As a DJ, it’s very important to learn how to properly transition from song to song during your sets. When people come to see a DJ perform in a live setting, and especially if they paid for it, the last thing they want to hear is a sloppy transition.
Use our recommended DJ transition techniques to create smooth transitions between the tracks in your set. Advanced DJs sometimes use four or more channels while mixing but this article will provide you with starter advice for mixing between two decks only.
A simple transition is exactly that: simple. This is one of the easiest and most basic DJ transition techniques but it comes in handy, especially when you need to change songs last minute.
Complete a simple transition by waiting until the end of a verse, chorus, or even a bridge before moving the cross fader all the way over to the other channel. To do this smoothly, move the cross fader right on beat while simultaneously cueing the start of the other song. Or, if for some reason the song on one channel is about to end and you need to throw on another track quickly, just wait for a beat to switch on.
Some DJ’s prefer to use the volume faders on the mixer and leave the cross fader in the middle of both channels throughout their sets. If that’s more comfortable to you, then do the same thing but by moving the volume fades instead.
Slow Transition with Crossfader (Beatmatching)
Slow transitions using the mixer’s crossfader aka beatmatching is a technique common among hip-hop DJs or DJs that play more mid-tempo music. This is one of the DJ transition techniques that will allow you to blend your songs together and have them play simultaneously as a part of your mix.
To do this, a lot of DJs have controllers or cue buttons of some kind to help make matching easier, but it’s not necessary. You can easily beatmatch by making sure the BPMs are the same and cueing a track directly on beat of the other.
With software programs like Traktor and Serato, these kinds of transitions are much easier because you’ll have a visual of the waveforms syncing (or not syncing) up and be able to adjust the records. CDJs provide a visual as well, though it is built into the hardware and much smaller.
If you don’t have any visual software, beatmatching transitions are still possible—just use your ears! Have a pair of headphones plugged into your mixer so you can practice your transition internally before playing it aloud to make sure the songs will blend in a pleasant way.
Transition with EQs and Effects
The third of our DJ transition techniques is to transition with the help of EQs and other effects. Making adjustments to EQs is typically a great way to optimize your transitions and have them sounding the best they possibly can.
Depending on the two tracks you’re mixing, adjust the highs, mids, and lows accordingly as your move the cross fader from one side to the other. If you want the higher frequencies to come through as you mix over, start with the highs lower and turn them up as you transition. If you want the low end to come through first, then turn down the highs and leave the lows up as you transition.
Be careful here that you don’t turn off EQs that are necessary, for example if you’re mixing a track that ends with an acapella outro, you don’t want to turn down your low end EQ on the track you’re mixing into because you’ll need the lows (the beat, bass line, etc.) to come through fully since your other track ends with hardly any low end.
If you don’t want to touch the settings you have for your EQs, you can also use on board mixer effects like low pass or high pass to achieve a similar sound during your transition. Again, just be mindful of the elements each song you’re mixing to/from has so you don’t take away something vital like the beat while attempting to transition.
Lastly, make sure you’re aware of the channels’ gain levels so they don’t redline (peak) and stay uniform with one another. Now that you have three different DJ transition techniques you should be more than ready to take on a crowd of music lovers. Have fun!