Best places to Download AcapellaS
DJing with Acapellas - Free and Paid sources
When it’s time to take your DJ sets to the next level there’s a whole host of things you’re going to need.
But there’s something that can really push your DJ sets in to something more unique, memorable and creative. Acapellas samples are what you need in your life.
I’m going to walk you through everything you need to know about downloading and using acapellas in your DJ sets. Where to download DJ acapellas, how to use acapellas in your DJ playlists and the legal implications of DJing with acapellas.
So lets dive right in and get started with this monster of an ultimate online guide to DJ-ing with acapellas!
What Are Acapellas?
Any time you hear singing or vocals that aren’t accompanied by an instrument, you’re listening to an acapella. Plain and simple.
You might think that given we’re all about making music that this is a strange type of content to want to find but there’s an abundance of vocal only acapella samples available that mean you can create instant mashups and advanced mixing techniques to wow your crowd.
Why Are Acapellas Important?
If you want a create a mix that lives long in the memory, the chances are you’re going to need to add a few recognisable vocals to it. The problem is that you can’t necessarily just go and rip the lyrics from the latest track that’s caught your eye in the charts.
Aside from the legal implications of copyright controlled music, there’s the technicality of getting hold of useful, ready-to-use acapellas samples.
Why Might You Need Acapellas?
If you want to use vocals sung by well known and talented artists, without running the risk of infringing anyone’s copyright, acapellas are the little snippets of content you need. You can think of them as the back catalogue of vocals every aspiring DJ’s toolkit should be full of to liven things up.
Acapellas offer you the chance to inject something atmospheric, recognisable, teasing almost, over the top of something deep, or high energy or genre shifting!
Lets take a moment to cover a very important topic. How to use acapellas like a pro from the moment you download them. Its not just a case of downloading and hitting play, its important to understand how to use them correctly for the best possible effect.
Step 1: Get creative every step of the way, especially with the classics
There’s a lot more to acapellas than simply laying some lyrics over the top of beats. Imagine that you want to play the same classic track several times throughout the night because people love it, but you want to put a fresh spin on it each time.
Acapellas are a great way to do this and make it easy to inject something familiar while creating something original too.
But do not just find the start of the vocals and hit play. 99% of the time this wont work well playing it from start to finish.
I recommend you loop the chorus, or a well known lyric. You can often tell by creating a loop in your DJ software what works best. Set some hot cues and hot loop markers so you can easily jump to them.
If you do this and then bring it in over the top of a very different instrumental track it’ll really give your set a pop.
What really makes the acapella work is when you shit expectations and memories of tracks. So if the vocals are from a soulful disco track, play some memorable parts over your progressive house set. Or for those dark and dirty lyrics play it over something softer and sweeter. Mixing up genres and styles really creates something new.
Personally I find looping one short burst of vocals works well, with a number of layered effects over the top which you can constantly manipulate to bend and warp the sounds. If you’ve got a 4 deck setup you can add harmonised synths and percussion over the top and truly create something unique.
I bet that sounds appealing right?
Step 2: Free up your second deck to give yourself more options
It used to be the case that when you wanted to beatmatch your acapella and your primary track you’d have to have one on each deck, but thankfully those days are a thing of the past. Now most professional DJ software supports 4 decks playing simultaneously which will allow you to sync and loop your songs and acapella samples together.
So you can cue up and loop your vocals on decks 3 and 4 (also known as C and D) while you keep your 2 most important decks free and ready for the next mix.
The great thing about this is that it instantly frees up that precious second deck of yours so you’re ready to start the next transition. Ideal if you want to create energetic, layered, and unique sounds without having to sacrifice the flexibility and adaptability of your setup.
This takes the stress out of working with loops and acapella samples. No need to quickly load and cue up other tracks on the same decks.
If you use Traktor Pro then I recommend Deck C be a remix deck, cued up with percussion loops and one hit samples, while deck D is a full deck ready to play full length acapellas. You can assign multiple effects to deck D too so its all ready for you to load a vocal sample and get creative.
Step 3: Use acapellas to blend transitions
The lazy DJ is the one who gives the crowd about as much entertainment as if they were just listening to a playlist on their smartphone. Often it’s not even the song selection or the quality of the audio that gets a crowd moving, it’s the way the tracks seem to flow and blend effortlessly into one another.
