Reader Edgar Nieto writes: "I was searching on your website about recorders to see if you have any reviews but I didn't see any. I guess my wider question is: How can I record my sets using my laptop, or what do recommend for a beginner to do this?"
Digital DJ Tips says:
This is a common question and there are lots of ways you can do this, depending on your circumstances. First thing to be said is: You must record your DJ sets. That's a given. If you don't record and listen back to your DJing, you'll get better far more slowly. So now we've got that straight, what options are there?
Recording DJ sets
- Record direct from your DJ software - This is the simplest way. Most full-strength DJ software will allow you to do this. The software will record a WAV or MP3 direct to your hard drive as you're playing. All you do is hit record. So why look any further? Because a lot of software supplied with today's DJ controllers is "LE" software, or cut-down software with features disabled, designed to make you buy the full version - and this is typically one of the disabled features. Or you may have performance issue when doing this
- Record using free sound software - Depending on your computer, it is sometimes possible to use software (such as SoundFlower on the Mac) to re-route audio around your system. This all depends on your set-up and on whether you are using an external sound card or a controller with a built-in sound card, the latter meaning it's harder or impossible to do this. But if you're using an external card, you can sometimes set things up so that a third-party program, such as Audacity (free audio manipulation software) can record directly what you're doing. It's fiddly though
- Record the audio output from your DJ controller - If your DJ controller has two audio outputs (say, 1/4" jacks and RCA, or booth and master), you can plug something into the spare one and record the output that way. That "something" could be an external recorder (which is what you asked about), or just a smartphone with a recording app, of which there are several for iOS and Android - search in your app store. You'll need the right lead, but it's easy enough. This method can also work if you route the audio back into your computer and use Audacity to record your computer's input.
How do you record your DJ sets? Is there any software or set-up you swear by, or have you come up with novel solutions to sticky recording problems? We'd love to hear your views, experiences and suggestions in the comments.