Virtual DJ Studio

DJ / KJ Discussion => Getting Started in the Business => Topic started by: Fabio on December 12, 2016, 08:09:23 PM

Title: How many of you do mostly DJing?
Post by: Fabio on December 12, 2016, 08:09:23 PM
I mostly do KJing and mostly at bars, though I've occasionally done a private party here and there.  Mostly because it's all I got time for.  I have day job as an IT guy. 

If you DJ, how long are your usual parties and what type of parties are they? (ex. Weddings).

When you DJ, do you nomally carry extra sound equipment (speakers, amps or mixer)?

I had a horrible experience this past Saturday where I was DJing a Quinceañera...for those who don't know that is, it's the equivalent of a Sweet Sixteen party but for latinos.   Anyway, I have a powered mixer which have used for many years (I have two, one I keep at bar and the other one ta home for private parties) and they've never failed until Saturday night.  I've had it shut down before due to thermal shutdown, but that was due to having cheap speaker cables which caused a short.  I've learned my lesson and have quality speaker wires now and never had the problem since.  However, in this case my powered mixer never actually shut down, the lights were blinking as if sound was going through it but no sound was coming out of the speakers.  Initially I thought I had a bad cable and since I do carry extras of every cable (and even an extra laptop), I replaced them.  It would continue doing this every 4 or 5 songs.  It became clear there was something wrong with my mixer.  I do have a small amp mixer that is only 150watts on each speaker.  I called my son to drive it over to me from home which was about 40 minutes away and finished the night with the volume cranked up all the way, just to give it enough kick (I was afraid it would start oveheating - but turned out ok). Now, I've never had to carry an additional power mixer or speakers, but now I'm thinking need to.  Needless to say, I probably ruined the party and was super embarrassed. Luckily the mom is a friend of mine (she's a regular at one of the bars where I host karaoke).  I did not end up charging her.  She was cool and gave me $50, so at least it paid for the gas. So what you guys do in this situation?  Do you guys carry extra mixers/amps or speakers?  I never want to have this experience again. 

Title: Re: How many of you do mostly DJing?
Post by: chaz on December 12, 2016, 09:37:15 PM
I DJ a lot and soon will only be doing DJ work after the new year as Karaoke is just too much for me lately.

I usually run with extra whatever I can carry... If I have room for extra system I bring it.. Which is frequent as I have a big panel van. Though usually it is a small system.
We always contract with deposit at signing and final payment no later than 30 days before.
General events are 4-6 hours. Rate varies from $149 -$279 per hour. Depending on what I am doing.... But I always give them a flat hourly rate. If I am Dj'ing a wedding from 7-12 I usually give them cocktail and dinner music for free...

I have had an event where we had issues with cables and bad mixers... If I am close to home I don't worry so much of the mixer.. but a mixer amp.. (Head) I would have some backup..
I don't use a lot of laptops for that reason.. If a sound card goes out. I can change or add a USB instantly which I do carry for backups in our toolbox.
My wife calls me the just-in-case DJ .. I always bring way too much that we never use....

Now have you done many Quinceañera .. I have one next month.. I haven't done one in about 7 years.. any tips..
Title: Re: How many of you do mostly DJing?
Post by: Justin on December 16, 2016, 10:03:51 AM
I personally bring my two 600-watt Harbinger 15" powered speakers. The nice thing about powered speakers is that even if one did fail, you can get by with just one in most cases (as opposed to a stereo amp that fails completely). I have never used a powered mixer. I use a Behringer EuroRack 1604 mixer (bought in 2002, self-repaired it a couple times since), and I have a smaller backup mixer just in case (both use same 18VAC power supply/plug so there's always a spare of that as well).

I do also bring an amp and one 15" speaker that I face into a corner behind me, with a homemade inline crossover, used as a subwoofer... really adds a lot of oomph to the sound... but that's extra and I don't always break it out (depends on the room, and doesn't do much in an outdoor setting).

Since the two main speakers are powered, I just always have as many extra IEC power cords, and XLR cables as possible, along with a bunch of 1/4" cables. Extra mics (two wireless, plus 4 wired "Justin Case" mics, one of which I use with a mini desk tripod stand).

