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How To Record A DJ Set - The Easiest and Best Methods

Noah Feasey-Kemp

Noah Feasey-Kemp

Knowing how to record your set is a vital skill as a DJ. It means you can easily reflect on your performance, as well as generate new promotional content to share online.

There are countless methods for recording your DJ sets these days, each with its own set of strengths and weaknesses. Some are quick and easy, while others are more complex but give you a bit more configuration and quality.

You need to learn the DJ set recording methods that are the most suitable for your situation and technical level as a DJ - otherwise you might end up falling down an unnecessary rabbit hole.

That's why I've put together this guide - to help you work out which technique is the best for you to record your DJ set. Through my time as a DJ, I've tried pretty much every way to record a DJ mix, from the scuffed DIY methods, to completely professional productions.

In this guide, I'll explain the best methods to record a DJ set, and help you to find the best technique for you.

I'll also share a secret new tool that DJs are using to create finished, sharable mixes without ever hitting a record button... it's true! Read till the end of this guide to discover how DJ.Studio can revolutionise your mix recording and production process.

TL;DR - DJ Mix Recording Techniques #

  • DJs can use a range of methods to record DJ mixes, each with unique pros and cons.

  • The most convenient option is either using your DJ software's built-in recording function, or using a handheld recorder.

  • For optimal quality when capturing a live mix, I would recommend plugging your decks into your PC via an audio interface, and recording into a DAW or audio editor.

  • The fastest method to create a DJ mix is using DJ.Studio, which doesn't require any recording gear or rehearsal.

How to Record a DJ Set - The Best Methods#

DJs have a range of DJ set recording methods to choose from - some will be more suitable than others depending on the DJ's situation.

Ultimately the most suitable recording method depends on what kind of DJ setup you're using, and what recording gear you have access to.

For each recording method, I'll explain which situations are the most suitable.

Easy: DJ Software & a Controller#

rekordbox record button

Best For - DJs using a controller and software setup. Perfect for bedroom DJs, or pros rocking a controller.

One of the easiest methods to record your DJ set is using your DJ software's internal recording feature. If you're using a controller-based setup, chances are that the software you're using will have some kind of built-in recording option. This simply captures the master output of your performance and records it to an audio file.

Note - You can only use this if your audio is originating from the DJ software (like a typical controller setup). If you are using independent hardware like CDJs or turntables without any software, you'll need to use an audio interface as explained below.

This setup would need:

  • A DJ controller
  • DJ software with an internal recording function
  • A PC or laptop

Additionally, not all DJ software provides a recording feature, and some are locked behind a paywall. But many do - for example even the free version of rekordbox offers internal recording. So do a bit of googling to see if your software has this feature.

That said, if you have the right setup, using internal recording is mega easy and can be activated within a few seconds.

Follow these steps to record your DJ set with your DJ software's internal recording feature:

  1. Connect your DJ controller and launch your DJ software.

  2. Prepare your mix - you can improvise, or line up a playlist that you want to use.

  3. Find the record button - Locate the record button in your software (check the user manual if you can't find it). For example, on rekordbox it's at the top right, in Serato DJ Pro it's at the top middle.

  4. Hit record! Start mixing and performing your DJ set - make sure that it's actually recording though! This should be obvious in the UI, usually it shows the current recording time.

  5. Stop the recording - When you've finished your mix, hit the recording button again to finalize the recording and create the recorded audio file.

When the software finishes processing the file, you'll typically be shown the folder that contains your recorded mix. (Sometimes you may need to find it manually, just look for the recording path in your DJ software's settings).

As you can see, internal recording is super easy if you have the right DJ setup type!

Advanced: Audio Interface & Recording Software#

recording a dj mix with interface

Best For - DJs using a mixer-based setup, like CDJs and/or turntables run through a mixer (with a recording output).

For a more professional and flexible recording method, you can use an audio interface and PC setup.

This method requires a more advanced setup, but it generally achieves better results, and gives you more flexibility.

To record your DJ set in this way, you'll need to be using a DJ mixer-based setup. So this recording setup would include like:

  • A pair of CDJs and/or vinyl turntables.
  • A DJ mixer (with a recording output connection).
  • An audio interface with at least two input channels (for stereo recording).
  • All the correct cables.
  • A laptop or PC.
  • A DAW or recording software for capturing the recording. Reaper is a good choice if you want free recording software, or you could use Audacity for a more basic option.

In theory, you could also capture a mix from a controller with this method (if it had a rec out), although I would recommend just using the software record in that case.

Follow these steps to record your DJ gear via an audio interface and PC setup:

  1. Get everything plugged in - Plug the CDJs and/or turntables into your DJ mixer, then plug your mixer into your audio interface, and plug the interface into your PC.

