How Loud are your Speakers? (and more)
I do sometimes get asked, “Do you have lights and ‘everything'”. I understand why, as some DJs mainly focus on Bar/Club work and so do not need much or any equipment to do their job.
For the parties I attend, having a selection of good quality equipment is essential.
From my other pages, you’ll see I never talk about how loud my speakers are or how many lights I have. In my experience, these are largely irrelevant. People just want a great night. They expect the sound quality to be good and any lighting to be suitable.
So, whilst many DJs appear to obsess over equipment, I prefer to have high quality, modern equipment but it’s really just a tool of the job.
The equipment is necessary but not something to sell my ability.
Many DJ’s now use powered speakers. These have built-in amplifiers and so are quick to set-up and due to most DJ’s having a pair of speakers (for stereo), there is a bit of backup, should there be a problem with one speaker.
My system has evolved over time, and I’m very happy with the current system, it’s powerful, but more importantly, sounds great.
I also have a smaller, more traditional set of powered speakers. These are sometimes used for smaller parties, but also sound very good and are suitable for most parties too (so are carried as Backup)
Finally, a recent addition is a slimline, elegant speaker system that is suitable for smaller environments or perfect for Ceremonies and Background Music.
There is no point in upsetting people by having it too loud, so I do watch the guests – are they able to talk without shouting?
I keep levels low at the start of the night, guests do usually want to grab a drink, congratulate the couple and meet friends or relatives. Walking into a wall of sound is annoying. This is not the time for the DJ to impress the guests with deep bass and high volume levels.
So for those interested, my main PA System is the FBT CS1000 system. This is an Italian made Line Array system with 12″ Sub Woofer and 6 x full range 3″ neodymium woofers, handling 1000W(RMS) of power.
But.. loudness is not measured in Watts, but in Sound Pressure (we hear the change in sound pressure), and my system has a continuous SPL of 125dB per side which is perfect for the types of events I attend.
My 2nd sound system is the Award Winning LD Maui 5. This is also a line-array, but a bit more compact. I use this for Ceremonies and Background Music.
I love lighting! It’s something visual and can look great! I opted for a small number of quality lighting effects, rather than many cheap (and ineffective) units.
My lighting set-up comprises a few elements;
- Colour Wash. We have 2 panels that wash the room with colour. These panels can be very bright, so we control the level.
- Beams of light. We use “Barrel Scanners” to project many beams of light around the room. We can select the colour, type of pattern and speed/direction.
- MirrorBall. This is a classic effect, and I remember thinking “Is it a bit cheesy?” before I ordered it.. But, the feedback has been fantastic. This is on a custom stand that can also fit into my booth (if a simple yet elegant light show is required.
- Mood lighting. These really transform the room. We can place lighting around the room and select the colour to fit with your theme.
- Haze. This is a very, very fine mist. You won’t be able to smell it and it won’t make you cough (unlike smoke machines). Sadly, many venues have smoke detectors fitted and these can trigger the fire alarm for these venues.
When it can be used, the lighting is greatly enhanced.
Finally, I use modern software to control the lighting. If you watch any of the TV Talent Shows, you’ll see the lighting synchronised and very well controlled. We have similar control. The main benefit is for slow dances (1st Dance?) where I have perfect control to keep it elegant.
I can also visualise the lighting and can show how our set-up may look in a specific sized room before your event.
Send me the floor plan of your venue and I can show some ideas.
I was using CDs in the ’90s, but most mobile DJs will be using a computer of some kind. To keep the hands-on approach, I use a controller which allows me to mix, and keep control of the music.
This connects to my Laptop (MacBook Pro) to control the software. Music is stored on a removable drive.
The computer doesn’t (usually) mix for me, it doesn’t pick the music or do much other than give me flexible control over what I’m playing.
Having access to 20,000 songs spread over many years and genres mean that most modern DJs will be using a computer for ease of access and the sheer number of songs that can be held. It’s simply not practical to do with this with CD or Vinyl unless the DJ specialises (Northern Soul, Hip-Hop etc)
Whilst I’ve not had serious equipment breakdown, I’m extremely aware of the responsibility I have for someone’s party.
If any piece of vital equipment fails, the party has to continue.
I carry 3 laptops in total, each with spare removable drives of music. I carry cables that would allow me to by-pass my controller. Spare Microphones and Headphones.
I’ll also have a spare PA system.
I looked at the backup I carry and it is enough to run the 2nd show with some comprimises on lighting.
Short of a power-cut, the party will go on.