Posts Tagged 'dj'

The DJ Collector

I am a big fan of 7” singles. For me, they represent the perfect meeting of form and function and are the greatest ever format for singles. I have too many of the things cluttering up the place in an assortment of random boxes; most of them from bands of whom I’d never heard, picked up on a whim from indie websites, car boot sales and charity shops. I’ve discovered a lot of great bands this way, and some that probably shouldn’t give up the day job.

The one thing I would say about the 7” format though, is that I’m not overly ‘precious’ about it: it, like many other media, is simply a device for transporting music. If I’m out somewhere and hear a great early 70s funk tune, I’m not going to go up and check that the dj is playing an original pressing, it’s the song that counts.

My first residency was playing soul and funk at a Northern night. I was, comfortably, the youngest dj there: being born many years after the Wigan Casino earned its reputation. The combination of my age, my fondness for many genres and my limited student income meant that I wanted access to the most tunes possible, for the smallest outlay, and it seems I committed a terrible sin: I bought compilations.

It didn’t matter that the compilations were on vinyl themselves, it didn’t matter that the compilers had tracked down rarities that were virtually impossible to afford, or even find, on 7” that the other djs hadn’t heard of. All that mattered was that I wasn’t playing original pressings, so I was second-rate.

All I know is that I loved the music, and so it seemed did the people who’d paid their money to get in and skate on talcum powder around their handbags. For the record, I do have a reasonable collection of 45s: original pressings, limited coloured vinyl etc, but they don’t leave the house. They certainly don’t get played on club 1210s set up with so much down-pressure on the stylus that each play eats halfway through the disc.

I’ve said this in previous articles, but for me it’s all about the music, it can be CD, mp3, vinyl, if you play good music I’ll hang around. And if you can find some of those rarities on a compilation that the hard-core collectors don’t have, more power to you. The irony of the situation for me is that it seems I bought some good compilations that, given what they’re going for used these days, seems like they’re becoming collectable themselves…

More about the music…

I think, up until now, I’ve been guilty of trying to make each post a wonderful technical resource, as such, I’ve mostly completely overlooked the most important aspect: the music. So from now on, I will post regular, short reviews and opinions on the deep house tracks I like. Or don’t.

Let’s start straight away with Juan Lombardo‘s Deep Track (Original Mix). Released on Deep Nota Records -a label on which I always keep an eye- this, as I’m sure you can tell from the title, is a deep track. Some of the synth sound design comes from the more techy end of the spectrum, but the arrangement and the production mean that this is rooted firmly in deep house territory.

A percussion-led intro builds as the synth opens up, before the bass kicks in just after a minute. This, for me, is where the track sounds it’s weakest, with the bass not quite sitting happily and gelling with the drums and percussion for me. All changes though at 2.03 where, after a breakdown, the track drops and really kicks things off: the additional elements really tying everything together.

After that, the rest of the track rolls along, with several more brief breakdowns keeping everything moving. If anything, I would love an extended version, with a few more bars between the breakdowns, such is my love for this groove as it rolls along. Straight into my set list and definitely worth a listen.

The Quick and Dirty Home Mastering Guide: Part 1

One of the themes I see coming up rather often on a lot of the recording forums is of people complaining that their mixes don’t sound as loud as commercial records. The answer given most often is, of course, mastering.

Before we carry on, a few caveats. First off, getting a good mix comes first. As [one version of] the saying goes: you can’t polish a turd. The next thing is that I highly recommend having a reputable professional mastering engineer do your mastering for you.

There are two main reasons for this. The first is that they are going to have absolutely top class equipment, most importantly their monitoring, their room and their ears, along with the experience to get the most out of them. The second is that you’ll get a second person listening to your mix. If you’ve been immersing yourself in your programming, performing, arranging and mixing, you can start to lose some objectivity. The mastering engineer can step back from the mix with a fresh perspective and hear what the mix might need.

When it comes to picking a mastering service, do your research. It seems like mastering has exploded in the last couple of years. It seems like everyone with a copy of Waves L2 has set up an online mastering service. Look to see who has mastered some of the records in your collection and check them out; they might be more affordable than you think. With even huge studios like Abbey Road offering online mastering services, anyone can now get access to those ears of experience.

All that said of course there are going to be times you might want to do it yourself. You might have a work in progress you want to listen to in the same context as some commercial releases; you might have just finished a song that you want to play out that night; or you might have just spent your last penny on the latest plugin.

So, for those occasions, how can you bring that level up and add a bit of punch? A simple internet search can give you more ‘how to’ guides than I could ever hope to list, so I’ll just run through a quick step-by-step of what works for me, and you can adapt it for your own best results.

In preparation for part two of this post, get yourself a stereo wave file of your final mix ready along with a couple of files of similar style commercial tracks for comparison and stop back in a few days for the step-by-step…


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