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Title: How to keep DJ levels out of the red
Post by: Pascal.Pincosy 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.
Title: Re: How to keep DJ levels out of the red
Post by: Tracy Garner 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.

Title: Re: How to keep DJ levels out of the red
Post by: Marjan Milosevic 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 :-)
Title: Re: How to keep DJ levels out of the red
Post by: Pascal.Pincosy 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...

Title: Re: How to keep DJ levels out of the red
Post by: Tim Talbot 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
Title: Re: How to keep DJ levels out of the red
Post by: Pascal.Pincosy 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.
Title: Re: How to keep DJ levels out of the red
Post by: Marjan Milosevic 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.
Title: Re: How to keep DJ levels out of the red
Post by: Tim Talbot 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 :)
Title: Re: How to keep DJ levels out of the red
Post by: Pascal.Pincosy 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.
Title: Re: How to keep DJ levels out of the red
Post by: Tim Talbot on February 21, 2011, 10:27:31 am
So what happens when a headlining DJ specs a DJM & Xone mixer then ?
Title: Re: How to keep DJ levels out of the red
Post by: Marjan Milosevic on February 21, 2011, 11:35:21 am
DJM is easy. They have a output master attenuation switch on the back.

(http://www.skratchworx.com/images/Pioneer/djm800/djm800_back.jpg)


Title: Re: How to keep DJ levels out of the red
Post by: Tim Talbot on February 21, 2011, 05:29:54 pm
I meant the the other users comment ''We use high-quality mixers that don't actually clip until well after the red lights show up''
Title: Re: How to keep DJ levels out of the red
Post by: Mac Kerr on February 21, 2011, 05:43:33 pm
I meant the the other users comment ''We use high-quality mixers that don't actually clip until well after the red lights show up''

If everyone would use the quote button we might have a clue as to what you are referring to.

Mac
Title: Re: How to keep DJ levels out of the red
Post by: Pascal.Pincosy on February 21, 2011, 09:38:31 pm
So what happens when a headlining DJ specs a DJM & Xone mixer then ?
And you have to hit a Xone (at least the Xone:92 which is the only one that usually shows up on riders) pretty damn hard to actually get it to clip audibly.
Title: Re: How to keep DJ levels out of the red
Post by: Brad Weber on February 22, 2011, 08:03:26 am
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 meters on analog mixers are usually displaying the signal level relative to a reference level rather than any absolute levels.  And there is no standard as to what relative levels are displayed as green, yellow or red.  So assuming that meters being in the red always represents anything specific or would result in a certain "sound" seems to be misunderstanding what the meters are likely actually displaying.

A factor that has apparently not been addressed is that of crest factor and how what the meters display reflects the actual peak or average levels.  One meter might have a slower response, better representing an RMS or average level but not accurately reflecting the peak levels while another meter may be indicating peak levels.  With heavily compressed music that might be a 3-6dB difference but for some sources it could be a 15-20dB difference.

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.
The adjustment on the back panel of the MP24 adjusts the reference level for the meters and in the MP24 manual there is a description of how to set that meter sensitivity level.  The process described is essentially setting the meter sensitivity so that the mixer levels show full scale when or just before the amps or other devices downstream clip, thus it is intended to be adjusted based on the system rather than on personal preference.
Title: Re: How to keep DJ levels out of the red
Post by: Tim Talbot on February 22, 2011, 09:33:10 am
If only the Vestax PMC55 was rider friendly ... completely DJ proof :)
If you nail the master & gain(s) you just about hit +1dB lol you can also turn off the tone controls so you cut but NOT add anyting.
Title: Re: How to keep DJ levels out of the red
Post by: Scott Carneval on February 22, 2011, 05:13:15 pm
I've personally driven Pioneer DJM800's and Rane TTM57's well into the red and never heard any audible clipping.  When we do club installs I run the DJ Mixer to just before the red and then back down the rest of the system from there, reducing the input into the processor until it's just under the clip threshold then setting a hard limiter.  I also reduce the output of the processor so that I can max out the gains on the amps while still not clipping.  This doesn't offer the best s/n ratio but it prevents someone from going behind you and turning up the gains on the amps.  I always assume that the DJ is going to run the system as hard as possible so I prepare for the worst. 
Title: Re: How to keep DJ levels out of the red
Post by: Tim Talbot on February 22, 2011, 07:00:55 pm
Oh dont get me wrong the DJM is one of the better mixer out there for sure but i do find the booth output far too hot and the tones controld dont need +6dB trim in my eyes...
Title: Re: How to keep DJ levels out of the red
Post by: Tracy Garner on February 22, 2011, 07:13:56 pm
Allen-Heath XOne 9:2 is my mixer of choice. When I have guests, I turn the channel gains all the way up and all tone controls to +6 then play a few choice tunes. I set the processor input from there then turn everything on the mixer back down to normal. Once I see how well the guest controls their dynamics, I may provide more gain accordingly. Often, you see them turn everything up  - especially the channel gain, bass and treble. At that point, the system is still well below red and the DJ has a lot of control over their tone and overall volume. There is still no compression or limiting anywhere in the system. It is rare anyone ever asks for more volume.
Title: Re: How to keep DJ levels out of the red
Post by: Gus Housen on February 22, 2011, 08:22:46 pm
Here is the funny solution. Back in the day I was doing some work @ a skate rink, the owner got so fed up with replacing blown drivers he took a pop rivet gun to the faders, you could only go as far as the rivet allowed ( this was before the day of gain knobs on the dj mixer channels
Title: Re: How to keep DJ levels out of the red
Post by: Tim Talbot on February 22, 2011, 08:41:40 pm
The Funktion One mixer is ''meant'' to be DJ proof but when ever i've HAD to use one i've had problems all night and again the monitor booth output is far to hot.... WHY do they do this ???
Title: Re: How to keep DJ levels out of the red
Post by: Todd Anisman on February 23, 2011, 02:25:59 pm
This is simple-

