Have you ever found yourself trying to switch between two DJs that are sharing the same USB mixer, sound card or DVS interface? It’s a common problem in live scenarios, and having a few handy tools up your sleeve can help make a hairy switch seamless. DJTT comes to the rescue with six of our own creative ways to swap laptops while keeping the music rolling.
Ideally, you should have access to a Pioneer CDJ-1000 and be ready to go with a few longish mix CDs with at least 10-20 minutes of continuous music. Unfortunately, things never seem to go smoothly, so it often pays to be prepared with a solid backup plan. This seems to be especially true with Serato DJs who often rely on the same Serato interface the club has connected. Traktor DJs can also benefit by sharing sound cards and preventing any mid-set cable confusion.
Sometimes promoters will just let the music end between DJs to allow the next guy to plug in his computer and cue up the first song. While this can acknowledge the change over and create a natural break in the night, we generally prefer to keep the energy moving.
BIG TIP: If you are playing before someone it is considered courteous to do one- if not all – of the following:
- Remove your headphones and walk away from the mixer at the beginning of your last song (dont stand and twiddle knobs, leaving the next poor guy with less than a minute to mix)
- Pick a final song that is as long as possible
- Bring down the energy a bit with the last tracks and create some space for the next DJ to bring it back up at their own pace.
- Don’t dramatically change the tempo suddenly or put on track that doesn’t fit the mood or genre of the night.
Read More: How To DJ As A Team, VS/B2B-style and more
HERE ARE THE 6 TIPS PRESENTED IN THE VIDEO
1. The iPod/iPhone Third Deck
Use an app like the Red Bull BPM DJ app, which has high-quality beatmatching features so you can mix into your iPhone and then let the other DJ remove their computer from the equation.
2. The Roll Loop
Many mixers now have a “Roll” effect that grabs a small sample and repeats it like a short loop. Just set the length of the roll to the longest possible (usually 8 or more counts) and you can save a full loop of the playing song into memory on the mixer. One DJ TechTools reader suggested also setting the BPM of the effects at 1/2 the natural value. 61 instead of 122 for example, and then you can get a full 16 counts!
With a “Roll” saved on the mixer, the last DJ can unplug and the sound card is now free!
3. The Magic Scratch!
We love the new Nexus “Noise” color effect. When combined with the crossfader and an echo, it produces a very believable scratch sound that comes from the mixer and requires no sound input. You can use the noise as a transitionary element to fill the gap between DJs for a dramatic and musical effect.
4. The Improv Echo Freeze
No mixers are equipped with the infamous echo freeze by default, but you can approximate it with some quick effects parameter tweeking.
- Set an echo on the down beat
- Kill the playing song
- Quickly lengthen the echo to its longest value – often 1/1
This should keep the echo rolling for at least 10-20 seconds, which can sometimes be long enough to swap computers.
5. Dual Sound Cards
Check out the mixer installed at the club. Chances are higher than ever these days that it might have a sound card installed that you can use. If you are lucky and there is a Rane Sixty Two or Sixty Eight, those mixers are actually equipped with two discrete sound cards, so both DJs can be plugged in at the same time. This makes switching over a breeze.
6. Double-Sided Control Vinyl
It always surprises me that many DVS DJs don’t realize there is double-sided control vinyl with an analogue song on one side and control vinyl on the other. This is the way I see most well-prepared Serato Scratch Live DJs switch between computers: by relying on good old fashioned analogue signals! Stokyo stocks a wide range of Serato pressings with music on one side.
- Rane Sixty-Two mixer review (dual USB port mixer in the video)
- Pioneer DJM-900 mixer review (white noise scratch)
- Red Bull BPM Pro DJ app (iPhone app in the video)
- Donut Shop vinyl (J. Dilla / Serato timecode vinyl)
Ean Golden is the founder of Dj TechTools and a worldwide Dj specializing in controllers and new performance technology.
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Ok, so I’ve got a question. If you’re playing with a bunch of controller DJs, and there’s no mixer in sight, what do you do to transition without leaving a bunch of dead air?
Good article. Thanks Ean
A bunch of nice tips, but this article is a solution searching for a problem. Whatever happened to the next DJ having his/her laptop + interface ready to go and just switching each deck’s timecode and output cables one-by-one over the course of two songs? It takes seconds. Even quicker, if there’s 3+ DJs just daisy chain two audio interfaces and rotate use of one of them by just plugging in a USB cable. This is the common ways I see it done in most clubs and generally there no downtime unless the next DJ is complete noob that doesn’t know how to hookup basic gear.
