Recently, I was hired to DJ a Wedding at a very unique venue in Philadelphia, PA called, Power Plant Productions. I was told by my client the venue supplies their own sound system for their events. I’m not a big fan in hooking into a venue’s system for a few reasons:
1) I use top of the line JBL speakers. JBLs provide high quality audio.
2) Most venues don’t specialize in sound. So I get a little leery when I’m told a venue has their own system. Unless they really know what they are doing – they audio can sound horrible.
3) Control – Normally when you hook into someone else’s system you lose some, or all control, over the volume levels. Since I’m very anal when it comes to my sound levels I hate not being able to completely control how high, or low, the music is I’m playing.
A nice surprise… Not relying on a “day of” mishap, I set up an appointment with Power Plant Productions to test out the scenario. I was very happy to find they actually have their own Sound Guy – Brian Wetzel on staff. What’s more, he taught me a key tip about what connectors are best to use when hooking into a venue’s mixer.
So what did I do? I decided to share this valuable piece of information with all of you! XLRs and 1/4 jacks are very common types of connectors when using DJ equip. I’m very familiar with using both types. Moreover, most connectors are interchangeable (this is great because you don’t need to have multiple back ups you can use a back up connector for a few different hooks ups – saving you $$).
What did Mr. Wetzel (just like Pretzel – he says) teach me? You can use either XLR (what I intended to use) or 1/4 inch to hook up. However, the 1/4 inch in this case is the best way to go. Why? Brian tells us, “The 1/4 inch is at a line input level. It’s a standardized level and helps keep it cleaner. You can use XLR. However, if you do, keep your gain on a lower volume level. This will give you some head way so it doesn’t clip or distort. It will help you get clearer sound.”
I’m not an expert on the technical aspects of sound. I am an expert on what song to play next. So, I’ll be truthful. I didn’t completely understand everything Brian was saying. Yet, we did a test. The result? When I used the XLR and turned up the sound level it did distort. This is why as a beginner DJ, or any DJ, it’s always good to know a Sound Guy! Or a few of them!!! Because what happens when the sound gets distorted? It’s your fault! The DJ! You’re the one playing the music so if the sound is not great – guess what? It’s you! (This does happen sometimes. And it may or not be your fault. If it happens Don’t Panic! It’s a LEARNING EXPERIENCE on how to handle the next event even better.
1) Prepare and Test!
2) Listen to your Sound Guy – or if you don’t know one – find one! He/She could be your new best friend!
3) If you are not comfortable hooking into a venue’s system – ask them – Can I bring my own? Don’t be a brute about it. Just say, “Hey, I’m really used to using my own stuff. I only work with quality equipment. Would it be ok if I brought my own?”
4) KEEP DJing!! Even if something was to go wrong. It’s all a learning experience to make you better for your next event.
5) The MOST IMPORTANT rule of all: Have FUN! You’re the entertainment!
Hope you enjoyed our quick tip today! I’m so excited for this upcoming wedding! Especially since this venue is AWESOME!! Can’t for these guests to Get Shell Shocked! Are you down with PPP? Check out online at http://www.powerplantproductions.com but even better – Google “Power Plant Weddings” for some amazing pics!!
If you’ve had a Quick Tip on how to improve the quality of sound at your events, please share in the comment section below. Let’s help each other keep doing what we LOVE – playing music! Thanks guys DeeJay Shelly