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5 DJ Crossfade Techniques - Mix Like A Pro

Noah Feasey-Kemp

Noah Feasey-Kemp |

A crossfade is a core tool of DJing that can be used in essentially an infinite number of ways due to its creative nature.

Understanding all the different possibilities gives you more creativity and expression in your mixing - which is essential for an interesting DJ set.

This guide explains all the best crossfade techniques and shows you how you can easily apply them in DJ.Studio!

TL;DR - Crossfade Techniques#

  • The crossfade is a core technique for DJs.

  • Crossfading lets you create long and seamless, or instant and punchy transitions.

  • Mastering crossfader techniques will open up new creative possibilities for your sets.

  • DJ.Studio enables a range of new crossfader techniques.

What is a Crossfade? Why is it unique?#

The term crossfade and crossfader refer to two slightly different things, although they are both closely related.

You use a crossfader to crossfade!

A crossfade is a technique that refers to smoothly blending two audio parameters in the opposite direction of each other - typically volume.

A Crossfade - DJ Crossfade Techniques

The simplest example to understand this is the volume of a track being decreased at the same rate that a second track's volume is being increased. Crossfades aren't specific to DJing and are also used in general audio engineering, although it is a central technique in DJing.

A crossfade doesn't necessarily need to be used with volume, as most parameters on a DJ mixer can also be crossfaded, for example, filters, EQs, and other effects. Find out more about EQ DJ Mixing in our full guide!

The crossfader is a control on DJ mixers and DJ software that is used to control the volume balance between two tracks. These aren't to be confused with channel faders, which control the volume of tracks independently. In essence, DJs crossfade songs using a crossfader to create a smooth transition.

A Crossfader on a DJ Controller

Physically, crossfaders have a low resistance in their feeling, meaning it's quicker and easier to flip them from one side to the other - in a split second. This is different to channel faders, which have a stiffer feel.

A crossfader is an essential tool for the scratching technique, where DJs use the crossfader to rhythmically change the volume while scratching a record to create cool sound effects.

Keep reading to learn how to use these crossfader techniques!

5 Crossfade Techniques#

Crossfade Curve Types#

One thing to understand is the types of crossfader curves you can use. This changes how the transitions occur from one parameter to the other - whether it is a slow and gradual fade, or a bit quicker.

You can think of this as percentages, look at each of the pictures below, to see how DJ.studio offers a range of different curve types to create unique crossfade transitions.

100% - Fades across the entire length of the transition.

100% Crossfade

75% - The fade lasts for 75% of the transition.

75% crossfade

50% - The fade starts half way through the transition.

50% Crossfade

25% - The fade only covers the last quarter of the transition.

25% Crossfade

The Slow Crossfade#

The Slow Crossfade

One of the easiest crossfade methods is a slow transition from one channel to the other. This achieves a smooth, gradual transition between tracks, which is ideal for more repetitive genres like techno and house music.

For this method, start by making sure both tracks are beat-matched, and that the crossfader is full to one channel, muting the other. When the time is right, you can slowly move the crossfader to the other side, lowering the volume of the first track and increasing the volume of the second.

Eventually, you will have crossfaded between track 1 to track 2. This is a great way to create a natural flow between the first track playing and the new track, without making a drastic change in feeling.

You can do this in DJ.Studio by:

  1. Select the transition window of the transition you wish to change.

  2. Grab the top bar of the second song, and slide it into the position you it to start relative to the first track.

  3. Move the handles on the edge of the transition window to set the transition boundaries, for a slow transition, a wider transition window is best.  

  4. Select the 100% crossfade preset in the transition window, and adjust the parameter lines to taste. 

Crossfade Quick Cuts#

Quick Crossfade Cuts

The crossfader is also the perfect tool for making faster cuts between songs. This creates a more noticeable, high-impact transition which is great for swapping from the buildup of one song to the drop of another. These instant transitions are great for all kinds of music, but particularly any that revolve around build-ups and breakdowns.

For example, beat-match both tracks, then use phrasing to make sure that the different sections (verse, chorus, buildup, drop) are aligned well. Ensure that the buildup of a track would end when the new track has a drop. Now, when the buildup finishes, instantly cut the crossfader to the other side, cutting the old song and playing the new song. This creates an exciting transition.

This is easily achieved in DJ.Studio using a fast-cut curve from the transition presets.

To create this in DJ.Studio:

  1. Move the second song into position, where you want it to start.

  2. Move the transition window handles to set the start and end point of the transition - in this case you want something quite short by moving the right handle as close to the left handle as possible. 

  3. Choose the 100% crossfade transition preset, or use Manual if you want to draw in a tighter cut. 

Back and Forth#

Back and Forth Crossfade

Another cool method is using the crossfader to switch back and forth between two songs, usually in some kind of rhythmic pattern. This can be used to create cool live remixes of songs and add a bite more expression into your mixes.

Again, this technique counts on the fact that the two songs are beat-matched, and their phrases have been aligned.

For example, you could have two tracks with vocals playing. You play the first few bars of one chorus with the vocals, then you switch over to the other song. Then you switch back to the first, and so on. This creates a cool effect of bouncing between two songs, making a 'call and response' type arrangement.

To add this type of crossfading in DJ.Studio:

  1. Choose the Manual transition preset

  2. Add automation points in the transition window for both tracks to create this pattern.

Popping In The Snare#

This fun technique is commonly used by hip-hop, dubstep, drum and bass, and other DJs. This isn't the kind of technique you can use for a full transition but is a good way to add some creative expression and excitement to your mixes.

It's simple - make sure the snares/claps of two tracks are perfectly in time. Then you can quickly flick the crossfader over to the other side when the snare of the other song hits, and then pull it back. This creates an interesting remix where the snare of the new song is overlaid over the first.

You can experiment with this method, it doesn't have to be the snare! You can do this with any musical element. This technique is a great way to get your audience excited, and also show off your DJ mixing skills and creativity.

How to Crossfade in DJ.Studio#

Crossfading in DJ.Studio

DJ Studio makes it super easy to crossfade between tracks. You can quickly make any kind of crossfade transition you want to - with any of the fade-able effects.

  1. Start creating a mix.

  2. Open the transition tab

  3. Click on a transition window between two songs you want to edit

  4. Select the parameter you wish to crossfade and select 'crossfade'

  5. Now you can fine-tune the crossfade curve by clicking the percentage value.

  6. Alternatively, you can use the 'manual' preset to draw in your own custom crossfade transitions.

Summary#

When you study these techniques and practice your crossfader method, you will quickly notice an improvement in the fluidity and expression of your mixes. These techniques are relatively easy to master, although can make a significant difference to how professional your mixes sound. Beat-matching is another vital skill you should learn about!

All of these techniques can be implemented easily in DJ.Studio, which gives you a bunch of other tools which will level up your mixing prowess. Check out the free trial now!

FAQs About DJ Crossfader Techniques

How can I improve my DJ transitions?
What are some of the most useful DJ transition techniques?
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How Can I Improve My DJ Mixing?

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