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Sound Reinforcement - Forums for Live Sound Professionals - Your Displayed Name Must Be Your Real Full Name To Post In The Live Sound Forums => DJ Forum => Topic started by: Chris Grimshaw on May 04, 2018, 09:30:32 am

Title: New to DJing, want to try it.
Post by: Chris Grimshaw on May 04, 2018, 09:30:32 am
Hi all,

So I've been involved with live sound for years, have all the gear etc etc etc. I've also been told that I put together "really good" playlists.
I've worked with DJs before, and have a reasonable idea of what's going on when it comes to beat matching, transitions, etc.

I'd like to try my hand at DJing, starting out at home putting playlists together, practicing moving between songs smoothly and then maybe one day heading out and doing it for money. I already have the live sound stuff sorted, and the DJing would be an extra service I could offer.
We're looking at mostly pop/party music. I won't be composing anything so launchpads etc aren't something I'm after.

My question is this - what would be a good start-up USB controller?
There's loads out there, so I thought I'd ask. Looking for something cheap-ish, reasonably solid, and comes with software that'll let me do what I'm after. I'm running a reasonably powerful Windows 10 laptop with plenty of USB connectivity.
If I get good and start getting paid for it, I'll be stepping it up and buying a more expensive controller, but for now I'd like to keep it at the budget end of the market.

Help and guidance would be much appreciated.

Cheers,
Chris
Title: Re: New to DJing, want to try it.
Post by: Uniz Kazz on May 04, 2018, 10:30:35 am
Hi Chris,

I reckon since you’re in the live sound world and have come across thousands of tech riders in your career, you’ll notice that the absolute majority of the time when asked for dj setup or playback system, they’ll usually spec Pioneer CDJs (2000/900). They are and have been the industry standard for over a decade now and nothing on the horizon would allude to that changing.
Since you’re starting out and might gradually move up to ‘pro gear’ (which you can add to your rental fleet if not already available), you’re best bet might be to go with Pioneer’s own Dj controllers. The layout, functionality, and experience on the controllers are very easily transferable over to the decks.
Also, their own software is no slouch whatsoever. Does all your categorising or your music and id3 tagging for you (bpm,key,etc). The whole ecosystem they’ve built is quite robust and user friendly.

Good luck


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Title: Re: New to DJing, want to try it.
Post by: Dennis Wiggins on May 04, 2018, 01:00:08 pm

...I'd like to try my hand at DJing, starting out at home putting playlists together, practicing moving between songs smoothly and then maybe one day heading out and doing it for money. I already have the live sound stuff sorted, and the DJing would be an extra service I could offer.
We're looking at mostly pop/party music...


Go to every Goodwill, St. Vincents and other resale shops/flea markets to buy CDs.  They are usually $1, but some are as high as $2(!).  I just picked up 6 Gaelic Storm CDs for $6. Rip everything you have to MP320k. A deep library will get you more gigs.

Just don't shop in the 25-125 mile radius NW of Chicago; that my territory! >:(

Unless you are wanting to beat mix (I haven't in 40 years) there is no need for a "controller" to just play/mix/blend tracks. 

I stopped using WMP, as anything MS O/S beyond XP (anything Winxx) ruined it.  AIMP is what I'm using on Win 10; it is free., and works great.

-Dennis
Title: Re: New to DJing, want to try it.
Post by: Rob Spence on May 04, 2018, 02:00:43 pm
Go to every Goodwill, St. Vincents and other resale shops/flea markets to buy CDs.  They are usually $1, but some are as high as $2(!).  I just picked up 6 Gaelic Storm CDs for $6. Rip everything you have a MP320k. A deep library will get you more gigs.

Just don't shop in the 25-125 mile radius NW of Chicago; that my territory! >:(

Unless you are wanting to beat mix (I haven't in 40 years) there is no need for a "controller" to just play/mix/blend tracks. 

I stopped using WMP, as anything MS O/S beyond XP (anything Winxx) ruined it.  AIMP is what I'm using on Win 10; it is free., and works great.

-Dennis

Don’t forget royalty licenses. If you play a real gig.


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Title: Re: New to DJing, want to try it.
Post by: Luke Geis on May 04, 2018, 02:35:14 pm
Pioneer, Numark and Rane are pretty much the front runners in the DJ field. If you buy anything that is of median grade from either company, you will have what 90% of the dj's are using. If you want to go A rig status, then its Rane 62 or bigger for the mixer and Pioneer CDJ 2000's for your control and turntable scratching. Honestly the $1k all in one DJ consoles are making pretty much every wedding dj and private show punter happy.

