Reader Adau writes: “I have a question and I think many people are in the same situation. I’m a bedroom DJ. I mix on Traktor with my controller but I’m not satisfied about the sound as I just have basic speakers. But I’m in an apartment so I can’t put the sound level very high. And if I buy monitor speakers, I couldn’t use the entire power of them. I heard about the Focusrite VRM Box, which is an alternative to monitoring speakers for mixing just with headphones. I would like to have your advice. What’s the best solution for practising mixing in an apartment?”
Digital DJ Tips says:
The VRM box is an excellent speaker emulation device, but it’s really for helping producers replicate all types of speakers in their headphones so they can “produce on the move”, or where they can’t use speakers at all.
You don’t need this for DJing – the most important thing if you really do want to DJ with just headphones is that your mixer has a knob that mixes between cue and master out (most do) or “split cue” (most don’t) or you’ll find it hard to use the headphones for monitoring and listening to the master output at the same time. But either of these solutions will allow you to turn things up loud in your headphones to “get in the groove” (I don’t know about you, but I can’t mix at low volumes), and also monitor the incoming track for practising your technique when it comes to the time to do a mix.
I’d say the best solution is to just get the speakers that suit your size of apartment – while DJing obviously works best loud, there’s no reason why you can’t buy some great little computer monitor speakers (we use the M-Audio Studiophile AV-40s for day-to-day office audio) and at least get half-decent (ie clear) sound within the constraints of your space, while having the ability to still turn things up loud when you know the neighbours are out!
If you want to go further, check out our How To Soundproof A DJ Home Studio article.
Do you DJ in a small apartment or a crowded social space? How do you get around the physical and/or sonic limits of your practice room? Please share your thoughts below.