Getting into Mixing Dubstep
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  1. #1
    Tech Mentor
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    Mar 2011

    Default Getting into Mixing Dubstep

    So I've started seriously trying to practice mixing dubstep lately (probably not the best genre to be starting out on) with my copy of Traktor and crappy Midi keyboard. I have a good idea of what I'm doing with phrasing and such, but have two main problems that are really holding things back:

    1. Track selection - I have mainly been using compilations and a few favourite producers to get tracks - I then decided to sort these according to some rough moods/subgenres (chill, jump-up, heavy, melodic), and in a 1-5 star rating system within these subgenre crates. This is good and all that it organizes my music a bit, but sometimes it just doesn't work for me. What am I doing wrong? Should I try and just "feel" what track to play and have more of an organic process than following a system of basically numbers? Or maybe my tracks are the problem - for instance the "chill" crate seems to be sort of all over the place.

    2. Mixing out a track - A lot of the time when I am mixing two tracks and the blend is a very full sound with much of the frequency spectrum filled with the many instruments of the two tracks, removing one just sounds dumb unless the new track is somehow just way bigger. What is the solution to this? longer blends that fade out the old track using effects? I don't really know what effects would be good to use - maybe delay? I end up using the filter quite a bit.

    Some tips would be great - I feel like I could use some more depth and personally discovered music rather than compilations, but I also don't want to blame the problems on the tracks!

  2. #2
    Tech Guru Garygary1's Avatar
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    Nov 2010
    Philadelphia, PA, USA


    1. finding the key would help

    2. mix the breakdowns

  3. #3
    Banhammerized theory28's Avatar
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    Jul 2010


    and im just going to quote myself. sorry, but i didnt read the OP since the title says all i need to know

    Theorys Guide To Mixing Dubstep

    Quote Originally Posted by theory28 View Post
    theres a lot of flux pavilion in this thread, sorry.
    the following is how I go about this. i dont expect you to copy, nor do i necessarily advise you to. be original, add your own flair, do it your way.

    Mixing dubstep

    ok, so were assuming that the bpm is at 140, not 70 and that a bar is 16 beats

    so, say youre playing track A and its breakdown is 4 bars long
    you want to bring in track B and its intro it 6 bars long

    well your going to introduce B into A 6 bars before the end of the breakdown (in other words 2 bars of the intro will be playing over the 'meat' of A)

    alternatively, you can bring B into A 6 bars before the break down starts and then B drops when the intro to A starts

    in both of these scenarios you would cut A out when B drops. (unless its better to do it otherwise I.E. a 2 or 4 beat fade)

    also, if the breakdown and intro lenght of the 2 tracks is swapped so that A's breakdown is 6 bars long and B's intro is 4 long, then you can time it so B drops when A's breakdown starts.
    or you can play B right as A's breakdown starts, and cut out A when B drops.
    or, you can play B 2 bars into A's breakdown

    what method you decide to use depends on the track, whether or not vocals will over lap and most importantly energy level

    Energy Level

    energy level is another way of looking at mixing in key, and to me is more appropriate to dubstep's various sounds.

    there is low energy chilled sounds like:

    mid range like:

    and high energy stuff (AKA Brostep) like:

    ok, that want too energetic, but it will make a room go NUTS.
    heres something more energetic:

    from this point on, these energy levels will be on a 1- 10 scale as follows:
    low - 1
    mid - 5
    high - 10

    now, you never want to go from 10 to 1 with nothing in between. (the exception of there being a long 6 bar or more spaced out, relaxed breakdown like in Freestylers - Cracks (Flux Pavilion Remix) . Cracks is kind of a wild card as its intro and break are more of a 2 or 3, but the meat is a 7 or 8)

    you also dont want to go from 1 to 10.

    instead, you can do 1 then 5 then 10. this is for shorter mixes (see structure section)
    if you have the time you could do 1 then 3 then 5 then 7 then 10

    Mix Structure

    Recorded Mixes:

    please note that this is the way i do it, not the way you have to. also note that i used the numbers not to literally represent the # of times to play that level, but instead how many times relative to the rest. i hope that the font size helps with the visual.

    the way i go for shorter mixes is

    intro 3, 5, 5, 7, 10, 10, 10, 7, 5, 5, 3, 3, 3, 5, 7, end track

    for short mixes its more acceptable to do it the short way and just use 3, 5, and 10

    intro 3, 3, 5, 10, 10, 10, 3

    Live Mixing

    the same rules should apply as with everything else, but as opposed to a sharp cut, feel free to use a 4 or 2 beat long fade.

