Why You Should Use In Ear Monitors

Artists often times get disoriented when monitoring their stage performance in live shows through the speaker systems. Even the most seasoned live gig veterans can get confused by a venue with weird stage acoustics. IEMs or In-ear monitors are a great way to cut through this confusion with consistency across the performance area. With the drop in cost and raise in features any serious artist should take a serious look at making the switch.



Crystal Clear

One of the major issues with over ear headphones is that the headphones frequently have to compete with the acoustics of the room. This room noise getting in the way of clearly hearing your sound is something you never have to deal with with in-ear headphones as they naturally noise cancel and do so without needing expensive feedback circuitry.

Intimacy

With in-ears you intimately get a crystal clear rendition of your performance’s complete sound. You don’t get drowned out and lost anymore. You don’t have to worry about how you sound because you’ll know. Taking the weight of uncertainty away is one of the greatest strengths of in-ear monitoring. It’s your music, your fans and you.

Locking Down Your Sound

With IEMs you’ll find that your performance will gain some massive consistency. This is because you hear the same thing regardless of your postion on the stage. Without IEMs if you go left in one show and right in another you’ll micro-adjust and it will be more difficult to gain the experience to lock down a consistent performance. The practice will take longer to lock in your sound. Same thing for different venues and their sound systems, if one venue runs low, and the next venue runs hot that might make for an uncomfortable audience.



Compact

One of the greatest strengths of in-ear monitoring is that it’s really simple and doesn’t take much gear. For a setup you have a monitor mixer, cables, and your in-ear headphones. It’s a quick setup and it’s very liberating compared to more complex alternatives. Simple means a quick setup and tear down, which means more time to tune to the perfect sound.

Price

It all depends on what kind of setup you’re opting for. IEMs don’t have to be expensive. You don’t need to get the wireless battery packs or custom made in-ears to reap all the benefits. Wired universal fit in-ear headphones are great for getting started and gaining all these advantages for your live performance. Remember to stay within your means, there are a lot of really good universals out there. But IEMs are extremely recommended over wedges.

However if you have the means, a more liberating method is to get a wireless two piece system with a sound system linked transmitter and a wireless receiver carried on your person. With this you’ll be completely free to roam the stage, all while keeping track of your sound and being able to give your crowd your best show.

If you want to go all out, you can get custom fitted moulded ear pieces for maximum secure fitting. You won’t have to worry about them falling out and the sound quality will be the best by far as universal IEM headsets will let some ambient noise in where fitted IEMs won’t.

Pioneer DDJ-SR Review

Intro

Pioneer is pretty much a gold standard for DJ controllers. They carry high quality products for all levels from entry to professional. This DJ controller is geared toward semi-professional controllerist DJs who wants to see the live remixing innovations of state of the art controllers. I would suggest this controller to someone who’s been DJing for a while, someone who wants to become a professional DJ. It’s pretty complex and beginners may be a little lost. But it’s absolutely great for learning as well and won’t take too long to pick up.

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Design

The setup is an asymmetrical two turntable design with one on either side and a two channel mixer in the middle. It comes with it’s own amazing sound card and is USB powered. The DDJSR is smaller and lighter version of the brand’s SX model. It is extremely compact at just over shoulder width allowing for portability and ease of setup for temporary shows. It comes with a rugged steel face plate. On top of that it can probably handle a fall or two without too much issue. Meaning it can handle travel to and from gigs without babying. The sides are a strong and sturdy plastic. It is powered by USB for laptop connectivity with Serato installed. The sound card hosts a monitor headphone output, microphone input, balanced auxiliary inputs, and a balanced output to the PA.
The controls all feel like they’re extremely high quality. The wheels are really responsive, smooth and feel durable. The performance pads are very nice, somewhat rubbery but easy and satisfying to press and time with the beat.

The two turntables are asymmetrical where the layout on both the left and the right are the same, which may throw off some DJs used to a mirrored deck setup. Each deck comes with 8 performance effect pads, four effect selection controls, three FX knobs , a jog wheel, tempo control, and time signature selection.

