Tips For Recording Radio Station DJ Sets

Master the Mix: Tips for Recording Radio Station DJ Sets

Have you just secured a slot on a radio station that requires a pre-recorded mix? If so, this blog will help guide you through the process including some important considerations. Bookmark this article to help you avoid common recording mistakes and save hours of time re-recording with our checklist. In addition, we teach you how to get the most out of your radio station debut with some savvy promotional strategies.

Many new budding DJs enjoy submitting mix recordings to local and international radio stations. They may be broadcast digitally on national or regional stations or simply via an internet radio station. It's a great way to reach new audiences, build your name as an artist, practice and express yourself. It's really a win-win-win scenario! We encourage all our DJ course students to pitch for slots either as guests or residents at radio stations big and small. Many internet radio stations also act as great communities in their own right, often functioning as an incubus for new DJ talent.

Radio stations are often centred around a style of music or a scene and can help a DJ establish themselves within a particular genre. Many famous DJs started on the radio, grew a fanbase and then started getting more DJ gig bookings. Think of radio appearances as important tools to build a fanbase.

Click here for some of our favourite internet radio stations

Live or Pre-recorded?

Some radio stations will allow you to visit the studio and record your DJ set live, often with use of the microphone to talk to guests or address your listeners directly. Live recordings are an excellent way to practice, build confidence and create something spontaneous. However, many smaller radio stations might purely be online or have limited resources. In many cases, you will need to send them a pre-recorded DJ mix.

In this blog we will talk about pre-recorded mixes because most new aspiring DJs will encounter the need to send in a pre-recorded DJ mix for an internet radio station early on in their DJ careers.

How To Record a DJ Set For Radio

If you're a DJ that uses the industry-standard Pioneer Rekordbox software recording is very simple. When using a DJ controller and connected to your laptop, like the DDJ FLX 4, simply click on the recording icon on Rekordbox's performance mode and then hit record.

If you're using a Pioneer all-in-one unit like the XDJ RX3, you can simply plug a USB into the second USB port (top right of the unit) and press the record button beneath.

If you're using a CDJ and mixer setup from Pioneer you can download the DJM REC app (iPhone users only currently) and then plug your phone into the top right of the mixer and press record. Alternatively, you can connect a laptop via the USB port on the top left-hand side of the mixer and record into Rekordbox that way. If you're using the laptop option make sure you install the driver of the mixer and reboot your computer before trying. For example, if you're going to be recording from the Pioneer DJMV10 mixer into Rekordbox on your laptop you need to install this drive, reboot, connect your devices and then do your test recording. When installing the driver you will also notice that there is a program called DJM-V10 Setting Utility. You should use the following settings on the utility to record from the V10.

If you're using an older Pioneer mixer or some other type of mixer we recommend using an external device connected to the REC output on the back of the mixer. The Evermix and iRig units are popular for this.

The Pioneer DJM REC app for recording DJ sets

Test Recordings

Before you do a proper mix, you need to complete a test recording. The test recording will enable you to check it sounds correct, the levels are right and you're not getting any interference or errors. Whatever you do, don't forget this step! You don't want to waste two hours recording the best mix of your life, only to find out it didn't record anything or it's distorted.

Before you press record, test the levels. You want to make sure that the recorder is picking up the audio from both or all channels you're recording from. Simply play a track on each channel and check the signal is passing through. I normally just tap the CUE button to do this. I then want to fast forward to the loudest part of the track to play something at peak volume and see if it's clipping or not.

Avoid Clipping

Clipping is when your levels are too high. If you see red the recorder will cut some of the signal leaving you with a distorted recording. When recording avoid hitting the the red.

You also don't want to record at a level that is too low. If the level is too low you'll need to spend time turning up the volume later in audio editing software. That's something easy for music producers to do but a little harder for DJs who have no audio editing experience. If your levels are a bit low and you want a shortcut to fix the problem try mastering your mix recording with LANDR.

