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  • StevieB

    As a clubber, there is NOTHING worse than sore ears, tinnitus and distortion. Yes it still happens, a quick skim through the comments here show people think its more important to ‘talk the talk’ . Some setups DO distort, red= clipping/distortion and with some tracks, earache (yes really) and it looks bad as a DJ if you don’t know how to use your material. I love noise, just not when its distorted, clippy or painful. thanks :)

  • dj mikee

    Ill add my 2 cents..im a pro dj for 20 years .i always hear distorted sound djs do go deaf.the way i combat this is by doing this.i have serato …i analize all my tracks n i also adjust da volumes in all my tracks in serato playing the track till it barely touches the red on my mixer .tedious work but levels stay the same all night …all my tracks are like that try it.it would take a while .but worth it .dj mikee…

  • Pete

    Question about volume level on laptops. What is the best level to set the laptop’s master volume (25%, 50% 100% etc..) when coming out of the laptop’s 1/8″ headphone jack directly into the mixer through 1/4″ jacks. Is it best to keep that laptop? volume low, middle or higher?

    • adia

      get a sound card. the audio coming off a notebook is usually going to sound flat. but id say 75 percent and adjust the gain accordingly. also since the notebook will usually produce a flater sound you may wanna turn the low and high eqs to about 1 oclock. give it the V shaped freq response that you want if your doing edm.

    • Oli

      100% or just below. Headphone jacks are much lower level than from a cdj or dedicated sound card. You’ll need to turn the gain up a lot on the mixer to match to other sources. Having your laptop turned up to 100% will give you the highest signal to noise ratio, and the highest fidelity sound.

      Same deal if you plug in your iPhone or iPad too, turn it all the way up.

  • http://speedypin.netfirm.biz Phone Cards

    One huge problem with clubs in the U.K is the sound engineers are lazy as hell and are never on site, I work in one club where they have spent 20k on the system its a small place 200 capacity and it has great clarity and is very clear, how ever its loud when its empty as soon as you place some punters in thats where the problem’s start bodies absorb all the sound and the bass disappears.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kevinjns Kevin Coutinho Jones

    i really get why brazil is always bad in the scene. i think djs around here don’t get well trained and evaluated before having it’s gigs… hopefully the scene is changing

  • http://www.callingcards4you.com callingcards4you.com

    I agree that gain stages are a huge problem with a lot of djs… there’s nothing worse than having to endure shitty, distorted music. well, actually, the only thing worse than that is enduring shitty, distorted music early on in the night. I hate djs who turn the volume up so you can’t even hear yourself think. if people aren’t dancing, turn it down so we can talk, you’ll know when it’s time to crank it.

  • http://www.callingcards4you.com callingcards4you.com

    I agree that gain stages are a huge problem with a lot of djs… there’s nothing worse than having to endure shitty, distorted music. well, actually, the only thing worse than that is enduring shitty, distorted music early on in the night. I hate djs who turn the volume up so you can’t even hear yourself think. if people aren’t dancing, turn it down so we can talk, you’ll know when it’s time to crank it.

  • http://Heavensoundmusic.com AudioProphet

    [quote comment="30633"]great article. One of the reasons that I would like to see the multi colored level meters in Traktor is for these reasons. The channel meters in Serato are great, green yellow red, similar to a Pioneer mixer. Why there is no meter on the master channel in Serato, who knows (right next to the master output gain would make sense).
    I find myself turning auto gain off, and the master limiter off in Traktor. Then I keep each channel gain knob at -3, and the master at -0.5. Then Im never near the top of either channel or the master. Wish there was a green yellow red, but since its all blue, i have to guess. Then i mix externally in a Pioneer mixer, turning the gains up just below the red, and then mix throwing the faders to the top, while walking the master up as the crowd gets larger, still never hitting the red.
    Managing the gain stage like this has worked for me.
    -Erik[/quote]
    I use the same exact technique for managing gain. I run two stereo outs from ableton live into the mixer, and before I drop the track I check the loudest segment of each track and adjust the gain to just under the red. That way I always know i have max volume when the fader is all the way up. I leave a bit of headroom on the master if I ever need to push it.
    Great article! Sound quality is so important! One of my favorite aspects of dance music is actually feeling the thump of the bass and this kick. Why kill your mix by clipping off the top of your waveforms? That sounds so terrible and you actually prevent the kick from thumping at its full potential. The more DJs that understand this the better people’s experience of dance music will be. Green levels and good communication with the sound tech will assure that your tracks are hitting hard and clean.

  • http://www.sessions2.com Karo Holmberg

    I have another question for you about the “red lights” – when does DJ’s learn, that the “red light” myth doesn’t really apply anymore, and haven’t actually applied for about 10 years?

    DJ mixers are built in a way, that you can go over +20dB:s over the “zero” -level until there is really any clipping. The zero-level is only a line to be used for your own advantage to mix differently compressed music together. “If the level jumps +6, it should also go to -6. Then the avarage pressure always stays at the zero level and you don’t drop your transitions”..

  • Bryan

    Grammar ??? Get over it and stop being so damn picky, we do not live in a perfect world, for those who do live in a perfect world get off the site and leave us the hell a lone, we talk DJ shop here and not to COMPLAIN about one or two misspell words, Hey Ean the real DJs understand what is being said here

  • http://myspace/borizclubu Boriz club U

    Want to say you just say what everybody who want to keep music close as his original version atthe best condition have to do and you are 100% right . And want to say One more time to my friend Tofke who is q really good dj ” after O level you make distortion, hurt yourself the crowd and change the track.
    It s sad that s only in Allen and heat maqnual,they explain dant go over Zero with draw and skull bomb if you want more sound put your amplifier higer.
    sorry for my english(i m from belgium) but want to agree to your advice and say again don’t go in the red its not the best way to proof you take the attention of the crowd. thanks for all your tips.

  • http://www.irvincee.be Irvin cEe

    Just one thing to add.
    DJ’s should not get drunk while they are dooing a set.
    It’s like driving a car while your drunk, you think you can drive like a racer and take turns at 120KM p/h, while in reality you are sucking big time.
    The drunker they get the better they think they are and the louder it get’s, causing bad sound.
    And then I’m not even speaking about the shitty music they start playing when driving on auto-drunk-pilot.

  • http://djtareeqmusic.tumblr.com DJ Tareeq

    agree very much. did a gig once and made the mistake of not communicating with sound guy. my levels was +1 in the reds and the house system kept cutting. very amateur mistake. =(
    thanks for a very helpful article =)

  • Bad Boy 2 Ras

    [quote comment="30578"]You guys have a great site but you’ve got to get your your/you’re use together. Poor grammar (especially on something so basic) takes away from the content on your otherwise great site.

    http://www.wikihow.com/Use-You're-and-Your/quote

    Plum

  • Olaf

    [quote comment="30733"]hi peeps…

    my biggest problem is that im still (after 3 years) trying to get used to wearing professionally moulded earplugs (er-15s)…

    if i wear them my hearing is ok after BUT i loose feeling with the music… if i dont wear them my ears hurt but ive felt the music a whole lot more!!!

    if i have my earplugs in then i push the levels so hard as it sounds quiter…

    someone told me a story of a guy who had in ear monitoring mixed with the sound of a mic picking up the clubs ambience…

    sounds pretty wise… thought id share my story![/quote]

    i do recognise this..also when wearing custom-molded earplugs i play louder to get the same “feeling”

  • Olaf

    [quote comment="30671"]Here’s an experiment I tried once. I went into the club during the day, turned on the music, then pushed the volume up to where it sits peak time on a Saturday night. It was unbelievably, uncomfortably loud! I couldn’t believe it!

