Over To You: Why Does My Digital Gear Sound Worse Than CDJs?

Last updated 30 August, 2017

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audio 4 dj
The Traktor Audio 4 (since replaced by the Audio 6) is a fine audio interface, and is capable of producing excellent results.

Digital DJ Tips reader Andrew Potter writes: “I have recently been doing some gigs on Wednesday evening here in Tokyo. Every time I play my digital set up through the club’s system, and then compare sound quality from that of the DJs using the clubs CDJs, I notice a perceivable difference. Somehow the sound quality from my Mac, Traktor and Audio 4DJ doesn’t have the clarity or ‘presence’ that my CDJ counterparts achieve. I am completely stumped, because it’s all wired correctly into the CD line in on the mixer. The filters are in neutral position too. I thought that digital should always sound better, but I’m not hearing this in reality. Have you or your readers had a similar experience?”

Digital DJ Tips says:

Yes, I have had a similar experience. It was in 2004, I was just experimenting with digital, and I was using 128kbps MP3s! Not surprisingly, it didn’t match up to CDs. So the first thing is to ensure you’re using good files. Some swear by WAVs or other lossless formats, others are happy with 320kbps MP3s. Try both and see if you can tell a difference.Your Audio 4 is a good quality audio interface, and so if the above doesn’t help, you may want to check your gain staging.

That means checking the individual Traktor channels aren’t being driven into the red, the Traktor master output isn’t being driven into the red, and the line on the club’s mixer you’re using isn’t in the red either. Other than this, I can see no reason why your sound ought not be as good as that from a CD player, which is also digital audio at the end of the day. So let’s ask the readers…

Over to you! Have you experiences this issue? What did you try to do to solve it? Did it work? Please share your thoughts in the comments.