DJ Guidelines

MUSIC GUIDELINES.

Mission Fusion is all about the music. We strive to be the pioneers of an all Fusion venue that plays music that people love to dance to and is contemporary in nature.  At Mission Fusion you won’t hear any traditional blues. Standard alt blues is ok (ie. Smack You Back by Porter Davis). We tend to focus on electronic, dubstep, lyrical, etc. Some experimental is good as long as it’s accessible to intermediate dancers and should be limited to 3 songs per hour.Want ideas?  Go to The Denver Fusion Exchange Playlist

LET’S TALK SOUND QUALITY

Your laptop’s internal sound is not designed for a 3KW PA system.  It’s designed and optimized for headphones (small wattage), not driving a big PA like we have at Mission 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 Mission 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:  $75 will fix it.

The FiiO E10K USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier (Black)
 is a fabulous little sound card.  It’s what I use personally on my Mac, and it’s the minimum I recommend for DJ’s.  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.  Your first gig at Mission Fusion will pay more than enough for it and then you’ll have it for the rest of time. 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.

BIT RATE

Lastly in sound quality comes Bit Rate for audio files.  I’m going to be realistic and acknowledge that the vast majority of our music is in MP3format, so lets talk Bit Rate for a moment.  Everyone has a right to their own opinion in this matter, thus I’m going to state my opinion:

  • Less than 128 Kbps: No, don’t play it. I don’t care if Beats Antique remixed the Beetles singing some Olde-English dubstep.  (Ok, that would be cool and probably be the only exception)
  • 128 Kbps: If you have classic tracks sometimes you can only find them in 128, however it would be best if you put in effort to find an upgrade.
  • 192 Kbps: Minimum playable standard over PA
  • 256 Kbps: This is where the vast majority of your tracks should be, nearly indistinguishable from lossless
  • 320 Kbps: The gold standard of MP3, indistinguishable from lossless. 

One final thing, if you have a song in 128 and you transcode it into a higher Bit Rate, what you are doing is putting garbage in a nicer container.  You’ve already lost the crucial information that makes it sound clean because MP3 is a lossy format. Here’s the idea: coding a song into 128 is like an art student copying the Mona Lisa.  Transcoding that into a higher bit rate is taking that copy and putting it into a nice frame. 

BEING A PROFESSIONAL DJ

This list of tenets of being a good DJ are pulled from the Fusion Exchange (thank you to Ivy, Greg, Carl etc.).  It’s been adapted to Mission Fusion

