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How To: Add Samples To DJ Mix

Noah Feasey-Kemp

Noah Feasey-Kemp |

Adding samples, voiceovers, and DJ tags is the perfect way to customize your mixes/shows and add your unique flair and identity.

This will create a more memorable and personalized listening experience and get your name stuck in the minds of your audience. 

Learning how to integrate samples into your DJ mixes upgrades your shows from generic to unique. 

In this guide, you’ll learn how you can start dropping samples and extra layers into your DJ sets -  whether you are mixing live, or crafting your mixes in the studio. 

TL;DR - Adding Samples to DJ Mixes#

  • Adding samples, voiceovers, and DJ tags makes your mixes more memorable and personalized, which can make Mix Monetization easier.

  • You can layer in extra sounds whether mixing live or making mixes in editing software. 

  • Adding samples when mixing live depends on your gear. 

  • DJ.Studio has a powerful sample interface, enabling you to intuitively customize your mix. 

Inspiration: Sample Adding Techniques#

dj studio samples

The effective use of samples and extra audio layers in mixes can help you stand out and add a more immersive, creative, and exciting dynamic to performances. 

Here are some examples of how this technique can be used:

  • Layering extra samples - With the right timing, you can layer in loops and samples to create a richer groove. This could be drum breaks, percussive loops, or any kind of sample that works. 

  • Buildups and drops - You can enhance build-ups, breakdowns, and drops by using sound effect samples like risers, sweeps, swooshes, and hits. These can add extra tension and release to your arrangement, increasing the adrenaline and vibe. 

  • Live Remixes and Mashups - Clever integration and preparation of samples can enable you to make some awesome live remixes and mashups on the fly. Sure, it takes a bit of skill and practice, but you’ll be remembered if you pull it off well. 

  • Voiceovers - if you’re making radio shows or podcasts, adding in some voiceovers will let you start more of a dialogue with your listeners. You can talk about the music/artists, and let your personality shine through. 

  • DJ ID Tags - Creating a custom DJ tag lets you add your sonic signature to mixes. Record a vocal artist saying/singing your DJ name in a catchy way - and then pepper this into your mixes to add your stamp of personality to mixes. This is useful if people are listening at random, so they can pick up your name, while also getting a taste for your style. You can collaborate with music producers to create these if you're inexperienced.

These are just some of the countless methods available with using samples. Get creative and start experimenting with other techniques. 

Now, let's look at some extra benefits of using samples in your mixes.

Benefits of Adding Samples to DJ Mixes#

Using samples in DJ mixes and shows can significantly enhance the performance and the audience's experience. Here are some benefits of incorporating samples into DJ sets:

  1. Creativity and Originality: Samples allow DJs to create a unique sound and vibe, differentiating their sets from others. By manipulating and combining different samples, DJs can craft a distinct musical narrative that resonates with their personal style.

  2. Dynamic Performances: Samples can add texture and layers to a performance, making it more dynamic and engaging. For instance, dropping a well-known vocal sample over a track can instantly energize the crowd and elevate the overall atmosphere.

  3. Interaction with the Audience: Samples of popular songs or memorable soundbites can serve as a tool for audience interaction. They can evoke emotions, sing-alongs, or responses, creating a more immersive experience for the crowd.

  4. Musical Versatility: Samples allow DJs to incorporate a variety of sounds and genres into their sets that might not be possible with traditional mixing. This versatility can appeal to a broader audience and keep the set fresh and unexpected.

  5. Transition and Pacing: Samples can be used to create smooth transitions between tracks or to maintain the energy and pacing of a set. They can serve as bridges that maintain the flow, keeping the audience engaged throughout the performance.

  6. Branding and Signature Sound: Consistently using certain samples or crafting unique ones can become part of a DJ's brand identity. This helps in building a recognizable and memorable sound that fans can associate with the DJ.

Using Decks For Live Shows#

dj samples from deck

If you’re mixing live, layering in additional samples can be easy - with the right preparation and gear. This method is best if you plan on performing your set live with decks. 

