Our scene needs your help!
Let me introduce myself in a few words: I live in Tel-Aviv, Israel. I have been into music playing and composing for the last 20 years and DJing and producing for the last 13 years.
For the last 6 years I've been playing Soulful House music (MAW, Blaze etc.). I am the only working DJ over here in Israel that plays purely Soulful House. You can imagine that this scene is small, but it's growing and it has a great devoted and knowledgable crowd. I (together with a few other devotees) have been playing, producing and promoting (no choice I'm afraid) Soulful House party lines in different venues in Tel Aviv for the last 6 years.
IMO, one of the main reasons this scene is not big enough over here and not many DJs play this type of music, is because of the horrible sound systems we usually have in clubs plus the bad mixers, cartridges, etc. etc.
Nobody cares here about sound, promoters and club owners usually prefer to spend money on architecture, thinking the crowd doesn't care and doesn't understand. And even when a club owner is willing to spend more money on sound, the sound engineers don't have a clue what they're doing so even the more expensive clubs usually end up sounding horrible.
I have always believed that sound should be the fundemental parameter of the club experience, I have always believed that even if the crowd can't put their finger on it, their bodies react dramatically to the sound quality.
I also feel that the type of music I'm playing needs the best sound quality in order to shine and be magical like it can and should be. In fact, there are loads of tracks which I know are being played and enjoyed in the US for example, but which I can't even play because the equipment I'm working on just destroyes them.
I never had the money to invest on better equipment for myself, not to mention better equipment for the club. Also, I never had the knowledge what kind of equipment do I need to make this music shine.
About a week ago I unexpectedly recieved some money in inheritance. I have decided that I'm going to spend it on upgrading the sound quality of my equipment (which also means I'll carry this equipment with me, at least for my twice a month Soul line of parties).
Since that happened I've started doing some reading to try and find out what will be most productive.
Now I found this forum and I am just blown away!!! I just found this place today and have spent the last 4 hours reading like mad. I know I should have probably lurked a bit more and only post later, but I just can't help it I'm so excited!
You see, all these years I was always thinking: If only I had someone to ask these questions. I even tried e-mailing well known producers and labels asking questions about how to improve sound quality, specifically for this type of music, but I guess everyone was too busy and I got no replies. Never crossed my mind there are forums with exactly the people I wanted to consult with.
Well, better late than never.
So, as I said, I have done a lot of online reading in the last week, regarding cartridges, mixers, isolators, convertors, etc. But I am still putting all the pieces together, hoping to decide on the specific units soon and to make a decision I won't regret, because I don't know when and if an upportunity like this will happen again.
I was really excited to read the threads in this forum. There seem to be so many people here that really know their stuff, that really care for this music and that really take the uncompromising approach for creating that magical feeling on the dancefloor.
So, what I'm saying is - our scene (and myself :) ) need your advice! There are no better people to help us make the experience as magical as it should be and in doing so also help the scene grow and evolve.
Wow, this has turned into a long post. So rather than going into the technical details now, I'll leave it to tomorrow.
At the moment I'll just settle for this introduction, hoping it wasn't too long and boring (or sentimental!).
if you have'nt read the above pls do so it is a very good starting point.
I Second that....
Hello Braker and welcome aboard :)
As you have seen when reading the posts on here, there's a wealth of knowledge on this board. I'm sure you'll find a lot of answers to your question when browsing the forum. A little tip when using the search function, unless you haven't noticed already, make sure to set the time limit to "beginning" instead of the default 60 days.
Thanks for your welcome and tips and for the link,
I've read the article and it's great and in depth reading. Have to admit some of it still goes above my head at the moment. I'm still learning and I'm sure I'll read that thing again and again in the future to understand more.
