For the past couple of months, I’ve accepted that it’ll be a while until I can DJ in public again, and have set up a situation in my basement at home that lets me try to relive that thrill for a couple hours every week.
When I go online, folks can watch me on Instagram Live, and they can also listen to a high-quality audio livestream at djdisarray.com. The whole thing has worked flawlessly so far, and since it took me some time to figure out, I thought I’d share my setup.
The centerpiece of the setup is the Roland DJ-707M (about $1000) and the MacBook Pro behind it in a Rain Design mStand. The 707M is intended primarily for mobile and event DJs, which means it’s great when you actually go places or attend events which certainly none of us do at the moment, but it actually packs a ton of features into a small size in a way that’s pretty perfect for live-streaming. (If you don’t need the fancy features and can get by with 2 channels, you can get by with a $250 controller!)
I have a Rode Podcaster (about $200) condenser mic and an articulating arm that was intended for podcasting, but works great for this. Since a mic like this requires phantom power and the mixer does not supply that, I’m using an Art Studio V3 (about $100) to not only get the level to where it’s needed, but also to make my voiceovers sound much nicer.
For playing records I use one Technics 1200 turntable and one that isn’t. They’re pretty similar in most respects, and the DJ-707M lets you run both of them in, as channels 1 and 2. Since I have timecode vinyl, I can use them both to play digital music from Serato DJ Pro, or I can just play records.
Since the DJ-707M is a 4-deck Serato controller, I can use the other two small decks built into the unit for channels 3 and 4. This can get a bit confusing, but it’s nice when I use the first two channels for playing my records, the second two channels for playing digital tracks, and just freely mix between the two. As long as you’re paying attention, this can work out pretty well.
To livestream the audio, I use the fantastic Audio Hijack Pro from Rogue Amoeba. It lets you set up a whole chain of virtual devices and can see the output from my mixer, so basically it can watch channels 11 and 12 (!) from the controller, adjust the volume, record it to a lossless audio file, stream it to my Shoutcast server, and display a final level just for visual check. Sadly, it cannot tell what track I’m playing in Serato DJ Pro because Serato has not implemented such a feature, but even if that worked it wouldn’t know what the records were so I don’t miss it that much.
For serving the Shoutcast livestream audio feed I use Cloud Radio, which is pretty no-nonsense once it’s set up, gives you basic realtime listener stats, and prorates the monthly cost so you really just pay for how many listeners you expect, which I like.
Livestreaming to Instagram is not great. You get your stream taken down every 20 minutes or so due to copyright issues, but I still use it as a sort of “chat” and as a way to promote the event. It’s also kind of nice if people just want to see what it looks like when I DJ I suppose. I use an iRig Stream to connect the Zone Out from the mixer to the Lightning connector of the phone, which provides the best quality you’re going to get on Instagram. It seems like Instagram only goes mono, and as I said it cuts out a lot, but that’s the best we can do.
To give folks a good view, I put my phone on a MeFoto tripod with a Glif clip to attach it. You just plug the iRig Stream into the phone, start the livestream, and you’re off. I set up my iPad beside me on a stand, paired to a keyboard, running Instagram (pretending to be an iPhone, since they still don’t have an iPad version ffs) so I can respond to people and keep an eye on what everyone sees. I also run upstairs every once in a while to check on how the livestream is sounding.
Caveats and Room For Improvement
One thing that’s not fantastic is the “drum machine” built into the 707M. It’s basically a bunch of presets, and you have almost no control over them. Since the DJ-707M has MIDI Out and several line inputs, I’m considering adding a drum machine to the setup, for between songs or just for fun. A $150 Korg Volca Beats is what I’m going to play around with first.
Another thing that could use improvement is Serato DJ Pro. In the past I used Traktor Pro 3, but it’s not great. They basically let the codebase age and have decided to scrap it and basically start from scratch. The result, at this point, is Traktor DJ 2, which is nowhere near ready to be my primary software. I’m still considering alternatives, because Serato seems to be done improving their DJ software as well, but it’s all that works with my Roland gear.
So what does it all look like? Well, if it’s a Tuesday night and I’m still doing this when you read my post, visit djdisarray.com and find out.