    Its such a gradual thing during the night that you don’t notice how loud its getting.[/quote]

    the more bodies on the dancefloor, the more they absorb the sound. So soundchecking on an empty floor is not giving the same sound as in a filled room.

  • Olaf

    [quote comment="30582"]one thing the article neglected to mention, is that this threshold shift will happen to the club-goers as well. its gotta be a tough thing to juggle, cause u also dont want all the patrons thinking the main act has gone soft later in the night. u probably also can’t start with more headroom and work your way up throughout the night, cuz it wont attract people in the beginning if its not bangin.[/quote]

    it’s rather common that the headliner is requesting 10dB more loudness in the rider that the opening acts….

  • signal flow

    By the amount of posts it’s obvious this is an important topic! I think this is one of the main things that separates the beginners from the pros. I do a weekly radio show and it is surprising how many djs come in and even with an explanation of where to keep the knobs, they turn up the gain and eqs all the way until it is clipping horribly. I think they just cannot hear the difference. As long as gear manufactures cater to the beginners (like soft clipping etc) djs will keep thinking its ok to have every meter in the red. I think this topic, cabling/signal flow, and etiquette should be taught long b4 mixing and scratching techniques…great article.

  • lauti

    [quote comment="30621"]Rane has a series of articles for audio professionals called RaneNotes. There are a handul of articles that can help you out when an audio guy isn’t available. http://rane.com/note135.html is a good one about gain structure and the structure in a large scale system.

    Other than that ‘The Sound Reinforcement Handbook’ is an industry standard. It’s the sound encyclopedia.[/quote]

    gracias :)

  • http://totallyspun.com totallyspun

    Here’s the problem with master mixer levels that I’ve had, not mentioned in your article:

    To ensure a consistent apparent volume from track to track, I use the level meters as a guide in addition to my ears. A lot of LED meters have green/yellow/red, and the green/yellow line can be very difficult to distinguish in a dark and/or smokey club, the yellow/red line is easy to make, so that’s where I set my peak levels. I do try to keep the peak just ‘kissing’ the red, but I know I’m sending a signal above 0dB already at this point.

    That said, sound techs aside, it drives me crazy to see the next DJ up buried in red, but really it’s a pragmatic move on his part. 95% of the audience will equate loudness with quality of set — to a degree — and won’t notice the clipping, or onset of tinnitus.

    • Oli

      Yeah it’s a shame isn’t it, I’ve been to so many nights where I rock up for the end of the warm up DJ and think the sound is pretty good, then the headliners take over, turn it up too much, and it’s like “here we go again”!

      I read this Armin Van Buuren interview where he was talking about his set up, and he said something like “I’m playing 44.1k 16 bit WAV files to give my audience the best possible sound. They’ve come to see me, and I think they deserve good sound. You’ve got to respect your audience”

      Wish more “DJs” would respect their audiences and turn it down a bit!

  • n2hf1st

    @drow: -10dBV is consumer line level (i.e. rca), +4dBu is pro audio line level (tr/trs/xlr). it has nothing to do with clipping your speakers, but obviously if you select -10dBV on your speaker and somehow push a +4dBu signal into it, you’re not doing it right.

  • Steve C

    While playing in a great club with an equally good engineer our simple solution was sign language .. as the levels increased throughout the night once we got into the red ..

    1. Catch his attention .. Point to me … Point down

    2. Point to him … point up

    Simple .. I go down he goes up, music leveled out everything in the green :D

    Although throughout the years the more devastating sound issues with engineers was that the majority were ye’ ol’ rockers who did not like dance music at all anyhow.

    Of course not every club has an engineer. I brought my gear in, set the levels all nice and asked to be turned up .. the answer from the owner was, “its as loud as I’m going to turn it up” … other DJ’s play here and its loud enough, turn up your mixer!!

  • Dutch

    Quality Article and vital information for DJ’s of every level. from Bedroom to Pro’s

    Also a big up on some of the comments too such as DJ R3 Bonaire (Danki pa e palabranan bunita!!)

    Ean – ignore the grammer police bro – you got the shiza locked down over here.

    Dutch – Amsterdam.

  • Jay cee

    One huge problem with clubs in the U.K is the sound engineers are lazy as hell and are never on site, I work in one club where they have spent 20k on the system its a small place 200 capacity and it has great clarity and is very clear, how ever its loud when its empty as soon as you place some punters in thats where the problem’s start bodies absorb all the sound and the bass disappears.

    If the audio guy would turn up and set the system when the place is full then it would really thump, I have looked at the amps when were a its maximum there barley even working, I have worked at another venue run by this chain and they have the same system in a bigger place that is crazy loud, I have asked them to get it fixed, 2 years on same sound still.

  • http://pulsedetroit.com Elev8d

    A great article and tons of great comments. I actually clipped my sub a few times last weekend even though all my levels were in the green at the club. The rane sixty-eight has so much headroom, I think it can go up twice as loud at the 57 which actually makes my job harder, because i could just max my main output and set my gains to 0db. Now I can’t really tell and have to go by the Christmas lights, and have to keep my main output gain at 12 oclock too. I don’t work with sound guys and I can’t see the amps so I never know when they’re going to clip. I always start the night off quiet at 10pm and slowly build up the volume until midnight when I over-crank it. I also don’t wear earplugs yet but will give it a try this weekend to see what kind of difference it makes. I feel like I would crank my system even louder and be less aware of main output levels.

    • oli

      Club sound systems have limiters before the amps, so once you turn your mixer up past a certain point the sound won’t be getting louder, just more distorted.

      Distorted, hyper compressed sound is actually pretty fatiguing and will irritate your audience on a sub conscious level. They’ll actually have a better time at your party if you play just a little bit quieter. Have you ever left a club thinking “that was pretty cool, but damn my ears hurt!”

      if you don’t know how the club’s limiters are set, how about just set the output level of your mixer how the manufacturer recommends in the instruction manual? This way you can be sure you’re doing all you can to have good sound.

      Ear plugs will make the sound seem less distorted to you, so you’ll think you can turn it up more and it still sounds fine, so you’ll be rocking out in the DJ booth while the audience is experiencing distorted sound!

  • DJ R3 Bonaire

    Nisus, that www. link is what shows the most important thing about this whole discussion. Go ahead folks look at it and learn…
    Thanks nisus,better late than never.