I have a large Rubbermaid tote, with several grocery bags inside. One bag is nothing but XLR cables, one power cords, one HDMI, one RCA, and one 1/4". They are color coded (yellow = Dollar General, Beige = grocery store, and so on). So if a cable is bad, I can very quickly find a swap-out, and set aside the bad one for later inspection, repair, or replacement... (some of my XLR are homemade so I don't mind replacing a connector or whatever later on).

In another tote, just extension cords and power strips of all sizes/lengths.

Final tote - mixer, mics, wireless mic receiver, and misc. tools and such (screwdriver, pliers, elec. tape, etc). As long as I have my three totes, I know I have extra everything.

My lights are in a milk crate, as they just fit perfectly (I got rid of all my heavy halogens and I'm all LED now).

I do always bring an extra laptop (2 in one bag), extra USB sound card, and of course in a pinch I can play Pandora off my phone (say Windows is acting up and needs rebooting, Pandora will buy a few minutes without dead air).

Because I never know what situation I may be walking into, having extra cables of every type is a must. You might be very far from the nearest electrical outlet, or you may need to run speaker cable a long distance or over/around obstacles (like over a doorway). With the XLR you can just chain as many together as you need, and locate the speakers near outlets of their own.

One final note: a wiring tester is a MUST. If you are in an older building where perhaps someone put 3-prong outlets where there were only 2 before, and one outlet is wired in reverse -- let's just say I smoked a mixer because some equipment was on one outlet, and some on a mis-wired outlet. Once you connect the audio cables, you've got ~115 volts flowing through the cable shield... a $3 tester can prevent that expensive mistake (luckily I was helping a friend and it was his mixer... and the venue reimbursed him for a new one).

<shameless plug>
There is a book covering all of this and more:
</shameless plug>


I plan to update the book soon, and put it online for free (don't tell everyone that yet though :) )... after the next VDJ is released. I'll probably make more money having a small ad on each page, than trying to sell dead-tree books in the 21st century lol... plus it can be updated more easily, it'll be like a live always current book.
Title: Re: How many of you do mostly DJing?
Post by: Fabio on December 19, 2016, 02:37:06 PM
600-watt Harbinger 15" powered speakers

Do these sound pretty you have enough bass?  I always shied away from the active (powered) speakers because they're usually so much heavier than my current Peavey PR15 800 watt speakers.  I love these because they're light weight and it's not so hard to get them on speaker stands.  I usually don't need any sub-woofer because they have so much that most people wonder where I hide my sub-woofer when they can't find one in my setup..  Also, I don't have to worry about power being available near them.  This is all besides them being much more expensive than the passive versions. My current Peaveys have never failed...but I suspect if either would ever fail, that one has enough power to keep up.   I just looked up your Harbinger specs and they are actually cheaper ($149) than my passive Peaveys ($249) and they have the same weight (42 lbs).  hmmmm...they might be worth grabbing them in the future...I already have a brand new Mackie ProFX8 mixer with build-in USB which would allow me to plug the laptop directly...thereby avoiding the external sound card.  I guess I would have to buy new cables and switch over from using 1/4" to XLR end to end.  Unfortunately, I just got a brand new power mixer.  It's another Behringer pmp2000, since I'm already pretty familiar with it and I'm bring the non-working one to a shop next week to see if they can fix it cheaply enough and this would become my backup.

Basically, I have a back up for everything (even laptops, sound card and mics)...except for the powered mixer and speakers...although, as I mentioned before I though the speakers backed each other up.  As I'm typing this, I'm remembering I actually have an additional Peavey speaker in my storage.  Someone was selling it used in Craigslist a couple of years ago for $75 bucks and I thought it was worth having the extra one.  Specially since these can be daisy-chained.

