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22nd April, 2024

How to Handle Technical Difficulties During a DJ Set

Live DJ sets offer some of the most rewarding and enjoyable experiences for a DJ, but technical difficulties can stump even the most seasoned of artists.

Whether it’s a sudden equipment malfunction or human error caused by a glitch, knowing how to handle these challenges with poise and fluidity can make all the difference in keeping the vibe up and the energy going.

In this guide, we’ll help identify tips and tactics for handling technical difficulties at DJ sets.

Tip #1: Be Aware of the Most Common Technical Difficulties

Equipment Failure

From turntables to mixers and cables to microphones, there is a lot of equipment utilised by DJs during a live performance. Unfortunately, malfunctioning equipment is a reality. Wear and tear or unexpected and inexplicable technical issues can both occur.

Software Crashes

DJ software, like all computer programs, can freeze, crash or just misbehave in so many unfortunate ways disrupting your ability to mix tracks seamlessly and in the moment. 

Audio Dropouts

Sudden or intermittent loss of sound is bound to happen to every DJ at some point. Sometimes it’s the fault of the cable connections and sometimes a result of external factors like power issues.

Feedback and Distortion

Improper staging, DJ setups or feedback loops can lead to unwanted and unappealing distortion or noise impeding your ability to create the perfect quality sound. 

Strategy #1: Use Prevention and Mitigation Strategies

Preventing and mitigating the impacts of potential technical difficulties separates the pro DJs from the amateurs. Here are ways in which you can reduce the risk of difficulties making your life more difficult during a live gig.

Inspect your equipment regularly

Get into the habit of regularly inspecting and maintaining your equipment to ensure they are able to perform optimally.

This includes cleaning your faders and knobs, double-checking cable connections and, when necessary, replacing outdated, unusable or glitchy components.

Stock spare equipment

Cables, adapters, laptop chargers… These are all small little pieces of gear that might seem insignificant but can derail a live set–that is unless you have spare equipment on hand for just the emergency occasion.

Keep on top of software crashes

Many software crashes occur due to updates of the operating system not being installed. Keep your programs up to date to minimise the risk of compatibility or operating issues. 

Make time for a soundcheck

Always arrive early at your live gigs. This isn’t just good for your reputation. It gives you ample time to conduct a thorough soundcheck before your work begins. Any potential issues with equipment functionality or compatibility, sound feedback or audio levels can and should be picked up during the soundcheck. 

Prepare for the worst

Hopefully, you’ll never need to put this guide into practice. But if there is a technical difficulty during your set, the last thing you’ll want to be doing is scratching your head and trying to work out how to solve the issue. Investing the time and energy now to research and understand the most common issues and effective solutions can help you turn a disastrous situation into a career-defining one. 

Strategy #2 – Follow This Step-by-Step Guide to Handle Technical Difficulties

Unfortunately, no matter how prepared and organised you are, some technical difficulties for DJs are just out of your control. 

So, what can and should you do when such a disastrous event occurs?

Step 1 – Remain Calm

As hard as this initial step is, it is critical to ensure you can follow the rest of this guide. Maintaining your composure and keeping focused even in the face of technical difficulties will allow you to have a clearer head when problem-solving and will also prevent the situation from being exacerbated through mistakes borne of your panic.

Step 2 – Diagnose the issue

This might seem obvious, and in the quiet moment of blog reading it is, but in the stress of the crisis, it can be easy to try and rush to a solution. Without proper consideration and assessment of the nature of the problem, you could either be wasting your time and further disrupting your set or make the problem even worse

Identify if it is a hardware malfunction, a software crash or an audio issue. Then we can move on to step three.

Step 3 – Follow your pre-planned troubleshooting plan

If you have prepared for the worst, you’ll be best situated to start troubleshooting the issue. Ideally, you’ll know exactly what the most common and likely culprits of the difficulties are and how to wiggle the right cable, restart the software or power cycle the equipment if necessary. 

Step 4 – Acknowledge the problem

Technical issues happen. DJs are human. Your audience will get that but you need to engage with them. The mark of the greatest DJs is their ability to keep energy up and momentum even while addressing the problems going on on stage. If you’re comfortable, you can crack a quick joke (even at your own expense) or make a shout-out at this opportune moment. 

Keeping the audience informed of the situation in a transparent and honest way will do wonders in building trust and developing understanding. 

Step 5 – Get assistance

If you’re unable to resolve the issue on your own then get help. Signal for assistance from a venue staff member or a fellow DJ. 

If you need help, don’t hesitate to reach out for it. There is no reason why you need to struggle alone–besides, two heads are often better than one.

Step 6 – Implement a backup plan

If the issue cannot be resolved, you should now seamlessly transition to a backup plan. While not ideal, there is no reason why with practice and preparation you can’t make lemonade out of lemons. 

Maybe you can use a different set of equipment, play tracks from a backup device or even try an impromptu freestyle session.

DJ City – for reliable, quality DJ gear

By proactively preparing for potential technical difficulties and maintaining a calm and methodical approach when issues do arise, you can ensure a smooth and memorable DJ set for you and the crowd. 

Remember, it’s not about whether you encounter technical difficulties while DJing, but how you overcome them that truly defines your skill as an artist and a performer.

Start your journey towards being the ultimate DJ performer by checking out our range of high-quality and reliable DJ equipment online.

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