Say the words "Mobile DJ" to someone and the chances are that they'll conjour up a story about a terrible DJ at a recent wedding they went to. Mobile DJ'ing for the most part has a pretty bad reputation and, while I have no doubt that there are some terrible mobile DJs, doing things right can be incredibly rewarding and takes a lot of skill.
Luckily the majority of modern mobile DJ’s are a world apart from the lazy stereotype peddled by the media. However, being a great mobile DJ, arguably requires more skill, personality and intuition than any other form (being a BAD mobile DJ requires none of these).
Being a mobile DJ uses a different skill set to being a club or bedroom DJ. For example, although it's important (and useful) to learn core technical skills such as beat-matching and mixing, the emphasis for a mobile DJ will be less on technical ability than someone playing, for example, a 2-hour techno set in Space, Ibiza. Mobile DJ'ing is more about putting on a show, reading the crowd, clever track selection, microphone technique and interaction with your audience.
Throughout this series of guides we are helping you to decide what equipment you will need based on the type of DJ you want to be and it is almost unavoidable that mobiling will cost a few quid to get started. Luckily, with modern technology and great DJ deals always available at getinthemix.com it needn’t cost the earth. The great thing about becoming a mobile is, once you’re setup, your DJ career is in your hands (it isn’t a case of knowing the right people or trying to blag your way into a bar for £40-a-night!).
It's definitely worth noting at this point that, although there are deals to be had and you don't need to but the most expensive gear to do well, buying too cheaply can compromise the quality of your show and badly affect the reputation you will be looking to build.
Like I say, there will be a lot to consider when starting your mobile disco so I have tried to break it down a little more:
Right, let's start with the basics...Now, unless you plan to sing every track yourself you will need to have something to play your music which means deciding from the 3 main music formats DJ's use;
Your first available format is Vinyl, a lot of people get very nostalgic about vinyl and there is arguably the most skill involved in mixing vinyl BUT this doesn’t make it a good media for mobile DJs. Above anything else, vinyl records are very bulky, turntables don’t like a packed, bouncing dancefloor and a turntable rig can weigh a ton (in my opinion, it’s best avoided).
A lot of mobile discos still choose to use CD’s and rackmount CD decks are still a familiar sight on many mobile rigs. Some mobile DJs choose to use (slightly less portable) tabletop CDJs which gives more a ‘club’ feel to your rig and allows for skills such as scratching to be executed more easilly.
The third option that we have already covered in part 2 of our guide is to use a DJ controller. What a DJ controller does is it allows you to play music stored on your harddrive but mixing using a familiar "decks and mixer" style layout. This is definitely an up-and-coming medium amonst mobile DJs thanks to the portability of such a setup. I won't repeat myself so, if you want to know more about DJ controllers then head back to part 2 of this guide and find out more there.
Cool...so we've got our tunes sorted and we can, hopefully, have a half decent attempt at going from one track to the next, now we need some speakers. There are two distinct options when it comes to choosing speakers for your rig and they are passive speakers (ones which require a power amp) or active speakers (which are powered by their own internal amplifier). I have previously written at length about choosing speakers so check out our PA guides section for more info on the "Active V Passive" debate and deciding on how much power you'll need. While it’s best not to go for the cheapest speakers you can buy, there are brands out there such as QTX, Evolution and LIME Audio that make high quality PA speakers without spending the earth (or you could go ‘all out’ and invest in a full Cerwin Vega rig for maximum punch!)
We COULD stop there, you can play your tunes and people can hear them….lovely but we are missing a bit of an atmosphere (and we all love a party with a happy atmosphere, if you got that reference then, congratulations, you’re as old as me!). So, to liven the whole thing up a bit we have a look at lighting. DJ lighting has come on a long way in the last few years with the advent of LED lighting. Again, we have done a whole article on LED lighting which you can find HERE. Lasers have also become incredibly affordable in the last few years and, depending on the type of laser, can add an added dimension to your show. You may also want to add atmospherics to your show, atmospherics and lighting effects go hand-in-hand to create a complete show. Find out more about the use and power of atmospherics in our guide to “Atmospherics, what are they and why do I need them”.
Phew…nearly there. Now we just need to put the whole thing together so that involves, stands and leads. Stands are very important when it comes to making your rig look professional. Using a table from the social club is fine but it doesn’t have the “Wow” factor that gets you repeat bookings. Why not use a complete disco stand to hold all your sound gear and your lighting, they’re great value and make you look like a professional outfit. Speaker stands are a must, not just to look good to make sure you get the best sound distribution from your speakers. Leads make stuff work and, if you need any advice on them, your best bet it to check out our guide to “Leads, cables and connectors”
Finally, there’s a few other small (but essential) items you will want to consider. Headphones don’t just make you look like a DJ they also allow you to check the next track IS what you expect it to be and also cue up your mixes. A decent microphone is one of the most powerful tools in a mobile DJ’s arsenal, it bridges the gap between you and your crowd and lets you interact with your audience. Finally you have cases to keep everything safe and sound.
So there we have it…everything you need for your mobile disco. Naturally, if you want any more advice then please don’t hesitate to give us a call on 01206 845125 and we will be delighted to help.
Coming up : So...You Wanna Be a HOBBY DJ