Glossary of DJ Terms

Call it slang, jargon, terminology, or just a plain old list of words. Below is a list of DJ terms with their definitions for reference. If you have any more terms to suggest please contact us!
Audio Interface – An external soundcard connected to a laptop through USB or Firewire. This soundcard gives your computer a selection of usable audio inputs and outputs.

Active (Studio Monitors) – Studio monitor speakers including an active internal power source, thus eliminating the need for an external amplifier.

Bass – The lower end frequencies of an audio output.

Backspin – This is a technique where the DJ quickly reverses the turntable to create a spinning or rewinding sound effect.

Beatmatching – To match the BPM of two tracks in order to mix or blend the tracks.

Beatgrid – This is a feature in DJ software that allows the DJ to set a grid of beats for a track, making it easier to sync the beats of two tracks.

Booth Monitor – This is a speaker or headphones that are used by the DJ to monitor the audio being played out to the crowd, separate from the main PA system.

Break – BreakThis is a section of a track where the beat or melody drops out, creating a moment of tension and anticipation before the track comes back in.

BPM – Beats Per Minute.

Cans – Headphones

CDJ – CD Turntables play digital formats just like a vinyl turntable does. CDJ’s play many digital formats and sometimes beyond CD’s sometimes they also play music from USB.

Cue Point – A point within a track that is saved so it can quickly be returned to.

Channel – A channel refers to an audio input/output or combination of both. On a mixer a channel usually features volume and EQ control.

Crossfader – A fader found on most DJ mixes which is normally layed out horizontally rather than vertically. The crossfader controls the fade from one track to another. DJ mixers with more than two channels can sometimes have more than one track assigned to each side of the crossfader.

Decks – Referring to turntables as a pair.

Drop – This is the moment in a track where the beat, melody, or vocals kick in and the track becomes more intense.

Drop Mix – This is a DJ technique where the DJ quickly mixes in a new track during the drop of the current track, creating a seamless transition.

Dubplate – This is a special version of a track that is made specifically for DJs, often with exclusive remixes or extended intros/outros.

Gain – This is a control on a mixer that adjusts the volume of a track before it is played through the speakers, used to ensure that all tracks are at a consistent volume.

Equalizer (EQ) – Is a tone control for audio. Used in mixers to change the sound of a channel.

Hamster Switch – A switch used to reverse the channels on a crossfader. This is used by scratch DJ’s who find it easier to perform some tricks and scratch techniques with the crossfader this way.

Harmonic Mixing – This is a technique where the DJ matches the key of two tracks to create a smoother and more harmonious transition between them.

Headphones – This is an essential piece of equipment for DJs. They use headphones to cue up tracks and listen to them before playing them out to the crowd.

Headroom – This refers to the amount of available volume in a track before it starts to distort, and is an important consideration for DJs when adjusting the gain and volume of tracks.

Hot Cue – This is a cue point set to a button which is available for quick access. You could also set a hot cue point using a sampler to play a loop.

Lows, Mids, & Highs – The 3 types of frequencies that a standard 3 band EQ controls. Lows are the low tones, mids are the middle range, and highs are the highest frequencies.

Loop – This is a repeating section of a track that can be set to play over and over. DJs use loops to create extended mixes or to extend the length of a track.

Mixing – This is the process of seamlessly transitioning between two tracks by matching their beats and EQ levels.

Passive (Studio Monitors) – Studio monitor speakers not including an active internal power source. These monitors would need an external amplifier.

Phase Meter – This is a feature in DJ software that shows the phase relationship between two tracks, making it easier for the DJ to match the beats.

Pitch Slider – The slider found on turntables, CDJ’s, and DJ controllers which allow the DJ to control the speed/pitch of a record when beatmatching.

Rekordbox – This is a software program used by DJs to manage their music library and prepare tracks for performance.

Sampler – A sampler stores a section of audio for playback. This audio is often played in a loop and is sometimes shortened or lengthened on the fly based on the features of the sampler.

Scratching – This is a technique where a DJ manipulates the sound of a track by moving a vinyl record back and forth on a turntable.

Serato – This is a popular software program used by DJs to control their music library and manipulate tracks.

Sync – This is a feature in DJ software that automatically matches the beats of two tracks.

Timecode Vinyl/CD’s – Timecode disks allow you to control your favorite DJ software with turntables or CDJ’s.

Track Selection – This refers to the process of choosing which tracks to play during a DJ set, and is an important aspect of DJing that requires careful consideration of the audience and the overall vibe of the event.

Turntable – This is the equipment that DJs use to play vinyl records. Turntables have a spinning platter and a tonearm that holds a needle that reads the grooves on the record..

Turntablism – This is the art of manipulating vinyl records to create rhythmic and musical effects, often incorporating scratching and other advanced techniques.

Quantize – This is a feature in DJ software that automatically adjusts the timing of tracks to the nearest beat, making it easier for DJs to match the beats of two tracks.

Vinyl Emulation – This is a feature in DJ software that allows DJs to manipulate digital audio files as if they were vinyl records, including scratching and backspinning.

Vinyl – This is a physical format of music that DJs use to play tracks. Vinyl records have grooves that contain the audio information.

Warping RThis is a type of audio cable that is used to connect DJ equipment. XLR cables are known for their high-quality sound and durability.

White Label – This is a promotional version of a track that is distributed to DJs in limited quantities, often without any identifying information or artwork.

Waveform – A visual representation of a piece of audio.

X-Fade – Short for crossfade, this is a technique where the DJ gradually fades out one track while fading in another, creating a smooth transition between tracks.

Zipper Effect – This is a DJ technique where the DJ rapidly switches between two tracks back and forth to create a "zipper" sound effect.

Zoning – This refers to the process of mentally focusing and getting in the zone for a DJ set, often through meditation, visualization, or other techniques to reduce distractions and improve focus.

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