Title: Re: How many of you do mostly DJing?
Post by: Justin on December 22, 2016, 11:40:43 AM
The Harbinger's are definitely loud enough. In most indoor settings they provide enough bass on their own, but I like to add the extra speaker as I mentioned just for the extra kick. Outdoors, as you generally need more volume, I don't bump the bass up as I usually do indoors, and I always keep an eye on the "clip" LED (though ideally a powered speaker shouldn't have enough power to damage itself, I've seen it happen more than a few times in my life).

The other nice thing about powered speakers for me personally, is that I used to on occasion do small PA-only stuff, like helping out with auctions, raffles, and things like that. In a small setting, one speaker, directly plugged to a wireless mic receiver, is all I'd need. We also used to do hermit crab racing at one of the bars, and we didn't need music, just PA. I could carry everything in one trip :)

I've had powered speakers fail before; one of the down sides of powered speakers is that there isn't much ventilation (though there is inherent airflow) and the most common failures tends to be the power supply portion of the amp. Luckily I'm pretty adept in electronics, and can do my own repairs ;) So far the Harbingers haven't given me any trouble in the 4 or 5 years since I bought them.

Prior to that I had a set of Phonic powered speakers with a very unique feature: wireless. I really wish more companies made such a thing, as it really was nice to be able to put the speakers up to about 300' away. I would sometimes use them in conjunction with my Peavey passive 15's to cover more rooms or in some cases, have one or two speakers outdoors.

But those Phonic speakers, which each cost over $600 once you add the wireless module and transmitter, were crap speakers overall... both eventually died, even beyond my willingness to repair them yet again.

By the way... when I bought the Harbingers they had just come out with that series I believe. I see they are on sale at $149, list for $249, but I am pretty sure I paid $299 or maybe more for each back then (opened up a Gear card lol)... but still cheaper than the equivalent JBLs and (in the store at least) sounded almost as good (the JBLs do tend to have better low-end).
Title: Re: How many of you do mostly DJing?
Post by: Fabio on December 23, 2016, 12:04:32 AM
Ok, you convinced me  :D...I just ordered those Harbingers (Harbinger VaRi V2115), the frequency response is very similar to my Peaveys,  which means it should have similar sound.  The Harbingers have 45 – 20kHz response and the Peaveys are 47 – 21kHz.  The Peaveys can handle 800 watts compared to the 600 of the Harbingers, but I've probably never pushed them that hard and I doubt I'd ever.

Title: Re: How many of you do mostly DJing?
Post by: chaz on December 29, 2016, 08:49:16 AM
I might have to look into these. Fabio give us your review.
Title: Re: How many of you do mostly DJing?
Post by: Fabio on December 29, 2016, 02:20:34 PM
So far, I've done limited testing using my powered mixer (Behringer pmp2000).  I used the line outputs on it instead of the mains output.  I do have a ProFX8 mixer I had purchased when I purchased my Bose L1 system (which I've since sold because it didn't sound as good as my old Peaveys PR15 and Powered Mixer (Behringer pmp2000), but the ProFX8 has male XLR outputs and I didn't have the right adaptor for my 1/4" cable.  I've ordered them and they should arrive Saturday.  So far I was underwhelmed with the sound, but it could be because I was not using the ideal mixer for this situation also, I'm still trying to figure out the right settings for the knobs behind the speakers.  I also noticed they are heavier than my Peaveys even though the specs said they were the same weigh.  This in itself is not a deal breaker. 

Justin, can you post a picture of the place where you set your knobs on the back of these Harbinger?  Also, even though I'm going to be converting out the mixer from XLR to 1/4" (the speakers also seemed to have XLR inputs), should the 1/4 inch be a TSR output or a TS?.  I've already asked the question on the Harbinger tech support site, but I haven't gotten a response.  So for now, I'm just sticking with my 1/4 my 1/4" cables which are TS and just using the XLR to 1/4 adapters.
Title: Re: How many of you do mostly DJing?
Post by: Justin on December 30, 2016, 06:38:40 AM
I don't have mine handy right now (they are in storage) but if yours look like this:

I set them, in order: 0, 10, center, center, MAX. I don't use the internal EQ, and I use the second input only (mostly habit but whichever you do use, make sure the other one is at zero). For EQ I do bump the low end a little bit on the mixer.

