If you are reading this, chances are you are a practicing DJ or controllerist, and aspire to perfect your craft every day. Heck, even the pros are trying to get better every day. So here’s an easy-to-make weapon for your DJ toolbox that will help you stand out from other performers: Great DJ Name Drops.
Name drops can vary wildly from cheese ball ” SUPER STAR DJ MAGNUS IN THE MIX TONIGHT!” to more tasteful varieties. The core idea is regularly branding the night with your own personal touch and letting people know (live or in a mix tape) who is behind the decks. It’s usually best to keep it simple, however you can get creative and make something funny, witty, or impressive using FX, pitch adjustments, and phrasing.
LET’S MAKE ONE!
NAME DROP OPTION 1 (ROBOT) - Use the built in ‘Text-to-Speech’ function built into both PCs and Macs for a retro robot sound. In PCs, it’s Microsoft Sam. For Macs, it’s Alice (plus a few other optional voices).
- Go to your Start bar, and click ‘Settings’, then ‘Control Panel’.
- Next, click ‘Speech’.
- In this window, you will be able to type in whatever name drop you would like MS Sam to say.
- Record Sam saying your name drop with a sampler, DAW, or other recording device.
- Go to ‘System Preferences’ under the Apple icon and click ‘Speech’.
- Check the “Speak selected text when the key is pressed”, and click the ‘Set Key’ option. Click ‘OK’.
- Type your desired name drop into any text editor, and when you press your designated key combo- you will hear Alice read it aloud.
- Record Alice saying your name drop with a sampler, DAW, or other recording device.
With your favorite DAW, record your voice saying your DJ name drop, or, you can import your already recorded ‘Text-to-Speech’ sound clip for further processing. If your going to record the drop using a MIC, be sure to use a large diaphragm condenser so it picks up the full range of your voice including the essential low end.
- Tip- For a low-fi, compressed sound, the built in mic on a MAC can sound good with enough processing.
SWEETEN’R UP LIKE A PRO
I like to add FX to the vocal to really make it sound cool. Most DAWs will have the basic plug-ins, but 3rd party VSTs will give you a professional punch and sound. It’s important to keep in mind that you want your drop to sound special, but too many FX can drown out the words and make them unintelligible. Think of it like a cake- you wouldn’t want ALL frosting, would you?
- Pitch adjustment: Up or down, to make the vocal sound like a chipmunk or a giant.
- Reverb: Normally, a little goes a long way, but with DJ drops you can get pretty generous. Just be sure you can still understand what is being said.
- Delay: Pretty much an essential to name drops, as it will make your vocal blend into the music being played and not sound so dry.
- Chorus: Makes your drop sound robust and wide.
- Panning: Get your name to move left and right. Just keep in mind that many clubs run their sound systems in mono, which can make your drop cut out if you are only using the left or right channel.
- Compression: This one is very important. You can make the freshest name drop ever, however if it isn’t compressed on the way out, it’ll sink in your mix! In a few words, compression will raise the quiet parts of the vocal to the same percieved volume as the loud parts- making the small nuances in the vocal audible. You can read more on it here: Compress With The Best- A How-To
After getting everything recorded and sounding saucy, make sure to throw a limiter on the master output of your DAW. Although understanding limiters can be a bit daunting at times, just adjust the threshold/input to where you’re seeing some gain reduction, and bring the output down to around -0.3db.
A handy trick is to play a popular mastered track, and match your vocal so that it sounds equally as loud. You don’t want your name drop to get lost in the mix!
SO I’VE GOT A NAME DROP… NOW WHAT?
Now that you have your personal calling card, you can do a number of things with it.
- Add a cue point to the beginning and load it into an extra deck in Traktor for quick access through the night.
- Drop your name drops and samples in Serato’s sampler.
- To really get creative drop cue points on each word or even syllables so you can cut up and re-arrange the drop, controllerist style.
- Some DJs will load up their name drops and a rack of standard samples (like the classic airhorn) on a hardware sampler like the Roland SP-404
- Having the samples in hardware form means zero latency, dedicated interface and dedicated effects without the complication of 3 or more decks.
Want more on this subject? There are lots of great suggestions in the DJTT forum thread found here:
Looking for the ideal DAW to make your DJ drop with?
Try Ableton Live (featured in this article, available HERE on Amazon). You can also use this program to produce tracks and play live sets!