Each deck has a shift key allowing you to moved to a third and fourth deck and control over up to four tracks at once. The DDJSR having 4 decks means this product is an amazing next step when moving up from an entry level controller. Though even as a beginner you’ll be able to efficiently and quickly learn the ropes with the software controlled effects to produce a professional sound and performance.

DDJSRThe deck’s jog wheels are pretty large and take up a big percentage of real estate on the compact controller. They’re not too big that they overtake it, so it’s actually pretty nice to have due to precision. The wheels also have multiple functionality depending on how you spin them. The top of the wheel allows you to scratch, while the side of the wheel allows you to skip and fine-tune where you are in a track in Serato.

Performance Pads

A huge plus is the effects are geared towards a live and impromptu environment, having only a cursory understanding of what the effect does is all you need. No additional preparation other than the knowledge is needed as the beat mapping and computer will take control of all the settings. Basically if you keep the phrasing and downbeats of your track intact you’ll find you can do some ridiculously amazing things with this piece of gear effortlessly. You just have to choose the beat lengths. Just keep an eye on the looping length to keep control of the beat with a cursory glance.

The most important part to realize is that unlike a loop or roll the slicer allows you to work with parts of the music that haven’t happened yet without impacting the rest of what gets played. You can insert future beats over the track in time with the music. Allowing you to bring in effects before they’ve happened and a whole new dimension to your creativity without ruining the flow of the track. You can add in some pretty awesome buildups and other effects on the fly and really make your show shine easily with this controller.

On top of these standard of living improvements for live shows, the DDJSR also comes with Pad Plus. It’s essentially a set of alternative settings to create next level effects. For example the slicer pad plus makes the slicer pads become triggerable effects like reverb fade outs. Once again these effects are all perfectly in sync with the music that can be incorporated at any time.

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FX Knobs and Software

In addition the DDJSR comes with 12 FX software packs and has lots of additional ones for purchase through the app package. You can have up to three active at a time and choose between having one effect that you have full control over 3 parameters of that effect and really deep dive into creating something unique. Or you can go with a much broader strokes with 3 effects being controlled at once. This is done through three FX knobs at the top of each deck. Honestly they take some getting used to as each effect is mapped it’s own way. But for the most part they seem to follow intuitive rules for knob assignment.

Slip mode

One of the premium features of this controller is the Slip Mode setting. Essentially what this setting does is allow for the track to continue to progress regardless of what’s done on the controller. So for example if you pause the track in Slip mode, the sound will be paused and won’t play out loud, but the track will keep going quietly on your Serato program. Essentially it mutes the track during loops, scratching, samples, and even “pausing”. So if you put effects on the start and stop of a song you can trigger them without interrupting the song, just by pausing and playing the track.
This brings us to the greatest strength of the DDJSR. You never have to interrupt your song to create effects.This is why I think it’s the best DJ controller for controllerist DJs as they will see the most benefit. But this controller just makes your performance so damn smooth when everything you do works with the flow of the music instead of in place of it. Whether you’re using Pad triggers, slip mode or FX knobs this controller’s got you covered.

Audio Mixer and Serato Sound Card

As a standard controller staple there’s not much to say about the mixer. Your expected features are there and everything is easy to use, well designed and fine. The mixer comes with trim, EQ and a high and low pass filter for controlling base in your performance.

The sound card on this piece of gear is really, really nice and extremely high quality. This is where Pioneer steps up their game. In addition to Serato’s output it comes with inputs for your Mic and Aux in to bring in more sound. The device has a balanced 1/4 jack output to make sure your sound comes out crisp. When I say the sound card is extremely high quality I mean it. It comes with 24 bit sound at a 44.1k sample rate. This means it sounds way better than it’s price point, from deep bass to high high hats. It is greater than Bluray sound quality. For an easy comparison, it’s got 256 times more precision on frequencies than CDs. Take the time to find some lossless tracks and you can blow your audience away with studio quality sound.

