A disc jockey or DJ is a person who mixes recorded music for an audience. Today, the term includes all forms of music playback, no matter the medium. There are several types of disc jockey. Radio DJs, who introduce and play music that is broadcast on AM, FM, shortwave, digital or internet radio stations. Club DJs select and play music in bars, nightclubs, or at raves, or even in stadiums.
Today digital DJs are very common all over the world, and a lot of companies have developed programmes to help with mixing and djing. The programme imitates a dj setup with two or four decks and a mixer for EQing. There is a MIDI input for controllers to physically control these parametres virtually. A list of DJ Programs are:
Native Instruments Traktor Pro 2 – Traktor just about comes out top thanks to its endlessly flexible performance features and its all-round intuitiveness and reliability. Traktor comes in two forms: Traktor Pro, which can be controlled using a traditional mouse and keyboard or one of an endless list of hardware DJ controllers, and Traktor Scratch, which is designed to be used in conjunction with one of Native Instruments’ digital vinyl setups.
Serato Scratch Live/DJ – Scratch Live is probably still the most popular digital vinyl system out there, but it’s only available when bought in conjunction with an official Rane audio interface. Serato DJ is the latest version of the company’s controller-orientated software, and it’s the first version of Serato that can be used with any MIDI controller.
Ableton Live – Ableton Live wasn’t initially designed as a DJ application; when the software first launched in 2001 it was pitched purely as a DAW or digital audio workstation, and marketed as a piece of music production software. It quickly proved immensely popular with DJs, however, thanks to its unique Session View – a window dedicated to launching synchronised loops and the intuitive way it handles the retiming of audio files.
Atomix VirtualDJ Pro 7 – For many years VirtualDJ had a bad reputation, which could be traced back, in part, to the fact that its earliest incarnations were relatively, toy-like DJ applications. Recent versions, however, have become very impressive and have been able to compete with the bigger names. Notably, version 7 can support up to 99 decks and can live-sample incoming audio.
Pioneer Rekordbox – Pioneer’s free Rekordbox application doesn’t actually handle any mixing, rather the app, which Pioneer describe as an “iTunes for DJs”, is a tool for prepping and managing audio files ahead of DJ sets. The software can be used to analyse tracks to discover their BPM, view waveforms, set cue points and edit track information, all of which can be read by Pioneer’s CDJs, which are the industry standard in clubs around the world.
Here is a list of DJ controllers used to work with the DJing software:
Numark Mixtrack 2
Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol F1
Numark Mixtrack Pro 2
Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol Z1
Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol X1 Mk2
Novation Launchpad S
There are many more virtual DJ software and controllers however I’m more geared towards using A CDJ and Mixer setup, like standard venues and parties around the world use. I will discuss the different functions as well as key aspects of each piece of equipment. For the DJ set I will be using the Pioneer CDJ 2000s, the Pioneer DJM 850 mixer and the sennheiser HD 25 headphones. I feel that its necessary to be more understanding of these, which is why I will be discussing them.
The Pioneer CDj 2000s:
The main features of the 2000 is its compatible with Music CDs, CD-R, CD-RW, DVD±R, DVD±RW, DVD±R-DL, this means it can take many different types of format CDs such as mp3 format CDs or WAV CDs. USB Memory Devices, SD Memory Card, WAV, AIFF, MP3, AAC files on CD and DVD. The MP3 MPEG can read from 132Kbps – 320 Kbps / MPEG-2 16 Kbps – 160 Kbps, this means the quality of the files can range from132 killer bytes per second to 320 Killer Bytes per second. It has MIDI Control and ProDJ Link to link up to virtual software like Traktor. it comes with Pioneers Rekordbox which helps prepare for DJ sets. A big win for all DJs is that it has Anti Vibration, meaning the loudness of sound from the club speakers will not affect the CDJs or the Mix.
The specifications for the 2000s are very good and it shows why these are industry standards. The Frequency Response is 4 Hz ~ 20 kHz, this means the machines can pick up frequencies ranging from as low as 4Hz (Hz is the measurement of frequency) to as high as 20KHz. The Signal to Noise Ratio 117 dB. It has very little Distortion: 0,0018 %. The Audio Output Level: 2.0 V rms 1kHz, 0 dB. Very little Power Consumption: 28 Watt, this helps with duration of use. Fairly normal Power Requirements: 220 – 240 V, 50/60 Hz this suggests the compatibility of power connections. The Dimensions: 320 x 106.4 x 405.7 mm. The Net Weight 4,6 kg , fairly light in weight which is good for mobility.
The Mixer I will be using is the Pioneer DJM850. This mixer combines incredible technology with the DJ’s favourite features and effects.
