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Author Topic: rant1: what is it with DJs?  (Read 7607 times)

Merlin

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rant1: what is it with DJs?
« on: April 23, 2004, 05:43:26 pm »

Hi folks, the first of two posts from me tonight:

What is it with DJs?
I've walked into a situation where the whole system was messed up gain structure wise, and the graphic was smiley face with most of the faders all the way down, and the processor [JBL DSC260] was all set wrong, crossover points and gain and limits etc all over the place.

I tuned it up, found a couple of cables that had one leg shorted to ground, sorted out the phase etc etc etc, basically got it working "right". Sounded great with the graphic bypassed, so I demo'd it and told DJ, manager and owners if they wanted to make slight little tweaks to the graphic that was up to them. The before and after effect was stunning - clean and undistorted, louder than before with the limiters on the DSC260 just occasionally flashing red with a couple of red lights on the DJ mixer.

They all said "great"...

Tonight I go back; he's running the DJ mixer with all three eq pots cut - around "8 o'clock" on highs mids and lows. The input of the CD channel is clipping, the channel and master faders are all full up, he's DJ'ing and mixing with the gain knobs. The 260's limiters are all red all the time. All the patrons are up against the back wall; the area in front of the PA is deserted. I know that most of you reading this will know what it sounded like.

Do they just like it like that?

sheesh.....
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Beefcake

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Re: rant1: what is it with DJs?
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2004, 06:16:07 pm »

I don't know man...i think you're building up a stereotype there. I think that you need to have a little meeting with that DJ and teach him a few things...unless he "knows" what he's doing. It might just be that he just doesn't know what he's doing.  Rolling Eyes
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Beefcake

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Re: rant1: what is it with DJs?
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2004, 06:22:34 pm »

Quote:

Do they just like it like that?


I have seen several DJs at a local club, which has a speaker 'system' (2 cabs on poles) installed with a 7-band EQ. They turn all the bands up to full. I can only assume that they prefer their newfound 15dB preamp to the good old gain control, complete with its bumpy frequency response Smile. They also love to turn the bass up on the 3-band so the clip lights are full on and the voice coils are bouncing off the backplates.

Oh well, I won't be complaining unless I have to work with one of them - or replace their drivers!

Alex

P.S. I should just add that my intention was not to stereotype (Beefcake beat me to hitting the 'post' button here!) - I have seen many good, perfectly competent DJs who know how to use their equipment, and aren't afraid to ask for advice if they are unsure.
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Travis Valois

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Re: rant1: what is it with DJs?
« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2004, 12:27:55 pm »

I dabble in both fields, so I see both sides of the story.

An associate of mine who DJ's doesn't do that.  We've worked together on both live gigs and DJ'ing gigs that he knows what to touch, and what not to.  

He has a decent ear for sound, and knows when the system is being pushed too hard.  He won't go anywhere near the system eq or the system crossover and asks me to do any adjustments on those.  

Now on a different slant, there's a different DJ that comes in one night a week.  He had a habit also of setting the graphic to a "smile" and defeating the 40Hz hi pass on the crossover.  Needless to say, one 18 had about 4/5 of the surround ripped, and you could see where the others have been pushed to hard. (small club...using all direct vented subs).  When he is DJ'ing, half the system will go thermal as well.  I got management to straighten him out about playing with the eq, so at least he doesn't touch it anymore, just cranks the snot out of it instead, and it sounds terrible.  Plus he's using burned disks that weren't made properly.


If more DJ's knew what to touch and what not to, repairs on a lot of club equipment would be unnecessary, because they wouldn't be blowing up equipment.  If you don't want them to touch it, lock it up, put a security cover over it.   (I've had to use rivets to put security covers on in the past on installs!).  Does the DSC260 have a lockout feature? (I've only used the DBX driverack units)If so...make use of it...it's there to prevent tampering.  Club/bar management should know exactly what is being done on their system.  I keep the club updated on any anomalies that I find (as to them being willing to pay to have IT repaired properly is another issue altogether).

In my town of about 70,000, there's maybe 3 or 4 dj's that know how to make proper use of their systems.
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Merlin

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Re: rant1: what is it with DJs?
« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2004, 04:43:45 pm »

short_circutz wrote on Sat, 24 April 2004 23:27


[...snip]
 Plus he's using burned disks that weren't made properly.


don't get me started...

