There are about as many myths about audio engineering as there are people with a copy of Traktor. One definition of audio engineering is the art of taking a finished track or composition and preparing it for commercial release. This means paying serious attention to the mix and the room in which it’s mixed. So let’s take a look at a few popular falsehoods that have been around for too long.
Myth #1: Macs are better than PCs
It doesn’t really matter whether you use a Mac or PC when DJing. Macs tend to make DJs look more expensive and cooler. But let’s put that unwelcome level of superficiality aside. Event bookers and audience members aren’t that easily swayed by your image. It’s got far more to do with what you play, how much you enjoy it and how in tune you are with the crowd. That said, there are time-worn differences between the two. Macs do tend to be more reliable in a live setting, while PCs have the advantage of customizability and software accessibility. Most of the hardware components in both camps are manufactured by the same companies. This means that you’re often only paying for a different casing and operating system, not speed or hard drive space. Whatever you choose, get the most out of it. While you’re learning the art of DJing, don’t let your current machine get in the way of your current workload.
Myth #2: Egg cartons absorb sound
Let’s get something clear: egg cartons on the wall do very little to dampen internal sound reflections. The fact that they look like corrugated acoustic foam is where the myth starts and ends. There is very little absorptive property in the empty spaces they create. Only very dense material has the effect of stopping waves from bouncing around a room. Curtains or blankets do a better job than a bare wall. But the ideal for a DIY approach would be proper corner-mounted convoluted traps. The quality of your mix is directly related to the quality of the acoustic treatment in your room.
Myth #3: Proper mixing is expensive
Not any more. As software has become more affordable and accessible over the past 20 years, home recording has blown up. Around the world, there are audio production spaces that rival the studios run by the golden era major labels in terms of production output quality. Sure, there is a reason film scores and big productions aren’t mixed on a pair of Rokit 5s. But the general state of the art is that the top 10% of studios (measured by expense of equipment) aren’t exactly providing audio production value that dwarfs the competition. The status associated with procuring their services might explain inflated budgets. Bottom line? Unless you’re buddies with Armin and Tiesto, don’t part with your hard-earned cash too quickly. There are plenty of freelancers out there with the gear and expertise you need. Form relationships with them.
Myth #4: Popularity is the only way
Don’t be fooled by the hype. The hype claims that the only way for you to create a career as a DJ is to write a banger, top the charts and hire someone to field the daily overload of lucrative inquiries from around the world. It’s mostly untrue, and a powerful myth used to sell unnecessary equipment. Instead of competing with hordes of impressionable others, start looking for gaps in the system. Where do people require music that aren’t receiving it? Get good at writing business proposals. Don’t be afraid to approach local live music joints, bars, restaurants and event organizers. They’ll want to see videos of you in action. Make sure that every time you have a crowd, you get a video of it. This sells you like nothing else. Popularity doesn’t always win you the business. But a positive work ethic, reliable reputation and a solid selection of music might.
A good chunk of making a name for yourself as a DJ is learning how to get around these types of entry-level distortions and do what works. If you’re serious about learning to DJ and produce audio, sign up for a course today.
John Bartmann is a music producer and DJ.