MIXTAPE/CD Techniques,Pointers,Tips,Advice

SouthCrackalackSouthCrackalack 3,853 Posts
edited July 2005 in DJ Talk / Mixes
With todays technology(computer software,etc), the mixtape/cd game seems to be stronger than ever. I have yet to take advantage of recording a mix onto the computer and laying down shit on top of it,cleaning it up,and other studio trickery. What I am curious of is what kind of techniques some of you dudes use on your mixtapes..err CDs. I know this is sort of a general question..but I would like some tips on different techniques/tricks to spice up a mix..stuff like laying down recorded scratches on top of a mix,etc. I have always only made straight up mixtapes on tapes with no frills..but now I use Cubase and want to make a good demo mix for shopping around the local clubs and bars to get gigs. In other words..I want to make the mix top notch..the kind of shit that will stick out when heard by club/bar owners. All pointers would be appreciated.

  Comments


  • DubiousDubious 1,865 Posts
    if the mix is for gigs why would you want to use all sorts of tricks you won't be using live?

    i do all my mixes the old fashioned two turntables and a mixer way.. even though i have acces to computer recording.


  • if the mix is for gigs why would you want to use all sorts of tricks you won't be using live?

    i do all my mixes the old fashioned two turntables and a mixer way.. even though i have acces to computer recording.


    well what I mentioned above was that I was making demos to get gigs...but regardless of that, I wanted to make some mixes to give to friends,possibly sell a few,etc and would like to add a little more to them then just a basic mix. I am wanting to hear some ideas and tips on different ways to spice up the mix a bit..even technical things like making the mix all one volume. Basically, just random tips,techniques,etc that a dj experienced in recording and tweaking their mixes on a computer could provide.

  • The_Hook_UpThe_Hook_Up 8,182 Posts
    just put good songs on there...it seems to me the only people who really really care about the mixing and blending aspect of mixes are other DJs. I will probably catch a lot of flak for that , but it is true. Unless you are playing in clubs that have nothing but chin-scratching, fellow DJs as patrons, non DJ folks just care about good tunes and a good flow.

  • just put good songs on there...it seems to me the only people who really really care about the mixing and blending aspect of mixes are other DJs. I will probably catch a lot of flak for that , but it is true. Unless you are playing in clubs that have nothing but chin-scratching, fellow DJs as patrons, non DJ folks just care about good tunes and a good flow.

    well yeah song selection isnt a problem at all. I am not a novice or anything...I am just wanting to know the advantages of recording w/ software on a computer as opposed to recording straight to a tape/cd. Technical aspects...maybe what process some of you guys use when laying down a mix(an actual project..not mixing for an hour then calling it a wrap). Maybe I worded it wrong when I asked...I figured I would get some helpful responses from some of the vets on here. I just know now and days people seem to really take their time w/ their mix CDs by using effects,samples,adding scratches in later,etc. I just want to step my game up and have my mixes sounding perfect like all you other dudes. No more of that song A being a little louder than song B bullshit.

  • dstill808dstill808 704 Posts
    Multi-tracking a mix can let you do a lot of fun stuff that simply isn't possible using just 2 turntables, no dis to keeping it real.
    First of all, you're going to want a system so that you can monitor what you have already recorded, and record over it, without recording both songs to a new track (ie, keeping each track seperate). I use a cheap mixing board with the computer out going into the tape inputs, and the turntables going into on of the faders. That way if I run the headphones through the board, I hear both tracks in the cue, but only one is being recorded to track.
    As far as programs and interfaces, it's pretty hard to go wrong with ProTools and the M-Box. It's a little pricey, but really pretty reasonable for what you're getting. Also, I think that they just released an even cheaper m-box, but I'm not sure of the details.
    For my mixes themselves, I usually tend to use three main methods: straight up live recording w/ no edits (the keep it real method), ones where I'm basicly editing out cue time and adding scratches and things, and mixes where I straight up use any resources the computer offers, such as time stretching, intricate fades, etc. Each are pretty fun, and I get different results from each method.
    I don't know if that covers what you want to know, but shoot if you have any specific questions, I'm sure there are a bunch of people on the board who'd be happy to holler at you.

