3 No-Fail Ways To Record Your Live DJ Set This Weekend

Chances are that you are going out this weekend (or staying in) to play a gig. Recording your set should be a no brainer:  it’s great for learning, promotion, and posterity. However most DJs show up and, in the stress of the moment, skip the recording process because it feels too complicated. Here are 3 dead simple ways to record your live DJ set this weekend.

USE THE USB CONNECTION ON THE MIXER

These days, most mixers are digital and allow any computer to be connected to the mixer via USB. This means that up to four channels of audio can come out of your PC to the mixer, and almost always one stereo channel can come back from the mixer to your computer at the same time!

This means the master output of the mixer can be streaming to your computer in real time, in digital, for the best quality recording possible. Often you can set it to the record out – this is better because it bypasses any adjustments of the master

Since the DJM-900 is a popular mixer with this feature, make sure you have Pioneer’s audio drivers installed on your laptop – which gives you this handy interface to customize the audio flow. Notice that I have the audio output set to send the record output to the DJ software which is independent of the master, or the booth levels. This means loud recordings even if either of those get turned down for room levels.

If you’re using the mixer as your sound card, it’s relatively easy, and just takes a few extra steps.

For DJs that are mixing on CDJs or records, you can still bring a laptop and use this feature by recording directly into Ableton, Quicktime, or some other DAW

Use An Input On Your Sound Card

For DJs that are not using the club’s digital mixer as a sound card, but bringing their own sound card to the booth – you can also record your set in the same way. The only disadvantage to the first option is that the mix will have gone through two analogue to digital, passes which starts to degrade the signal a bit.

Ean recently posted a video on audio routing and he covered how to record with a mixer and external soundcard (jump to 9:37):

Every mixer should have an analogue record output that is almost always a RCA out. If that does not exist, then there should be two pairs of master outputs. One is usually XLR (sent to the house speakers) and one is RCA (use this for record outs out). Even if all of these outputs are taken (which they might be), you have one last emergency resort:

  1. Use the effects send output (usually a pair of 1/4″)
  2. Turn the effects all the way on, and apply them to the master channel.

This method will work well, and with analogue mixers take into account the special distortion characteristics that they have. The disadvantage is some data loss with the Analogue/Digital conversions, and using the master output can mean variable levels since the right room level might not be the ideal recording volume.

If your soundcard doesn’t have any spare inputs for recording you can always use the line input on your laptop if it has one. You’ll need a RCA to 3.5mm cable going from the record output on the mixer to the input on your laptop. Then you can use a free audio editing program like Audacity to record the mix. Internal laptop soundcards aren’t the most ideal for recording but it’s better than nothing.

Record to Your Phone

Many DJs aren’t carrying around their laptops with them – so we needed a super easy way for DJs to record their sets without bringing any extra gear. Good news: you already have a computer in your pocket right now!

Recording to a phone is relatively easy – but in order to get the signal flow working right, you’ll want to buy an special adapter cable that has two elements:

  • Attenuator: reduces the line-level audio signal which is too loud for a phones mic-input
  • Mic Adapter: makes your phone think that you’ve plugged in a mic/headphone combo device and passes signal into the phone on the Mic channel

Note: using a normal 3.5mm to RCA cable here will likely not work correctly.

Here’s a great $30 cable option that has a 3.5mm male plug on one side and 3 male RCAs on the other side.

Connect the cable to your mixer’s record out (as in the sound card method above) and open any app that records audio. On iPhones, Voice Memo app comes with your phone. On Android, try one of these apps recommended by Lifehacker.

Very importantly, remember to put your phone into airplane mode, or else your recording might get interrupted by an incoming call or text!

BONUS: You actually can then use this same connector for any app – want to call a friend and play your mix for them live? Want to record DJ audio for a video on Periscope or Snapchat? This cable works for both.

dj setIphonepioneer DJM-900recordingUSB
Comments (39)
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    • Zinovyev Marat

      Only MP3 , no wave or aiff.

  • Louis Hameau

    Hey guys,

    A groundbreaking recording solution is on its way.
    Check http://www.cloub.pro !

  • Ricky Ortiz

    I tried the cable option recording into voice memo on an iphone and as far as I´m concerned the result is practically useless. This app compresses the shit out of everything (a two hour set ended up as a 56 mb file!) so you can probably imagine the audio quality. Also, as the night progresses you tend to increase your levels on the mixer (in my case Pioneer DJM 900) and the recorded audio goes way beyond clipping!
    Gonna try the USB option although I hate the idea of taking my laptop out again!
    Cheers

    • Dan Tourville

      That’s why they said to get the cable with the built in attenuator

      • Ricky Ortiz

        Of course I used the cable with the built in attenuator. Pioneer finally caught on and released a new unit that can record your sets straight onto a usb stick.

  • Robert Saunders

    Option A over USB is definetly the better option. All Digital signal will have much higher fidelity than doing multiple DA/AD conversions back into the computer

  • Johnny Rüftop

    This cable mentioned (Here’s a great $30 cable option that has a 3.5mm male plug on one side and 3 male RCAs on the other side: http://www.kvconnection.com/product-p/km-iphone-3rca-a22.htm) is awesome and I’m going to purchase one.

    My only question is what would you use the line level Mono RCA input connector for? I don’t quite understand what the extra connector is for when you already have the 1/8″ headphone plug and the stereo RCA output plugs?

  • Justin Chaos

    Audacity became useless for me…I recorded almost 10 mixes, now it just won’t save

  • DJ Peeti-V

    So I bought the $30 cable that is referenced in this article. However, I am getting a really “hollow” sound when I record using the cable with my iPhone. Any help would be appreciated!

