dj lexicon

DJ Glossary

Here is the DJ lexicon:

DJ Glossary

First of all it is important to know what we are talking about, so here is the DJ lexicon.

Because the often technical terms can be incomprehensible to a beginner.

Here are some of them, the list is probably not complete because there are many words in the DJ vocabulary.

We will see the vocabulary for :

  • The language
  • The mixing desk
  • Turntables, and DVS
  • Audio files and their formats
  • The effects

Enjoy your reading.

Let's start with the DJ lexicon of language:


A cappella It is a track without instruments, the audio track contains only voices, as for being remixed

Aftermovie : Video of the most memorable moments of a festival, to promote the next season

Anthem Piece chosen by the event organizers to represent the event

Arrangement : Composition of a piece, melodic and rhythmic creation, or the opposite


Bassline : English term which designates the bass line. In this respect it is the essential instrument and sound in electronic music

Beatport : Online music download platform

Boiler room DJ set with a reduced audience, filmed in streaming, the audience has its back to the DJ

Boomer or woofer Low frequency loudspeaker, recognizable by their large diameter

Bootleg : Illegal remix of a song where samples are used without copyright

Break, breakdown Calmest moment of the piece, this moment allows certain sequences

Breakbeat It is a piece made up mainly of rhythmic instruments, that is to say that it is a style of instrumental music

Build up This is the moment before the drop, characterized by the repetition and acceleration of the snare drum and in particular the rise in frequency of certain instruments. Thus, a stress effect is created before the release at the moment of the drop


Clap Finger or hand snap sound, played as a snare drum

Harmonic key Coding defining the tonality of a song, indicating a note range from 1 to 12 (like the 12 keys of a piano keyboard) and a mode A or B (major or minor)

Club mix or extended mix It's the version of a song intended to be mixed by a DJ, indeed it's the extended version of a song

Cover : Represents the cover of a title in an electronic way (image)


DJ: Disk jockey, animator of musical evening linking the music without cuts

DJ set Representation of a DJ with his equipment, vocabulary normally used in tennis (set)

Drop Strongest moment of a song, so it's the release of energy after the build up


Edit Light modification of the arrangement of a piece, by adding or removing an instrument or a track

EP Extended Play : Means Extended Play, it is the between 2 tracks and the album, generally 4 or 5 tracks


Hat Drum cymbal sound

Hi-hat Very high pitched drum cymbal sound


Introduction, intro Beginning of a piece, characterized by simplicity, because few instruments are present to introduce the rest of the instruments that will compose the piece


Kick or kick bass Kick drum: A kick drum is a drum that is played with the foot on the drum set. It is the basic element of the rhythmic in electronic music, the kick is played at each beat (hear: boom, boom, boom)


Label In charge of the distribution and communication of the artists' works in music, generally gives a musical artistic direction

Lead It is the main melody of a piece, moreover it consists of several instruments playing together

Light-jockey Animator light of stage or club, accompanying in a synchronized way the disc jockey who animates him by the sound to give a single and same show

Line up Program of a festival, enumeration and order of the artists

Live set The songs played in a live set are edited and arranged live with the production equipment. The artist plays virtual or real instruments in addition to the turntables


Main stage : The biggest stage of a festival, the main stage

Mainstream commercial in French, broadcasted on the big channels and radio

MAO : Computer assisted music

Mashup Fusion of several pieces to make only one, can be done live, in mix or cut

Master Designates the piece that will be the reference for creating copies

Mastering Final process after the arrangement and mixing of a song. In other words it is the last step where the last adjustments are made

Mixing Volume and EQ adjustment between instrument tracks within a song

DJ Mixing Mixing: Mixing of at least 2 sound sources or rapid linking between the 2. Like a single piece, it consists in not leaving any silence

Harmonic mixing DJ mix: DJ mixes with tuned pieces. Thus the harmonic mix is like a piece without false note, a comfort for the audience


Original mix Original piece as its name indicates, and rightly so, it is the edition of the artist's piece without modification

Outro The end of a piece, the conclusion, the opposite of the intro


Podcast Video or audio broadcast. Broadcasting on a platform of songs to discover for DJ podcasts (ex: soundcloud)


Radio edit Version of a song formatted for radio. More precisely, the duration is limited to be played on radio

Release : Official release, available for sale

Remake The arrangement is created by listening to the original song. The arrangement is created from the listening of the piece

Remix Creation of a song from an original title using tracks from this title (e.g. voice, melody)