  • Multi-tracking a mix can let you do a lot of fun stuff that simply isn't possible using just 2 turntables, no dis to keeping it real.
    First of all, you're going to want a system so that you can monitor what you have already recorded, and record over it, without recording both songs to a new track (ie, keeping each track seperate). I use a cheap mixing board with the computer out going into the tape inputs, and the turntables going into on of the faders. That way if I run the headphones through the board, I hear both tracks in the cue, but only one is being recorded to track.
    As far as programs and interfaces, it's pretty hard to go wrong with ProTools and the M-Box. It's a little pricey, but really pretty reasonable for what you're getting. Also, I think that they just released an even cheaper m-box, but I'm not sure of the details.
    For my mixes themselves, I usually tend to use three main methods: straight up live recording w/ no edits (the keep it real method), ones where I'm basicly editing out cue time and adding scratches and things, and mixes where I straight up use any resources the computer offers, such as time stretching, intricate fades, etc. Each are pretty fun, and I get different results from each method.
    I don't know if that covers what you want to know, but shoot if you have any specific questions, I'm sure there are a bunch of people on the board who'd be happy to holler at you.

    now we are talking(thanks!). I use Cubase by the way..which allows recording over already recorded stuff or standard multitracking(making a new track.)
    As for editing cue times..I am not sure what that means. Also..as for using resources the computer offers(Cubase)..what exactly does time stretching accomplish when putting together a mixtape? I am already somewhat familiar with timestretching due to previously owning a MPC 2000XL. Also, explain the intricate fade part..how can that be used? These questions are probably coming all real toy like..but I am fairly new to this whole software thing. for years(up until this year) I always recorded to tape...so this transition to recording onto the PC is exciting..but somewhat intimadating. Thanks for your help a lot, though. It seems we are getting somewhere!

  • SoulOnIceSoulOnIce 13,027 Posts
    Not trying to hijack, but this has come near a question I wanted to ask of heads on here - when using my new music maker software, which I am VERY green at, I can't understand why everytime I bring in a new clip to a project, it automatically alters it to fit the BPM and pitch of what is already there...example: I had a short vocal clip of Howlin' Wolf that I had pitched down and slowed down, and added massive delay to, that I wanted to add on top of a track I was making...but when I import the vocal clip, it automatically sppeds it up and it sounds like ass! I looked and looked for a setting that automatically matches everything to the same pitch, which I could turn off, but found nothing. Any ideas?

    And SouthCrack, thanks for starting this thread, cause it brings up questions I was afraid to ask here, mainly because I knew I would get the "just do it the old way" responses you got...I am overwhelmed by this software, so any pointers people have would be great!



  • And SouthCrack, thanks for starting this thread, cause it brings up questions I was afraid to ask here, mainly because I knew I would get the "just do it the old way" responses you got...I am overwhelmed by this software, so any pointers people have would be great!

    yeah sometimes its hard to get answers from some of these dudes..but then again, some are really chill cats willing to help.

    BUT..you might be hijacking my thread before I get some good pointers!!! damn you! nah just playing...maybe ill have to resort to getting on AIM with someone nice enough to help or even on the phone.

  • kennykenny 1,024 Posts
    I just starteed to venture into the mixtape game as well, used to only do the old live mix recorded on CD, now venturing into doin the tricky shit.



    I use Cool Edit and its been ok with me so far, laying cuts over doing small interludes here and there...i usually have a seperate session for each track so I can always go back to them and freak with them i.e. adding some cuts over some doubles, or effects whatever...then I'll have all the tracks on a seperate Main Mix session.



    What I find funny is, it feels so weird doing multi-track mixes on computer as compared to actually live mixing. its like I'm not actually doing any actual 'mixing' or 'beatmatching', I'm recording the juggles and tricks onto a track and the SOFTWARE does the cross-fade and matching and things...as compared to doing live mixing, you're actually doing all those.



    so its almost like recording songs after songs and throw them all onto the session and doing your 'mixing' on your computer. Is that how y'all usually do it too ?



    In fact, I notice a lot of the ones by other DJs don't actually have the blendings, they're almost just quick transitions all the time, just once it hits the last bar or so you hear like a 1 bar scratch or maybe a delay effect and the next second the next track jumps on. so thats VERY different to say when you're doing a live mix you have to bring in your cued tracks and slowly belnding in and fading the other track out.