Quote:


[...snip again]
 Does the DSC260 have a lockout feature? (I've only used the DBX driverack units)If so...make use of it...


oh yes, you can lock individual programs, or the whole unit.
Also, you can set the limiters on each band output so the drivers won't fry - as far as that goes, the system is bulletproof.

But if the input of the channel on the DJ mixer is clipping, no matter what you've got after that, it's gonna sound like shit.
Garbage in, garbage out.
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Merlin Zener
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Michael Prasuhn

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Re: rant1: what is it with DJs?
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2004, 12:25:25 am »

Well, as Beefcake pointed out, it's uhh, not going to get any better, unless you uhh. how to say this..tell them? Seriously if you do see something drastically wrong, it is somewhat your responsibility to try to take that problem up with them, instead of complaining about it to others. If you haven't tried to educate them, how do you know that they won't learn. Maybe you have and you didn't mention it, I don't know.

Anyway, to the whole DJ/rig tweaking/BE tuning system issue/concept, people really do need to use more common sense. Making certain control available to an individual requires, (yep, you guess it! The "R" word) responsibility. To give control to individuals, whether it be a DJ in a the smallest night club, or a BE on an arena sized rig, without either a) knowing the persons qualifications b) having previously worked with the person, or c) keeping a close eye on what they do, is rather foolish. I'll be honest, some would disagree with me here, but without one of those three qualifications, someone should not be using the system level tuning devices, which includes, comp limiters, graphic EQs, crossovers, DSP settings, or amp levels.

Back to the DJ in a dance club issue, here's the way I see it. There really is no reason to give any DJ of a even a decent to mediocre system, a graphic EQ. They are working with prerecorded tracks, that have probably been mastered in some form or another, and there really is little live element to it, to require precise adjustments. Most world class dance clubs present the worlds best DJ's with little more than a mixer, input devices, and level control of their booth monitor.

Some of the more elaborate systems I've seen include a feature that I don't particularly care for, but it beats the alternatives, which is a bandpass/EQ adjustment panel. Some installers, most notably Phazon, have been regularly installing a 3 knob panel that is connected to the external input on I believe a BSS digital processor. It is usually labeled Low/Sub, Mids and Tweeters. These are frequently used to control the bandpass levels. Using these knobs to control parameters in a DSP is a very wise handling of the situation, because it is pre limiters, and can also have a defined range of adjustment, I.E say only +/- 5 dB or so. I like this because it provides a sense of control to the artist, with safe limits and in a controlled manner. Also, this technique provides the desired result with less filtering than an EQ would produce.

Anyway, just some thoughts on the issue, anyone that cares to may correct me on this, Paul Bell perhaps?

-Mikey P
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Sawdust

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DJs are entertainers
« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2004, 05:07:11 pm »

DJs are paid to be entertainers, not PA specialists.

There are basically two types of DJs, the club DJ and the Mobile DJ. The club DJ entertains by mixing and scratching to create new sound textures on the fly. The mobile DJ entertains by orchestrating a party and being the master of ceremonies for weddings and corporate parties. In between, you have the DJs that do both. They try to bring a club-like experience into school gymnasiums and other small venues. But even in this capacity, they are mostly judged by their ability to keep people dancing.

When DJs look to better themselves, they look to increase their entertainment value. Lights and sound help differentiate people to some degree but the industry has proven that improved MC capabilities earn the wedding DJs bigger bucks and improved mixing capabilities give the club jocks greater recognition. In other words, understanding sound reinforcement doesn't reap them much in the way of greater income. Heck, the club jock deals with an installed system. He can just blame the club.

I gave an audio seminar a few months ago at a National DJ convention in Las Vegas. Guess where they scheduled me; 8am on the last day following an all-night party at Studio 54. Nevertheless, I had about 20% of the convention attend. The key piece of advice I tried to instill upon them was not to use or buy anything they don't fully understand.
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Sawdust

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Re: rant1: what is it with DJs?
« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2004, 05:24:51 pm »

I should have added that just because DJs are entertainers it doesn't excuse them from not understanding their own PA gear. It is part of the service. I was just trying to express my opinion on why most DJs lack that knowledge.
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Eric Wong!