  • http://www.nisusthemovement.com Nisus

    I am always late to the comment party ugh. The redline! So much to say but to keep it short, Stop playing Mp3s then talk about audio fidelity.
    If you have been to any of my recent shows and seen the meter on the mixer I am sorry, it has been way too red. Two things.
    First, it was that way when I got there. I know this is a classic excuse, but by this time everyone’s ears are already wrecked. If I turn it down to non clipping levels the perceptual sound drops by multiples of DBs (temporary threshhold shift in reverse), signaling that the show is over. So as long as no one is leaving because its too loud and distorted, it’s fine..ish. If people are leaving and its distorted and sounds like poo, for the love of god turn it down (strategically in the breakdown, slowly). Often you can asses this visually from the booth by how far people are from the speakers, or the old “fingers in the ears” move.
    Second, the Pioneer DJM 800 does have a switchable soft limiter. I found this out after apologizing to the sound engineer for the hot signal I was feeding him. He said it was actually sounding fine on his end. Ultimately, learn to identify clipping.

    As a Bonus, learn about “Gain Structuring” http://www.thenoizeworks.co.uk/tech2.html

    Lastly, soundcheck if possible. Make friends with the sound engineer. Use your drink tickets to buy you better sound by taking care of the tech. Tell them you anticipate the mixer being maxed out when you get on and that you would like to turn it down but want to make sure he has your back in bringing the mains back up (in an ideal world that is).

  • http://www.djsirkitbreaker.com kraal

    you can also use your headphones to monitor so as the night goes on you can turn up your headphones instead of the mains.

  • http://twitter.com/sqyquest Sqyquest

    I was a gain noob for a while there and had no idea about it’s donwfalls and advantages. My DJ sensei gave me some great advice in that if the level monitors are always full and caressing the limit constantly, you’re getting muddy bass and absolutely no distinction in your mids/lows. As such I make note to *always* set my gain to the lowest it will be upon track load and go from there. This generally avoids that. In fact I do this so often I’m working on a Traktor script/macro that will do it for me.

  • BENJI

    hi peeps…

    my biggest problem is that im still (after 3 years) trying to get used to wearing professionally moulded earplugs (er-15s)…

    if i wear them my hearing is ok after BUT i loose feeling with the music… if i dont wear them my ears hurt but ive felt the music a whole lot more!!!

    if i have my earplugs in then i push the levels so hard as it sounds quiter…

    someone told me a story of a guy who had in ear monitoring mixed with the sound of a mic picking up the clubs ambience…

    sounds pretty wise… thought id share my story!

  • drow

    Sooooo, is this 0dB on digital or analog? Why is it on the back of my speaker I have a switch that let’s me choose between -10dBu or +4dBu . Why would I want to be clipping out my speakers, going +4dBu into them? And the speakers are louder on the -10dB setting?!? Hmmmmm it seems as though this debate could go on and on and on and on about clipping.

    And because I am from the internet and think I know everything, I will put in my 2 cents.

    But I think you missed a big point, Digital 0 & Analog 0. Have you heard people talk about tape saturation……mmmmmmmmm Taaaaape. Or how about using the MRL to calibrate the meters so they are +6/185. Where are these settings in Traktor? I am being a jackass, I could be wrong but here’s a small lesson on the differences. O gees.

    Analog is Infinite; Digital is Finite. Stop now read that again and then over 10 more times.

    Let’s talk Analog, it’s fun and because it’s tits sauce! When you go over 0dB in Analog you are starting to overload the circuit with voltage. But what if you like it gritty?!? Go ON Push those circuits to hell and back, make them scream. OK OK you shouldn’t but lot’s of people do it in the studio. You get warmth, fuzz, even order harmonics, grit, etc. by overloading tubes and transformers.
    Now would this said warmth translate into a better sounding 2mix at the club????? NOO, actually HELL NO. Why?!? Because this fuzz is going over EVERYTHING! Its on top of the Kick, Hats, Snare, GTR, everything. And that leads to a loss in clarity…Now your vocal doesn’t punch like it should or maybe you can’t even understand the vocal because the distortion is soo bad. Ladies will not want to shake the booty to this.

    Now let’s talk Digital, it’s not fun and it’s cold, stark, bitter, and god damn limited as opposed to the limitless Analog. There is no direct correlation between decibel (dB) ratings in Analog and Digital. Read it again. dB is a reference! -16dB Analog & -16dB in Digital can be 2 completely different levels. In digital we use dBFS to measure level (Full Scale – I will not discuss, but wiki will). ARghhh…….Knew I should’ve gone to Full Sail like Rolling Stone Mag says. Moving on, 0dBFS is the loudest digital can go, yup you guessed it read that again. +1dBFS DOES NOT EXIST. Digital audio is 1′s and 0′s; Analog audio is voltage. In the digital domain, when we hit 0dBFS, we are officially clipping. Digital clipping=Ouch, bad, my ear hurts, odd order harmonics, nastiest squarish wave you will ever hear. WHY oh WHY? Because the computer (AD, Analog to Digital converter) has no where to write that audio information so it comes out as uiwehflasiudfhlaksjfhlsjkdfhs,kfh;qwifuhw;usdfhldksjfhslfkjh. And it’s not friendly to hear.

    In the studio we make our own correlation between Analog and Digital. Thou Shalt Calibrate. We send a 0dB (Unity Gain) 1kHz sine wave into ProTools (or Logic, Ableton, whatev’s) and set the input gain for the AD converters to -16dbFS in PT or -18 for more headroom. So at the studio we are correlating 0dB (ANALOG) to -16dBFS (DIGITAL). Well that’s the dumbest thing I’ve read, right? Not exactly because music has gone to shit and no one can play an instrument anymore, so we have to give ourselves a cushion. Pretend we’re recording and the bass player is averaging -3dB(analog) on the meters of the console then he starts slap bassin like there’s nooo tomorrow. O Shit I just saw the meter on the console go up to +2dB!!!! AHHHH, O NO, You’re going to be fired because we have to redo that take. Relax, this is the cushion, you see +2dB is like -15dbFS (that’s a BS approximate because remember there is no direct correlation)……

    When djing in the bedroom do you notice your meters in Traktor pegged/maxxed out?
    Try this…
    Bring your Channel Faders (In Traktor) down to 60%. Now Play your favorite track. Go to your stereo knob (Master Fader) for the actual speakers themselves and crank that thang until your neighbors call your house. Awesome. Now mix to the next song and continue this monsoon of decibels for a few songs. Where are your channel meters peaking now? You have just successfully increased your headroom by 40%! And you thought you’d never be an audio engineer.

    Maybe its starting to come closer together for you, I don’t know. I am just rambling and hoping to give you some little tidbits of information. All in hopes to get trashed by a know it all 17 year old who knows everything about audio because his truck has the loudest boom boom speakers in high school. I don’t care, let me have it kid.

    If I were to condense this article down, which is what everyone is probably saying by this point if you still are reading. Clipping is BAD mmm’kay. A lil red ain’t hurt nobody, if you have an analog mixer. If you really slam the hell out of a song, accidentally of course, and it’s noticeably clipping at the club, try to through a quick effect on the track and slam mix into a nasty song that has distortion in it (Not on it). I mean play a song with nasty saw waves or dirty gtrs, and most people will think what happened before was supposed to happen (I’m trademarking that technique as the Motown Move). Also remember no direct correlation of analog and digital 0dB, gees he keeps saying this over and over. The only things they have in common are, both depict a level of audio and both double in Loudness when increased by 6dB. Huh? Bass guitar at -4dB is twice as loud as bass guitar at -10dB.

