Your First Day With: Flow 8 Deck

Joey Santos | Read time: 5 mins
djing Flow 8 Deck Mixed in Key Pro
Last updated 6 April, 2018

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Flow 8 Deck
In this Your First Day With training, we’ll get you up and running with Flow 8 Deck, a new DJ app from the makers of Mixed In Key.

Today we’re going to get you started on Flow 8 Deck, which is Mixed In Key’s new DJ software that breaks the four-deck mixing barrier (you can have up to eight decks!). We’ll download it from the Flow 8 Deck site, install it on your machine, get your music on it, and do a mix.

Wait… eight-deck mixing?

While Flow 8 Deck is DJ software, it’s not just your run of the mill app for spinning two tunes together.

While entirely capable of standard two-deck mixing, Flow 8 Deck’s workflow has Mixed In Key’s characteristic ingenuity written all over it: You prepare all your tunes within the software itself, which analyses and segments them using markers. Once done, you can drop them on the decks, which can run up to eight, and it’s all made manageable because all tracks are completely in sync with one another – in fact, you won’t find any pitch faders / nudge functions on the decks, as they’re all snapped to a master tempo. This is why it’s essential to prepare and analyse your tracks first (you can’t drag songs directly to the decks from your browser).

It’s an interesting, streamlined take on DJing that would appeal to live mashup artists keen on creating improvised tunes on the fly without skipping a beat.

Installation

Flow 8 Downloads
You can purchase Flow 8 Deck for US$58 at its website.

Visit the Flow 8 Deck website where you can purchase a copy of Flow 8 Deck for your machine. It costs US$58 for a licence, and is compatible with both Mac and Windows computers.

  1. Point your browser to the Flow 8 Deck website
  2. Scroll down and click on the “Buy Now” button appropriate for your computer
  3. You’ll be brought to the Checkout page. Fill in your details and click “Buy Flow 8 Deck
  4. The latest version of Flow 8 Deck should begin downloading
  5. When done, go to your Downloads folder (or whatever folder you’ve saved it in) and double-click on the file “Flow+8+Deck.3.0.4.4466.dmg” if you’re on a Mac. For PC users, it’ll be “FlowSetup_3_0_2399_0.exe“. Follow the onscreen instructions to install it on your machine
Running Flow 8 Deck for the first time

Once you’ve installed Flow 8 Deck, you can now launch it for the first time.

  1. Double-click on the Flow 8 Deck app icon in your Applications folder (Mac), or Program Files (PC).
  2. Flow 8 Deck will start
  3. A window will pop up asking whether you’d like to backup your personalisations, just tick both boxes and click OK
  4. You will then be brought to the Prepare window of Flow 8 Deck

You’ll then be brought to the Prepare interface of Flow 8 Deck. This is where we’ll be importing your music files, whether from folders on your hard drive or as playlists from iTunes. But before that, let’s connect your DJ controller (if you’re using one!)

Connecting your DJ controller

You can use Flow 8 Deck entirely with your mouse and keyboard, but we think it’s more fun when you’ve got actual hands on control of the software. Flow 8 Deck has mappings for over 30 controllers from Pioneer DJ, Native Instruments, Numark, and Akai Pro, plus you can even make your own custom mappings for other Midi controllers.

Here’s how to connect a supported DJ controller (you can view the full list of controllers at the Flow 8 Deck website)

  1. Connect your DJ controller using the supplied USB cable. Plug one end to your laptop’s USB port and the other in your controller’s
  2. If your controller comes with a power adapter and requires it for use, connect that as well to ensure proper functionality. When in doubt, consult your DJ controller’s manual
  3. If it hasn’t power up already, turn your controller on by pressing/flicking its switch. Again, consult your controller’s manual if you’re unsure how to do this
  4. If your controller has an onboard audio interface, connect your speaker leads to your controller’s output jacks
  5. Flow 8 Deck automatically maps itself to your DJ controller if it’s supported

Importing music into Flow 8 Deck

Flow 8 Prep
The Prepare screen in Flow 8 Deck lets you import music from your hard drive or iTunes for analysis before dropping them onto the decks.

Unlike other DJ software, you can’t drag a song from your Finder or file browser directly onto the decks of Flow 8 Deck – you’ll have to bring them to the Prepare window first. This ensures that all your tracks are properly analysed beforehand, which you need to do anyway for those smooth, synced mixes.

