This is the DJ Dictionary, the A-Z of terms frequently used in the electronic music industry and all of their definitions. This post was written especially for a good friend who said they were in need of a resource like this. It’s also taken me the longest to write so far. I’m sure there’s a bunch of words I’ve forgotten so I hope to continue adding to this list as time goes on. If you spot anything that’s missing or maybe has another name where you’re from, please comment below and I’ll add it to the list.
Adapter: A device that connects pieces of equipment that cannot be connected directly. Synonym: jack
“Can I borrow your headphone adapter for my set tonight?”
Album: A collection of recordings released as a single item. Synonym: LP
“Did you listen to the whole album yet?”
Album Artwork: The front of the packaging of or artwork associated with a commercially released audio recording product.
“Did you see the album artwork for that tune?”
Artist: A person who composes, produces, conducts, or performs music. Synonym: musician
“Make sure that the artists get to the club on time tonight.”
Auto Cue: A function that sets your cue point for you by finding the first sound of a track, eliminating any silence beforehand.
“Make sure you turn auto cue on before your set tonight.”
Bar: A measure of time that is marked by a regular beat.
“The drop comes in at the end of this bar.”
Bass: The lowest range of pitch.
“Turn up the bass.”
Beat: The basic unit of time in music and foundation of rhythm; when you tap your foot to music you are tapping to the beat.
“Count to the beat in your head to help you bring the next track”
Beatmatch: To synchronise the tempos of two or more recordings.
“Your beatmatching was spot on in that set”
Blend: To create a smooth and gradual transition between two or more audio recordings
“Blend these two tunes together”
Booth: A structure holding the DJ equipment and that a person stands behind to play their set
“It’s your turn to play! Get in the booth.”
BPM (Beats Per Minute): A measure of tempo
“These two tracks are playing at the same BPM”
Cable: Insulated wire or wires having a protective casing and used for transmitting electricity, sound or data
“This cable connects the CDJ to the mixer.”
CD (Compact Disc): A digital storage device that can hold up to 700 MB of data or 80 minutes of audio
“Your CD won’t play because it’s scratched.”
CDJ: A digital music player used for specifically for DJing, designed to play music from CDs, USBs or a computer.
“Press play on on the CDJ now”
Channel: A band of frequencies
“The CDJs are connected to channels 2 and 3.”
Channel Fader: A control that adjusts the volume of a channel’s signal
“Use the channel faders and EQ controls to blend your tunes smoothly.”
Controller: A device which behaves as a mini mixer and turntables combined and is usually used in conjunction with DJ software.
“Can I have a mix with your controller?”
Cross Fader: A control used to merge multiple audio sources channels and vary their volumes
“Make sure the cross fader’s set in the middle if you’re only using the channel faders”
Cue: To set a piece of audio in readiness to play at the desired starting point
“Cue your next track up now”
Cue Point: The desired initial point in a piece of audio to play from
“Save a cue point at 1:50”
Delay: An audio effect that records an input signal and then plays it back after a period of time; an echo.
“That delay effect sounded sweet!”
DJ (Disc Jockey): A person who plays recorded music, generally to other people on the radio or at a party or nightclub.
“You could be the best DJ in the whole world.”
Dual Adapter: A device that allows two headphones to be connected to the mixer through to the one audio jack. Synonyms: headphone splitter, audio jack splitter
“Don’t forget to pack your dual adapter!”
Effects: Analogue or digital devices or controls that are used to alter the way an audio source sounds.
“Some DJs rely on the effects way too much.”
EP: A musical release containing more tracks than a single, but is usually unqualified as an album or LP. An EP commonly contains 4 tracks.
“This EP is the absolute best!”
Ethernet Cable: A network cable to connected devices together, often used to connect CDJs to each other. Synonym: link cable.
“Can you bring a spare ethernet cable to the club tonight for the CDJs?”
EQs: Levels of the frequency of an audio signal, and the controls which allow you to adjust them. Most mixers will have controls split into the lows, mids and highs.
“Make sure your EQs are all set to 12 o’clock.”
Filter: A control that emphasises or eliminates a range of frequencies from an audio signal.
“Don’t touch the filter.”
Flanger: An audio effect where two identical signals are mixed together, one delayed by a small and gradually changing period.
“They used way too much flanger in that set.”
Frequency: The speed of the vibration which determines the pitch of a sound. A higher frequency equals a higher pitch.
“The pitch is at a higher frequency.”
Gain: A unit of measurement used to mean the ratio of a signal output of a system to the signal input of the system… Essentially it’s like a volume knob for each channel.
“Turn down the gains or you’ll redline!”
Headphones: A device consisting of a pair of earphones joined by a band placed over the head, for listening to audio.
“Put your headphones on.”
Highs: The highest range of frequencies in an audio file.
“Turn your highs down when you first bring in the next track.”
Hot Cue: a cue point that can be set on an audio file on the fly.
“They set a Hot Cue at 45 seconds in.”
ID3 Tag: A metadata container that stores information about an MP3 file within the audio file such as the track title, artist name and record label.
“Keep your ID3 tags organised to easily find the music you want.”
Label: A brand or trademark associated with the marketing of a musical recording.
“What label did they release it on?”
Link Cable: A network cable to connected devices together, often used to connect CDJs to each other. Synonym: ethernet cable
“Can you bring a spare link cable to the club tonight for the CDJs?”
LP (Long Playing): A collection of tracks, longer than a EP. The term LP originally referred to a longer length vinyl but is now also often used for CDs and digital downloads too. Synonym: album.
