A Guide to Making a Multitracked Mixtape: Part 1

Mixtapes are still one of the best ways to hone your DJing skills and promote yourself. This guide will hold your hand through the process and have you making professional sounding mixes in no time! While cassette tapes are now things that you might only dig out to show your kids how you used to listen to music on the move before the MP3 player was invented, the term “mixtape” lives on. Originally a collection of unmixed tracks recorded to a tape, usually to give to friends or a boy/girl that you were trying to impress, then a term for a mixed DJ set recorded to a tape, the mixtape took another step up the evolutionary ladder in the early 1990s with the availability of affordable multitrack recorders. Back in 1994, I bought a couple of mixtapes via an advertisement in a hip-hop magazine. One of these mixtapes was called “Demolition Pumpkin Squeeze Muzik” by DJ Qbert. This, along with another mixtape called “Comprehension” by DJ Babu of the World Famous Beat Junkies, were the first multitracked mixes I ever heard and they opened my eyes (and ears) to a world of possibilities.

Demolition Pumpking Squeeze Muzik

Regardless of the equipment you use for DJing, there are limits to what you can do when performing live. For instance, you can’t do two lots of scratching at the same time. Making a multitracked mixtape requires a combination of traditional DJ skills and production. You’re no longer bound by the equipment you use or the number of arms attached to your body. While some consider multitracking to be cheating, an accusation that has been levelled at pretty much everything in the DJ world that isn’t Technics 1200s and the most basic of mixers, much like with modern DJ software that can automatically sync tracks for you, it’s what you do with multitracking that matters. If you use it to produce a perfect, but ordinary sounding mix to pass it off as if it was recorded live, then you’re missing the point. SO, IF YOU WANT TO TRY THIS, WHERE DO YOU START? I’m going to explain the basic concepts and then break down the basics of multitracking for you with audio examples and screen shots, which will give you an idea of the kind of thing you can achieve. Depending on the gear you use, you may even be able to incorporate some of these ideas into your live sets. The techniques discussed in this article are not only useful for creating multitracked mixtapes. You can also use them to create mash-ups, remixes, or to create edits of tracks for mixing with. Part 2 (which will go up on the site next week) will give you practical examples of simple techniques to get you started, including several audio samples.

SOFTWARE AND GEAR SET UP

First off, you’re going to need some multitrack recording software. I use Adobe Audition, but Audacity is a good free option that’s available for Windows, OS X and Linux. Connect an output from your mixer to the line in on your computer’s sound card, and connect the output from your sound card to your amp, powered speakers or headphones. Connecting things this way will allow you to play back what you’ve already recorded and add to it, while being able to hear what you’re adding as you’re doing it live. If you’re mixing solely in software, you’ll need to use an application that can route the audio from your chosen mixing application into the multitrack recording software. Examples of this are Soundflower for OS X, and Virtual Audio Cable for Windows. GETTING FAMILIAR WITH MULTITRACK RECORDING. As I mentioned, Adobe Audition is my software of choice, so any screen shots you see here will feature Audition, but I realise that many people will be using different software. While I will refer to Audition frequently, all of the information in this article will easily translate over to a different application.

A blank slate!

The multitrack view of the recording software is your blank canvas. In Audition, for example, there are 128 tracks that you can record on independently. This allows you to create layers of sound to build up your multitracked composition. There are a couple of different approaches to this when using it to create a DJ mix:

  • You can record an entire mix as you normally would, then edit it and add to it.
  • You can record one song at a time and build up the mix in stages.

I use the second approach, as it gives me more freedom to be creative during transitions and work on each one as I go along. Be aware of the recording level. Aim to have the levels bounce up as close to 0 dB as possible, but without the sound clipping (going into the red). You can adjust the volume of each track, each block of audio, and the overall project afterwards, but if an individual piece of audio is distorted due to clipping, the only way to fix that is to re-record it, so try and get it right the first time. Also, bear in mind that as you layer audio, there’s a high chance that clipping will occur, so you will need to adjust the volume of individual audio blocks/tracks at times.

You don't ever want to see this!

When playing back what you’ve recorded, there are two other features of the software that you’ll find useful and use frequently: – Mute – This allows you to mute one or more tracks. Sometimes, if you’ve got several layers playing all at once and things just aren’t sounding right, muting one or more tracks can make a huge difference. Sometimes, less is more. Solo – This allows you to single out just one track for playback, so it’s essentially a more convenient equivalent of clicking mute on all of the other tracks. Finally, be careful that you don’t accidentally record over something! There are buttons that let you prime each track ready for recording, so it’s easy to select track 2 without remembering to deselect track 1. Before you record anything, make sure that not only is the correct track selected for recording, but that you have deselected any tracks that you don’t want to record over!