If you use input 1, make sure the LINE/MIC switch is on LINE (not pushed in), and make sure to use shielded cables. Doesn't matter if you use balanced or unbalanced, and I've noticed no difference between using 1/4" or XLR (I usually use XLR but I have one extension that terminates with 1/4" I sometimes have to break out for extra length).

(edited - but also keep that switch on LINE anyway, to avoid mic preamp noise getting into the amp)

The reason I keep the master at full is that I control the volume at the mixer. You may want to reduce that or the input level, depending on the output level of the mixer. For my Behringer Eurorack 1604 this seems to work, where the orange LEDs represent full volume just before reaching clip levels...

Also of course remember to power the speakers on last (after all connections are made and the mixer is powered up). I've never had a serious problem forgetting that point but you can get an annoying POP or buzz while making connections if you don't use the proper order :)

I guess the most important points would be: Always use LINE level rather than MIC level from the board (there may be a switch near the outputs) as the higher signal level is less susceptible to interference, and definitely use sheilded cables.

If you use 1/4" speaker wire, it is most likely two heavy gauge wires rather than a shielded signal cable.

Non-shielded speaker cable:
Shielded signal cable:

If you can unscrew the outer jacket of one end of the 1/4" cable you'll be able to tell easily.

So... with the sound quality, what specifically are you experiencing? Is it noise (hiss/hum), or frequency response, or something else? If it's hiss or buzzing I'd look into the cable situation, and of course try another board.

Another quick way to test, assuming your model looks like the first picture I linked, is to hook your phone/ipod/laptop directly to the speaker via the 1/8" input or the RCA jacks, and compare the sound quality. And you could of course plug a mic directly into the speaker, switching the MIC/LINE switch to MIC (and starting with the level down!)

As for the weight, I don't think they're exactly heavier, but I used to have a set of Peavey's similar to this:

The biggest difference in making the Harbingers seem heavier, is the location of the side handles. On the wooden Peaveys the handles are recessed and more toward the center of gravity. The center mounting hole is also not really at the center of gravity... though I do like the top handle on the Harbingers for one-man carrying around...
Title: Re: How many of you do mostly DJing?
Post by: Justin on December 30, 2016, 06:50:53 AM

It's been a while since I've done a gig but going through my routine in my head, I just remembered that I always use Input #2. The reason for that is that it's too easy to accidentally tap the MIC/LINE switch, and if you do that the volume jumps a significant amount. I only revert to using Input #1 when I have to use the 1/4" extension cable. So the knobs would be:


I have a little yellow paint-marker dot on mine where each knob needs to be. Partly to speed up setup, but mostly for my former business partner as she never could remember and I would basically be setting her up over the phone if I didn't color code and mark everything :) They knobs will turn during transport, it's pretty much unavoidable. Thanks to her (former partner), two of my knobs are actually missing on one speaker... but that's another story. She never showed up on time and frequently broke or misplaced things. I once found my external hard drive under her car seat, visibly scratched up. They want to legalize weed but if you've ever counted on a stoner to work for you.... well.... I guess it's like alcohol: don't show up to work under the influence. Do whatever you want on your own time.

Not sure where all that came from lol but I think some of those experiences will make it into the next book revision ;)  Just as cautionary tales about who you trust to work for or with you, trusting them with your equipment, your "brand", etc...

Anyway I'm still waking up so I got bored and made a graphic with my yellow paint marks as well as circling the input I use.
Title: Re: How many of you do mostly DJing?
Post by: Fabio on January 03, 2017, 07:42:38 PM
Finally getting time to reply...between gigs and a couple of people coming from out of town trying to take them to Vegas, Universal Studios....etc...I've just been barely surviving.  Anyway...

So... with the sound quality, what specifically are you experiencing? Is it noise (hiss/hum), or frequency response, or something else? If it's hiss or buzzing I'd look into the cable situation, and of course try another board.

The sound I was getting out of the powered mixer (from the non-powered outputs) was weak, so I wasn't getting the punchy sound, the bass was underwhelming specially.  Once I got the right cables to hock them up to Mackie Pro FX18 then it was much better....They're definitely good sounding speakers.