I am not a DJ, but I if you pay me I will play one. I am predominately what I call a corporate dj. I only play music in which I specifically control it for my corporate clients. I actually get to be a dj tonight! Fun gig when everyone is happy. Stressful when the group has A.D.H.D.....
Title: Re: New to DJing, want to try it.
Post by: Lance Hallmark on May 04, 2018, 02:37:28 pm
I would recommend starting off with the Pioneer DDJ-SX or SX2. Reasonably compact, fairly full featured, this controller will take you from getting started to doing paid gigs. Used legacy models can be found for under $500, new SX2 can be had for about $1k. Make sure you check all the buttons and faders if buying used.
Title: Re: New to DJing, want to try it.
Post by: Dennis Wiggins on May 04, 2018, 04:19:23 pm
Don’t forget royalty licenses. If you play a real gig.

https://www.mobilebeat.com/prosanddjs/

If you want to specifically discuss licenses, please open up a new subject.

-Dennis

<edit> I didn't intend that to be snarky; just that DJs and licensing is a topic unto itself.

-D
Title: Re: New to DJing, want to try it.
Post by: Chris Grimshaw on May 04, 2018, 04:42:29 pm
https://www.mobilebeat.com/prosanddjs/

If you want to specifically discuss licenses, please open up a new subject.

-Dennis

<I didn't intend that to be snarky; just that DJs and licensing is a topic unto itself.

-D

... Probably further complicated by the fact that I'm in the UK, and things may be a little different here.
I expect it'll take a lot of practice (years) before I get good enough to make any money from doing DJing, so I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Thanks, everyone, for your input so far. I'll start shopping around and see what I can find. I'll probably buy second-hand so I won't lose much if I decide I don't get on with it.

Chris
Title: Re: New to DJing, want to try it.
Post by: James Hennessy on May 06, 2018, 05:19:40 pm
I'll echo the recommendations for something from the Pioneer line.  Especially if you'd like to play out at clubs that probably have an in house set up of CDJ 2000 and DJM900 or DJM2000 mixers. 

If you want to use turntables and a mixer then Rane's Serato or the new Phase wireless system that's about to come out would be good to consider.   

If you haven't seen it yet check out this Phase demo : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yL46Uw8M6HA
Title: Re: New to DJing, want to try it.
Post by: Lee Douglas on May 06, 2018, 06:14:54 pm
Like you, I've been doing live sound for years.  About ten years ago I hit a bit of a dry spell for live sound gigs. I had the sound equipment and wanted it to be making money, so I started offering DJ services.  I picked up a used Hercules RMX in a case, for less than $100.  I thought it would be temporary and that I would be moving to something better inside of year, but it did and still does everything I need it to do.  It has a decent four channel sound card and controls what I need it to control in my software.  It feels substantial and has good weight to it, unlike some of cheap plastic consoles. The one thing I wish it had are XLR outputs, but since I'm usually very close to mixer I plug it into, it hasn't really been an issue.  If I were looking for something for rental stock, I would be looking into something much better and rider friendly.  But this is just for me to make my equipment a little more profitable.
Title: Re: New to DJing, want to try it.
Post by: Joe Pieternella on May 07, 2018, 12:47:40 am
I second the RMX by Hercules, I have the original, I find the current ones more gimmicky with their distance sensors. They also seem less rugged than the first series. They might have added balanced outputs by now though.

I do have to add that if you only DJ on your own equipment this is the most cost effective solution. It even comes with a stripped down version of virtualDJ. However the popular CDJ/DJM combo's can also add revenue as rental stock depending on how saturated the market is in your area. Most any club will have them as part of their own inventory so they will see most use in the summer months on festivals, floats, parades and other open air events.

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Title: Re: New to DJing, want to try it.
Post by: Chris Grimshaw on May 09, 2018, 04:14:06 am
There are a LOT of clubs around that have some form of Pioneer system, and the venue I used to work at (they still pass me external gigs occasionally) is happy to rent them to me to fill riders. So, I'm not looking for a full Pioneer setup - there's no ROI on that around here.
Besides, this is for personal use that might transition into professional use if I get any good at it.

Thanks for all the recommendations.

I've spotted the Hercules RMX unit on the usual auction site comes in around £100 delivered, which is the sort of money I'd want to spend. I suspect that it'll come with the unit, cable, and maybe a case, and that's it.

How would I go about the software side of things? Can I download VirtualDJ and it'll just work? I figure with second-hand gear, the software key will have already been used, and can't be transferred.

