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Author Topic: How to keep DJ levels out of the red  (Read 16470 times)

Pascal.Pincosy

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How to keep DJ levels out of the red
« on: February 18, 2011, 07:43:28 pm »

Here is the primer. I've used this system with thousands of acts and it never fails:

Step 1) Purchase and install 1 Formula Sound AVC-2. Mount the AVC-2 somewhere that the DJ can see the pretty lights.

Step 2) Explain to the DJ how the box works: "This box is an automatic volume control that will automatically turn down the volume if you turn it up too much. So if you see any red lights on this box, it means that the system is actually 3 dB quieter than it could be. In order to make the system as loud as possible, you will need to turn your mixer down until the red lights disappear." Make sure they understand what you are saying to them.

Step 3) Spend the rest of the DJ's set: at the bar/having a safety meeting/meeting cute new friends/scarfing the buffet/reading a book/looking busy for the client/making cables/reading sound system forums/organizing your music library.

Occasionally you will have some especially thick individual who just doesn't listen, who will proceed to plow his DJ mixer into the red. Go ahead and remind him about the red lights a couple of times. If he still refuses to keep his levels in check, take a moment to talk to the client, apologize for the sound quality and explain why it sounds distorted. Since this sort of thing is now a unusual occurrence, the client will be more willing to focus the blame on the DJ, and less likely to focus it on you.

It's as simple as that.
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Tracy Garner

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Re: How to keep DJ levels out of the red
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2011, 01:45:51 pm »

I humbly disagree with the approach. The "sound" or "color" some DJs are listening for actually occurs at the threshold of red meters. It also doesn't mean the mixer is actually at its limit. I don't necessarily use the meters on a mixer to say where unity gain is. In fact, the Rane MP24 DJ mixer has an adjustment on the back to let you set the meters at your preference - even down to meters off altogether.

Many DJs don't know how to use the sound system as an element of their performance. You don't get the benefit of dynamics in what they present so it probably matters less to those types that there is a governor on the system.

There are some DJs though where you can actually plug the DJ mixer directly into the system processor and allow them complete control.

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Marjan Milosevic

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Re: How to keep DJ levels out of the red
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2011, 05:14:37 pm »

4. If the stubborn DJ still refuses to go off the red light, apply just enough delay in his monitors so he can never mix the beat as it should :-)

Pascal.Pincosy

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Re: How to keep DJ levels out of the red
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2011, 07:21:39 pm »

I humbly disagree with the approach. The "sound" or "color" some DJs are listening for actually occurs at the threshold of red meters. It also doesn't mean the mixer is actually at its limit. I don't necessarily use the meters on a mixer to say where unity gain is.
The AVC-2 is not a mixer. It is an automatic volume controller. http://www.formula-sound.com/products/avc2/index.php The red lights on it do not indicate clipping or anything of the sort. They indicate that the unit is applying gain reduction.

Teach your DJ's that red lights on the AVC-2 equals them being not as loud as they could be. This box works in a similar manner to using a compressor with negative ratios, but without actually compressing the signal and effecting the sound quality. It does not effect the dynamics of the music at all.

And FWIW some quality DJ mixers will not clip until well after they are showing red lights...

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Tim Talbot

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Re: How to keep DJ levels out of the red
« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2011, 11:43:34 pm »

4. If the stubborn DJ still refuses to go off the red light, apply just enough delay in his monitors so he can never mix the beat as it should :-)

lol +1

Pascal.Pincosy

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Re: How to keep DJ levels out of the red
« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2011, 10:00:13 am »

4. If the stubborn DJ still refuses to go off the red light, apply just enough delay in his monitors so he can never mix the beat as it should :-)
If I ever caught one of my engineers doing such a terribly unprofessional thing, I would fire them on the spot.
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Marjan Milosevic

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Re: How to keep DJ levels out of the red
« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2011, 04:43:34 pm »

If I ever caught one of my engineers doing such a terribly unprofessional thing, I would fire them on the spot.

Sure, your engineers dont care if it sounds like crap when the dj clip the signal as hell. Burnt coils and lost job because system sounded bad is at your expense, not theirs.

Tim Talbot

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Re: How to keep DJ levels out of the red
« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2011, 05:43:59 pm »

I've delayed the DJ's monitors before it is very funny and they soon listen to you.... sometimes its the only way or turn the system off for 1min and let everybody know in the venue that it will happen every time the DJ plays up - also works :)

Pascal.Pincosy

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Re: How to keep DJ levels out of the red
« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2011, 07:35:01 am »

Sure, your engineers dont care if it sounds like crap when the dj clip the signal as hell. Burnt coils and lost job because system sounded bad is at your expense, not theirs.
Oddly enough, we don't seem to have those problems. We get compliments at every show, our last blown driver was 9 months ago, and business is booming in a tough economy.

We use high-quality mixers that don't actually clip until well after the red lights show up, and the AVC-2 keeps the levels in check. The potential for a clipped signal from the DJ mixer is still there, but if a couple warnings to turn it down don't solve the issue, we just drop the gain a couple of dB and our systems seem to handle the odd incident of abuse just fine. Also communicating the issue with the client makes us the good guys in that sort of situation.
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Tim Talbot

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Re: How to keep DJ levels out of the red
« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2011, 10:27:31 am »

So what happens when a headlining DJ specs a DJM & Xone mixer then ?
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