Learning advanced DJ techniques is a great way to seamlessly mix a broad range of genres and deliver a professional DJ set that gets the dance floor pumping.
From the seamless fade mix to more technical mixing tricks such as polyrhythmic transitions and scratching, these skills will transform a good mix into a great one.
In this article, we’ve covered ten essential advanced DJing techniques you can learn to help you perform an outstanding DJ mix, whatever your music genre of choice.
Top 10 Advanced DJ Techniques To Be A Better DJ In 2023
Advanced DJ techniques take time and patience to master, with varying applications depending on your choice of music genres and available equipment.
We’ve selected these techniques to represent a broad spectrum of possibilities that can be learned at your own pace, breaking down everything you need to know to get started.
So, without further ado, here’s our list of the top 10 advanced DJ techniques to be a better DJ in 2023:
10. Seamless Fade Mixing
After learning some of the more basic DJ transitions, you can build on this knowledge by learning seamless fade mixing from one track to the next.
The seamless mix is a relatively easy advanced technique, and the goal involves bringing in the beat, percussion, and bass line of the next track playing.
It’s a more advanced variation on simply fading one track in over the previous track, requiring a stronger mastery of the EQ of your DJ software.
Start by choosing tracks from the same or similar genre that have ample mix-in and mix-out zones at the beginning and end of each track.
These zones tend to include simplified arrangements with kick drums and some percussion without complicated melodies and other instruments.
As the first track approaches its mix-out zone, start mixing in the next track’s kick drum and bass track while cutting these elements out from the original track.
As the mix-in zone from the incoming track leads into the main melody, ease out the first track on the EQ, cutting out the low-frequency volume until the new track plays.
Learning seamless mixing is a great way to build on basic mixing techniques with two tracks you’re familiar with while using the EQ for a smoother sound.
9. Tempo Transitions
Anyone with experience DJing in clubs understands the importance of tempo and how it can be used to create variety and tension over a set.
The tempo transition mix is one of the more advanced DJ mixing techniques, but also one that can significantly open up your options when mixing two tracks.
The basic premise for the tempo transition mix is blending two tracks of different tempos by adjusting the beats per minute of both tracks.
It’s the next logical step if you’ve already mastered how to beat match, taking the tempo of the master track and tweaking the incoming track as it’s mixed in.
To begin learning tempo transition mixes, you’ll need to check the tempo range of your DJ software, which typically goes up to around 16%.
You can find this setting on most DJ software by looking at the Transport settings, where the tempo range can be altered to your requirements.
As the master track is playing, match the tempo on the incoming track in your headphones until it’s in sync, then loop the master track where not too much noise is occurring.
Then, fade in the incoming track while setting it to master tempo mode in your controller, switching the outgoing track to sync tempo mode.
As you increase the tempo on the incoming track, the outgoing track will also adjust to this speed, and you’ll achieve a smooth tempo transition mix.
8. Key Matching & Harmonic Mixing
One of the first things you’ll learn when diving into music theory is the importance of harmony in developing gorgeous-sounding song compositions.
Understanding harmony opens up the possibility of more advanced DJ tips you can use to mix tracks and make the most of the vocals embedded in your track selection.
Harmonic mixing and key matching revolve around the musical keys and how they interconnect, with a total of 24 keys split into 12 major and 12 minor.
Different combinations of these keys have different relationships, and you can use a Camelot Wheel to check to see which keys work best together.
From here, you can check what key a given track is in compared to the incoming track you want to mix into it to understand how well they’ll mix harmonically.
You don’t have to mix tracks recorded in the same key, and different key combinations will produce different tonal and atmospheric results.
Some record pools include information about a song’s key, beats per minute, and other useful data, so take advantage of this if you have a pool subscription.
7. Turntablism & Scratching
If you’ve taken the time to learn how to DJ with vinyl, you can take things to the next level by mastering turntablism and the art of scratching.
It’s a technique that is widely associated with hip-hop and rap music but is also often used for other music genres such as drum and bass and jungle.
If you’re a house or techno DJ, scratching is less commonplace, but nevertheless, it is something that some house DJs have been known to incorporate in their mixes.
While it’s possible to scratch using CDJs or a DJ controller, these formats lack the tactile and responsive feeling you’ll get when scratching on traditional turntables.
You can start by learning some basic scratches, such as baby scratching and the forwards scratch, to get a feel for how responsive the records are.
Then, move on to more advanced scratching techniques that take more practice to perfect, including the boomerang scratch, autobahn, and prism scratch.
The more techniques you master, the greater the range of scratch combinations you can combine throughout a session.
6. Infinite Looping
The infinite loop mix is another good way to draw out your mix’s transitions by looping a specific section of your outgoing track while bringing the next one in.
Most DJ software and controllers have a loop feature that can be set to a particular range, from 1/2 a beat through to 4 or 16 beats per loop.
Using your DJ software, you can create loop hot cues near the beginning and end of your selected tracks and use these loops to extend your transition time.