It’s YOUR creativity that make you a good DJ.
Once people have been on their feet dancing for 20 minutes and can’t remember how they got to the song they’re dancing to, you know you’re really onto something. The question is: how are you going to do it?
Here’s a little trade secret on one clever way to use acapellas that works every time.
Acapellas hide transitions brilliantly
Think about it for a moment: if you can have a few lyrics accompanying the moment you’re transitioning tracks, what do you have? A seamless masterpiece! The mix happens beneath the vocals, masked by the acapella which is taking all the attention.
Now I’m not suggesting acapellas should be used to cover up bad mixing. You need to master the art of beat matching before you start introducing more layers of sounds that need to be perfectly sync-ed.
- Imagine one track with vocals playing,
- Then a break down in to the instrumental outro,
- Then suddenly the vocal sounds of a whole different track playing
- Blended with the percussion and bass-line of a new track
- Transitioning slowly and seamlessly to a new track while the crowd go wild for the vocal samples
- Then new track kicks in with full effect and the crowd go even more crazy
Give this a try and you’ll see just how affective it can be.
Step 4: Opt for acapellas to liven up your scratch DJing
As a seasoned DJ and music lover I can tell you that there’s nothing better than listening to a pro DJ drop in a phrase or vocal sample at just the right moment in a set. You’re never expecting it, the surprise is always but then it lands there as if the whole stage had been set.
Don’t believe what I’m saying? Why not give it a try and see for yourself, the results may just make you think again about you approach your scratching sessions.
Watch this excellent video from Crossfader to see just how scratching with acapellas can improve your DJ-ing.
Step 5: Make the drop truly memorable
This one more or less speaks for itself, but bear with me. What I want to get across to you is that if you can find the right acapella, the words it brings to the party are going to tell your audience everything they need to know about the tunes and beats that are about to follow.
Pick the right vocals from multiple acapellas to play throughout your set and you can create an atmosphere and theme with just a few words. Some of the world’s greatest DJ producers have done this with their own tracks. Taking vocal samples and snippets to tease the crowd.
The great thing about this is that you can quickly and easily go from a 0 to a 10 when it comes to crowd energy.
Ideal if you want to catch everyone off guard and suddenly have them all fired up for a set that’s far more creative than they may have been expecting.
And it’ll probably impress your client too!
All the sites you’re about to see offer acapella downloads for free. Many of them are available to be used any way you like, which means you can use them when playing live or distributing your latest mixtape. These sites collect up all royalty free or distribution approved acapellas. So you know you’re in safe hands.
They may not always have quite the same depth of choices as some of the paid options that are to follow, but after reading these wise words I think you’ll agree they’re a great place to start when you want to develop some new skills and tricks on a budget.
Remember you don’t always need the full track vocals, sometimes a short loop-able sample is perfect. So think a little outside-the-box when you’re previewing acapellas.
This is one of the oldest platforms still running from the early days of online DJ content, and when you log on and take a closer look at everything it has to offer, it’s not hard to see why.
There’s a really deep back catalogue of vocal samples that are available to you with nothing more than a couple of clicks of a button. Ideal if you want to take your DJ-ing exploits in an exciting new direction without spending a penny.Visit Acapellas4U here
Free usage aside, the best thing I’ve found about the platform is just how versatile and reliable it is. Because it’s been in business for well over 10 years, you know that you’re getting to grips with a platform your fellow DJs trust.
The only downside here is that there are a number of unofficial acapellas that have found their way on to the platform, making things a little bit messier over the last couple of years.
The acapellas here can only technically be used for personal use, which means if you want to play live you’re going to have to go down a more official route. But its a great place to start when practicing and build up the best DJ set you can.
With a name as memorable and unusual as this, how could I even dream of leaving it out of my ultimate online guide? The thing I really love about Datpiff is that it’s been around for long enough to get the balance right between classics, hits, and new releases, and it does it all in a way that doesn’t make the site feel tired or overcrowded.
There are so many platforms that could have made it onto this list in terms of the content they offer, but fell down at the final hurdle because of the way they packaged their offering. That’s certainly not something you could put at Datpiff’s door, and with good reason.Visit Datpiff Acapellas here
The team behind it is clearly full of music lovers and creators, and nowhere is that more clear than on the homepage. It’s bursting with ideas and creativity from the very first click, but look closer and there’s some definite structure and order to it.
These are people that clearly love to create music they want to hear on loop, and you’re no different. Ideal if you want to get things off to a fast start as you start to master the art of blending vocals into those already irresistible mixes of yours.
You know that any site with a name like this has clearly been made for DJs, by DJs. The first time I heard about it I was hooked, and I’ve been heading back there as often as I can to discover more acapellas than I know what to do with.
Seriously, I’m not kidding. If I add anymore to my MacBook I’m going to have to pay out for another external hard drive to house them all! This is one of my go-to sites. Definitely one to bookmark.Visit Looperman here
The great thing about logging on to Looperman is that it’s a really community orientated site, and it’s one that makes you feel at home from your very first click. If you’re someone who doesn’t really know your way around, or you just don’t feel like you have the spark you need, why not open up to the community for ideas?
You’ll find some of the world’s most knowledgeable hobbyists are on there night and day, and who better to ask when you want to find a way to hide that one transition in your set that keeps standing out for all the wrong reasons, no matter how hard you’ve been trying to bury it once and for all?
I was in two minds about whether to put this one in the paid or free category, because really it’s a bit of both. But because the whole point of this guide is to appeal to as many DJs as possible, from beginners all the way through to budding pros about to break through, I opted for the free category.
It’s because I want to show you that there’s a lot you can do when it comes to sampling that will allow you to safely and legally sidestep the royalty controversies around acapellas that will pop up the moment you use Google to try and get to the bottom of things.Visit VocalDownloads here
The key thing to remember with VocalDownloads is that like all of the sites on this list, it’s a business.
That means it has to be able to make money and turn a profit if it’s going to be open for business so you and your fellow DJs can keep using it. To ensure that’s the status quo they now charge $0.99 for some of the their most popular acapellas.
The bulk of what they have to offer is still free to use, and whilst there’s no guarantee that that’s going to remain so indefinitely, there’s no reason not to make use of it whilst it’s still largely free.
Last but not least in the free to use section is a piece of software that you might not be all that familiar with. It allows you to create your own signature acapellas in the comfort of your home studio.
The software for these types of programs is improving all the time and there’s certainly no shortage of YouTube gurus who’re ready and waiting to show you how to use them.
The important thing to remember with the DIY option is that whilst it may very well save you a few pence, it could result in a sound that doesn’t really do you justice. Make sure you’re happy with the quality of the vocals you produce before you think about playing your new look set live.
If you’re not, there’s no harm in admitting that creating vocals from scratch just isn’t your thing. After all, if every DJ could do it there’d be no need for this ultimate guide, would there?
Now that we’ve taken a look at the best free to use acapella platforms out there, we’re going to dig deep and get a crash course in the best paid sites right now.
Competition was fierce when it came to this part of my acapella guide, but rest assured when I say this: I’ve left no stone unturned to introduce you to the best paid sites you can find anywhere.
I’ve been scouring the internet, asking the best DJs I know which they’d pick too, so you know these picks are the best available. Not just my recommendations but those of fellow DJs.
In my opinion Loopmasters is the most comprehensive, intuitive, and best value for money paid platform out there. Period.
The best thing about Loopmasters is that they’re constantly updating their back catalogue whilst still making it nice and easy to understand the royalties for each piece of music.
This will be a weight off the mind for those of you who don’t want to get into the legal side of things and prefer to concentrate on what you do best. They also have a whole host of flash sales, bundle deals to get you up and running nice and quick, and some very impressive courses.
Ideal if you want to really get into your music by getting everything you need from one place, rather than having to click around. When you add all of this into the mix, you’re really not going to mind that it’s a pay to use platform. Worth every penny!Visit Loopmasters here
Indaba Music & Splice
They’re two separate companies and platforms when you go back far enough in musical history, but we’re going to talk about them as one like they are today. In short, Indaba Music got so big and popular that it was bought out by Splice and then combined to create a single, larger platform for all your musical needs.
It’s not free to use (you’re on the paid section now folks) but that’s not really a big deal if you know what it is you’re looking for. Go on there with an open mind about where you’ll get the particular vibe that’s been playing over and over in your head all day and you’ll probably find half a dozen weird and wonderful ways to make it happen.Visit Splice here
The great thing about it is that you can take your music in dozens of different possible directions just by stumbling across something new and unexpected from a genre you’ve never thought to look at before.
Just what you want when you want to enjoy DJing sessions that are as richly creative as those of some of the biggest names in the whole industry!
What would an complete guide to acapellas be without a quick mention of some of the all-too-common mistakes so many of us make? There’s no harm in holding your hands up and having a laugh at yourself by admitting you’ve made plenty of these in your time. I know I did back in the early days.
In fact, it’ll actually help you focus on your DJing that little bit more so that you get even more out of your time behind the decks.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the first mistake on our list…
#1 Going over the top with the lyrics
If you’re someone who’s only just discovered how easy and affordable it is to sample vocals the chances are they’re going to become your go-to way to reimagine your old mixes for the foreseeable future.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with getting a little excited about a new approach to making music, but just make sure that you don’t over do it and cram every single second full of acapellas.
The result will be a confused and overly blended sound that you just don’t really connect with anymore.
Remember what I said earlier? Short memorable and loop-able samples work best. Layer some simple effects and be creative that way. Entire song lyrics generally don’t tend to work well. Keep things simple and elegant.
#2 Trying to record them yourself
A DJ can turn their hand to many things in the world of music, but unless you have a background in singing please don’t assume that it’s going to be another string to your bow.
It’s certainly harder than it looks, so why not just bury your pride and sample something sung by a pro? You might think that it’s worth the time and effort, but think about the following.
You wouldn’t try and make your own DJ equipment just because you could buy all the component parts, would you? So why try and sing when you can get something ready made and then get busy doing what you do best with it?
Having said that, if you really can sing then why not make your unique selling point the fact that you sing live over your DJ sets? DJ Sonique is one such DJ, singer and musician who was famous for singing live over her DJ sets. Check out this video below of DJ Sonique in action.
So unless you’re this good, I recommend keeping things simple and using premium acapellas you know will work perfectly.
#3 Wedging in something that just doesn’t fit
There’s so many iconic acapellas out there that it can be hard to know which one would work well.
This is the issue that leads to perhaps the most common mistake of them all: forcing unsuitable acapellas into otherwise great tracks.
We’re all guilty of it (even yours truly) but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from it.
The most obviously issue is the key. Unless the acapella is spoken word (rap / hip hop lyrics) the singer will be singing in a specific key. The tracks you’re mixing it over will also need to be in a complimenting key. Otherwise it can sound awful!
Sure there are a rare few times where conflicting keys can just about work, especially if you’re transitioning out of one track of a conflicting key and in to another that has the same key as the vocals.
The best thing to do is preview vocal audio files with your chosen instrumental dance tracks and see what works. Don’t just hit play in front of the crowd and expect things to work perfectly. Trust me they wont!
More great acapella advice
If you’re looking for more great techniques for using acapellas in your DJ sets I recommend watching DJ Carlo Atendido’s video here.
So here’s my top tips for DJ-ing with Acapellas. Use this cheat-sheet and your creative experience with vocal samples layered over your DJ sets will go smoothly.
Find acapellas that represent your style
They don’t have to be from genres you like but the style, the message, the tone of the acapellas has to be your voice. Think of all the vocal samples DJ producers like Fatboy Slim uses in his tracks. There’s a particular style and tone throughout all of his choice samples that represents his style. While they may be different sources there’s a clear style that is distinctively his. Find your style!
This is how acapellas will work for you. So don’t just pick any old acapella. Find ones that are right for you and your unique creative style. Whether it’s the lyrics themselves, the style of singing or the genre the acapellas come from.
Loop memorable sections
In my experience its short bursts of memorable vocals that have the most impact. The crowd love to be teased and there’s no better way to do that than to briefly drop in a recognisable vocal, then take it right out and make them beg for more!
It doesn’t have to be the chorus either, you can pick out a memorable line from a verse or even just a few words that people will know. Drop it in, loop it and the crowd singing along.
DJ-ing is all about doing something creative and different to your fellow DJ competitors. So pick some oh-so-teasingly perfect loops and have some fun with your audience.
I recommend finding multiple loop options within one acapella, you don’t have to use them all but its nice to have options you can quickly jump to with loop points and cue points.
Use effects to keep things fresh and interesting
Most DJ mixers and controllers have built in effects these days. They are easily controllable and add a great creative slant to the acapella you’re layering over your tracks. They also help loops remain fresh and less repetitive.
The filter is the first effect to play around with. Almost all mixers have this and just blending the filter up and down subtly will work wonders.
A little delay or reverb can work but don’t use too much or your vocal sample will turn in to an unrecognisable mess.
Traktor Pro 3 has an awesome beat masher effect which takes chunks of your playing audio and reworks them. I love this effect and its a great one to slowly add to a vocal sample after the crowd have recognised it. You can then play around with the length of sample it mashes and creative something truly unique.
Gaters can be good when transitioning out of an acapella, again use sparingly, the higher the gate value the more unrecognisable your sample will become.
Flange is great for adding a briefly spurt of layered texture to a vocal sample. A great effect for adjusting up and down quickly.
All of these effects can add some creative fun but remember sometimes less is more. Don’t use them all the time, just when you know it’ll add something sonically rewarding.
Prepare all of your vocal sample files in your DJ software
Don’t leave things to chance as they’ll often go wrong! DJ software is great at understanding the tempo of tracks with beats. As acapellas don’t have anything except vocals your favourite software will no doubt struggle to correctly measure the BPM. So you’ll need to do this manually.
Setting up the correct beat-grid takes time and effort but its worth it for perfectly sync-ed vocals. And trust me people will notice if your acapella is not in sync with the music. So prepare every acapella properly.
For a really good tutorial on working with beat-grids both for tracks with beats and acapellas check out this fantastic video from DAVE Digital and Vinyl Expert.
Play vocals in complimenting keys to the track its playing over
Don’t let your keys clash as it will sound awful and your audience will soon notice. Most modern DJ software can analyse the key of the music so it’ll be easier to find acapellas that suit the key of the track thats playing.
You can in some cases break these rules, only preparation and testing your acapellas will tell you if this is the case. Make sure you do this before you DJ in front of a crowd.
Think of acapellas as the icing on the cake. Your crowd were (hopefully) enjoying the cake before any icing was added. Acapellas are a little fun bonus, so make sure you execute the in a way that adds something wonderful, not making it sound worse!
If you really want to use an acapella in a different key there are ways you can change it! You’ll need to edit the audio file to change its key. Here’s a quick tutorial video from Danny Avila on how to do it.
So now you know you can create amazing new remixes on the fly with acapellas you can download online.
But there’s more options open to you to add even more creativity to your DJ sets. You don’t just need to mix with vocal samples. How about percussion samples too?
Why percussion loops are awesome
Every track you’ll ever play has percussion. A set rhythmic pattern that creates a certain vibe or musical genre.
- What if you could add to that percussion layer?
- What if you could completely change the musical style but adding a percussion loop?
Its very simple and highly effective in creating your own musical approach when DJ-ing. Not only that but almost all percussion loops are not restricted to mixing within the playing track’s key. So you have complete control over when to play percussion loops.
How to use percussion loops in your DJ sets
You can play multi-instrument percussion loops to add instant additional layers or a specific musical style to the tracks or loops you’re playing.
You can also play multiple single-instrument loops to create an even more unique sound that is independent to the tunes you may be mixing together.
They are a great way to help seamless mix too as you can play them continuously over your transition from one track to another.
Where to get percussion loops for DJ-ing
There is one slight issue with percussion loops available online. Many of them contain instruments you simply don’t need. Kick drums for example are redundant when the tracks you’re mixing already have those.
Also many of the percussion loops you’ll find were created for the purpose of music production. They’re generally not all quantised and limited on groove (how much swing is in the trigger of certain instruments), both of which can make percussion loops sound out of time and never quite in sync.
There is a solution!
We created a set of percussion loops that are perfectly in-sync with all dance music. All perfectly quantised, no unnecessary instruments that would conflict with your DJ set. Just a great range of percussion styles to add extra layers to your mixes.
We actually created a whopping 100 percussion samples like this! And better yet you can download 20 for free here before upgrading to the pro package.
You’ll find all the details on using percussion loops in DJ sets here as well as links to our free and pro packages.
Now that you’ve got to the end of this article you’ve turned yourself into an acapella veteran in just 10 minutes. At the start of this article some of you may not have even heard of the term, but now you know how to find them, what they used for, use them like a pro, and you even know some of the most common mistakes you need to steer clear of at all costs.
That can only mean there’s one thing left to do: put this away, fire up your kit, and start adding some lyrics to your tracks. What else did you think I was going to say, DJ?
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