Posted on

Mastering your DJ Mix : the next step in becoming a djay pro!

Now there are more opportunities than ever to become a professional DJ – and it’s a more crowded market than ever before because of it!

So how do you get your mix to stand out to listeners, booking agents and promoters on common platforms like Mixcloud, Soundcloud, Spotify etc ?

There are so many other factors in DJ promotion (a great website, building a busy live gig schedule, a robust social media strategy, networking at conferences, making a DJ remix for other producers, keeping your DJ equipment in top form) that it’s possible to overlook a process that can take you to the next level where it counts – the end listener.

Mastering” is the process of making a recorded piece of music sound slicker, fatter and louder, with a sweeter tone than before. Mastering turns a recording into a record! Every commercially released track you own will have been professionally mastered.

DJ Mixes sound better when they have been properly mastered too. All the classic commercial mixes will have been mastered before release. That’s why they sound so slick!

Conversely a lack of pro mastering is more noticeable, because the track sounds weaker in contrast to what you expect to hear from commercially released music. A lack of professional mastering is usually the reason your friend’s productions sound like they’re missing… something.

Behind the decks at a reggae club on Sunset Strip, L.A. June 2012. Picture by Loz @ Fat As Funk Mastering.

Assuming you are mixing with commercially released music, all the tracks will have already been mastered before they were released by the record label… But not mastered TOGETHER! This is an important distinction, because now you have woven them together in a new order for your DJ mix, there will inevitably be moments where the volume gets a little out of control, or the next track has a really different level of bass, so the transition doesn’t sound as smooth as it could.

No doubt you already control this to a degree with the EQ and gain controls built into your mixer, but when you’re busy focusing on everything else involved in crafting an awesome mix, it is inevitable for some volume jumps to happen when two tracks are mixed together, or you do any scratching.

These volume jumps can be annoying to the end listener, & make your mix sound less professional overall. What you may not notice at the time can become a jarring error on repeated listens. If it’s a vinyl-only set, then re-recording it is a daunting prospect!

Professional mastering will buff up your mix into a thing of beauty that will stand alongside the big names (who will all have had their commercial mixes professionally mastered!). An experienced mastering engineer can take your DJ sound to the next level to the ears of promoters, booking agents, radio stations and brands.

Like most things in life, there’s the best way to do things and some quick hacks. It’s important to note that proper DJ Mix Mastering should use manual automation fader riding to organically level out any problems at the initial stage, rather than the inferior method of just running it all through a limiter, which can sap all the life and energy from the transients of your DJ mix. Artful EQ leveling between tracks makes an incredible difference too, taking your mixes to a new level of professionalism and avoiding any embarrassing jumps in tone.

Promoters receive hundreds of links to demos from DJ’s, if yours stands out sonically as a professional slick experience above the rest, you know she will book you over another DJ who’s mix levels are all over the place and she has to keep adjusting the volume and gritting her teeth through a bass drop out…..

DJ Mix mastering is definitely worth a try when you want to take your sound to the next level.

Check out our current pick of DJ tools!

Roland DJ-202 DJ Controller – from the people who brought you the 808 & 909… with kits built in!

Numark Mixtrack Platinum FX DJ Controller

RANE Twelve pair with Numark Scratch Mixer package

Native Instruments Scratch Control USB Audio Interface

Dr Suzuki Scratch Slipmat

Traktor Scratch Control Vinyl