Rip or ripping Recording during a radio show or a live show (ripping a cd)

Camelot wheel This wheel allows to know the harmonic compatibility between pieces. Thanks to this wheel and the fact that it is composed of 24 squares (2×12), it represents the 12 semitones of the major scale, and 12 semitones of the minor scale for the harmonic mix


Sample sample in English. Small piece of a track or simply of an instrument. It is thus the material for the sampler

Sampler Recorder of small sound phrases, used to create rhythms

Scratch Manipulation of a vinyl record to produce repeating sounds (stutters) from a track. Thus, combined with the crossfader, the turntable and the mixer become a musical instrument. Finally, for scratching, any type of sound can be used (e.g. voice, instruments, rhythmic)

Sidechain Compression of a sound signal by another sound signal. This technique allows to free space for some instruments when they should not play together. Example : compress the bass with the kick, so that the 2 play independently

Rhythmic signature Definition of the number of beats per bar (ex: Techno : 4/4, Tango : 3/4)

Snare Snare drum, drum instrument, drum roll, buid-up element (indeed it is the sound that makes clack)

Synthesizer Electronic keyboard, creates sounds from electrical oscillators (sound synthesis)


Tempo Beat per minute, unit of measurement of speed in music

Track : Piece or title

Tweeter Loudspeaker that emits high frequencies, for the highs (compressor, event) opposite the woofer (low frequencies)


Video edit Version of the song for the video, slightly longer than the radio edit

To complete this DJ lexicon let's move on to the material.

DJ Lexicon for the mixer :


Ball, pan Balance or panning, this is the adjustment between the left and right outputs of the channel, or the master

Booth Output for stage monitor (can be used as master output)


Cushioning : The fact of setting the tempos together, of superimposing them

CH1 CH2 CH3 etc Sound source input channel (vinyl, cd, mp3)

Clip or Peak Is the exceeding of the maximum threshold in db

Crossfader The crossfader allows the selection of the output channel to the master

Cue or Pfl (pre-listening) Listening to the sound source by channel before the master output (i.e. listening to the channel on headphones before mixing to the master)

Cut-off Frequency threshold setting (to activate an effect below or above this threshold for example)


Db Decibel (unit of sound level or sound pressure)

Dry / Wet Sound transformation level setting (dry=0%,wet=100%)


Fader While the gain controls the volume of the sound source, the fader controls the volume of the channel

Flex Fx loop, send, return Output of the neutral sound signal and input after application of effect (external processor to the mixer)

Fx Digital effect (example: delay, phaser, etc)


Gain, level, trim The gain, level, or trim is the pre-adjustment of the sound level of a channel


Head-Phones Headphone output

High, mid, low : high frequency (3000 to 20000Hz), medium frequency (200 to 3000Hz), low frequency (20 to 200Hz).


Isolator (eq) Isolation of a selected frequency range (high, mid, low)


Line / phono Selection of the input according to the connected source


Master The master is the output of the mixer. Thus, the sources of the channels are mixed there

Mic Microphone input

Midi (Musical instrument digital interface) : Communication protocol between electronic devices. Connection by cable (midi cable, usb, ethernet, rewire) or wireless (bluetooth)

Mixer, mixer : Mixing desk


Rec out Recording output (so it is independent of the master, the level is constant for the recording)


Saturation Degradation of the sound quality due to a too high level

Session in Auxiliary input Session out Auxiliary output

Signal ground Ground connection (with phono input)

Split cue Headphone output function that allows each channel to be separated (channel 1 to the left ear, channel 2 to the right ear)


Tap Manual Bpm setting

Talk over Lowering the volume (master) to make room for the microphone (in db)


Vu-meter Light indicator showing the sound intensity (in db-vu: electrical intensity)


Warm up Beginning of the evening, a kind of introduction to "warm up the audience" before the main part of the evening

DJ lexicon for turntables and DVS (digital vinyl system) :


Beat : Time of measurement

Beatmatching Synchronization of tempos (Bpm) between 2 songs for the chaining, such as the tempo setting in French

Beat grid Grid superimposed on the sound waveform image, to mark the rhythmic beats

Beat markers Marker on each beat (Bpm)

Bpm Beat per minute, to determine the speed of a rhythm

Browser Audio file manager, it's also the arrangement of tracks by name, bpm, etc.


Cell : Diamond and diamond holder set

Tone key (key) Major key of a piece of music (the reference note)

Cue point (or cue point) Virtual landmark (start of track)


Deck : Virtual turntable

Diamond At the end of the cell which is in direct contact with the vinyl, also called sapphire


Felt Positioned between the turntable and the vinyl record, in fact it is what allows the record to slide.