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USB Powered

The USB power is both good and bad. It cuts down on necessary cables and cleans up your play area for sure. But if you have too many USB devices plugged into your computer you can find yourself with power issues that may mess up your setup. If you’re thinking of hooking up multiple USB powered devices to your laptop look into a powered USB hub.

Serato Software

The DDJSR comes with a full version of Serato DJ (Normally $99). Of course it integrates very effectively with the Serato software that comes with the product. It was made for it after all. The software itself is frequently championed as one of the best. It’s extremely stable and has never crashed on me. Make sure your laptop can handle it though. The software lets you set 8 cue points per track. Which just so happens to be the max of this controller. It has my favorite library organization as well with Key, BPM and custom flagging.

Conclusion

The Pioneer DDJSR is one of my favorite controllers available on the market right now. Everything about it is tailored to creating a one of a kind live show that matches your personality. Whether it’s the rugged construction for carting it off to venues. The portable size without losing usability. The seamless effects integration with playing tracks. Or the unbelievably good sound card that puts out arena sound system quality. You gotta pick it up today.

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How do DJ Controllers Work

Ever wonder how DJ turntables really work? People often see DJ gear and become intimidated by the complexity of the nobs and faders and sheer amount of controls available for manipulating sound. Back in the day record turntables did all of these things themselves. They were analog audio players that were allowed to be adjusted by users to create new and unique sounds with source audio from records or CDs and help from electrical effects.



You could adjust the BPM of the song by adjusting how fast the audio signal played by physically slowing it down. Or you could adjust how loud each record played to make transitions from one source to another. The physical turning of the record set the pace, and the music was turned into electric signals for the speakers. Between the speakers sat electronic filters, much like electric guitar pedals that would create effects and frequency response changes, adjusting the play out of the song. These changes were all analog, adjusting how the signal was interpreted (making it slower, or ignoring bass), but not through active reprocessing. The signal was read differently, not processed.

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These good old days are truly becoming old school and companies look at gear like this a niche market. The majority of the focus goes into making new electric DJ controllers. It’s picked up as the cost of electric components and circuitry has become more powerful and cheaper for manufacture. These new turntables have gone binary. The manipulation and even the audio sources themselves have gone digital, and are run through CPUs instead of the older method of analog alterations.

Today modern DJ turntables work as peripherals and don’t adjust the signals themselves. Now new DJ setups require a computer with audio editing software dedicated to DJing, a Dj controller, an audio card, and a sound system. Essentially all the work falls into the lap of the laptop. All the audio is stored on it’s hard drive, all the audio adjustments are controlled through it’s software, and all of the alterations and processing is done by it’s CPU. In fact DJ controllers do none of these things. They are glorified specialized keyboards, allowing for an alternate way to converse with the laptop.

A DJ controller works by connecting to a laptop via USB. The DJ then maps the buttons, faders and nobs to menu settings and selections in the software on the computer. So in essence, pushing the auto-sync button on the controller merely hits the auto sync button in the DJ software and the computer does all the work. Larger turntables just give more options and more control over the software and can be mapped in any way you choose.

Some controllers come with an onboard audio card. This premium option allows for the audio output of the DJ software to be sent back to controller digitally over the USB cable and through the audio card. These sound cards allow for the DJ to adjust audio levels to outputs much like an audio mixer, through choosing channels and controlling the sound system. Turning the digital signal to analog sounds. So controllers can do some work in the signal chain. But the vast majority of the show is still done on the laptop. Even if you’re spinning the jog wheels instead of scrolling the mouse.



What are the Best DJ Controllers For Beginners?

