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DJ Equipment
p0wder
post Nov 10 2003, 05:54
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This is to any DJs here at HA. I want to get started beat matching and mixing, but I'm not sure of all the equipment I will need. I know I will need 2 turntables, headphones, a mixer, and some speakers. Is there anything else I will need? And please give any recommendations or suggestions if you have any.

Thanks.
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kwanbis
post Nov 10 2003, 06:26
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i'm not an expert, but i think that now a days, is cheaper to set up a notebook with some dj software. with todays hds, you can store 1000s of songs on the hd, and you don't have to move arround all the turntalbes, cds, etc ...


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Bongo yep
post Nov 10 2003, 08:37
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you can do allot more by mixing using a computer than with decks,either way is fine or some like to combine the two.

I used to own some desks then went on to using my computer for mixing.Now I Just produce my own music though I still like to make 32 minute mixers that I load up onto my mp3 player.

The software I use for this is called 'CD Architect' by sonic foundry.It users a interface similar to many wave editors and is very easy lo learn for mixing together digital formats.It has a cool feature where you can graphically see the volume envelopes applied to every track, and time stretching so you can easily mix and match music with different BPM's.

Also I guess It's got some good CD writing features though I haven't played with these , I just save the finished mix to wave then load it onto razor-lame and encode it too 128, so as to get a 32+ minute mix onto my 32Mb mp3 player.

As for mixing with turntables I'd recommend a beat monitor,you have them on each deck and by using a visual indicator can match the BPM of each record thus make beat matching allot simpler.

Just bear in my that recording the music back too a editable digital form on your computer enables you to reshape that sound any way you like provided you know how.And theirs a huge resource of information and software for musicians available on the Internet.

Personally I'd only really go for desks if I was to be Dj-ing in a club and that club insisted I used the traditional method,that included twin CD desks.

If I could I'd take my computer,or even better a powerful laptop.Use a quality mixing program to mix songs ( even better quality than CD ) add extra effects and have a visual hookup to a big screen either showing the desktop in action and or Visualisation studio effects.
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fewtch
post Nov 10 2003, 08:45
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Eh... I'm not even a DJ, but would say -- learn it the old fashioned way with a couple turntables first, before getting into the PC based stuff. Turntables are tactile in a way that a computer based setup will never be... for a similar reason, many musicians prefer old analog synths (at about 10 times the cost) for the real knobs and dials, rather than using software synths.

Just 2c...

This post has been edited by fewtch: Nov 10 2003, 08:48


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blessingx
post Nov 10 2003, 08:56
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You can always try the Hercules DJ Console.
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Lev
post Nov 10 2003, 10:21
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This might just be me being an old fashioned ludite or something similar, but I have never known anyone to get any *real* fun out of running a couple of mp3's/wav's from a PC at the same time.

Whereas people who use a couple of decks are often dieing to get home from work / school, totally excited about the prospect of getting home and having a mix smile.gif I find its a very social thing, you can get people round, and have a real laugh and probably forge new friendships... I've never known anyone to do that with PC based DJ'ing. Bottom line for me: Its like the difference between going out and meeting people or typing on MSN for the night - i.e. the former is about 43,000x more satisfying.

QUOTE
I know I will need 2 turntables, headphones, a mixer, and some speakers. Is there anything else I will need? And please give any recommendations or suggestions if you have any.

Recommendations:
::2 x Technics SL12(1/0)0
::Some very cheap headphones (you'll probably break them, and you can buy some expensive ones then, when you have a feel for what sort of headphones you want)
::The mixer is really up to you, as to what quality / what you are aiming for, and what your budget is (same for speakers)!
::You will also need an amp, leads, a wad of vinyl, and someone who knows what they are doing, so that you can watch them. I think its agreed that that is the quickest way to learn smile.gif


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Lev
post Nov 10 2003, 10:26
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QUOTE
As for mixing with turntables I'd recommend a beat monitor,you have them on each deck and by using a visual indicator can match the BPM of each record thus make beat matching allot simpler.

I wouldn't to begin with. I find it puts beginners off what they are actually setting out to achieve, it makes them lose the focus on the music.

QUOTE
Personally I'd only really go for desks if I was to be Dj-ing in a club and that club insisted I used the traditional method,that included twin CD desks.

