What is a Crossfader? (And How to Use it)

The crossfader is a well-known DJ term, but if you’re a beginner you might wonder, what is a crossfader and how do you use it? This is what you should know about the crossfader.

A crossfader is a slider on a DJ controller that you can slide to the left, to the right, or everything in between. The crossfader lets you manage from where the sound to your speakers is coming from. This can either be channel 1 through 4, depending on the crossfader settings.

What does a crossfader do

The crossfader is like a radio tuner knob. When you turn the knob you can go from one radio channel to the other. A crossfader is just not a knob but a slider.

You’ll find the crossfader at the bottom and in the middle of your DJ Controller. It’s a slider that you can either slide to the right, slide to the left, or let stay put in the middle.

When you slide it all the way to the left, you’ll hear what is playing on channel 1. When you slide it all the way to the right you’ll hear what is playing on channel 2.

When you keep the crossfader in the middle you’ll hear both decks, that is if they’re both loaded with a song and both songs are playing.

There are also DJ controllers with 4 channels which you can assign to the left (A) or the right (B) side of the crossfader. These 4 channels have 3 different options. Option “A”, option “Through” or option “B”.

When you set a channel on “A”, it will correspond with the left side of the crossfader. Setting a channel on “B” will correspond with the right side of the crossfader.

Setting a channel on “through” the crossfader has no use and you can just leave it alone during your mixes. DJs that use this setting like to mix with the volume faders and the EQ knobs. More on EQ knob mixing later on in this post.

When to use the crossfader

A crossfader is generally used to transition from one song to the other song. The way that DJs do this, however, depends on the type of music they’re playing.

Music styles that need quick cuts or transitions often use the crossfader, because it’s the fastest method. You could also slide both volume sliders, one down and done up, but the crossfader is an easier way to do this.

Hip-Hop DJs for example, use the crossfader a lot. They use it to drop parts of one song into the other song, the transition to another song, and they also use it a lot for scratching.

House DJs, on the other hand, often prefer to use the volume faders and the EQ knobs on the mixer. It gives a little more control over the sound which leads to clearer transitions.

So when you use the crossfader will depend on 2 things:

  1. Which style of music do you play
  2. Personal preference.

Pop music is a music genre where you can use both ways to transition. Because with pop music you can make quick drops but also do some mixing with the EQ knobs.

To start practicing using the crossfader, load two tracks, and make drop transitions. Drop the next song in on the one by fully cutting out song one and starting number 2, with the crossfader.

So count with the music and when you reach the last bar of the chorus, for example, 4,2,3,4, and 1, simultaneously switch de crossfader to the other and press the play button on the other track.

Mixing with the crossfader or the volume fader

When you’re wondering if you should use the crossfader or the volume faders, think about your usual transitions. Do you like to drop it on the one or do you like to beat match and mix in a song? Als does your music genre require you to be good at?

Something I also want to add, you don’t have to use the crossfader.

Some DJs prefer to just use the volume sliders, even when they’re making quick drops. There is no better way to do it. The better way is often the way that you’re used to and that you are good at.

How to use EQ knobs

Let’s talk a little bit about the EQ knobs for your transitions. The EQ knobs are only used to slowly introduce a new song. They’re not used for quick cuts.

Almost all DJ controllers have 3 EQ knobs. These knobs control the low, mid, and high-frequency ranges. Also known as a 3-band EQ.

Transitioning with the EQ knobs is almost the same as the volume faders, except that with these 3 knobs you can manage the volume of the low, the mid, and the high sounds.

For example, you can start the track with the high sounds, cutting the lows and the mids out. Then during your mixing in time, you slowly adjust the EQ knobs to introduce the new song into the current playing song.

The art of these types of transitions is to not make the sounds clash. For example, when one song has a strong base, cut the base of the other track, or lower the base. This way the transition will sound much clearer and smoother.

Maybe a better way to explain it is, to try to let the tracks not compete with each other but enhance each other. When the track has more than high sounds, don’t try to add more high sounds from the other track.

You can use this type of transition in music genres where you have a lot of instrumental music. Genres like House, Progressive House, Techno, and Trance.

I’d suggest you find out for yourself what you like to use for your transitions. Try to use the crossfader and try to use the volume faders and EQ knobs. Also, keep your music genre in mind but stick to the one you like the most.

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