  2. Load up the recording software - Get everything configured to record, including setting the right audio inputs, making sure the recording levels are correct, and checking other settings in your recording software. You want to make sure that the signal is loud enough to reduce unwanted noise, but make sure that it's not too loud and distorted.

  3. Do a test recording - Then listen back to it. This is essential, as it helps you to spot if any mistakes, issues, or distortion is present in the recording setup. This means you won't waste your mix by recording it with problems in the audio.

  4. Start the recording - When you are ready, hit the record button in the software and start mixing. Make sure it's recording!

  5. Stop the recording - when you finish mixing, stop the recording and save the file. You could do some basic mastering and compression to level out the audio, and always save a backup

This process is a little bit trickier than internal DJ software recording, as it requires a slightly more complex setup, and there are more areas where issues can arise.

That said, this system is more versatile and lets you record a wider range of audio sources in your mix. With high-quality equipment and the right settings, the overall audio quality can be a lot higher than internal recording.

If you're using a Pioneer DJ mixer, I recommend looking into Pioneer's DJM Rec app, which streamlines the process and provides some extra options.

Portable: A Handheld Recording Device#

Best For - Situations where it's not possible to record with a laptop, or if you already own a decent handheld recorder.

Handheld recorders give you several recording options depending on the design of the recorder.

The portability of this method is one of the most attractive benefits, as these are a lot more portable than an audio interface and laptop - and can achieve similar quality results.

Handheld recorders essentially give you two methods for recording a DJ set:

  1. Plug it into the mixer - This gives you the cleanest signal, where you simply plug your DJ mixer's/controller's recording output into the handheld. This captures a direct signal from your decks.
  2. Record with the microphones - Alternatively, you could use the recorder's built-in microphones to capture the live acoustic sound of your mixing environment. The audio quality won't be as clean as a direct connection, but this can be a nice option if you want to capture the mix, and the live crowd sound of your audience simultaneously.

You could use something like a Zoom handheld recorder for this technique, although there are many other models that will do the job. These will record your DJ performance to an SD card - and you'll need to spend some time transferring the recording from the device to your computer.

In a Pinch: Record with your Phone#

Best For - Desperate situations where you don't have any other choice.

Sometimes, the best recording device is the one that you have with you - which will probably be your phone.

Recording with a phone is a compeletly viable option; if you need to record a mix but don't have access to any of the above options.

Of course, the quality won't be great, but this is generally more of a last-ditch attempt to capture the session. That said, there are some actions that can improve the quality, and even achieve pretty professional results.

Recording DJ mixes with your phone presents several options:

  • Record a video - Your instant reaction might be to use the video record app on your phone. But, this isn't the best choice in terms of audio quality. Video recording tends to over-compress the audio, and often has no controls for volume, and uses more space. I'd only suggest this option if you also want to capture the actual visuals too.
  • Use an audio recording app - You can find a bunch of great free audio recording apps on both iPhone and Android. These often give you a bit more control over how the recording is captured, which can help to prevent distortion and get a cleaner signal. However, as this uses your phone's internal mic, the quality still won't be optimal.
  • Phone-compatible audio interfaces - If you're more prepared you could look into using a phone-friendly audio interface. Many audio interfaces can be plugged into mobiles these days, which you can then plug into your decks. This can capture pretty high quality audio depending on the device, which can compete with some of the other methods in this guide.

While I would only record a DJ mix through your phone if you have no other choice, it can still create half-decent recordings with a bit of prep.

The Secret Solution: DJ.Studio#

dj studio carousel

Would you believe me if I said you can create full DJ mixes without ever hitting record, or even touching a pair of decks?

Well, you can see this arcane magic in action yourself - don't just take my word for it...

This new DAW for DJs gives DJs a completely new approach to creating DJ mixes, and the results are the same (or better) than recording your mix manually.

DJ.Studio combines an audio editor-style timeline, with an extensive suite of DJ mixing tools to provide a revolutionary method for creating DJ sets.

This software opens up new doors for DJs, letting you construct mixes using just a keyboard and mouse - no decks required. This presents several exciting advantages to users:

  • Save space and money - You don't need any expensive decks, mixers, or audio interfaces to create full mix 'recordings'.
  • Maximize quality, minimize time - The new workflow offered by DJs increases productivity by minimising the amount of time spent on rehearsals, recording performances, and correcting mistakes.
  • New Levels of Expression - Thanks to the multi-laned automation timeline and non-linear editing interface, DJs can take advantage of an endless depth of expression, stacking as much detail as they like. This means you can create transitions and mixes that only an octopus or spider could perform live.
  • Professional Integration - Not only is it perfect for making mixes in the studio, but DJ.Studio is also a tool for DJs who mix on stage. It's connected with all major DJ software, letting you take advantage of the smart AI automixer, playlist suggestions, and transition preparation tools - which can then be exported as a prepared DJ set into your live software.

