Over the last 25 years, my DJ rigs have morphed into a number of configurations: from CD player/ belt-drive turntable/dual cassette deck, to a pair of Sony consumer CD players, to a dual CD player. From there I went to an industrial grade ProDJpc (that I once marketed with Paul Gormley before my Mobile Beat days). Then I moved on to a couple of media controllers, first the Denon HD-2500 and then a Pioneer MEP-7000. I ran these two most recent units straight into the mixer, without a computer hooked up. While both of them could work as controller interfaces for a computer-based system, I preferred to use them in their more “pure” environment without the computer doing most of the work.
The last few years have seen me scaling back my gigs to concentrate more on management, so I’ll usually use someone else’s rig when I do go out. However, technology keeps marching forward, and now I can have the most compact, mobile setup ever. All of my previous systems had their advantages and disadvantages, but with each update I moved closer to my “ultimate” DJ system. Each time I was able to carry more music, more conveniently, with greater reliability. But now I have made what really seems like the ultimate step: iPad DJing.
For my playback solution I’ve grabbed Algoriddim’s djay app from the Apple App Store. Powered speakers, in series, with a built-in mixer on the “master,” provide sound reinforcement. Plugging a mic into one input and the iPad into another, I set a base volume on the speaker, then make the fine adjustments on the iPad.
Musically, I carry the expanded MB Top 200 collection, including approximately 700 tracks, more than amply covering each decade and wedding reception standard features like the bouquet toss and more. For the first wedding I did completely on the iPad, I added another 30 tracks from the main library, marked as the “bride and goom’s songs” in a playlist.
I also purchased five songs that they had asked for that we usually don’t carry. Many DJs don’t like to buy extra tracks, but when you figure that you are being paid close to or more than $1,000 for the event, and playing around 40 songs, that makes for a per-track performance cost of $18.75; so what’s the big deal about spending 99 cents or $1.29 each for few more tracks? Even if you already own it, but it’s back at the office, using that same math, it still makes it a good move.
The event went great; it helped that I knew the facility, knew the couple and I had a ton of friends there. Although the event was held in a church, I don’t think I’ve ever seen people have so much fun at a wedding reception without alcohol, or music of questionable content. We all had a blast and I was able to serve my client to the maximum.
Some things that will make future events even better: I need to get 20,000 tracks up in my iCloud account. With 20,000 tracks available via a WiFi or 3G/4G connection, I’m covered, no doubt about it.
If I need more than one wireless, or other additional sound sources, I’ll need at least a small external mixer. One that works with the iPad through a direct connection seems preferable. I’m looking the direction of an iDJ Pro from Numark or a Pioneer XDJ-Aero.
Lesson learned: Make sure to use at least an iPad 2. When I attempted this last summer with my original iPad, I would occasionally get stutters when loading a track in the second virtual deck when the first deck was playing or if I switched over to iTunes to get a new track.
For previewing tracks or beatmixing (which I don’t need to do) I’d need to add an audio splitter out of the headphone jack or an iOS-compatible audio interface to split the signal.
Overall, I feel my “next generation” DJ rig passed the test of a real-world gig with flying colors. Next, controlling my lights with a second iPad…
Filed Under: Business, Issue #151, Sound
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