    Last words of wisdom, MF’er is never going to shut up…Traktor is digital so most people on here are probably using internal mixing with their vci100′s. So you are lumped into the digital category (look at me I don’t even know you and I’m being racist), do not let your peaks hit the tops of the meters, any meters (channel meters, record input meters, or even the master meter in Traktor). Because, you are approaching that 0dBFS. Well wait a minute, I have slammed the hell out of my master output in Traktor and I don’t hear any horrible sounding artifacts. Well sir, you have just discovered Soft Clip. Better go read the article on compression, I for one will not be stirring that can of worms because compression is the ultimate never ending no-no talk on the internet.

    Just so your aware I tried my best to be proper with you’re language’s use of the words your and you’re before this statement. Can this be my demo essay Ean?

  • DJ R3 Bonaire

    Please guys/girls stop fuzzin about the freaking grammar. Your useless comments make reading the follow-ups more a bugger than the bad grammar in the main text. Those are the things we don’t want to learn about and good grammar does not contribute to increase our knowledge of modern DJ-ing. EAN’s articles and web page does, regardless of the grammar. Moderator please delete these un-important contents and leave what is valuable for the article.
    Please…….keep it nice and cool

  • Anonymous

    I hate to say it, but the sloppy grammar has been bugging me too. I’m not out to nit-pick, but sometimes I feel like I’m reading posts that were sent via text message. Occasional typos are totally fine, but I figure anyone above the age of 10 speaking English as a first language would have figured out “your” vs. “you’re”, “its” vs. “it’s”.

  • Brosef Stalin

    2 cents:

    While good grammar is a nicety, I think the quality of the article is much more important. As a DJ-in-training (if you will) I really appreciate ANYTHING written on this website (which is, for the record, one of the best out there). As long as the message is conveyed, you guys are doing the DJ-world a huge service here…bravo, and keep it up!

    2 more cents:

    I strongly disagree with the whiny murmurs spreading around the comment sections regarding sound engineering/production info not being that relevant for DJs. Once again, as a noob that is in the process of learning about DJing, I appreciate anything I can get my hands on. I thought the compression article was phenomenal, and this is just as good. Ean & Co: do me a personal favour and continue to write these excellent technical articles. Like I said, I’ll take anything I can get my hands on, and I think the information contained in these technical articles (e.g. “Compress With The Best – A How-To”, “USB Hubs De-Mystified”, “Reading Wave Forms”, etc.) is good medicine for ALL DJs (not just producers/sound techs/supergeeks…read: “When Good Ears Go Bad–It’s All Gone Pete Tong”, “How To Be a Successful DJ Part 3: Production”) whether they realize it or not…

    In conclusion (while we’re still concerned about proper grammar/structure):

    This website is the shit. Ean; you’re a golden god.

  • Fatlimey

    [quote comment="30693"]WHY whenever I make sometime like a mashup in ableton so nothing is redlining channels/ master etc my mashups are always super quiet????[/quote]

    You need a “mastering” process on the final output: http://www.musicbizacademy.com/articles/gman_mastering.htm

  • ridim

    [quote comment="30578"]You guys have a great site but you’ve got to get your your/you’re use together. Poor grammar (especially on something so basic) takes away from the content on your otherwise great site.

    http://www.wikihow.com/Use-You're-and-Your/quote

    dear god won’t somebody please think of the children?

  • hasiendo

    [quote comment="30587"]some mixers are designed to be run hot, for instance, according to allen and heath, the xone 42 should be pushing the red most of the time.[/quote]

    Not true, here is an extract from the xone 42 user manual:

    “NORMAL OPERATING RANGE.
    For normal music the signal should range between –6 and +6 on the meters with average around 0dB. This allows enough HEADROOM for unexpected peaks before the signal hits its maximum CLIPPING voltage and distorts.

    It also achieves the best SIGNAL-TO-NOISE-RATIO by keeping the signal well above the residual NOISE FLOOR (system hiss).
    The DYNAMIC RANGE is the maximum signal swing available between the residual noise floor and clipping.”

    The xone 42 hits red at +10db, so please don’t push it into the red AT ALL.

  • Joe Schmoe

    Great article Ean, but I’m sorry I have to point out another error in addition to the grammar. The study that you say supports the notion that alcohol increases temporary threshold shift doesn’t actually say that. In fact, it says the exact opposite!

    You say:

    “Another study demonstrated that alcohol could make things worse- great!”

    In reality, the article in reference says:

    “Both acute and chronic alcohol treatment did not alter the magnitude and time course of recovery of the temporary threshold shift (TTS)…In summary, we have found that acute and chronic treatment of alcohol in combination with noise did not significantly exacerbate TTS or decrease DPOAE amplitudes relative to noise exposure alone.”

    Regardless, I found it intensely amusing that some scientists thought it would be a good idea to get a bunch of guinea pigs drunk, then blast them with white noise.

  • jmcma

    Grammer is for noobs. Great article guys. Really explains alot and as an up and comming dj it is good to have a site that addresses little nit-picky things and big obvious things. Keep it up guys. Thanks for helping us all!

  • meh

    So if I always follow the levels…
    Then WHY whenever I make sometime like a mashup in ableton so nothing is redlining channels/ master etc my mashups are always super quiet????

  • Sonictim

    Umm…. are you suggesting that mixers are something more than just a distortion box for electro DJs to make their tracks even more hard? You mean, if I actually mix properly, the signal going to the speakers will sound better?

    All mixers are designed differently and it’s important to know what you are using and how it works/where it distorts. You can check manuals online. The most important thing is to know whether your mixer is truly analog (most allen and heath mixers) or if it converts the signal to digital for processing (mixing) before it converts back to analog for output (most pioneer mixers). Knowing this will let you know how your signal will distort when you go into the red.

    True analog mixers tend to have more head room (number of red lights that go off before the signal starts to sound really bad) than digital mixers. But still, read the manual. It will tell you exactly the recommended way to achieve the cleanest signal.

    For those of you mixing internally in your software, this is pure digital mixing. On a digital scale, there is a hard ceiling of 0dbfs. If your signal goes over 0, you immediately start clipping. To prevent this, I set my internal mixer so that no track can go above -3dbfs. That way when they fold together into the master track, you have a bit of room before you clip. Why -3? If you play the exact same song on 2 tracks at the same time at the same volume, when they fold together into the master channel, the new “combined” version of the two songs will have in increase in volume of 3db.

  • Fatlimey

    I think we need a visual demonstration of how clipping converts low frequency signals into medium frequency harmonics, dumping the energy into broken speakers rather than louder sounds. Just run a pure sinewave through the FFT display in Ableton Live and apply a clipping filter. It’s an eye opening demonstration of Why My Speakers Sound Like Crap.

  • http://www.myspace.com/djrodrigosm RodrigoSM.br

    Very nice issue you guys have tackled, and it’s a step in the right direction. Most people get this wrong, pros included, and the advent of digital DJing makes things even more confusing. How is one to understand that -10 dB in an analog mixer is NOT the same as -10 dBFS in, say, Ableton? More on this later.
    On the clipping thing, it’s absolutely wrong to say “anything above 0 is clipping”. It depends on a ton of things, and, even for devices that start to clip above 0, some do it very gently and musically (like many fine sounding analog compressors) while others are harsh, grainy and ear-bleeding (like, say, any Behringer mixer and Pioneer DJM 500 and 600).

