5 Reasons To Read Your DJ Gear Manual


Reading the manual is the smartest thing you can do when you get a complicated piece of new DJ gear...

So you've got a new DJ controller (and software), and naturally you can't wait to start spinning tunes on it. Maybe you've bought a copy of How To Digital DJ Fast and are itching to start learning. The temptation is to read the quickstart (if that), get the software loaded, plug it in and start DJing away.

But there are loads of reasons why that's not always a great idea. I know it's boring, and it feels like work - but reading the manual is important, especially when it comes to complicated DJ gear and software. Here's why:

  1. You'll get going faster. Can't get something different to come out of your headphones than your speakers? It's in the manual. Audio coming from your laptop, not your DJ controller? It's in there too. Controls not doing what they're meant to? The manual! You're getting the idea: Drivers, audio configurations, mappings - all of these things often need your understanding in order for you to get your DJ gear working right
  2. You'll be less likely to think your gear is faulty. I have a confession to make. When I got my first DJ controller, I didn't read the manual, and so I didn't discover the jogwheel sensitivity controls on the back of the unit. Hence I couldn't work out until actually ringing the company why the jogs weren't working right. I was convinced the unit was broken! Don't embarrass yourself like I did: Read the manual...
  3. You'll be more confident. If you know everything your gear can do, you'll be far better placed to use it properly. What if you accidentally hit a keystroke, or a combination of controls, and something happens you've never seen before, or that you can't reverse? Now, what if that happens when you're actually performing a DJ set? By learning all the functions of your controller, it'll be less likely to surprise you when you least want it to...
  4. You'll outgrow your kit more slowly. So many people say "I'm bored of my controller" when it's got a whole host of functions they don't even know about. Even the simplest DJ controllers have a few tricks up their sleeves. As well as reading the manual, why not search for YouTube videos on your model, and see what other people can show you? Squeezing every last drop out of your gear rather than continually lusting after the next big thing is good practice, and will make you a better DJ
  5. You'll be able to help others. There's nothing nicer than helping someone out with a problem, and the more people you help, the more help comes back to you when you need it most. Why not become and expert on your controller, and chip in on the Digital DJ Tips Forum or elsewhere when people pop up with problems or issues? You'll feel good, make friends, and get more help yourself when you need it... and all because you bothered to read the manual in the first place

Extra tip: As often you don't get a printed manual any more, reading the electronic file can be that bit harder. Don't be put off: email the latest, biggest PDF version from the manufacturer's website straight to your Kindle or iPad and read it there. Or print it out if you have to (that way you can write on it too) - set the printer to two pages a sheet and double-sided if you can to save paper and ink costs.


It's true that manuals can be a bit "dry". If you find yourself reading the manual to your new DJ controller and thinking "OK, so now I know what these controls do... but what should I be doing with them?", then may I humble suggest you take a look at our How To Digital DJ Fast course? It's designed to show you what to do with the gear you've got, and is the logical next step once you've read the manual.

Is there anything that mystified you about your DJ controller... until you finally read the manual? Is there anything that still mystifies you about it even if you have read the manual? Now's your chance to tell us...

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  1. Robert Wulfman says:

    I actually enjoyed reading the manual on the NI Komplete Audio 6, it was well written and very easy to understand. I had unknowingly created a ground loop in my monitors and the manual helps me through it easily. Someone should be commended for that piece of work.

  2. Shishdisma says:

    I really can't echo this enough. Seriously you guys, virtually every single question you could ever have about your gear is almost always covered in the manual.

    Bonus tip: You can read the manual for kit you don't actually own, and you'll learn more about the gear than you could ever imagine! Nervous about playing on CDJs? Pioneer happens to have the manuals for every one of them online... Literally 110% of what you need to know about them can be found in a combination of staring at a picture of them, and skimming through the manual.

    Learning to read things like documentation is a landmark step in actually learning how equipment functions.

  3. Great advice. Another tip:

    As well as manuals for a lot of gear I'm likely to encounter saved in a document viewer in my phone, I have also saved images of the back panel of various install mixers in my camera roll. They're easy to find online, and it's saved my bacon a few times when I've been unable to pull the mixer out but NEED to find that pesky line input...

  4. Don't forget to read the manual of your software, as well! Traktor's manual is quite enlightening!

    • I agree. Spent all day yesterday going through the Traktor 2 manual and testing out everything on my controller, now I feel I have a good understanding and strong foundation to build upon.

  5. I currently own a mixtrack pro and have been searches on my next big midi controller. I'm leaning heavily on the denon mc 6000 since my budget is around $800. All to say that I've downloaded the denon manual and have already read it Which has made me familiar with its workings and set up. Can't wait to get it!!!

  6. Scoop..... What's your recommendation? I'm on a budget ($800) and don't see anything else that comes close to the mc6000.

  7. Mine live in the loo (car, motorbike, controller, stereo, phone etc manuals), and i do read em lol

  8. Don't forget to re-read. I'll read my traktor manual every year, because i forget things i don't use. But what you use and how always changes over time.

  9. I adore manuals, i explore them very often. So i know everything about my gear.

  10. DJ Forced Hand says:

    For controllers like the Novation Twitch, you're looking at a very sophisticated controller surface full of knobs, buttons and sliders. Novation really went overboard when they designed this controller because they not only made it with the touchstrips and grouped trigger buttons, but it works with Itch, and Traktor. What makes the Twitch truly exceptional is that they made an application to make sure it worked in Ableton Live. I've had my controller for over a year now and I still find new ways of using this swiss-army controller.

  11. Great article. This would save a lot of retailers and support crews a lot of time over the holiday season!
    It is especially true for the new era of dj gear with Hybrid design and multi function setup options.

    The desire to get into the mix often makes us skip the learning stage.

    I always make a point of reading the manual cover to cover before I get a new toy... then after I have learned to use it, i will read through again to see what else I can get out of it... and I'm always finding more tricks.

    Thanks Phil.. I'll have to share this link!

  12. Another good idea is to read the manual before you receive your new gear.
    While you're waiting for it to arrive you've got that excitement and energy which you can put to good use while you wait.
    Otherwise I find it very difficult to read about a product that I have rather than play with it.

  13. I think if DJ software was better designed it'd a lot easier to use and you wouldn't need to read the manual nearly as much.

    I don't mean to go off-topic, and Phil's given great advice to make the most of bad setup. But relying on manuals is a sign of deeper design problem.

    For 3D animation, I use Cinema 4D. There's no manual. C4D is 100 times more complex than DJ software, and 100 times easier to use. If C4D has a feature I don't understand, I press cmd-F1 and up pops a thorough explanation - complete with helpful visuals. Can you imagine anything close in Traktor?

    DJ software just seems stuck in the 90's when it comes to useability.

  14. I often have the opportunity to help train new guys on production and dj'ing and I have two major rules:

    1) Be prepared to work hard and work daily


    2) RTFM (read the f'n manual) or I answer no questions

  15. RTFM !
    Traktor manual = 333 pages. I had read it front to back 2 or 3 times before I bought Traktor, and still keep referencing it.
    I still keep finding new nuggets of information which make my DJing quicker, easier and more professional.

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