I am a backline tech for a sound & production company that does festivals & clubs AMA
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  1. #1
    Tech Mentor dsquareddan's Avatar
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    Default I am a backline tech for a sound & production company that does festivals & clubs AMA

    Hey guys, I work for a sound company that builds large speakers used at major festivals and club installations. We handle setting up the stages speakers, and sometimes even the actual stage build & design. My main role right now at the company is "backline manager" which essentially means I help set up the DJ's equipment and handle any problems that might arise on stage during the performance.

    I've seen pretty much every setup you can think of, and have worked with many of the biggest names in this industry in all genres of electronic music performance.

    I can ramble on for hours with advice if you'd like, or if you have any questions you'd be interested in hearing an answer to, no matter how basic. Let me know

  2. #2
    Tech Mentor dsquareddan's Avatar
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    I will give a few pieces of solid advice I wish every DJ would read into:

    1. headroom is your friend. if your end goal is to DJ or perform on a massive sound system, there is going to be a sound engineer that your signal from the DJ mixer gets fed into. PLEASE understand that running everything as loud as you can will get your music compressed and limited to shit to save the speakers from blowing up, therefor reducing the dynamic range and impact the sound has on your audience. Send a clean, clear, constant volume out your master (and leave headroom on your channels too!). The sound engineer has the ability to give your signal MORE volume before it is sent to the speakers. It's better for them to be able to turn you UP than to turn you DOWN.

    2. learn proper microphone technique. If you decide to get on the microphone for whatever reason, DO NOT grab it around the diaphragm. This will make your voice incredibly boomy & hard for the audience to understand. It will also make any sound engineer hate you as you have now become a huge concern for feedback issues. (read more on the science here: http://smallvenuesurvivalist.com/why...mic-is-cupped/ )

    3. Have some etiquette for the next DJ before & after changeover. Turn your booth monitors off when someone steps in the booth to take over, allow them to set the level at the start of their set that they feel comfortable with. If they walk in and it's already super loud, they risk damaging their ears by using your finishing volume as their beginning volume. Do not play a 5 minute song when you only technically have 1 minute left in your set. Don't keep playing with effects if the next guy decides to mix into your song.

    4. HAVE A BACKUP PLAN. I don't care what your setup is. Have some CD's, have a USB stick, have a freaking iPod to RCA adapter if you must. It doesn't matter if you've never played on CDJ's before. If your macbook gets a drink spilled on it, you pull out your backup plan and own it. Of course you are not going to be as comfortable as your usual setup, but you are prepared for anything and adaptable. and those DJ's make it far

    5. KEEP FRIENDS & DRUNK PEOPLE OUT OF THE BOOTH. can't stress this enough. even if you need to be aggressive about this. Keep a 5 foot radius around you. first of all the spill hazard over thousands of dollars of equipment is a show ender. Secondly, from the perspective of someone enjoying the show from the crowd, it looks so stupid when a DJ has a drunk friend beside him just fist pumping to the tunes the whole time.

    6. Don't be afraid to change your DJ setup. evolve. Technology in this field is constantly coming up with new amazing ways to express yourself thru music. And yet so many guys I know do not have any interest in even trying out something new & better.

  3. #3

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    If I play my last track the next DJ should let it play out. Of course you don't play 12 minute track. But if a DJ mixes out right before my track goes into the first break it's equivalent to telling me "this track blows"

  4. #4
    Tech Guru Kwal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by loverocket View Post
    If I play my last track the next DJ should let it play out. Of course you don't play 12 minute track. But if a DJ mixes out right before my track goes into the first break it's equivalent to telling me "this track blows"
    Some guys are so arrogant they don't even know it. I usually laugh because that DJ tends to mess up the transition horribly enough for the entire room to notice. Then he feels obligated to tell me that he doesn't know the track enough to blend out of it although it holds a steady kick drum at 122 bpm for 3 minutes straight. yeah sure, cya later bud.

  5. #5
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    You having to tell people standard courtesy things in your second post mainly tells me there are a lot of douchebags making it in the big scene Dan

  6. #6
    Tech Mentor dsquareddan's Avatar
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    Lol. I've seen some shit that's for sure. Have seen DJs who put in pretty much no effort into their performance and yet get praised by thousands. Have seen guys that are incredibly talented and yet barely anyone showed up for their show. It's messed up. Some big name guys are real diva's in what they request and how specific it can get. But most are chill

  7. #7

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    Yorkville?
    Aaron Benjamin
    soundcloud.com/djaaronbenjamin
    facebook.com/djaaronbenjamin

    Tokyo/Toronto

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kwal View Post
    Some guys are so arrogant they don't even know it. I usually laugh because that DJ tends to mess up the transition horribly enough for the entire room to notice. Then he feels obligated to tell me that he doesn't know the track enough to blend out of it although it holds a steady kick drum at 122 bpm for 3 minutes straight. yeah sure, cya later bud.
    You're so right. Last time this happened I was out of the booth and saying hello to my friends on the dancefloor and the dancefloor stopped and looked around perplexed when they heard the transition. He faded out my 120 BPM track while the vocal was coming in the break and then slowly faded in his 120 BPM track. WTF?

    He was going from the house CDJ's to his Traktor setup. So maybe the SYNC button threw him off.

    This brings up a great rule for the OP.

    Learn how to properly beat mix from any setup to any setup. Or at least come up with something creative that doesn't completely kill the vibe of the party.

  9. #9
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    So I was at movement 2014 last year and they had Hawtin closing the main stage on Sunday night. He was playing his normal minimal run around which can be hit or miss for me but he was really tearing it apart that night, thanks partially to the sound system. As in, this system with these tracks could have replaced an iron lung at 200 feet from the stage.

    Monday night (Memorial day, US holiday) they had Carl Cox on the main stage. Guy played what could have been the same set except that it sounded like he only had half the system behind him or something. As such the minimal turned in to monotony and we went to watch Octave One instead.

    So, a couple of questions.

    I know that Hawtin is rather close with the festival promoters. Is there ever a case where you're told "make sure artist X goes up to eleven, keep the rest at a nine"?

    Would the system have been dampened because it was the last night of the festival and it was technically a week night?

    Or is this just a case of better use of head room?.. and or a better engineer in the booth?
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  10. #10
    Tech Mentor P4ULSON's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by loverocket View Post
    If I play my last track the next DJ should let it play out. Of course you don't play 12 minute track. But if a DJ mixes out right before my track goes into the first break it's equivalent to telling me "this track blows"
    don't assume someone thinks your song sucks. With a filled dance floor. i'm not letting your song play outů. i'm going to mix and phrase properly to hold the floor. if your into a/b mixing intro's over outro's thats your thing.

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