Effects are a core part of DJing, and learning how to use them correctly will make a huge difference to your mixing skills.
Just like a painter's brushes, effects are part of the DJ's toolkit which helps them to add color and expression to their mixes. However, they can make you sound like an amateur if you don't use them correctly.
In this guide, you'll learn all about the main effects used in DJing, as well as some tips on how to use them. This will help you to establish yourself in the music industry as a pro!
TL;DR - DJ Mixing Effects#
There are loads of effects that help DJs add more expression to their mixes.
EQs, filters, reverbs, delays, and scratching are some of the main effects.
DJ.Studio enables DJs to harness effects with more creativity.
8 Types of DJ Mixing Effects#
Here are 8 of the main mixing effects used by DJs. Learning how to use these can level your skills from beginner DJ to advanced or even professional!
Equalization (or 'EQ' for short) is arguably the most common effect used in DJing.
The EQ process gives you control over the focus of frequencies (bass, mids, and treble) in tracks. You can lower or raise the balance of each of these sections of the audio spectrum.
This has a lot of handy uses in DJing. For example, you could start the incoming track with the bass completely cut - so the basslines don't clash. Then swap over the bass EQs to transition the lows between two tracks.
There are countless ways to use EQ knobs - which is basically an art form in itself. You can learn more about these techniques in our full guide - EQ Mixing Tips.
Filters are another common and powerful effect for DJs and are found in most DJ tools. These are similar to an EQ, but more aggressive, and are used to cut certain frequencies.
A low pass filter starts by cutting the higher frequencies, and as you apply more of the filter, it cuts the mids too, leaving only the bass - and eventually only the subs.
High pass filters work in reverse, they start cutting the bass, and eventually leave only the highs.
Filters are a great tool for slowly fading from one track to the next, as you can drop out the frequencies of one track, while you gradually activate frequencies of the next. You'll hear filters used in most DJ sets.
DJ.Studio has a powerful filter that features precise automation - which can be recorded in real-time or drawn in manually. Find out more below.
Reverb is a unique effect in DJing that gives you the ability to blur and extend audio. Based on the acoustic phenomenon of reverberation, this effect can drastically change the sound of tracks and can make one song sound like a completely new track.
To give a phonetic demonstration of how reverb works, it would turn a 'Tch' sound into a 'Tsssshhhhh', extending the decay, and adding a sense of space and acoustic resonance.
Reverb has a bunch of uses for DJs and has an interesting effect when used creatively. The reverb effect is particularly useful to create smooth transitions, and can even let DJs make seamless transitions between a track with completely different speeds, offering a creative way to transition without beatmatching.
Delay (or echo) is a rhythmic effect that has several potential uses for DJs.
A basic echo effect creates rhythmic repeats of a track to create a repetitive loop that decays over time. This can be used at the same time as the original track, or just as the volume is turned down, creating an isolated loop.
Delays are also ideal for transitions, as they can be used to extend phrases sections of tracks to continue through a longer fade. They also pair well with other effects like filters and reverbs, as thoughtful combinations can add a huge level of excitement and uniqueness to a mix.
Scratching is more of a technique than an effect, in the traditional sense of the words - although it definitely deserves a place on this list.
Originating from early hip-hop DJs, scratching involves the DJ grabbing one of the turntables, and rhythmically pulling the record back and forth, while simultaneously using the crossfader to control the volume of two tracks. This creates a unique scratching sound, which can add a new layer of excitement to DJ performances.
Scratching sounds good when used artistically and rhythmically, although it can take a lot of practice to master the techniques.
6) Vinyl Break#
If you've ever turned a vinyl turntable off while a record was playing, you'll be familiar with the sound of this effect. The cool sound of a vinyl break has been recreated in modern digital effects, as it's a popular tool for DJs.
This essentially makes the track sound like it's slowing down until it stops completely. It makes a stylish way to end your set, or can even be used for a slick and aggressive transition.
7) Sound Effects#
The use of sound effects is another cool DJ effect technique, where the DJ layers additional samples and sound bites into their mix.
An air horn is just one example of a classic DJ sound effect which can be added to a mix for a bit of excitement and spice. Risers are another highly functional sound effect to play, which creates an upward sweep which is the perfect tension builder to play before a drop or transition.
Some DJs even like to use custom jingles - where they make their own unique sound effects (typically a cool voice saying their DJ name). This is a great tool to add a sonic signature to your mixes, and also make your audience aware of your DJ name!
Looping is a vital effect for DJs to learn if they want to make remixes on the fly, and extend certain sections of tracks for transitions.
In the pre-digital DJ era, looping was possible but exceptionally hard. Pioneered by DJ Kool Herc, DJs would take two of the same vinyl record, and find the 'break', typically a hypnotic and groovy drum phrase. The DJ would then align both records to the same place, and bounce back and forth, starting the same loop on the other deck as the first one finished.
This gave them the ability to extend breaks and get creative with the dancefloor and groove.
Herc's breakbeat technique is arguably the foundation for modern mixing and DJing - and clearly the use of loops.
There are infinite ways you can use loops as a creative effect: extending sections, creating drops, creating breakdowns, or repeating vocal phrases are just some examples. Experiment yourself to see how you can use them!
How To Use DJ Mixing Effects In DJ.Studio#
Thanks to how DJ.Studio is designed, so you can get more creative with effects because it isn't restricted by the limitations of DJ equipment.
DJ.Studio is a unique piece of DJ software that revolves around an audio editing timeline rather than real-time deck mixing.
This has a range of benefits and lets you automate effects in more detail - as you don't have to worry about recording your performance live. For example, imagine being able to control every parameter on a DJ mixer at once - the EQ, reverb, filters, volume, loops, and more. Sure, you couldn't do this on a mixer with two hands - but thanks to DJ.Studio's workflow you can edit all parameters simultaneously - in infinite detail.
This is just one of DJ.Studio's many unique advantages. Check out the free trial to discover the power it offers.
Incorporating the above effects into a DJ set is a great way to make it stand out from the crowd. Learning how to use them all will expand your creative horizons as a DJ.
Remember, you don't need to use all the effects all the time - sometimes less is more, and you should let the music and the selection do the talking. Although using effects tastefully is a great way to enhance your transitions and DJ sets.
DJ.Studio is the perfect tool to get stuck in with effects and make some unique blends thanks to the powerful timeline and automation system. Try out the free 14-day trial!
FAQs About DJ Mixing Effects
- How can I get DJ sound effects?
- What is the most popular DJ effect?
- What does a DJ use to mix?
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