Finding the Best DJ Controller For Beginners

So you’re thinking to get into the world of DJing. Well before you become master of the dance floor you need to find the right introductory gear to get started and learn the ins and outs of the game. Whether your want to pump a crowd or create something personal I’ve put together a list of great controllers for newbies – young and old. Nothing is more fun than playing and mixing beats for others to enjoy. Below you’ll be able to find the best DJ kits for beginners from our handpicked list of controllers that give you the best value for the cost that are perfect for figuring out if the hobby is right for you.

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Rundown of The Best Beginner Controllers

Numark Mixtrack 3

DJs need to give themselves freedom to explore their trade. This controller lets you experiment and manipulate music like a pro. The Numark Mixtrack 3 is an amazing DJ Controller enough features to hone your trade. For the price, the DJ controller is a great bargain. It’s biggest draw are the large faders on each deck. They allow for some real accuracy that most kits don’t have. This precision will go a long way in teaching you how to find the perfect balance. This controller shines best for creating, recording and perfecting mix tracks at home. It does require a bit of additional setup, headphones will need to be plugged into a computer, as it doesn’t have an external sound card.

Read the Full Review Here61pumnzgapl-_sl1200_

DDJ-200 – Top Pick for Kids

This is the newest controller from Pioneer is the DDJ-200, it’s intended as an entry level controller. Utilizing free phone, tablet and laptop applications you can jump right in to mixing and learning the ropes. No laptop needed. It’s price point is low, and it’s feature set is smaller, but everything translates if you’re looking for more power down the road. The controller comes with compatibility for most free DJ applications.

The main strengths of the controller of its size and price point. For new DJs its an excellent starting point (In fact I’ve wished Pioneer would put something out at this level for a while now with Numark eating up all the market share). It’s size is really helpful in case you want to just play around or test new techniques. It’s much less focused on playing a show and excels in intimate settings. This is the perfect controller if there’s any uncertainty. Especially for people who just want to test the hobby out. However if you’re really thinking about putting a lot of effort into the skill, I would personally look at the DDJ-400 instead.

The controller works with tons of free applications, allowing for learning the many different softwares. WeDJ, Algoriddims DJay, Edjing Mix and Rekordbox DJ. This is a massive strength for beginners because you don’t need a laptop to run the applications iOS and Android devices are fine, saving money and jumping right into the mixes. The controller even comes with some tutorials with WeDJ.

Crossfader’s test of the DDJ 200:

Hercules DJControl Compact Controller

This is one of the most cost efficient controllers on the list. I would highly suggest this one for parents with children looking to try out DJing. It’s small, cost effective, and simplistic enough to use. This controller was created by Hercules with the intention to reach people who are on the fence and just want to dip their feet in the hobby before fully investing in equipment. This has all the baseline features that are fundamental in more expensive gear and more than covers the basics of DJing.

Basically if you need to learn something, it will be one this controller. Plus at the cost it’s very good for figuring out if DJing is for you in the first place.  This will definitely take you to an intermediate user level and get you going. One major bonus is a full version of software comes with this so, there are no other additional fees if you want to dive into the hobby a bit more.

Read the Full Review Heredjherc

Pioneer DDJ-SB3

The Pioneer DDJ-SB3 is the Pioneer’s entry level pro DJ controller. Not only is it beginner friendly, but it’s also good to go for shows. As you get used to the device you’ll quickly find out that it’s fully loaded for it’s price. I mean it has four decks for queuing tracks. This is the only controller on the list that will give you access to this advanced skill-set. It has extremely good sound quality and an intuitive layout. Beginners who learn to use to its limits will be able to use any controller on the market. It’s robust and definitely built to last. Comes with a sound card and features that blow everything else on this list out of the water. If you’re looking to actually break into doing live shows eventually, the DDJ-SB3 would be my main pick.

Detailed Review of the Pioneer DDJ-SB3. The Best DJ Controller For Beginners

Numark Party Mix

All in all this is a very good entry into DJing for youngsters and hobbyists. The software is extremely easy to use. It has more settings and features to learn than the Hercules mentioned above and it’s perfect for mixing small parties and comes with a built in light show. The biggest feature is the soundcard, you can hook this up to an RCA speaker output without additional gear. Great for live “shows” at home.

