Your Questions: How Do I “Read” The Colours In DJ Waveforms?

Phil Morse | Founder & Tutor
Read time: < 1 min
Last updated 5 April, 2018


The “spectrum” waveform option in Traktor. Most DJ software nowadays has the option to have waveforms colour coded to show different frequencies.

Digital DJ Tips reader Karlton writes: “I am trying to figure out how to ‘read’ a waveform. In other words, ‘what do all the pretty colours mean?’ I am trying to differentiate what the different colours in the waveform represent as in snare, kick, high hat, vocals, bass etc.”

Digital DJ Tips says:

There are actually two things here. Firstly, knowing what frequencies various parts of your track occur at, and then, knowing how your DJ software is displaying those frequencies. So to start with the first part:

Low frequencies – Bass lines, kick drums
Mid frequencies – Synths, pianos, vocals, snare drums/hand claps
High frequencies – Cymbals, crashes etc

You can test the above by turning down any of the three EQs and seeing what elements they “turn down” in your track.

Secondly, it’s knowing what colours your DJ software displays the frequencies in. Check your manual for details of that, but also bear in mind that in some software, this is configurable – in Serato DJ, for instance, you can even set it so that when you use the EQ controls, the waveform changes colour to show you the frequencies present in what you’re actually hearing, as opposed to how the track is before any EQ has been applied.

How do you prefer to have your waveforms shown in your DJ software? Any further tips for Karlton? Please feel free to add to this article in the comments.

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