TBH, this is really only an issue in very small venues/bars and house parties. The simple way to get round this whether you are Timecode/HID, controlling Traktor in external mixer mode is simply that the venue has a 4 channel mixer FFS and the incoming DJ uses 2 of them, and each new DJ uses the two unused ones !!!!! Or if using Traktor in internal mixer mode, as long as you have sound checked your levels & EQ beforehand you only need one extra channel!!! You can even do it with a 2 channel mixer like the DJM-400, as long as the second input for each channel can be switched to line and is not just phono. These are all fun ideas, but FFS just make sure they have a 4 channel mixer on site and all of these creative ideas are COMPLETELY irrelevant.
It seems that the Red Bull BPM DJ app isn’t available in the USA iTunes store…. what’s up with that?
If you have to take away all your gear, plug one deck out of the DVS sound card and straight into the back of the mixer, play a long track or mix from a real record (if using turntables) or play a CD if you’re using CDJ’s (what all Dj’s had to do before serato etc was invented) The other dj can then plug into the opposite deck with whatever he is using and start playing a track then give you you’re vinyl/CD back and do the same on that channel. Simple.
Every DJ I’ve ever opened for just does a quick ROLL LOOP effect and hot cues his next song in.
i switch up with mostly dvs or vinyl djs. So i bring usualy one real vinyl record, just in case it’s handy.
No3 is my absolute favourite. Wish you could do something like that with Traktor and S2 unit.
When we play there is 3 of us that need to setup which really adds to the trauma if the booth isn’t ready for it.
We normally need all four line-in channels of the house mixer, as we have one of us using ableton (apc) one on Serato (turntables) & one with itch.
We normally get the itch controller setup first with an signature intro that goes into the 1st track as that would normally mean just unplugging cdj.
After trying lost of different ways this seems to work best for us as there is minimal disturbance to the dj before who probably wants to be in full view while his last track plays. The dance floor is not interested in watching the djs doing the famous ‘Serato Cable Dance’!!
Practice helps and knowing how to rig your set up in any situation.
good vid and article cheers guys
Machete dont text – he DJ’s….
great video, only audio and video were out of sync
where can i buy that blue usb cable?
Another idea that’s simple and works well is using the ‘sweep’ sounds built into traktor. I use s4 and find it easiest to plug my s4 into the unused cdj channel, wait for the final track playing to be a few seconds from finishing, drop the sweep sound on deck A to fill the gap and then fade my first track on deck B into the sweep. This means I dont have to worry if the dj before me is playing at 100 and my first track is at 70 etc.
Or just do what everyone else does, play a long track (5 mins +) and swap? It doesn’t take that long..
7. Turn off the music. Blame each other in coarse language. Start a fist fight in the booth*. Priceless…
* optional: unite as soon as the bouncer shows up and beat him up. I’ve never seen this happen.
Awesome video. Anyone know what track Mei-Lwun brings in at 3:10?
Magic Carpet Ride by The Mighty Dub Katz….classic!
Sorry, wrong, it’s Da’ Bomb by The Bucketheads…my bad
you definitely don’t do it using 480p lol
or you could go the most obvious route for something like serato…ac adapter. derp. or you could find of the few “double-sided time code records” and always limit your last song to those. uh, yeah
That was a fun vid. It’s not really rocket science, and I’ve never had a problem transitioning w/ other DJ’s, but it was nice to see a couple different creative ways
Great video. Some of those techniques I would have never thought of especially the noise scratch.
Great skills by the DJ’s on the transitions. I think one thing to mention is that some of these are not going to sound perfect if you aren’t as clean as J or Mei-lwun. these guys are both very talented.
easy, do the job like a real dj an drop a vinyl…. mixed like a pro, and then dop another vinyl, and mixed like a pro.
go this way all the time, is more easy, dont need to plug……
and the first dj, can pick his mac book and go to the bar…..
perhaps you miss the point of this website & blog.
DIGITAL & CONTROLLERS
BTW Dropping vinyl damages it and is not recommended.
I DIDNT KNOW THAT GERALDO RIVERA WAS A DJ NAMED MEI-IWUN
Another tip: get two sets of the Traktor Scratch cables (http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/TraktorScrCable). This works even if the other DJ is using Serato. I used to play a night with a Serato DJ and we’d take advantage of the analog pass-through to put a vinyl on in between sets and then swap to the other with two quick snaps of the XLR connections.
You missed an obvious one! Shared USB. There are loads of USB “printer” sharers in online stores. I have a couple and we can control two s4’s with one laptop, or 2 laptops connected to one S4. It requires a click of a button to swap them, but it’s all done in under 5 seconds (that’s the time needed for windows to realise it’s got a new sound source – if i could find a way of decreasing this time it would be almost perfect).
also, imo mixing into whatever the previous dj is playing is totally overrated and i almost never do this. a lot of n00bs will ask “hey what bpm is your track?? i need to mix in.” i’d rather spin it back and drop something new. only exception is if i’m playing B2B w/another DJ or two.
or just stop the music and talk to the crowd for a bit, thank everyone who came, introduce the next dj… that’s how we do, always works.
