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DJ Mixing Effects: A Masterclass in DJ Effects

Noah Feasey-Kemp

Noah Feasey-Kemp

DJ effects are a core part of DJing: learning how to use them properly makes a huge improvement to your mixing skills and creative potential.

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 maximize the expression and creativity in your DJ mixes

TL;DR - DJ Effects#

  • DJ effects enable DJs to add more movement, expression, and creativity to their mixes.

  • You can find a wide range of effects available in DJ hardware and software.

  • Some of the main DJ effects include EQs, filters, reverbs, delays, loops, stem separation, sampling, modulation and more.

  • DJ.Studio makes it quick and easy for DJs to make mixes, with a range of cutting edge effects.

8 Types of DJ Mixing Effects#

From the humble EQ to revolutionary stem separation, DJs have a huge range of effects to spice up their mixes. Some of these are more commonly used than others, and they each have their own strenghts, weaknesses, and unique use situations.

The following list educates you on some of the most important, powerful DJ effects. Studying these effects will help you level up from a beginner DJ to a pro!

1) Equalization for DJS (EQ)#

Equalization (or 'EQ' for short) is arguably the most common effect used in DJing.

EQing gives you independent control over the relative levels of frequencies (bass, mids, and treble) running through the mixer. You can lower or raise the level 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.

DJ Eq Spectrum

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.

DJ.Studio offers powerful EQing, allowing you to work with equalization in a completely new way. You can use the timeline editor to create mixes, and manually automate the EQ over time, to craft the perfect transitions. You can even use it to Make Mixes with YouTube!

This gives you more accuracy than mixing manualy, and also helps you make transitions that would be impossible to perform in real-time (unless you're an octopus with 8 hands!)

2) Filters (LPF, HPF)#

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.

You'll typically find two filter types on DJ mixers and DJ software - a high pass filter, or a low pass filter. These both work in the same way but start at a different end of the audio spectrum.

Low Pass Filter:

Low Pass Filter

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 Filter:

High Pass Filter

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 - this allows you to craft filter curves and transitions with unlimited detail, all at the same time as other effects.

3) Reverb#

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.

DJ.Studio features a nice reverb effect that can be controlled in real-time, or using the editing timeline.

4) Delay/Echo#

Delay (or echo) is a rhythmic effect that has several potential uses for DJs. Being so rhythmically focused, it opens up a load of new transitions and expressive techniques.

A basic echo/delay effect creates rhythmic repeats of a track to create a repetitive loop that decay over time.

This can be used at the same time as the original track to create additional delayed layers of audio, or you can turn down the orignal volume and use only the delay, creating an isolated loop. This is a great way to fade through to the original track.

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.

You can use delays in DJ.Studio, which has a configurable delay effect that syncs up with the tempo of your track, and is perfect for making cool transitions.

5) Stem Separation - NEW!#

Stem Separation is a more recent DJ effect, which has become more viable thanks to the merging power of artificial intelligence.

This unique DJ effect gives you total control over independent layers of instruments and sounds in a song.

For example, you can isolate the vocal to create an acapella, or slice out the instrumental for a less cluttered remix. You can also use these tools to make loops and samples, like isolating a drum break, riff, or bassline.

DJ.Studio has a uniquely powerful stem separation system that gives you precise control over each musical element. You can use this for crafting exciting new transitions, or create custom samples by chopping out the layers and making new loops and acapellas.

6) Scratching & Vinyl Break#

DJ Scratching

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.

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.

DJ.Studio has a cool vinyl break effect that gives you the perfect way to end your mix!

7) Sound Effects & Samples#

The use of DJ sound effects is another cool DJ effect technique, where the DJ layers additional samples and sound bites into their mix.

DJ.Studio has a powerful Sample Creator and Editor that lets you add and customize samples to your mix. You can even use the stem separation features to make custom samples like acapellas, drum loops, and instrumentals by isolating certain layers of songs.

This makes it super easy for DJs to make their mixes more unique, and add their sonic signature to their sets.

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. All of these are available as customizable transition presets in the DJ.Studio editor.l

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!

A lot of DJ equipment has pads for loading sound effects and triggering it at will. But, if you're making a mix in the studio, DJ.Studio makes working with samples super easy!

8) Looping#

Looping in DJ.Studio

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 by changing the progression of the original track.

Herc's breakbeat technique is arguably the foundation for modern mixing and DJing - and clearly the use of loops. This early vinyl looping technique has since been replicated in digital DJing software!

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!

DJ.Studio has powerful looping features. This lets you slice and create loops however you please, and reuse them all around the mix on the editor timeline.

How To Use DJ Mixing Effects In DJ.Studio#

DJ.Studio Effects

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:

> You can 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.

> You can make mixes with music from streaming services like YouTube, Spotify, Beatport Streaming and more. How to DJ With YouTube, Make Mixes With Spotify.

> Use the smart AI automix to suggest the best order of tracks in your mix using harmonic mixing and beatmatching.

> It integrates with all mainstream DJ software (rekordbox, Virtual DJ, Serato, Traktor, and more), both in and out. Make mixes from music in your DJ library, prepare them, and send them back to your software as a prepared playlist to perform live.

> Use the transition editor and stem separation tools to customize your mixes with precision.

> Save time and make your workflow more efficient.

This is just one of DJ.Studio's many other unique advantages. Check out the free trial to discover the power it offers.

Summary#

DJ.Studio Summary

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 Effects

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