply drag and drop the songs into the library section of the software. You can create empty playlists or crates if you would like to organise the music but this can be done at a later date. You can also drag and drop individual tracks into one of the virtual decks directly if you want to play that song straight away.
Connect your decks to the computer
Now we have the music sorted out, it’s time to plug our decks in to start playing. The majority of entry level controller units won’t require an external power source, they take power from the USB cable. How ever if your unit does require power, ensure you plug this in first. Now it’s time to start the software on your computer, if it’s your first time plugging the unit into the computer you may be prompted to install drivers for the decks. If this is the case follow the on screen instructions and restart the computer once done.
Now we are all connected up, you should be able to use the browse knob on your decks to scroll through the tracks you have imported into the library. Press the load button on either the left or right deck to load the selected track into that deck. Once this is done we need to be able to hear what we are doing so it’s time to connect speakers to your decks. On the rear of your decks there should be a Master Out. You can use this port to connect to some powered speakers, a Hi-Fi system or audio device of your choice.
Begin to DJ with your music
The decks can be very confusing with all their knobs, faders and pads but we are just going to focus on the essentials to get you started. There are two decks, one each side of the central mixer unit on most controllers. Each has it’s own dedicated cue and play buttons, pitch fader and jog wheel.
We use these three items the most to control and manipulate the song to ensure it’s in the perfect time to be mixed. The cue button places and then returns to a point in the song that you chose. Most DJ’s place the cue point at the first beat of a song, when you press the cue button it will play from the cue point and keep playing until you let go of the button. The play button plays and pauses the track, you will usually use the play button after setting the cue point on the first strong beat in the track.
The pitch fader is used to control the speed at which the track is played. When you move the pitch fader you should see the BPM of the track raise or lower. To mix tracks together we usually use these pitch faders to make both tracks play at the same speed. Another way to momentarily speed or slow a track is to use the jog wheels. You can move the jog wheels forward and back along their sides to nudge the playing song. This may sound strange at first if you don’t have a feature called master tempo on. It’s recommend you use master tempo or key lock as sometimes as it’s known. This stops the pitch of the song being altered as you change it’s speed. Once we have both tracks playing and we are able to control, when they play and how fast they are playing it’s time to try a mix.
Check out our video below for a more in depth look at the points we have just covered. Once you are set up and playing why not take your progression to the next level and learn with Crossfader. We have linked some of our best beginner DJ courses at the bottom of this article with specific courses dedicated to your preferred software!