EDITING AND WORKING WITH AUDIO

There are a handful of common tasks that you will use a lot when working with blocks of audio:

  • Cutting up audio blocks into parts and moving them around.
  • Locking audio blocks in place so they can’t be moved.
  • Duplicating audio blocks to create loops.
  • Grouping audio blocks together.
  • Adjusting the volume and/or EQ.
  • Deleting or muting audio blocks and layers.
  • Using the undo button!
  • Adding effects or panning the audio left or right (discussed below).

A good starting point is to record a song into your chosen software and then experiment with the tasks mentioned above. Try chopping a song into blocks, then duplicating certain blocks to create loops. Rearrange the order of the blocks to change the way the song sounds. Layer blocks on different tracks of the multitrack to create your first little composition. Try muting different layers to see how it sounds. Experiment with panning and effects. Doing this as a first step familiarises you with software that you may not have used before and gets you used to concepts of multitracking that you will use regularly should you decide to go ahead and make a full mix this way.

ADDING PANNING AND EFFECTS

One of the great things about multitracking is that you can experiment with adding panning and effects after you’ve already recorded the audio. You can try out different ideas and if an idea doesn’t work, it’s easy to undo it. In Audition, for example, there are buttons on the main toolbar that display “envelopes”. There are envelopes for volume, panning, effects and tempo. Once a particular envelope is activated, it causes a coloured line to be displayed on all of your audio blocks which you can then drag up and down. For example, if you enable panning envelopes, a blue line runs down the centre of all audio blocks. Dragging the line up pans the audio to the left. Dragging it down pans the audio to the right. You can click on the line at any points you like and drag it up or down to apply the panning. The more you drag the line up or down, the more the audio is panned in that direction.

Left, right, left, right, left, right

Multitracking software will usually come with some built-in effects. These effects can be added on a per-track basis. Obviously, adding an effect to a track will affect all audio blocks in that track. You may also be able to use VST/AU plug-ins and effects, depending on the software.

BOUNCING TRACKS DOWN AND EXPORTING

Bouncing tracks down can free up space if your project is getting a little out of control in terms of the number of tracks and effects you’re using. It can reduce the amount of resources used up by your system too. Basically, what you’re doing is mixing down everything you’ve done so far to a single file. You can then insert that file into track 1 of a new session and carry on working on it. Any effects, panning etc. that you applied to individual blocks or tracks will obviously be present in the bounced down version. Only do this if you are absolutely sure that you’re happy with what you’ve done so far, as your project will no longer be spread over multiple tracks and therefore you can’t edit individual blocks of audio, tracks, effects etc!

Once your project is complete, I would recommend listening through it a couple of times just to make sure that you’re happy with everything. If you are, you can export it to a single file. I export to WAV as that retains audio quality and I can easily convert it to MP3 later on if I want to share the mix on the web. If you want to split your mix into separate tracks to burn to a disc, you can. There are guides available on the web for the various pieces of recording software, for example, here’s how to split a long mix into separate tracks with Audacity:  http://audacity.sourceforge.net/help/faq?s=files&i=split

Part 2 of this article will be up on the site next week, so don’t worry if you’ve read this and you’re left thinking “I still don’t know how to get started!”, because in part two DJ Sigma will be demonstrating some simple techniques that you can try which will become the key building blocks of creating a multitracked mix, along with audio examples . For now, here’s a taster of something Sigma’s cooked up of the kind of things we’ll be learning about.[audio:http://djtechtools.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Jurassic-5-Multitracking-Example.mp3|titles=Jurassic 5 Multitracking Example]

  • Audition Learner

    Using Audition, what’s the process for creating beat-matched mixes between songs with different BPMs? In a live set, I would just speed up and slow down the BPM on the fly. But how would I do this in Audition? Is this the only way:
    1- Adjust all songs to the same BPM
    2- Create multitrack session with all your (say) 12 songs forced to the same BPM mixed together one after the other.
    3- Re-Record the playback of your entire session and stretch/pinch the BPM as needed to speedup or slow down?

    This is a hard question to google for, no article seems to give me the whole process for DJ interests.

  • Emma

    I have a question, I want to create a mixtape. I have lyrics but no backing tracks. To use a backing track can I just go straight into using it, or do I have to go through the makers etc.. Please get back to me. Thank you

  • Djelements

    Nice bit of work my friend

  • well said  STEVE… from my side i prefer to try thousand times the same transitions until they sound as i want them to be… and when i record my mixtapes i record them over and over again until everything sound as good as possible to me… this is my way… yes sometimes especially during recording many times the same thing (very annoying) because maybe one thing was not perfect as i wanted i’ve tought about editing it… but then i say to myself… i must do it live because i think that’s the essence of it…but thats my way… not saying what’s right or what’s not…but at least i’ve improved my skills a  lot following this principle and i can say i’m getting better with lot of practice…still have t learn million things btw…
    i guess a live mixtape should has been done LIVE… but obviously it’s different if u have to make a released compilation for labels,clubs etc… as u said this tutorial is created for a creative purpose… not to cheat about your skills… even because i guess that or u go there and play pre-mixed cds or ur fucked…for me who do that is fucked both times lol

  • Ableton would be a better (faster, easier, cleaner) way of making this type of mix. Much easier and you can always perform this type of mix with a controller.

