Sunday, February 3, 2013

Learn to DJ using Pitch-Controlled CD Players

I get lots of emails from all over the world, from people asking me advice about learning to DJ. I've taught quite a few people the basics of DJ'ing during one-on-one sessions, but that kind of teaching is not feasible for a global audience. So I've always been interested in putting together some good quality videos that I could share on YouTube, to help people out.

Although I've put a few videos online in the last year or two, this is the first time that I've done any about using CD players for mixing music. I've just put two videos online, which will be of interest to a lot of potential DJ's out there, or even to experienced DJ's who are curious to learn additional mixing techniques. Here's a photo of part of the setup that I used for this project (click on it to see it in more detail):

Basically, what I've done here is that I've recorded an hour-long tech-house set. Since I have a weekly EDM radio show, called Subterranean Homesick Grooves, I decided to use the 150th episode of the show as the centerpiece for these two tutorial videos. I recorded the show on a laptop while DJ'ing on a pair of Pioneer CDJ-2000 pitch-controlled CD players (attached to a DJM-600 mixer), and at the same time, I also recorded the DJ's "cue" audio feed. I filmed all of this with three high-definition video cameras.

Once I had all of those files dumped into my video editor, I turned them into a pair of videos. The audio track for one of the videos is the "master" output that the dance floor would have heard (which I used as episode 150 for the radio show). The audio track for the other video has the master output in the right channel, and the DJ's cue audio in the left channel, so the viewer will hear things exactly the same way that a DJ hears when performing. And although I used three camera views, the predominant view is straight down on the CD players and mixer, so the viewer can see exactly how I'm manipulating the effects and controls on all of the equipment. The "DJ's Cue Perspective" version of the video also starts off with about twenty-two minutes of technical explanations, to further explain the equipment and technical aspects. And of course, both videos are high-def, so you can full-screen them and see the equipment in pretty good detail.

Here's a link to the show on SoundCloud, which you can download if you want:

Here's the video which presents the making of SHG 150 from the DJ's perspective:

And here's the video which presents the making of the show from the dance floor's audio perspective (the master output signal on the mixer):

As I mentioned at the end of these videos, if you find these to be useful and you'd like to see more like this, follow me on Twitter and send me a tweet to let me know what you think of the videos. If I see some serious interest there, I'll make the time to produce some more videos like this. I'm also currently working on a couple of other DJ'ing videos which cover techniques for beat-mixing, the use of various mixer effects, and several other DJ-related topics. They should be online in a couple weeks.

Thanks for your interest. And please, if you find these videos to be useful, share them (or share a link to this blog post) on your facebook walls and twitter feeds. I really appreciate the support!

Follow Jonathan Clark on other sites:
        Main Site:
        Music Blog:

By the way, here's a link to the blog posting about episode 150, which has the track listings for this mix:

And I just started to create a video index page on my main website, so it's easier to find tutorials that I've put online:

Finally, if you want to learn more about how DJ mixers work before you watch the two videos above, just watch the first half of this video: