Ultimate Rekordbox Hot Cue and Cue Point tutorial

Before I start this article, I want to make clear that every manufacturer of DJ equipment has different terminology. I am using Pioneer terminology since they are industry leaders

What is the difference between a Cue Point and a Hot Cue?

Hot Cues and Cue Points in Rekordbox have to do with starting a track at a certain point.
In short:

Hot CueJump in a song while the song is playing
Cue Point / Memory CueProgram one or multiple starting points in a song

A timestamp in a track can be both Hot Cue and Cue Point at the same time.
I will explain in detail Hot Cues and Cue Points.

Cue button

A cue button is basically a hybrid between a Play, Pause and Rewind button.

Cue button when paused

When a track is paused and you press the Cue button, it will set a Cue Point.
That is the point that the player starts playing when you hit the Play button or Cue button.

However, you need to hold the Cue Button to keep playing the track, otherwise the player jumps back to the point where you set the cue point and pause the track automatically.
Whereas the Play Button keeps playing the track.

The idea is that you can quickly preview a track without having to rewind the track.

Cue button when playing

The track will rewind to the cue point and pause the track.

Why do DJs tap the Cue Button?

A human has a certain response time, which makes it possible to start the track too soon or too late.
By tapping the Cue Button on the rhythm of the music, a dj builds up muscle memory to press a button.

Since the song rewinds to the point of the cue automatically, DJs can tap the Cue button without it being a permanent play state.
DJs tap first and then hit Play when they really want to start the song.

Cue Point

A Cue Point is used to cue a track at a certain point in a song.
A cue point technically is a starting point in a song.

For example:
you can set a Cue Point at the beginning of your second drop.
The next time when you load the track, you can navigate to that point in the song to start from the second drop.

But a Cue Point can also be used to mark important changes in a song or mark possible mixing points in a song.
For example: a vocal coming in, the outro that is exactly 32 beats long.

On Pioneer equipment you can have multiple Cue Points in a Song.
Rekordbox allows you to place Cue Points in a song, but most players have a limited Cue Points they support.
Something to be aware of before you do a gig.

A Cue Point can also be combined with a loop.
For more information, check out my guide on Rekordbox loops.

The Cue Points are on 2 places in the Rekordbox Export mode:
1) in the middle horizontal bar in the CUE/LOOP panel
2) on the upper right side in the MEMORY panel
Both have basically the same functionality, albeit in a different way.

With the Cue Point navigation buttons (left right) on a DJ player (or Rekordbox in Performance Mode) you can skip to the previous and next cue point in a track.
Once you press a Cue Point navigation button, your track stops playing (if the track was playing).

By the way, there is a lag of a couple of milliseconds to respond to the Cue Point navigation buttons (a Hot Cue reacts instantly).

How to set a Cue Point?

You can program a Hot Cue in Pioneers track management software: Rekordbox, or you can program them a Pioneer DJ player/controller.

On a DJ player:
Navigate to a position in the song, in the pause mode and press the Cue button.
In order to store the Cue Point in memory, click on the “memory” button.

In Rekordbox Export mode:
Navigate to a position in the song, in the pause mode and press the Cue button.
Make sure you have selected the CUE/LOOP-panel.
Click on the “memory” button to save the Cue Point.

How to remove a Cue Point

DJ player:
Navigate with the left and right arrow buttons to the Cue Point.
Click on “delete”.

Rekordbox export mode:
Make sure the Memory Panel on the right side of the screen is activated.
Then you see a list of memory cues.
Click on the X-icon next to the Cue Point you want to delete.

Hot Cue

Cue Points don’t allow you to skip to other parts of the song while your track is playing.
Hot Cues do allow to to skip live to other parts of a track.

Hot Cues have designated buttons for every Hot Cue.
Hot Cues are marked with letters, so you can have Hot Cue A, B, C etc.

Hot Cues in the Rekordbox Performance mode

To access a programmed Hot Cue on a controller/player, just press the Hot Cue button of your choice.
The track starts playing automatically at the point you programmed the Hot Cue (even when the track was paused).

When the Quantize function is enabled, the player (or Rekordbox) does not instantly react to the Hot Cue button, it waits until the next beat.

Be aware that not every DJ controller or player has Hot Cues.
Also, some controllers and players have less Hot Cues than you can program with Rekordbox.

How to set a Hot Cue

You can program the Hot Cues on a DJ player/controller.
Move the playhead to the position in the track you want to place a Hot Cue, use the Quantize function if needed.

When your Hot Cue is empty: press the Hot Cue button of your choice (A,B,C etc)
When your Hot Cue is assigned: you can’t overwrite it, you must first delete it by pressing the hot-cue-delete button.

To program your Hot Cues in Rekordbox Export Mode:
Move the playhead to the position your want to place a Hot Cue, use the Quantize function if needed.

When your Hot Cue is empty: press the Hot Cue button of your choice (A,B,C etc)
When your Hot Cue is assigned: you can’t overwrite it, you must first delete it by clicking on the X-icon in the Hot Cue list

There are 2 places with Hot Cue buttons:
1) In the horizontal bar in the middle of the screen (Cue/Loop panel)
2) On the upper right side of the screen in the Hot Cue list (Hot Cue panel)
You can use either one of them.

How to delete a Hot Cue

On players: to prevent accidental deletion, often you need to hold the Delete-button together with the Hot Cue button.

To delete a Hot Cue in the Rekordbox Export Mode:
Click on the X-icon in the Hot Cue list.

How to assign colors to Hot Cues

The Rekordbox Performance-mode supports (and some players) support colored Hot Cues.
Some players support displaying the colors, but not programming them.

In Rekordbox in Export-Mode in the Hot Cue list:
Right-click on the Hot Cue you want to change the color of, and select the color.

Hot Cue with Slip function

With the Slip function a track keeps playing in the background (while you don’t hear it) and the dj does some temporary trickery, only to return to the track that was playing in the background.

You can use this also with Hot Cues (for example with a sound bite).
Enable slip mode and then press the Hot Cue button of your choice.
As soon as you release the Hot Cue, you will hear the track again that was playing in the background.

Hot Cue auto load

Hot Cues are not loaded by default on DJ players when you load a track !!!

This means that the player/controller does not respond to the Hot Cue or plays the last Hot Cue that was loaded.
This can the Hot Cue of another track !!!
Needless to say that this is can royally screw up your DJ set when you forget to load Hot Cues.

You either have to load them manually on the player for each track you load.
But you can also make them load automatically.
You can set these settings via the settings screen, so they are automatically set on your USB drive.
This way when you load the USB drive in the player the setting is automatically set in the player.

But it is also possible to set this for each track individually.

If you want to level up your DJ game, you should definitely check out my Rekordbox course.