For any passionate musician, becoming a successful DJ artist is a dream. It starts from performing at one or two parties and stealing the show and soon becomes a healthy obsession that might result in enormous success one day. To realize their ambitions, hopeless artists venture out to buy the best laptop for Radio Jockey or Disc Jockeying careers.
But sometimes, that’s not enough – not for a successful campaign, anyway. People need to up their game. Only a laptop and DJ software is not enough to capture the audience. Artists need more, something attractive, something more conventional for a true experience.
And this is where a DJ Mixer can help them.
The Role of DJ Mixer in a Setup
Mixers are almost an indispensable part of a good setup for DJing. Sure, if you are an amateur or a beginner, you don’t need anything more than a laptop and free software. However, if you want to take this seriously, you will require some additional pieces of equipment.
Firstly, you’ll need a good external audio interface. This is required as the audio output on your laptop isn’t nearly as strong enough to ensure a smooth listening experience over external sound systems.
After that, you might tweak your setup to get different headphones, controllers, lighting, and so on.
But more important than anything else is getting a good DJ Mixer.
What does DJ Mixer Do?
The name of the device is pretty self-explanatory. A DJ Mixer has one task – to put together all the input audio tracks and allow the DJ to compile them into one song. From there, the user can play along with different knobs and features of the device to manipulate the audio, provide sound effects, provide video effects, and so on.
Without a mixer, an artist can’t work with different music at once.
We can explain this through an easy example.
Suppose that there are two sources of music plugged into a DJ mixer. On one hand, you have a guitar, and on the other, you have a microphone. The guitar is playing the music, while the microphone is capturing the vocals of the singer. Both of these audio tracks are acting as inputs for the mixer. Now, with the help of the mixer, the DJ can compile all the audio tracks into one, while treating them all separately.
For instance, they can manipulate the audio level for the two separate audio inputs differently. The guitar’s volume can be lowered while the vocals can be left alone. This is why you can make out a singer’s words in a live concert. Without a mixer, all you’d be able to hear is a mismatched guitar and a drowned-out singer trying to be heard over the crowd.
How to Connect a Mixer to a Laptop?
Now you have a pretty good idea of why you need to purchase a DJ mixer. Suppose you get one for the market, after careful research. There are a lot of options and you need to invest wisely. After you purchase one, you need to first connect it to your laptop set up to start working.
There are two ways to do it – one for a DJ mixer with a soundcard and the other for a DJ mixer without a soundcard.
Connecting a DJ Mixer with Soundcards to a Laptop
Follow the below-mentioned steps –
1. Get all the hardware and cables into one place.
Now that you have the whole disassembled mixer in front of you, you’ll need to start connecting things. Start by plugging the mixer into an external power source. While doing this, make sure that your laptop is plugged in for charging as well.
2. Establish a connection.
For this step, you’ll need to use USB cables. The box-end of the cable will go into the DJ mixer. The flat end, on the other hand, will go into the laptop. If possible, we recommend using a USB 3.0 as it leads to faster data transfers.
3. Configure your DJ software.
After establishing a connection, open the DJ software on your laptop and go to the settings tab.
Choose the Audio Device setting (or something with a similar title). Select USB Audio Codec, the title in your software might be a little different.
If there are no such options, follow these steps –
- Go to System Preferences.
- Click on Sound and then on Input.
- Scroll down until you see USB Audio Codec.
- Click on the USB Audio Codec option. Close the settings.
- Reopen your software and your mixer should be recognizable.
Connecting a DJ Mixer without Soundcards to a Laptop
Follow the below-mentioned steps –
1. Know your device.
If you are using a mixer without a soundcard, you might simply be using a DJ Controller. These are somewhat different from a mixer and are more basic. Connecting them to a laptop might be something as simple as plugging it in.
If the device that you are using contains only one piece of hardware in which different decks and mixers are integrated, then you are using a controller instead of a full-fledged DJ mixer.
2. Establish a connection.
Next, you’ll need to connect the controller to your system. There might be different ways to do it:
- Simply try connecting the device through your laptop’s USB port. Be sure to avoid using any hub.
- Open your DJ software and try to see if it recognizes the controller. Go to the software settings and find your device.
- Click the name of your device.
3. Route sound from laptops into the speakers.
- Use an external USB soundcard and choose it to act as the output in your DJ hardware from your sound preferences settings
- If you don’t want to use an external soundcard, you can plug in your speakers or headphones directly into the soundcard of the laptop.
4. Route cue sound to DJ headphones.
For most DJs, it’s preferable if they can listen to the tracks before they present them on the sound system. Here’s how you can do it:
- Insert your headset into your laptop’s headphone jack.
- Go to your settings and try to find an option like “cue”, “monitor”, or “preview”.
- Choose the “built-in/Headphones” option.
And that’s that. You have successfully established a connection between your DJ mixer and laptop. You can start using it as per your will. There are different sets of handles, buttons, and dials on a mixer that might confuse you. But with enough practice, it’ll make the whole experience easier for you.
A DJ Mixer is like a trademark symbol of a professional. You can work all you want with a laptop, but you won’t become a true artist unless you have a mixer or a controller.
In this article, we mentioned everything that you needed to know about how to use a mixer on a laptop by establishing a strong connection.
Vishal is a founder of the ElectronicsXpert.com, and loves to play around different electronics gadgets and share his real life experiences on the website to help people make the right choice and buying decision.