Yes, I forgot to even mention acoustics. I know it's a huge part of the deal. But here, rather than careful planning, it's just a hitt or miss situation (well, actually it's usually - miss..). The house music club that lasted for the longest period (5 years. Other clubs here come and go all the time, unfortunately) was a small mini-club (could hold about 250 hundred people) where I used to be one of the resident DJs and it just happened to have nice acoustics and sounded warm - but only compared to other places here, if some of you would have heard it I'm pretty sure you'd be horrified..
I'm trying to do things step by step. First - get myself the best system I can afford - mixer, processors, etc. Then later I can try and talk to the club owners and get some sense into them to make adjustments that will help my equipment shine better in their venue. Financially of course I can't afford anything beyond my own DJ setup.
OK, so to the technical details:
First of all, I am - naturally - a vinyl junkie. Here I'm considered very old school compared to other DJs, in that I hate playing CDs or MP3's (everybody plays them here). But I have to admit that at on the poor conditions over here, the vinyl doesn't always sounds superior. Sometimes even an MP3 cuts better through the sound.
But, differently from some of you old schoolers, I am used to playing using separate 3 band EQ for each channel. I know you can nicely mix without it too, but it has become a standard feature for me and I do use it in a creative way and would not like to loose it.
Also (and I hope I'm not going to apear as a sinner to any purists) it has been a dream of mine to be able to control the music without any creative limitaions - or in other words in the digital domain - editing, looping, processing etc. I haven't made the move from vinyl to digital for years and years because I didn't believe that sonically the technology was there yet. But a few months ago I have decided to give it a go and got a laptop and an RME A/D/A convertor and Ableton Live software.
At the moment I'm not using them yet for playing outside, I still play vinyl and spice it up with some edits that I do myself on my laptop using Ableton Live (edits made of audio recorded from my vinyl collection). I burn those edits on CD and play them using the club CDs.
So the decisions that I face now are in two major areas:
A. What units to use to record my vinyl collection into the computer (and play it back) in the best possible way, compromising the sonic quality as less as possible.
B. What mixer and external units to use for playing to get the best possible sound.
Regarding the first point: From what I've learned so far I am thinking of -
Recording my vinyl with:
1. Turntable: Probably using my Technics 1210. I have thought about getting a turntable for straight playback that might be better sounding but it seems that many believe that the 1210 can do a good enough job here.
2. Cartridge: Here I am still in the dark. At the moment I use Sure M44-7. I got recomanded the Sure White Labels. On the other hand I'm asking myself if a hi-fi cartridge *not* tailored for DJ use would actually sound better for recording? Having in mind I'm not going to use the cartridge for playing. I got offered the Ortofon 540 MK II in the local shop. Also someone recomanded a Grado cartridge. Other names which I was told about - Goldring 10xx series and Shure V15.
Problem here is that I just can't listen to the cartridge before I buy it, so I just have to go by recomandation..
I'm not sure if what I want is a transparent hi-fi cartridge that will sound closest to the original music, or maybe (considering that it's house and not classical music), I'm better off with a cheaper cartridge that colours the sound in a flattering way to the genre?
3. Phono stage: Don't know if I should use a good DJ mixer (like the Urei) phono stage for recording, or maybe I'm better off with a high quality dedicated phono preamp?
At the moment I record using my old battered Numark DM1835X DJ mixer. Even though it's cheap compared to the better mixers (and I am going to buy a Urei anyhow), I kinda like it's sonic characteristics. I always got laughed at when I told people I think it's nice and warm sounding, but was surprised to hear from house producer Dennis Ferrer (I play a lot of his music) in another forum, that he knows of many house tracks that were mastered going through one of those Numark mixers. He said there is something warm and nice about those cheap parts.. :)
Anyhow, the names I heard for dedicated phono preamp are: Grado, Creek, NAD, LINN LINTO, Graham Slee Gramamp 2 (the last one seem very interesting, since it's very cheap and I read many raving reviews saying that it actually sounds as good as some of the best 4 digits units out there.. http://www.gspaudio.co.uk/ )
So I have to decide between: going through the Urei I'm about to buy or from one of those dedicated phono preamps.
