One of the most common things that newbies DJs often wonder is what is the best way to fade tracks with their controller or mixer. As you probably know already, it’s of utmost importance to learn how to properly fade in tracks in order to make your sets as dope as possible, and part of that has to do with learning the differences between crossfading, line fading, and their pros & cons. I have a significant amount of time DJing, so I know 1 thing or 2 about these 2 types of fading.
When it comes to which type of fading is better, it’s going to depend a lot on each DJs personal preferences. So honestly, there’s no concrete answer to this question. Some prefer fading in and out using just the volume faders and using the crossfader for abrupt cuts, while others prefer using crossfaders for a more traditional transition.
If you are just getting into DJing, then I would recommend that you keep it as simple as possible and just fade with the crossfader. It’s a very simple and no-nonsense way to fade your music, and the simplicity of it means that you can focus on improving your beatmatching or EQing instead.
However, as DJing starts feeling more natural and second nature, I would recommend that you start learning how to fade in and out using the volume faders instead. Many DJs tend to start using the crossfader in a different way after they start fading with the line faders, generally tending to tweak it from a more gradual curve to a more angular one. There are also a few technical reasons why line fading is preferred over crossfading too. If you want to learn more about this, and other differences between line fading and crossfading, please check below!
First of all, I think it’s important to talk about this topic because many people do not even know the technical differences between these 2 types of fadings. And it’s actually very simple.
Most modern controllers have at least 2 channels to mix with. Channels refer to the “passage” where music comes from. You can load one song on each channel, and you use the controller or mixer to either fade or mix these 2 pieces of music, while at the same time you beatmatch or work the EQ.
Now that you know this, let's talk about the differences between line fading and crossfading. Line fading refers to fading a track in using the volume slider (this is also called line fader). In other words, the DJ doing the fading would lower the volume of channel 1 while at the same time increasing the volume of channel 2, which effectively fades the output from one passage to another.
This is considered the best way to actually do fades for several reasons I will talk about in a moment.
In contrast, the crossfader is a horizontal slider that will vary the output from the different channels depending on the position of the slider. If the slider is right in the middle, the output from the channels will be equal, but if you move the slider left or right, the sound will be increasingly dominated by the corresponding channel. This is why crossfading is so favored by newbies. You just need to move the fader left to right or vice versa and the fading is done.
While you must be proficient at both types of fading methods to become an accomplished DJ, we all must admit that they both have their pros and cons, which means that for specific situations, one is better than the other and vise versa. Anyways, below I talk a little bit more about the good and bad things about both types of fading.
Using the Crossfader Is Easier Than the Line Fader
This is the first reason why crossfading is popular with newbies: it’s as simple as moving a slider left to right. In fact, I have taught some of my friends the basics of DJing and this is usually among the first things that I teach them. Since DJing can be so overwhelming at times, learning how to fade using the crossfader first makes a lot of sense so that people can learn everything as quickly as possible. Doing this allows me to start teaching them about the basics of beat matching without them worrying about other things.
The Crossfader Is Perfect for Quick Cuts
If you are going to incorporate any kind of quick or abrupt cuts on your mix, then let me tell you that the crossfader will become your best friend. In fact, I feel it’s a little bit awkward to do these cuts with the line fader. While I can pull it off, I feel like I can produce a better mix by just trusting the crossfader instead, and many of my friends think the same. Also, most modern mixers and controllers will allow you to adjust the crossfader’s curve, giving you more tools to work with, especially in certain genres.
The Crossfader Can Be Less Versatile Than the Line Fader
While you should learn how to use the crossfader, the truth is that it can definitely limit you, and this is because of several reasons. The first one is the fact that you have less control of the volume when using the crossfader than with the line fader. In fact, you are controlling 2 channels at the same time with the crossfader, and when using it you can’t really increase or decrease the volume in different amounts. This is one of the reasons why so many people prefer line faders.
Line Faders Give You More Precision with the Volume
This is the most common reason why most DJs use line faders over the crossfaders. As I said above, the reason why most DJs skip the crossfader is the fact that you control 2 channels and both channel volumes are increased/decreased by the same amount, which many DJs will find unacceptable, especially as they get better over time. If you are just getting into DJing, this won’t matter as much, but make sure you start learning to use the line faders as time goes on.
Some Controllers/Mixers Only Have Line Faders
If you are thinking of DJing in a club or venue in the future, then let me tell you that you really must learn how to use the line faders. This is because of several reasons. First of all, clubs tend to feature their own equipment, and there’s a chance that the crossfader on their controller might be broken. I’m saying this because it’s a very common occurrence. There are also a few controllers out there that do not even come with a crossfader, so using it might not even be a possibility depending on the type of gear that you have.
Which DJ Controller Is Easiest to Fade With?
This is a question that I’m asked a lot, and from the several controllers and mixers that I have tried over the years, there’s one that really stands out from the other ones, at least in the fading department. This controller is the DDJ SB3, and it’s one of the most beginner-friendly controllers out there, and I highly recommend it for anybody having trouble learning how to fade properly. This is because the fade-fx feature that this controller comes will do a great job of automatizing several different effects that you otherwise would have to do manually, essentially simplifying things and overall making DJing easier to learn. There are other controllers with similar features out there, but none of them really come close to the functionality of this one though
Which Music Genres Use Fading the Most?
This is a pretty obvious question for some, but the truth is that fading is mostly used in the house and EDM world. Gradual transitions are most common, but more abrupt cuts are also popular in certain subgenres. Trap music tends to also extensively use fading, but trap DJs tend to prefer more abrupt cuts instead of the more gradual fading typically found in EDM.