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Why The Hell Do DJs Need Mastering?

  • 02 February 2017, Thursday
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DJ mixing and mastering vinyl records

The first DJs got everyone angry when they started using turntables as instruments. That’s not music! people cried. What used to be only a playback machine became a full blown performance tool. The rest is history: hip hop, dance music and beyond took off and changed the world. As dance floors filled up over the decades, it became clear that DJs are key figures who push the envelope of innovation in music and culture. They’re the ones who sift through all the new music and play the best releases. They’re the ones who redefine live performance. They’re also the ones who bring top quality sound to the party. That’s why mastering shouldn’t only be for producers. DJs need it too. Here’s how to make mastering part of your DJ workflow:

Polish Your DJ Mix

Playing live is thrilling. The sound is powerful and loud. You’re in sync with your crowd and you respond to the vibe with your selections. But when you record a DJ mix during a performance, it doesn’t always sound as good as it did live. You might have brought in a track too quietly. Or your whole mix wasn’t recorded loud enough on your handheld recorder. So it lacks that OOMPH. Dropping your mix into the iMusician Instant Mastering tool will fix those issues. Mastering your DJ sets will improve the overall level and finish while keeping the dynamics of your drops. Mastering your sets is the best way to polish your mixes before sharing on SoundCloud. It’s perfect timing too: SoundCloud just announced that DJ mixes will no longer be taken down for copyright infringement. Woohoo! Finally! A way to upload all your mixes without losing all that live energy.

Rip it up

The cool thing about DJing today is that the old and the new coexist: digital, vinyl, the 90s, now … and everything in between. But the way records were mastered back then is not always optimal. Why do think so many artists remaster their entire collection decades later? To get it sounding fuller and better—up to today’s standards, that’s why. So if an older record needs a bit of help, mastering your vinyl rips is a great way to ‘re-master’ older tracks and get them ‘set ready.’ Plus, ripping your vinyl collection to play on CDJs is a common practice. Lots of DJs prefer to travel light and put 500 records in their pocket on a portable USB key. The problem is that rips often lack low end, presence and volume. The solution? Pop them into LANDR and master them. It’ll get them sounding as loud and full as all your other tracks.

Hot Tip: Always record rips in the best quality available. At least MP3 320, or ideally WAV and AIFF to get the best results. LANDR will take care of smoothing out the noise.

Play your new tracks the same night

Lots of DJs are also producers. Maybe even you? The great thing about being both a producer and a DJ is that you get to play your own tracks in your DJ sets. Test out new productions on a crowd and see how they react. It’ll give you an idea if you’re on the right path or if you should hit the studio and rework it.Production workflows have become ultra flexible because of technology like instant mastering. Nowadays you can make a track on your laptop while you’re on the plane getting to your next show. Or even in your bedroom just hours before your DJ gig. Having access to instant mastering allows you to finish your tracks right and get them set ready—even when you only have minutes to spare. You’ll be able to blend it seamlessly with other mastered tracks without having to crank the gain on the mixer.

Prep your samples

Lots of DJs get creative, going beyond the classic two deck setup. This makes your sets more intriguing and original. Making your own remixes on the fly is as simple as grabbing an acapella and slapping it on top of the two tracks you’re mixing. Or layer a field recording to add a textural layer onto a banging techno stomper. To make sure those added layers are up to par with your other tracks, popping them into LANDR will make them sound louder and more polished. Remember that LANDR only accepts files that are longer than 5 seconds, so it won’t take microsamples. But everything else is good to go. So master your samples quick and add that extra layer your performance needs!

Get the best sound always

The art of DJing is about having the right track at the right time AND sounding great. You need consistent quality sound. That’s why DJs should have access to mastering on the fly. It means better sound for everyone. From preparing samples, to boosting rips and mastering sets, our instant online mastering gives you that polished sound all the way through.

A good DJ doesn’t just select the best music, they know how to get the best sound, always.

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All You Need.
All in One Place.

Get tips on How to Succeed as an Artist, receive Music Distribution Discounts, and get the latest iMusician news sent straight to your inbox! Everything you need to grow your music career.