These are just some of the most notable benefits. It's not meant to completely replace your live mixing setup, but is the perfect tool to produce mixes at speed, and augment your performance workflow.

dj studio timeline

To see why this software is so useful, let's have a look at its workflow:

  1. Open up the DJ.Studio app.

  2. Create a new project, either Local File or YouTube mode (in this example we'll use Local File mode).

  3. Import tracks - you can add song files directly to DJ.Studio from your hard drive, or you can connect it to your main DJ software and access your pre-existing libraries.

  4. Create a setlist - Next, you pick a bunch of songs that you want to use in a mix and create a playlist.

  5. Automix - Use DJ.Studio's automix algorithm to instantly find the optimal order of your songs based on their key and tempo. DJ.Studio will then harmonically mix and beat-match all the songs in your library.

  6. Adjust the mix - after automixing is complete, you will be taken over to the editor timeline. Here, you can refine your mix, by adding effects, changing orders and positions, and crafting the transitions. You can add extra samples, use our unique Stem Separation tools, and spice up your mix in endless ways.

  7. Final check - have a final listen through the mix and make sure you are happy with everything on the timeline.

  8. Export! When you're ready, hit the export button - from here, you can send your mix to a wide range of locations. In this case, you're probably wanting to create a recorded file. Choose Local Ffile, then either WAV or MP3. Wait a few minutes for your mix to render, and voila! You'll now have a complete recording of your DJ set.

As you can see, this process is unlike anything else in the DJ scene. This revolutionary workflow gives you a new level of productivity and expands your creative options.

Using this method, you don't need to spend any time rehearsing a mix, or worrying about making mistakes - or even setting up your gear. All you need to do is import some tunes, arrange them on the timeline, and then export your mix!

dj studio export

DJ.Studio can also create mixes from YouTube videos and other streaming services, which is a great way to experiment with music. Check out our Mix Gallery to see what these mixes look like!

This is only a brief outline of what DJ.Studio can do, so make sure you check out the other info on this website to find out more!

Or, watch this demonstration video explaining the features in more detail!

General Tips for Recording DJ Mixes#

redlining dj decks

Here are some extra tips to help you get the best quality when recording your DJ mixes.

  • Monitor the Master Volume - Keep an eye on the recording level, you want to make sure that's its loud enough, but doesn't go into the red and distort. You need to gain stage it correctly!

  • Use Quality Audio Files - I can't overstate the importance of using high quality source material. As the old audio engineer adage goes "sh*t in, sh*t out". Pardon my language, but if you're using low quality illegal rips and bootlegs, the overall quality of your mix won't be tasty. Use high quality files, WAVs where possible.

  • Master your Mixes - Mastering is a final round of audio processing to maximize the quality of a recording. These can really help your mix to sound it's best and stand out against the competition. We're releasing a guide on this soon!

  • Record a Video - If you perform live, it's worth recording a video of your performance so you can watch it back. This helps you to get a sense of what the audience experiences what they watch you, and how you can improve the show!

Benefits of Recording DJ Mixes#

benefits of recroding a dj mix

There are several advantages to recording your DJ mixes.

  • Self-Improvement - One of the best reasons for recording your DJ sets is to listen back and critique them. By reflecting on your mixes, you can find areas where where you need to improve. This will help to guide your practice sessions, thus helping you to improve your skills faster and more effectively.

  • Sharing & Promotion - Sharing recording mixes online is a great way to promote yourself as a DJ. If you record your performances (both in the club and at home) you can put your recorded DJ set on YouTube, streaming services, and your social media to gain more of an international audience. Additionally, you can send your best mixes to club promoters and other DJs to get more bookings.

  • Documenting Progress - If you make it a regular habit to record your DJ sets, you will be able to see your progress over time. This is a nice way to look back at your development as a DJ and encourage you to continue your journey along the DJ path.

  • Find Inspiration -Listening back to your sets can inspire new ideas and creative directions. It might help you identify unique mixing techniques or innovative ways to blend different genres, enhancing your artistic expression.

With these reasons considered, it's time to start recording!

Summary#

dj studio transition editor

Now you know the best ways to record and produce DJ mixes, it's time to get stuck in! Good luck.

There are a couple of other more bootleg methods - like simply using your phone's camera or a PC webcam to record - but the methods above will achieve the highest audio quality.

If you want to try out ideas, or just create a killer mix in rapid time, have a look at DJ.Studio and see what it can do for your workflow.

Try out the 14-day free trial today!

FAQs About Recording DJ Mixes

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Excited to start mixing?