Digital DJ Tips reader Patrick writes: “I recently started focusing on quality instead of quantity and thus want to find the black sheep in my library. My approach would be to analyse the actual frequencies in a first step and determine the cut-offs / peak-frequencies. I know that this method is not 100% ideal, but as I have no other ideas so far…
“There is plenty of software doing spectral / frequency analysis of single files, is there also a programme that is able to do that in a kind of batch-mode? Any other ideas are of course also welcome!”
Digital DJ Tips says:
Patrick, may I gently suggest you use the best audio analysis tool you have: your ears? If it sounds rubbish, it is rubbish, and if it sounds fine, what’s the issue? Time spent listening carefully to your music is never time wasted, and the black sheep in your music collection are the tunes you don’t like and don’t want to play, far more than those who fail some kind of spectral analysis test!
If you don’t have time to listen to all your tunes, I’d say you need to reassess how many tunes you have and how careful you are when you add them to your collection.
To me, what you’re saying is a bit like a cook using chemical testing to see if the food he or she has prepared is any good, rather than just tasting it, or an author running readability score software on a new book they’ve just written, rather than just reading it back to see if it’s any good. Whether a tune is worth keeping or not depends on a multitude of things, and I’d argue it shouldn’t be reduced to some kind of analysis or testing by software.
On a practical note, you need great headphones or speakers, the time to really turn your music up and listen hard to it, and the confidence to call out iffy recordings when you hear them – and then decide if they’re worth keeping anyway. One thing that is true is that sometimes, despite your best efforts, a track may sound good at home and then sound a bit muddy or woolly in the club, but the same can happen the other way around too.
And again, the truth is that you’re far more likely to hear a tune at home and think “I don’t like that”, only to realise it absolutely ROCKS in a club, or vice versa, than to spot some esoteric sound file issue with that song.
In short, trust your ears.
Do you think there’s a case for analysing your tunes for music quality using software, or do you think that it should be done by ear? Do you think there’s an over-emphasis on the finer points of file quality, or are DJs right to be really picky? Please share your thoughts in the comments.