  • LoveRocket

    “u probably also can’t start with more headroom and work your way up throughout the night, cuz it wont attract people in the beginning if its not bangin.”

    This is the main problem. It doesn’t have to be bangin’ at 10 PM. Start soft and leave some headroom. People want a comfortable first impression. You don’t want to walk into a club early and be blasted and not be able to talk to anyone. As patrons come in and start talking to each other and the bartenders start yelling, you need that headroom. Later in the night, send out the bangers and hit that 0db.

    >

  • http://www.tcproject.co.uk tony corless

    [quote comment="30675"][quote comment="30664"]

    >>-Pioneer mixers have their LED meters designed in a way that >>even when in red, the sound still don’t get to 0 dB. A that >>makes many Djs to think they sound better overall.

    I can belive it! also it also stops anyone who is using their mixers from blowing up any sound systems.
    Could someone from DJTTS possibly ask a couple of mixer manufactures if this is the case?
    Anyone who has been at this game for 15 20 years can probably remember when dj mixers did not have gain controls and when you listened to the cue deck the channel meters would be about 3 in the red

    • Oli

      “>>-Pioneer mixers have their LED meters designed in a way that >>even when in red, the sound still don’t get to 0 dB. A that >>makes many Djs to think they sound better overall.”

      There’s actually a hidden feature on the DJM900 that overrides the club’s limiters and gives you at least an extra 20dB of sound power. It’s a new feature in the latest firmware update, so isn’t in the manual. Up until now only Tiesto and myself have know about this, so don’t go telling everyone!

      To activate this hidden feature you’ll need to have a look at the back of the mixer, but do it quickly so the other DJs don’t see what you’re up to and steal your secrets. The button is marked “power”, that’s the one you’re looking for.

  • slangemenneske

    [quote comment="30664"]

    -Pioneer mixers have their LED meters designed in a way that even when in red, the sound still don’t get to 0 dB. A trick that makes many Djs to think they sound better overall.
    Now learning about the A&H soft clipping (limiter) helps understand a lot. This alone suffice for a whole properly measured article finding o0 dB levels on the most used DJ mixers out there.
    [/quote]
    Ah, that would be nice.

  • Cyph3rPunk

    [quote comment="30671"]Its such a gradual thing during the night that you don’t notice how loud its getting.[/quote]

    It is. I have that problem myself sometimes that I dont even notice my levels creeping up until its too late. If you’re lucky enough to have an audio guy there with a compressor, it wont matter too much, until you send a clipping signal.

  • http://www.disconova.com/utu/ Markku Uttula

    [quote comment="30608"]What about ur!?[/quote]
    Ur was a city in the historical Mesopotamia (roughly the same area as modern day Iraq). Ur is also a letter in the proto-germanic runic alphabet. Using the word in any other sense is something I personally consider an abomination of language :)

  • http://www.brentishouse.com Maestro B

    Re: grammar, I read an article once which claimed that the “your” “you’re” distinction is slipping away as our language evolves. Its interesting. You can fight the evolution of language but you can never stop it. Good thing too, otherwise we’d all still be speaking Shakespeare.

  • http://www.brentishouse.com Maestro B

    Here’s an experiment I tried once. I went into the club during the day, turned on the music, then pushed the volume up to where it sits peak time on a Saturday night. It was unbelievably, uncomfortably loud! I couldn’t believe it!

    Its such a gradual thing during the night that you don’t notice how loud its getting.

  • Cyph3rPunk

    So for the whole quoted part, if there were grammatical errors, I apologize for that. I was typing that whole thing from my cellphone.

    And yes, I do work club audio on a mobile Function One rig based out of Los Angeles, and we run everything with a 6 Band EQ, and we also EQ rooms before DJs show up. I guess that working with this company and mostly DJing on their equipment has given me the luxury of having someone watch my levels for me from a mixing board all night should I be careless or too drunk and end up not watching my levels. As for the whole “Mixers are meant to be run hot” – I can see where you might be coming from, but keeping the gains to +0 is the ideal slot, since you’re sending out the same signal that you’re putting in without boosting up the volume from the mixer.

  • http://www.universalgrassroots.wordpress.com fonnaguschakra

    [quote post="6009"]You guys have a great site but you’ve got to get your your/you’re use together. Poor grammar (especially on something so basic) takes away from the content on your otherwise great site.
    http://www.wikihow.com/Use-You‘re-and-Your/quote

    I mean come on! I have a degree in English but I don’t go around to djing blogs complaining about bad grammar and sending wikipedia links! Jesus!! Well I’m laughing now, thanks!

  • wbskates

    This is a great article on an important subject. I’ve been in this DJ game since the 70s. I was basically the sound guy at the clubs I worked at. The pro guys would come in for repairs and upgrades. We would have conversations about the proper gain structure.
    I have been told that many manufacturers of DJ mixers design them to not clip even when they are driven into the red.
    I generally like to have control of my gain structure, but I have a weekly I play where there are ‘bangers’ Fri. and Sat.. I know they have the gain on the amps set for the DJM 800 to be driven three clicks into the red. Luckily, the owner and I have a longstanding relationship, and he gives me access to the gain level on the limiter/processor. I bring it up for me, since I observe proper gain practices, and drop it back down for the other idiots that don’t know better than run everything at “11″.

    As for my software(Traktor) gain, I run everything through MP3Gain, then keep my channel faders at 60%. I need the headroom since I play a wide variety of music, some with quiet intros.

  • you’re be doin alright

    No worries about the grammar guys. To the guy who is hung up on the grammar stay away from the dirty south cause you’d probably have a stroke.

    perfect grammar does not make a world class DJ….unless things have changed since I went to sleep

    Everything Southern is better, even our bad grammar

  • djcl.ear

    Ok, you openned another big can of worms¡¡
    Strangely many of them haven’t even come out yet…

    I’ll point a few:
    -There’re whole music styles that rely on clipping signals. Early Techno is one. The sound sometimes was so bare and raw that clipping it a bit (and sometimes a lot)added plenty of overtones that dancers + Djs deemed as “good sounding”. I remmeber the almost impossible task of trying to DJ FLUKE tracks circa ’93 ’94 with CDs after a totally distorted machinal DJ set on turntables, usually on turntables that already had the weights maxed over the arm to “enhance” bass.
    I suspect similar ethos for Punk and possibly for Rock… after finding that Led Zepp sounded much louder on (massively used on USA) Realistic-brand spkrs than “I feel love” or more multilayered music.

    -Pioneer mixers have their LED meters designed in a way that even when in red, the sound still don’t get to 0 dB. A trick that makes many Djs to think they sound better overall.
    Now learning about the A&H soft clipping (limiter) helps understand a lot. This alone suffice for a whole properly measured article finding o0 dB levels on the most used DJ mixers out there.

