Professional PA hire, Post Production & Remixing

Vinyl Vs CD’s For DJing

I often get asked this very question as I am now an avid CD DJ. As an ex vinyl DJ of 12 years I can say that vinyl is still relevant as it does have a larger dynamic range in comparison to digital formats like CD and I have many “vinyl only” DJ friends who will fight for the cause and won’t have it any other way. However, the sound engineer in me knows that every time a vinyl is played the recording is damaged so over time you end up with a noisy mess of distortion that once was an amazing tune whether they’re dubplates or standard vinyl. This was one of the many reasons why I changed over to CD DJing and to be honest I’ve never looked back. Now apart from the fact that the recording will always stay the same, and it’s small and convenient, I also get to play live all of the tunes I’ve made to see how people react. Now that in itself is an amazing thing, well at least to me. Plus as a sound engineer I boost the recordings and re-copy them back to CD in my studio with software like the “Waves L2 Ultramaximizer” which makes a huge difference, believe me the tunes sound larger than life when this is done. This process also helps when you’re converting mp3’s to CD audio as mp3’s are a compressed data form of the original and you basically lose a large chuck of the original track to which this process can often disguise.

The Pioneer CDJ-1000 CD DJ Decks that I use are worth mentioning too, they enable you to do so much more than you ever could with vinyl decks. For example you can make it so that you can speed up or slow down a tune like you can with vinyl decks but this time without the change in pitch. Now apart from the obvious advantage of this it also means that the little nudges a DJ will do to keep a track in time are now disguised, you don’t get the sudden change in pitch going up and then suddenly down again, especially when you put the decks into “CDJ mode” not “vinyl mode.” Vinyl mode makes the decks behave like a record deck but you still have the option of turning the “change in pitch” on or off. While CDJ mode makes them behave more like CD decks but when you speed the CD up or slow it down with your hand you can be as rough as you like and the track won’t skip. I often start a track off in vinyl mode (simply because I can’t resist doing the backwards and forwards motion you do with vinyl to get the track to start at the same time as the other track you’re trying to mix into) and then change over to CDJ mode so I can be as rough as I like and just concentrate on getting into the groove! Now I can’t finish off talking about these wonderful decks without saying something about the tempo change range. On Technics 1200 vinyl decks the tempo change range is + or – 8% of the original tempo of the track. While on the CDJ 1000’s the tempo change range has 4 range modes: + or – : 6, 10, 16 and then what Pioneer calls “WIDE” which is basically + or – 100%. This means that you can literally mix any track into any other track you like. This is something I had always dreamed of as a vinyl DJ but never had the chance until I made the change to CD’s.

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6 responses

  1. great post. I was avid user of vinyl….not just in my costumes lol. Once I started using CD I wouldn’t go back. The hardiness of CD format and compactness alone is great for anyone DJing, add to that the quicker access to tracks on the CD compared with vinyl and it makes it a superb format for travelling entertainers.
    x

    20/01/2011 at 1:55 pm

    • I know what you mean it’s great not lugging around a large bag of plastic anymore. However being a beat mixer the added capabilities of the Pioneers makes life so much easier and more fun.

      21/01/2011 at 11:47 am

  2. Wow I’d no idea how complicated your work is. I just love the results! Are you doing any festivals this year. I’d love to see you in action.

    20/01/2011 at 11:10 pm

    • Thank you very much Chriscaff. I’ve not got anything lined up at the moment but if there’s any festival organisers reading this I’m up for it?

      21/01/2011 at 11:44 am

  3. Interesting post, and thanks. It made me wonder, though, about the best medium to use for storage if you’re doing a club gig. I’ve seen DJs turn up with laptops (presumably this means you can have all the songs plus your own mixing desk or even a virtual synthesizer on the laptop as well). And I remember one DJ turning up with high-spec MP3 player that looked almost like a Nintendo games controller, and others with other devices as well… What do you think are the best options?

    21/01/2011 at 6:05 pm

    • Now you’re talking about mp3 players here. Laptops, media players etc. Now as a sound engineer and audiophile I’m against mp3’s being played on a big PA system as you can REALLY hear the quality degradation of even the best encoded mp3’s. Believe me I’ve heard some nasty sounding tracks that I know should sound fine be destroyed by the DJ not taking care over the sound quality of his tunes. I’ve even heard vocal disappearing and reappearing, man it’s a mess. So personally I’m not into mp3 players whether they’re laptops or just some flashy media player. That’s why if I’m sourcing a track from mp3 I get the best quality I can then do some studio work on it to try to get as much quality back as I can, then I play it out.

      26/01/2011 at 12:05 pm

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