  • Ableton would be a better (faster, easier, cleaner) way of making this type of mix. Much easier and you can always perform this type of mix with a controller.

  • Ableton would be a better (faster, easier, cleaner) way of making this type of mix. Much easier and you can always perform this type of mix with a controller.

  • Ableton would be a better (faster, easier, cleaner) way of making this type of mix. Much easier and you can always perform this type of mix with a controller.

  • I’ve got to say, I’m surprised how much clean up/editing work people are talking about in their mixtape creation. I never do that. I like all the imperfections. The only thing I do is record a voice over intro for the beginning.

    I don’t mean to come off as a purist. After all, I’m using beatsync in traktor when I record it so that’s definitely not a purist thing. I just didn’t realize people were editing their mixtapes so heavily. 

  • I’ve got to say, I’m surprised how much clean up/editing work people are talking about in their mixtape creation. I never do that. I like all the imperfections. The only thing I do is record a voice over intro for the beginning.

    I don’t mean to come off as a purist. After all, I’m using beatsync in traktor when I record it so that’s definitely not a purist thing. I just didn’t realize people were editing their mixtapes so heavily. 

  • I’ve got to say, I’m surprised how much clean up/editing work people are talking about in their mixtape creation. I never do that. I like all the imperfections. The only thing I do is record a voice over intro for the beginning.

    I don’t mean to come off as a purist. After all, I’m using beatsync in traktor when I record it so that’s definitely not a purist thing. I just didn’t realize people were editing their mixtapes so heavily. 

  • I’ve got to say, I’m surprised how much clean up/editing work people are talking about in their mixtape creation. I never do that. I like all the imperfections. The only thing I do is record a voice over intro for the beginning.

    I don’t mean to come off as a purist. After all, I’m using beatsync in traktor when I record it so that’s definitely not a purist thing. I just didn’t realize people were editing their mixtapes so heavily. 

    • Hey Robert, I’m also a big fan of live mixing and traditional DJing skills, but I think you have to separate that from multitracking. Multitracking is combining DJing with production so that you can remove certain limitations that affect you when you DJ live.

      If I listen to a multitracked mixtape, I don’t want to hear what sounds like a live mix, but with the mistakes edited out. I want to hear something that wouldn’t even be possible if the mix wasn’t multitracked. Even though you can use the content of my article to do the former, it’s aimed at people that want to do the latter.

    • Hey Robert, I’m also a big fan of live mixing and traditional DJing skills, but I think you have to separate that from multitracking. Multitracking is combining DJing with production so that you can remove certain limitations that affect you when you DJ live.

      If I listen to a multitracked mixtape, I don’t want to hear what sounds like a live mix, but with the mistakes edited out. I want to hear something that wouldn’t even be possible if the mix wasn’t multitracked. Even though you can use the content of my article to do the former, it’s aimed at people that want to do the latter.

    • Hey Robert, I’m also a big fan of live mixing and traditional DJing skills, but I think you have to separate that from multitracking. Multitracking is combining DJing with production so that you can remove certain limitations that affect you when you DJ live.

      If I listen to a multitracked mixtape, I don’t want to hear what sounds like a live mix, but with the mistakes edited out. I want to hear something that wouldn’t even be possible if the mix wasn’t multitracked. Even though you can use the content of my article to do the former, it’s aimed at people that want to do the latter.

    • Hey Robert, I’m also a big fan of live mixing and traditional DJing skills, but I think you have to separate that from multitracking. Multitracking is combining DJing with production so that you can remove certain limitations that affect you when you DJ live.

      If I listen to a multitracked mixtape, I don’t want to hear what sounds like a live mix, but with the mistakes edited out. I want to hear something that wouldn’t even be possible if the mix wasn’t multitracked. Even though you can use the content of my article to do the former, it’s aimed at people that want to do the latter.

  • Just to clarify the intentions of this article – It was written so that you could create mixes that wouldn’t be possible to create live. It turns mixing from something where you’re bound creatively by physical and equipment limitations into something where you’re only really constrained by your own creativity.

    It was not intended as a way to make “perfect” sounding promo mixes that you can hand out to clubs while saying “this is how I sound when I mix live”. I feel that that’s dishonest and it’s not a concept that I want to promote. Editing a promo mix to correct the odd mistake or two is one thing, but passing off a multitracked mix as a live mix is another thing altogether as it doesn’t represent your true live mixing capabilities.

    I’m only saying this because I’ve seen this article linked to on sites that imply that it’s a way to clean up promo mixes to hand out to clubs and it’s not that. There are very few things in DJing that I think are cheating, but passing off a multitracked mix as representative of your live DJing skills is one of them.

    I hope people can appreciate what I’m saying here, cos I would love to hear what some of you guys come up with using the tips I’ve given in this article (and especially in part 2, coming next week), but I don’t want my intentions to be misinterpreted.