There are two ways to add music into Flow 8 Deck:

From your hard drive:
  1. Make sure the Prepare button is highlighted on the upper left side of the screen. If it isn’t, click it now to go to the Prepare window
  2. Locate your music folders or the music files that you want to import into Flow 8 Deck
  3. Click on “Add Files and Folders”, then choose the folders or music files you’d want to add in. Click Open. You can also just drag and drop files directly onto the Prepare window
  4. Flow 8 Deck will then analyse the tracks that you’ve added, and will appear in your library
  5. You can double click on the track in your library to see it in the Prepare waveform display, which will show you the track in greater detail along with the Downbeat marker (the first beat of the track), along with segment markers that have automatically been placed
  6. You can move the Downbeat marker to the first beat in case Flow 8 Deck gets it wrong, and you can add your own segment markers by clicking on the beat where you’d want to add one, and clicking “Split Segment”
From iTunes
  1. Make sure the Prepare button is highlighted on the upper left side of the screen. If it isn’t, click it now to go to the Prepare window
  2. Click on Add iTunes Playlist. A window will pop up with all your playlists, including their corresponding track counts. Highlight the ones you want to add to Flow 8 Deck, and click Import
  3. Flow 8 Deck will then import all the music files from those iTunes playlists, and you can double click or drag them to the Prepare window’s waveform display to check the Downbeat marker and add segments

Your first mix

Now that we’ve got your controller hooked up and tunes analysed, it’s time for the fun bit – let’s get mixing! Click on the Play button on the upper left of the screen, which will take you to Flow 8 Deck’s performance window. Let’s try mixing with two decks first so you get a feel for the interface.

At the bottom half of your screen you’ll see tabs for your library – choose All Music Files, and pick one song. Click and drag it onto the deck on the left. You’ll see the waveform appear, along with track details like artist name, tempo / BPM, and musical key. The upper half of the deck display will show a zoomed in version of the waveform, while the lower half will show you the entire track.

A play button will appear on the lower left of the deck display. Press it to start playing the track, or press the play button on your DJ controller. You’ll see the waveform begin to scroll and music begin to play.

Now let’s take a look at the middle of the screen, which is home to the Flow 8 Deck mixer. At the top you’ll find the master tempo, which is based on the first song that you play in a session (you can adjust this manually too). Below that you’ll find three EQ knobs here (High, Mid, Low) and a volume fader for both decks, as well as a crossfader. Since we’re playing a tune on the left deck, let’s move the crossfader to the left. You can do this with your mouse or with your DJ controller’s crossfader if it has one

Now pick another song from your list (preferably in the same style of music or genre), and drag it onto the right deck. Now press the play button. Note that even though it has a different tempo, it’ll automatically sync its tempo to the track that’s currently playing. Now move the crossfader to the middle – both tracks are synced and beatmatched.

You can then move the crossfader all the way to the right to mix into your second song. That’s your first mix! Try to experiment beyond mixing track to track by clicking on the waveform segments in the lower half of the decks display. You’ll notice that when you click, Flow 8 Deck jumps to that part of the song at just the right time, even if it has to wait a little while before starting. This is called quantisation, and it ensures that even if you jump around a track (or multiple tracks), you’re still playing “in time” and minimises train wrecks.

Conclusion

8 Decks
DJing with Flow 8 Deck is an intuitive and streamlined experienced that leaves behind traditional DJing in favour of more creative multi-track mixing that just works. You can even mix with Stems if you want.

This is the basic workflow for Flow 8 Deck, whether you’re using two decks or up to eight. Importing and preparing your tracks is a crucial first step, because it’ll allow you to create some nifty live mashups when mixing with a bunch of songs thanks to the quantised nature of Flow 8 Deck’s playback.

Once you’ve imported tracks, you can simply drag and drop them to the decks in the Play window for mixing in an almost effortless manner that lets you explore more creative styles of mixing without worrying about tracks falling out of sync.

Once you’ve got comfortable with two decks, feel free to try out four decks mode and even eight decks! The cool thing is that this simple Import / Prepare / Playback process is the same all throughout.

Video talkthrough

Check out the other parts in this series:

What do you think about this software? Keen to give it a try? Let us know below.

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