    Double Drops

    the goal is to let A reach its break down, then let B drop at the same time as A

    heres the fun part: dont mix A out. let both tracks drop and play at the same time.

    then you want to find a good time to cut, fade or other way to mix A out.

    generally you want to have a bass line and spaced out track for one (5 or lower) and an energetic track (7 and up) that has more melody stuff going on.

    Tip: test out these double drops ahead of time because it might end really badly otherwise.

    Theory's Pro Tips

    • control the attack based on how loud or soft the first beat you play is (i refer to this as 'offensive' for future reference). Attack as explained by Ean. go to:1:55- 2:15
    • Dont be afraid to be an Echo/ Reverb whore (to an extent). it helps when youre live and dont know how exactly the 2 songs are going to sound together. start with a volume at around 70-85%, and use the reverb when you hit play. turn it off when appropriate or on the drop. also, make sure you do this mainly with intros/ breaks that have little to no snare in them. sometimes it can sound bad depending on the effect.
    • while on the topic of echo: as opposed to the 2 or 4 beat fade out, or the cut, you can use the echo freeze. i use it 2 or 4 beats before the drop, or even ON the drop/ a moment before. WARNING: on occasion it can make hard drops sound soft if done on/ a moment before the drop
    • go and download this podcast episode. listen to it. learn it. memorize it. it sums up just about all of this in audio form, as performed by flux pavilion. *if the episode is removed when future readers see this: look for UKF podcst episode #4 circus records (mixed by flux pavilion)
    • most importantly: YOU are the DJ. YOU have full control these rules and bend them as you wish. this was simply a guide to how i do it.

    i just spent about 20+ minutes typing this, so im going to also start it as a new thread (if i get an OK from a mod)

    if theres a new thread, the link will be tacked to the end of this post.
    also, the game. you just lost it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by photojojo View Post
    If the pack of lions are in sync then they're not real lions so it doesn't count.

  4. #4
    Tech Mentor Kobbe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Arvika/Stockholm, Sweden


    What Andrew said. ^

    Also, when mixing dubstep I find the most imortant things to be the eq-work. Dont just drop the bass and bring the track in, finetune, and tweak the frequencies untill it sounds good. You'll get the hang of it after a while.

  5. #5
    Tech Mentor The Bong Squad's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    The Shire


    The key part of mixing brostep is the DROP!

    Also try to find other popular songs which mix perfectly with it, so the crowd are completly thrown off by how they mix together
    | TSP2 | Behringer DJX 750 | NI Audio 8 | Asus Eee PC | Novation Launchpad | Kontrol X1 | 2x Technics 1210 MK II's

  6. #6
    Banhammerized theory28's Avatar
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    Jul 2010


    Quote Originally Posted by Kobbe View Post
    What Anthony* said. ^

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    Quote Originally Posted by photojojo View Post
    If the pack of lions are in sync then they're not real lions so it doesn't count.

  7. #7
    Tech Guru
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Louisville, KY


    Great tips here! Also post one of your sets that you are struggling with and let us take a peek. Might be able to offer more tips after we hear what you are playing.

    Mixing in key is by far one of the best tips. Give that a shot with a program like beatunes2 or Mixed in Key. You can also key the tracks with your ear but it takes a bit longer than using a program to assist.

  8. #8
    Retired DJTT Moderator DvlsAdvct's Avatar
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    Mar 2008
    New Jersey/NYC


    This is all stuff that comes with experimentation, also. If you think the mix is too full and chaotic, tweak your EQs or try a different start point. Play with your crossfader position and your volumes to help pull the tracks apart.

    This is some of the hardest parts of DJing well. Keep at it and it'll start making more sense. Also, listen to other people's mixes and try and replicate their techniques. This will give you a great insight into HOW they DJ.
    It's the FAQ. Read it.

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  9. #9
    Newbie mixdubstep's Avatar
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    Feb 2013


    If you're literally just starting out, this is a pretty good "basics" article to look at.

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