How To Setup A DJ Mixer [The Ultimate Guide]


Starting out as a new DJ? Just bought a new mixer or in the market for a different type? I’ve been there, in all these situations, knowing what each DJ mixer offers can take some time to research otherwise you are buying blindly DJ equipment that might not work for you.

I’ve put together The Ultimate Guide for setting up your DJ mixer. There are multiple types of DJ mixers out there so hopefully this guide helps you on your way. The quicker you get set up, the quicker you can start DJing.

How to Setup a DJ Mixer?

DJ Mixer: Input and Output Connections

Power

To power most DJ mixers you will need a three prong lead that plugs into the back of the mixer and then into a near by plug. A On / Off button is usually available. This type of lead is also now as a kettle lead as it can power some older kettles.

Make sure the DJ mixer is switched off when plugging in the the power cable. Switch on the plug at the mains. Once you’ve switched on the power to check the DJ mixer is working, switch off the power on the back of the DJ mixer, then you are all set to connect everything else.

Speakers

Your speakers will usually be connected to the back of the DJ mixer with an RCA cable to the phono out seen here.

Usually speakers have input connections that are 1/2 Inch Jacks or phono connections. Some speakers even have multiple types of connections that give you greater flexibility. Make sure you purchase the correct cable for your speakers and DJ mixer setup.

You may come across speakers with RCA, Jack or XLR.

See the speakers that I have the Yahama HS8, there are different types of speaker input connection types. Both Jack and XLR connection types

How to Connect Turntables to a DJ Mixer?

You may have a 2 channel mixer or a 4 channel mixer. Either way you can connect your two turntables to the channels you prefer.

Connecting Record Vinyl Turntables or CDJs

Connecting to LINE or PHONO?

In the image below we are connecting to channels 3 and 4.

For connecting record vinyl turntables, use the RCA cables to connect the mixer in the PHONO and not the LINE input.

For connecting CDJs, connect the RCA cables to the LINE input on the left hand side of the PHONO connections.

LINE connection is used for CDJs due to the signal not needing a boost like the PHONO does. Analogue signals on record vinyl turntables are weaker than CDJs and the PHONO input gives the signal a boost.

NOTE: If you plug a turntable into the incorrect input you may hear distortion of sound, then you know you’ve connected to the incorrect input for your relevant turntable or CDJ.

The below image shows a setup for record vinyl turntables, remember to press the button IN to activate PHONO. Note this button may not appear on other DJ mixer brands.

CDJs is the opposite setup, connect to LINE and release the button for LINE input.

Connect Ground Cable for Both Record Vinyl Turntables

If you are connecting record vinyl turntables, then do you see a thin cable with a ‘C’ shape connector at the end of it?

This cable is coming out the record vinyl turntable and is used to connect to the ‘Signal GND’ just above the channel PHONO connection.

Make sure to connect both and tighten the knob to hold the thin cable in place. If you don’t you will hear a humming sound when playing the audio. It’s really annoying trust me.

You won’t need to do this for CDJs.

LAN Connection Setup

The purpose of the LAN connections is for CDJs.

The LAN outputs allow for better functionality such as being able to access audio files from just one USB memory stick connected to one CDJ. This is apparent if you connect one CDJ to the other using an ethernet cable.

This is beneficial as you won’t need to plug in two USB memory sticks into each CDJ. This is a time and cost saving exercise to a certain extent but the LAN cables can make the back of the DJ mixer quite messy.

Grab an ethernet cable here, they are relatively cheap in comparison to other cables for a DJ setup.

Another setup available for certain higher end DJ mixers you can sync up the tempo and quantise grid features from the DJ software by connecting the DJ mixer and CDJs to a LAN hub.

My advice is to connect one CDJ to another at the very least, so that you have the audio file sharing abilities.

This feature is available on CDJs for example:

Switch Channel to PHONO or LINE

In line with plugging in the turntables into the PHONO connections, you now need to line this up with the switch on the channel too.

You can do this easily by switching channels 3 and 4 in this instance to PHONO for record vinyl turntables, and of course LINE for CDJs.

Assign Crossfader to Correct Channels

Remember when you do this it is important to check for further settings next to the crossfader such as assigning the channel to the left and right side of the crossfader.

This allows you to mix from the channels that you are playing music from and which the record vinyl turntable or CDJ is set up.

Headphones

Connecting your headphones is easy. You will see a mini-jack or normal jack size connection in which you can plug in your headphones.

You will be able to listen to the Cue, Mix and Master with your headphones depending on which setting you choose.

Most DJ mixers have a normal size jack, so if you have a mini-jack headphone connection you need an adaptor. Usually DJ headphones come with an adaptor so you should be fine, if not you can buy one here.

Setup to Record Your DJ Mix

On most mixers there’s a Phono output that allows you to connect an RCA cable to then connect to another device for example a laptop directly, a laptop via a sound card audio interface or an external recording device.

If you are connected to a laptop with your DJ setup then you may be able to record on the DJ software itself. Usually this is possible to do if you have a DVS audio interface connected to the mixer and to the laptop, or via a DVS enabled DJ mixer, which is also connected to the laptop.

Fader, Master Volume & Final Checks

Finally, before you start playing make sure you have:

  • all of the channel faders up to the top and not down, otherwise no sound will play for the particular channel associated to it.
  • trim or gain knobs are neutral or at least not turned down to zero, again there will be no signal arriving to the channel when you try to play music.
  • master volume fader should be at least half way or enough to not distort the sound.
  • make sure the crossfader is set to the correct side, A or B, for the specific channel to play music out through the speakers.
  • make sure everything is connected correctly and powered up, switched at the mains and on the back of the mixer for example.

Output and Connectivity Options Vary from Mixer to Mixer

Largely speaking the above connection has been based on my own Behringer, which is the equivalent to the Behringer 4-Channel DJ mixer DJX750 and DJX900.

I’ve put together a review of them both here on my recommended section.

Related Questions

How do you DJ with a mixer?

A DJ uses a mixer to control the volume and signal of two or more channels. Usually two channels can be used to control the volume of each music track. The crossfader can mix the audio of channel 1 to channel 2, the use of high, mid and low EQ knobs can work well with the crossfader to mix music smoothly.

What is the best DJ equipment for beginners?

The best DJ equipment for beginners can be considered to be DJ controllers. The price is affordable compared to CDJs and record turntables, combined with a mixer. The weight, features on offer and size of a DJ controller make for a really good starting setup. Easily connected to a laptop can allow beginner DJs to play audio from the laptop speakers.

How much does a DJ mixer cost?

DJ mixers can cost in the region of £50 to £2,000. The quality and reliability dictate how much a DJ mixer costs. The brand, such as Pioneer, does command how much a DJ mixer costs, plus the features that are available including amount of channels, FX, USB compatibility and built-in audio interface for DVS setup.

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