If I could I'd take my computer,or even better a powerful laptop.Use a quality mixing program to mix songs ( even better quality than CD ) add extra effects and have a visual hookup to a big screen either showing the desktop in action and or Visualisation studio effects.

heh, what sort of club are you thinking of? Are you able to quickly pull something else out, and mix it in promptly, or hack off the last 5 minutes of something if the crowd are suddenly not going for it?

Even your niche market Ninja Tunes style DJ's will occasionally put on something that they think is in the same vein as the last 5 songs that the crowd have gone nuts about; then it turns out they aren't interested in this one. smile.gif

This post has been edited by Lev: Nov 10 2003, 10:27


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dave.gr
post Nov 10 2003, 11:18
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As a DJ of about 4 years I can give you the following tips:

The headphones you use can make a lot of difference. For home learning and use you can get away with almost anything but its best to be able to hear high frequencies well and in a club you'll definitely want headphones that block out external noise. (Sennheiser HD25 are probably the best for this but pretty expensive - don't get them when you are just starting out).

Have a decent monitor speaker set up. Preferably as close to you as possible (because any echo and delay in the sound can really throw you off) and like the headphones, good high frequency response is very helpful.

Don't rush out and buy Technics (or Vestax or whatever) decks unless you are certain this is something you are going to stick at till you get it right. Although, there are people who never seem to be able to get the hang of it no matter how hard they try.

Record your practice mixes, because what sounds good to you at the time is not always as good as you think and listening to the recording will give you another angle altogether. This is not so much help with beat matching, its more about learning to be smooth and accurate with the volumes and EQ.

Some people say an easy way to learn to beat match is to have 2 copies of the same tune. I found it easier to use 2 totally different tunes because its easier to tell them apart and hear how the tunes layer over each other. On the other hand for learning when to cue a tune and to figure out time signatures, patterns and when its a good point to bring the next tune into the mix 2 copies of the same tune will probably be the quickest way to learn.

Also try to keep the level on the headphones as low as you can while still being able to hear whats going on. I find it best to have it just loud enough to hear over the monitor. It will damage your ears less and having headphones too loud will cause distortion which will make it very hard to get your beats 100% matches and it will also make your ears less sensitive, especially to high frequencies which are the most important.

If you stick at it you'll eventually get the point (hopefully) where matching beats takes a matter of seconds and you can keep 2 tracks in time for 5 minutes, even more... but this takes a long time to achieve and there will be lots of disappointment along the way.

Mixing MP3's is particularly boring (even with something like Native Instruments Traktor) but if its something you want to investigate, check out www.finalscratch.com - you can have the best of both worlds.

Final thing. Once you think you've got the hang of it at home and the time comes that you play out in a club - be prepared to learn how to mix all over again because its a totally different experience and probably not a pleasant one the first time smile.gif

I hope these tips are helpful.

-dave

P.S Beat counters might help you get the hang of things but once you understand how to get 2 tracks in time (even if you arent doing it 100% accurately), throw them away! They'll be useless to you after that. Once you get good they'll even act as a distraction and stop you progressing.
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deej_1977
post Nov 10 2003, 11:27
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practice practice practice with loads of vinyl! I played big parties 4-5 years (top was 3000 people in an old castle ruin - now that was fun) and there was only one way we got the hang of it: lock ourselves in a mate's garage and practice.

to give you a little trick: follow the beat of the currently playing record with your foot, like you were counting bpm, and then focus to get bass of the sound that's in your headphones (the record you wanna mix thru it) in the same rythm as your foot.

it looks funny, you'll cheat in the beginning by slowing down your foot ;-), but once you get the hang of it it's so much more fun then any pc app.

after that learn to scratch and really impress your friends :-)!


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lostonline
post Nov 10 2003, 11:58
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I've used PCDJ Red, from Visiosonic, for PC mixing... It can be used to mix manually or if really lazy can put it into auto mode which produces some really bad mixes. I also think that Numark make a controller that can interface with PCDJ so that you don't have to use keyboard and/or mouse to use it. I've heard of a couple of really good DJs using this and heard some very good mixes from it.
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Bongo yep
post Nov 11 2003, 05:04
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All Dj mixing equipment can be emulated using a PC,the mixer,the effects unit etc etc at a fraction of the cost.
Most of the music genres that fall into the Dj mixing styles on vinyl were original either completely produced on a PC using software,samples,tracked recordings or used hardware ( very expensive ) to do the same thing.

