Mixer gain settings
I've been to another Salsa club and my ears were aching afterwards
Why do certain DJs play the music so loud?...
We don't get this complaint from anyone attending Mambo Vibes Salsa club, but I am hearing this discussion coming up more and more often in relation to other clubs, and I too am sick of having my ears destroyed by incompetent and ignorant DJs. So I'm going to stick my neck out here and direct this article in general to anyone that DJs... I am totally bewildered by the amount of long standing Salsa DJs we have on the circuit who still lack the knowledge of how to set the mixers gains correctly… It baffles me how so many of them still survive.
Unless you know the meaning of the mixers GREEN, YELLOW, & RED lights you have no place behind one. On the same evening I've seen very clear differences in the sound quality between one DJ and another. It's not necessarily the quality of the recordings, or the style they choose to play. It will be the INPUT GAINS! to the mixer that is the cause of ringing ears - 99% of the time I guarantee it. (Assuming the amps, speakers, and setup are all correct for the venue)… You will find the ringing and aching ears is mostly caused by distortion in the sound, which is made worse by unacceptably high volumes. Many Salsa DJs including 'many' very well known ones (I hope you are reading this!) have no idea what the yellow and red indicators on the mixer mean.
For those who don't care to find out what they actually mean let me explain here. YELLOW and worse still RED means you are driving the sound signals into distortion and the resulting sound quality will be terrible no matter what volume you push out. It is better to have the mixer channel with all green lights and a relatively high channel volume setting going out in turn to the main volume which should also be ALL GREEN. To have the input gain at max with the maximum amount of yellow and red lights possible is the worst situation you can possibly have!!!.
High volumes with distorted sound signals is extremely uncomfortable on the ears, but the same volume with an undistorted signal will be fine. The crazy thing is this…. if you have clear undistorted sound you do not need to have such high volumes to hear the music at a distance because the sound will be projected further with clarity at lower volumes. There is far more to this than just the mixer settings, but hopefully you get the idea of where I'm coming from. Volumes should also be adjusted up or down depending on the number of people in the venue.
Amps & speakers don't like YELLOW, and they absolutely freak out at the RED lights. It means just one thing CLIPPING! keeping it simple... the bottom line is this, passing a clipped signal which has the top and bottom peaks literally cut off instead of the nice original rounded sine wave, you've lost part of the sound simple as that and it causes over heating in both the amps & speakers which severely degrades and eventually destroys both! With regards to your ears in such a situation I like to think of it this way... the ears are very similar to speakers, they oscillate to sound waves in the same way and if the the speakers are producing clipped sound signals then your ear is stressed in the same way as the speaker. If the sound is sounding flat, and your ears feel stressed and not necessarily at high volume it will be clipping for sure! and if you can.... have your suspicions confirmed by taking a peak at the DJs mixer for the evidence: yellow/red lights. If I've educated just one DJ it has been worth writing all this
I agree that you can't dance to the music unless it is loud, I love it loud!!! You've got to feel it!!!! But, when it's distorting that's when I think about getting my coat. Bass requires huge amounts from the amp to shift that large cone to give the music that punch. A loud crisp and punchy bass speaker is shifting a lot of air and if the bass speaker gets distorted/clipped signals thats when you get that very loud hum instead of the punch. which also drowns out the clarity at the hi end especially in a single full range speaker.
One other thing worth mentioning about is the speaker height… If you are involved in the setting up think carefully about the height positioning… especially the mids and tweeters which should NEVER be at ear level. Bass speakers will always be low down usually at floor level.
Finally if you are a dancer, trying to dance to a distorted sound (loud or not) will be close to impossible! With so much loss of clarity you will not be able to pick out the finer details in the music. Even if you know the track well you will find it will be missing that original feeling.
Please remember DJs... KEEP THE MIXER IN THE GREEN!
Article written by:
Andy Lammiman - Mambo Vibes