Use Reverse On CDJs For Creative DJ Mixes

Playback options on CDJs are incredibly limited. There are basic loop controls, and on some models, a limited ability to beat jump/loop move. In today’s tutorial, DJTT editor Dan shares a few techniques for using the reverse playback switch to creatively mix between tracks, or help in challenging mixes. Watch the full thing inside.

Using Reverse On CDJs

Here’s the highlights from the video – but be sure to watch it in full to get the concept.

Important tips for when in reverse

  • Quantize! Activating the quantize feature guarantees that your reverse mixes will be much cleaner.
  • Jog Wheel Functionality is a bit different in reverse – pushing the jog counterclockwise will speed up a track – because it is playing backwards.

Practical Ways To Mix In Reverse 

  1. Looping What You Just Heard – if you go past a section in a song and then want to loop it, tap reverse at the end of the loop
  2. Extend The End Of A Song – Screw up your phrasing on a mix? Reverse at the end of a track to give yourself a few extra bars or phrases
  3. Extend A Breakdown – if you’re in the middle of a vocal / synth / other (ideally non-drums) breakdown, reverse can be used to continue it. This works really well when you add a bit of reverb, delay, space, or dub echo on top.
  4. Mix A Song In Reverse – a bit over-the-top, but phrasing works just as well in reverse as it does forwards. Try mixing a song entirely in reverse from the very last bar to see what happens!

See These Reverse Techniques In A Real Mix

Instead of just showing you conceptually how the above reverse techniques worked, I thought it would be helpful to see them in action in a real-world mixing scenario. I streamed a recent mix on Chew.TV (embedded below) with a gratuitous amount of mixes that incorporate the reverse switch as a technique. .

See it in action in a real DJ set (mixing starts at 4:00 in, one standout reverse example starts at 1:25:00 – but there are many more throughout the set.

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