Your Questions: How Do DJs Deal With Audio Delay & Bad Acoustics?

Last updated 10 April, 2018


Having monitor speakers close to you is the key to beatmatching in clubs… some DJs even carry a small monitor speaker just in case the options available to them at a venue aren’t good enough.

Digital DJ Masterclass owner James asks: “One of the toughest things I find about DJing out anywhere is getting accustomed to the sound acoustics of the room. I use my left ear (with headphone) to listen to the incoming track and my right ear listening (referencing) to the club speakers to beatmix with the current track be played on the system.

“Apart from the actual acoustics, can you throw out any pointers on how to manage/deal with sound latency ie it takes time for the sound from the speaker in the club to travel and get to your referencing ear? When you are beat matching the two beats, in your mind/ears they can sound “on” but on the dancefloor you would hear a noticeable double beat… or vice versa… the beats can sound slightly off to your ears in the booth, but on the dance floor sound perfectly on?”

Digital DJ Tips says:

I find that unless I am standing beside the PA speakers, or at least one of them (which is not uncommon in mobile DJing, but not my preferred set-up), it is hard to use the PA sound for beatmatching. That’s what booth monitors are for. I have a small speaker (Numark NPM100) sitting on a mic stand that I always take with me. If the booth I am in doesn’t have a decent monitor speaker, I will hook up my own. Obviously I will hear the delayed sound from the room too, but with the monitor and headphone at a suitable level it’s no problem getting my mixing in properly.

Mixing in your headphones is always an option. Although I can do it, it somehow doesn’t feel good. So I save that for when there is no alternative option.

Unless you are the one bringing the PA, don’t worry about the sound system in the club. They will either have a sound guy (who WILL be pissed off if you tell the owner the PA doesn’t sound right) or they won’t (in which case, if you decide to make changes on your own, they will hold YOU responsible). And if you are bringing your own PA, just listen if there are any freak sound colourations that really colour the sound to a level that even the average Joe in the audience is likely to notice and fix that (use a separate multiband EQ if possible). Anything over that, don’t worry about it: It’s a result of all kinds of things you can’t fix anyway, like room shape, materials used, speaker placement, just to name a few.

I know fellow mobile DJs who spend an extra hour setting up, using pink noise generators, real time analysers and 31-band graphical EQs to get the sound just right. And guess what, when you stick 300 people in a room you EQed in an empty situation, the whole sound will be changed due to the people in the room. I think it’s unnecessary and overkill, and extra time spent that you don’t get paid for and that hardly anybody will notice, let alone appreciate.

• DJ Vintage is a moderator of the Digital DJ Tips forum.

Have you ever struggled to monitor for beatmatching in a venue? How do you get past this issue? What about poor sound when DJing out? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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