Should I Learn How To Mix On Vinyl?
Should I Learn How To Mix On Vinyl?
Maybe, it depends on how far you want to take your DJ hobby. This is a popular question with new DJs and people interested in our DJ courses. The answer depends on what kind of DJ you want to become in the long-run and your budget. Many older DJs will try and impress on you how important it is to learn how to mix with vinyl but is it really necessary with todays technology?
What's more expensive, digital or vinyl DJing?
If you're a new DJ it's often far cheaper and easier to start to learn how to DJ using digital decks or a DJ controller. Vinyl turntables are more expensive and of course vinyl records are also harder to find and more expensive to buy. Nowadays you can buy an entry-level DJ controller like the Pioneer DDJ200 (pictured) for around £200. This DJ controller would then plug into your laptop and you might also have some speakers and headphones.
A turntable set-up for vinyl DJing would cost a lot more with basic turntables costing around £150 each upward, then you also need the mixer as well. The price difference in these set-ups means that it's cheaper and quicker to learn how to DJ digitally. We recommend that your start with digital and then explore vinyl later on. Unless of course money is no problem, then why not buy both setups!
Why do older DJs say it's important to learn how to DJ with vinyl?
It's very common to hear older DJs impress on younger DJs the importance of learning how to DJ with vinyl decks. Why do they say this?
Well, there are a few reasons someone might say this. Firstly, it's harder to learn how to DJ with vinyl. This means it's more challenging and you have to put in more effort and be more disciplined. This should make you a better more determined DJ, or at least weed out the ones who are not! It's a slightly snobbish way of thinking about it but you can see the sense in this argument.
Secondly it's because vinyl DJs are better at beatmatching and less reliant of software or cheats. Nowadays there are plenty of ways digital players and DJ software makes it easier to beat-match or entirely unnecessary. Sync is a technology that allows your DJ software to beatmatch for you, so why learn how to beat-match manually? The problem is that sync technology doesn't always work especially with older tracks or tracks with live drummers. If new DJs become reliant on sync they will struggle when things don't work and make mistakes which can affect their reputation.
Thirdly, older DJs want to share the joy of mixing on vinyl. It's a pleasure to shop for vinyl in record shops, dig through dusty creates, chat to the staff and find hidden gems. Collecting vinyl is a great passion for many vinyl enthusiasts and there is something more enjoyable shopping in real life than shopping online for MP3s. Then when it comes to actually mixing with vinyl it's more hands-on and more human. Touching the medium is also a massive fun part of mixing with vinyl. You're not distracted by a screen or a computer and you're really living in the moment. If you're not tried mixing on vinyl you really have to experience it!
What's the argument for not learning how to mix with vinyl?
You could argue that it's obsolete. It's an older technology that has been surpassed by new digital technology. It's not necessary to learn how to mix on vinyl nowadays and any DJ can become famous without even ever touching a record. It's expensive and takes up more space than a digital controller. These points are totally true, if you learn how to use DJ software including beat-gridding technology correctly you can easily negate the need for vinyl-style beatmatching.
It's also very difficult to mix harmonically with vinyl compared to digital players where you can lock the key. If you're not sure what Harmonic Mixing is click the link.
There is no need to learn how to mix on vinyl.
However, my personal opinion is that this is true but if you don't at least try and mix with vinyl you'll really be missing out on the fun side. Plus, if you can beatmatch on vinyl you'll be pushing your hearing abilities to the next level, thus making you a better beat-matcher and more confident DJ overall. There is nothing comparable to the feeling of confidence you get when you know all the different ways of mixing and beat-matching.
How long does it take to learn how to DJ with vinyl?
Many old school DJs will tell you it takes years how to learn how to mix and beat-match in vinyl. This is often because they taught themselves. This is actually wrong because if you're taught properly with the method we employ on our DJ Courses you will learn the theory and practical side of mixing with vinyl within two hours. You will then need further coaching, normally around eight hours of coaching to perfect the skills to the point you can mix from record to record.
Can everyone learn how to mix on vinyl?
You might of heard that it's really difficult to learn how to mix with vinyl. It's true that it's much harder and requires more practice than beat-matching with digital players but it's still easy for everyone to learn. That's if you are taught properly! In all my years teaching vinyl mixing I have seen that most people can pick up the skills fairly quickly within a few one-to-one lessons.
Of course, everyone learns at different rates and some students may have learning difficulties or be neurodiverse. I normally adapt my teaching to suit each individual and I truly think, given enough time every student can learn this skill.
Where do you buy vinyl?
If you are interested in collecting vinyl and building up a collection to learn how to mix click here for a list of recommended record shops.
Remember, if you're learning how to beatmatch you'll want to buy records that are easy to learn with. I normally find that tech house records that are repetitive are the best ones. I like to find records that start with a good kick drum intro and not have too much going on in the middle of the track. Start the easy way with simple records and work your way up!
It's not necessary to learn how to mix on vinyl nowadays but it's a joy to learn and it will make you a much better DJ. I recommend it whole-heartedly!