My DJ Setup – Sound CardPosted: September 6, 2011
This post will look at how I went about choosing the sound card (something which has become known as an audio interface) I use to DJ with. To be honest, the decision was easy but I will go through the options I had.
If you want to see the rest of my posts about my DJ setup, you best click here.
All modern laptops come equipped with a soundcard which lets you plug in headphones and/or a microphone, this is how “norms” (non music geeks) use Skype and such programmes to chat to their friends. You can use the audio hardware built into your laptop to get started DJing, if you just want to experiment with some things – it’s the best idea.
Moving on, for people who want to take things a little more seriously a sound card designed for DJs will do one important thing, instantly. In-built audio hardware sounds terrible, even I can hear the difference and I am not an audiophile. A good (and that is a key word) DJ soundcard will sound better than any inbuilt headphone socket. The stats you are looking for is a soundcard that operates at 24 bits and 96k. Essentially 96k talks about how quickly the audio data flows through the soundcard and (keeping the water analogy) 24bit refers to how deep that flow of water it. Recently I played a gig and the promoter made a specific point of telling me that my music sounded nicer than the other DJs, and all I can put this down to is an obsessive attention to detail when it comes to audio quality.
A dedicated DJ soundcard will also give you the flexibility required to customise your DJ setup. I’ve already described (in this post) how I route my audio through a regular DJ mixer, this isn’t possible without using professional gear and because I invested in dedicated hardware I am not restricted to one setup.
At heart, I am a traditional DJ. For all my noise about wanting a modern interface I still think in terms of two decks and a mixer. Most digital DJs are using 3 or 4 decks, minimum. Whilst this may work for some – I think of myself playing other people’s tunes in a way that builds energy on the dancefloor and to do that all I need to be able to do is play the right tune at the right time – so all I want is 2 channels. You can buy DJ audio interfaces that allow you play 2, 4, 6 or even 8 (and more) tunes at the same time and have complete control over each one (for all you octopus DJs).
I chose the Native Instruments Audio 2 DJ interface. The decision was simple, it’s reasonably cheap, uses the same audio engine as some very expensive sound cards, provides me with the flexibility I need, it fits in my pocket and its designed to work with my DJing software. On the downside it is purely a DJing interface for my production work I have this interface which allows me a little more flexibility in terms of recording, but its not so good for DJing.