Setup/Performing with two DJ's
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  1. #1

    Default Setup/Performing with two DJ's

    Hi everyone

    I'm wondering what suggestions people have for two DJ's performing together. We're playing college/house parties and work together to bounce ideas off each other, find new music, ect and are trying to figure out the best way to have both of us active in the mix at the same time rather than sort of swopping back and forth while one of us cues up a mini-set.

    Some of the biggest electronica acts are duos, but the tech setup aside, we've had a hard time finding suggestions for performing as a group. We've played around with one of us playing and mixing the bassline with the other doing an acapella overlay, ect but are looking for more ideas and input. We play pretty eclectic stuff- house, electro, some hip-hop, some pop, ect depending on the scene and what we're feeling like.

    We're both running laptops with Ableton, although I might start running Traktor for some of our more house-y shows, and we're connected via 2 channel mixer.

    To make things more complicated, we also just acquired some turntables and are debating the best way to work these in. Because we'll still be playing off the computers as well, we're considering plugging them into the 2 channel mixer, and then running that output into a 3 channel mixer with the computers in the other channels. This would be helpful in terms of layout, because we can put the 2 channel mixer right in between the turntables to bang around but still allow the "master" mixer to be located somewhere else. This way one of us can fade from the turntables into a computer mix while the other is working the turntables.

    The other option is a 4 channel mixer to handle these duties in one package, which would cut down on equipment. I also don't know if running one mixer into another would deteriorate the sound quality in any noticeable way.

    So there it is- any suggestions are greatly appreciated, and hopefully some of you will even have experience playing and setting up a group set.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    running 2 mixers in a chain will introduce more noise into the signal. For integrating a turntable you could go with Traktor Scratch Pro, and buy a TSP compatible 4 channel mixer, thus killing 2 birds with one stone, or you could take a much cheaper route and use the ableton Ms. Pinky integration for turntables (which I believe has just come out as part of max4live (but don't quote me I'm not an ableton user).
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  3. #3
    Tech Mentor PartyMcFly's Avatar
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    First consider what you want to accomplish with two djs. I've seen and participated in duos that were failed from the start when they/we didn't consider how they/we were going to elaborate on the paradigm of mixing one track after another.

    Yes, there are quite a few high-profile production/dj duos out there, but most I've seen actually play live involves one member mixing and another flipping filters, fist pumping, pogo jumping, emcee-ing, and/or spitting Goose all over the crowd. I'm assuming you'd like the both of you to be a little more musically engaged than that.

    More than two channels on your mixer is a good idea, but I've (badly) mixed 3 or four decks internally from our respective laptops into two respective channels with a buddy before. It's really fun and certainly a good place to start.

    Practice together a lot. A LOT. Mind reading and playing off of your partner's similarities and disparities with you is essential for the awesome DJ duo.

    Traktor Scratch Pro 1.2.x allows you to use the internal mixer alongside your timecode vinyl, yeah? I wonder if a controller and two decks setup is possible?

    Good luck and have fun. And do something new!

  4. #4
    Tech Mentor ohmyjosh's Avatar
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    Me and a buddy are in a similar position, though he's just getting to grips with Traktor, but we've just been mini mixing. Would love to hear more advice!

  5. #5

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    How much would routing one mixer through another hurt the audio quality? Some of what we plan on doing with vinyl will be straight mixing (probably through the ms pinky pulgin for ableton), but hopefully also some scratching as we get more comfortable with the turntables, and it seems like having one dedicated scratch mixer separate from the master (primarily digital mixer for the two laptops) would be helpful.
    Would this setup sound terrible or not perfect but useable?

    As far as working with 2 DJ's goes, we're housemates and therefore have lots of time to practice as a group. I agree with PartyMcFly that many DJ duos do seem to have one dedicated mixer and one PR guy to pump up the crowd (pictures of Gaspard of Justice with his mixer unplugged to come mind http://www.exclaim.ca/images/up-just.jpg) but it seems like there are numerous times during a live set that more than two hands could be very useful, and figuring out how to structure a set so that we can take advantage of two DJ's is a very real possibility that could lend itself to some super interesting mixes. Other thoughts on how to facilitate group collaboration?
    Last edited by THEWETBANDITS; 11-24-2009 at 08:10 PM.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by THEWETBANDITS View Post
    How much would routing one mixer through another hurt the audio quality? Some of what we plan on doing with vinyl will be straight mixing (probably through the ms pinky pulgin for ableton), but hopefully also some scratching as we get more comfortable with the turntables, and it seems like having one dedicated scratch mixer separate from the master (primarily digital mixer for the two laptops) would be helpful.
    Would this setup sound terrible or not perfect but useable?

