At a party or dance, a good DJ builds energy and excitement combined with a mix of songs tailored for the audience. Energy stays high because there's never any downtime. One song mixes with and moves into the next using a technique called crossfading, and iTunes has an automatic crossfading tool built-in. With songs of similar style and tempo, you can create a crossfaded playlist mixing your choice of music.
Build playlists of songs to mix from your iTunes library. In iTunes, press and hold "Ctrl" while pressing "N" to create a new playlist. When the sidebar opens on the left, name your playlist and begin dragging songs from the library window. You can adjust song order either manually by dragging, or by clicking the "Sort by Manual Order" button and choosing a sort method from the drop-down menu.
Add beats per minute information for your songs to suggest beatmatching. DJs regularly match song tempos and line these up in song mixes. While iTunes does not beatmatch as well as DJ software can, BPM can be entered for each song in your library using the "Get Info" selection on the File menu. Click the "Info" tab and enter the tempo in the BPM box. You can create smart playlists in iTunes to group songs of similar tempo. Apps are also available to identify BPM for song files.
Enable crossfading in iTunes by clicking "Edit" from the menu bar, selecting "Preferences," then the "Playback" tab. Click the checkbox to the left of "Crossfade Songs" to turn on the feature, and drag the slider to set the length of the crossfade.
Adjust a playlist song's start and end times to skip intros and fade endings to tighten crossfade performance. Click to select a song, then click "Edit" from the menu bar, select "Get Info" and then the "Options" tab. Click the "Start Time" or "Stop Time" checkboxes and enter a time adjustment.
Select and play back your playlist using standard iTunes controls. Each song will fade out at the end, as the next song fades in, creating a seamless DJ-style performance. Crossfading works with iTunes' random play feature to add an element of the unexpected into your playback.
Tips & Warnings
- Once you've mastered the mix in iTunes, there are other DJ software packages that can access your iTunes library, adding more sophisticated mixing tools. Look for products such as Serato DJ, PCDJ Red Mobile 2 and Cross DJ Free.
- If you choose songs that are adjacent on the same, original album, iTunes does not crossfade between the songs. Adding the songs to a playlist in different order or using the random play feature will prevent automatic shut-off of crossfading. The instructions for iTunes included here are for version 126.96.36.199 for Windows, the most recent release at the time of publication.
- Photo Credit moodboard/moodboard/Getty Images
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