Sound Quality

Credit to Mission Fusion for the following statement, adapted for Angel City Fusion:

Your laptop’s internal sound is not designed for a 2KW PA system. It’s designed and optimized for headphones (small wattage), not driving a big PA like we have at Angel City Fusion. Laptop manufacturers don’t put money into a quality DAC (Digital Analog Converter) for the output of your computer. As with many things they buy enough to get by, and enough that 99% of the population doesn’t know the difference. As a DJ for Angel City Fusion, you are part of the 1% that a quality DAC makes a difference for. Yes, even Apple is guilty of this, and all PC makers.

Here’s the good news: We have a loaner DAC Fiio K3 that we do encourage you to use. For Windows computers,  you can download the driver here. For Mac computers, you can use it directly 

Or, you can purchase your own: The FiiO E10K USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier (Black) is a fabulous little sound card. Yes, you can buy a sound card for $1 or something, but they don’t have the quality, the noise shaping, or the excellent response of the little E10K. It’s also totally Plug and Play (no drivers needed). There’s a link, go buy one. Here’s a review with a well done technical breakdown.

There’s a saying, “Garbage in Garbage Out”. The best mixer and PA system in the world won’t help you if you’re using a crappy built-in DAC that cost 5 cents from China. Don’t be the garbage in, create good sound and make happy dancers.

Note: The music coordinator (Pyro) uses the Traktor Audio 2 interface, and he believes this is the most reliable option for a simple sound card. This card is a little bit more expensive that the E10K. Either should work well for Angel City Fusion.

As of 1/2018, we are not requiring our DJ’s to have a sound card. Please note, however, there is a small amount of loss of fidelity of the sound when not utilizing a sound card, with the sound system that Angel City Fusion uses. Most people are unable to hear this, but the music coordinator has sensitive ears, so at least one of the audience can hear the distortion the lack of a sound card causes when using our PA system.

Set Order: A DJ’s set order directs the event’s atmosphere, and comfort level.

  • Slot Awareness: Opening sets start the party, and need energetic music at their opening to build excitement. Ending sets wind parties down, and need slower music to not exhaust already tired dancers. Please give the DJ organizer an idea of how energetic your set is, so that it can be placed in the correct time slot.

  • Speed: Organize your set in the way you feel best presents your music, but be mindful of sequencing too many songs of like speed. Too much fast music exhausts, and too much slow music may deaden the room.

  • Transitions: Songs should have recognizable beginnings and ends, such that the dancers have clear opportunities to find new partners. Watch out for jarring transitions between songs, abrupt endings, or awkward shifts in musical tone. It never hurts to listen to your set at length before arriving to optimize your transitions. You can utilize a blank mp3, we recommend 2 or 3 seconds, to place in between songs, as a clear transition from one song to the next. has free silent mp3’s for download

  • Crowd Awareness: Pay attention to the room as your set proceeds and make changes in response to how dancers enjoy to your initial choices. Accordingly, although we at ACF strive to provide our DJs creative freedom, please be ready to accommodate the requests of ACF organizers if your set begins to falter with our dancers.

Ease: A DJ’s musical choices must be conducive to easy, comfortable listening and dancing.

  • Length: It is good practice to generally keep songs shorter so dancers can circulate more (less than 4:00min).

  • Sound / Volume: Monitor the fidelity of your music’s recording quality, volume, and mixing. Over large speakers, maxed-out treble sounds scratchy, and maxed-out bass drowns out songs. Walk the room as your music is playing to ascertain how everything sounds to the dancers, and seek out an ACF organizer when setting volume.

  • Annoyances: Try to remove from songs long introductions and conclusions, and complicated or ambiguous instrumentation. This shortens songs, make them easier to dance to, and allows you to play more music.

  • Music Editing: Although music editing should not stop you from starting to DJ, it will open up lots of previously un-danceable music to you. We recommend learning to to cut sections of music, change tempo, and be able to create new fade in/out moments. The ACF organizers would be happy share those skills with you!

Music Choice: A fusion DJ chooses music suitable for dancing from a range of musical genres.

  • Beat Clarity: Try to select music with a beat that is easy to identify, follow, and keep up with in dancing. This often means selecting songs with instrumentation that punctuates, or makes obvious the song’s tempo. Accordingly, be cautious with any musical genre with ambiguous, overly complicated, or unpredictable tempo.

  • Phrasing Clarity: Generally, we dance to 4/4 musical phrasing (beats count 1-4, and songs are organized in sets of 16 and 32 beats). Although this is not set in stone, we recommend you choose music with consistent phrasing.

    • Variety vs. Familiarity: We encourage DJs to show off their expertise in a musical genre or theme. However, do note that any single style can be overplayed and worn out in a set. Try to balance what you consider to be fresh music with familiar, appreciated songs. Attend ACF and consult an organizer for this crucial information.

    • Obscenity: Although you can expect your audience to be adults at ACF, keep the subject matter of your songs in good taste. Particularly, watch out for misogynist and racist themes in your music’s lyrics.

    • Traditional vs. Fusion: We encourage you to play music which takes our crowd out of their comfort zones in terms of dance style. Yet, if you plan to do this, keep in mind that your goal should be to keep people dancing: take into account what our dancers are familiar with, their skill, and play to their strengths. Accordingly, you should balance your set’s esoteric choices with songs that have a traditional sound so the music accessible to all.

Remember to test your music by actually dancing to it!

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