It has four channels, one hundred effect combinations and endless creative possibilities, meaning there is endless creative possibilities for a DJ to use during a set. The DJM850 is ready for plug and play, with preconfigured, studio-quality effects accessible at the touch of a button, this makes it convenient while djing. The mixer rivals different software’s creative possibilities converting DJs from their laptops and allowing for a more natural DJing experience. I prefer this way as in my opinion its the “Real” way to DJ, by real I mean the more classical way to DJ, using a controller and laptop frees up a bit of time for the DJ to focus more on other things like Mashups and adding more effects. What a mixer is, its basically a sound card receiving signal from the CDJ inputs as a platform to mix the tracks being played, you can have very basic Mixers that are designed to do its job and only that, excluding the features of effects and other various things that the DJM850 has. If a DJ wants to be more creative with his music it would be better to have a Mixer that has more features allowing for versatility during their sets.
The DJM850 boasts an integrated 4-channel- high-performance sound card, enabling simultaneous input and output with 24-bit/96 kHz processing, so there is no deterioration of sound quality as it passes through the mixer.
With three sampling rates (96 kHz/48 kHz/44.1 kHz), the DJM850 can be used for music recording and production as well as expert DJing. Connection to PCs or laptops requires just one USB cable, so DJs can start mixing their stored music immediately. And software devotees can make the most of scratch control thanks to the mixer’s compatibility with the timecode feature on Digital Vinyl Systems, such as Traktor or Serato. And with Pioneer’s handy utility tool, it launches as soon as the DJM850 is connected to a computer, allowing DJs to configure the mixer, sound card and audio routing according to their personal preferences. This is great for creating that personal feel for DJs, I understand that its always better or easier for a DJ if they feel more comfortable on the equipment, so this is a really good feature for the DJM850
An incredible feature that’s an industry first is The DJM850 harnesses the power of the highly popular studio technique of sidechaining to add a new element to Pioneer’s wonderfully simple Colour Effects without making them any more complicated to use. By engaging the Beat button, another dimension of control is automatically added when you apply the Colour Effects. The Beat Colour Effect ‘listens’ to the audio input of each channel and directly connects the rhythmical changes in volume to another parameter: resonance for Filter and Crush, beat repeat for Cutter and ducking volume for the Noise Effect. This extra layer of control has become a staple of dance music production because of the way it blends new sounds and effects perfectly into the mix.
The mixer also offers DJs 13 enhanced Beat Effects. The DJM850 inherits the incredibly high-quality Reverb and tripped out sound of the tape echo-inspired Spiral Effect. The DJM850 introduces Up Echo, which produces a more reserved and controllable mix. The ‘FX Boost’ function allows the Level/Depth knob to work more proactively than a standard Wet/Dry Control. Turn the dial to the 12 o’clock mark for a fully wet effect and turn it further to add Pitch Up to Up Echo and a High-Pass Filter to the Reverb. Each channel is home to a three-band equalizer (+6 dB to -26 dB) or three-band isolator (+6 dB to -∞dB).
The incredible sound reproduction with reduced noise interference is due to the DJM850’s top-of-the-range components: a 32-bit output D/A convertor; a 32-bit digital signal processor; the separation of analogue and digital circuitry; and the shortest possible transmission path. This means it transfers 32 bits of data a second which is really high and gives off really good quality audio. An excellent extra feature is that the mixer is Fully MIDI assignable, the DJM850 also serves as a MIDI controller. The USB port is conveniently located on top of the mixer so DJs can easily switch between connectable devices.
Now that the main equipment has been discussed and reviewed and that I’ve had experience on these machines I can definitely say that they live up to their reputation, they are incredible with sound quality and quick with transferring information, they are extremely fun to play on and have amazing features that any DJ would enjoy using.
However if you do not have a good set of Headphones your mix will not be as powerful as it should be and this is because if you have bad headphones you will have bad quality cueing, due to the headphones not having a good frequency response meaning some of the frequencies from the tracks will not be heard and beatmatching the tracks could be a bit of a struggle, also long duration to loud sound especially with bad headphones is never healthy.
I will be discussing the Seneheiser HD 25-SP II’s. I will be discussing these because they are said to be one of the best headphone sets a DJ can use and many of the top DJ’s around the world have given a lot of praise to these headphones.
The HD 25-SP II are closed, dynamic headphones, they are extremely comfortable, featuring a minimalistic headband and a unique capsule design. The main features include being very lightweight and comfortable, even if used for long periods. They have High maximum sound pressure level, which suggests they have a good frequency response (30 Hz – 16 kHz) with a 65 Ohm nominal impedance for universal compatibility. Its physically tough, detachable OFC cable, this is good for durability especially with DJs being on the move constantly. they are specially designed to fit on top of your ears and not just cover your ear, this is useful in helping the ear hear a crystal clear sound to help with cueing while DJing