DJs are either using big over-the-ear headphones or small in-ear monitors, but the most frequently asked question is, can you DJ without headphones?
DJing is like a magic show. You watch these people impeccably mix together two different songs by simply playing with some knobs and tinkering with some buttons. Someway, the result is a perfect mix that keeps the party going.
These disc jockeys are using special types of headphones, either using a big over-the-ear headphone or in-ear monitors. See our reviews on the best DJ Headphones available today. But, it’s possible to DJ without using headphones, though, it takes a lot of preparation, extensive knowledge of the music and persistence in practising.
Why DJ Mix Without Headphones?
There are good reasons why DJ mix without headphones. First, it looks very cool. Watching a DJ playing around and interacting with the crowd is a great sight on the stage. And that right there is why you are reading this article.
You’re like an expert DJ at a club or event, if you’re mixing music without headphones. It’s a tough job to pull off. Most DJs are using headphones and if you’re pretty good to play without them, then you’re on an expert level.
Also, without headphones to confuse you, yo much more attached to your crowd. You’ll always be paying attention to what the party people hear. You will not be taking those little moments to cue up and listen to the next song. It’s certainly the highest level of the crowd celebrating and partying.
Technique #1: Planning and Practice
The first method DJs are learning to play without headphones is to plan their whole tracks and practice effectively. A lot of top DJs are playing the same tracks over and over again at different places every night. Armed with good practice, you can learn the exact techniques to make for each track.
To do it yourself, you need to plan a complete playlist and practice thoroughly the variations among each song. You can use a DJ software to put cue points to the songs to know when to start mixing. You use your ears and visuals from the DJ software to prompt you into our song mixes.
Unable to make ad-libs during DJing is one of the disadvantages of this technique. You should prepare an organized playlist from one track to the next. Inserting a new request in this set will be very hard. So, DJing with no headphones is only ideal for venues like clubs where you will be getting a little feedback from the party people.
Technique #2: Visual “Waveriding”
Through visual “waveriding”, it’s possible for a DJ to play songs without headphones. However, a deep knowledge of the music and perfect mixing skills is required to execute this.
This technique depends on the visible waveforms in the DJ software as well as you need to know you need to master your playlist. DJs are matching the tempos of two recordings using the crests of the waveforms in the software. They also use automated beatmatching in their software to adjust the mix.
To flawlessly execute visual “waveriding”, you need to organize your songs beforehand with your DJ software. You also need to assure that the BPM is right and the tempo grid is fine-tuned to star right on beat 1. If you plan to use the key matching, be sure that the keys are right on your tracks as well.
The DJ can start mixing visually once his setlist is prepared and marked with his software. He or she can set up the next song while something is playing and choose the desired point that would perfectly suit to start the track. DJs should fine-tune manually or with auto-sync the BPM of the song and wait for the good time to drop the next song in. Once the new song is playing, DJs are making minor tunings to the BPM through the nudge feature to synchronize the two tracks. Visual “waveriding” takes time to master and good ears to produce great music.
However, this is just a one-shot to make it sound fly. The whole crowd will hear once you go wrong. There are no rehearsals and no repetitions. You’re DJing without an internet connection. Hence, you need to be at an elite level of mixing to succeed.
Dirty Secret About DJing
In case you didn’t know, DJs who don’t use headphones are actually not DJing. With today’s technology, it’s very easy to disguise a DJ mix. The trick is to create a pre-recorded set and just play it again at the venue. Then, you keep on jumping and twist some buttons and there you go, you look like a celebrity DJ up there.
DJing without headphones is possible. You just need a lot of practice and tons of skills. It is not recommended for beginners and yes, some slick DJs are disguising it. But thanks to several DJs who can pull this off. Therefore, if you strive hard, you could do it yourself!