4 deck mixing and noobs
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  1. #1
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    Default 4 deck mixing and noobs

    ok ive been spending the better part of 2 hours looking at 4 deck mixes on youtube and with a few exceptions (b33son's mix is obviously an exception lol) most of them seem just WAY too busy for me. lots of 10 minute mixes of the same 2 loops running thruout the whole mix while 2 decks are doing standard mixing. i started looking into this because i myself am new to 4 deck mixing and was looking for some kind of example of "the right way".

    yes i realize every dj is going to have their own style and approach to music and theres no "right way" to do it. but that said, there are good examples and bad examples. which is what i was looking for.

    when i found more bad than good, with no explanation of what was going on (for those of us that dont know right off or dont know the songs used) its hard to figure out what made the good mixes good so i could stash that knowledge in my head.


    thats when i started looking for 4 deck mixing tutorials or perhaps a list of do's and don't like there is for traditional 2 deck mixing (things like never mix 2 vocal tracks on top of each other etc..).

    so if you know of any 4 deck tutorials. id love to see them and if you dont, and have some tips, maybe we could put them here in this tread for posterity. =p

  2. #2
    Tech Mentor soerensus's Avatar
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    Great post. Would like to hear about 4 (or 3) deck mixing from some guys with some xp.
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  3. #3
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    look around on the boards can't remember the name but there is a post with comments by several of us who do this.
    since as you said the problem can be having too many sounds in the mix you can fix this via:
    a) tight eq'ing: This takes practice and lots of listening, as a tip bass sounds will get muddied up, so even using the kills will often work because if one track is only giving highs and/or mids and the volume is right you won't notice that you have killed all bass or lots of it on that track because the track with the bass will still have enough.
    b) isolate portions of the track that have isolated sounds ie. fills, break downs, maybe even a single bar from a break down or even 2 beats for a single sound or two to layer on top to make the track groove (this works when you find a 2/4 and apply a 4 beat loop, then you can shorten the loop to a 2 beat loop and put it back to a 4, causing it to really be a 2/6 which will give groove as it moves relative to the track).

    You really can't throw together many two songs "fully" and find that they sound good. Even the eq'ing is an ok solution but not a great one.

    Most of all 4 deck mixing does not equal better mixes, i try to think of myself as being acquainted with using additional layers, but not necessarily always needing them, I *try* to use 3-4 decks only when the situation is beneficial. So to be honest my mixes range from 2-4 depending on where I am in the mix.

    Oh and another technique that is fun that 4 deck mixing allows is for you to take a track and go nuts with fx on it, really reappropriate a sound from that track (just make sure it is not the main one sonically, something that is minimal in the mix). This can produce some very good results, whereas fx on the entire signal chain (as is the case often in 1->1 mixing should be sparse as they tend to be too much sometimes (read often)). So this is a bonus of 4 decks is you get to work with smallers fractions of music (relative to the mix) individually. Thus letting you groove (see above, don't kill me merriam webster), fx, and play with samples. You also have more control over how busy the mix is (which imo has a massive effect on the energy level that is 3rd behind track selection and volume).

    Anyhow I hope this kinda helps and i'll shut it now, oh and hunt down some cool vocal samples. They can really personalize the mix. (see stereoheroes in B33son's DJTT mix)
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  4. #4
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    I've been mixing on four decks for about a year now. When I started I didn't really know how to do it. It's very different than two decks, because with two decks when you blend from one song to another, you're blending one whole song with another whole song.

    With four decks, you can't blend 4 whole songs. What I mean is you can't hit play on all four decks and leave everything running. It'll sound too muddy. You have to instead isolate different aspects of tracks you like and make them work together. The way I DJ I feel is closer to live arranging than it is traditional DJing.

    As well get intimate with the loop functions as they help a lot (any automation when you're working with 4 decks is a huge plus). And have a lot of foresight - with two deck mixing it's one thing to know your next 3-4 songs, but on 4 decks I'm always thinking "is there a vocal I could drop over the next song I'm going to blend in and what will I play after that etc. and will I use any FX to break up my vocal to keep the loop from getting old?).

    It just takes time and practice. And yeah it's not always appropriate, so don't play 3-4 decks if it sounds like crap. Some of the greatest transitions/blends are SUPER simple with only 2 songs, you just need to find the songs that work together. When I play out I shy from mixing with four decks for the first 20ish minutes too, gotta get into the groove first.

  5. #5
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    all the rules for 4 deck mixing are basically the same as 2 deck mixing.

    - balance the eqs
    - don't overlap vocal sections
    - make note of your measures
    - slave the other 3 decks to the master deck bpm

    other than that it's completely subjective depending on the circumstance. the main thing is it's alot trickier to maintain a balance of things so you need to pay extra attention to your eqs/levels and measures to make sure things fit together. The only way to get a good handle of it is by making good use of cue points/looping/fx/eqing, experimentation, and practice your routines until you can do it in your sleep.

  6. #6
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    Prepare prepare preapare.

    I am trying to get my head around 4 deck mixing. I am trying to prepare loop points based on different parts of tunes. Examples include:

    Drum Build ups
    Throbing bass lines
    Simple Vocal loops
    Standard Loops with stripped rythmn
    Recognisable one drop sample loops for teasing a tune in
    Bass Kick Drum Loops

    I have started by moving onto 3 deck mixing which is easier to get my head around. As I get good with this method I am going to think about 4 decks. How many people have 4 decks running simultaneously for a very long time anyway?

