We’ve all noticed the good and bad things the digital music era has brought to the DJ industry. With the amount of record pools available for both video and audio, music and videos have become extremely accessible to anyone who wants to start their journey as a DJ. You can also buy hard drives full of music or videos at a fraction of what you would pay in record pool subscription fees. Of course, this method is illegal and unethical but that’s another topic. As a DJ, the quality of your music and/or videos should matter because it is a reflection of you.
Bootleg Vinyl | If you’re a veteran DJ, I’m sure you know about all the bootleg vinyl that was released over the years. The DJ’s who had connections to the music industry always received original vinyl free of charge, but everyone else was left to fend for themselves. If you played only vinyl, you knew that buying a single copy at $6.00 or more added up quite quickly. Compilations became popular for this reason and DJ’s bought them hot off the presses. Today, new music is hardly available in vinyl so I won’t discuss the quality of music when it comes to vinyl, but I will say that bootleg vinyl is basically an accurate description of what’s happening with digital music. A lot of the bootleg vinyl was of substandard quality compared to its original counterparts.
Record Pools | You would think that record pools would have a strict policy about the music or video files they supply to their clients but most don’t. There are a few exceptions when it comes to video, of course, plus old videos that were produced with old technology just simply can’t be made any better. But, I will concentrate on the audio part of them. Record pools are simply not consistent when it comes to the quality of music they provide and sometimes they even “steal” from each other. Make sure you inspect your files before keeping them. Listen to them. And, if you get a new copy from a difference source, don’t automatically dismiss it. Compare it to the one you have so you can keep the better copy.
Remixes | This is the biggest culprit when it comes to bad quality in music today. There are a lot of remixers out there that simply don’t know what they’re doing or they just don’t care. They will release remixes that came from music files that were substandard to begin with. It’s okay to not play these files.
CD vs Vinyl Rip | People master music differently on vinyl and CD. If you’ve ever made the comparison between two “identical” tracks that came from both sources, you know what I’m talking about. Either way, if you come across both copies, listen and keep the one that is of the highest quality and the one that sounds the best. Also, if you’re converting analog music to digital or you’re converting music that came from a CD, do us all a favor and convert at the highest settings possible to maintain the highest quality. You don’t want to do the work again down the line anyway when you need to re-import or re-convert your music.
Bit Rates | I’m going to go ahead and say it. If you have any files that are less than 192 kbps, get rid of them now. Hard drive space is not an excuse for bad quality music. Not anymore. On the other hand, if you have any files that are 320 kbps and sound like crap, get rid of them too. If you don’t know about transcoding a digital file from a lower kbps to a higher one, do yourself and your audience a favor and read up on it. Also, read about lossless formats and how you can benefit from them. In short, higher bit rates don’t necessarily mean higher quality of music. It all depends on the source so always use your ears. If you want to go a step further, compare the digital waves in a music program.