The Best DJing environment.

Tips and techniques of the trade

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Bob the Builder
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The Best DJing environment.

#1 Post by Bob the Builder » Wed May 11, 2005 7:42 pm

OK, So I’ve been thinking of the “ideal” environment for DJing to a swing audience. As a DJ and also an events organiser I know the problems with what’s best and what’s achievable at the common swing events.
Have a look below and comment as you your thoughts. It would be nice if this thread could be used as a general event organizers recommendation.
I suppose the idea here is that if your DJing environment is good, it allows you to DJ to your best ability, which is what we all want. This is nearly like a wish list, and I also understand that many DJ’s bring their own equipment. This list below to cater for the ones that don’t.


Booth requirements.

Placement:

The DJ has a clear view over the dance floor and seated area. Being raised is very helpful.
Have proximity to the speakers so as the booth area’s volume level is low, but the sound quality is still good. Directly opposite the speakers (opposite side of the room) and centered between them will produce good results.

Access:

The booth area should be so designed to allow easy egress from the booth to the centre of the dance floor, to allow quick sound level and quality checking

Orientation:

The Booth should face onto the dance floor, ie the DJing equipment and layout area should be between the DJ and the dance floor, to allow the DJ to view the dance floor with out having to turn around.

Layout space:

It would be recommended that the DJ has a layout table beside the console with adequate lighting level for fine print reading. Recommended minimum layout space 1500 x 600mm (5x2 feet).

Power Supply:

A free, 5 socket power board sould be provided to the booth. This along with any of the DJing equipment should be off the same power circuit as the Amp system.

DJing Equipment and Console:

Duel CD player with 3 channel mixer. Additional Cables for RCA and ¼ inch phono-jack input. Good quality headphones for pre-viewing and mic.
Backup cabling is recommended as cables don’t have a very long life.
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Platypus
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#2 Post by Platypus » Thu May 12, 2005 11:52 am

Organization:

Who is the DJ coordinator? Do the organizers give you enough notice to ensure that you have time to prep for the event? Have they ensured that you know who is available to help you during your shift if there is a problem? Is there someone available to help with sound problems throughout the evening? During your first shift, have they ensured that you know how to work the equipment and that nothing is broken? If they need you to bring something, have they told you what to bring? If they are going to pay you, do they pay you in a reasonable time frame? If they were not pleased with your shift, did you get tips on how to better meet their requirements in order to play again? Basically, are they organized?

Content of the shift:
Do they tell you what they expect you to do? Do they give you information about the audience? About the expected music mix? Are there any special events during your shift, like contests or performances? If the organizers ask you to assist with any special event, have they given you an accurate description of what is needed AND given you enough time to come up with appropriate music? If you are playing during band breaks, have you been given an idea if they want you to complement or contrast the band's sound?

And, finally, do you feel appreciated? Have they thanked you after your shift?

On the DJ's end, find out these answers BEFORE the shift. Maybe leave an email for the organizer a day or two before the event to confirm the information. If it is a special event or your first time in the booth, send them a thank you note for inviting you. Don't underestimate the power of professionalism in getting you future gigs. When I ask about a potential guest DJ, I ask both about their talent AND their professionalism.

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#3 Post by Roy » Thu May 12, 2005 12:05 pm

Room temerature-Hot rooms can create lots of sweaty dancers who will then want the tempo's slowed.

Dance floor-Nice floor, concrete or carpet hampers turning ability which in turn happers what speed the dancers want to dance to.

Other DJ's- I've been to a few events where the first DJ decided they just didn't want to start DJing in a certain room at a certain time and voluntarliy started their shift late, then expect a full shift and does not give any consideration to the other DJs schedules. And hence pisses off all other DJs who are trying to sort out who DJs when.

When swapping back and forth between 2 djs having similar tastes is helpful. Its hard to do an hour of swing after someone did an hour of RAB.

Knowing your crowd is ideal because if you have to learn what dancers are dancing too as you play can be very challenging and you are bound to miss step on a few songs.

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Bob the Builder
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#4 Post by Bob the Builder » Sun May 15, 2005 4:56 pm

CD players skipping.

Make sure the CD player is placed in an area that won't be affected by floor vibrations. (Lindy hoppers tend to jump and stomp a lot and players skip).
Putting the CD player on a folded rug or blanket will often cushion it enough to prevent skipping.

Clean the heads on the player every few weeks.
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#5 Post by Toon Town Dave » Sun May 15, 2005 7:01 pm

Give me a decent, functional sound system and adequate table/counter/shelf space for my CDs and notepad and I'm happy as a clam.

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#6 Post by funkyfreak » Sun May 15, 2005 11:34 pm

Organizer wants to make me happy:

Headphones.

For the love of god, I know I'm sometimes the only DJ at an event who uses CDs, but please let me make double-sure it's the right version I'm thinking it is out of 42 different ones.

I don't always remember to squeeze mine on the plane, but then I'm not the organizer who brings the equipment... I've been surprised how many events forget this, which is why I usually do end up bringing my own.

-FF

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#7 Post by mousethief » Mon May 16, 2005 1:25 pm

funkyfreak wrote:Organizer wants to make me happy:

Headphones.

For the love of god, I know I'm sometimes the only DJ at an event who uses CDs, but please let me make double-sure it's the right version I'm thinking it is out of 42 different ones.

