II — Milonga DJ sound technique

When DJing a successful milonga, there are a number of technical issues that are important to take into account. The main of these are: (1) media quality, (2) equalisation, (3) digital-analogue conversion, and (4) speaker output. If all of these aspects are well seen to and tuned together, you should be secure of the best experience from the music. Aside from that, of course you will need to study the music and its «denceability» in order to make a great milonga. We will be introducing these 4 aspects here and will be covering them in detail in later posts.

(1) Media quality

The media we have available, the digital files with tango music, form the basis for a quality performance. There are things you can do later on, in equalisation, to improve on a bad file, but that can only tackle smaller problems. It is thereform important to make sure you are working with the best available material. In that respect it is important to work with reletavely high-quality files in general, to know where they came from initially, and to choose the best among many possibilites.

(2) Equalisation

Tango music, the files we work with, have originally been transferred from old shellac or vinil records into different formats. A few more recent ones are based on magnetic tape masters. Most of these files therefore have interferences and faults that need to be corrected. Sometimes this has been done in the transfer process, but that correction is non-standardised and often worse than if it had not been made. These are the issues a DJ is faced with in a live situation and good equalisation software (before the digital-analogue conversion) or hardware (after that conversion), and knowledge in how to use it, is therefore necessary in order to get good quality sound in our music, which is much more enjoyable for our dancers.

(3) Digital-analogue conversion

As most of us are working with digital files as sources for our music, at som stage in the presentation we need to a digital to analogue converter in order to bring it to the amplifier/speaker system. This is what happens in any sound system. It is, however, important to be aware of that the qulity of that conversion can vary quite bit. Good converters have a greater depth to the sound, greater differentiation between instruments, and make it less likely that the instruments blend into the background noise. This is expecially important for tango music, as it is non-standard in terms of musical production — mainstream systems are not taylored for music from the twenties or thirties ripped off noisy shellac albums. It can therefore make an important difference in your sound quality to supercede the stock DAC in your computer with a better one.

(4) Speaker output

The final stage of our music, the one after the DAC and equaliser, is the amplifier/speaker complex — the equipment that blasts our carefully crafted program onto the dancefloor. Here we are also faced with similar problems as with the DAC-system, a lot of equipment well suited for pop music does not do tango music justice. It is therefore important, if you have the chance to control this, to choose equipment that can provide a well balanced spectrum of music to your dancing spectators. I, as have most of you, heve been in situations where the music sounded crap in what should have been professional quality equipment — but which turned out was incompatible with most tango music.

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