  • i multitrack my mixes for the most part, but i dont use a computer or timestretching or anything like that. just 2 turntables, mixer and a dps 12track recorder. when something is mixed in it is done live but if i dont like it i hit undo and do it again. im sure in this day and age i am somewhat limited as to what i can do when you compare it to what you can do with the various computer programs that are out there BUT its the way i am used to working. i started out with a tape based 4 track, moved on to mini disc and then to one with an internal harddrive.

    does anyone else use a DPS here?

  • p_gunnp_gunn 2,284 Posts
    when using my new music maker software, which I am VERY green at, I can't understand why everytime I bring in a new clip to a project, it automatically alters it to fit the BPM and pitch of what is already there...example: I had a short vocal clip of Howlin' Wolf that I had pitched down and slowed down, and added massive delay to, that I wanted to add on top of a track I was making...but when I import the vocal clip, it automatically sppeds it up and it sounds like ass! I looked and looked for a setting that automatically matches everything to the same pitch, which I could turn off, but found nothing. Any ideas?


    chances are it isn't the pitch it's switching, but the tempo...

    there might be an "stretch clip to fit project" ("enable stretching" or "enable looping") or "match to grid" or "stretch to fit grid" switch you need to turn off...







    or you might just have a really shitty recording program...

  • dCastillodCastillo 1,963 Posts
    you just have to know what you want to do, then find a way to do it later. Vision before technique. That said, the possibilities are really endless.

    Vague answer, but there are so many different ways to do the same thing it's hard to know where to start.

  • ArtifactorArtifactor 887 Posts
    Just do it the old school way. Fuck all the technology added features. Sounds dope but I would be more satisfied in a well MIXED tape. I am not dissing at all because the way you guys put it it sounds dope but just too complicated.

  • GropeGrope 2,970 Posts
    i don't do mixtapes or mix-cds, but now i understand what cubase features could add to a mix. never thought of it before. this is mixtape science.

    i applied for DJ jobs at clubs with an old-fashioned mixtape. I know that my music was a lot better than the stuff that all the resident DJS were playing, but I never got a call from any club. I bet those other DJs used Cubase or Protools when they handed in their application mix. It's the only way that they would have got the job first place. So using software can help, I guess. But my mixing skills suck anyway...

  • Mr_Lee_PHDMr_Lee_PHD 2,040 Posts
    I know a lot of people wanna keep it real with recording mixes and I agree with that, but imagine if dudes like the Avalanches and the Psychonauts never did the super-complex multi-track super-software-edited long-ass studio megamix type projects. That would be one helluva loss

    I think its cool as long as people are straight-up about how they have gone about it, i.e. either 100% live or edited.

  • ArtifactorArtifactor 887 Posts
    I know a lot of people wanna keep it real with recording mixes and I agree with that, but imagine if dudes like the Avalanches and the Psychonauts never did the super-complex multi-track super-software-edited long-ass studio megamix type projects. That would be one helluva loss

    I think its cool as long as people are straight-up about how they have gone about it, i.e. either 100% live or edited.

    Agreed. I think that would be the major problem...well not problem just I don't know because if you are trying to make your tape like if you did all those added features on the ones and twos but you didn't it takes away from the point of mixing. It kinda sucks for me to hear that you can do that. I'm new to all this and I begin thinking what if my favorite tapes were made with all that but then I think HOW LONG HAS THIS SOFTWARE BEEN OUT?

  • I'm new to all this and I begin thinking what if my favorite tapes were made with all that but then I think HOW LONG HAS THIS SOFTWARE BEEN OUT?

    most mixtapes/dj mixes are multitracked in some way, whether its with a computer of a standalone recorder. if they are done "all the way live" they are usually advertised as such.

    all that should matter ultimately is if you like the mix.

  • DelayDelay 4,530 Posts
    I just want to step my game up and have my mixes sounding perfect like all you other dudes. No more of that song A being a little louder than song B bullshit.
    you can master your final product using a limiter and multiband compressor. that will help a lot.

  • Deep_SangDeep_Sang 1,081 Posts
    I just want to step my game up and have my mixes sounding perfect like all you other dudes. No more of that song A being a little louder than song B bullshit.
    you can master your final product using a limiter and multiband compressor. that will help a lot.

    Can you elaborate on this process?