  1. Always make sure faders are down and the channel is muted before you plug in your computer.
    Always make sure faders are down and the channel is muted before unplugging your computer.  
    At Mission Fusion It will cost you $5 if you pop the room because you forget these.
  2. Know who and what is playing before, during and after your set: DJs are expected to know what is being played both before, after, and during their sets.  Help us ensure a complementary music dance experience: DO NOT play the same songs/styles as your fellow DJs.
  3. Be at your station early: You are expected to be at the dance at least half an hour before your set starts, if possible attend the entire dance so you can follow rule #2. If you are the opening set, you only need to be there 15 minutes before you start.
  4. Observe room dynamics before your set starts: Listen to the music in all of the room before you begin your set.  Try to make a good transition from the set played before you into your set, as well as setting up a good transition for the next set to come. Ask the next DJ if you can help them by setting up or closing with a particular vibe.
  5. As you begin your set: Once your set has started, please walk around the room to check sound levels and quality. Be as “present” as possible for the music so you can get a feeling for the evening – while still making sure you enjoy yourself, hang out, and do other stuff that you want to do. At Mission Fusion, we have observed that the sound is extremely different at the DJ booth versus even just 5 feet in front. DO NOT ADJUST EQ levels unless you know exactly what you are doing and do so very carefully with full attention to how it sounds OUT THERE.  Our target sound level is between 88-90 dB. We have a meter for you to check with. See Below for more
  6. Observe room dynamics during your set: Pay attention to the energy in the room. Observe how people are dancing to your music, and how each song contributes to that energy. You may dance to your music during your sets, but pay attention to how others are dancing, or not dancing if that is the case. Make changes to what you are playing to keep the energy going. Remember that different energies are desirable.  Not everything should be high or low all the time.  Try to figure out what is best for the crowd at that moment.
  7. Use smooth transitions during your set: Understand smooth transitions and balance within a set; this comes with practice. If you are an inexperienced DJ, spend some time with an experienced DJ. Feel the flow of each song as it either blends well, or intentionally contrasts the previous song. Practice this before coming.  Think about the amount of time you want to have silence before playing your next song.  Some songs work better with a very short transition of 1-2 seconds while others will work better with a 5-10 second silence between songs. Pet-Peeve: transitions that are too short or abrupt.
  8. Be at your DJ station between every song: Return to your DJ station between every song so that you can be prepared to make necessary changes to either the song, or the song to follow. Do not abandon your DJ station for more than two songs at a time. 
  9. Restrict your set to the time printed on the schedule: One common problem with organizing DJs is how to handle what happens when a set starts later than expected, or there is a teacher demo, a fire drill, attack by rampaging demons or anything else that cuts into a DJs time slot.  Rather than extending the time slot and then shortening a later DJs time slot, we feel it would be best to keep to the printed time schedule -so please be prepared to DJ during the exact times you are scheduled to play.  Plus, please understand that announcements and other things might shorten your actual playing time during your time slot. 
  10. While you should not be dependent on WiFi or streaming for your playlist, Mission Fusion offers limited WiFi Internet access. You’re all professionals, and I’m pretty sure we don’t have to state this, but regardless of what service you are using, never count on Internet access during your set. Download those Spotify playlists, get those iTunes songs off the cloud, and have everything local and ready to go well before you play.
  11. It is EXTREMELEY IMPORTANT to end by 1am. There is absolutely NO slush time at the end of our night. We would rather end at 12:58 than 1:01 am. Seriously, the church may at their discretion turn lights on at 1:00 am during your last song if you go over. You don’t want that.
  12. Respect and listen to Mission Fusion organizers: If at any time an Mission Fusion organizer feels your set is straying from the schedule, they may join you in your set and give you feedback to help you improve your DJ skills to make that set successful.

SOUND VOLUME

NIOSH Standards for Sound Exposure Before DamageOur LEQ (Equivalent Continuous Noise Level) setting for four hour blocks will be 88 dBA.  LEQ is simply an average of SPL (Sound Pressure Level) exposure measured in dB over a period of time (which is programmable into some SPL meters).  Following is a list that shows how much SPL exposure one can encounter before permanent damage begins to occur:80 dB – 25 hours, 24 minutes
82 dB – 16 hours
84 dB – 10 hours, 5 minutes
85 dB – 8 hours
88 dB – 4 hours
91 dB – 2 hours
94 dB – 1 hours
97 dB – 30 minutes
100 dB – 15 minutes
103 dB – 7 minutes, 30 seconds
105 dB – 3 minutes, 45 seconds***In other words, starting at 85 dBA, you get 8 hours before damage begins; for every 3 dB you increase, you cut the amount of time in ½.***The other variable to consider: this wearing down is cumulative.  If you are exposed to loud environments throughout your day, your time-before-damage threshold will actually start out lower than these values.Our ears adjust to what is “normal” in a room, but in the end our ears are mechanical and can only take so much strain.  Please, please keep this in mind and respect my team if they ask you to turn things down.

Thank you for reading this little piece about DJing at Mission Fusion.  It’s my joy as an organizer to run such a successful event and I hope that you as a DJ enjoy helping create that space as much as I do.  Good Music makes Happy Dancers!    -Jamie Triplett

San Francisco's Premier Electronic-Fusion Partner Dance