I don't always remember to squeeze mine on the plane, but then I'm not the organizer who brings the equipment... I've been surprised how many events forget this, which is why I usually do end up bringing my own.

-FF
GODD*MNIT! I know you aren't talking about Saturdays...

There are headphones in the bag. I bought them myself! If someone stole them, let's give 'em a smakkadown on the floor.

Kalman
"The cause of reform is hurt, not helped, when an activist makes an idiotic suggestion."

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funkyfreak
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#8 Post by funkyfreak » Mon May 16, 2005 10:49 pm

Hahaha no I'm not talking about this last Saturday.

But at least 50% of events I've been at over the past 6+ years, I would have had to end up chasing random people down for headphones or a DJ has to use theirs. Amusing what is overlooked in the crush of planning.

-FF
Last edited by funkyfreak on Tue May 17, 2005 4:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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CafeSavoy
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#9 Post by CafeSavoy » Tue May 17, 2005 7:32 am

funkyfreak wrote:Hahaha no I'm not talking about this last Saturday.

But at least 50% of events I've been at over the past 6+ years, I would have to end up chasing random people down for headphones or a DJ has to use theirs. Amusing what is overlooked in the crush of planning.

-FF
Granted it's nice to have headphones on hand when you've forgotten yours but headphones are part of a DJs equipment as is their music.

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Mr Awesomer
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#10 Post by Mr Awesomer » Tue May 17, 2005 9:48 am

CafeSavoy wrote:but headphones are part of a DJs equipment as is their music.
I concur. I don't want to have to use the same headphones as the sweaty ass dude before me if I don't have to... have to being when I've forgotten mine. I just keep a pair of buds in my backpack. It's all I need, and they're always there.
Reuben Brown
Southern California

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funkyfreak
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#11 Post by funkyfreak » Tue May 17, 2005 4:07 pm

CafeSavoy wrote:Granted it's nice to have headphones on hand when you've forgotten yours
As said, yes.

-FF

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#12 Post by JesseMiner » Tue May 17, 2005 10:22 pm

CafeSavoy wrote:headphones are part of a DJs equipment as is their music.
I was going to say the same thing. I can't stress enough that every DJ should own their own headphones and never leave home without them. This is DJ 101: bring your music, bring your headphones. I quite often find myself at gigs where no headphones are provided, and even when they are provided, rarely are they quality ones. Yes, an event producer will definitely be providing you the equipment to play your music on, but headphones are often considered optional, if considered at all. Headphones are an essential piece of equipment for the DJ that shouldn't be left to chance.

Jesse

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scowl
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#13 Post by scowl » Thu Jun 09, 2005 4:34 pm

How about light? Many of these places are pretty dark and DJ's can go blind if they don't bring a flashlight or something.

I bought one of these gooseneck mixer lights but I had no clue that some BNC microphone inputs don't put out 12V. For some reason Kristin didn't want me cracking her mixer open to wire 12V to the BNC connector (she owns that part of the equipment) so I wired the light to a cheesy 12V adapter. It still looks very professional and is very handy.

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Bob the Builder
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#14 Post by Bob the Builder » Thu Jun 09, 2005 5:42 pm

A Flash light is now part of my DJing standard "tool" kit. I think it's a must for checking and connecting cables to ports in dark rooms, under tables or dark corners.
But I do like a light to be provided for reading your CD or LP track listings and liner notes. Some venues are bright enough for the ambient light to work OK.
I'm a PC DJ now, so the computer provides all the light I need for everyday DJing.
You also just have to be an aware of the problems the lights with transformer plugs can create if it’s on the same circuit as the audio gear.

Actually here is my standard DJing “tool” kit list.

Laptop computer, mouse and electrical input cable.
DJing Head phones.
Power board and extension cable.
3 No. RCA to 1/8 stereo phono jack (I use 2 for DJing and 1 for backup).
Torch
Note pad and pens. Note pad backs up as a mouse pad.
iPod, for back up in case I’m getting computer problems
Port adaptors, ie 2 RCA to ¼ mono phone jack, 1/8 stereo phone jack to ¼ phone jack.
A Mixer and RCA cable (just when the venue does not have a mixer)

Brian :D
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Serg
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#15 Post by Serg » Fri Jun 10, 2005 7:46 am

Bob the Builder wrote:A Flash light is now part of my DJing standard "tool" kit. I think it's a must for checking and connecting cables to ports in dark rooms, under tables or dark corners.
But I do like a light to be provided for reading your CD or LP track listings and liner notes. Some venues are bright enough for the ambient light to work OK.
I'm a PC DJ now, so the computer provides all the light I need for everyday DJing.
You also just have to be an aware of the problems the lights with transformer plugs can create if it’s on the same circuit as the audio gear.

Actually here is my standard DJing “tool” kit list.

Laptop computer, mouse and electrical input cable.
DJing Head phones.
Power board and extension cable.
3 No. RCA to 1/8 stereo phono jack (I use 2 for DJing and 1 for backup).
Torch
Note pad and pens. Note pad backs up as a mouse pad.
iPod, for back up in case I’m getting computer problems
Port adaptors, ie 2 RCA to ¼ mono phone jack, 1/8 stereo phone jack to ¼ phone jack.
A Mixer and RCA cable (just when the venue does not have a mixer)

Brian :D

Whoa! That's a lot of equipment mate. I am still old school. One case with 180CDs and a headset. But I give to you,a flash light is a good idea.

Serg

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