In the example below, you can see a normal wave form in blue that is not clipped. The red waveform takes up more than the available space. The red wave form will sound distorted because it's clipped.

An example of audio that is clipped

Imagine clipping a bit like a big pair of scissors cutting off the top and bottom of the waveform

Avoid Recording Ambient Sounds

Sometimes, new DJs make the mistake of recording the audio from the mic instead of the direct audio output. This means they will be recording the ambient sound of the room, the music and everything else. You don't want a mix recording to pick up on your expletives when you mess up a mix!

Balancing Your Gain Levels

Remember, when you mix from track to track to accurately balance your gain/trim levels. Above your EQs you'll find the gain/time knob which will control the gain (level) of each channel on the DJ mixer. In layman's terms it means the volume of the track. It's there so you can turn up the quieter songs or decrease the level of the loudest songs to achieve a consistent overall volume for your entire mix.

Many beginner DJs will record their first only to realise that every other song is too loud or too quiet. This is because the gain/trim level was either wrong the whole way through of there is a big variation in the volume range of your tracks. Older tracks often have quieter levels so you may need to boost them by turning up the gain so they equalise with the rest of your set.

Check your gain/trim levels before your record your mix and stay attentive to any volume changes while mixing. Make the necessary adjustments when needed but try to be subtle with any volume changes as they will be very noticeable on the final recording.

Avoid Overdoing the Effects

Another common first-recording mistake is to overdo the sound effects especially the filters. Sound effects are a great way to blend your music when used subtly at the right time. They work especially well at live gigs to increase the energy when needed but on a mix recording they can be too obvious. We suggest that your tone down your effects and make sure you don't overdo them.

Using a Mic

Radio stations often encourage their DJs to use the mic to introduce themselves and speak about the tracks they have chosen for the mix. Radio hosts might go one step further and conduct interviews, crack jokes or run their show like a podcast.

Talking directly to your audience helps you connect on a deeper and more meaningful level. It will help you stand out from other DJs who do not talk and build a fan base. Learning how to use a mic and be an interesting host will also greatly improve your confidence as an artist and public speaker.

If you're going to use a mic you need to check the levels, not just on it's own but in combination with the music. The sum of the volume from the mic and the music playing together might push you into the red. Make sure you do several test recordings to get the volume level just right. You want the audience to be able to hear you clearly without any distortion.

Many DJ mixers, such as the Pioneer DJM mixers, have one or two mic inputs. More expensive DJ controllers and all-in-one-units also have them. Simply plug in your mic, turn up the volume and speak. If your mixer gives you the ability to EQ the Mic experiment with different levels until you obtain a clear professional sound. I often reduce the bass to get a clear less breathy sound. Many DJs will also add a small amount of reverb to the mic for a more atmospheric and rich sound.

Have a Press Photo

Radio stations will often create a flyer for your show and ask you for a press photo. A DJ press photo is simply a photograph portrait of you. It's a reflection of your style and the quality of the image will directly influence on how professional you come across. Don't scrimp on your DJ press photos. Employ a professional photographer to get a high resolution well lit range of photos to use for promotion.

We recommend DJ photographer Thomas Hensher

Write an Artist Biography

Radio stations may also ask a DJ for their biography. A DJ bio is a short statement about the artist, detailing their unique offering, their experience and perhaps notable accolades or performances. If you're not a confident writer you can utilise an AI chat bot to help you create something.

Promo Links

Make sure you have shared your promotional materials with the radio stations and occasionally nudge them to share them with the stations followers. Along with your promo materials you need to provide all relevant links to your social media profiles. Links that potential new fans who enjoyed your set can use to find you online.

If you're using a mic during your mix you can simply inform the listeners directly about where to find you.


Thanks for reading this article on how to get the best DJ mix recording for your radio DJ set. We hope you found this information useful and if you have any questions let us know. You can also join our academy for DJ gig opportunities and radio show opportunities.



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