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Re: rant1: what is it with DJs?
« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2004, 05:47:20 pm »

Ive been to many 'clubs' and the sound is downright aweful at most.  Even with the finest equipment, I've heard a Phazon system sound like crap on one night but on another night sound good.  I've heard many EV systems that were driven so hard it made my ears bleed.  Alot of the times I even question the installs, some obviously put in by non-professionals.  I plan to open a night club at some point in my life and one thing that will be for sure is my system will be setup right where the DJ cant F with it.  

But yea most Djs are paid to be entertainers, but even then some of them do a aweful job.  I cant think of how many events (weddings, parties, school dances) where I thought "i wish i was running the sound' cause either the sound sounded aweful cause their equipment suxed, or the material that was being played was bad or both.  Im  a 'lite DJ / SR person' I do limited DJ and SR work, I mainly enjoy having a PA system that I can use whenever I want but this DJ still has a head for SR and sound quality to try to break the stereotype.   Cool
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Merlin

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Re: rant1: what is it with DJs?
« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2004, 06:20:08 pm »

Sawdust wrote on Tue, 27 April 2004 04:24

I should have added that just because DJs are entertainers it doesn't excuse them from not understanding their own PA gear. It is part of the service. I was just trying to express my opinion on why most DJs lack that knowledge.



Good call.

You expect a guitar player to be able to tune their guitar; if a DJ has enough intelligence to learn how to beatmix and sometimes even hit loops etc on the fly, then surely they should be able to learn how to run their own desk.




ps.
But anyway: why can't they just hear it's wrong, and fix it?
That's why I asked: do they just like it like that?

I remember some TV show where a guy had a Harley, and some other guy tuned it "right", but the guy put it back the old way, cause he liked the way it sounded when it was running too rich...
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Merlin Zener
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Sawdust

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Re: rant1: what is it with DJs?
« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2004, 06:40:25 pm »

Hearing the problem is its own problem. Club DJs are usually listening through headphones coming off the mixer and most DJ mixers don't have inserts. In other words, all the processing is being done after the monitoring point.

Your typical mobile wedding jock is operating solo. He is behind the speakers most of the time except when he is speaking on a wireless. He isn't in a FOH position.

Finally, you need to have an appreciation for good sound before you can recognize it. Do you remember your first glass of wine? It probably tasted awful and so did your second glass. In fact, you probably started out drinking sweet wines that you no longer like. It takes years to develop a palate that can distinguish the nuances between a single wine variety. Sound is the same way. I remember my aunt buying a stereo that sounded awful. Her criteria for sound had been a clock/radio. She didn't have a good reference.

Kids coming into club style DJing are used to heavily bass boosted hip/hop being played on stations that add more boost on a car stereo that has additional boost with the EQ set at flat.  This is how they expect all music to sound.

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Baron Gray

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Re: rant1: what is it with DJs?
« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2004, 09:18:32 pm »

I think that was an episode of "Roseanne" and the guy that tuned it made a statment about it being tuned for 6000ft but "Dan" liked the lumpy rumble.

Baron
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Mr.Nightro

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Re: rant1: what is it with DJs?
« Reply #12 on: April 27, 2004, 06:05:02 pm »

