Size Matters: To Scale Up Or Pare Down?

August 25, 2017 by Stu Chisholm

My long-time readers will recall the story of my first DJ system, a huge monstrosity built around a DJ “coffin” with two turntables, a full-sized mixer, two racks with cassette decks, dual CD player, two Sony Minidisc decks, a drum machine, and a wired and wireless mic. A stretch of box truss held a massive light show, with eight “intelligent” fixtures and several standard lights, topped-off by a 16” glass mirror ball. Why did I build such a rig? Well, back in the 1980s and early ‘90s, one frequent client was a local singles club that had dances in a school gym. It had a full-sized stage. When I first spoke to their organizers, I heard many complaints about their previous entertainer, who had one last scheduled engagement. I decided to be a proverbial “fly on the wall.”

I slipped-in near the middle of the show and, while there were a few lights panning around the room (mounted to the huge speaker cabinets standing on the floor in front of the stage), I could not see a DJ anywhere. The stage was curtained and dark. Some people lined up on the stairs leading up to the stage. As I made my way around, I finally saw the DJ, sitting behind a card table. He sat on a stool taking requests, spinning tunes from a turntable and tape deck. (No CDs then, kids!) If I hadn’t followed the request line, he’d have been invisible.


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Stu Chisholm Stu Chisholm (56 Posts)

Stu Chisholm had been collecting music since he was about eight years old and began his DJ career in 1979. After much hard work, trial-and-error, and a stint at the Specs Howard School of Broadcast Arts, he studied the DJ arts with famous Michigan broadcaster, Bill Henning, at a local college. Stu interned at Detroit’s rock powerhouse, WRIF. To his radio and mobile work Stu later added club gigs at Detroit’s best venues, and voiceover work. He has shared his extensive DJ experience through his Mobile Beat columns, as a seminar speaker and through his book, “The Complete Disc Jockey: A Comprehensive Manual for the Professional DJ,” released in 2008.

Filed Under: 2017, Sound Engineering for Mobile DJs