    I went to Temple of the Drums just a few months ago. Three djs and an MC. They had this set up: 1 4 channel mixer with 2 cdjs running off of it, and then one of the other channels went to another 4 channel mixer with 4 cdjs. They basically rotated one dj out while the other 2 were playing. I noticed no problems with the sound, but that was probably the fact they were using Pioneer equipment and given Pioneer was the sponsor, I am sure they had top of the line.
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  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by ohmyjosh View Post
    Me and a buddy are in a similar position, though he's just getting to grips with Traktor, but we've just been mini mixing. Would love to hear more advice!
    We've been trying to come up with some mini routines that we do together and hopefully we'll eventually have enough that we can link them all together into one set. For now we just have a few tracks we've practiced mixing that have enough going on that there's work for two of us- for example, I'll do a controllerism routine with an acapella while my buddy mixes and mashes the bassline and brings in another track.

    As for our setup, we went with Torq which seemed like the best way to mix vinyl on a budget. Just ordered a second mixer that we will chain and hopefully won't sound too bad- once we get a bit more familiar with Torq and hopefully sync it with Ableton on the other comptuer I'll post again and let you guys know how it works.

  8. #8
    Tech Guru belchman's Avatar
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    if you're running two laptops, it could be really interesting to have one running clips from ableton, and the other running Traktor. You then connect the 2 soundcards via midi - and then you can sync them up (preferably with Traktor running the master clock). This would allow you to have the best of both worlds - and if theyr all run into a 4 channel mixer, then you simply knock off the x-fader and share the channels out between you.

    Interesting what you say about the TTs - with TSP myself, and Turntables - I hardly see the point of them anymore unless scratching's a large element of what you want to achieve (which would be really hard with a duo unless you're incredible at it, and are more akin to mixing hip-hop or breaks) I'd recommend you use your processor to add other modules to your setup (perhaps different controllers..) rather than TTs, as they could really not fit in - especially if you're syncing 2 laptops - in which case they would be almost totally redundant.

    At least, get yourselves a 4 channel mixer, and share it. I wouldn't trust running 2 mixers, as that gets complicated when you want to play out with a nightclub setup, and it may cause trouble with sound quality and the like.. and it seems a bit unnecessary.

    Above all, you've got to remember to keep the music simple. The temptation with a duo and standard housey tunes is to over complicate it and mangle the sound too much. Even though that might sound cool to you guys - it wont do anything for the audience. That's why the massive 'minus' collabs work - with minimal music, as it's all about subtle layering.

    Ooh, also definitely worth checking out South Central - an ableton DJ duo i'm always really interested in

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IQfLLoKIEA
    Last edited by belchman; 12-01-2009 at 01:25 PM.

  9. #9

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    It's taken me a while to get back to this thread. We've been working a lot to get Torq dialed, playing around with the tables, and getting finished with finals... blah.

    That South Central set was awesome- definitely harder that anything our audiences could stand but inspiring. I do have one question about it that is a bit off topic but I've been trying to figure out for a while. They seem to be able to pitchbend the vocal samples pretty drastically, and I haven't found a smooth way to do that with Ableton. Using the transpose knob just jumps from tone to tone and sounds weird. Any suggestions on how to midi map a knob to control pitch like what they seem to do?

    The big draw for the turntables was from the other half of the duo, but I've really liked using them as well, simply for playing pleasure- they can make things more interesting for whoever is mixing, and also (in my opinion) make us better DJ's by forcing us to pay closer attention to what's going on. Just my two cents (anyways, I'm still digital for the shows). Oh and we went with a single mixer that we're both plugged in to.

  10. #10
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    So now that you've had some time to practice, how did things work out? I know Torq has gone through an upgrade and it's possible you've migrated to Traktor Scratch Pro, but one thing seems to stand out as a problem: M.I.D.I. Synching. I'm sure you could write a macro to trigger the M.I.D.I. Sync button (at least for Traktor) to keep in time, but this must have been a real hassle for you with your multiple sources of audio slipping out of time. Curious about this and would like some real-world advice.

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