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The changing face of my DJ tech rider

It’s frightening how technology is changing at such a fast rate, I have no idea how I survived in the past without my iPhone being constantly connected to the internet. I spent many hours in hotel lobbies while abroad waiting for faxes to arrive from my agent for latest flight receipts so that I could check in the flight (days before E-ticket!). It was a groundbreaking revolution when I received my first fax on my brick sized Nokia phone, along with a $50 charge from the roaming mobile phone provider.

Vinyl was the preferred format back in those days (late 80’s early 90’s) so things were pretty simple for my tech rider:


> 3 x Technics turntables all with a new stylus.


You’ll notice there was no mention of DJ mixer, for some reason this never seemed to get spoken about as DJ mixers were pretty limited back then.


I was one of the first DJ’s to embrace technology and jumped on CD’s as soon as we could burn our own in early 90’s. DJ CD players were pretty limited so the rider got updated:


> 2 x Pioneer CDJ 500 or Denon duel CD player (must be in reach of the DJ mixer)

2x Technics turntables (new stylus) . Alan & Heath mixer


Why the clause CD players must be close to the mixer? CD DJ’s were frowned upon and not taken seriously, that’s a battle I fought hard, and history shows I was right too. Many raves, parties etc where at venues that were also used as mainstream clubs during the week, these clubs would play ‘background’ music via the CD players that were usually located in the amp room. Yes I did turn up to some gigs and had to run back and forth to the amp room! I had to make sure they repositioned the CD player close to the mixer, as it was a new thing DJ’s actually mixing and playing a set from them.


In the noughties clubland eventually embraced the CD thanks to Pioneer and their revolutionary CDJ 1000 player along with their mixers too, CD players become the norm in DJ booths across the world, so my rider changed.


> 3 x Pioneer CDJ 1000’s. Pioneer DJM 600/700 Mixer. These must be placed either side of the Pioneer mixer. Remove any Technics turntables (if not being used) or place them to the outside of the CDJ’s.


Things are starting to get a little complicated during this transition between vinyl DJ’s and CD DJ’s, real estate being the main culprit. Many DJ booths were quite small, and now we have all this kit fighting for space. I hated the CDJ’s being placed on the outside because as you stepped way over from one side to the other while mixing, you’d be walking away from the sweet spot of the monitoring and would be fighting to mix. There was also a fad of putting the CDJ’s on raised stands in front of the booth to combat the real estate issue, I hated this because it blocked my view of the dance floor and not much fun from the other side or clubbers not being able to see the DJ. We need that interaction.


The introduction of the Pioneer CDJ 2000’s in the late noughties created the biggest headache for me due to confusion from none tech heads at clubs. Things needed to get serious on the Tech rider.


> 3x Pioneer CDJ 2000 (NOT CDJ 1000 or the DJ can’t perform). Pioneer DJM 800


The confusion lay between the new format the CDJ could play, USB and SD cards. We’d endlessly tell the promoters I’ll be playing from USB and SD card, some none tech savvy promoters would look at the SD data slot on the CDJ 1000 (only used for loop and cue point settings) and presume this was fine as it had SD input too! That was a major reoccurring issue that came up many times during the transition of USB/SD format.


As we move into today’s decade it’s no longer hardware that’s the issue, it’s firmware and software. DJ booths seem to have a standard set up due to Pioneer’s dominance of this market place. With software running our day to day lives, we’re all quite aware that one software update can cause a chain of multiple headaches as other things suddenly stop working. It’s the same story in DJ land too. Software updates fix bugs and add new features, but if the firmware on the CDJ isn’t kept in sync with the latest updates on our computer (that hosts the main software that exports music to the USB) then we can have all sorts of issues, including tracks suddenly stop playing. It’s surprising how many clubs don’t do this. So here’s how things look today:


> 4 x Pioneer CDJ 2000 Nexus. Pioneer DJM 900 Nexus. All must be linked with good quality LAN cables and LAN hub (with wifi disabled) along with one spare LAN needed for link to Lap top. All firmware must be up to date. Space for laptop with spare power socket. 


As you can see things have moved from worrying about a high quality stylus/needle to firmware, leads and networking hub. Ironically the CDJ today will have more processing power than my first phone that received that fax!

17 September 2015 Blog