    Sigma. 🙂

  • Just to clarify the intentions of this article – It was written so that you could create mixes that wouldn’t be possible to create live. It turns mixing from something where you’re bound creatively by physical and equipment limitations into something where you’re only really constrained by your own creativity.

    It was not intended as a way to make “perfect” sounding promo mixes that you can hand out to clubs while saying “this is how I sound when I mix live”. I feel that that’s dishonest and it’s not a concept that I want to promote. Editing a promo mix to correct the odd mistake or two is one thing, but passing off a multitracked mix as a live mix is another thing altogether as it doesn’t represent your true live mixing capabilities.

    I’m only saying this because I’ve seen this article linked to on sites that imply that it’s a way to clean up promo mixes to hand out to clubs and it’s not that. There are very few things in DJing that I think are cheating, but passing off a multitracked mix as representative of your live DJing skills is one of them.

    I hope people can appreciate what I’m saying here, cos I would love to hear what some of you guys come up with using the tips I’ve given in this article (and especially in part 2, coming next week), but I don’t want my intentions to be misinterpreted.

    Sigma. 🙂

  • Just to clarify the intentions of this article – It was written so that you could create mixes that wouldn’t be possible to create live. It turns mixing from something where you’re bound creatively by physical and equipment limitations into something where you’re only really constrained by your own creativity.

    It was not intended as a way to make “perfect” sounding promo mixes that you can hand out to clubs while saying “this is how I sound when I mix live”. I feel that that’s dishonest and it’s not a concept that I want to promote. Editing a promo mix to correct the odd mistake or two is one thing, but passing off a multitracked mix as a live mix is another thing altogether as it doesn’t represent your true live mixing capabilities.

    I’m only saying this because I’ve seen this article linked to on sites that imply that it’s a way to clean up promo mixes to hand out to clubs and it’s not that. There are very few things in DJing that I think are cheating, but passing off a multitracked mix as representative of your live DJing skills is one of them.

    I hope people can appreciate what I’m saying here, cos I would love to hear what some of you guys come up with using the tips I’ve given in this article (and especially in part 2, coming next week), but I don’t want my intentions to be misinterpreted.

    Sigma. 🙂

  • Just to clarify the intentions of this article – It was written so that you could create mixes that wouldn’t be possible to create live. It turns mixing from something where you’re bound creatively by physical and equipment limitations into something where you’re only really constrained by your own creativity.

    It was not intended as a way to make “perfect” sounding promo mixes that you can hand out to clubs while saying “this is how I sound when I mix live”. I feel that that’s dishonest and it’s not a concept that I want to promote. Editing a promo mix to correct the odd mistake or two is one thing, but passing off a multitracked mix as a live mix is another thing altogether as it doesn’t represent your true live mixing capabilities.

    I’m only saying this because I’ve seen this article linked to on sites that imply that it’s a way to clean up promo mixes to hand out to clubs and it’s not that. There are very few things in DJing that I think are cheating, but passing off a multitracked mix as representative of your live DJing skills is one of them.

    I hope people can appreciate what I’m saying here, cos I would love to hear what some of you guys come up with using the tips I’ve given in this article (and especially in part 2, coming next week), but I don’t want my intentions to be misinterpreted.

    Sigma. 🙂

  • Dirk

    Definitely not the greatest program for actually dj’ing… MixMeister is my weapon of choice for making mixtapes.

  • In the next article I’d like to hear your thoughts on distributing the mixtapes. 

    I burn a lot of them to CDs and hand them out to people at music venues. Unfortunately many people rarely listen to CDs except maybe in their cars. 

    It’s all about iPod/iPhone these days. It’s not the same to chat with someone in a club and tell them to look you up on SoundCloud (I do like soundcloud) and handing out flash drives is too expensive. Thoughts?

    • Here’s an idea:
      Business cards with a QR Code pointing to your Soundcloud page.
      That way, they’ll instantly load in their phones your music.
      It’s cheap and effective.

    • Hi Robert. As I said in another reply, I don’t think that a multitracked mixtape is great as a promo tool for trying to get live gigs simply because it represents an entirely different set of skills, so this article wasn’t written with that in mind.

      As far as distributing mixtapes goes generally though, I think it’s best to take a “use every tool available” approach. I use Mixcloud, SoundCloud and MixCrate, my own website, forums, blogs and torrents as well as social networks.

      In terms of approaching club/bar owners, I agree that using flash drives isn’t that cost effective, so a CD combined with a business card that has a link to your site (or SoundCloud/Mixcloud or whatever) is the way to go.

      • Steve,

        I like the “use every tool available” mentality. For clarification, I’m not distributed mixtapes to get gigs. I have more gigs than I can handle. I distribute them to strangers to build new audiences on my off nights.

      • Steve,

        I like the “use every tool available” mentality. For clarification, I’m not distributed mixtapes to get gigs. I have more gigs than I can handle. I distribute them to strangers to build new audiences on my off nights.