4. A/D/A Convertor: This I'm soing to use also for recording and also for playback in the club. At the moment I have an RME RPM unit. The sound seems ok but I wonder if I can do better. It's got a couple of phono pres but I really don't like their sound so I don't use them. Also I'm going to sell that unit anyhow because it only has a couple of stereo outputs and I want to be able to play more than two layers at the same time and have discovered that the difference between digital and analog summing and EQ is night and day. I want to be able to have at least 4 seperate stereo outputs going into 4 seperate channels on the Urei mixer.
But for recording: I'm not sure how vital this stage is compared to the cartridge and phono stage. Regarding resolution - at least with my RME I found that I could tell a difference between 24 and 16 bit, but could hardly tell any difference between 44.1kHz and 96kHz doing blind A/Bing. Maybe it's because of my actual RME unit and maybe it's because the frequencie resolution of 44.1kHz is really good enough, I don't know.
Three units that I was thinking to choose one from to replace my current convertor are: RME Multiface, RME Fireface (has Firewire, and goes up to 192kHz) and Apogee Rosetta 800. I know the Apogee make better convertors than the RME but just don't know how vital their better quality would be for my application.
5. Possibly a high quality analog processing unit to go before the convertor: Not sure if this is needed or maybe will just mess up the sound. I know that the signal path should be as short as possible. But the reason I was thinking about it was because I have many vinyls that have sonic problems, problems with pressing, mastering, etc. I was wondering if - by careful use - I can actually improve some of these problematic tracks (softening squeaky mids, tightening bass when needed etc.).
Another application for this might be warming up tracks from CD's or MP3's if I haven't got the track on vinyl (I can buy MP3's extracted from the master in Traxsource), possibly making them sound a bit more three dimentional and sweet.
Should it be an EQ? Compressor? Enhancer? Haven't checked this thing thouroughly enough yet, but units which I heard about are:
Empirical Labs Fatso, Thermionic Culture: Culture Vulture, SPL Tube Vitaliser, or maybe one of the Isolators that were dicussed in this forum.
OK, that's it I think for recording vinyl.
Now for playing back in the club:
1. Software: I like Ableton Live for it's flexibility and intuitive user interface, but have noticed that, sonically, it's time stretching algorythms sound poor, unless I use RePitch. So I'll either use that, or do my edits in Live and play back using one of the other software available. Though I would like to have the possibility to play at least 4 layers at the time if I want.
2. Convertor: As I wrote above the options I was thinking about wre RME or Apogee. Sum it using the Urei mixer and EQ it using outside units. Play it back probably 24bit and 44.1kHz?
3. Mixer: That seems to be one of the simpler questions. I was thinking about the Rane Rotary, but after reading more, especially in this forum, have decided to go for the Urei. Only thing I'm not sure about is should I go for the new LE model or for one of the original old units? Did the people that use the new unit reached a conclusion that there is no compromise in sonic quality compared to the original?
4. Seperate EQ: Well, after reading a bit in this forum, it seems to me that the best option is that Shorty's unit you were talking about. After reading clubman5's review of it I could hardly wait to own one. Thing is - I don't know if it's for sale yet or when it will be available, and don't have a clue how much will it cost or even on what price range we are talking about. Other options that I noticed are the DUO (expensive!) and the Electrix EQ Killers (cheap and nice I understand, but possibly not good enough - I'd hate to degrade the sound in any way).
Depending on the price I would love to have a good Isolator for each channel - or at least three I can play with.
It seems that this will solve the problem with the Urei lack of seperate EQ and my extensive use of this feature.
Am I thinking right here?
5. Any other units: Don't know enough about this yet: Maybe I need something here: Expander? Bass enhancer?
Well, I think that's about it at the moment.
I would be totally grateful for any feedback regarding any of the points above.
Any chance you can be just a tiny bit more specific? :)
I've already been to your site, Shorty, but there's lots of stuff in there I think.
