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is there an unclippable DJ mixer?
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#31
9th April 2013
Old 9th April 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Samc View Post
Well....If the power amplifier's input is well below clipping (not overdriven), the loudspeaker(s) will not see a clipped signal regardless of how hard the DJ's mixer was clipped. The loudspeaker will receive a sine wave but the audio will be distorted.
Whether you clip at the mixer input, at the mixer output, at a signal processor input or output or at the amp input, the signal is clipped. Peaks get rounded or cut off and the average tends to level increase, especially relative to the peak level. You can attenuate or otherwise modify the signal after that, however the change to the waveform caused by clipping already occurred.
#32
9th April 2013
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Could a partial solution be to set monitor level at the DJ position really loud? Including a dedicerad sub.
#33
10th April 2013
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Originally Posted by 440HzMusic View Post
Somebody please put the troll back in his cave. He clearly does not have a clue.

The best DJ's I have ever heard have had a good working knowledge of sound systems and gain staging.
Working from this assumption I do not have high hopes for his sets.

Also Jobsworth, a clipped signal can certainly damage speakers. If a signal actually clips at amplifier end, it causes a square wave to be sent to the drivers. This causes the drivers to move back and forth from maximum excursion, which can cause tearing and worse.
I agree. I've had the pleasure of working with Steve Angello doing FOH for one of his concerts. He has a good understanding of gain structure and signal flow. His idiot of an opener DJ was probably pulled out from a cave. He had his main output and booth output turned up to max even though he had a 10,000 watt monitor rig on both sides of his head at 6 feet away. Oh, and not to mention that he blew the power supply unit of a $3000 Klark Teknik graphic eq that we provided for his monitor rig. As for FOH, we had the gains turned all the way down and he was still clipping the pream. We couldn't even push the faders past -40dB without risking damage to a half million dollar PA system; he was even quieter than the walk-in music.
When Steve came on, all the levels dropped down into the green and we were able to push an SPL around 135 dB at FOH. And for reference, thats loud enough to make your heart sink and make you shit your pants if you were closer to the front.

By the way, I was exaggerating about the shit your pants part. lol
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#34
10th April 2013
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Originally Posted by jon00 View Post
Oh, and not to mention that he blew the power supply unit of a $3000 Klark Teknik graphic eq that we provided for his monitor rig.
How did he do that?


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When Steve came on, all the levels dropped down into the green and we were able to push an SPL around 135 dB at FOH.
There is more to this than just being 'loud' it's also about low frequency energy...because 'feeling' the bass is part of the experience.

another thing to consider is where is all this energy; is there only a single hotspot in front of the stage or does it cover the entire (or most of the) audience area....
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#35
10th April 2013
Old 10th April 2013
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My experience is that there is really only one of way of making a dj sound halfway decent and that is by making them turn it down. I generally tend to find out in the first 10 minutes of a set if he's willing to do that and if he clearly isn't then it's a case of slapping a limiter on his channels and getting on with it.

I've done the 'let him turn it down so I can turn it up' bit over and over again and it always results in the levels gradually climbing to an unacceptable level. It's too bad that DJ's that know what their doing are paying the price for this but one out of a thousand clearly doesn't now what he's doing gain-wise.
#36
10th April 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tc_live View Post
DJs like the sound of their mixers clipping.
I have to wonder how much is really liking the sound and how much is thinking they should like the sound or believing that is what is needed to get a good sound. Wouldn't be the only time that perspective was common.
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#37
10th April 2013
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I hear you and understand where you're coming from but...should we really be concerned with that, I mean does anybody tell the Edge that his guitar sound has too much delay? Or do we tell Keith Richards that he should get rid of some of his amps or guitars, or that he doesn't need U87's on his rig because the fans won't notice?

St my festival I'll have DJ's who command upwards of 30,000Euros for a two hour set, they'll attract at least 20,000 additional fans to the festival. These are people who will pay to see and hear their performance, I will not try to second guess their artistic decisions.

If we can't accommodate their demands we'll say so but I won't have them come and tell them how they should sound. That's why we have detailed contracts...it makes life easier for everyone.

Maybe sound companies should verify what's expected of them before taking these gigs in the future.
#38
10th April 2013
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I'm glad somebody agrees with my point of view.

Ultimately if you are providing a PA to an event they are hiring you to amplify the sound from the mixer and fill the audience with that sound, they aren't hiring you to tell the DJ how to mix or what their sound should be like. Musical performances are entirely subjective and there is no place for PA companies saying, you should sound like XYZ.

The person who said they turned na artist down quieter than the walk-in music because you didn't want to damage the rig - that's your choice but don't expect to get hired again! I'm not making my point of view as someone who likes good sounding audio or someone who likes things to be technically correct; I'm making my point of view as somebody who likes to earn money from concerts and if the service they want is for 3 hours of distortion to be played to 50,000 people then that is the service you provide and that is what you charge for.
#39
10th April 2013
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I've heard that The Prodigy did a festival tour with a truck load of SB1000 and power amplifiers which they would add to the PA to get the sound they wanted without slamming the PA.
#40
11th April 2013
Old 11th April 2013
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Regarding the guitarists distorting point, you will note that guitarists prefer to use stuff that does soft clipping, ie valves, wherever possible.

What one really does not want is that slicing toppy square wave sound. That's also the sound that will generally mess up a PA.

Somebody I'm sure must do a DJ mixer with serious headroom and low noise levels, which couldn't even be clipped with everything on 10.

The problem is transistors, being variable resistors modulating a DC signal, once you reach the maximum level, that's it. It's DC. Valves don't work this way, and don't clip nearly so violently.

Perhaps the ultimate solution would be to build a modular rack instead of a DJ mixer. Use valve preamps for the various line amps, then build a passive crossfader box and use a valve preamp as the master section. Would also be nice to be able to patch limiters in wherever you want to really tame the hooligans. Put meters and blinkenlights at each gain stage, so that you can stand behind the hooligans and tell them where to turn down & up, use blue, green, orange, red and then white for the don't do it damage levels. It'd be huge and expensive, but would sound a hell of a lot better than the opamp crap that most people use for DJ mixers, and would probably pay for itself in not having to replace expensive speakers and amps.

___

There is another good trick I've learned. What you do is turn up the preamp gain on the monitor so that the monitors clip long before the mains. Use a little micro mixer inserted into the signal path or something. Make it sound really horrible if they overstep the mark, meaning the main system has far more headroom. Also make that monitor very very loud. It won't stop people clipping on the input gains, but it will stop them clipping the masters.
#41
11th April 2013
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Why not just put in a bigger system that would fulfill the need of the DJs and their fans? Another (less expensive) option would be to stop booking DJs...club owners could also give a contract which explains to the DJ that if he breaks the system he is legally responsible to repair or replace it...
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#42
11th April 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bishopdante View Post

Somebody I'm sure must do a DJ mixer with serious headroom and low noise levels, which couldn't even be clipped with everything on 10.
With OPamp circuitry running off +/- 15V the signal shouldn't clip until it reaches about +22dBu.

If you know the input level it is not difficult to restrict the gain to a maximum amount, but if your gear only goes up to 10 and all the competition does 11....

In reality the problem is essentially to do with misuse of the equipment rather than a problem with equipment.

What does surprise me is that at larger festivals no-one seems to be running into problems with the authorities who are monitoring "noise" levels before damage to rigs becomes a problem.
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#43
11th April 2013
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Originally Posted by Steve_B View Post
In reality the problem is essentially to do with misuse of the equipment rather than a problem with equipment.
Exactly!