“The new S.P.Y LP is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G”
Master Tempo: A pitch-correction control that allows you to keep the pitch constant as you change the tempo of an audio file.
“Turn the master tempo off for a richer sound.”
MC (Master of Ceremonies): A vocal artist responsible for raising and maintaining the energy in the room.
“Some MCs are so great and some just need to learn when to shut up.”
Microphone: A device, used by an MC or vocalist, that converts sound waves into electrical energy variations which can be amplified, transmitted, or recorded.
“Turn up the microphone, you can’t hear the MC.”
Mids: The middle range of frequencies in an audio file
“Let the mids punch through in this next track”
Mix: The process of combining multiple audio recordings into a single output, usually to create a smooth transition from one track to the next.
“It’s your turn to have a mix”
Mixed in Key: Software that analyses the key signatures of digital audio files
“Just put the track through Mixed in Key to see what key it’s in”
Mixer: An electronic device for combining, routing, and altering a number of audio signals
“Turn on your mixer before you turn on your speakers”
Mono: One channel.
“The headphones are set to mono so the same signal will come out of both the left and right sides”
MP3: A standard format for compressing audio into a small file.
“Can you please send me an mp3 of your latest mix?”
Phrase: A unit of musical meter – has been described as the ‘sentence’ of music.
“Drop you next track at the start of this next phrase.”
Pitch: How high or low a note is.
“Make the pitch a bit lower”
Pitch Control (or Pitch Slider): A control on your CDJ, controller or turntable that allows you to change the pitch and speed of an audio signal.
“Adjust the pitch control to get the tracks back in time with each other.”
Playlist: A list of tracks that you can choose to play from.
“Load up your playlist on the other CDJ.”
Press Pack: A pre-packaged kit of promotional materials for an artist. Is distributed to members of the media for promotional use. Synonyms: press kit, media kit
“Can you please send me your press pack?”
Press Shot: A photo taken to promote an artist and is often included in a press pack.
“Which press shot should we use for the album artwork?”
Promoter: A person or company that finances and/or organises events.
“Chat to the promoter about the set times.”
RCA Cable: An electrical cable used to carry audio and typically connects your CDJs or turntables to your mixer.
“Have you got a spare RCA cable?”
Records: (noun) Thin plastic discs carrying recorded audio in the grooves of each surface to be played on a turntable. Synonyms: vinyl, wax.
“Check out that stack of records.”
Record: (verb) To convert live audio into a permanent form such as a digital file for subsequent reproduction or broadcast.
“Let’s record our set tonight.”
Rekordbox: A free DJ software and app from Pioneer DJ that enables you to prepare and manage your music files for a DJ set.
“Save your cue points using Rekordbox.”
Remix: A new version of a musical recording produced by altering from its original state by adding, removing, and/or changing elements of the track.
“The remix of this song is amazing.”
Reverb: An effect where the sound of an audio file is made to reverberate slightly.
“Don’t over do that reverb effect.”
Scratch: A technique used to produce distinctive sounds and effects by moving a record back and forth on a turntable and manipulating the crossfader on a mixer.
“Can you teach me to scratch like you?”
Set: A DJ performance. Synonym: mix
“Get on the decks, it’s your set!”
Soundcard: A device which can connect to a computer to allow the use of audio components for music production, manipulation, recording, playing etc.
“Now I can use my soundcard to adjust the volume of what I play from my laptop.”
Soundcloud: A music and podcast streaming platform that lets you listen to audio from around the world, and upload your own.
“Upload your set to Soundcloud so you can share it on Facebook.”
Speaker: A device that converts electrical impulses into sound.
“Turn up the speakers loud.”
Tempo: The speed at which a track is played.
“This track is at a slower tempo than the other one.”
Thumb drive: A small solid-state drive that connects to a device through a USB port that can be used to contain and transfer digital files. Synonyms: USB drive, flash drive
“Drag and drop playlists to your thumb drive via Rekordbox to mix with.”
TRS Cable: A cable with a tip, ring and sleeve and is commonly used to connect phones or computers to speakers or headphones.
“Pass me the TRS cable, I want to play a track from my phone.”
Track: A singular piece of music on a musical release. Synonyms: tune, song
“This track that the DJ’s playing right now is sick!”
Tracklist: The written list of individual tracks that make up the contents of a DJ set
“Make sure you post the tracklist of the set that you recorded”
TS Cable: A cable with a tip and a sleeve, generally used for mono, unbalanced signals.
“I connect my headphones to the mixer via a TS cable”
Turntable: A circular revolving plate that plays vinyl records.
“Will there be turntables at the club tonight if I want to play some vinyl?”
USB: A small solid-state drive that connects to a device through a USB port that can be used to contain and transfer digital files. Synonyms: thumb drive, flash drive
“Drag and drop playlists to your thumbdrive via Rekordbox to mix with.”
Vinyl: Thin plastic discs carrying recorded audio in the grooves of each surface to be played on a turntable. Synonyms: records, wax
“Show me your collection of vinyl.”
VIP (Variation in Production): A remix of a track by the track’s original producer.
“Have you heard the VIP? It’s so good.”
Volume: A quantity or power of sound or level of loudness.
“Turn up the volume!”
Wave File: A file format for storing uncompressed audio.
“Send me the wave file of your new tune”
Wax: Thin plastic discs carrying recorded audio in the grooves of each surface to be played on a turntable. Synonyms: records, vinyl
“Show me your wax.”
XLR Cable: A balanced cable commonly used to connect the mixer to your speakers.
“This XLR cable isn’t long enough.”