Honestly, I might have overloaded this thread with questions I should have divided to different threads and times, but I guess I can blame it on the excitment of finding this great resource for the info I was looking for for years.
So, don't worry if you're too busy at the moment to write in more length, but I would truly be more than grateful if you, Shorty, and the other knowledgable members of this place could offer some feedback on the specific points I've asked about.
I would be grateful, but I know many other people that come and dance and suppport this music for years now, they will be not only grateful but (hopefully) ecstatic!
Re: Our scene needs your help!
Here is a link to a brief description of our thoughts/philosophy about which things should be taken into account in designing a high-quality system.
And very important to remember that there is no standard recipe. There are a lot of parameters. Try optimizing ...
So listen, tune, perhaps even try moving your speakers around the room to find the right places etc.
Hope this helps
Answer to one question
To answer one of your questions as it concerns the source of your music. Always start at the source of the sound, you cannot fix detail and life in the sound that which is not there to start with.
I would recomend your money would be well spent first on a Shure V15. Any DJ cartridge is a joke compared to this quality of cartridge, bass punch, detail and top end distortion are a fraction of any DJ model. I often listen to vintage MK3 from the seventies (getting very pricy and rare NOS on ebay) but many use the latest models for what you want to do. Did I say a night and day difference plus like buying a new pair of ears!
Whilst purchasing Shure a stylus weight pressure gauge and alignment card is useful.
Feel free to investagate isolation methods discussed in other threads, they are relatively cheap first steps towards improvements.
I personally found my Rega based arm to be a waste of time, do like SME 3009 combined with forementioned cartridge for Hi Fi but may not be suitable for high SPL enviroments. Ask GSA on that one!
The above steps will really show up bad production.....sorry!
That link is to just show a SME arm. I'm Not connected to that sale.
Its a misconception that DJ carts pump up the bass and treble.
Bass is wooly and one note, treble is distorted and just TSH TSH.
All the details of the mix are lost in the background.
Stanton 500 is worst sound, models upwards are slightly better but never fantastic as the styli has the mass of a knitting needle compared to V15.
You would not hear this fact on the average modern cheap black stereo but on studio quality monitoring or club system you would.
Hi, I saw the PM you sent about this thread, it's always cool to hear from someone who's into promoting/presenting high-quality audio.
At the moment, I don't have time to write anything comprehensive...however, I'm pretty sure I've given my own recomendations for vinyl transfer at least once or twice on here in the past, you should be able to search them by username.
The most important single thing in the vinyl-to-CD process is the cartridge, and *exact* alignment of it. Shure's V15 performs better for loudly-cut 12" singles than anything else I've heard or tried, and that included a couple trips to the local "grey poupon" blue-nosed hi-fi specialists hearing 3,000 dollar cartridges played on 10,000 dollar decks with $2,000 interconnects and a $1,000 AC power cord. Some of the insanely expensive cartridges may indeed have some sort of "ethereal" quality, but for cleanly tracking a really loud 12" *nothing* beats the V15.
Note that records with lousy mastering will still sound lousy, so don't be expecting silky shimmering highs from most Defected pressings, for example.
Unless you've got some really unusual (read: insanely expensive) analog processing, I strongly recommend the phono preamp be connected directly to the A-D, then do digital domain processing (at 24 bits or better precision) with the highest-quality plug-ins you can get. Personally, I think the Waves Linear Plug-ins are outstanding for this...they add absolutely no "character" of any kind except adjusting the frequencies you want them to adjust (this aspect sometimes throws people who are used to EQ's that have a "sound" to them).
/rant mode on
The explanation of some house record having been mastered through a Numark mixer might explain why I hear so many god-awful-sounding house records every week when I go to the shops. The worst is the ones where you can clearly hear lossy-compression (as in MP3) artifacts. (Like I'm going to pay 12-13 dollars for a piece of vinyl that sounds that way??!!) All the money and care in the world won't do very much to help the quality of such recordings.