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Originally Posted by Steve_B View Post
What does surprise me is that at larger festivals no-one seems to be running into problems with the authorities who are monitoring "noise" levels before damage to rigs becomes a problem.
I would be surprised if large festivals are running into this type of problem...
#44
11th April 2013
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Large festivals that I am a part of are still having this problem. Not necessarily the problem of blowing things up, but DJ's trying to push beyond SPL's that are outside of the sound management plans, the FOH operators then either limit or attenuate or both to bring it all back into line with the sound management plan. The DJ then turns it up further. You get the idea, they play cat and mouse until the DJ has run out of juice, long before the system runs out of juice, but at this point the audio being produced is distorted and sounds like shit. It has nothing to do with an artistic statement, but more to do with DJ's not wanting to abide with the constraints of the promoters sound management plan. Let's not get confused about this.

In fact I will be Production managing a festival this weekend with one of the stages being a DJ stage. I will be paying particular attention to this and in fact all the stages as the promoter will stand to loose quite a bit of money that he has paid as a bond if the sound management plan is not adhered to. I will check in with the results next week.
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#45
11th April 2013
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This is a totally different situation from the thread topic which is about DJs blowing up equipment...anyway, there is no confusion between the two situations, a detailed contract is your friend. It should explain the SPL limitations and the consequences for going beyond the limit to the DJ.

We don't have an SPL limit at our festival but I like to keep things sane and since the DJs can't 'feel' the pressure of the FOH from the stage they get a massive side fill system (3 L'Acoustics Arc's and 3 SB28's a couple of feet on either side of their mix position), they usually ask us to turn things down a bit...and our FOH almost never goes beyond 105dB. But 105dB with a very solid low mid and bottom end...and I believe this is what makes the difference between playing the cat and mouse game and us enjoying the festival.

Another thing we will try with one of our stages this year is to setup the system with three or four stacks circling the audience area and aimed at the audience and stage instead of away from the stage as is usual for live setups...the way Jamaican sound systems are setup. This way the DJ (and his audience) are listening directly to the system with a lot of bass/sound energy concentrated in the center of the listening area.
#46
11th April 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Samc View Post
This is a totally different situation from the thread topic which is about DJs blowing up equipment...anyway, there is no confusion between the two situations, a detailed contract is your friend. It should explain the SPL limitations and the consequences for going beyond the limit to the DJ.

We don't have an SPL limit at our festival but I like to keep things sane and since the DJs can't 'feel' the pressure of the FOH from the stage they get a massive side fill system (3 L'Acoustics Arc's and 3 SB28's a couple of feet on either side of their mix position), they usually ask us to turn things down a bit...and our FOH almost never goes beyond 105dB. But 105dB with a very solid low mid and bottom end...and I believe this is what makes the difference between playing the cat and mouse game and us enjoying the festival.

Another thing we will try with one of our stages this year is to setup the system with three or four stacks circling the audience area and aimed at the audience and stage instead of away from the stage as is usual for live setups...the way Jamaican sound systems are setup. This way the DJ (and his audience) are listening directly to the system with a lot of bass/sound energy concentrated in the center of the listening area.
The great majority of the DJ's that I seem to get at the festivals are used to club where they are more immersed in the sound and the situation I described is not about the lack of power or low end reinforcement, but they seem to feel separated from the FOH, which is understandable, and so it begins.

Are you saying 105dB "A" because there is no festival that I go to in Aus. that allows that at the mix position. The sound management plans that we deal with are usually between 95 - 98 and maybe 100 dB "A" if you are really lucky. Therefore it is hard to give them that immersive experience. The clubs are usually well over 100dB "A" at their position.
#47
12th April 2013
Old 12th April 2013
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Originally Posted by Aisle 6 View Post
The great majority of the DJ's that I seem to get at the festivals are used to club where they are more immersed in the sound and the situation I described is not about the lack of power or low end reinforcement, but they seem to feel separated from the FOH, which is understandable, and so it begins.
This is correct, and it's not just the DJs, the fans also miss this experience and complain about it...hence the massive side fills (for the DJ) and the and the four stack setup for the fans.

