If you're wondering how to connect a DJ mixer controller or other sound hardware accessory to your computer, this article is for you.
Method 1 of 2: For Mac: USB connection (mixer with sound card)
Step 1. Connect all the necessary hardware and cables
Plug the mixer or controller into the power outlet if necessary. Note that not all of them require an external power source and may be charged directly with the computer. Make sure the computer is also charged or plugged in.
It is recommended to use a power conditioner, if you have one, to minimize signal noise. Always use a surge protector
Step 2. Connect the square part of the USB cable to the mixer or controller and the flat part to the USB port on your computer
- Do not use a multiple USB connector or "hub".
- Always use the USB ports on your computer, as data can get jammed if you try to connect too many devices to the same USB port.
- If possible, use USB 3.0 as the data transfer speed is much higher and technical failures are less likely.
Step 3. Open the DJ software that you usually use and open the configuration window
In the "Audio device" tab (or similar), make sure to select the USB audio codec (or whatever it is called in the program). The name is usually easy to recognize immediately.
If you don't see an option with USB, go to System Preferences> Sound> Input (scroll down)> click the USB audio codec option> close System Preferences. From now on, the fixture should show up in the DJ software. If not, close it and reopen it
Step 4. Note that most controllers with a sound card can also output sound through the mixer
To use this option, repeat the steps above, but set the "Output" device to USB as well. In this way, the computer will not have to process the audio on its own chip, but instead will use the sound card of the mixer, freeing up system resources. This way you can also communicate directly with the controller.
Step 5. Use troubleshooting, if necessary
Remember that the setup on Mac is usually auto-start, so if something doesn't work right away, make sure your computer is using the proper sound input. Again, you may need to configure both your computer and software to use the USB codec.
Method 2 of 2: For Mac: USB connection (mixer without sound card)
Step 1. Identify the device you have
Connecting a mixer without your own sound card is usually as easy as connecting the device. These are often referred to as "controllers" or "DJ controllers". However, if the device is hardware, with built-in turntables and mixer, you may have a controller and not a "mixer." Some, like the Numark NS7-2, are built-in devices and have their own sound card, so they can be used as mixers (with the sound via USB to the mixer and then output via the RCA or XLR ports). It is a very simple concept, do not get overwhelmed. In any case, the DJ controller setup is very simple and will depend on the specific hardware you are using.
Step 2. Connect the controller
The process may vary slightly depending on the model, but it usually follows the steps below:
- Connect the device directly to the USB port of the computer. Don't use a hub or multi-connector.
- Find the device in the "Hardware" or "Settings" tab of the DJ controller software.
- Click on the device.
Step 3. Use troubleshooting if you need it
With Macs, the hardware often uses pre-existing drivers from the computer and does not usually require anything to "install". If the software doesn't recognize the controller, you may need to install a new "integration" or "mapping" (the list of reactions the computer gives to the MIDI data generated by the controller) for it to work.
Normally, the controllers produced for the market are listed by make and model in the software and you will simply have to select it the first time you configure the software (as with Traktor). You may also need to download, or generate, and then apply a third-party integration for your device. This, while it can be confusing for a beginner, is usually quite straightforward, and there are many online resources to do it. Make sure to research what you want to do and check YouTube. Remember that someone has done what you want to do before. Trust the resources at your fingertips and don't forget that the internet is the most complete
Step 4. Route the sound from the computer to the speakers
To do this, plug in a USB sound card and select it as the output on your DJ hardware and in your computer's sound preferences window.
If you're not using a USB sound card, connect your speakers or headphones to your computer's sound card, although you won't be able to preview tracks that way
Step 5. Get the soundtrack out of the headphones
Most DJs want and need to be able to hear the track they are about to mix before it comes out of the speakers. To do it:
- Plug your headphones into the headphone jack on your computer.
- Search for "pull out" or "monitor" or "preview" on the audio settings page of the settings window.
- Select "built-in" or "headphones" to have the track come out of them.
- From then on, the tracks sent to the queue will be played through the headphones first, regardless of the position of the fader and crossfader. Almost all hardware has a button that allows you to select which dishes are in the queue. There is also usually a knob on the front of the controller or in the software that allows you to choose what ratio of main signal to tail signal is sent to the headphones. This is called a glue mix. Make sure you configure it correctly; otherwise, you will only hear what is queued or the main track.
Step 6. Use headphones to preview a track and see what it sounds like before mixing it down
It takes practice to listen to two things at the same time.