You know I had an hour long argument about this very topic not too long ago. A so called "professional" sound reinforcement guy I know was stereotyping all DJ's in the same sinking ship as nothing more then "failed S/R wanna be's that just couldn't get a clue to be able to produce a good sound from a sound system". With this statement made I had no choice but to set him correct in that it's not up to an average DJ to know how to correctly fine tune a sound system. You ask a traditional DJ what are his/her tools of the trade & they shall tell you that it is his/her decks (i.e. turntables or cd player, cause this is where their TRUE skills shine) NOT his/her PA. This be true with a singer, drummer, guitarist etc. think about it would Hendricks be any less a talented Guitarist cause he didn't know how to tune his PA to make his guitar to sound good?
My argument started with this "professional" because a system he supplied to a DJ was I must admit sounding awful (especially since I had my personal PA next to his & blowing it out of the water in clarity, overall high spl & high level bass) but this was no one else's fault but his own. The system he provided would of sounded great if in fact he was doing a stage show but a DJ rig needs to be tuned differently then that of a live PA. We all know that DJ's love bass ( this is cause bass is what gets the people dancing) so give them plenty of clean bass from the start by adding extra sub cabinets so they don't have to fiddle with the system to try & get more bass out of  a perfectly balanced system that is unable to give them the extra low frquencies to the levels they are looking for.
The average DJ has never studied sound reinforcement in any shape or form & more then likely learned on the scene with a few tips here & there while "most" S/R guys have spent many years reading & studying their trade cause that is where the bulk of their profession lay (in the PA). With so many gimmick products & sales pitches out there for DJ's how would you expect an average person to make the correct choice in putting their DJ PA rig together? Take a look at the low quality of equipment geared towards DJ's, then you condemn them for trying to push their PA system past the point it was designed to perform. Just read through the posts in the Lab Lounge & see how many people are trying to get platinum sound out of lead equipment, it's not their fault it's all in the learning curve.
IT IS TOTALLY WRONG TO PLACE ALL DJ'S IN ONE STEREOTYPE AS THIS POST IMPLIES, NO WHERE IN HERE DO I SEE IT STATED AS SOME DJ'S BUT DJ'S IN GENERAL. As though we have never paid large fee's to go to a concert to see our favourite band & have the whole experience messed up cause the sound system sounded awful...HMMM Educate don't walk away & condemn them for simply not knowing... Also as stated in another post here the location of the DJ isn't exactly perfect for monitoring the PA for the whole night as it is for a a S/R so maybe the dj is too caught up in his mix & not able to tell what the system is sounding like at that given time.
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Dave Bigelow

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Re: rant1: what is it with DJs?
« Reply #13 on: April 28, 2004, 12:59:09 am »

I've had the thought of breaking out a tube of super glue on the dj's stuff at work before. Some of them just can't comprehend the meaning of "quit clipping my preamps or I'll turn you off."
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Rain Jaudon

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Re: rant1: what is it with DJs?
« Reply #14 on: April 28, 2004, 01:32:56 am »

Yes, they just like it like that.
Its a shame - Many are glorified home stereo operators.
They push it hi fi - hence the DJ smiley curve you keep seeing.

I had a similar situation at a club in Greenville, MS.
Ended up screwing a plexi cover over the face of the EQ and Xover to keep him from putting his monkey hands on it.

Eventualy he started taking the cover off and jacking with it..
I turned the system back over to the venue owner and washed my hands of it all.

Good luck -
Rain
btw, hide a brick wall limiter somewhere. That way he can turn it up all he wants, its only gonna get THIS loud.. saves a system!
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Mr.Nightro

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Re: rant1: what is it with DJs?
« Reply #15 on: April 28, 2004, 02:28:56 am »

You have found the solution to the problem already but you fail to address it correctly. It is obvious the system isn't giving him the form of performance he is looking for & that is why he is distorting the system trying to achieve the levels he is looking for. We all know that you can only achieve so much spl from a given quantity of speakers but here you have the uninformed trying to get that extra level of spl or bass from a given system. If you have to provide a system for a DJ think overkill, in that you provide a system that will give him/her plenty of headroom to spare on top of any sain level you feel would be needed for a given venue by adding extra speaker coverage (a good compressor/limiter would also be a good idea). Keep in mind the thought process behind the two sound providers, a S/R guy would want good clean even coverage over a given area at sain levels while a DJ wants BASS heavy coverage with spl's that make your head throb wishing for a set of ear plugs & this is where the conflict comes in. One is a trained professional that knows all the technical ins & outs of the game while the other only knows what he wants but not how to technically achieve it (Some, NOT all fall in this category). If you have a DJ that keeps messing with your PA then it is obvious your PA isn't giving him what he is looking for so it would then make sense to gear your PA to the DJ's needs correctly for him keeping in mind what he/she is looking for. I provide various sound systems for local DJ's week in & weekend out & I no longer have the problem of DJ's distorting my systems I provide for them ever since I changed my mind set as to how I provided sound for them. What ever system I provide for them is pieced together so that it will give the DJ what they are looking for while still keeping good clean sound & staying out of the red.
Has anyone tried the DJ setting on the DBX DriveRack PA?, notice how bass heavy the settings are? this is because DBX realize the sound a DJ is looking for, though I find the setting to be  a bit harsh & use a custom setting for DJ's that works perfectly.