A) If you adjust your system Limiters to Brick wall, and your amps are sized correctly, and have proper long term thermal protection in your rig, then you should be able to interface any Mixer.  I just turn the attenuation knob on the DJM stuff almost down, so the Max volume can't clip- The Clip indicators on that console are pre-master attenuator, but the actual clipping occurs in the output stage.  I tell em, one yellow, but find 'em in the red all the time.

On Rane Mixers, the headroom is expansive, so its tougher.  There can be serious level being sent, so again, I setup a brick wall limiter at about +10dBu. 

A&H- same, but again the clip meters are not indicative of clip.  same treatment as the Ranes.

However, by far and wide, the best tactic is this:

Know the names of all the DJ's & talk to them.  I introduce myself to everyone and let them know how the system is setup, where the clip points are, and what I may ask of them during the show.  Very rarely, do I get one who insists on blasting, and if it's an issue, I just find the promoter and let him/her know what's happening.  I never argue with the talent.  If I get yelled at, I'll just tell them to get out of the booth, politely & firmly.  Nad I'll turn a gig down if there are repeat incidents.

T
Title: Re: How to keep DJ levels out of the red
Post by: Marjan Milosevic on February 24, 2011, 08:06:49 am
You can not tell the big name DJ to step up man :-). And they all fucking clip the mixers.
Here is from our David Morales gig.

Title: Re: How to keep DJ levels out of the red
Post by: Tim Talbot on February 24, 2011, 09:52:14 am
There there eyes if it ant red it ant happening  :'(
Title: Re: How to keep DJ levels out of the red
Post by: Pascal.Pincosy on February 24, 2011, 11:13:13 pm
You can not tell the big name DJ to step up man :-). And they all fucking clip the mixers.
Here is from our David Morales gig.
I suggest you put some delay in his monitors. That will teach Mr Morales to keep it out of the red.  ::)

PS if you had given the poor guy a decent monitoring system instead of shit-on-a-stick, he might have been more willing and able to keep it in the yellow...
Title: Re: How to keep DJ levels out of the red
Post by: Tim Talbot on February 25, 2011, 04:52:32 pm
I suggest you put some delay in his monitors. That will teach Mr Morales to keep it out of the red.  ::)

PS if you had given the poor guy a decent monitoring system instead of shit-on-a-stick, he might have been more willing and able to keep it in the yellow...

I used 2 stacks of d&b C7 last week as DJ monitors lol shut them up a treat !!
Title: How to keep DJ levels out of the red
Post by: Jason Bench on November 26, 2011, 12:35:42 pm
What about feeding system processors with the record output from the dj mixer?   Doesn't this effectively remove the classic dj master output volume control and force him to manage channel gain and channel fader only?  Is there any downside to using the record output?
Title: Re: How to keep DJ levels out of the red
Post by: g'bye, Dick Rees on November 26, 2011, 12:40:53 pm
What about feeding system processors with the record output from the dj mixer?   Doesn't this effectively remove the classic dj master output volume control and force him to manage channel gain and channel fader only? 

