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Avoid a Disaster On The Decks With Quality DJ Equipment

Aug 21, 2008
The lights are low, the crowd is expectant, air horns are blasting. Hundreds of sweaty people are shoulder to shoulder blowing whistles and stomping feet. The strobe lights start pulsating and BANG! Power is down - and the crowd start heckling.

That is every DJ's nightmare, failing equipment. When you are well known or making a name for yourself you cannot afford to have such mess ups and sometimes even quality equipment can't get you out of it. And in my time interviewing DJs from across the world, I have heard of a few tales of the ultimate terror. I have also witnessed a few when it comes to reviewing club night sand gigs. I can assure you that the audience is rarely sympathetic to the plight of the cursed DJ.

One such tale was a university gig, a DJ who was in the charts at the time came on to finish the night off, which he certainly did. The trouble with a headlining act is that often there are many hours of drinking that can take place before a foot manages to even step upon a stage or in a DJ booth. I know a lot of vinyl spinners who opt to drive to prevent the evil allure of beer taking over their senses, but not this guy. All was going well and then he tried to a super slick move whilst attempting a bit of a rewind, stumbled and sent the decks flying. Broken turntables, broken records and a badly bruised ego ensued!

Being the first on doesn't guarantee a simple start either. With so many buttons, switches, amps, lights and leads if the system doesn't start up, it can take a crack team of audio detectives to find out what is defective. A cry of 'the show must go on!' is all well and good, but sometimes a CD player and Kylies latest album has to suffice whilst the crowds bay for their entertainment. It's not that uncommon for things like that go wrong mid-set. One guy I knew was busy having a boogie to a good tune he was spinning when his dancing feet whipped a lead from a jack and like a hells angel gatecrashing a frat party, the whole lot went dead. He did say that a blip like that can ruin an entire night.

Whipping the crowd into a dancing frenzy is a harder job than many non DJ types realise. Us awkward lot have to be coaxed into dancing, built up to a heaving mass of excitement that is aimed to guarantee wolf whistles and whoops when the DJ drops the beat of the finest tune that has graced a living things ears. If that process is interfered with, and a five minute silence is all the punters have to hang on to, that vibe can be lost and is hard to claw back. Then there is the reputation to think of. Some stories can be a memorable blip that talent can get around; others are statements of incompetence that the paying public will not forgive.

Technical failures can exacerbate silly mistakes, but at least technical failures can be avoided by investing in equipment that has less chance of letting you down. Good quality buys are a must, and often taking your own equipment to a club or party will minimise controllable difficulties. I have heard stories from many DJs where bad sets have been the result of broken headphones; worn out needles, sub standard monitors and generally old equipment with no spares should something go fatally wrong. Invest in the best and take it with you if you want to spin with success.
About the Author
Shaun Parker is a leading technical expert with many years of experience in the music industry. Find out more about DJ equipment from decks to headphones and flight cases at Get In The Mix.
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