If you do bring your own equipment to the club, there are two staple rules to live by. The first rule: Bring every available audio cable you have. Just because your DJ controller plugs into your home speakers using a mini jack, does not mean your DJ controller will plug into the high-grade club sound system using the same little jack plug. Bringing your DJ controller to the club is one thing. Being able to plug it in and use it, is another.
You also need to consider if your DJ controller will be loud enough over the club sound system. Some cheaper DJ controllers are notorious for sounding good at home and terrible in a nightclub.
You might also discover during the sound check that there is no room for your DJ controller in the DJ box. If you are planning on using your DJ controller at any club or music venue, it is vital you check with the promoter and sound engineer. If you do not check with the promoter or sound engineer you could find yourself in a very difficult situation.
What does the sound engineer or promoter have to say?
Imagine you are mixing up a storm. The crowd is going wild, sweat is dripping from the ceiling. You are in total control and are rocking the party. Then the DJ who plays after you arrive and starts unplugging leads and plugging in his big DJ controller. The next DJ is getting in your way and putting you off your mix.
What if the unthinkable happens and you accidentally unplug the wrong lead and send the party into silence? If you will be using your own equipment. You need to get to the club before they open and sound check your equipment. Some DJ controller sound great in a bedroom. but terrible in a nightclub. It is important to practice on other controllers and become confident working on new equipment, you have never seen before.
Some years ago I was using the Serato Twitch. It was a great DJ controller, I loved it. It was small and light and you could do some amazing tricks with the touchpads. Unfortunately, the Twitch had one big problem. It sounded great in the bedroom but when I got to the club and plugged it in, The Twitch DJ controller always sounded quiet. Very quiet, so quiet that is practically useless and I had to scramble to get a replacement. Do not let this happen to you. Really grab the knowledge by the horns on these systems before employing them on the live set.
Can you use a DJ controller in a club?
New DJs often ask me… Can you use a DJ controller in a club? The short answer is yes. Before you commit to bringing your DJ controller to the club, you need to think about why you want to bring your DJ controller to the club in that what purpose will you be using it for as far as what specific music theme will you be using that day/night. Stay as light as possible when it comes the number of synthesizers you bring with you.
We then need to look at the practicalities, alternatives, and solutions…
I know why you want to bring your controller to the club. You have been practicing your DJ set on it for months. You know where all the cue points are and you are a little worried about meeting new DJ equipment. Especially if you will be meeting new DJ equipment at a packed party.
Here is one of the biggest DJ lessons you need to learn. You need to learn how to use any DJ equipment that is thrown at you. If a promoter throws a gramophone and cassette player at you need to be able to make some noise…so preparation is one of the only practical solutions. Practice on a variety of devices, terminology or what mode functions for what purpose to expand your knowledge and skill set.
You can take a professional DJ and put them in front of turntables or CDJ’s and they will rock a party. You can also put a professional in front of any laptop and DJ controller and they will kick-start the party. What you need to do is learn your equipment and begin your journey as a professional DJ. The only way to do that is to enjoy the process and be patient with yourself, set goals that are realistic.
Unless you have special and unusual MIDI mapping, many DJ controllers function in the same way and have very similar features. It is good to practice on different controllers. Either in the DJ store, in the club or at a friend’s house.
Is it practical to bring my DJ controller to the club?
You have to consider the practicalities. You are one of five DJs playing that night. What if all five DJs bring their DJ controllers. What happens? Do you unplug and plug in a new DJ controller for every DJ? Will there be a ten-minute silent break between DJ sets? So dancers can go to the toilet and you can plug your comfort blanket in, sorry plug in your DJ controller.
If you have a specially prepared live set then using your DJ controller is the best option. If you are going to be mixing tracks together.
You can bring your DJ controller to the club. But where are you going to put it and when?
The DJ booth is not known for its size and comfort or availability of spare space. Most DJ booths are small, very small. They are normally big enough to fit the equipment they already have in them. If you are lucky you can also squeeze in a DJ. If you are bringing your nice big DJ controller from home. Where are you going to put it?
I can promise you this. There is not one club promoter, DJ or sound engineer who is going to be keen on letting you walk up to the club booth 30 minutes before your set and start plugging in new equipment if you have DJ’s already plugged in front of your set. But you need to be prepared for the transition as soon as the set in front of you gives you the green light. This is very normal and you will eventually get the message so don’t take it personally.
Can you bring your DJ controller to the club? Yes, you can.
but remember to check with the promoter and sound engineer. Never forget how important it is to sound check and bring every audio lead you can think of. Just in case your DJ controller is not comparable with the club sound system.
If you are bringing your DJ controller just so you can feel comfortable, you really need to get out in the mindset of expanding your horizons on equipment knowledge, but you have to start somewhere so have no fear and get out there and make a statement. In any spare time learn on some new equipment. You can do this by visiting your local DJ store or by asking promoters. if you can practice on their sound system for a few hours. Never forget a professional DJ should be able to play on any equipment thrown at them.
but figure out what theme you will be working for that specific day and figure out if it has the MIDI mapping that fits the genre you are performing.