Friday, January 28, 2011

Set 33 Update - For DJs Only

This blog entry is on a subject that will be, for most, even duller than my usual topics, so unless you're really interested in how I record a DJ set you should skip this. :-D

The set 33 flyer is finished, a bad comedy promo video has been produced, and so at last I can focus on what matters most: the set itself.

The WAV version of Set 33 is too enormous to be saved as a single file in Sony Sound Forge (this happened with Set 32 also); it hits its limit around the 3 hour mark. So, work must be done on two separate files which, after conversion into smaller file-size 320 kbps mp3s, are then joined as one. Since one wants to make all changes to the superior WAV file versions, the clunky process in the final days is: work in WAV, convert to MP3s, join the MP3s, listen to the whole thing, note problems, go back to the WAVs to fix, and repeat.

The process of sound equalization is a bit like sharpening focus on a particularly blurry image. The first adjustments are the most drastic, and subsequent ones get finer with each go. Volume levels are the toughest part of any DJ set, and are particularly tough with long ones because of the tendency for the volume to creep into distortion territory over the set's course (this is because one prefers to err on the side of having a transition come in slightly loud rather than slightly soft, and those slightly loud entries accumulate as the set progresses, nudging the overall volume up more and more).

Some transitions will have to be re-recorded. Re-records usually go quite smoothly, because I know what I have to, in essence, "beat"; and I've been through the experience once already.

A 3.5 hour set obviously is very time-consuming to review, and listening to the set in its entirety on different types of headphones (ranging from great to crappy) is the only way to gauge whether things are flowing right with the levels. During the work week I have time to listen to the set only once per day, and then make adjustments.

This is the price you pay for making epics; the time is never there to get everything perfect.

But as some French guy once said, Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien, and this set will, in the end, be très bien--maybe even chouette. (@v@)

[UPDATE - Bad comedy video deleted, because 1) it was bad, and 2) the release date for the set has now been pushed back, in part due to issues described above--there is not enough time for me to fix everything that needs fixing by Thursday.]

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