DJ Audio Routing 303: Analogue Mixers, Guitar Pedals, and External Soundcards

Recently Ean has been posting some exciting weekly videos on his Facebook page including freestyle studio jams and extended dj mixes. In one of his lastest, Ean performs with Allen & Heath Xone:92, BOSS guitar pedals, X1s, AIRA TR-8 and Traktor Pro 2 but everyone was wondering: How does he have Traktor running with an analogue mixer, effects pedals, and able to record everything? Today, Ean is going to walk you through a very detailed run down of that advanced mixer set-up, which will cover a lot of helpful details including send and return routing, external sound cards, recording inputs and more.

Gear Used In the Video

Audio Routing – Putting It All Together

A unique performance setup like this raises a few questions:

  1. How are the FX pedals connected to the mixer and affecting the Roland TR-8 and Traktor?
  2. What kind of soundcard do you need for external mixing with Traktor? How many inputs/outputs?
  3. How do you record everything: pedals, TR-8, and Traktor?
Guitar pedals send/return routing.

Whenever adding external effects units like the Pioneer RMX-1000 or guitar pedals, the most ideal way to connect them is through send/return connections on the mixer. This allows DJs to apply the effects from the external fx units to individual channels on the mixer. With the Xone:92 you can choose how much of the signal  you want to send from a channel to the fx units/pedals and how much of the returning signal to mix in. Mixers such as the Pioneer DJM 900, Rane MP2015 (check out Ean’s MP2015 review), and Xone:92 have send/return connections.

Using the “Aux” knobs DJs can adjust the intensity of the signal being sent to the effects units.

Choosing An External Soundcard

The soundcard and the amount of input/outputs required will vary between DJs. The main things to consider are the number of decks you’d like to use and if you’ll be recording your set with your laptop. Mixing 2 decks? You’ll need a soundcard with at least 2 stereo ins/outs. 4 decks? You’ll need 4 stereo ins/outs. Keep in mind that the mixer will need an equal amount of channels as well, 4 deck mixing means you’ll need a 4 channel mixer.

Most DJs will be mixing 2 tracks so a soundcard like the Traktor Audio 6 with 3 stereo ins/outs is perfectly suited for 2 deck mixing and a 3rd stereo input for recording the mixer output in Traktor.

Recording An External Mixer With Traktor Mix Recorder

Traktor has a mix recorder that can be set to record an external signal (i.e. mixer) from a soundcard input. Here is what you need:

  1. One available stereo input on the soundcard
  2. Ideally a mixer with a dedicated record or booth output (if not you can use the master output)
  3. Audio cable running from the mixer’s record/booth output to the input on your soundcard
After assigning the deck inputs you should see a signal from your mixer beside the deck input.

The last step is to setup the audio routing in Traktor’s preferences. Go to Preferences –> Input Routing and setup one of the deck inputs to receive the rec/booth signal from your mixer. Next go to the Mix Recorder, set the source to External, and set the External Input to the deck that you chose. Now the Traktor Mix Recorder is ready to record from your mixer.

After assigning the mix recorder input source you’ll see an audio signal.

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 Has this inspired you to consider an analogue setup? Why/why not?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Allen & Heathanalogue mixerboss guitar pedalsDD-3 Delayguitar pedalsKontrol X1RME Fireface UCXroland airaRoland AIRA TR-8RV-5 Reverbtraktor kontrol x1Xone:92
Comments (22)
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  • MoMo

    You don’t just need Roland FX pedals.
    OTO Machines cost more but have recall.

  • Caltix Sydney

    Have been trying to connect the pedal through the send/return and it isn’t working. When i do this it cuts out the sound from the decks? Any help appreciated.

  • Karine Gauvin

    That’s definitly inspiring…I have a question, how do you make sure the drum machine is synced to the tracks? Thank you!

  • S7YX

    Despite the loads of headroom in the Xone,do not run into the reds. Your channels are way up there man, even in analog there is a limit…didn’t you even post something about that here on DJTT? 🙂
    Otherwise cool article…

  • orge

    @eangolden:disqus is this just a tryout or do you actually see yourself moving away from the DJM to the Xone 92 for your gigs?

    I have a DB4 and really like the integrated frequency based effects. However, it’s a shame they never gave us the best of both worlds with a proper effects loop (yes you can hack it, but it’s a bit of a kludge).