  7. #7
    Tech Guru sarasin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dannybee View Post
    Prepare prepare preapare.

    I am trying to get my head around 4 deck mixing. I am trying to prepare loop points based on different parts of tunes. Examples include:

    Drum Build ups
    Throbing bass lines
    Simple Vocal loops
    Standard Loops with stripped rythmn
    Recognisable one drop sample loops for teasing a tune in
    Bass Kick Drum Loops

    I have started by moving onto 3 deck mixing which is easier to get my head around. As I get good with this method I am going to think about 4 decks. How many people have 4 decks running simultaneously for a very long time anyway?
    Yeah, i am approaching it in the same way.

    Its not a lot of time that you have 4 decks running with full tracks constantly.
    Its a mixture of layering 2 tracks.....adding FX from another deck....and looping on another.
    There could obviously be variations of this....3 trax....1 deck with FX.

    What I am doing is mixing as per usual...from Deck A...then including Deck B.....then adding a track on Deck C....trying to keep that stable and sounding good, then making FX on Deck D.

    Then add a track on Deck D....and pull out one from Deck A or wherever.

    So i keep going round and round.....in a way.

    So i constantly have 3 tracks loaded.

    Well...thats what i am TRYING to do.

    Does that make sense?

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  8. #8
    DJTT Moderator Dude Jester's Avatar
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    Nice one guys. Generally i'll stick to two main decks and use deck C for some crazy drug related samples. Lately now that i've been doing some lower tempo stuff i've been shifting the samples over to deck d and using deck c as the "bonus deck". what i mean is i might bring the percussion in from deck c half way through the first track, leave that going and mix in to deck b, leaving out the lows from track b for example. There are lots of way to do stuff like this its all just experimentation, but if it works, go for it!
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  9. #9
    Tech Mentor alien2k's Avatar
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    Hey guys this is a great topic.

    I really love multideck playing. My approach is very simple, but works very good for me. The things I gain with this technique vs the normal 2 deck mixing approach, is basically that I have more time to think, so I create better mixes, so the overall mix is a bit unpredictable by the crowd so its more enternaining. Also I have the opportunity to use more tracks in less time and the most important thing... I am enjoying myself so much that everybody can tell.

    My approach if anyone is interested (and with this I am revealing my secret technique lol...) is that I use multidecks more as a workflow enhancer. I create a cycling work-flow that keeps me going with sick mixes for hours, without using much preparation. I only beatgrid and create a load point for my tracks nothing else. My regular approach is the following and I will explain with only 3 decks to make it simpler.
    First I will load 3 tracks on deck A-B-C. Then I would get deck A playing while I loop (4 to 8 bars) the load point of the tracks at deck B and C.
    Then I would start mixing deck A with deck B. While deck B track keeps going... Using the eqs I will mix them and eq deck A just to leave a small complamainting sound for deck B and I will create a loop on deck A, normally towars approaching the conclusion of the track. It coule be a vocal loop a blip, or just a percussive loop. So that loop keeps running on deck A and I can controll it with my eqs.
    At this point Deck B is playing along with this new looped element from deck A. Now is when the magic comes... instead of needing to stop deck A to load my next track I will start re equing deck B while mixing it with deck C. So now I have deck C playing with deck B which is alredy complemented by deck A.
    So you see what I am doing? I am using deck A and B in this case as a single track.

    Now my next step will depend of what is the next track I have in mind. I will keep equing the deck A or B depending of the element I want to keep and cut one deck out (lets say deck A to keep this circular motion). Now I have deck B and C playing along while I have time to load my new track on deck A and loop the load point again as in the first step. Like that the process starts again. I keep going like this a long time. In my system Deck D is used for special cases.. not all the time. You will know when you need it.

    So as a conclusion donīt overwork it. Create your own workflow so its yours and go deck by deck.

    A good quote by mr hawtin is something like "If I mix 4 of my favorite tracks together I will end with one of my worst non favorite track " You need to know what do you want to do with your mix.
    So there are many approaches B33sonīs is not the only approach.

    Cheers!
    Last edited by alien2k; 10-01-2009 at 09:44 AM.

  10. #10
    Retired DJTT Moderator DvlsAdvct's Avatar
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    I've been doing a lot of work experimenting with 3 deck mixing, and slowly developing the need for 4 deck mixing as my mixes get more precise.

    The big thing for me has been very accurate and clear cue point markers and developing a deeper understanding of EQ mixing. I rarely use kills anymore as I've found that they can take a LOT away from the songs and can make the mix feel very bizarre. Instead I focus on layering EQ, making sure no frequencies get overwhelming, but are still noticeable and loud.

    A neat trick I've learned is when you want to bring out the vocals in a track up the highs a little and they shine clearer through, instead of just playing on the mids.

    Another technique is to use loops and deck copy. So I might really like the bass line of a track, or the synth line, and it could be a great energy builder. So I'll copy that to Deck C, layer it and EQ it and loop it under Deck B, and go back to Deck A for another song. That way the transitions can be smoother and I can figure out where to cut out the loop so it isn't too sudden (before a breakdown in B, for example).

    There are lots of tricks for this and you'll find your own comfort zone with it, of course.
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