The Audio Chain

As most of you know I am a huge audio file. The other day I was having a discussion with a friend of mine concerning audio chain and what he did in the studio vs what I do on live setups

As a bed room DJ I don’t see very many large venues. Most of the time I am playing house party’s. I do like to have a proper balanced setup for any gig I am performing wither it’s from my bed room to the internet or to 50 people in a house.

House parties can be tricky because audio maybe required in other rooms or outside on a patio. Some houses have built in home audio system. Most will have the power amps for each room in one location. I normally patch into this to provide listening experience in all room but also have it adjustable for each room. Not every room has to be the dance floors. Be sure to discuss this with the host of the party before tearing apart there house.

On the output side I like to have a few key peaces of gear either on the master effects chain or between the main mix and the power amplifier gear.

  1. Compressor / limiter / gate
  2. Equalizer

I normally run light compression just to normalize the audio some. I then set the gate to eliminate any added noise from the mixer (normally set low). The limiter I set appropriately to the venue and the sound system I will powering. If the venue is small but you have a powerful sound system, you might want to consider setting the limiter high to prevent deafening your crowd.

The limiter is when I save myself during DJ events. With the limiter in the chain I find I am more aware of the audio levels of the room. Have to remember, people do not want you driving the audio to the max all night. I find myself adjusting the master output just slightly. Play the good songs loud and the less popular quieter. You do want to avoid abrupt volume changes. Be sure to practice this before hand. I often use this when I want to emphasize the first drop in a song. Using this technique is where the limiter can save you from blowing speakers.

The last device in the chain is the equalizer. Some engineers would say well that’s stupid, shouldn’t it be before the compressor? Well yes and no. In my case I am running a set of vintage Rotel speakers when I’m DJing house parties. I know these speakers have bad low end without the help of an EQ. This comes back to the idea of knowing your equipment before taking it out. My equalizer is normally set to bring 30 – 60Hz up by about 1 or 2 db.

During bigger gigs, I will run the compressor through the master effects loop then the output into a crossover then out to the proper amps for that venue. The reason I run all effects through the master effects loop is so I can monitor levels using the mixers VU meters. I am able to listen to a song, set its gain based on the PPL VU and then know exactly where it will end up on the master output meter. This guarantees clean audio output to the power amplifier section.

I hope this has helped you understand what a DJ can do with out bored equipment. Remember none of that is set in stone, so experiment and let me know what you do in the comment section below.

One thought on “The Audio Chain”

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