In the world of DJing there are a lot of technical terms that just mean simple things. Sometimes this can make it confusing for people new to DJing. I’ve come across this many a time so you’re not a lone.
What is a DJ booth monitor?
In most DJ booths there are DJ booth monitors, also known as speakers. These speakers point directly towards the DJ allowing the DJ to hear exactly what the audience is hearing. This enables the DJ to hear the audio to the highest quality and no delays, ensuring that the DJ can beat match and DJ to high level.
I’m writing this article to compliment others such as ‘What is a DJ Booth?‘ to help you learn all the terminology related to DJing. Getting a good foundation and basic understanding of DJing is going to put you in good stead to have less hassle and more fun DJing. After all DJing is fun, so you should enjoy it!
Why Do DJs Have Speakers Facing Them?
Simplistically answering this question is, for maximum clarity and precision of sound.
Now for the more detailed reasoning.
DJs have speakers facing them to help hear the music better, which enables them to beat match and mix music tracks together to a high standard. Music that is playing to the crowd is usually from speakers quite far away from the DJ booth and the DJ.
What this means is that the sound travelling from speakers far away from a DJ can cause a slight delay. Due to the delay it makes it much harder for DJs to mix music in time to a very high standard and potentially slowing down the reaction time in which DJs match beats together.
Overall the quality of mixes might sound un-professional to the audience and kill the vibe of the dance floor or festival. Especially if the time between tracks is long.
Imagine your a DJ in a club and the speakers that are playing to the crowd 6 metres above your head pointing to the crowd. The room is massive in size with 4 speakers.
Based on the laws of how quickly sound travels, then a monitor (or two) pointing at you in the DJ booth a metre away at head height is going to help you DJ to your best abilities without a worry.
How to Set Up a DJ Booth Monitor?
Equipment that you might need?
Setting up DJ Booth Monitors At Home or Studio?
If you’re DJing at home or in a studio then you will need two sets of speakers. This is no different to a club really but on a much smaller scale and you will only be using your DJ mixer.
You’ll need a mixer and turntables/CDJs or just a DJ controller, phono cables and speakers. If you’re looking to have a master set of speakers and booth speakers you’ll need 4 speakers. 2 for the master output and 2 or 1 for the booth.
Most mid to pro range of mixers and DJ controllers have a Booth output next to the master output.
What is a Booth Output?
A booth output is the same as the master output in terms of audio. Booth outputs give another connection to be made with monitors (speakers) usually with volume control from the DJ mixer. This gives DJs the chance to connect speakers point to them in the DJ booth.
More importantly having a volume control for the booth output allows you to hear the music at the right levels, not too high or too low – separate to the music that the audience is listening to.
At home this might arrive as a beneficial idea as your master output speakers might not be that close to you in the room you are DJing.
The other benefit is that you could consider moving the master speakers away from your DJ setup and have the monitor speakers next to you, similar to how it is in the club making for great practice.
I don’t have a Booth Output on my mixer/DJ controller?
If you don’t have a booth output, fear not! It is possible to purchase a small external multi-channel mixer separate to your DJ mixer, mainly used for recording purposes, but this can help you control 4 separate speakers. In this instance speakers pointing at you in the DJ booth.
Or you can simply buy a an Amp an plug in 4 speakers. Two pointing to the “audience” and two pointing at you in the DJ booth. A similar outcome is achieved here as the external multi-channel mixer.
Setting up or connecting to DJ Booth Monitors In the Club?
Connecting your DJ controller, mixer or DVS setup in a club is not as complicated as it may seem. You don’t even need to have a Booth output on your mixer / DJ controller.
Why is this so? Well, most clubs have a multi-channel mixer already setup connected to the amp and speaker setup. Within the setup there are dance floor speakers and DJ booth monitors.
All that is required if for you to plug into the multi-channel mixer on a free dedicated channel and start mixing. My advice would be to check levels on your DJ mixer / controller before playing music and confirm with any club sound engineer on what levels to touch in the DJ booth too.
Sometimes there are limiters or notes on the mixers with helpful notes, so be aware and look out for those too.
The final point is, if you don’t have a DJ booth output then you might see two sets of master outputs, this is effectively giving you the option to connect your DJ booth monitors from there. Sometimes via jack cables or phono cables, it really depends on the mixer or DJ controller you have.
What’s the best placement of DJ Booth Monitors?
Experience and logic tells me that having the DJ booth monitors close by pointing in your direction you’ll be fine. My preference would be to have fairly level with your head so that the sound is not too high or below you.
What happens if there’s not any DJ booth monitors?
Sometimes you’ll come across a situation in a venue that you’re playing where there are no DJ booth speakers.
The simple solution to this is the venue usually situates the DJ booth next to one of the monitors that’s playing to the crowd. Usually this is ok because smaller venues don’t have as much delay in the audio quality. So it doesn’t necessarily impact the audio quality for you to DJ effectively.
Not near any speakers? You might have the option on a DJ mixer to switch the headphones between “Split” and “Stereo”. What this means is that you select “split” then you separate each channel on the mixer into each ear. So track A will play only in the left ear headphone and track B will play in the right.
Not the best solution but gives you the ability to still DJ. My advice is that it’s totally worth practicing using “Split” and “Stereo” so that you can adjust your ears ready for this situation. Practicing and planning makes for reducing stress in this situations.
Visually beat match using DJ software. DJ software these days is really great at visualising the beats and waveform of both tracks playing at the same time. I’d recommend using this as a back up if you are struggling with the quality of the sound arriving to you in the DJ booth.
Remember this is a back up solution and not a recommendation for beat matching all of the time. There are not substitutes for beat matching by ear.
What are good DJ booth monitors to use?
I use studio production speakers to play the audio in my DJ setup, Yamaha HS10 pre-amp speakers. There are two of them but in some cases I’ve seen some DJs have one speaker depending on how big their setup is.
The benefit to pre-amp speakers it that they save space and the amp is built in so you technically save money on having to buy a separate amp and cables too.
There are plenty of decent speakers out there on the market, it simply depends on how loud you want to go and your budget.
Why Do DJs Have Speakers Facing Them?
DJs have speakers facing them to allow the quality of audio to be better compared to listening to the audio of the speakers playing the the audience within a club or bar environment. By quality we mean that audio can delay and therefore not be a great reference for DJs trying to beat match music tracks together.
What is the Booth output for?
The booth output is a separate audio source and is the same as the master output. Most booth outputs have a volume control and can be useful for DJs to connect booth monitors (speakers) if required in the DJ booth itself.
How do DJ controllers connect to speakers?
Most DJ controllers have an output master in the format of RCA to allow phono cables to be connected. Phono cables are then connected to speakers directly (if Pre-Amped speakers are available) or via an Amp which connects to speakers. It’s possible to play audio via a laptop in which the DJ controller is connected to.