15 Feb

Gig Gear

I keep my entire music library on a very large external hard drive, connected to my iMac in my home study. There is a second hard drive dedicated to backing up the first automatically. The iMac is the perfect spot for me to manage my program because I also have an external microphone available for creating radio spots. For transferring music from vinyl and Digital Audio Tape, I have a DAT player/recorder and a turntable connected directly to the iMac. For production and transferring I use a combination of GarageBand and Audacity, both of which are free and easy to use.

A majority of my iTunes library is a combination of the CDs I have collected over the years, my wife’s CDs from before we were married, and the collection she and I have purchased via iTunes over the years. Streaming may be the future, but with satellite Internet with severe data transfer limitations, CDs and iTunes downloads are still how I accumulate music.

When it comes to how I get music from the home library to the station, I use my second-hand iPad 2, with my iPhone 5s as my backup. I find it easier to manage playlists which sync between the iMac and the devices than to share libraries between computers.

Our little community radio station has 2 CD players, 2 turntables, a couple of microphones, and 1/8″ jack from which we make our magic. We started off with an 8-track audio board, but through mishaps we are down to 4 working channels, I think. We’ve gotten creative with A/B switches, and can even take phone calls on their air by laying a mic down on the speaker phone. The latter would normally be handled by a track on the board dedicated to such capability, but it just happens to be one of the tracks on the fritz currently.

For the most part I use only microphone #1 and Track #3, which is dedicated to our radio station’s most popular input, a 1/8″ connection. Some of our more talented DJs play vinyl and CDs, but I think I get good results from using my iPad for all my music.

Figure 1. Click to enlarge

Figure 1. Click to enlarge

There are many apps out there for DJing and or playing music via one’s iPad, but I am only familiar with Apple’s built-in app simply called Music (Figure 1) and a third party app called djay 2 (Figure 2). I am most familiar with Music, and find that it is the easier of the two. djay has very cool features and looks and feels like one is a club DJ, but it isn’t all that intuitive for the beginner. I like to say that with Music I am pausing and playing with some talking in between, and it doesn’t get much easier than that. Honestly, the only real complaint I have about Music on the iPad is that the app doesn’t allow one to see song lengths. This missing feature is one of the reasons I print my playlist before each program. I need to be able to quickly count the time remaining on the playlist against the clock.

With Music I have the names of the songs and artists, and I can see most of the album field. I could adjust the font settings on my iPad to see more of the album name, but I have that information on my printed playlist, and the larger font helps me easily read and select songs. The PLAY/PAUSE button is in the upper left and is easy to see and press. The timer across the top of the screen helps me see how much time I have until the next song/break.

Figure 2. Click to enlarge

Figure 2. Click to enlarge

I am not going to attempt to go into the power of the djay 2 app other than to highlight the ability to do cool cross-fading between songs easily. In addition to a version for the iPad, algoriddim also makes an equally cool edition for OS X.

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