As for the weight, I don't think they're exactly heavier.../quote]
They are actually about 5 pounds heavier than my Peaveys...I had time yesterday to weight them.  They're 47 pounds and the Peaveys are 42 pounds.  They cabinet itself is a bit smaller than the Peaveys (I forgot what the actual measurements were for each, but the sound doesn't seem to suffer so in that sense it's all good.  I will have to think about whether I will be the only one using them as my back up girl might have trouble putting them on the stands.  She already had trouble with the Peaveys and sometimes had to ask someone to help her. 

If you use input 1, make sure the LINE/MIC switch is on LINE (not pushed in)
Yeah, this part was not a problem

The reason I keep the master at full is that I control the volume at the mixer. You may want to reduce that or the input level, depending on the output level of the mixer

This one I did have to put it at the 1 o'clock (or maybe 2) to keep at a reasonable level.  Putting it all the way up made it too loud with very little volume on the mains fader.  It was only at 1/4 of the way up and was way too loud.  It made it so that the mic could barely be heard, even though the gain was all the way up to the right, and the the fader was all the way up and the knob on the wireless receiver was also almost all the way up to the right  and you could still barely hear the mic.  Bringing the knob at about the 1 o'clock allowed me to bring up the mains fader and allow the mic to be heard.  In fact, I'm not satisfied with the volume on the mic yet that I might have to bring the speaker knob down to the 12 o'clock spot.  I don't like to have the mics all the way up like that.  I think I'd prefer those to be a lower level.  On my powered mixer both the receiver volume and the mixer level were at the 9 o'clock spot.  Perhaps I need to bring down the USB level to, though it was already set at 9 o'clock spot too, so it was already low.  Maybe I need to make the adjustment within Windows itself.

By the way, thanks for the yellow maker picture.  It should help as a guide.  I still need to play some more with it.  I was planning to use for a gig this coming Saturday before my regular Saturday gig but I don't feel quite confident on it yet.  This might turn into a regular gig and I don't anything to go wrong and give them 2nd thoughts.  I still using adapters on the 1/4 cables.  I think I going to get some XLR cables end to end and prevent another source of failure with the adapters.  The other thing I'm not happy with is the Mackie mixer, it has 16 Effects but none of them seem to be a good Reverb.  My Behringer powered mixer has really good reverb effects and I was hoping to get that similar results with the Mackie but so far, not so good.  Perhaps I need to get a Behringer mixer instead or use an external one, but I want to minimize The amount of things to hook up, not add to it as everything you add is another thing that can go bad at the wrong time.  I noticed the mixer you mentioned doesn't seem to have effects (though I did see an FX knob).  I'm assuming you use an external reverb?

Title: Re: How many of you do mostly DJing?
Post by: Justin on January 04, 2017, 08:29:15 AM
I noticed the mixer you mentioned doesn't seem to have effects (though I did see an FX knob).  I'm assuming you use an external reverb?

Until it died, I was using a Zoom RFX-1000 effects processor:,2018by3200/quality,85/rfx-1000-27115067b0a5b15d268c28eb074ee483.jpg

That's not mine, it's a stock photo, but mine (due to the shear number of knobs) also had yellow paint dots on most of the controls, as a baseline starting point mostly. I ran the AUX1 out to the FX unit, and it feeds back into the AUX return. This way only the mic lines (or whatever lines you dial up the AUX1 send) get affected.

This is yet another item that has died one too many times to bother fixing, and it is rather bulky considering newer mixers would have this all built in. The only reason I have stuck with the Eurorack is that I've had it for so long, I'm used to it, and I cannot find another mixer that has all of the same features I need (I also use the AUX2 send on the music channels only, which feeds another channel via homemade low-pass crossover, which is in turn routed through the "ALT" bus).

In effect (no pun intended) I use my board more like a studio mixer. I do in fact use it at home as such for recording and stuff like that (years ago I ran a pirate FM radio station, it was my main "console").