Cheers, all.
Chris
Title: Re: New to DJing, want to try it.
Post by: Joe Pieternella on May 09, 2018, 09:45:26 am



How would I go about the software side of things? Can I download VirtualDJ and it'll just work? I figure with second-hand gear, the software key will have already been used, and can't be transferred.

Cheers, all.
Chris

The stripped down versions as far as I know apart from being outdated are also only available on the CD with the sound card drivers on it.
 The older demo versions had a 30min per session time limit after which the software would shut down but had no other limitations. They now have a free version without the time limit, but you can't use a controller. To do this you'll need the pro version. There might be other viable options though besides vdj.


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Title: Re: New to DJing, want to try it.
Post by: Lee Douglas on May 09, 2018, 05:16:02 pm
I went with VDJ Pro all those years ago and have been able to upgrade over the years with no additional cost.  I wanted the Pro license after watching a friend of mine struggle with a hacked previous version.  The right thing to do and all.  You should be able to pay the $300 for that with half of your first gig.  But $99 dollars will get you in the door with a home license.  You will also need a driver for the RMX, available from the Hercules website.
Title: Re: New to DJing, want to try it.
Post by: Chris Grimshaw on May 18, 2018, 11:21:27 am
Hi gents,

So I've found something I like the looks of online - Numark N4. The controller surface seems fairly straightforward (some have a ridiculous number of buttons), and it comes with Serato Intro, which I think will work fine for me.

XLR outputs are good to have (though I will be routing everything through a QSC TM16), and the price is right, too.

Just thought I'd check here and make sure I wouldn't be making a big mistake by picking this up - thoughts welcome.

Cheers, all.
Chris
Title: Re: New to DJing, want to try it.
Post by: Lee Douglas on May 18, 2018, 06:46:34 pm
Amazon show that at just under 1K.  Other sites are up to $1500.  Not exactly dipping your toe in the waters at that price point!  What steered you in that direction?  I do like the XLRs!
Title: Re: New to DJing, want to try it.
Post by: Chris Grimshaw on May 18, 2018, 06:58:03 pm
Amazon show that at just under 1K.  Other sites are up to $1500.  Not exactly dipping your toe in the waters at that price point!  What steered you in that direction?  I do like the XLRs!

Found one on the usual auction site for sensible money. Light use, all cables and accessories (including a little plastic screen that sits on the surface and re-labels the buttons for use with Serato) and Serato Intro on disc.

The prices you're reporting are much higher than the price I've found it for, so I'm going to double-check things before proceeding.

I found that unit after scrolling through the list of compatible products on the Serato website, and found the N4, which looks clean and straightforward (more like an analogue mixing desk) in comparison to some that look futuristic and cool, but don't look particularly intuitive.

Chris
Title: Re: New to DJing, want to try it.
Post by: Chris Grimshaw on May 21, 2018, 03:17:29 am
The Numark N4 I found is on its way. Right now I'm watching all the videos I can find so I can jump right in.

Cheers, all.
Chris
Title: Re: New to DJing, want to try it.
Post by: Chris Grimshaw on May 25, 2018, 07:34:55 am
It's arrived, and "jumping in" isn't happening.
I've got it playing music, and all the controls etc work just fine.

The problem is that there's gonna be a pretty serious learning curve. Transitioning well between two tracks is entirely luck at this point.

Practice, practice, practice...

Chris
Title: Re: New to DJing, want to try it.
Post by: Lyle Williams on June 01, 2018, 07:27:52 pm
Depending on the crowd, blending tracks may or may not matter at all.

Great lights (not the same look all night, stuff that changes and moves with the feel of the room) and bass first.

Reading to mood and picking the tracks that will pump things higher and higher.

Then the seamless transitions...



Title: Re: New to DJing, want to try it.
Post by: Chris Grimshaw on June 02, 2018, 07:28:25 am
Depending on the crowd, blending tracks may or may not matter at all.

Great lights (not the same look all night, stuff that changes and moves with the feel of the room) and bass first.

Reading to mood and picking the tracks that will pump things higher and higher.

Then the seamless transitions...

I've got bass covered - 8x top-end 15" subs, powered by a Crown MA12000i. Each one will do around 6dB more than a KW181 at 40Hz, but loses out by a couple of dB at 70Hz. Plenty of "grunt" at the bottom end, that's for sure.
Lights aren't something I've invested in yet, but they'll happen further down the line. I'll probably start out renting, although using a lighting desk while DJing would be interesting and probably something to practice extensively.