    I asked a friend with Protools to do this for me once and it completely changed the sound of the mix- as if it treated different frequencies differently or something. I am curious not only if Protools has the capacity to master a mix, but also how it goes about doing so if anyone knows. What I mean is how does it evaluate the sound and take the volume up/down in a way that does not affect the sound of the origianal recording.

    If Protools is not an option for this, does anyone know any economical means of doing so? Thanks in ad.

  • I'm too picky to release an all the way live mix. I'm wayyy too self critical. I just give that shit away on CDR. I appreciate a live CD, but rarely do they blow my mind. Quite frankly, I thought stuff like Uneasy Listening wasn't all that amazing despite all the hype it got as being live.

    My old Red Alert radio show tapes kind of rock though.



    I have a new cool edit multitrack mix that's almost finished...will post some audio soon. I GUARANTEE I couldn't do this shit live.

  • I just want to step my game up and have my mixes sounding perfect like all you other dudes. No more of that song A being a little louder than song B bullshit.
    you can master your final product using a limiter and multiband compressor. that will help a lot.

    Can you elaborate on this process?

    I asked a friend with Protools to do this for me once and it completely changed the sound of the mix- as if it treated different frequencies differently or something. I am curious not only if Protools has the capacity to master a mix, but also how it goes about doing so if anyone knows. What I mean is how does it evaluate the sound and take the volume up/down in a way that does not affect the sound of the origianal recording.

    If Protools is not an option for this, does anyone know any economical means of doing so? Thanks in ad.

    thats kinda where i am with my shit, trying to get my mixdowns sounding as best as they can. my cd burner which i mix down to has a limiter function which i use and it does help somewhat but i think i could use some more help. this guy i know swears by something called a sonic maximizer(think thats the name), anybody use one of those????


  • I have a new cool edit multitrack mix that's almost finished...will post some audio soon. I GUARANTEE I couldn't do this shit live.
    ya know p-ro, with my multitracked stuff i try to make it painfully obvious that they weren't done live. i want people to go "how the fuck did he do that?!?! theres no way he did that live!!!!!!!."

  • Mr_Lee_PHDMr_Lee_PHD 2,040 Posts
    i want people to go "how the fuck did he do that?!?! theres no way he did that live!!!!!!!."

    Absolutely agree man. If I want to do it, then I want to try and make it the best I can within the limits of how it was done.

    Good example of what I think we all maen:


  • i want people to go "how the fuck did he do that?!?! theres no way he did that live!!!!!!!."

    Absolutely agree man. If I want to do it, then I want to try and make it the best I can within the limits of how it was done.

    Good example of what I think we all maen:


    never heard that one, dub trade???

    this thread has me amped to go home and work on some mixes that i've been needing to finish up

  • nrichnrich 932 Posts
    Seems like few are really answering dudes question, I don't think he wants to know 'live or multitracked:what's your standpoint?'... but rather some pointers to get started.

    I'm a proponent of the live thing, just because I mix out live. But to do a multitracked mix, think about each new element (track, scratching, adding a sample, whatnot) as a new track and you can arrange each to each other.
    Start with one tune at a certain tempo and that basically becomes the set tempo for the mix.
    Now let's say you want to add another song. Play back the original song you just recorded while beatmatching your new song to it. Once you are satisfied with the tempo match, hit record and bring in that song while recording it. At this point you don't have to really fade in or out, just match the tempo the whole time (If it's a hip-hop or non-human drums this should be a breeze). Now play back both (should be two different tracks). the second track will come in abruptly and end abpruptly. At this point you can go in and draw in a volume curve to the track to fade in to your taste (just as if you were raising the fader on your mixer). you can also fade out the first track as the second comes in.
    That's the basic gist behind it. Just keep beatmatching the new song to the last one and it will be seemless. you can add complexity with delays at the end of tracks as the go in to others, or extend certain bars, etc. etc. the possibilities of tweaking are endless.
    As for scratching, once you have the tracks (songs) pieced together, you can add another track and just scratch on top (while recording the scratches to this new extra track) as it plays out. use the same basic philosophy to tweak this track in relation to the others. You can adjust the volume of each track if one is too low or high at this point.
    When you are done, just output the mix as one track and there is your mix.

    this is a basic outline, you can add on this with varying complexity, but hopefully has helped a bit.
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