Using USB Sticks for Mixers and Audio Interfaces

A Quick DJ USB Stick Guide

As a DJ your music is you, without it you’re not able to give a personal touch. You have to bring your music with a flash drive. When it comes to USBs you only need to be aware of a few certain aspects for managing your own library. In this quick reference guide on DJ USB sticks we’ll go over the basics so you don’t run into any trouble.

File Systems

File Systems. USB sticks have different styles of file formatting which if incorrectly set will prevent audio interfaces, controllers and software from properly reading the files. Unfortunately you can’t change the USB format without wiping the drive of all it’s data so that’s the first thing you have to verify and set up, even before loading your songs. The biggest culprit is a NTFS drive. These don’t communicate with most gear. You’ll want to check specifications. But usually you’ll need HFS+ or FAT16/32. However the main standard in the industry is FAT32.

If you want to learn how to format your USB drive on a Mac click here. If you’re using Windows click here. Be sure to look up what file systems your gear can read so you know what your options are.

Drive Space

DJ USB stick
Way too small.

The bigger the drive, the more data you can save on it. The larger the file size of your songs the less songs you can store on it. File size of songs are determined by their length and their quality. Depending on whether you go for a broad library or a targeted library, and intend to have lossless songs you’ll have to find a stick that can store everything you need. If the stick is solely used for your media you’ll find that 16GB-64GB are perfectly fine.

USB 3.0 vs 2.0

USB 3.0 are much faster USB sticks. The issue is the port also has to be a 3.0 port or it will just transfer data at the 2.0 rate. If your gear has a blue USB port, you’ll be able to use your 3.0 on it. When it comes to this specification your really don’t need to worry. Both are capable of high enough speeds for mixing. If you can go for 3.0 go for it though because it will allow for faster file transfers and quicker loading of songs to DJ audio interfaces and software.

USB Hubs and Their Weaknesses

Your laptop may be limited when it comes to USB ports and you may be tempted to use a USB hub to plug in all your equipment and USB drives. The biggest issue with this is that the port has a limited amount of power that it can split between all the different USB devices plugged into it. In this article I go over the options and tips for preventing damage to your gear through accidental misuse.