No.
Title: Re: How to keep DJ levels out of the red
Post by: Pascal.Pincosy on December 12, 2011, 03:48:53 pm
What about feeding system processors with the record output from the dj mixer?   Doesn't this effectively remove the classic dj master output volume control and force him to manage channel gain and channel fader only?  Is there any downside to using the record output?
Depends on the mixer in question. Doesn't really matter though as the DJ can put the mixer square into the red with just a hot signal and the channel gain.
Title: Re: How to keep DJ levels out of the red
Post by: Jeffhtg (Jeff Kenney) on December 31, 2011, 11:25:45 am
At the end of the day - it is not really the audio providers place to get involved in the quality of the music. I once caught a monitor engineer messing around with limiters on our L'acoustic DV dosc DJ headphones.. that engineer almost lost his job over it - and that company will never provide for that artist again. They did 30+ shows a year with him in 5 figure/show fees.

I have yet to see a proper rig damaged from DJ abuse. If your system configuration and protection devices can handle a heavy metal band - you can probably do a big name DJ.

Title: Re: How to keep DJ levels out of the red
Post by: brian maddox on December 31, 2011, 01:13:37 pm
At the end of the day - it is not really the audio providers place to get involved in the quality of the music. I once caught a monitor engineer messing around with limiters on our L'acoustic DV dosc DJ headphones.. that engineer almost lost his job over it - and that company will never provide for that artist again. They did 30+ shows a year with him in 5 figure/show fees.

I have yet to see a proper rig damaged from DJ abuse. If your system configuration and protection devices can handle a heavy metal band - you can probably do a big name DJ.

+1

our job is to take what we are given, and make it louder.  obviously we want to do that while simultaneously not blowing up our rig.  that's where proper system setup comes into play.  but it's not really our place to dictate what we're given, any more than it's our place to tell the guitar player what notes to play.

i've never had a problem doing dj gigs.  i mean, i hated it when they managed to make my pristine d&b rig sound like [insert bad/cheap/nasty rig of your choice here].  but i never had any concerns they were gonna hurt my system.  and yes, i always gave them lots and lots of monitor.  that does help.
Title: Re: How to keep DJ levels out of the red
Post by: duane massey on January 10, 2012, 02:25:41 am
It's more of a problem for me with installs. When the budget is limited you can't put enough gear in place to allow for 40% or more headroom, so you have to have some form of protection that may affect the quality of the sound at extreme levels just to keep it alive. Most of my clients are smaller bars with less than professional dj's, so the challenge is a bit different.
If your gigs are shows with "name" dj's you really have to be more diplomatic, or you won't do the next show.
I really do miss the old days when MP24's were the top choice, much simpler and less chance of a knob junky over-driving an input.
Title: Re: How to keep DJ levels out of the red
Post by: Brad Weber on January 10, 2012, 01:26:02 pm
This is simple-

A) If you adjust your system Limiters to Brick wall, and your amps are sized correctly, and have proper long term thermal protection in your rig, then you should be able to interface any Mixer.  I just turn the attenuation knob on the DJM stuff almost down, so the Max volume can't clip- The Clip indicators on that console are pre-master attenuator, but the actual clipping occurs in the output stage.  I tell em, one yellow, but find 'em in the red all the time.

On Rane Mixers, the headroom is expansive, so its tougher.  There can be serious level being sent, so again, I setup a brick wall limiter at about +10dBu.
I just noted this and typically you would set limiter levels based on the specifics of the associated speakers and amplifier rather than just picking a number.  Since +10dBu is 6dB or more above the input sensitivity of many amplifiers, is this assuming some amount of attenuation after the limiter?

Is the 'brick wall' limiter noted addressing peak limiting or RMS/average limiting?  If peak limiting, is the limiter really fast enough to catch impulsive peaks or are you somehow accounting for overshoot?
Title: Re: How to keep DJ levels out of the red
Post by: Pascal.Pincosy on January 20, 2012, 01:00:51 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.

I recently was introduced to the Drawmer SP2120, which has a much better volume control algorithm than the Formula Sound AVC2. And it's only $800. I am now recommending this box over the AVC2 for those who want to protect their sound systems from DJ's without compression/limiting artifacts.
Title: Re: How to keep DJ levels out of the red
Post by: Richard Stringer on May 13, 2012, 05:07:22 am
I've been a dj since 1993, and never pushed levels into the red lights myself personally. I do run small dance events with my own sound system and I always make sure that the dj monitor is absoloutely loud as hell so the dj doesn't want to run my system into red lights. I only do small events in a pub's little function room but I have two JBL MRX515 cabs, (one either side because some dj's like monitors on the right and some on the left) powered by a bridged QSC RMX1450 running full blast and the dj's always say the dj monitor is extremely loud, some dj's say it's a bit too loud, and you know what, there's never a red light on the mixer.

I've owned my own system for about 12 years now and never once blown a single driver, ever.