Headphones Issues with Rekordbox and How to Fix Them

Headphones Issues with Rekordbox and How to Fix Them

Rekordbox can sometimes be a bit unpredictable, but we love it and use it anyway. Headphone delay, sound cuts, messed up channels, etc., are some of the problems most Rekordbox users experience. At least once.

The Windows drivers for the Realtek audio devices are to blame for most of the frustration with the audio not being properly split in Rekordbox. 

If you have an entry-level controller, just keep in mind that that device is essentially a USB hub, two audio devices, and a USB-class submissive composite device. This is not an electric vehicle.

That said, the headphones problems we’re about to cover are easily solvable, and you’ll get back to mixing in no time.

Let’s dive in!

No Sound At All In Headphones

Sometimes when you try to cue one of the tracks, instead of playing on headphones, it increases the volume of that song on speakers, but you get no sound on headphones.

What to do? Must you have an external audio device to hear through your headphones?

In 99% of the cases, the problem is that you’re not pressing the headphone cue buttons. The sound won’t automatically go to your headphones. You want to set it for one of your channels.

If you’re using a DDJ-200 or DDJ-400 with Rekordbox and you can’t get the sound on headphones to work, this is what you need to do first:

Check if the speakers are in Rekordbox set as the “Default device,” and the headphones are set as the “Default Communications Device.”

Check if you have PC Master Out: it should look like this:

rekordbox headphones delay issues problems lag

Set your headphones mixing and level knobs at the highest levels (to eliminate one possible problem).

Check if the info for the tracks is showing on the controller and in Rekordbox DJ software.

The only way I get sound through my headphones is when I plug them directly into my Mac and reset the PC MASTER OUT.

In some cases, the problem is when you’re using your laptop as the sound card. The headphone jack can’t work on the controller when it’s set up like that. You can get cables for cheap to connect them straight to your speakers. That will instantly improve sound quality.

Sound In Headphones When You Want It Only Through Speakers

In rare cases, whenever you use your headphones, you’ll have a noisy sound when you try to mix songs. You’ll also hear the track through the headphones when you only want it through the speakers.

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This can be really distracting when you’re trying to set up the following tune.

I had the same issue, and it was an ASUS audio mixer permitting a setting that conflicted with Rekordbox.

Above the main phone volume knob, there’s a mix knob. Turn that towards cue to exclude at least one possible issue.

Besides those two, the only thing you can do is disconnect your separate sound card and change (as far as the laptop is concerned) the audio device to your controller (e.g., DDJ-400).

After that, you’ll also need to head into the Rekordbox settings to set the outputs to be routed where.

Both Channels Playing Instead of One

If you press the cue button of the headphones on channel 1 (for instance), you should only hear the track of channel 1, right?

Instead of that, you hear the two tracks, each channel. In addition, you hear the tune in the speakers instead of just in headphones.

Your sound settings probably aren’t set up correctly.

Check if your drivers are installed, and the correct sound card is selected. Also, select your controller as the audio device in the Rekordbox audio settings.

The knob labeled “mixing” below the headphones adjusts the mix between the master and cue channels. If you just need to listen to the cue channel, fix the knob all the way to the left. The further right will introduce the master (that’s coming through the speakers).

To turn off the audio coming through speakers, there should be a little computer icon near the top of the Rekordbox. Toggle it off, and you will no longer get audio from the laptop/computer speakers.

If that doesn’t work, try this (especially on Mac)

Have you pressed the headphone cueing button for the source you want to preview? Do you have the headphone outputs and master outputs set to the right options within the Rekordbox settings?

Make sure in the top right of Rekordbox, you’ve enabled the split channels setting – it’s a small logo that resembles one arrow splitting into two. Click it to become blue, and this should have two different songs for headphones and speaker output.

Are you using the splitter on the output from your laptop? Don’t use your laptop output. Use the output on the DDJ-400. 

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Some people may also find that their laptop isn’t isolating the left and right sound for some reason.

The audio devices need to be configured like this:

rekordbox headphones delay issues problems lag

 Also, check if the Cue Mix is full to the left when cueing the song.

