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Author Topic: Gear Setup and Speaker Placement  (Read 7746 times)

Canute J. Chiverton

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Gear Setup and Speaker Placement
« on: June 21, 2011, 11:52:28 am »

I have been in the DJ/SR business now for over 30 years. I have seen a very disturbing trend over the last decade or so with other DJs. Namely, the DJ is stuck in a corner with either a facade to hide their gear or a console/gear on a six foot table. That in itself is not the problem. What I see as the problem is, that a great majority of these DJs are wearing their Speakers as earmuffs/headphones.

Most claim that it is the fault of the venues because that is where they were TOLD to setup.  Consistent with that, is the fact that a great majority never do a site visit to the venue before the Gig to negotiate a setup area.  What do they expect when they get there?  Even when they themselves realize that the setup is not optimum,they are afraid to speak up and ask for what they want, for fear of being blacklisted. For example, having to setup with people sitting at tables between the DJ and the dance floor.

Personally, I have not had this problem because I do the things necessary to avoid them in the first case such as site visits and making sure it is understood by all, that for me to be able to put on a good show I need to be setup in a certain way.  Besides which, my system is patterned after Live Sound so it is impossible for me to be setup with gear and speakers in a little corner.

Presentation/Look and quality sound is very important. The Venues and Clients in most cases are not Soundmen and do not know better.  However there is another party to this malpractice and that is the DJs themselves for allowing themselves to be railroaded into the macabre setups.

My point is, DJs need to realize they are offering Sound reproduction. They need to learn about their gear, things like Comb filtering etc. and play a proactive role to ensure that everything is the best that it can be. Its not all about mixing skills.  Its makes it a bit more difficult when people like myself go to a venue and are told "this is where the DJ normally sets up." I usually roll my eyes and then have to go about enlightening them.
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Tracy Garner

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Re: Gear Setup and Speaker Placement
« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2011, 01:18:48 pm »

I have been in the DJ/SR business now for over 30 years. I have seen a very disturbing trend over the last decade or so with other DJs. Namely, the DJ is stuck in a corner with either a facade to hide their gear or a console/gear on a six foot table. That in itself is not the problem. What I see as the problem is, that a great majority of these DJs are wearing their Speakers as earmuffs/headphones.

Most claim that it is the fault of the venues because that is where they were TOLD to setup.  Consistent with that, is the fact that a great majority never do a site visit to the venue before the Gig to negotiate a setup area.  What do they expect when they get there?  Even when they themselves realize that the setup is not optimum,they are afraid to speak up and ask for what they want, for fear of being blacklisted. For example, having to setup with people sitting at tables between the DJ and the dance floor.

Personally, I have not had this problem because I do the things necessary to avoid them in the first case such as site visits and making sure it is understood by all, that for me to be able to put on a good show I need to be setup in a certain way.  Besides which, my system is patterned after Live Sound so it is impossible for me to be setup with gear and speakers in a little corner.

Presentation/Look and quality sound is very important. The Venues and Clients in most cases are not Soundmen and do not know better.  However there is another party to this malpractice and that is the DJs themselves for allowing themselves to be railroaded into the macabre setups.

My point is, DJs need to realize they are offering Sound reproduction. They need to learn about their gear, things like Comb filtering etc. and play a proactive role to ensure that everything is the best that it can be. Its not all about mixing skills.  Its makes it a bit more difficult when people like myself go to a venue and are told "this is where the DJ normally sets up." I usually roll my eyes and then have to go about enlightening them.

nice write-up.

...I recall DJing in between bands during a regional outdoor festival a few years ago. The stage manager put me about 40 feet backstage with a monitor. I ended up putting on a premixed CD and just walked around all day. The FOH guy just turned me up in between bands and turned me down when the band started...funny.

A few rules for most venues:
- I set up where the band would normally setup.
- If there is a band and DJ sharing the same venue, we share the same stage and negotiate the space. I might setup where the monitor board might reside. I will agree to DJ from FOH if their drummer agrees to setup there too...lol
- After sound check, band members must agree to not play or warm up during my DJ set (especially the drummer). It is one of the most rude things anyone can do.

There are a few more but I totally agree with making sure you have the right placement for everything.

Most of my highest paying jobs are from the regional DJs who refuse to use the systems or the DJ booths found in most clubs in my area.

Funny thing is, my biggest competition is from a few regional DJs who could care less what kind of sound system or setup is available. As long as the promoter or venue is paying, they would setup and play in the bathroom if that is what the manager or promoter tells them to do.
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Canute J. Chiverton

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Re: Gear Setup and Speaker Placement
« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2011, 01:32:02 pm »

nice write-up.

...I recall DJing in between bands during a regional outdoor festival a few years ago. The stage manager put me about 40 feet backstage with a monitor. I ended up putting on a premixed CD and just walked around all day. The FOH guy just turned me up in between bands and turned me down when the band started...funny.