/rant mode off
welcome aboard ..
i will love to see the clubs there ,,
here is also a microculture in house and good sound systems,
all club owners prefer meyer e/w and lien arrays , they believe that the treble means loudness and loudness means good equipment, jaja
Well welcome aboard, my msg is
email@example.com for questions and answers,
in hi fi stuff all the members i think are quite good and threre are many experts inclubs systems, and hi fi systems, you will know each one ,,
im very very good in software, so when you decide to purchase what you think you want and if its PC let me know,and i can give you many tips
V15 fan club
You want bass!
Try Sylvester 'do you wanna funk' on US Megatone, Chic 'Dance Dance Dance' Only on the US Buddah white promo or Kym Syms 'too blind to see it' on US ID records using V15.
All cheesy stuff but this will blow your socks off with a quality large format monitor system.
Please come back to us and say you are pleased if you upgrade
Thanks everyone for your kind welcome and great tips.
michelvdbeek, thanks for the link - very interesting reading.
There seem to be many versions of this cartridge, which are the best and are there any models I should avoid?
Also, searching this forum I've found some good feedback on both:
Grado Reference Platinum Wood
Audio technica AT 150
Do you know anything about these two? Did you get a chance to compare them to the Shure V15?
Tried to search here for stylus weight pressure gauge and alignment card but couldn't find any references. Could you tell me what are these and where I can get them?
I've been offered something called "Freefloat" in the local shop. A kind of plastic pillow the turntable is placed upon. Have you heard anything about this?
So you recommand I should replace my standard arm for the 1210? Who's/what is GSA (sorry)?
I have a beautiful pair of Dynaudio powered monitors so I'll probably hear it at home too.
Did you use any special type of cleaning for your records before recording them? I read about Gruvglide which seems to be good.
Thanks for the tip.
How about the phono preamp:
I think there is an agreement that a dedicated phono preamp would be better than going through the Urei, right?
I mentioned: Graham Slee Gramamp 2 (seem very interesting, since it's very cheap and I read many raving reviews saying that it actually sounds as good as some of the best 4 digits units out there.. http://www.gspaudio.co.uk/ )
Have anyone heard anything about it, or do you have any other suggestions?
Well, you are very invited! But maybe if you'll wait for a while, hopefuly you could come and actually enjoy yourself - when I will upgrade and manage to convince one of the club owners to subsribe to this place! :)
Thanks for offering your help! As I said I alreafy have my laptop running Ableton Live, do you use it?
i've never used freefloat, but....
have a look here: www.isonoe.com
some people really recommend it and the support is top. if you have any questions about the product just drop them a mail and your questions will be answered.
and it looks much better than freefloat.
I'd reccomend just a V15 and not worry about anything else to start with or probably never. Go with current model, it is a standard for what you need to do. The wood Grado is a very expensive model.
Alignment gauge is just a piece of card or glass, no need to pay lots. Stylus Pressure gauge is simple balance and is also cheap enough. Anyone who sells cartridges should sell such.
Thanks grizz, I will look into these.
I understand the Shure V15 is a moving magnet cartridge. What does it mean in terms of my phono stage? (I was thinking of getting a dedicated phono preamp instead of going through the Urei to record)
Also, is this the reason you recomanded replacing the standard arm that comes with the 1210? You said to ask GSA about this, who's/what is GSA (sorry)?
I understand the v15's are discontinued and so are not easy to get hold of, but I'll search for one.
BTW - regarding the Grado Reference Platinum Wood, I actually found them for cheaper than the V15: http://www.toddthevinyljunkie.com/pr...duct.php?id=24
Maybe I'll get both for each one of my decks and find the best cartridge specifically for each song :)
GSA is short for Gary Stewart Audio, an NYC sound contractor www.gsany.com. They do this mod for some of their installations and they probably know a thing or two about it. Gary himself sometimes posts here on Wave as well, so maybe if you're lucky he will chime in here.