    -Frequencies.
    At different freqs sound levels affect differently.
    Fletcher & Munson study carefully measured it all long ago, but it still is barely understood. Basically says that middle freqs are where ears are mostly sensitive and that changes with volume levels. At low levels highs + Lows are hard to be noticed. Cranked up levels tend to equilibrate the balance…. BUT (and this part is important) At high levels, Middle-high freqs are the first that tire listeners off. Typically 8 to 10 Khz is the danger zone. On 99% of the gigs I’ve Djed or helped, just lowering 3 to 6 dB¡¡¡ the 8 khz equalizer knob, eased the sound to much enjoyable levels. Obviously do it gradually (take 2 or 3 minutes) otherwise some will notice. If A-B contrasted, you may find the sound loses shine, but don’t forget the brain adapts and magicly the shine is back after 30 secs, or up a bit the 16 Khz knob to compensate.

    -And last what probably is the biggest reason of red levels: Sound Slam. Who have not jumped in extra dance craze when a push on the BASS is felt or a well-done vol push comes in from the Spkrs? Sadly this is an effect that can be used just a few times or anyone in the floor gets deaf fast… or the sound turns to garbage. Exactly.
    Djs need to learn to subdue this easy sugar rush in exchange for longer lasting enjoyment from clean not-so-loud levels.

    Personally I replace this Slam with better fidelity and better quality sound. Then the effects, the details and the journey bring up muchh of the excitement.

  • tom

    Awesome article! i am liking the recent production/sound articles! it is informative and helps better end products! keep it up ean and team!

    ps. compression article is so true.. most abused process ever!!

  • Zac Kyoti

    [quote comment="30657"]

    Hey Ean! thanks for answering, but my question was about this quote below:

    [quote comment="30603"]Good article thanks.
    Could I add to it a little.
    One of the main reasons that we can end up running into the red is due to incorrect use of the channel faders.
    We tend to use them as on off switches they are not they are faders.[/quote][/quote]

    Great question man. The answer to this lies in my comment above. Within a modern digital audio program itself, the channel faders can theoretically be at maximum, while still sending the master channel an output below 0db, as long as it was set low enough in the first place. Digital audio does not have analog response curves where a channel volume sounds sweeter at one level over another. The response is the same until you reach maximum headroom. When you see a dj with the channel faders all the way up on a midi controller, this doesn’t necessarily mean they are clipping (if they know what they are doing). But if you see a dj doing it on an analog mixer, one of three things may be happening: Either they’ve turned down their gains to compensate, or their mixer handles peaking channel volumes well and they’ve turned down their master, OR they don’t have a clue and are simply driving the equipment too hard.

  • Zac Kyoti

    Most digital audio programs these days (including Traktor and Ableton) do their internal processing at 32 bits, which in layman’s terms means you can get phenomenal headroom (room to boost gains and not clip) within the confines of the program. This is the reason you might see Ableton channels up in the red zone, still sounding distortion free. This is not the case once the signals hit the final output in the software. Here the signals needs to be summed and sent to a D/A conversion stage (your soundcard). You should shoot to keep this level below 0db at all costs. Limiters can help, but the goal should optimally be for the limiter to never have to engage.

    Traktor unfortunately does not show individual master output levels per channel in external mode, so you need to rely on the single Master Out meter at the top of the screen. Don’t redline it! But because of the 32 bit processing, the channel meters can be driven pretty hard without any clipping, just like Ableton – as long as the master out does not clip.

    Rule of thumb: A final digital signal being fed to any type of D/A conversion stage needs to be below 0db. Once the signal has been converted to analog, you have a bit more flexibility to run hot, but how much really depends on the analog equipment. Most analog mixers for example, have their best response running at unity gain (again this depends on the equipment, but is often where channel and master levels are around 75%).

  • Vinícius Hoffmann

    [quote comment="30612"][quote comment="30605"]
    Is this right with internal mixing in traktor?
    .[/quote]

    Absolutely. This applys to digital mixing and analogue. With digital mixing you just have more opportunities to screw things up by cranking up the volume at different gain stages including the final dj mixer.[/quote]

    Hey Ean! thanks for answering, but my question was about this quote below:

    [quote comment="30603"]Good article thanks.
    Could I add to it a little.
    One of the main reasons that we can end up running into the red is due to incorrect use of the channel faders.
    We tend to use them as on off switches they are not they are faders.
    The fader gets pushed all the way to the top then if we need some extra volume we turn up the gain which is technically wrong.
    If you look at most studio mixing desks and some older dj mixers like vestax there is a marking about 3 quaters of the way up the fader usually labelled 0db.
    The idea is that this marking is the maximum you should open the fader this leaves you some headroom for tracks that are a bit quieter.It also means that you are not constantly having to tweak the gains.
    Most DJS open the fader fully[i am also guilty of this sometimes] but try just going to 3 quaters on the faders the difference in sound quality and control over your mixes can be massive[/quote]

  • http://www.12inch.se 12″

    Hi,

    What about db limits at the club/public performances

    Sweden have (if i´m correct)
    95 db average and max 100 db peak…. So it´s very importand to check det levels on the mixer and check with a db meter…..

  • http://www.djmoonie.co.uk DJ Moonie

    This article is a somewhat reworking of the ear protection article from a while back, talking about threshold shift etc.

    And I’m afraid that outside of the bigger clubs, there just aren’t any sound engineers on site.

    Again, whilst more enjoyable than the compressor article, I’m not sure if DJTT are struggling a little over the last month or two, to get fresh content in.

  • http://soundcloud.com/tos ToS

    I keep Traktor master at around -10db.

    The way I get to this level is:
    - play the track that is reference in a way
    - set the gain to 12 o’clock (or zero if marked)
    - lover-raise the Traktor master until you like the tone of green

    If you have per-channel VU-meter it is simple as that.
    If you have only master output VU-meter, lover the master a bit more cause when you stuff 2+ tracks in the channel it will reach for the RED light.
    Tuning the master on mixer is just mathematics after that.

    I must note that I’m using (loud) PreSonus FireBox (god I love it so) and I have had (shitty) M-Audio FastTrackPro which has -10db output and that’s different story about setup.

  • kia

    in the last eleven years i played with a lot dj´s here in germany and i´ve never seen somebody playing without any red light on the mixer in the main time. i´m often playing at one red-led on the lines (yes, i know it´s not the same on every mixer:) and then i´m re-leveling the master to “what is enouth sound for this club”..
    i think the biggest problem is, that you nearly never talk to the guy who set up the system or the club-owner, so you don´t know how loud you really can get.

    sometimes i have to configure the symsten in a club.. now i can set the maixmum to zero db on the mixer, but i know that it is unrealistic, because every dj will drive the mixer a lot harder, so i have to set the pa to maybe -6 db.. and the (most important) sound-quality is lower than it could be.. yes, this is a really big problem nearly everywhere!

    one good solution is a master limiter, wich sets the output to -12 db for a specified time if the mixer-signal comes over 0 db.. i´ve played sometimes in a club with such a system.. there was a note on the mixer “every signal over two red led´s will be hard limited!” it happend two times in my first set there, that the incomming kick of my next track reduced the pa-sound about the half, and that lowered sound-limit will hold on for a few seconds.. that worked so good, that i´ve never gone over one red led in this club again and the sound-systems sounds perfect.
    good solution i think.

    sorry for my bad english..

  • http://www.berlin-mitte-institut.de Fresh Meat / Berlin Mitte Institut

    Good initiative to write about these things, but central points are missing: Many reasons, why DJs actually go into the reds: The culture-economic logics of the techno scene.