    • DJ Peeti-V

      I contacted the manufacturer and here is their response to the quality

      “As for the other question you had: The smart phones only have a mono mic input so you will loose a bit on audio quality there, also, the audio circuitry is not very good in the smart phones. Recording through the cable should give you a lot better audio than using the internal mic; but, if you want CD quality audio then you would have to use the digital input (lightning connector) with an analog to digital converter.”

      • Justin Chaos

        So…basically, the cable is totally useless

    • QAMRONparq

      I think it’s phase cancelling. You’ll need to unplug either the left or the right RCA and set your mix to mono.

  • Enandrehansson

    In worst case scenario, with cramed outputs, the Booth Out works ok if it isn’t needed.

  • Oddie O'Phyle

    Android and USB Audio Recorder Pro with a mixer that has a DAC. If I’m at home doing a studio mix, at a club putting on a show or at the radio station with guests, I bring along my A&H ZED10FX and record using an OTG cable and my phone or Tab S. Lollipop only gives you 16 bit .WAV, but if you have Kitkat you can record up to 32 bit/up to 384kbps.

    • QAMRONparq

      WAV files are higher bitrate than 384 kbps.

      • Oddie O'Phyle

        Yeah, I misprinted on that spec. My bad, it’s supposed to be 384 Khz. Check it out sometime, it does WAV, FLAC, AIFF and Ogg instead of an MP3 format.

  • D.j. Johnnyseriuss

    If your using Serato Just hit record lol

    • deejae snafu

      Same if you are using traktor

    • ShiftFunction

      Not if you’re mixing externally. Especially if you’ve got other kit hooked up. Hitting record in Traktor wouldn’t record anything I do with my Xone:62 or Maschine.

      I think that’s the point of this article.

    • Oddie O'Phyle

      If you don’t loop back the signal from the record out on the mixer to your Rane SL box, what exactly are you recording? This works fine if you are internally mixing, but a DJM throws a full signal out to the Audio Converters that it has per channel and relies on the hardware for gains, filters and levels for mixing.

      • Gio Alex (Tekit Izi)

        Except, if you’re using a Rane Serato mixer you can actually just hit record.

        • Oddie O'Phyle

          So, where exactly is this example of a Rane mixer in the article? The examples given are an externally mixed DJM and A&H, the write up caught my eye due to the fact that I own and use a DJM. Pretty sure the point of this article is how to record without the option of recording in your DJ software. I can do exactly the same thing that you are talking about with my Z2, but the audio handling is done in a completely different manner than what the examples given were.

          • Gio Alex (Tekit Izi)

            Well one of the suggestions stated “use the usb connection on the mixer”. In a situation where this venue has a Rane 57, 61, 62 or 64 and you’re using serato you can just hit the record feature. Some venues have 57s and 62s. I’ve been to some that have the 900SRT as the main mixer and it works that way as well.

          • ShiftFunction

            I’ve never, in the UK, seen a Rane mixer as the main mixer in any of the venues I’ve been to. In fact, I don’t recall seeing a Rane mixer in the flesh anywhere other than DJ shops. It’s all Allen & Heath and Pioneer here, much as in the article.

          • Gio Alex (Tekit Izi)

            That would be the UK. Things are different in the US. Many (Not all) venues have Rane mixers are the house mixer. It happens here. We, on the other hand will almost never have Allen & Heath mixers in shops or venues. Generally you’ll see Pioneer and Rane.

            I didn’t know this thread or article was necessarily catering to just a UK audience. You do realize DJTT is based in the states right?

          • ShiftFunction

            If I thought that the San Fran based DJTT catered only to the UK, would I have bothered to point out that I was based in the UK? It was simply an observation.

          • Gio Alex (Tekit Izi)

            All good, my bad.

  • Burcin

    I believe using portable recorder is also a great option. I’m using Zoom H5 so I can record my mix and the audience to 4 separated 48 kHz wav files (mixer L/R, mic L/R). H5 is recording to SD card which is easy to transfer to my computer. I’s easy to use and hassle free.

    • ShiftFunction

      Are the Zoom recorders good? I was thinking about adding one to “the list”!

      • Burcin

        I recommend it. Easy to operate, great build quality. ??

      • PulseOne

        Used the H2/H4 models a bit. Sound is good. If you’re going for a H2/H4, I can recommend the newer models (H2n/H4n) purely because they made them a lot more user-friendly. Sound quality-wise I haven’t noticed any big differences soundwise, so if you’re on a budget the older models will just take a little getting used to. DO NOTE that only the NEWER version of H4 (H4n) is capable of recording 4 tracks simultaneously like Burcin does above.

        • Ben W

          They have recently updated the H4n to the H5.

      • John Viera

        I tried a Zoom coming directly out of the Pioneer DJM-900 and the audio was clipping all night. I had to attenuate the signal by hooking up a portable mixer before the Zoom.

        • Ben W

          You most likely had the input set to “mic” instead of “line”. That engages the preamp and boosts the signal. Having used multiple recorders from Zoom, Tascam, and Sound Devices, I can tell you all these companies can take a proper line signal from a record out without attenuation.

          • Luiz Zen

            I had tested Tascam Dr-40, recording the audience and the mixer rec output. I noticed that, in this configuration, it does not allow you to set the input level. What happens is that if you happen to clip anything on the mixer, the recorder will clip as well. Not sure if this clipping in the recorder is just the receiving of the same that comes from the mixer or if it adds some more distortion to the chain.

    • timtam

      Yes! I use a couple Y splitters to send the mains stereo-out to a Tascam DR100mkII. It’s cheap, has XLR inputs, the front controls are easy to use, and can record at 96khz (although 48 is good enough).