      • Steve,

        I like the “use every tool available” mentality. For clarification, I’m not distributed mixtapes to get gigs. I have more gigs than I can handle. I distribute them to strangers to build new audiences on my off nights.

      • Steve,

        I like the “use every tool available” mentality. For clarification, I’m not distributed mixtapes to get gigs. I have more gigs than I can handle. I distribute them to strangers to build new audiences on my off nights.

    • Hi Robert. As I said in another reply, I don’t think that a multitracked mixtape is great as a promo tool for trying to get live gigs simply because it represents an entirely different set of skills, so this article wasn’t written with that in mind.

      As far as distributing mixtapes goes generally though, I think it’s best to take a “use every tool available” approach. I use Mixcloud, SoundCloud and MixCrate, my own website, forums, blogs and torrents as well as social networks.

      In terms of approaching club/bar owners, I agree that using flash drives isn’t that cost effective, so a CD combined with a business card that has a link to your site (or SoundCloud/Mixcloud or whatever) is the way to go.

    • Hi Robert. As I said in another reply, I don’t think that a multitracked mixtape is great as a promo tool for trying to get live gigs simply because it represents an entirely different set of skills, so this article wasn’t written with that in mind.

      As far as distributing mixtapes goes generally though, I think it’s best to take a “use every tool available” approach. I use Mixcloud, SoundCloud and MixCrate, my own website, forums, blogs and torrents as well as social networks.

      In terms of approaching club/bar owners, I agree that using flash drives isn’t that cost effective, so a CD combined with a business card that has a link to your site (or SoundCloud/Mixcloud or whatever) is the way to go.

    • Hi Robert. As I said in another reply, I don’t think that a multitracked mixtape is great as a promo tool for trying to get live gigs simply because it represents an entirely different set of skills, so this article wasn’t written with that in mind.

      As far as distributing mixtapes goes generally though, I think it’s best to take a “use every tool available” approach. I use Mixcloud, SoundCloud and MixCrate, my own website, forums, blogs and torrents as well as social networks.

      In terms of approaching club/bar owners, I agree that using flash drives isn’t that cost effective, so a CD combined with a business card that has a link to your site (or SoundCloud/Mixcloud or whatever) is the way to go.

    • today, almost everyone has an smarthphone of some sort of type. Those phones always have wireless conectivity and even bluetooth. you can bring a netbook/laptop/tabletop to the venue and start sharing your mixtape with the smarthphones of all. You can make some sort of sticker or something to let the people know !

    • today, almost everyone has an smarthphone of some sort of type. Those phones always have wireless conectivity and even bluetooth. you can bring a netbook/laptop/tabletop to the venue and start sharing your mixtape with the smarthphones of all. You can make some sort of sticker or something to let the people know !

    • today, almost everyone has an smarthphone of some sort of type. Those phones always have wireless conectivity and even bluetooth. you can bring a netbook/laptop/tabletop to the venue and start sharing your mixtape with the smarthphones of all. You can make some sort of sticker or something to let the people know !

    • today, almost everyone has an smarthphone of some sort of type. Those phones always have wireless conectivity and even bluetooth. you can bring a netbook/laptop/tabletop to the venue and start sharing your mixtape with the smarthphones of all. You can make some sort of sticker or something to let the people know !

  • I’d 

  • a guy named Eric.

    Im in the process of making a multitrack. I recorded a half hour live mix using Traktor Pro and an S4. Initially there were a few spots in the mix that I wanted edit or do a little differently. Im now sprinkling in some sound bites, loops, and extra effects on top that couldn’t be done live due to the lack of time, and a third hand. Lots of fun. 

    The article says to go all out with the editing, and if you don’t, you’re missing the point, which is great if your sole mission is to create an epic mix. But I would think that if you are using the mix to get work with clubs, you still want to keep it fairly realistic to your live skills and capabilities so you don’t look like an ass when you can’t back it up live. The main thing is to figure out the purpose of the mix, and then proceed from there.

    • Hey, Eric. I would never multitrack a mix to use as a promo tool to try and get gigs, simply because I feel that it offers an unrealistic picture of what you can actually do. Maybe I would use a multitracked intro/outro just to add a bit of flavour, or I’d edit out the odd mistake, but I think any promo mix should be representative of the skills you’d be displaying when you’re actually doing the job.

      Pz,

      Sigma.

    • Hey, Eric. I would never multitrack a mix to use as a promo tool to try and get gigs, simply because I feel that it offers an unrealistic picture of what you can actually do. Maybe I would use a multitracked intro/outro just to add a bit of flavour, or I’d edit out the odd mistake, but I think any promo mix should be representative of the skills you’d be displaying when you’re actually doing the job.

      Pz,

      Sigma.

      • Eric

        Cool. Do you guys have any articles related to creating a mix thats geared toward a promo type mix as well?