  • http://www.tcheaz.com lematt

    i was a musician before becoming a dj.

    been deejaying for 6 years now, always been careful about the green mode.

    a lot of my colleagues are putting it in the red during their sets, even playing with the gain on a break without drums, leaving it in the red… it’s nonsense: i try to explain them it’s stupid… especially if you love the sound to be crisp.

    there will always be a drunk guy screaming at the dj to put “more baaaaaass” . it’s up to the dj to be responsible and to tell the drunk guy to **** off.

  • Anonymous

    [quote comment="30578"]You guys have a great site but you’ve got to get your your/you’re use together. Poor grammar (especially on something so basic) takes away from the content on your otherwise great site.

    http://www.wikihow.com/Use-You're-and-Your/quote

    This is something I see time and time again, particularly here…

  • http://www.dj-nvidia.com/ Dj Nvidia

    I am not gonna lie… I catch myself turning up the levels all the time. I will say this though, I have gotten a lot better at not doing when I think I need to.

    :::QUESTIONS:::

    My biggest question… how do I safely monitor the levels when I am not using a mixer, but instead a controller with no level lights (like the VCI-100)?

    Where should Traktor volume level sit?

    Should I be adjusting the software, the controller or my audio interface (M-Audio Fast Track Pro)?

  • djerikt

    great article. One of the reasons that I would like to see the multi colored level meters in Traktor is for these reasons. The channel meters in Serato are great, green yellow red, similar to a Pioneer mixer. Why there is no meter on the master channel in Serato, who knows (right next to the master output gain would make sense).
    I find myself turning auto gain off, and the master limiter off in Traktor. Then I keep each channel gain knob at -3, and the master at -0.5. Then Im never near the top of either channel or the master. Wish there was a green yellow red, but since its all blue, i have to guess. Then i mix externally in a Pioneer mixer, turning the gains up just below the red, and then mix throwing the faders to the top, while walking the master up as the crowd gets larger, still never hitting the red.
    Managing the gain stage like this has worked for me.
    -Erik

  • http://www.easylovedance.com Miyuru Fernando

    Yes agreed, I have a copy of The Sound Reinforcement Handbook too! Classic. I really think if you want to DJ *professionally* you should understand how all this magical equipment actually works.

  • Sebas

    Rane has a series of articles for audio professionals called RaneNotes. There are a handul of articles that can help you out when an audio guy isn’t available. http://rane.com/note135.html is a good one about gain structure and the structure in a large scale system.

    Other than that ‘The Sound Reinforcement Handbook’ is an industry standard. It’s the sound encyclopedia.

  • http://www.easylovedance.com Miyuru Fernando

    I agree with the article but I’m now curious specifically about the DJM-800. If you look at the markings, 10 is the first red LED I believe, and 11 = over. As mentioned previously with the Xone mixer, anyone have any idea if the DJM-800 is designed to run hot at the 10 mark?

    Not that it says much, but all DJs I know run it at the 10 and not the 11. That word, “over” scares us all!

    Past that, I do take the time to walk around the club before we open to make sure my levels are set up proper (I’m on Traktor). I have the limiter on but I set up my master volume in Traktor so it never hits the limiter, and I’ll configure the 800 which I’m routed to so I’m hitting the ’10′.

    So…is that “correct” or is there a better way of doing things? I’ve never heard any actual clipping myself which is why I’m asking.

  • Muzikizum

    So true….Nice topic! Maybe some guys out there can really learn something from this.

  • http://myspace.com/bestlegsinhd Jorge Muniz

    ^lol
    “access to a studio”
    irony?

    we have examples of product shots (MicroKorg, Audio Kontrol 1 soundcard) if you would like to see them.

  • http://myspace.com/bestlegsinhd Jorge Muniz

    @Ean,

    For the editor position, would you consider a college student? If it helps, I’m an English and Art History major. Both are writing intensive! My friend/DJ partner is also a student at the Art Institute in Houston, so we have access to ‘studio’ to shoot videos/product photos. =D

  • http://www.eangolden.com Ean Golden

    [quote comment="30605"]
    Is this right with internal mixing in traktor?
    .[/quote]

    Absolutely. This applys to digital mixing and analogue. With digital mixing you just have more opportunities to screw things up by cranking up the volume at different gain stages including the final dj mixer.

  • http://www.soundcloud.com/6stringmercenary 6StringMercenary

    Wise advice when paired with the other article, touches on some stuff I learned through guitar – bringing a half-stack was overkill, it was still going to be mic’d. Having a handhake with the sound tech always helps, and just remember they can make you louder right if the signal ain’t clipping. All it really takes is some loud/soft dynamics to rest the body’s gear, trust in the greens…

  • Carter

    Great Article! I remember one of my fellow mates commenting about how terrible his sound card was, all it took was a lowering of the levels and he was well satisfied…haha.

  • ManDingo

    [quote comment="30594"][quote comment="30578"]You guys have a great site but you’ve got to get your your/you’re use together. Poor grammar (especially on something so basic) takes away from the content on your otherwise great site.

    http://www.wikihow.com/Use-You're-and-Your/quote

    Is this dj eMotion popping off again… tsk tsk.[/quote]
    What about ur!?

  • O.D.

    I run all of my tracks through Platinum Notes. Is it safe to assume that because of the healing filters the program uses, I will pretty much never have to boost the EQs past zero?

  • Vinícius Hoffmann

    ^^^^
    Is this right with the mixers nowdays?
    Is this right with internal mixing in traktor?
    I personally like the fast cut of faders while mixing, and and all DMC hip hop DJs do these types of fader move in their routines…

  • DJ R3 Bonaire

    This was something that i always wanted to write about. Here on Bonaire and Curacao many speakers have been send into orbit by clipping from instruments, MC’s or DJ’s. I am a Sound Tech/builder with a passion for DJ-ing since i was young.
    What is not explained is what Clipping technicly is(RED’s)….
    A signal should be a pure sine wave(AC)till a maximum level for the certain pre-amp. Lets asume this is 500 Milli-volts. If the input signal exceeds the max voltage the sine wave above that can’t be processed by the transistor and will be cut off. Result is that the pure sine wave has a flat Bottom and Top, so the top and bottom are “CLIPPED” Off. The flat parts result in a DC current instead of a AC sine wave. DC will drive the speaker cone out and holds on till the sine wave goes down again and comes within the threshold limits of the transistor and pulls the speaker cone back. The DC is like a welding transformer for the speaker coil and will create extra heath and distortion. Result is burned speakers or crackling speakers. In digital mixing it works different(I/O) but the end result is the same because that signal will become analog when it goes through the coil of the speaker. RED Kills Speakers and Ears…

    Please read this article twice or more and learn from these words. IT is so important for “your” sound quality. You can be the best mixer but if you play distortion it will sound terrible. Don’t blame the PA or Engineer. Look at your VU-meters…. NO RED’s in CH’s or master out….If you are not in the RED and want more DB’s ask the master volume to come up. The power comes from the Amplifiers not from the DJ mixer.
    Also realize that many headphones break by clipping the deck gain. The signal from the Cue comes straight from the input gain through the 3-band EQ and than into the Pod for the headphone out level.
    DJ’s who overdrive their ears will go mute on the Highs first and therefor crank up the EQ in the Highs. The crowd will soon suffer the same High mute in the ears as the DJ.
    I always go in the crowd to listen to my color of the sound and loudness…
    EAN the most learnfull article about sound ever,,thanks so much…and don’t worry about typo’s it is not in the RED….

