Best way to create mixes without decks?


#1

Would like to start creating my own mixes, ain’t prepared to throw a lot of money down on the table just yet.

I’ve tried using serato dj on my computer but it doesn’t feel nice at all.

Anyone create mixes any other way?


#2

I’ve done them in the past using Ableton. You can add entire tracks as clips in session view and then assign each audio track as either A or B and crossfade between. You can also do cueing and use the sends to bring in some effects.


#3

I started on virtual dj and a super basic controller. If the controller has faders (and crossfader if you use that, which i don’t), hi-mid-lo eq knobs, jogwheels (can be v small and basic) and tempo adjustment you are golden. If you are going to use sync you only really need the faders and eq knobs, though sync doesn’t always fully work in my experience. A filter knob is helpful but not essential to get started. If it has a cue function so you can listen to the tunes you’re mixing in on headphones before putting them in then that can be useful too.

Here’s an example. It’s got everything I mentioned except a filter. It might work with Serato:

I’ve never done mixes in Ableton but it can be good apparently. I expect it will be similar to using Serato without a controller though, frustrating to try and do fades and stuff with a mouse. I enjoy the “live” aspect of DJing with a controller, I don’t think I’d enjoy it without a controller.

But I started with a controller that looked worse than the linked one and it was fine for learning, and you can do most of what you need to do with one of those. I’d not be able to do mixes at the level I’d like now without a more expensive controller (mainly for the filters, sometimes for FX, and having longer tempo and volume faders can be helpful for making it smoother), but I’d never have bought a more expensive controller if I hadn’t started on a cheap one and caught the bug.

Highly recommended though, it’s a very enjoyable hobby to get into!


#4

If you’re sure you want to start doing it though it might be worth spending a bit extra on a slightly more expensive controller with more features, because if you do get into it on the cheap controller you will probably want to upgrade. If you don’t like it you can normally resell the slightly more expensive ones without taking too much of a loss. Or that was the case last time I sold one (Traktor) about 5 years ago.


#5

I’ve DJ’d exclusively on Ableton for years now, and it’s super tight for it. You can do all the same tempo matching with whole songs with clip warping that pioneer decks and Traktor etc do, though it can be a little annoying at first having to do it manually. Ableton 10 works pretty damn good but - all I do is chuck in the track, find the first beat, right click the soundwave in the wav editor and select ‘warp from here’ and it should steer you right. You might have to a bit of manual adjustment here and there to lock it but again, pretty good these days.

And you can do things like adding in drum machines, synths and FX to bring more depth to your sets which is great.

I do recommend getting a controller of some sort though, and if you’re on a budget there’s some top options out there. Maybe look at an Akai MidiMix and a Launchpad Mini, cos that way you get pretty much everything you need for that system, and the Akai’s knobs and sliders can be re-assigned via midi for where you need them (EQ, a/b assign etc). I use the APC 40 mk2 and can vouch their kit friggin rocks it. Have a look around but, cos it’s a full market with heaps of good stuff these days! Best of all, a lot of controllers for Ableton will come with a copy of Live Lite which saves you some dosh.


#6

Couldn’t agree more, I bought kit that was on the cheaper end when I started out and wanted to upgrade pretty quick as I got into it. Still good to have the kit around but cos it’s always useful, especially if you’re producing too! You never know


#7

I started with mouse and kb on vdj with this skin cus it’ll let you pan entire frequency channels between tracks - just get into it and figure out the basics before committing to gear. You’ll know when you wanna make the step.


#8

You could start with something as simple as GarageBand.

I still DJ in Ableton though! Totally capable