So... familiarity, nostalgia, call it what you will, but I know my board inside and out. If only they made one identical, but with in-built effects. I can't even find one similar enough, there's always at least one thing that makes me go "NOPE" lol... lack of ALT outputs, or not having both XLR and 1/4" on the master out, or no "control room" output (hard to explain where/how I use that but it's handy)... always something.

I may (once I get back into DJing this spring) pick up a small external FX unit, but honestly, I find that a lot of people do not want reverb applied. The room usually provides enough as it is, and unless you're singing certain songs where you HAVE to have it, reverb is (to me) usually not a "must have" feature.

That said, the Zoom unit was nice, it does a lot more than simple reverb, but those effects almost never applied in Karaoke (was great as a guitar effects unit though). I'm not even going to start shopping for a replacement just yet. I'd like to get something simple, mono in -> stereo out, all 1/4", minimum of knobs, that can also double as a guitar effects when I'm just playing around :)

One of these days when I "unretire" my equipment from storage I'll throw up some pictures. You want to talk paint markers, my board is full of them - only meaningful to me... the bright yellow really glows in dim light and marks the things I need quick access to without having to think too much. Also starting points are marked, and the MIC lines are color coded (RED and BLUE for the wireless, which have corresponding tape band, and black for the wired (MY) mic)... then green for "PC1", white for PC2 (second sound card - by hitting the "solo" switch that line goes directly to the headphones, and is much louder than plugging them directly to the laptop...), Yellow for my "AUX2" feedback that plays only via the ALT out (for the bass speaker) so that I can use that line's EQ to further punch the bass... and the ALT output slider is basically my "sub" control and is labeled as such (I printed a strip that goes across the bottom of the board and colored in the channels with the appropriate color).

*whew* so you can see why it's very hard for me to just go "pick up a new mixer". I can hook all of this up blindfolded, even with the FX unit when I still had it.

Back on topic, yes, with the output vs input levels of any two pieces of equipment, the levels are always going to vary from one setup to the next. You generally want the signal cables carrying as high a signal level as is practical (higher signal = lower signal/noise ratio) without over-driving anything. Plus, there's the practical aspect. As I mentioned, I like mine where the main output LED VU meters are in the yellow when I am at "max" (eg, just starting to see the "clip" LEDs flicker) so I know not to go beyond yellow. So getting that right balance is critical.

To be honest, I don't quite remember if the "paint dot" picture I posted is exactly what mine look like -- those are photoshop paint dots I drew on a stock photo from memory, for illustration purposes, but I'm second-guessing that I remember correctly (further validating the need for the paint dots lol)... I have plenty of pics of my equipment in use, but no up-close pictures intended to show the equipment itself.
Title: Re: How many of you do mostly DJing?
Post by: Justin on January 04, 2017, 08:35:38 AM
I have sworn off Facebook, but I do remember documenting one of the times I repaired my mixerboard:

(I changed the link to one that *should* work for anyone)

On this particular repair, an associate DJing by herself packed her car up too quickly (she had somewhere better to be I guess), and didn't follow procedure, and left me with a busted slider (hence one dead channel). After while, that channel started introducing noise that I couldn't tune out, so it was time for repair. You'll note the fifth picture is of a non-working "sacrificial" mixer board - it was an organ donor, so I harvested a 100mm two channel slider potentiometer with audio taper - it was a perfect match! :)

I also used to own these beasts when I was doing some sound reinforcement:

Those, in addition to the single 15's paired with a Crown XLS amp, made for a LOT of noise. I've since sold all of that, but the Behringer has been with me throughout. It's like that old car that you keep fixing, knowing it would be cheaper to get a new car, but you just can't part with it. Buying a new one would be the easy way out, and it might not have all the buttons and features I'm used to, or things might be in the wrong place. Wait, am I still talking about cars or mixers? :P

Honestly I think I paid $159 for that thing back in early 2002, at a Guitar-center adjacent competing store in Marietta, GA. I've put far more time and money into it in the years since but it's been very good to me.

I'm pretty sure my FB profile is public even though I don't post anymore... let me know if those links work :)