System Integration BY: Richard McCoy

March 25, 2012 by Richard McCoy

WHAT TO GET, HOW TO PUT IT TOGETHER

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As an experienced CD or vinyl DJ, you’ve finally decided to jump onboard the digital music wagon. But you?re not a computer person and have only basic knowledge about computers. You have a computer but only use it for email, web surfing, letter writing and a few other basic functions. Just the basics! Moving into the EDJ (Electronic Disc Jockey) arena can be a scary venture for you to undertake. Perhaps I can help…

DIVING IN, HEAD FIRST

There will be a large equipment investment of about $1000 and hundreds of hours to rip and transfer your music library. You will also be required to modify the way you view and present music, videos and karaoke. EDJing is just another tool to enhance your show and satisfy your customers. As a computer engineer, I easily made the move to EDJing as a normal technology shift. It could by more difficult for others but the outcome will still be worth the effort.
The recommendations herein are based on my experience as a DJ and engineer along with some real, hands-on knowledge of equipment and software. There are many versions of this system, so this will just be a basic point of reference.

Here are the minimum system requirements for EDJing:

1. Quality Laptop (Acer Model AS5560.SB613) $479.99
2. MIDI Controller (Hercules MK4 w/Virtual DJ) $149.95
3. System Case (ODYSSEY FZGSP12CDJW) $341.99

TOTAL
$971.93

The above system assumes that you already have a mixer, CD player(s) and/or turntables and amp. They may not be of the same type/style used in this example, so please modify this configuration to match what you already have. This compact system allows the user to move easily from transport to stage in a little time. Since connectors and cables are the most common sources of problems, everything in this system is pre.wired for higher reliability and safety.

WORKING YOUR CONNECTIONS

The next BIG question is: How do I put this all together? It is easier than you think and you may already have
the knowledge. Once completed, you shouldn’t have to access the connections again. You may also have other
pieces of equipment that you wish to incorporate into this system. That can also be accomplished easily. Diagram #1 shows the most basic configuration common to most DJ equipment requirements.* You are welcome to substitute other equipment to meet your needs because the principles are always the same. Some may wish to replace the amp/speakers with powered speakers to reduce system complexity. There are also new MIDI controllers/mixers that combined the controller and mixer in one unit for a simplified system and smaller footprint. The use of a rackmount computer (as I described in my first column, in MB, January 2012, #140) allows for more computing power and storage.

Additional system requirements may include AC power connections, audio outputs for external amp/speakers, audio inputs for iPods, external USB disk, video outputs and microphone inputs.
Just make sure you maintain access to your system for all these connections. The above configuration can also be adapted for turntables. Don’t forget to “ground together” all your equipment cases to prevent hum and always use shielded cables for best audio quality.

With the power of the computer, new software and MIDI controllers, your abilities as a high tech EDJ will enable you to perform as never before. New opportunities will easily be filled, and the ability to adapt to multiple formats and system outputs will allow you to perform many different types of events with the same system.
If you have the funds and want the latest system available in the smallest footprint, invest in something like the system in Diagram #2. Cost: approximately $3000.00 (including case). With the right DJ software, this system can do it all.
Now that you have a great working system, where are the music and videos? This can be the largest part of your investment in money and time in a new computerized system. I have over 100,000 songs, videos and karaoke files in my system and it took me years to do it all. However, with today?s ripping software and the availability of MP3s and video delivery from music services, the job has become easier but still time consuming. While CD?s are simple to rip, vinyl is more complex and may require more computer skills. (Look for a future article on this subject).
When everything is assembled, tested and ready for the public, the next step is to insure that your system will present a clean and neat appearance to your customers. A nice setup makes you look good and will be more reliable.
If you have questions about your system, feel free to contact me. MB

* NOTE: The equipment shown in this article is for demonstration purposes only. MB does not endorse or recommend any of the equipment or manufacturers shown.

EDJ WORKSHOP
With his company A Sound Spectrum, Richard McCoy has been providing pro DJ services to the California Bay Area since 1966. He has served as a national officer of the ADJA, was a founder and officer of the ADJA?s Northern California chapter, and is the founder and past president of the Bay Area Mobile Music Association (BAMMA). Rich is also a member and major contributor to the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

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Richard McCoy Richard McCoy (3 Posts)

Rich McCoy has been an electronics hardware/software engineer in Silicon Valley for over 45 years, and is listed on several patents. During that same time, he has also been a mobile DJ, doing more than 4000 shows. He has contributed to the design of chips, graphics cards, audio and video systems, computers, and even satellites, as well as DJ lighting and sound equipment, while working for companies like Fairchild, Acer and Atari.


Filed Under: Issue #141, Sound