How to Mix Music on Turntables

If you plan on spinning vinyl, these tips can help you lay down a groove that makes people move.

Instructions

  • Step 1: Set up turntables On each turntable, replace the rubber mat covering the large round disc, or platter, with a slip mat, and attach a cartridge to the tonearm.
  • Step 2: Adjust tracking weight Balance the tonearm to help avoid skipping. Turn the turntable's counterweight until the tonearm floats above the turntable and the cartridge's needle is even with the record's playing surface. Hold the counterweight still and set its dial at zero. Then spin the counterweight until the dial matches the mass specified by the cartridge manufacturer.
  • Step 3: Hook up the DJ mixer Connect the turntables to the mixer's input, and the mixer's outputs to the external speakers using RCA or other appropriate cables. Plug your headphones into the headphone jack; it has a separate mix you can adjust without affecting the music in the external speakers.
  • TIP: Use headphones that fit over your ears, rather than earbuds, for better sound quality.
  • Step 4: Ground the connection Secure the turntables' ground leads to eliminate excess noise. Slide the leads between the mixer and the back grounding screw, and then tighten the screw by hand.
  • Step 5: Fix the anti-skate level Adjust the turntable's anti-skate. With the anti-skate knob at its first notch, begin playing an LP – when the anti-skate is too low, the left channel will dominate the volume. Increase the anti-skate's level until the right and left channels sound balanced.
  • TIP: When you think you've found the right anti-skate level, try going one more notch. If the sound deteriorates, go back.
  • Step 6: Choose a record Delve into your record collection and choose a tune to get the party started. Place it on the left turntable and, with your mixer's cross-fader all the way left, start it up.
  • Step 7: Pick the next song As the left side plays, choose a song to play next. Put the record on the right turntable and, using only your headphone's independent mix, find the perfect place in the song to start it.
  • TIP: Try playing songs with similar beats after one another to help your audience maintain a steady groove.
  • Step 8: Slip-cue Hold the right-side record still while the platter rotates underneath the slip mat. When you want to switch to the new song, release the right-side record as you simultaneously adjust the cross-fader from left to right, creating a seamless transition between the two songs.
  • Step 9: Repeat Repeat this process, switching between turntables. Remember to keep a steady supply of records on hand; for a good DJ, the party never stops!
  • FACT: Francis Grasso, a New York City disc jockey, is credited with first mixing records together in the late 1960s.

You Will Need

  • 2 turntables
  • 2 slip mats
  • 2 cartridges
  • DJ mixer
  • Headphones
  • External speakers
  • 2 sets of cables
  • Record collection
  • Rhythm (optional)

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