As an alternative, do everything completely through the headphones plugged into your controller (there’s a knob where you can mix between CUE and master).

Audio from Headphones Cut Out

A decent number of folks have reported a problem with the headphones’ sound cutting out until they restart Rekordbox.

It particularly happens with newer versions of Rekordbox (6.0 and later).

The issue could be electrical, but it also can be some preference that’s not selected correctly.

  1. Try other headphones to check if it keeps repeating.
  2. Check the ports to examine if they’re loose or the plug to see if it’s damaged.

This happens to me when my audio interface gets nudged. I have my DDJ-1000 routing audio out to my speakers via the interface. The MIDI to USB cable is extremely loose, and so when that gets tossed around, sometimes my headphone cue gets messed up.

  1. Has it been endangered by liquid or electrical shock?

Practically, keep trying to replicate the issue under different conditions. Does it cut off after a specific period, if the volume becomes too high, by using specific effects, or when you push a particular button, etc.?

Rekordbox Issues with Bluetooth Headphones

If you’re new to mixing, there’s a great chance you’re using a new version of Rekordbox with an entry-level controller like DDJ-400.

When trying to DJ with Bluetooth headphones on controllers like those, it can easily happen that Rekordbox doesn’t recognize them immediately.

Even worse, headphones aren’t even an output channel choice if the Bluetooth speakers are set as the Audio Output.

In your operating system, select your Bluetooth headphones as the central output. Select DDJ-400 inside Rekordbox as central output and choose the [headphones name] “Output audio from computers built-in speakers.”

Also, in Master Out, choose MASTER + Bluetooth headphones. Make sure to connect headphones to the DDJ.

Bluetooth headphones have a delay due to wirelessly transferring audio over Bluetooth. But more than that, some Bluetooth headphones still have delays even when plugging in with a cable. That’s because they employ some processing to the sound before playing.

If you select your speaker straight from Rekordbox, there won’t be any lag. But whenever you connect to it through another driver to use headphones to hear the cue, it will begin to introduce severe lagging.

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For a more detailed explanation of how to connect your DJ controller with Bluetooth headphones, kindly follow the link.

Headphone Output Audio Delay

When my son upgraded to DDJ-400, he noticed the delay between cue headphones and monitor speakers, which really shouldn’t be there. I tried to remove all excess hardware and listen straight from the laptop but could not sync the audio.

What we ended up doing was purchasing an RCA cable. Whenever he mixes with his DDJ-400, he unplugs his PC speakers and has the audio output directly from the controller to his speaker setup. 

It’s best to get a male RCA to a female 3.5mm AUX cable because the delay arises from the audio going back through your PC instead of straight to the speaker.

If you just connect the headphones to the laptop, do the left and right sound out of Sync – if they are accurate, the problem will be that the speakers really do an A->D->A conversion, which adds latency, and you will want to get a speaker with a pure analog signal path.

Pro tip: don’t purchase a cable much longer than 3 or 5m because RCA cables are unbalanced and hence pick up different signals as the radio signals and then produce white noise.

Headphone Delay When Using Amp

If you plug your controller into an amp (e.g., Sonos), you’ll get roughly 50ms of delay, which is essential in the Sonos system for buffering.

You could try to counteract the delay by running headphones out to another computer via some tools with a 50ms delay plugin, so your cue is delayed to the same value as the master, but that’s complicated.

There’s a better way, and that’s a lip-sync corrector that you can use to give you basic variable delay.

This is what I ended up using (Amazon link). For connections, I utilized a 1/8″ to RCA cable, and then the corresponding 1/8″ FM on the output of Sescom lip-sync, plugged my headphones into that, and it worked perfectly. 

The delay demands a power supply — it’s a bit messy, but it’s working.

It’s also great to use the cue/master bleed to pre-listen in the cans – so I began doing more of that too, and it just generally improved my mixes apart from the Sonos bit.

Tray Fiddy

Tray has come to terms with the fact he will probably never be a famous DJ.... but that hasn't stopped him from mixing and researching audio equipment. Tray has over 12 years of experience DJing at home and events.

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