        • I don’t have an article about it, but I’ll give you my thoughts on it: –

          1. Make a mix that represents your live DJing skills. So, don’t give out a perfect, edited and multitracked mix if that’s not how you sound when you mix live. A cool pre-made intro/outro is good though, and editing out a mistake or record skip is fine, but if you’ve gotta edit out lots of mistakes, then it doesn’t represent you.

          2. Musically, again, represent what you would do live, but in a condensed format. You want a 30-60 minute mix that shows off the kind of tracks you’d play. Consider the venues you’re approaching when selecting your tracks.

          3. Make sure the mix is recorded properly, so the sound quality is good, the levels are consistent (and no clipping!) and it’s split into separate tracks so the listener can skip around and check it out.

          4. Include a track listing and a business card. Make the CD (if you use CDs) look as professional as you can. I’ve used custom CDs that look like Technics 1200 platters in the past, but you can get regular CDs that have printable tops and print your logo, details etc. straight on there so it looks a lot nicer than a CD with some writing scrawled onto it.

          Hope that helps!

          Sigma.

        • I don’t have an article about it, but I’ll give you my thoughts on it: –

          1. Make a mix that represents your live DJing skills. So, don’t give out a perfect, edited and multitracked mix if that’s not how you sound when you mix live. A cool pre-made intro/outro is good though, and editing out a mistake or record skip is fine, but if you’ve gotta edit out lots of mistakes, then it doesn’t represent you.

          2. Musically, again, represent what you would do live, but in a condensed format. You want a 30-60 minute mix that shows off the kind of tracks you’d play. Consider the venues you’re approaching when selecting your tracks.

          3. Make sure the mix is recorded properly, so the sound quality is good, the levels are consistent (and no clipping!) and it’s split into separate tracks so the listener can skip around and check it out.

          4. Include a track listing and a business card. Make the CD (if you use CDs) look as professional as you can. I’ve used custom CDs that look like Technics 1200 platters in the past, but you can get regular CDs that have printable tops and print your logo, details etc. straight on there so it looks a lot nicer than a CD with some writing scrawled onto it.

          Hope that helps!

          Sigma.

        • I don’t have an article about it, but I’ll give you my thoughts on it: –

          1. Make a mix that represents your live DJing skills. So, don’t give out a perfect, edited and multitracked mix if that’s not how you sound when you mix live. A cool pre-made intro/outro is good though, and editing out a mistake or record skip is fine, but if you’ve gotta edit out lots of mistakes, then it doesn’t represent you.

          2. Musically, again, represent what you would do live, but in a condensed format. You want a 30-60 minute mix that shows off the kind of tracks you’d play. Consider the venues you’re approaching when selecting your tracks.

          3. Make sure the mix is recorded properly, so the sound quality is good, the levels are consistent (and no clipping!) and it’s split into separate tracks so the listener can skip around and check it out.

          4. Include a track listing and a business card. Make the CD (if you use CDs) look as professional as you can. I’ve used custom CDs that look like Technics 1200 platters in the past, but you can get regular CDs that have printable tops and print your logo, details etc. straight on there so it looks a lot nicer than a CD with some writing scrawled onto it.

          Hope that helps!

          Sigma.

        • I don’t have an article about it, but I’ll give you my thoughts on it: –

          1. Make a mix that represents your live DJing skills. So, don’t give out a perfect, edited and multitracked mix if that’s not how you sound when you mix live. A cool pre-made intro/outro is good though, and editing out a mistake or record skip is fine, but if you’ve gotta edit out lots of mistakes, then it doesn’t represent you.

          2. Musically, again, represent what you would do live, but in a condensed format. You want a 30-60 minute mix that shows off the kind of tracks you’d play. Consider the venues you’re approaching when selecting your tracks.

          3. Make sure the mix is recorded properly, so the sound quality is good, the levels are consistent (and no clipping!) and it’s split into separate tracks so the listener can skip around and check it out.

          4. Include a track listing and a business card. Make the CD (if you use CDs) look as professional as you can. I’ve used custom CDs that look like Technics 1200 platters in the past, but you can get regular CDs that have printable tops and print your logo, details etc. straight on there so it looks a lot nicer than a CD with some writing scrawled onto it.

          Hope that helps!

          Sigma.

      • Eric

        Cool. Do you guys have any articles related to creating a mix thats geared toward a promo type mix as well?

      • Eric

        Cool. Do you guys have any articles related to creating a mix thats geared toward a promo type mix as well?

      • Eric

        Cool. Do you guys have any articles related to creating a mix thats geared toward a promo type mix as well?

    • Hey, Eric. I would never multitrack a mix to use as a promo tool to try and get gigs, simply because I feel that it offers an unrealistic picture of what you can actually do. Maybe I would use a multitracked intro/outro just to add a bit of flavour, or I’d edit out the odd mistake, but I think any promo mix should be representative of the skills you’d be displaying when you’re actually doing the job.

      Pz,

      Sigma.