A few rules for most venues:
- I set up where the band would normally setup.
- If there is a band and DJ sharing the same venue, we share the same stage and negotiate the space. I might setup where the monitor board might reside. I will agree to DJ from FOH if their drummer agrees to setup there too...lol
- After sound check, band members must agree to not play or warm up during my DJ set (especially the drummer). It is one of the most rude things anyone can do.

There are a few more but I totally agree with making sure you have the right placement for everything.

Most of my highest paying jobs are from the regional DJs who refuse to use the systems or the DJ booths found in most clubs in my area.

Funny thing is, my biggest competition is from a few regional DJs who could care less what kind of sound system or setup is available. As long as the promoter or venue is paying, they would setup and play in the bathroom if that is what the manager or promoter tells them to do.
There are DJs who think they have to be invisible and take up a small a space as possible. What they don't realize is that they are compromising sound and looks. It takes the same amount of floor space whether you put everything in a clump (Bad for sound and looks) as it does for spreading out the speakers.
They then blame it on the venues when the truth of the matter is that they don't have the balls to negotiate for an optimum setup. They are clueless about sound let alone the aesthetics. 
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Paul G. OBrien

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Re: Gear Setup and Speaker Placement
« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2011, 02:42:18 pm »

There are DJs who think they have to be invisible and take up a small a space as possible. What they don't realize is that they are compromising sound and looks.
But sometimes you just gotta work with what you're given. There is a venue near me that has the dancefloor permanently installed in the exact center of the room with pillars at each corner(it's in a basement), and of course when we're talking about a wedding the head table occupies the center-front of the room, so that leaves some corner that is nowhere near the dance floor for whomever is supplying the entertainment. The layout here is just idiotic and there is nothing that can be done about it, and it's not the only room in my area that is less than ideal either. But when it comes to weddings you have to realize that it really is all about the bride and her perfect day, so I guarantee you aesthetics trumps anything related to the DJ and neither the bride nor wedding coordinator want to be "educated" in the subtleties of ideal speaker placement, they want it to sound good but they don't want to see what produces it in any of their pictures. Ironically.. a majority of newlyweds report that if there was one thing they could change about thier wedding it would be to put more focus on the entertainment end of the event. >:(
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Tracy Garner

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Re: Gear Setup and Speaker Placement
« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2011, 10:34:53 am »

But sometimes you just gotta work with what you're given. There is a venue near me that has the dancefloor permanently installed in the exact center of the room with pillars at each corner(it's in a basement), and of course when we're talking about a wedding the head table occupies the center-front of the room, so that leaves some corner that is nowhere near the dance floor for whomever is supplying the entertainment. The layout here is just idiotic and there is nothing that can be done about it, and it's not the only room in my area that is less than ideal either. But when it comes to weddings you have to realize that it really is all about the bride and her perfect day, so I guarantee you aesthetics trumps anything related to the DJ and neither the bride nor wedding coordinator want to be "educated" in the subtleties of ideal speaker placement, they want it to sound good but they don't want to see what produces it in any of their pictures. Ironically.. a majority of newlyweds report that if there was one thing they could change about thier wedding it would be to put more focus on the entertainment end of the event. >:(

funny... I just did a wedding where I was on the opposite end of the room 60 feet away from the dancefloor...lol
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Chris Carpenter

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Re: Gear Setup and Speaker Placement
« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2011, 04:53:46 am »

I'm about as egotistical as a part time dj can be, so i always make sure to nail down these details long before I arrive.

A gig I did a few months ago, a formal for a sorority, I met with the program manager a month before the event. I told the pm where I wanted to set up, and later sent her a diagram of the room with my intended placement.
Day of the event, the photographer arrives after I begin setting up and starts giving me a hard time about the space I am taking up. I call the pm over and have her explain that I already reserved the area... 15 minutes later I realize that I left my extension cords and had to suck it up and ask him to borrow his backup.
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Canute J. Chiverton

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Re: Gear Setup and Speaker Placement
« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2011, 11:18:35 pm »

I also do site visits before the event and draw diagrams so that everyone has a copy. I have also been to venues where the dance floor was in the middle of the Ballroom. I still ended up playing close to the dance floor. I would rather run one power cord from the wall to my booth and speaker cables along the edge of the dance floor than have people sit between myself and the dance floor.  It is a sure recipe for complaints, especially from the elderly.  There is always a way, if everyone is cooperative.
One sure way to solve things is ask "If we were having a band, where would they setup?" You don't really have to "educate" anyone on the Ideal Speaker Placement technicalities". Just have them understand that what you are suggesting will assure them of the best sound for their event. I usually seal the deal with a question such as "You want the best sound for your event, right?"
What are they going to say "No!"?
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