Important Things to Consider When Using Samples as a Live DJ#

  • You’ll need to make your sample collection before your performance. You can use some kind of DAW to cut and edit your samples and loops to perfection. 

  • Depending on your software and setup, you might need to have loops set to the right BPM beforehand. 

  • This can take a fair amount of practice to pull off smoothly, particularly when it comes to timing samples like risers and drum loops. 

  • You can only use this method if your setup has sample pads in some form. Some decks come with them built-in, or you could buy an external sampler device. 

How to use samples in a live DJ show#

  1. Prepare your audio samples and sound effects - edit them down without any unwanted gaps or silence. 

  2. Configure your sample pads. Typically you’ll need to import your samples to your mixing software, and then drag and drop them on the desired pads. 

  3. Hit the pads in time, whenever you want to trigger a sample during the mix. 

Of course, you’re going to need to prep your samples before your show, and it isn’t possible on all gear.

You’re going to need a DJ controller/decks that have additional sample player pads, and the right type of DJ Mixer

For Producing Mixes/Shows in the Studio #

These days, DJs are taking advantage of the ‘Studio Mixing Workflow’ where possible, allowing them to be more productive, and craft their mixes in more detail. Rather than using live DJ software, DJs use DAW-style audio editing software to make their mixes with a keyboard and mouse.

DJ.Studio is designed expressly for this purpose - and offers the most power and speed for this style of studio workflow. It's the ultimate DAW for DJs.

Among many benefits, DJ.Studio allows you to get crafty with sampling thanks to the 2 additional sample lanes - this is how it works...

Add Samples to Mixes With DJ.Studio#

(Watch the video above to see this process in action!)

To use samples in your DJ.Studio mixes:

  1. Open the DJ.Studio app (or run it in the browser)

  2. Create a new project - Samples can only be added to projects running in Local File mode. Although DJ.Studio can make non-sample mixes with YouTube, read more about YouTube projects here: DJ With YouTube.

  3. Import Files - Connect with your main DJ music library software like rekordbox, VirtualDJ, iTunes, Serato, or others. (Or drag-drop files into DJ.Studio)

  4. Build your playlist - Select songs you want to use in a mix

  5. Automix - This optional tool can quickly find the optimum order for your DJ set based on harmonic mixing and beat-matching. Or you're free to make your own order.

  6. Refine the mix - Use the powerful editing timeline to shape the mix in as much detail as you desire. This is where you can get really creative with your mix - whether you're mixing house, techno, pop, or any other genre under the sun.

  7. Sampling time! - Now you can start to create and layer in samples. You have several options:

    1. Enable the Samples Lanes from the menu first.

    2. You can import samples into your sample library through the sample interface (found at the bottom of the studio view).

    3. You can select sections of a song on the timeline, right-click > create sample. This will chop out a section of a song, and add it to the sample lane and your library. This works really well with vocals.

    4. Move and adjust samples - You can edit the samples using all of the tools and effects offered by the DJ.Studio timeline. Even the effects and automation can be applied independently to each sample.

  8. Export your mix - You can render your finished mix to a WAV or mp3 audio file (or even a video). Additionally, you can send the mix playlist directly to your main DJ software.

This workflow lets you rapidly make a full mix, and add extra samples with precise detail. You can easily sample sections of a track and use them elsewhere in a mix.

DJ.Studio also features a cool noise effect, which can be shaped to create risers, sweeps, and drop enhancements!

Finally...#

You're now ready to start spicing up your mixes with some extra samples and voiceovers. Whether you are mixing deep house, DnB, main room techno, or hip-hop - this skill will enhance any DJ mix and help you to stand out with a more personal and unique mix.

DJ.Studio is a powerful tool for creating mixes, and its sampler engine makes it quick and easy to layer in samples to your mix!

Try it yourself with DJ.Studio's free 14-day trial!

FAQs About DJ Samples

How do you add samples to a DJ set?
What is samples in DJ?
Where do DJs get their sound effects?

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