Pretty dope guys, nothing ground-breaking or unknown, but all the same a dope lesson that I bet some people didn’t know about…
im like eans “Teller”
how would you do a laptop change with traktor???
can anyone tell me where can i find the usb blue cable??
On our store, available in straight or right angled.
Right here: http://store.djtechtools.com/dj-tech-tools-high-quality-usb-cable.html
Any club I’ve ever played at there is one DJ playing using 2 channels on GENERALLY a Pioneer mixer. The next DJ hooks up his equipment.. be it Serato, Traktor, CDJs or Vinyls into the 2 other unused channels. The DJ playing after then beatmatches with headphones and mixes in to his music. I’ve never heard of ipods, unplugging soundcards, and all these improvised echo freezes.
Unless the previous DJ is using ‘Vinyl Vinyl’, no one really needs to beatmatch anymore, whether it be a laptop of a CDJ or Timecode (controlling software), you can sneak a peak at his BPM, all one has to do is ‘phrase match’ (still very important, and the one thing I would never ever trust sync or a button to do on my behalf!).
just a note, if using SL box, don’t forget to use external power, else unplugging will cut the power for the signal… like in #6…
Not if you unplug the Turntable/CDJ out of the interface and into the mixer then change it back once the change over is complete.
And with a S4 ? Ha ah!
whats the name of the track the 2nd DJ was using? something “mad men” ?
Jay-Z and Kanye West – Otis
Awesome, it’s all about creativity and being original.
that dj mei-iwun looks kind of old with that mustache. I though he was the maintenance guy or something there at dj-techtools 😛 …. excellent tips though. +1
also having DJ know what they are doing also helps. I have seen so many DJ walk into a club and just start unplugging the house equip then ask how to hook up their equip to the mixer 5 min before they go on.
IMHO if your a DJ you should know how to hook your shit up….and break it down and be able to transition between DJ’s no matter what DVS they are using. Ive seen setups where the TT plug into an SL1 then route to the audio4….then plug serato lines into chan 1 and 2 and traktor lines into chan 3 and 4.
SL4. Problem Solved.
If I play with other DJ’s using Traktor with vinyls, I used 4 “Y” adaptors to duplicates the out sources of the Turntable. So we can use two turntables for two Dj’s and do great back to backs ! Two soundcards are needed though. But take car, that doesn’t work with serato ^^
Nice article and very helpful! Thanks guys!
Just a thought but… you could manually beatmatch and work your groove over the previous DJ’s song… slow fade-ins work well when you have two completely independent systems on two separate channels. The ever-tricky flying drop is much harder, but can be used very effectively and (of course) you could drop your signature DJ sample over the top, announcing the next DJ coming up. I think this works effectively when it has a known bpm in the background (you could give this to the DJ prior to you and you’d know you were synched up by listening to your cue of the same track). One of my favorite DJs (Led Manville) does this.
you left out a big one
1) let the music end cold
2) get on the mic hype up the crowd
3) start a new song at any tempo
Usually that’s lame unless your an experienced MC.
practice, and make yourself sound not so lame
there is going to be a time that a computer crashes or something gets unplugged and you need to fill the dead air
number one DJ rule:
dont stop the music.
second dj rule:
dont use the mic
third dj rule:
dont use the mic
fourth dj rule:
punch the MC that tries to grab the mic..
the only person i want on the mic is the producer, not dj i’m going to see. and i want him to say one of two things. “how you feeling OC!?” and “THANK YOU!”
Any twatface DJ who thinks grabbing the mic for a quick “Yo yo yo!” is a good idea is probably playing shitty music to retards who think this kind of behavior is normal. So hey, keep doin what you’re doin.
you did mean this as a joke, right?
I guess it’s ok if you DJ ing in the middle of a ghetto and plays some hip hop genre,
If you do this kind of crap and spinning house genre …like stop the music cold and grab the mic and YO YO YO, I hope you know how to dodge all those beer bottle matrix style !
First of all, you don’t have to be DJing “in the middle of a ghetto” to play hip-hop. Comments like that are totally unnecessary.
One of the best DJTT videos I’ve seen in a while. Great work! Thanks for the tips.
Simply amazing. Thank you for the useful tips!
I’ve seen the control vinyl done often with cds. control signal as track 1, some audio tracks behind it. great tip if something goes wrong during the set, too. for those who use that kind of thing (i’m an s4 guy by now.. i typically remove one cdj and plug myself in there. very fast to switch)
The roll loop is awesome! I love freaking noobs out with this one! The panic on their face as you unplug all their stuff and the track’s keeps playing!
you love freakin ‘noobs’ out? As opposed to mentoring up and coming new DJs who are probably pretty nervous already? You Sir are, what we refer to in London as, a bit of a twat.
great tips and well demonstrated too! thank you DJTT