In part 4 of the simplified & creative guide to DJing we learnt two core skills Beat-matching & phrasing. Now it's time to go into the next process, we are going to talk about levels and EQing. Super Simple & Fun.
3. Gain Control
This is super simple yet many find ways to mess it up. To be able to blend songs you need them to be on the same tempo and same phrase, and lastly, you need to have them be on the same level too. You don't want to hae a near-perfect mix where one song is louder or quieter than what's currently playing. Level matching is super easy, every mixer has those green yello and red LEDs on the channels. The LEDs show you what is the overall level of the song, so my only advice is to keep all the songs all the time at the same level that you choose. A level that is not too low or too high.
Let's say a mixer has 10 LEDs, 5 Green 4 Orange, and 1 Red. Never hit the RED, red is bad always is. I would recommend that you stay say at the second orange, if you need to gradually increase or decrease your level do so only by 1 LED up or down over a few hours or through you DJ set. Ideally, you want to be at 2 Orange all the time, but sometimes you might go one up or down from there and it's fine, always chase the 2nd orange LED. Now use this principle on the mixer you got, be at about 3/4 of your LEDs.
This level is measured when there is a beat playing and the song is full-on, the loudest section of the song is a 2 Orange LEDs, needless to say, the intro might be a bit quieter or during the break significantly quieter, or during the build-up, it might get a little bit louder... Remember we are talking about the overall loudness of the song. Songs are dynamic, they naturally have high and low levels of volume and energy. You need to be seamlessly moving from track to track with a constant overall level.
I fix the level if I need to, it's the first thing I do when I load a song. I get the technical stuff out of the way so I can be in a creative mindset when I mix.
The go-to skill is DJing, this is super crucial to adjust the tonal. So all mixers have atleast 3 knobs to control the tonality of a song, usually labels as Low/Mid/Hi, this is very similar to the EQ on your car system or iTunes player. You control the tonality of a song, you control the bass, thats the low end, the Highs, thats the top end, and Mids, thats the middle area of the song :)
So lows have the energy elements like drums and bassline. The Mids usually have the vocals and the melodies, and the Highs usually have the bright, shimmery, percussive stuff (not a lot of energy here).
So you have to objectively decide, there is no right or wrong or the best approache to this, there are some best practices, but you have to anticipate how the 2 songs will interact with each other. For example, you might feel that these songs together might have a lot a bass power, a bit too much, so you adjust the low end of the next song while you mix it smoothly, or the Mids might clash, the melodic or vocals tracks might clash, so you might drastically tweak the MID areas from both songs.
Myabe the top end is weak and you decide to not touch that in this particular mix... Now, this becomes more evident with practice and confidence. Less is more, and do not boost things, always be cutting when you are mixing in. This is something you need to practice and hear to understand better. So if you have a controller play with the EQ to see how it affects the energy of the song.
This type of mixing, with the EQ is like the go-to way of DJing, Look at a DJ set on Youtube of your favorite DJ, they focus so much on the EQ while they transition, they get so emotionally attached to the EQs because they change the vibe, the feel and the energy of that moment in time...
So with all the previous steps tempo, phrasing, level control, and total control is the go-to mixing technique of DJs. All these core elements together will ensure a smooth sounding mix.
Next skill, I am on the fence about it, being core skill or a bonus tip, I'll explain why in the next post.
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