You can also jump to these hot cues when you’re finishing a blended mix and use them to seamlessly mix in the incoming track.
When using an infinite loop mix in your set, take the opportunity to experiment with different effects and EQ adjustments during the loop period.
Flangers are an excellent effect to try out when infinite looping, as well as using LFO filters or a touch of reverb to wash out the loop and reduce its impact.
As the incoming track’s bass kicks in, lower the high frequencies, bass, and mid-frequency volume on the outgoing track’s loop before cutting the incoming track entirely.
5. Polyrhythmic Transitions
One of the more obscure advanced DJ mixing skills is the polyrhythmic mixing technique, which is challenging to master but guaranteed to get a great reaction.
While most DJs learn how to beatmatch using the standard 4:4 timing structure, polyrhythmic mixing switches things up with more unusual timing structures.
To learn how to mix polyrhythmically, start by choosing a track with beats playing but without any strong instruments or melodies dominating the music.
Next, choose a sample you want to loop, for example, a dynamic synth sound or acapella, and find four beats of this sound to use in the transition.
Once you’ve chosen a sample, you need to reset the loop size to three beats instead of four, then count either 16 or 32 beats from the playing track before introducing it.
When you bring in the three-beat sample loop over the four-beat timing of the original track, the effect introduces a whole new rhythm to the mix.
Polyrhythmic mixing is one of the more advanced DJ mixing techniques, so make sure you try out different tracks and samples at home before using it in a live set.
4. FX Mixing
We’ve touched briefly on the possibilities of using effects when performing an infinite loop mix, but it warrants further elaboration on its full potential.
There are many great DJ sound effects you can use when mixing to bring additional atmosphere and texture to your tracks as they blend together.
Some of the most popular effects a professional DJ uses include reverb, which adds a more spacious sound to the tracks, and echo, which duplicates and fades music.
Flange effects can be used to bring a more surreal and alien-like feel to a mix, although these should be used sparingly to avoid creating a jarring effect.
Some high-end DJ controllers and mixers also come with filters, which can be used to independently affect low, mid, and high frequencies on a track.
For example, you can use a low pass filter to cut off the bass track and kick drums or change the frequency volume of hi-hats with a high pass filter.
Effects are a great way to build in drama and anticipation during a seamless mix, whether you’re playing a house track or another popular dance music genre.
3. Multi-Genre Mixing
As you become a more experienced DJ working in a familiar genre, you may want to expand your horizons by introducing multiple styles within a DJ set.
While many DJs prefer to focus on one or two related genres, a great DJ should be able to work with different genres and effortlessly blend them together.
Multi-genre mixing is a good way to hone your tempo transitions, with different genres more likely to be recorded at variable beats per minute.
It’s also great for using samples and effects in new and original ways, with plenty of scope for vocal snippets and other instruments you can loop in mixes.
You can work towards multi-genre mixing by introducing a similar genre to your dominant style, for instance, mixing techno into house music sets.
Over time, you can expand the list of genres you play, building up from a slower style at the beginning of a set and using tempo transitions to speed up the mix.
2. Integrating Live Production
A great way to add some real flair to your DJ sets is to integrate live music production alongside your mixing to add new sounds and beats.
If you’re a DJ producer, chances are you already have the gear needed to do this, for instance, a drum machine or Ableton Live controller.
This hardware can be linked to your mixer and used to activate anything from drum loops and samples to synths and effects you’ve created in advance.
You can even use a full-blown synthesizer and showcase your keyboard skills, playing a melody or chord progression in conjunction with your chosen tracks.
Learning how to become a DJ producer can take time, with an overwhelming amount of choice for both hardware and software to create your own tracks.
With that said, if you have the time and patience to learn music production, integrating it into a set will separate you from much of the competition.
1. Multi-Deck DJ Sets
If mixing two tracks isn’t giving you enough scope for great transitions and effects, you can take your sets to the next level with multi-channel mixing.
This can be achieved by adding an extra turntable to a traditional vinyl setup or adding one or two more CDJs to your range of gear.
Some of the best techno DJs in the world, including Jeff Mills, have forged their reputation by playing multi-deck DJ sets with complex transitions and effects.
This means you can bring in an additional incoming track over your master track, blending different frequency ranges between three or more tracks.
It’s trickier to ensure all tracks playing are at the same tempo, and you’ll have multiple mix-out zones to consider when fading the outgoing track from the mix.
Multi-deck DJ sets are particularly popular in techno, where long intros and outros offer more breathing space for a smooth transition over a long duration.
So there you have it: some of the best DJ techniques you can add to your bag of mixing tricks to impress crowds and showcase your technical prowess.
These great DJ mixing techniques work with all kinds of music genres and are an excellent way to make the most of your gear to deliver innovative DJ mixes.
The more advanced techniques you can master, the broader the range of DJing options you’ll have to create a smoother mix demonstrating your DJ skills.
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