Quote:
Are you saying 105dB "A" because there is no festival that I go to in Aus. that allows that at the mix position. The sound management plans that we deal with are usually between 95 - 98 and maybe 100 dB "A" if you are really lucky. Therefore it is hard to give them that immersive experience. The clubs are usually well over 100dB "A" at their position.
The law in France is 105 dBA average or 120 dB (unweighted) peak between 125 Hz and 4000 Hz, which is probably the loudest in Europe. This does not affect us (or other outdoor festivals) however so we're not obliged to keep levels at 105 dBA and we do not enforce this limit on the performers.
#48
12th April 2013
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Originally Posted by Samc View Post
I hear you and understand where you're coming from but...should we really be concerned with that, I mean does anybody tell the Edge that his guitar sound has too much delay? Or do we tell Keith Richards that he should get rid of some of his amps or guitars, or that he doesn't need U87's on his rig because the fans won't notice?

St my festival I'll have DJ's who command upwards of 30,000Euros for a two hour set, they'll attract at least 20,000 additional fans to the festival. These are people who will pay to see and hear their performance, I will not try to second guess their artistic decisions.
But as FOH mixer, aren't you an active part of the performance? Shouldn't it ideally be neither party dictating to the other but rather both working together to achieve the best possible result?

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Originally Posted by Samc View Post
Maybe sound companies should verify what's expected of them before taking these gigs in the future.
In an ideal world the venue tech or sound provider and the DJ would communicate with one another and coordinate what is expected and to be provided. You would also not have intermediate parties then doing anything to potentially change or limit that. There may be a level of artists, performance and/or venue where that is practical but perhaps part of the issue is how realistic that is in many other situations. At a regional and especially local level you can encounter DJs who run the mixers hot because they think that is what they are supposed to do, just like I've seen many times from hard rock and heavy metal BEs. And how many local or upcoming DJs can or do effectively communicate their expectations and requirements?
#49
12th April 2013
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Originally Posted by museAV View Post
But as FOH mixer, aren't you an active part of the performance? Shouldn't it ideally be neither party dictating to the other but rather both working together to achieve the best possible result?
As the sound engineer my job is to offer technical assistance and advise to the artist/band so in that sense the answer to your questions is yes. But...because the performer's name is on the poster and because the fans pay to see and hear him/her, that performer has the final say on how they want to look and sound. It's not about dictating it's about the artist (and maybe his management) making decisions to steer his career in a certain direction and I strongly believe that this his his/her prerogative. This doesn't stop me from offering advise, and in the rare case that advise is not taken I don't take it personal.

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In an ideal world the venue tech or sound provider and the DJ would communicate with one another and coordinate what is expected and to be provided. You would also not have intermediate parties then doing anything to potentially change or limit that. There may be a level of artists, performance and/or venue where that is practical but perhaps part of the issue is how realistic that is in many other situations. At a regional and especially local level you can encounter DJs who run the mixers hot because they think that is what they are supposed to do, just like I've seen many times from hard rock and heavy metal BEs. And how many local or upcoming DJs can or do effectively communicate their expectations and requirements?
This is where the venue, sound company and/or the promoter need to show some level of professionalism and experience...Professionalism and common sense should be practical and realistic at every level. We are talking about doing business here, once you get to the stage where money changes hands for goods and services it should be professional...the size of the venue and/or market shouldn't dictate when to be professional.

After doing these gigs a few times the parties involved should have some idea of what to expect and start making moves to prevent unpleasant repeats. An inexperienced DJ might need to be educated about gain staging and other technical issues but it must be done with respect and kindness, not with the superior and condescending language and attitudes being displayed by some people here who seem to forget that they work for the DJs.
#50
12th April 2013
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Originally Posted by Samc View Post
This is where the venue, sound company and/or the promoter need to show some level of professionalism and experience...Professionalism and common sense should be practical and realistic at every level. We are talking about doing business here, once you get to the stage where money changes hands for goods and services it should be professional...the size of the venue and/or market shouldn't dictate when to be professional.
While I agree, I find it interesting that you appear to exclude the DJ or artist from being expected to show some level of professionalism and experience. You have to deal with prima donnas and neophytes but I think we should be promoting that their being professional is also an appropriate or expected behavior.