I'm not suggesting that if you love to fire up the decks and mix that you should see this method as a lessor form for mixing.
I'm simply stating a Fact the that theirs nothing you can't do with a computer ( production wise ) that you can do with a hardware mixer and decks,yet their are a huge and ever increasing amount of things you can do with music on a PC that you can't do with a hardware setup,Even if you had the money and resource's of NASA to finance it.



QUOTE from me

'As for mixing with turntables I'd recommend a beat monitor,you have them on each deck and by using a visual indicator can match the BPM of each record thus make beat matching allot simpler. '

QUOTE from lev

'I wouldn't to begin with. I find it puts beginners off what they are actually setting out to achieve, it makes them lose the focus on the music.'

I feel any visual Aid with sound can enchance the music,thats why all audio production programs also have plug-ins and visual effects so you can also SEE as well as hear the shape or form the music is taking.

to Quote lev

'heh, what sort of club are you thinking of? Are you able to quickly pull something else out, and mix it in promptly, or hack off the last 5 minutes of something if the crowd are suddenly not going for it?'

I'm thinking of many clubs that according to the other music producers I speak to on the Internet use PC's Style Dj's.
So long has you have a reasonably fast PC you can load a new track up in seconds or less,you can edit,cut,paste,hack of the last 5 minutes in virtual real time (on the fly).
You could apply filters and filter out a beat then layer in another one,apply a chain of effects,instantly change the BPM's of the tracks so they match precisely 1:1 - 2:1 - 4-1 simply by clicking your mouse.
You could even have a the monitor hooked into you PC measuring the Ambient temperature by the Dance floor so if the fast paced music you constantly like to bang out for 60 minutes is causing the crowd to over heat and dehydrate blink.gif you can have the computer turn down the Air conditioning tempreture & chill the music out until the dancers catch their breath.( their is a commercial Dj bot called HAL that does this ) of coasre because you are using a computer you not only have control of the music but also of any other electronic/mechanical devices that can be automated.

Lev Again


'This might just be me being an old fashioned ludite or something similar, but I have never known anyone to get any *real* fun out of running a couple of mp3's/wav's from a PC at the same time.'

I think you were just missing my point,I'm not saying that computers should replace mixing decks.Computer and music technology is now heading in directions that is trying to combine the best of both worlds,computer based studios try and use special effects to achieve the ( imperfections...? ) of some hardware systems because these quirks produced a warm style.

I could imagine in the future ( it could be done now maybe already has) Digital Decks that look and feel rather like their Analogue cousins but actually have no music on the records,rather the music is being tracked by the PC so what you have is a traditional 'PC emulation' mixing desks with the benefits of having desks you can place you hands on and the flexibility and editing power of the computer.

Their are software programs now where by using a dance MAT placed on the floor and or pressure sensors you can actually produce beats and music by DANCING. B)

I find that most people get bored of sticking to just one way of doing anything!Music is an Adventure ,so don't limit your experience,their is only one right way to make music,weather it be mixing,production,dancing,singing etc etc .. ON TIME .
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Bongo yep
post Nov 11 2003, 05:16
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QUOTE (Bongo yep @ Nov 10 2003, 08:04 PM)
their is only one right way to make music,weather it be mixing,production,dancing,singing etc etc .. ON TIME .

Whilst music programs do have humanising effects to make some of the beats and notes slightly OFF TIME this is only an additional effect and as a whole the complete song plays ON TIME.
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fewtch
post Nov 11 2003, 07:00
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There isn't much use for pure assembly language programming anymore, but learn it first and you know computers inside and out. All programming languages after that become much easier to learn.

I suspect it's the same with learning DJ'ing the old fashioned way with a couple turntables and some simple gear... there are always easier (and even better) ways to do things, but you don't necessarily learn the best that way. I still say do it the classic way first, then later get some PC emulation stuff.

This post has been edited by fewtch: Nov 11 2003, 07:02


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