Sound 101 & Live Sound 101: Rule #1 = Original Signal
Many consumers buy gear according to what they can afford at the time, and if they are somewhat serious or just crave better gear, an upgrade is inevitable in the future. As you begin to build your sound system for recording or live sound reenforcement, many don’t know that your system is like a chain, and if there is a weak link, that is where issue begin. Sometimes you can compensate for weak links and even hide them if you are skilled enough, but there is one weak link that you can never hide, no matter what you do. And that goes to RULE #1 for any type of sound application, the original signal.
The original signal can be many things, for live performances, that would be the microphone for the vocalist, guitars, bass, drums, synthesizers, and various other instruments or gadgets bands might use. For DJ’s, it is the medium of which they are spinning, which are: vinyl or digitally (wav, mp3, aiff, etc…). This is very important to know because you can only do so much to the original signal if the sound is not that good.
I will give you an example, when I do sound reinforcement for bands, I use a shure sm58 for vocals, shure sm57 for guitar and bass, and audix microphones for the drums. At that time, I was using a behringer mixer, which did a more then adequate job. When certain bands had multiple vocalist, I bought some Nady microphones for the back up singers. I remember having to equalize the vocals and boast the mixer levels up in order to hear them. This began causing feedback where I had to back off the levels, thus having muddy sounding back ups and a nice clear and crisp lead singer.
As for DJ’s and producers, everyone knows that the hotter the signal the better. So the better the record is pressed and the type of needles you are using are vital to good sounding dj sets. As for the digital dj, higher rate MP3’s is the way to go 320bps should be the lowest bit rate you should use. If you have space and can get 24-bit wav files, that would be ideal but 320 sounds almost as good. The difference you can actually hear is the fatness of the track, but only a trained ear can really notice that, most people cannot hear the difference. I have seen dj’s use 128bps MP3’s to try to save space on their computer an/or hard drive. That is good for parties and weddings, but not for events that require a lot of sound. Just remember, any concert, club or event that requires very high SPL (sound pressure levels), costumers and performers require top of the line sound and equipment.