  • http://www.tcproject.co.uk tony corless

    Good article thanks.
    Could I add to it a little.
    One of the main reasons that we can end up running into the red is due to incorrect use of the channel faders.
    We tend to use them as on off switches they are not they are faders.
    The fader gets pushed all the way to the top then if we need some extra volume we turn up the gain which is technically wrong.
    If you look at most studio mixing desks and some older dj mixers like vestax there is a marking about 3 quaters of the way up the fader usually labelled 0db.
    The idea is that this marking is the maximum you should open the fader this leaves you some headroom for tracks that are a bit quieter.It also means that you are not constantly having to tweak the gains.
    Most DJS open the fader fully[i am also guilty of this sometimes] but try just going to 3 quaters on the faders the difference in sound quality and control over your mixes can be massive

  • Chris

    It could be worse!

    Arocdnicg to rsceearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer are in the rghit pcale. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit pobelrm. Tihs is buseace the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe

  • lauti

    great article; I was actually willing to email djtt asking for some essentials regarding sound volume and stuff like that

    It’ll be nice, if there is some sound technician reading my comment, if you could recommend some book/site that has some basic/medium info about sound.

  • http://vjkim.com SD3

    can you elaborate on the last paragraph in laymans terms? specifically ” I saw some DJ this weekend run both bass gains at +2.5, but his kicks were phasing each other out… “

  • lost in space

    how would one go about doing this if mixing internally in traktor and not routing through any type of mixer?

  • http://www.eangolden.com Ean Golden

    Regarding the Grammar:

    As soon as TechTools finds a full time editor then the grammar will be flawless. Until that time, I have to focus on doing what we do well- which is creating great articles.

    Perfect grammar is not my personal strong suit but writing about djing is. I trust that people can look past one minor error and see the bigger picture of what we do here.

    If Your vs You’re really bugs you that much and you really love the site then pitch in and lend a hand with editing. You could also refer your friends to the editing position. We are hiring and looking for the right person: ‘

    http://www.djtechtools.com/about/hiring/senior-editor/

  • Priscilla

    Excellent article. Uber important. Thanks again to the crew for putting out a great article.

  • Priscilla

    [quote comment="30578"]You guys have a great site but you’ve got to get your your/you’re use together. Poor grammar (especially on something so basic) takes away from the content on your otherwise great site.

    http://www.wikihow.com/Use-You're-and-Your/quote

    Is this dj eMotion popping off again… tsk tsk.

  • Grizu

    Sound technicians? In a club? This must be a dream come true.
    I’m deejaying for about 20 years now, but have only seen a technician when there where also bands playing.
    Usually they just buy and set up a PA in the clubs and that’s it.
    If you’re lucky someone who knows about sound engeneering has set up amplifiers, limiter and EQs right, when they were installed the first time.
    I’m allways in green mode on the DJ mixer and trying to keep the levels around 0dB on the levelmeters, but that’s allmost impossible when you’re deejaying with other (deaf) DJs.
    Sometimes it is possible to lower the levels back to normal slowly, some breaks without drums are good for that. So you can go lower from track to track and than boost energy and levels again.
    Keymixing also helps for this little trick.
    Also don’t leave your headphones on for the whole night and turn down the monitors if you dont really need them.

  • http://www.xnth.net/scott p1LL

    awsome! did anyone notice there wuz a gramar eror on this artikle? :P

  • http://soundcloud.com/thebrooklynknockout the Brooklyn Knockout

    when i dj i use a spl meter .. because my ears get fatigue, which can mess with my judgement.

  • http://pullup.it NZ

    In Russia we have problems from the other side)
    Most techguys are ROCKERS! They dont understand club music.
    I saw some dorks LOWERING the bass and making the master more “acoustic” in their mind.
    So its not always possible to rely on them(
    “Why is tis music so bassy?” they ask me.
    “This is for dance” i reply.
    “Dance?”…

    Well, i guess you know)

  • Deformer

    Great article as always, but a little more attention to grammar would give this site a much more professional feel.

  • n2hf1st

    some mixers are designed to be run hot, for instance, according to allen and heath, the xone 42 should be pushing the red most of the time.

    I totally agree that gain stages are a huge problem with a lot of djs… there’s nothing worse than having to endure shitty, distorted music. well, actually, the only thing worse than that is enduring shitty, distorted music early on in the night. I hate djs who turn the volume up so you can’t even hear yourself think. if people aren’t dancing, turn it down so we can talk, you’ll know when it’s time to crank it.

  • http://www.digitaldjtips.com Phil Morse

    One simple sound engineer trick is to turn up the inebriated DJ’s monitors, making the hapless soul THINK he’s “banging it out” when in fact the volume is no higher. One easy thing for the DJ who cares about getting his levels right is simply walk around the club and as well as listening, look at people’s faces to see if the volume is working for them or not. Thing is, a system that’s being pushed too far won’t sound louder, it’ll just sound worse.

    Another thing I am always amazed by is how many people don’ t know the difference between the gain control and the level sliders, or who don’t know that it is better to cut EQ than to add it, leading to DJs mixing with both gains on full and bass, mid and treble all at max, riding the sliders instead.

  • http://www.seb-rock.com Seb Rock

    Big problem in Germany, too. If I come to a club as a guest, I always pass by the booth. Often the colleagues push it over the top. The whole mixer looks like a christmas tree in beautiful green, yellow and red.
    A few months ago the guy playing right before my set even pushed levels so loud, that people just arriving early in the night didn’t even enter the dancefloor. I had to tell him – which is not the way I do normally…

  • Anonymous

    Grammar?!?!
    Really?!?!

    Go find an English blog to comment on.

  • Anonymous

    i use ableton and i think the very top of the levels are at +6, i try to stay a bit bellow 0 and boost my signal from the mixer.

    do the levels on traktor max out a 0db? same with club mixers–are the very top of the line faders 0db?

  • kilbot

    i’m sure they know how to use your/you’re correctly. its a common mistake (look i didnt even put the apostrophe in ‘its’) and guess what? it might irk a few people, but it in NO way detracts from the content.

    one thing the article neglected to mention, is that this threshold shift will happen to the club-goers as well. its gotta be a tough thing to juggle, cause u also dont want all the patrons thinking the main act has gone soft later in the night. u probably also can’t start with more headroom and work your way up throughout the night, cuz it wont attract people in the beginning if its not bangin.

  • Cooky Cook

    Mistakes happen bruce!

    Its no biggee………

  • http://thedjpodcast.com Peter Morgan (The DJ Podcast)

    Setting your levels correctly seems to be an overlooked step in the process of mixing. My response to people who say “my mixes sound distorted and bad” is always, check your levels.

  • RedEyz

    YOU ARE is you’re, eh. might want to edit these before posting them.

    awesome article, though. some bang on points with regard to sound perception.

  • Anonymous

    You guys have a great site but you’ve got to get your your/you’re use together. Poor grammar (especially on something so basic) takes away from the content on your otherwise great site.

    http://www.wikihow.com/Use-You're-and-Your