DJs and technology: The good, the bad and the ugly

Our submission to Sorry, DJ Timbo. It’s just, well, it’s the neon.
Our submission to Sorry, DJ Timbo. It’s just, well, it’s the neon.

Ain’t technology grand? Only a few years ago, it was nearly impossible to pry vinyl from a purist DJ’s cold, dead hands. Today, the same hands welcome a cell phone on which they create mixes or calibrate turntable vibrations. Unfortunately, one hand might be fidgeting with a plethora of wires trying to hook up a laptop before another DJ finishes his or her last track. Even worse, someone might be taking pictures and laughing about the whole situation later. We take a look at recent phenomena in the realm of dance music and DJing, ranging from the informative to the downright amusing.

The good: iPhone and iTouch applications

The first major DJ-related app that piqued our interest was Deadmau5’s Touch Mix application. Folks with the fancy phone or MP3 player have the freedom to mix and scratch exclusive Deadmau5 tracks on the go. Recently, Paul van Dyk has joined the craze with his PVD DJ iPhone app, to be released in mid-May.

“What you have is different tools that … are very, very helpful if you’re a DJ,” van Dyk tells the Weekly. Van Dyk explains he didn’t want a boring app that people lose interest in after a few minutes. “I wanted to have something more than just a gadget,” he says. Van Dyk’s app has BPM, decibel and frequency meters, plus a torch function to illuminate the booth in case a DJ loses a contact lens or drink ticket.

“Something that I believe is extremely helpful is [that] you have a seismic reader,” van Dyk says. “If you’re in the club and you try to adjust your needle to your calibration of your computer system that most guys play with, you put the [phone] on the turntable and you see how much vibration you have.” And viola!

“One of the fun things that I like about it is there’s a glow stick on there for the rave generation. When you shake it, it changes the color. I love it.” So remember the next time a DJ is fiddling with their iPhone, they might not be texting.

The bad: Wire-o-rama

With the convenience of transporting music collection on CDs and laptops, DJs are less likely to need chiropractic visits from lugging around heavy record crates. On the other hand, the standard equipment for playing tracks is all over the place. Numerous times during a DJ changeover, sound techs scramble to swap out wiring, much like at a rock concert, swapping drum kits.

From CDJs to the laptop/turntables pairing, there arises room for glitches. But—at least in Vegas—this could be a simple case of lack of communication—venues not understanding a DJ’s needs. Without getting too technical, local DJ KC Ray recommends a splitter box, and Josh Abrams suggests having more than one Serato box. While we needn’t fully understand the specifics, this could alleviate the chance for horrible cacophonies or deadly silence mid-party.

The ugly: Talking smack about DJs

The Internet has opened up the world to dance music, making it easier than ever before for DJs to find tracks. The Internet is also a tool notoriously used for picking apart not only tunes, but also the DJs themselves. Sure, it’s wrong to make fun of others, but people do it anyway. (Remember the uproar in Vegas over Hot Chicks with Douchebags?)

The hilarious (and occasionally cruel) rips apart photos from the DJ world. Characters “Binky,” “Rich Mahogany” and “Inkey” (a chimpanzee) critique fantastically horrible images. There are nekked dudes with strategically placed vinyl, DJs toting Technics turntables on their shoulders à la old-school boom boxes, the classic wannabe gangsta hand gestures and crappy PhotoShopped promo materials. It’s a “what not to do” guide for DJs waiting for their close-up. You’ll probably even recognize a few familiar faces … not that the Weekly had anything to do with that.

(Originally published in Las Vegas Weekly and at

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