Good things come to those who invest with returns in mind.
5 Tips for mobile DJs who need to know when forking over cash for their first PA.
“Way too loud!” “I like a lot of bass, but this is ridiculous!” “What’s all that distortion? I haven’t even turned it up yet!” “Setting this thing up is killing me!” “Where’s the tech who’s supposed to connect me to the house system?” There’s only one way to get a sound-check right, but so many ways to get it wrong. These problems can sour your mood and spoil the performance. Usually, it all boils down to the equipment. You’re good to go if you show up with your trusty rig. Relying on what’s there is like playing Russian roulette with your ambitions and reputation. DJ, musician, street artist or public speaker—whatever your gig may be, there will come a time when you need a system of your own.
If you’re an ambitious performer, finding a PA that’s right for you can be a bit of an odyssey. A lot of rigs have built-in design flaws, and it takes a lot of experience to dodge those bullets. You want a system that’s easy to transport and quick to set up. The phrase may be a cliché, but a true ‘plug-and-play’ rig will spare you headaches and heartaches down the line. Convenience shouldn’t be your only concern: You want a system that sounds great—always, everywhere and at every level soft or loud, regardless of the location, room size, fittings and furnishings. High-quality components go a long way towards delivering that kind of performance. Those tend to be pricey. Is there something affordable out there, a happy medium that gives you enough of everything you need, and nothing that you don’t, at a price that won’t break the bank?
The days when you had to haul around a huge PA to get good sound are history. No more military presses to put monster cabinets on stands. No more back-breaking bass bins to dead-lift. That workout will be missed by no one. Modern portable systems are perfect for mobile DJs. You can book those gigs without a care in the world. With these small lightweight units, the shortcomings of all those poorly maintained and incorrectly installed house systems are no concern of yours. These days, a lot of folks love to use mono columnar PAs. And they’re popular for good reasons—unobtrusive, sleek, sometimes even stylish, but always fairly light. The downside is that all the players DJs use to spin, click or swipe tracks are stereo, as is almost all music. LUCAS NANO addresses that issue with its built-in versatility: It can be configured in mono, stereo and twin stereo setups. It’s certainly a good option for smaller events, but what happens when the gigs start getting bigger? Even a great rig can’t defy the laws of physics, so there will come a point when there is just not enough low end to get the party pumping. So that question still stands: Is there a PA that gets the job done at a surprisingly sweet price point? There is indeed. HK Audio has a deeply satisfying answer—LUCAS 2K. It may not fulfill every wish every DJ under the sun could ever have. But if you’re a gigging DJ who needs the fundamentals covered with style and panache, this rig has got your back.
HK Audio, the outfit that developed the first in a series of Lightweight Ultra Compact Active Systems series 20 years ago, knows what mobile DJs want in an all-in-one device.
Every gig starts with loading up
The 2K15 version weighs 53.2 kg all in all. The bass reflex subwoofer accounts for 30.2 kg of that. That’s about a crate and a half of beer—more than your average handbag, but not so much that it can’t be carried on your own. Its 48 x 48.5 x 59.5 cm dimensions actually make for a fairly handy cab. And you only have to carry it on the rare occasion that the surface doesn’t like wheels. Everywhere else, the LUCAS 2K roller bag does for you what the wheel did for humankind—it makes life a lot easier. Then there’s those practical speaker covers in the accessory package, which also features a nylon gig bag for the factory-included aluminum speaker stands and the seven-meter Speakon speaker cables.
Loading this rig into your ride is as quick and easy to do as unpacking and assembling it. Connecting cables is a piece of cake: Plug the mains cord into the bass bin, run two speakers cables to the satellites, feed a stereo patch into your players, and you’re done. And if you want to beef up the bottom end, the identical L SUB 1500 A subwoofer is the perfect bass add-on for the turnkey LUCAS 2K system, visually and acoustically speaking. Simply plug it into the XLR Thru ports.
“It’s all about the bass.” Yeah, but how much is plenty?