Read the Full Review Here

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These are my top picks for someone who would be interested in getting started with an entry level controller. I chose these more for people who are looking to dabble to see if the hobby is a fit for them. As such the price points are low because I consider most of these beginner dj controllers. That said most of these controllers have more features than other similarly priced models and stand above in quality and reviews. If you’re willing to pay for the best and want to start with the top of the line, definitely check out this DDJ SR review. Whether you start at the high or low end. You want to be able to explore and grow your skills without needing to upgrade and find something that works within your budget. With these controllers you won’t ever feel restrained and they’ll take you far.

Being a DJ’s Girlfriend – Advice on Dating a DJ

Should I Date A DJ?

Look we all love passionate confident men, but are all passions equal? Dating a DJ comes with benefits and sacrifices. I mean we’ve all thought about it, but how can we manage? It’s a tough balance but if you pull it off your relationship will be rock solid. The biggest issue is finding the perfect resonance between you, his fans and his mixes. If you can handle a DJ you can handle any man’s childish dreams.



Being a DJ’s Girlfriend

He’s deadset on his “craft” and he’s looking to you for support. A DJ’s girlfriend needs to take special care to navigate the relationship on a tight rope. Just like mixing the perfect beat you have to find the right balance. On one hand you can’t enable him but on the other you can’t destroy his dreams. You’re not that mean right? With this handy guide you can be consenting without approving and we can hope he gets the hint and a real job.

Handy Dating Advice

You have to start the relationship off right. When you meet a DJ, the first thing they will tell you is probably something along the lines of, “I’m a DJ”. This behaviour is twofold and focuses on your reaction. First it’s a warning, “Hey I’m a DJ, and if you’re not cool with that, run away”. If you continue interacting with him, he’s no longer morally responsible. Second, it’s to check and see if you’re an open and accepting soul that will let him follow his dreams without hurting his core. He needs this subtle approval. He’s already pumping his ego by claiming he’s an artist, that’s enough of that. From this point on the game is afoot. Remember the balance. Consent without approval. Try acknowledging through a slight nod and a vocal “oh”, or maybe even a barely intrigued “hmm”.  Set the rules from the start.

The tests come strong and fast however, the next one will come up when you try to find out his name! DJ’s create stage names to dissociate from their issues and escape the emotional pain. Try to find out his real name and not his stage name as soon as possible. If you’re having real trouble, just say he can’t be whatever age he is and get him to show you his ID to “prove it”. Try to never use his DJ name. Never. Sorry Em-RK, you’re just Mark to me. If he asks you to use it when referring to him; avoid patronizing questions like “Umm why…?” Remember don’t stomp on his dreams, just subtlety let him know you don’t respect his life choices at all.

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When you hang out at his place you have to totally ignore his gear. Look it’s obvious he spent way too much on that DJ controller. But it’s his baby. Just pretend it doesn’t exist, don’t touch it and definitely don’t ask questions about it. This is the first step in finding a harmonious relationship. There are certain mental anchors a DJ has and avoiding them is the best form of defense. When he wants you to listen to a mix he made, pat him on the back and say, “It’s fine”. You can’t hit his dreams in the dick with a frozen sledge hammer, that’s cruel. Don’t white lie though, as the ego will snowball if you say something like, “That’s pretty good Em-RK.”

Make up excuses for avoiding shows as much as possible. But if you have to go to you DJ boyfriend’s performance you need a plan. The best way to handle this is to be a wallflower in the corner. Play on your cell, avoid eye contact with horny teens and stay away from the DJ booth.

Dating a DJ is Hard

If you find yourself having difficulties making the relationship work. The nicest and most caring thing you can do for your DJ boyfriend is dump him. He’s busy and going places and you’re definitely holding him back. Let him focus on his dreams. When you break the news remind him “It’s not him, it’s you” or something.