What’s In Your Gig Bag
A look in mine, and a mini gear review
I love reading about other people’s workflows.
Some of my favourite articles to read are those of leaders who write about how they lead, successful people on how they work, geeks hyping up their battle stations, and most of all; DJ’s that rave about their gear. I guess it’s just something about a person writing on the tools of their craft that always gives me a new insight and perspective about how they are able to make their magic happen.
It’s some sort of weird satisfaction on being able to see some of the dots that get connected to make that pretty picture ( or more specifically, hear those pretty chords) up on that stage.
And since I suppose I can consider myself a “working” DJ now (having done a few events, and with a few more lined up), I think now would be a good time to post about what’s in my Gig Bag.
What’s In My Gig Bag
A Gig Bag, as the name implies, is a bag that get’s taken to all of your gigs. It should contain all the essentials (and some non-essentials) to get your through your gig from start to finish.
From Top Left to Right
My usual setup is a Pioneer DDJ-SX2 Controller (not pictured here). As sweet as that piece of $1200 kit is, it’d be useless without a laptop to power it. My brains of the whole setup is a trusty Macbook Air from 2014.
On the right of that is a Yorkville LS-1 laptop stand. I feel like it’s got all the “looks” of a Stanton Uberstand for much more attractive price AND, a detachable center plate for holding your external hard-drives, SL box or other knicknacks.
Immediately next to that is a Joby Gorillapod Original, which would be a good segway to talk about my portable recording setup. The Gorillapod is the perfect height for a camera to go just above the decks on a level table which makes it great for recording your sets (or if there’s wi-fi, live-streaming your sets). For my camera, I just use my phone for which I have a ReTrak tripod mount which I stole from my #Selfiestick.
However, if I need to have my phone with me for snapchatting while DJ’ing an event (always important), I have a Senhai Univeral Tripod mount for my IPad Mini.
Now you may be wondering:
This guy’s a DJ and he’s just going to record his sets off ambient sound?!
Of course not. One of the most important parts of my recording setup is the little cable immediately to the left of the IPad mount, which is a 3.5mm TRS to TRRS adapter. Essentially, it’s an attachment that converts an aux output into line-level audio and feeds it into your IPad or IPhone as if it were a pair of headphones with attached mic. This is the set-up I’ve currently been using for my live-streams to get onboard audio.
The Personal Protective Equipment
As a DJ, one of your most important tools are your ears. If you can’t hear your tunes or more specifically, the little intricacies of your tracks..you’re kinda useless. Which is why I made the (relatively inexpensive) investment of buying some event earplugs. On the top right of the picture are the Earpeace HD earplugs that are rated at -10dB and come with a nifty carrying case. These are my first set of earplugs that aren’t dollarstore ones, and I’ve got to say they’re pretty comfortable.
PSA: Even if you’re not a DJ, please please PLEASE protect your hearing. A lot of people experience Tinitus (a.k.a “Ringing in your ears”) after an event and think nothing of it because it usually goes away. But repeated exposure (and sometimes even one session) can permanently damage your hearing. Some people think that wearing earplugs will reduce the quality of the music, but these are’t your standard sleeping earplugs; they are specifically engineered to reduce the level of volume while preserving quality and range of sound.
On the right of that is also almost as important, a pack of Excel gum because, “your breath needs to be as fresh as your tunes.”
Immediately under the tripod mount is a pair of tissues. I don’t think they’re specifically for DJ’ing, they’re just in all my bags because colds suck and you never wanna be caught unprepared for a sneeze.
Starting on the second row from left to right, we have the chargers. One for my Macbook and another for my phone. The phone charger is essential because as I’ve found in ALL of my gigs so far..by the time I’m ready to send my first Snapchat of the set, my phone’s at 10% battery.
Your headphones are one of the most important pieces of kit as a DJ. It’s what DJ’s use to cue a new track before bring it into the mix, and in the old days, was even more important because it was needed to actually beatmatch the second song without the crowd hearing it.
Your headphones, are also the only thing saving your ass if you’re playing in location that has a shitty booth system, or (more often than not) no monitors at all. In that case, instead of relying on the main sound which may be angled away and prone to all kinds of issues (such as reverb, un-syncd subs etc); you can mix your entire set in your headphones, sorta like your own personal oasis where badly engineered sound systems can’t hurt you.
For me, I usually DJ (and work) with my Audio-Technica ATH-M50x headphones. This is the first time I’ve ever spent this much money on a set of headphones, but after having used them at work for extended periods of time as well as in very noisy venues — the sound cancellation is pretty prime at that price-point.
On the right of those, are my earbuds which are my daily drivers for when I’m on my commute to work or working out. I actually know nothing about them other than they cost $20 and are from The Source. (Pro-tip, if you’re buying Headphones from The Source, get the warranty. It’s $4 bucks and they’ll replace your headphones up to 3 times if it breaks).
They’re also what I use when I want to feel like Laidback Luke but don’t want to spend $600+ on custom moulded In Ear Monitors.
Centered on the second row is my 3rd generation IPad Mini and IPhone 6S Plug.
I mainly use my IPad Mini for recording or streaming my sets, but it’s also my dedicated Spotify player for when clients just want me to be “Acoustic Wallpaper” for a few hours or when it’s a lull before the event really starts. It’s also useful when there’s situations where a client has a hard-to-find request, and I can just hand them the IPad to search up the song themselves while I concentrate on the mixing.
Next is my IPhone which mainly just used for social media or communication during the set. It’s also my worst-case scenario backup plan for if everything stops working and I need a source of music). This is also what I usually use to stream my sets.
The one downside to the Macbook Air is it’s low storage capacity capping out at 128gB. Which is why I use an external Western Digital 1TB Passport hard-drive to store all my music. I don’t have any thing good or bad to say about it.
The Backup Plan
As I said, I always try to carry at-least one backup plan for incase any of my kit stops working. The worst thing that can happen at a gig is for the music to stop, which is why I always have my IPad or phone on hand with a backup mix to fall back on while we fix stuff up. To connect said backup device, I always carry a 3.5MM to RCA cable (a.k.a “An AUX cord”). It’s kind of like..the DJ equivalent of a box of matches.
And that’s it. That’s what I carry with me to every gig and while sometimes it feels like I’m over-prepared, as the old saying goes:
“It’s better to have and not need, than to need and not have”