  • signature x

    As an owner of a xone 92, Mixwizard series, Gl2800, and about 50 other pieces of gear …. this demonstration comes at me as a bit archaic and expensive. Pretty much everything thats going on here… can take place in Live9 and be recordable per channel + actions and scalable in multitrack .. it looks cool and im sure it sounds good. I use my 92 as my Dj table master mixer for everyone to run into. Great mixer and durable Show after show it takes puinishment.

    Not trying to offend but the glam factor of this definately tugs at the reasonability and portability that this website seemed to thrive on in the beginning. We’ve definately come full circle kids <3

    • Albert

      Valid point, but I think you’re missing one key part of what Ean said. The Xone:92 is an analogue mixer. One of the purposes of this setup is to explore the benefits in terms of headroom and summing that only an analogue mixer can offer.

      • signature x

        yes definately — i Like that discussions are focusing on live sound aspects .. cables, production type stuff. Maybe its the next step and and intro for some people . carry on!

  • Albert

    Great video / article.
    I’ve always been intrigued by the Xone series of mixers. As Ean says in the video, the feature set draws on Allen & Heath’s engineering background.
    Worth noting that the Xone:62 and Xone:464 also feature sends on every channel. The Xone:464 actually has a whopping six stereo channels with four sends per channel (!) and four mono return channels!

  • lanceblaise

    any link to the RCA’s you are using? You said it was a snake, just curious to which…

  • killmedj

    I sure do miss those mixers in the clubs. Pioneer range just sounds terrible compared to them =/

    • ShiftFunction

      Here in London, it really comes down to the music being played. Techno events often tend to see the Xone:92 in place. Trance is usually all DJM 900.

      At fabric, the only mainstay in the booth (of Room 1 only) is an old school rotary ISO mixer, although I don’t recall the model.

      Agreed on the sound quality of Pio mixers. They’re popular because they’re simple. Simple as!

  • butter

    A Y-cable is a SPLITTER, not a “joiner”. DON’T DO IT!

    It’s really bad advice to spread the concept that these can be used backwards – especially when using it with different pieces of equipment, has the potential not only to sound bad, but to damage your equipment. Without even getting technical, surely you intuitively wouldn’t connect a wire directly between 2 OUTPUTS on your mixer without thinking you might be shorting something? Thats what a Y-cable is doing! (There’s nothing stopping the flow of electricity down one leg of the Y back up the other) In the same way you wouldn’t connect the output of your power amp to the output of a mixer or other piece of gear without expecting problems… sure, thats an extreme example, but once you start down the road of thinking that Y-cables are “mixers” anything can happen – any output has a little amp in it too, and is really not expecting a voltage potential applied to its outputs. Never mind what starts to happen when you get balanced inputs/outputs added to the equation…

    In practice it can work to some degree – I expect a bunch of people saying that they are running all their gear through a belkin 5way splitter or similar horror without problems and I’m talking nonsense. All I can is that a) you are lucky so far and b) it doesn’t sound as good as you think it does.

    dj*TECH*tools should have a post about soldering up a passive mixer Y-cable with a few resistors, not spreading bad advice to people just starting out.

    • Prof_Strangeman

      Glad someone said this. There are specific pieces of equipment designed to (passively even) sum two XLRs/TRS/RCAs that are not very expensive or large.

    • Shaun Whitcher

      Here’s a detailed article about Y cables and why they should not used to sum audio. The article (RaneNote) also includes a block diagram for building your own “summing box”

    • Ean Golden

      Great comment – thanks for sharing your knowledge. It’s impossible for us to get everything perfect all the time, and that’s why having an engaged community that can support this articles is so valuable. cheers!

  • Fatlimey

    Highly enjoyed that video, plenty of ideas to take home and work through. I especially respect you being candid with the the mono/stereo trade-offs you decided to work with, that’s killer content for a level-3 tutorial. Great work people!

  • Oddie O'Phyle

    Used my Audio 10 as a trade in for my DJM 850, what I’be been doing it record is this. I have an A&H ZED10FX, a Galaxy Tab S and an OTG cable with a pigtail to charge. There is a handy little app called USB Audio Recorder Pro that uses the DAC in my mixer. I patch all the inputs in and press the record button on the line I need to record. I’ve found this to be the easiest way to record jam sessions with friends and whole shows without interuption.

    P.S. send/return is pretty fun with a Guitar Rig Control 3 as well, I have one kicking around the house for my daughter and steal it every once in a while to play outside my comfort zone.