Stick with the V15 it is a moving magnet and needs no special phono stage. It is a very good value upgrade and for what it costs you would be hard pressed to find a better bang for your buck.
They are on Ebay for £200 ish and are still available.
I do not recommend changing arm. Spend your money at the source.
The V15 is for playback not DJ use, I did think you wanted cartridge for best transfer to editing work?
daveg, yes, I need the cartridge only to record into my computer for playing back later using my software.
I thought you we're speaking about the arm:
Still thinking about that arm thing. Someone recommanded using Shure V15 with an Original Live arm http://www.tonearm.co.uk/dj-technics-arm.htm
That's much cheaper than the SME arm daveg mentioned:
Any ideas what can these arms do to the sound of my recordings?
I've searched and read your posts about recording vinyl, I saw that you wrote:
"phono preamps in any DJ mixer (including the Bozak or Urei) [sound way inferior] as compared to an audiophile-grade preamp with tight-tolerance parts and a fully passive RIAA EQ section."
However, I couldn't find exactly which phono preamp you use.
I was thinking of getting a Graham Slee Gramamp 2 for this (reviews saying it sounds as good as the best 4 digits units out there. http://www.gspaudio.co.uk/ )
Also, you wrote you are: "feeding high-quality A-to-D convertors"
Which convertor do you use? I'm thinkning about either the RME Fireface or the Apogee Rosetta.
I think you may have misunderstood the general direction of my posts.
That SME on ebay is a vintage piece. A new SME close to that design is $1000 at needledoctor website. It is a in a different and higher league to Rega arm INMO.
Origin live arm, armboard, good cartridge and outboard phono amp will likely exceed £500(sorry about talking in pounds and dollars)
You are mentioning that certain products are cheaper, if budget is limited then I would just buy one good cartridge.
Even if budget is not limited I would still recommnend just starting with cartridge.
Your other upgrades can then be trialed and tested from that starting point, your ears will tell what you do like and don't like. I still tend to think that just the cartridge may well blow you away. There must be Hi Fi shops that could supply and fit V15 or demonstrate the difference?
SME arm on Technics is a bespoke modification. You will need engineering skills to perform this mod. GSA audio could perform this mod for instance but it is not exactly off the shelf.
Rega/origin live plate for mod is about £40.
Again I don't recomend these to you but just wanted to give all the facts.
Can't give you any other avdvice. I personally don't buy anything without hearing it/seeing what its made of and I pay no attention to reviews.
OK, now I understand better. I would love to hear and audition for myself every piece of gear that I intend to buy, however it seems that at least over here in Israel, it is not always possible. For example I couldn't find any shop that was willing to let me hear a hi-fi cartridge before deciding. They are all packed and if they open it it means you have to buy.. And there's no returns.
So it seems that I have to rely on others advice at least for some of these units. A dedicated phono preamp like the Gramamp 2 I mentioned is not even imported here to Israel, so there's no way I could listen to it unless I actually order it from the UK.
Personaly, I think that it's absolutly mad to choose and buy a cartridge for example without being able to listen to it first, but what choice do I have?
I know reviews usually don't mean much, opinons in forums could be a bit more revealing I find, but anyhow - at my situation - these are the only two things I can rely on.
And finally, there are two reason I am thinking of getting all these things together (arm, cartridge, phono preamp etc.):
1. I intend to spend a lot of time recording my vinyls into the computer. I don't want to do this project all over again when I upgrade my arm and suddenly get a much better sound..
2. I have a rare opportunity at the moment that I can afford to buy these things. Money has a tendency to dissapear quickly (at least for me..) and later I might not be able to do the same.
I actually have a Rega Planar 3 (not at my place at the moment though) and I understand that the Planar 3 arm is more or less the same as that Origin Live mod. So maybe I can get that arm and connect it myself instead of my standard Technics arm.
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