Hot cue Virtual reference point that can be positioned during playback


Jog dial or Jog wheel Wheel : Wheel that allows to go forward or backward in the song. It also allows scratching and pitch bending according to the setting (jog mode)


Limit Reduces the sound level to avoid distortion and saturation of the sound

Loop Sound loop (a part of the track playing without n)

Loop in, out The loop in is the starting point of the loop. Conversely, the loop out is the end point of the loop.


Master tempo The master tempo is the maintenance of the tone after the pitch has been modified


Pitch The pitch is the speed setting of the sound source in percentage (often 8 or 16%)

The Pitch bend The pitch bend is the temporary increase or decrease of the pitch

Pitch range Pitch adjustment range (maximum and minimum value)


Quantize Unit of adjustment of the number of beats


Sampler Recording of a sample from a sound source. Indeed the recall of the sample is instantaneous.

Sync : Track tempo synchronization


Waveform Waveform: Shape of the sound wave (often colored according to the frequencies), it is a visual overview of the sound. More precisely, the shape of the sound wave allows to determine the strong and weak moments of a piece visually.

Audio files :

Firstly, there are compressed and uncompressed audio formats. Also there is reversible (LFAC, ALAC, Shorten) and irreversible (AC-3, MP3, mp3PRO, OGG, VQF, WMA, AU, ASF, AA, ACC, ATRAC) compression.

Furthermore the sampling frequency (44,1,48,88,2,96,128,176,4,192 kHz) and the resolution (8,16,24 bits) determine the weight (in bytes) of the audio file.

To know that the flow is the speed (in bit/second), it is the speed of diffusion of the data.

So the size of an audio file will be proportional to its quality.

This is when an MP3 file (thus compressed) but with a high bit rate (320kbit/s) will be of quite good audio quality.

In this area if you are using compressed formats, choose high bit rate compressions for better audio quality.

DJ Glossary for audio file formats :

Aiff Apple audio format (audio interchange format)

Mp3 Audio compression algorithm (MPEG-1/2 audio layer III)

OGG : Free audio format

Wav wav audio format (waveform audio format) WMA Windows audio format (windows media audio)

DJ Lexicon for effects :

Note that the names of the effects may differ from manufacturer to manufacturer.


Chorus Digital effect (the chorus gives the effect of a unison playback, i.e. with a single sound source)

Crush Digital effect (in general, crush deteriorates the sound by adding digital artifacts or distortion)


Delay Digital effect (the delay is a sound effect that repeats a signal like an echo that decreases in volume in proportion to the number of repetitions, while the signal is faithful to the original)


Echo Digital effect (the echo is a sound effect repeating a signal that degrades in order to lower the volume in proportion to the number of repetitions)


Filter High-pass and low-pass filter in one rotary knob (hi-pass, low-pass)

Flanger Digital effect (the flanger is a sound effect obtained by adding to the original signal the same signal but slightly delayed)


Gate Digital effect (so the gate cuts the sound of the source under a pre-determined threshold in db)


Lfo Digital effect (the lfo is applied with an effect because it does not create an effect on its own. So it varies the intensity of the effect cyclically)


Phaser Digital effect [by the way, the phaser is a sound effect obtained by creating a "hole" in the frequency spectrum. In order to create the effect, we modulate this "hole", all this on a frequency range, and at a defined speed (LFO)]

Pitch shifter Digital effect (the pitch shifter is a sound effect that changes the tone of the sound)


Reverb Digital effect (the reverb is a sound effect of reverberation to the point that you think you are in a hall, a cathedral or a studio)


Sampler Digital effect (the sampler allows to record in order to loop a small part of the sound)


Trans/Transform Digital effect (the transform cuts the sound in rhythm, so the sound is chopped)

Actually the list of effects and their parameters can be very long, here are the most frequently used ones.

Conclusion :

First of all DJing is an art and you have to know what you are doing when you mix.

In addition, it is necessary to know your equipment perfectly, first of all you have to see if it is well suited for the use you make of it.

And to talk about it, you need to have the words, so language is essential.

So how can you understand what a DJ is saying if you don't understand what he is talking about.

If you are new to DJ-ing you will learn that you can learn from those who already know.

Watching (or rather listening) to how pro DJs do it is a solution.

And now that you know more about language with this DJ lexicon, it only remains to practice then good mix !!!!

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