I'm not gonna get any DJing gigs any time soon - I'm thinking of offering it as a service starting next year, if I'm confident in my skills by then.

Chris
Title: Re: New to DJing, want to try it.
Post by: Randy Pence on July 04, 2018, 05:38:24 pm
It's arrived, and "jumping in" isn't happening.
I've got it playing music, and all the controls etc work just fine.

The problem is that there's gonna be a pretty serious learning curve. Transitioning well between two tracks is entirely luck at this point.

Practice, practice, practice...

Chris

I'd like to get back into it, having done hte vinyl thing a long time ago.  If I could buy a controller, that numark would be on my list of things to check out.

Mixxx is a quite usable open source Serato-like software package.

As far as beat-matching goes. Cue the incoming track to the start of the kick, release just before the live song's first kick in a pattern plays. Listen to the rhythm, not just the beating kick, when setting the tempo. Listen more and look at meters and numbers less when setting the tempo. As all the music is basically 4 beats to the measure, pay attention to the entire rhythm and groove and you will lock in more easily.

In the vinyl days, djs would play with the pitch fader, push or pull the record, and sometimes even try to manipulate the spindle, but I found that riding the pitch fader was fastest and most effective at setting tempo. This allowed me to cue, start, pitch, and then mix in records in one go, with obviously some practice, but djs typically spend silly amounts of time setting and resetting while cued up and further tweaking things live. I'm not sure how this translates into digital source playback, but I would probably only use the jog-platter for cueing purposes, not to adjust the syncing, and still rely on the pitch fader over tempo nudge buttons.

Something else which might help is to play doubles of a song to get you used to adjusting its tempo in order to sync it to another. The more things are off, the more it will cause a flange effect. When I stopped, I was playing techno and house music on 3 turntables simultaneously, sometimes adding a drum machine. I wasn't bothered to push for gigs and got more involved in sound reinforcement. If you enjoy listening to music, as every sound engineer should, you'll have fun on this journey. The new tools allow for a lot more creative options.
Title: Re: New to DJing, want to try it.
Post by: Steve M Smith on July 05, 2018, 03:02:57 am
Don’t forget royalty licenses. If you play a real gig.

Is the DJ responsible for this in the US?

In the UK, it's the venue's responsibility.


Steve.
Title: Re: New to DJing, want to try it.
Post by: Lance Hallmark on July 06, 2018, 01:46:28 pm
Is the DJ responsible for this in the US?

In the UK, it's the venue's responsibility.


Steve.

Same here in the US. It is the venue's responsibility to have proper licensing through ASCAP, BMI, & SEASAC
Title: Re: New to DJing, want to try it.
Post by: Richard Turner on July 15, 2018, 08:15:56 pm
Pioneer is good stuff but be wary of used pieces, a lot of it is abused and parts arent cheap and techs arent readily available for them either. I cant lay my hand on the receipt right this minute but my DDJ-SX left platter went down and it took 130 days for a repair to be completed and thats with a national music store handling it and they said that was priority after warranty service. Up here in the frozen north our long mcquade stores offer pretty exceptional extended warranty programs at about 4% of new cost which covers the repair, freight and loaner gear. I think the total repair bill was about $225 on a piece worth $500 on a good day but they fixed it and loaned me a unit from rental dept.

You would be well advised to buy a subscription with a liscenced music provider to cover your music library and if in the US be aware ov BMI and ASCAP non member acts. just dont bother playing them. In canada we have the extra layer of weirdness between venue shaving to pay SOCAN and another quasi legal money grab called the AVLA that expects $300 per year per hard drive for the right to digitally copy music to the hard drive. only way out it to subscribe to a compliant music supply service or lug around crates of original CD's

As for mixing dont sweat it just leave a short spot between songs, fade the outro into intro or use the time to call out birthdays, drink specials etc. I get flack from the one long song mix dj's for being old and clueless but when I speak to venue owners gig in gig out the bar sales on nights I work are always higher per patron than the nights I work.

Keep an eye on the bar, if its slammed play the hits keep the floor filled and once they catch up and no ones lines up for beers play something different, a ballad, an old school hit, whatever it takes to clear half the floor and make them want to spend $$$ at the bar. if your on mobile beat website search soft floor turn. But don't ever do this at the top or bottom of the hour. if you do it at 1230 they might bar hop but half hour till close they are committed for the night. at 1am they might call it a night but 115 ppl will stay for another vodka... herd psycology is amazing