User Dj Fisch asked the following question on our Youtube channel: Hi, I’m new in the business and I’m wondering why DJs always listen with their headphones for short periods of time. Can someone explain this to me? Are they listening to the next song and preparing the mix? Read: Why do djs wear headphones For a DJ, this question has an obvious answer, but for those just starting out, it can still be a bit of a mystery. Surely there must be more to it than just looking good?
Basically, DJs listen briefly in their headphones to suggest the next song they want to include in the mix. The reason they only listen to one cup is to allow them to beat (explained later in this article) the next song with the song playing through the speakers. To do that, the DJ needs to perform a few actions on his DJ equipment.Headphone and touch controls on Pioneer DJ DJM-900NXS2 As shown in the image above, a typical DJ mixer (here, Pioneer DJ DJM-900NXS2) will have a signal button for each channel that will light up. up when pressed. sends the audio to that channel to the headphones, even if the channel tuner is completely disconnected. This way the DJ can hear the music, while the audience can’t. Read more: why doesn’t my phone fast charge anymore | Top Q&A Second, a typical DJ mixer also has some headphone controls. The DJM-900NXS2, as shown in the left part of the image above, has the functions of a split signal, a mixer knob and a level knob. Let’s analyze what these mean:
- Split signal function (on the DJM-900NXS2, this is a toggle between mono/stereo separation): when set to mono split, the mixer sends a mono signal to the left ear of the headphones and the main signal ( so the actual sound is heard by the audience) into the right ear of the headset. This way the DJ can match the upcoming track to the track playing in the headphones.
- Mix knob: When the split signal function is set to stereo, this knob determines the amount of signal (audio entering the channel(s) that activated the signal button) relative to the main signal heard in the headphones. Normally, if a DJ is using an external monitor to mix, this knob will be on the left side, set to CUE.
- Level: Level is simply the volume of the sound in the headphones.
In a typical DJ setup, you can see large speakers sitting next to the DJ:DJ Tiësto uses monitor speakers These are very important for DJ playing in large venues or stadiums, as the actual venue’s speakers may be far from the DJ and to accurately match incoming music with the music playing, they need to hear the music as clearly as possible with as much delay as possible. Therefore, the large screen speakers are directed directly at the DJ.
DJ headphones are a bit special. DJs can fold the left or right ear to have one ear comfortably covered by the earcup and one free to listen to the main sound (played through the monitor). Only in the case of using a split signal as described above will the DJ wear the headphones completely over his head, as both the signal sound and the main sound will play through both earcups.
Look mom, no headphones!
Some DJs choose to play without headphones and rely entirely on visual data provided by their DJ equipment.Denon DJ SC5000 monitor, with lots of track information The image above is from the Denon DJ SC5000 media player and contains a lot of information about the track loaded into the player: BPM (beats per minute), waveform of the track with grid of tempos and colors Encoding, elapsed/remaining time, pitch information… Read more: Why do blacks have big lips All of this information can be used by a DJ to mix two tracks together basically without the help of headphones and just looking at the information provided by the screen. While this is a valid way of DJing (there are no written rules against it…), it relies entirely on data provided by the media player. If the information is incorrect and the grid is only slightly off, the two tracks may not go well together. In a large stadium with a top-of-the-line sound system, this will be clear and the audience will hear.
Some DJs, the famous example being Laidback Luke, use in-ear monitors to mix. The biggest advantage of this is that they mute external sounds better than headphones and protect the DJ’s hearing. With tinnitus (persistent ringing in the ears caused by exposure to excessive volume levels) being a real threat to DJs and audiences, taking care of your ears is a smart move.
We’ve discussed the technical aspects of using headphones, but how do they help DJs with accurate mixing? How are they tools to mix two tracks together? The process of mixing an assessed track with a currently playing track is called beatmatching. I won’t go into full detail here, so please see my dedicated article on the subject, but to put it simply: DJs need to adjust the tempo of the incoming track to match the beat. the tempo of the music being played. By using the mixer signaling function described above, the DJ can hear the incoming track without the audience hearing it, adjust the pitch of the track with the pitch modifier, signal accordingly. mix at the starting point and feed it into the mix by gradually opening the current regulator or switching the crossover. There are more ways to properly mix two tracks than this (EQing is an important part of the mixing process), but that would take us too far in this article. DJing? Did I miss something? Comment below! Read more: Why is Lululemon so expensive? (14 top reasons) | Top Q&A
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