Each one, Teach one.
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Michael Prasuhn

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Re: rant1: what is it with DJs?
« Reply #16 on: April 28, 2004, 03:36:01 am »

Rain wrote on Tue, 27 April 2004 23:32

[snip]

btw, hide a brick wall limiter somewhere. That way he can turn it up all he wants, its only gonna get THIS loud.. saves a system!



If you can hide a brick wall limiter, why aren't you hiding the graphic eq, crossovers, DSP, etc? Seriously it's common sense here, present that artist with their tools, and you have yours. Don't let anyone use your tools unless:

a) they have proper credentials, i.e. a trusted friend says they are alright, their reputation precedes them, etc.

b) you have prior experience with them, and therefore trust them

c) you supervise them while they use your tools, to make sure they are taken care of

or

d) let them use your tools however they want, and maybe you'll get them back fine, maybe you'll get them back broken, abused, missing, or not at all.

I'm not singling out DJ's here. This isn't about stereotypes. This isn't about us vs. them. This is about establishing trust (yours of them), and taking responsibility for your own gear. It's ultimately you who are responsible for it.

-Mikey P
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Alan Hamilton

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Re: rant1: what is it with DJs?
« Reply #17 on: April 28, 2004, 10:37:04 am »

Beefcake wrote on Fri, 23 April 2004 23:16

I don't know man...i think you're building up a stereotype there. I think that you need to have a little meeting with that DJ and teach him a few things...unless he "knows" what he's doing. It might just be that he just doesn't know what he's doing.  Rolling Eyes


Of course it isn't true of all DJ's.... just every DJ I've ever seen! Wink

Seriously, I think it is a 'monkey see, monkey do' thing and so it is very prevalent. It's hard enough to get thru to one person but when a large portion of his peers do it the same way then it is even going to be harder to make him listen enough to understand.

-AlanH
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Merlin

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Re: rant1: what is it with DJs?
« Reply #18 on: April 28, 2004, 05:57:26 pm »

Thanks for all the replies guys, I've been following along.

FWIW, in this case the DJs [there's several that work in the club] hadn't touched the graphic or the processor etc [it's locked anyhow...]

What prompted my rant was that I'd given them a system that was louder and cleaner than before [fixed up the gain stages through the graphic and processor], demo'd it in front of owner, managers and main DJ, they all said "great" and when I returned, it was back to sounding like shit, only louder.

I had already thought of pads etc, but it's pointless going down that path - there's gain settings and limiters in the processor; I suppose I could put a pad in the XLRs on the inputs to the graphic - but what's the use if the signal is clipping at the input stage of the DJ mixer? I mean, don't you think those lights are RED for a reason?

And yes, I'd already given them the little speech: "keep the signal in the yellow, one or two red lights ok, but not all the time. Don't worry, it's plenty loud enough...]"

Ahhh well....
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Henry Denman

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Re: rant1: what is it with DJs?
« Reply #19 on: April 28, 2004, 07:51:24 pm »

I really have to agree with Mickey here.  I mean do you let Joe Schmo AE off the street walk in and trust your rig to him?  I don't.  I keep my eye on them for a while until I know if I can trust their judgment.  DJ, AE, I don't care who he is.  I keep all my gear locked up so I am the only one to gauge how much or how quality the sound being produced by the speakers.  This is unless I know them and then all bets are off...no access what so ever.   Very Happy  

When I am dealing with a DJ or someone who is giving me a send from stage I have a little talk with them prior to the show.  I set the guidelines and do a sound check.  I also have a comp/limiter inserted on there channel to protect against unexpected peeks.

Henry
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RobertOziemkowski

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Re: rant1: what is it with DJs?
« Reply #20 on: April 28, 2004, 11:38:29 pm »

hdenman wrote on Thu, 29 April 2004 00:51

When I am dealing with a DJ or someone who is giving me a send from stage I have a little talk with them prior to the show.  I set the guidelines and do a sound check.  I also have a comp/limiter inserted on there channel to protect against unexpected peeks.

Henry


Trust but verify!

The Aphex Dominator works wonders in this application.  Rolling Eyes
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Dave Bigelow

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Re: rant1: what is it with DJs?
« Reply #21 on: April 30, 2004, 01:56:56 pm »

Actually I'll stick the nastiest sounding compresser in the club on them, that keeps them out of it when they hear all the life sucked out of the music.Very Happy
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