WHY RECORD YOUR MIXES?
1) Review and critique: Forcing yourself to re-listen to your DJ practices and performances offers a unique opportunity to make assessments as to your skill set from the viewpoint of a listener. Many different types of artists use this trick all the time (especially instrumentalists and dancers!) to see and hear exactly what the audience is experiencing.
2) Share the mix: Your fans and friends know that you’re a DJ, and in a media-saturated digital world full of content creators, sharing new content is the best way to remind them that you’re still in the game (and available to play their next house party). Online mixes tend to stick best if you’re also breaking new tracks or revealing deep cuts on them – this is the time to show off your digging prowess.
Not every mix makes it past the previous step of reviewing and critiquing – so use your good judgement here and only let quality favorites trickle down this list for you to dominate Soundcloud with. You never know where these mixes will get played – from long roadtrips to late-night work sessions, you want to makes sure the listener feels like rocking your mix was worth it.
3) Create an online brand: For many DJs, mixes are the best equivalent to a résumé and portfolio for potential gigs. While DJTT has written , the mixes are often the core meat and potatoes that promoters and potential clients look at. While we’ve all heard stories of the promoters who just look at Facebook likes when considering booking a DJ, but if you don’t have a solid catalog of a few mixes, most club owners won’t even look twice at you.
YOUR MIX RECORDING OPTIONS
RECORDING AN EXTERNAL MIX
RECORDING INTERNALLY IN YOUR DJ SOFTWARE
For those of us who mix completely internally, great news! You’re probably already aware, but recording an internal DJ set is significantly less work in terms of wiring and getting everything sorted out. Here’s the rule – as long as all of your audio goes through your DJ software and is output in one master channel, your DJ software will be able to record just final performance audio. Nothing fancy to worry about here – but you’ll still want to test the recording and check your final audio and waveforms in Audacity (see below) to make sure you’ve got all the levels right.
TEST YOUR MIX & WATCH THE WAVEFORMS
Taking a few seconds to test your recording setup and check how it sounds and what the recorded files looks like always pays off – especially when you’re first setting up your recording process. One of the key tricks when setting up your recordings is to follow the signal path and make sure that nowhere along the line is your mix peaking – watch for your master signal in your DJ software, on your mixer, and in your audio input settings – and make sure that it’s not in the red or peaking at any step of the way. The image on the right shows what peaking looks like in many different forms, avoid it at all costs.
The above was my first attempt at recording. Notice that the sound signal consumes the entire area. I was basically throwing too much signal at the port and it translated there is full volume of a really poor quality sound almost 100% of the time.
After reducing the master volume down to 10% of capacity and recording again, the above waveform was produced. This is better as we actually see grey space (less than 100% volume) but the peaks are all at maximum, so clipping is still occurring.
The above picture shows you what happens when your recording setup is done properly. Notice that the waveform never hits maximum volume. There are distinct peaks and valleys but the signal is clean and is not clipping.
CAN YOUR COMPUTER HANDLE IT?
Now let’s ask the question “if I use a computer in any way in my DJ kit setup, do I need a second computer to record my mixes?” This is a difficult question to answer because of a number of different variables. Can your computer handle the processing load of both playing and recording music? Do you have enough free USB ports for connecting your controller, USB hard drive (possibly) and an audio interface? Is there going to be contention for disk resources when you are reading MP3s for playback and writing the recording of your set?