    • Hey, Eric. I would never multitrack a mix to use as a promo tool to try and get gigs, simply because I feel that it offers an unrealistic picture of what you can actually do. Maybe I would use a multitracked intro/outro just to add a bit of flavour, or I’d edit out the odd mistake, but I think any promo mix should be representative of the skills you’d be displaying when you’re actually doing the job.

      Pz,

      Sigma.

    • What are you using to route the audio and what program are your routing the audio into?

    • What are you using to route the audio and what program are your routing the audio into?

    • What are you using to route the audio and what program are your routing the audio into?

    • What are you using to route the audio and what program are your routing the audio into?

  • Guest

    Good article but the timeline is wrong – I made multitrack mixes as early as 1990 using a Tascam portastudio and a Roland S10 sampler, and I was inspired by a number of other DJs who had been doing this since the mid-late 80s (Trinidad’s Chinese Laundry was renown for his multitrack mix tapes throughout the Caribbean, Toronto, New York, Miami and London).

    The original Portastudio came out in the late 70s

    • Thanks for your comment and I stand corrected! That’s really interesting too. I’m going to have to try and track down some of those old mixes you’re talking about. 🙂

      • Beat_kiste

        check this :

        The Latin Rascals – the Godfathers of Multitrack Mastermixes (early 80’s done with reel to reel)

        http://youtu.be/hnSso82VvRM

        and there is a good amount of Multitrack Mixes on vinyl too

        DJ Prince Ice – Dopemix Vol. 1 (1988)

        http://youtu.be/tjxGZfj-zL8

        nice mix on soundcloud thanks

      • Beat_kiste

        check this :

        The Latin Rascals – the Godfathers of Multitrack Mastermixes (early 80’s done with reel to reel)

        http://youtu.be/hnSso82VvRM

        and there is a good amount of Multitrack Mixes on vinyl too

        DJ Prince Ice – Dopemix Vol. 1 (1988)

        http://youtu.be/tjxGZfj-zL8

        nice mix on soundcloud thanks

      • Beat_kiste

        check this :

        The Latin Rascals – the Godfathers of Multitrack Mastermixes (early 80’s done with reel to reel)

        http://youtu.be/hnSso82VvRM

        and there is a good amount of Multitrack Mixes on vinyl too

        DJ Prince Ice – Dopemix Vol. 1 (1988)

        http://youtu.be/tjxGZfj-zL8

        nice mix on soundcloud thanks

      • Beat_kiste

        check this :

        The Latin Rascals – the Godfathers of Multitrack Mastermixes (early 80’s done with reel to reel)

        http://youtu.be/hnSso82VvRM

        and there is a good amount of Multitrack Mixes on vinyl too

        DJ Prince Ice – Dopemix Vol. 1 (1988)

        http://youtu.be/tjxGZfj-zL8

        nice mix on soundcloud thanks

    • DjFields

      Chinese Laundry and Dr. Hyde were killing it back in the 80s.  Awesome djs who spun everything and had the best mixtapes. 

    • DjFields

      Chinese Laundry and Dr. Hyde were killing it back in the 80s.  Awesome djs who spun everything and had the best mixtapes. 

    • DjFields

      Chinese Laundry and Dr. Hyde were killing it back in the 80s.  Awesome djs who spun everything and had the best mixtapes. 

    • DjFields

      Chinese Laundry and Dr. Hyde were killing it back in the 80s.  Awesome djs who spun everything and had the best mixtapes. 

  • Rossi

    Would recording in Ableton be any good ?

    • deejaesnafu

      yes ableton is great for many uses including multi-tracking

    • I’m not an Ableton user and have never used it, but the main requirements of the software you choose are that it lets you record in multiple tracks independently and allows you to edit what you’ve recorded, so that you can build up your composition in layers. Audition, for instance, has 128 separate tracks that you can record into. As long as Ableton allows something like this, then you’re fine. 

    • Yeap. Ableton would actually be a better option.
      Don’t get me wrong, I love Audition (and I love that it’s on Mac now), but I only use it to edit samples, waveforms and final mixes.
      But I find Ableton easier to use for multitrack recordings.

    • Jamie Clark

      I was going to comment that the whole article should have focused on Live instead of other linear DAWs, because Live lets you sample for one hits, and create loops in the interface even further beyond what you can do on platters.

    • Jamie Clark

      I was going to comment that the whole article should have focused on Live instead of other linear DAWs, because Live lets you sample for one hits, and create loops in the interface even further beyond what you can do on platters.

    • Jamie Clark

      I was going to comment that the whole article should have focused on Live instead of other linear DAWs, because Live lets you sample for one hits, and create loops in the interface even further beyond what you can do on platters.

    • Jamie Clark

      I was going to comment that the whole article should have focused on Live instead of other linear DAWs, because Live lets you sample for one hits, and create loops in the interface even further beyond what you can do on platters.