On the sound levels, the US is different as the only national laws relate to long term noise exposure for employees and may involve actions and treatments other than limiting the source sound levels, however local jurisdictions can enact their own local ordinances regarding noise. Many of those local ordinances address not the source levels but rather the effects at adjacent properties. And as a result of that and many local jurisdictions having limited expertise and resources, it is quite common to find 'nuisance or annoyance' ordinances that determine compliance or violation based on a subjective determination at the property line.

Also, while A-weighting is used in many workplace noise related criteria due to its relevance to hearing loss from long term exposure, A-weighting is actually intended to reflect human response at conversational levels and can grossly under represent the perceived loudness. This can be relevant for higher sound levels with significant low frequency content.
#51
12th April 2013
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The DJ is not excluded I was addressing you directly, plus as long as the DJ/artist stays popular he will keep working and making money. So while he should be professional too his situation is very different from ours, being a prima donna (or unprofessional ass hole) have not prevented some of the biggest stars from being rich and popular.

I am more familiar with the US laws than I am with the laws here...I moved here from NYC a few years ago. Anyway, if we were a nuisance to others we would have similar problems too but fortunately that's not the case.
#52
13th April 2013
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Originally Posted by Samc View Post
The law in France is 105 dBA average or 120 dB (unweighted) peak between 125 Hz and 4000 Hz, which is probably the loudest in Europe. This does not affect us (or other outdoor festivals) however so we're not obliged to keep levels at 105 dBA and we do not enforce this limit on the performers.
Each festival in Oz is very different with this regard. These ratings are usually in the context of an LEQ of 5mins.
#53
13th April 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by museAV View Post
On the sound levels, the US is different as the only national laws relate to long term noise exposure for employees and may involve actions and treatments other than limiting the source sound levels, however local jurisdictions can enact their own local ordinances regarding noise. Many of those local ordinances address not the source levels but rather the effects at adjacent properties. And as a result of that and many local jurisdictions having limited expertise and resources, it is quite common to find 'nuisance or annoyance' ordinances that determine compliance or violation based on a subjective determination at the property line.

Also, while A-weighting is used in many workplace noise related criteria due to its relevance to hearing loss from long term exposure, A-weighting is actually intended to reflect human response at conversational levels and can grossly under represent the perceived loudness. This can be relevant for higher sound levels with significant low frequency content.
It is not too dissimilar here in OZ. Certainly there are no conventions other than what is seen to be a thorough sound management plan. Even if it is based on no solid thinking. A couple of weeks before Easter I mixed at a big international festival and it had a 95dBA LEQ5 while at another international festival over Easter weekend they had 95dBA/107dBC LEQ5 and this weekend it is 100dBA/110dBC LEQ5. The LEQ5 seems to be the only common standard.

WHile other venues I run can have no significant weighting at the source but rather a vague statement like, "5dBA above ambient noise in a sensitive area".

The festival I am at right now has heavy fines of $100 for each breach of the 110dBC LEQ5 between 1-3db and $250 for each breach from 3-6dB and so on. They are holding a $5000.00 bond for this. All very serious.
So far so good and best of all, most of the DJ's are behaving and we are running at a healthy 107-108dBC LEQ5. Sounds great. Back to work now. Production will not manage itself...apparently.
#54
27th February 2014
Old 27th February 2014
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I just see this thread, as I had until some months ago the same question.

I found the solution by buying a Drawmer SP-2120, a limiter that does not affect the dynamics. You choose the treshold you want using a special key. Once you remove the key, it is absolutely impossible to push the level over what you've defined. No more blown speakers.
And if you use a quality mixer like the Xone 92, generally the distortion is not audible even in the red.
#55
27th February 2014
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Clipped signals create square waves. It is physically impossible for a speaker cone to create a true square wave. This leads to damaging over-excursions. The other half of the equation is that a square wave mathematically contains twice the power of a sine wave so it can load the speakers to more than they're rated for. If the amp's not clipping, this isn't as big of an issue, but the square wave / DC content is still cause for concern.
#56
27th February 2014
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Originally Posted by Combe View Post
I found the solution by buying a Drawmer SP-2120, a limiter that does not affect the dynamics. You choose the treshold you want using a special key. Once you remove the key, it is absolutely impossible to push the level over what you've defined. No more blown speakers.