Some clubs are notorious for serving up sumo-sized helpings of bass. Vienna’s Flex is one of those. The thunderous bass lines at Monday’s Dub Club have left some nauseous club-goers praying at the porcelain alter. A mobile DJ just doesn’t have the firepower to blast the bass at those kinds of levels. If you spin top 40 tracks or classic rock and pop, you don’t need ridiculous amounts of low end. But if bass-heavy club music is your thing, you do need some extra oomph to take it down to Marianas Trench territory. If the frequency range of a 15″ bass reflex subwoofer doesn’t quite reach those depths for you, we recommend going with the 18″ version. LUCAS 2K18’s response ranges all the way down to 39 hertz. However, even if you go with the smaller subwoofer, the Bass Boost button gets the job done for most applications. Press this selector switch, and presto, those beats just bigger. By the way, that’s the mode you’ll need to feed an added L-SUB bin. And there’s yet another option: You can also dial in a +6 dB sub bass boost with the potentiometer. If the room is square-ish or the sound is boomy because of other structural issues, you can use that same knob to dial down those sub-bass frequencies.
Rock the house or raise a ruckus on the dance-floor?
Equipped with a new breed of more efficient Class-D power amp, a powered PA packs a much bigger punch. For a LUCAS 2K15 system, we’re talking about 670 watts RMS and 2,000 watts peak power here. That will serve up to 250 people well, which is about the capacity of a small club. That’s plenty of power to cover the dance floor. A mobile DJ is rarely asked to soak the entire venue in sound. So, what does the average DJ really need? Well, most parties are not just about dancing. The DJ needs to get the dancers on the floor and leave the back of the room to the wallflowers. So, the answer to that question is a horn system with a wide throw pattern. With its 90 x 55° HF horn in the satellite, LUCAS 2K’s directivity is wide enough to get the dance floor hopping, but narrow enough to prevent reflections from bouncing off the walls. And if you invest a couple of seconds to aim the 3° MonoTilt™ pole mount towards your audience, you’ll probably get a pretty good payoff when all that energy excites an enthusiastic crowd.
A mix master without a master mixer?
You got all the tricks with cross-fades, backspins and loop tools down. You know how to squeeze every ounce of drama and excitement out of your FX box. Yet you still can’t control your sound from the stage. That’s just the way it is when you don’t gig with a sound tech. If you really want peace of mind when you step up to your desk, you need a system with a smart DSP that makes sure your sound cuts through at varying volume levels.
It’s not just the mix that matters; so does size—of the system, that is. Nothing will put a bigger damper on your gig than the sound of an undersized PA. Even if the components survive the constant overloading, a PA system that is pushed beyond its limit is far more likely to drop out. Need I mention the awful sound of a clipping PA? Again, you have to ask yourself a couple of questions: How much power do I really need and what do I need it for? Will an active system with a built-in engine room do the trick or do I want to go with outboard power amps?
RMS vs. PMPO – what’s watt?
All power output ratings are not created equal. ‘Peak power’ is the measure of how much power the amp can deliver in short bursts. As LUCAS 2K’s name would suggest, its nifty DSP filters enable it to pump out whopping 2,000 watts of peak power. Its RMS rating is 670 watts, which is the root mean square or averaged power output, a spec that doesn’t tell you all that much, but comes in handy when comparing systems. It’s certainly enough for the 2K15 version to provide excellent sounding coverage for up to 250 people. That’s quite a crowd, even for regularly booked mobile DJs. There’s two ways of looking at this: You can say I want to be prepared for more people and bigger venues. Or you can say I’m going to wait until the bookings start coming in and work with rented gear before I splurge on a minivan full of equipment. Perhaps the latter is the wiser move.
In any event, LUCAS 2K15 comes with all the essentials you need to deliver great performance and excellent sound as a mobile DJ. Its no-nonsense design frees you to focus on your craft. You can earn back what this rig will cost you in the space of five or six gigs. Consider this: The quality of your sound, alongside your playlist and delivery, is your calling card as a DJ. If your system serves up the kind of sound that great reputations are built on, you will get a lot more money out of it than you put into it. And that’s a pretty good return on your investment.
The VibrA in Mainz is a DJ-school for DJing and producing. Beginners, advanced level and pros learn from the top-DJs of the scene. Moreover, you meet likeminded people, so you can use our connections. You set the goal, School Manager Daniel helps to find a way to get there. Daniel Agema combines theory and practical trickery. He is founder of VibrA in Mainz and has been an active DJ for years as a part of the local electro scene. That’s why he can deliver the right choice of practical training, he with his partner Francis Tuchschmidt show you the right technique for a perfect club sound and how you manage to distribute your very own songs to your audience.