November 17, 2015
There used to be a time when DJs had to lug heavy loads of vinyl records to their parties, used turntables and were spinning dance records. The advent of cassettes, CDs and then MP3 players revolutionized the DJing world. DJs now have virtual turntables on their laptops and instead of hauling around 70-pound speakers they can get better sound quality with smaller speakers half the weight. Throughout the digital evolution, one item has remained constant and that is the purpose of DJs.
DJs are there to liven up the crowd, bring great music and infuse fun into the event. To achieve these results, they need a certain charm and charisma, but they also need the right equipment. With the number of options available on the market, it can get confusing to decide which system would be right, so we decided to take a closer look at two main components of a DJ system: a DJ controller and computer software.
Few DJs still use traditional DJ equipment, like a media player or turntable hooked up to a DJ mixer, so we are going to forgo an analysis on the old-school items and sound right in with digital equipment. A modern DJ controller combines a few different pieces of equipment. It has a mixing section, media player and PC or iOS interfaces. The controller can be manipulated via software by connecting it to your laptop or directly by using the controller’s physical controls, such as buttons, pads, jog wheels, knobs and sliders.
Ensure your DJ controller has an option to use it independently of a laptop, which can save you from a bind in case your laptop crashes or malfunctions. If you are a mobile DJ, durability and quality of the build will be an important consideration for you. Also, go over the layout of the controller to check if the placement of various dials and buttons are intuitive to the way you work when DJing. The most important component, however, will be the software you use with your gear. Certain controllers are designed to work with a limited set of software bundles, so you have to research software and controller simultaneously.
The advantage of controllers that are developed to function with a few specific software programs is there will be a high level of integration between the software and controller, giving you better functionality than you could get out of controllers designed to work with a wide array of computer programs. Conversely, if you need your controller to work with an assortment of programs, you have to shop for software-agnostic, MIDI compliant controllers, which are compatible with a wide range of software.
Software is the key when it comes to manipulating your music files and it helps you execute a host of crucial DJ tasks through your DJ controller. A majority of controllers will include a limited adaptation of the manufacturer’s full version of the software, so keep in mind your budget may need to include an extra amount to purchase a complete version. Often, the light version will be fine if you are just starting out, but if you need a full library of options, you will need to upgrade.
Using High Quality Music
The quality or the bit rate of your music is more important than even the gear. If the digital music files are of low bit rates then your mixer and speakers can do nothing but put out harsh music. With smart phones, small home speakers, and small computer speakers, low bit rate music is masked by the poor output quality of these speakers or headphones. Many of these speakers and headphones are actually designed to mask the low bit rates. Terms used in MP3 files are lossless and lossy. Lossless MP3 files are still compressed files, but the algorithm to create the file is more advanced and tries to keep the audio quality higher. In lossy MP3 or other compression formats, the audio quality is known to be lowered in order to reduce the file size. When you are DJing through pro sound speakers these low quality music files make your high end speakers sound low quality because the true sound of the MP3 is reproduced more accurately with pro gear. This is actually increased by the high end speakers putting out more of the harsh sounds, because they are high end full range speakers. So don’t fatigue your listeners with poor quality music, get as close to full bit rate or lossless music as you can. Wave files are the best full bit rate files you can use. With MP3 files get as close to 320B/s as you can. With modern day high capacity memory devices using high quality music is possible and affordable.
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"Make a joyful noise unto the Lord all of the earth; make a loud noise and rejoice and sing praises. Sing to the Lord with the harp and the voice of the psalm." - Psalm 98:4-5