That's the ticket. Great unit.
#57
27th February 2014
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I don't deal with festival level like many of the posts, but I think the best thing i've seen is blasting the DJ with monitors. I forget the group but did a show with a DJ and mc, running monitors and we set up everything we had for them and they still wanted more but were happy enough. Side fills full blast, a couple sub's, 6 wedges all dimed. Stage volume was past ridiculous
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#58
3rd March 2014
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Originally Posted by M4-10 View Post
Fran,

The DBX 160A compressor has so-called "beyond infinity" ratios.

Basically once past the threshold it makes things get quieter instead of just holding the line. Put a pair of those across the output and tell the DJ what you've done. Give a demo if time permits!

They've mislabelled it a bit. The "beyond infinity" ratios are labelled "-5:1" but really should be "5:-1". If 4:1 is 4 dB in, 1 dB out, then 5:-1 would be 5 dB in, -1 dB out.
I have used this a few times , and it takes a while for the DJ to realize that the louder he plays the lower it gets :-)
Just put the threshold where the DJ desk turns from yellow to red
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#59
4th March 2014
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what is the problem at their end?
is it misuse of pre amp gain, fader levels, output gain, or the entire chain?

I don't understand why a DJ mixer requires a pre amp for source material. why not pre determined gain points. the source material is mastered to a standard even vinyl but especially CD's. its all standard. Are there differences in needle cartridges level ouput? technics are the industry standard and I'm sure there's a cartridge to suit.

'but how can the levels be mixed' well thats what the faders are for non? if your next track s a little quiet maybe you just have left some headroom as you know your set well right? the art of mixing is to balance, and usually that balance started at a point that shouldn't be forgotten.

modify the DJ mixer. set the gain pot resistance at a fix value in line with internationally recognised line level for CDJ's and be done with it.

find nominal on the faders with whatever method you find satisfying enough. be that using a volt meter, or oscilloscope, or 77% of the fader travel and label the mixer with a dirty be line with the word 'correct' next to it.

the master out dial. again set this at unity with fixed resistors. then wire this to actually control the cue monitor wedge/ face ripping stack

and voila ignorance is bliss.

the underlying reason they turn up is because they can't feel it - so give over the top monitors
the underlying reason they never turn down is because they have no appreciation for psychoacoustics - now what was loud three seconds ago was loud is now normal, louder is better is what the brain deceives us with. unfortunately it takes a lot longer for quieter to resolve to the new normal. And quieter is bloody obvious and kills the party.
quiet is not cool.
I couldn't couldn't give a mega ton of ****s about giving the artist what they want, if the SPL's are getting dangers I'm turning my end down, no art is worth people getting servere permanent damage. regardless if their is no regulation to protect them, I have a moral duty to keep them safe for the reputation of the this professional industry
#60
6th April 2014
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Typical crap

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Originally Posted by tc_live View Post
For god's sake this is just plain stupid.

DJs like the sound of their mixers clipping.

Guitarists? Do they not have a history of liking the sound of clipping their pre-amps to produce distortion? I'd love to hear what Metallica would have sounded like had a load of whiney sound engineers come on and told them that it was incorrect to distort their signal, and produced an un-clippable pre-amp. I bet making Metallica sound like Chuck Berry would be brilliant.
I play guitar and own a sound company. The relationship between guitar distortion and gain on a mixer channel is a tell tell sign of your complete lack of audio knowledge. There's no use trying to explain because you will never understand or even care to unless you are held accountable for your actions. When you start having to pay for the repairs of equipment and the loss in revenue from running off any customers who aren't completely tanked you may start to care. Or just change your career choice to something that requires less effort at that point.
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