Mastering And Preparing A DJ Mix For Delivery

So, your mixes sound great live, but how can you ensure they stand out amongst professional releases and promo CDs? Mo Volans delivers a useful tutorial for all DJs.  

Let's say you've just completed a perfect mix full of your latest and greatest tunes and you want to use it as a promo tool. If you plan to send your mix out, it really needs to be at its best.  

With this in mind, let's take a look at some things you do to ensure your mix is firing on all cylinders. We'll cover manual editing, some basic mastering methods and essential conversion techniques. 

The Raw Recording

Once you've recorded your mix, you should be left with a file. It might be WAV, it maybe AIFF, this is not hugely important. What is important however is that it's in a resolution and bit depth of at least 16 bit / 44.1 kHz and is not distorted beyond the point of recognition.

So whether you are recording your mix live or in the studio, try to ensure you have plenty of headroom and are hitting the disk at a decent resolution. I would suggest 24 bit / 44.1 kHz as this will give us the most flexibility later.

In this case, the recording was done correctly but you can see that the level is actually a little low. You can either raise the level by a specific amount or normalize it. Luckily, there was no obvious noise in the recording so this wasn't amplified with the boost.

Our original DJ Mix recording at a very low level.

Our original DJ Mix recording at a very low level.

Once boosted, you should start to get a decent overview of the file. Make sure there are no obvious faults, or dropouts at this point. It won't hurt to give the whole thing a listen. Once you are happy... You can move on and start to think about some processing. 

The same mix with straightforward normalization applied.

The same mix with straightforward normalization applied.

Manual Editing And Basic Dynamics

The first thing to sort here is the overall level of the mix. This really is key to be honest. It's quite likely that there are some pretty serious peaks and troughs, especially where you have mixed a couple of tracks or added effects on the fly.

We will be using some dynamics processing later but for reasons that will become clear, this simply can't be overdone. Before we apply any plug-ins, I like to manually reduce the really obvious peaks. This can be done using automation in your DAW or by careful selection in a dedicated audio editor.

Manually reducing peaks.

Manually reducing peaks.

As long as you pick sensible points to apply your fades and you don't more than a 1-2db at a time these changes should be transparent. The aim of the game here is to '

Mo has been a professional in the music industry for around 15 years. He has released material with the world's leading record labels and also produces music for TV and Film. Mo is also a prolific writer and is a regular contributor to magazines such as Music Tech, Future Music and EQ magazine. There isn't a piece of music software tha... Read More


Dave DeLizza
Mo, are you avoiding LPX or have you just still been doing all of your recent tuts in 9?

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