  • Bigwev102

    I did my first mixtape using ableton on a APC40 starting out arranging  everything in the arrangement viewer then I hit the global record button and let it rip. I then finished it up in the session view adjusting levevals and effects before rendering it to wav file then used audacity to convert to MP3

    • Rswaterdamage

      You can also drop the wav. into iTunes and convert it to mp3 there as well. 🙂

    • Audition is a good way to convert your wavs to mp3s too. And, you can add some ‘mastering effects’ to the final file 🙂

    • Audition is a good way to convert your wavs to mp3s too. And, you can add some ‘mastering effects’ to the final file 🙂

    • Audition is a good way to convert your wavs to mp3s too. And, you can add some ‘mastering effects’ to the final file 🙂

    • Audition is a good way to convert your wavs to mp3s too. And, you can add some ‘mastering effects’ to the final file 🙂

  • Hey guys, it’s D.J. Sigma here. I’m glad you enjoyed the article, although the bulk of the actual tutorial part will appear next week in part 2, so that will be more helpful from a practical point of view if you want to try making your own multitracked mix. 

    To respond to a couple of points, I beatmatch tracks manually before I record them into Audition. Other multitracking software may be able to auto-sync the tracks for you. You can adjust the tempo of a track after recording it, but in Audition that’s not a practical way to mix one track with another as it takes far longer than beatmatching manually.

    As for the mix running at the same speed throughout, it’s not really any different to mixing live in that respect. You can gradually increase the BPM of a track as you’re recording it. You can use other methods to go from a slower track to a faster track (or vice versa), such as power downs, spinbacks, using echo and then dropping the next song, using clips from movies or other quirky samples – there are a lot of things you can do!

    Regarding MixMeister, thanks for the suggestion. I’ll have to give that a go. I use Audition because it’s what I know, not because it’s necessarily the best tool for the job, so I’m always up for trying new software. I do like manually tweaking everything though, so Audition is great in that respect, but creating a multitracked mix with it can take a long time depending on the complexity.

    Thanks again, and please check out part 2 next week!

  • Daniel Hamilton

    Audacity is not great for complex multitrack editing, if you want to use 2 tracks with songs switching between them. You can use audacity for putting each song on a separate track, but that soon becomes difficult to change if you want to make an edit in the middle section. try and see if you can get a demo version of Audition and use that. imho.

  • Mr stifffy

    Im suprised you havent mentioned mixmeister… This is like a daw aimed at dj’s, you can record your songs 1 by 1 with scratching, fx, cue juggling etc, then paste them all together perfectly in mixmeister and get your levels and everything perfect, pan, eq, adjust tempo, and all match up beat perfect…

  • Vjstupid

    I use ableton for the more flashy mixtapes I make. I wish I could layer 6 tracks at once on the fly perfectly but Im not quick enough to cram them in (live I can manage an average of 2 songs per minute tops) your dead right its not cheating if your using it to create things that are impossible to do with the boundaries of a normal dj environment.

  • Scenic

    Great article. As a recording engineer first, and a DJ second, I can really relate to and appreciate this stuff. I hope many other DJ’s also take some time to study up on recording, editing, and mixing techniques as it gives you great insight when you get back on the tables.

  • Guest

    Great article. The one thing I was always wondering when doing layered mixtapes is how to beatmatch to the previous track. Of course you can manually beatmatch but doesn’t cause this to run the mixtape always in the same speed? Are you changing the speed of the record during the recording of the track, or are you applying speed changes in the software afterwards?

    • Scenic

      With “warp” functionality in most DAW’s, it’s quite easy to match 2 songs together even if they were recorded at different tempos. Although, digital DJ software makes it easy to sync all the songs to a master clock, allowing you to seamlessly layer audio in the DAW.

      • Guest

        But how would you then work with Tempo transitions creating Mixtapes that start with 80 bpm and going up to 120. When I mix i usually change the pitch during the track and then drop a new tune with this i then go up to 120bpm. This seems to be a lot of work to be done in a DAW, isnt it?

        • You can do just the same thing here. Here’s how I would do it, but there are other ways: –

          Let’s say that the last song in the project is 90 BPM. I would beatmatch my next track (so it’s also 90 BPM of course), then as I’m recording it, I can gradually slide the pitch slider up to increase the tempo. That way it starts at 90 so it will mix in with the previous track, but it ends at 95 (or whatever I increased the BPM to) ready for the next song.

          The last multitracked mix I created started at 85 BPM and went all the way up to 130, dropping down to about 90 for the last track, so I gradually (and smoothly) increased the pitch during some of the tracks.

          It’s not really that different from live mixing in that respect, only you’re recording each track separately.

          You don’t even have to record each track separately in fact, as you could do a live mix and edit/add to it, or do sections of live mixing, stitch them together, then edit/add to that.

        • Kundabuffer

          Actualy, most DAWS make this quite easy. You just need to put a tempo automation track into the session. How to do this differs from DAW to DAW, but most support it.

  • Pavel Pachouli

    Great article!