So this post is very video-intensitive so make sure to watch that while below is going to be links for all the products talked about.
There are a lot of things to consider when building out your Mobile DJ rig. I know personally since I have tried out a whole lot of options from controllers to coffins to big rolling cases. My brain is constantly working overtime to find better ways to store, transport, and setup for weddings. Through all the concepts, all the purchases, through all the doubting and reassurances; I have been most satisfied with keeping things modular.
And to make sure we are on the same page, being modular means keeping equipment in either individual or small groups with a specific function in mind that can be swapped out, repurposed, or bypassed. This concept has allowed me the greatest flexibility to mix and match things for each event that I perform. Even just a few weeks prior to this post being made I was considering going back to a coffin for my mixer and decks but then remembered lugging around a >100 lb case is a challenge. I’ve considered big rolling rigs that with just a couple cable connections I am ready to go, but literally, the last gig I performed at would have seen me regretting that decision.
This blog post is really just going to be a summarization of all the equipment for the video above. Otherwise, this post would drone on for days. So make sure you invest the time in the video so you can understand why each piece of equipment was chosen and is used.
The Price: Averages $150-200 depending on if there are more limited quantities out there Odyssey tends to build their products in waves and there was a time I paid $199 for the Black Label version because there were just not many units out there.
Purpose: While this is not technically modular, I do have a backup stand at home plus I have an alternate setup in a Grundorf table and custom table-height facade to give me some options for getting everything together.
Main Cases: SKB Shallow Roto Racks in 3U (for my mic 2-pack), 4U (for my mic 4-pack), and 6U (for my mixer/IEM/router/power case) varieties. Also don’t forget the casters for it which makes things handy to move around.
The Price: Averages $150-200 depending on the size of the case.
Purpose: These cases serve as the core housing of my equipment and gives me the ability to be modular.
Microphones: Sennheiser G3 microphones which are now discontinued and now replaced by the Sennheiser ew 100 G4-ME2 lavalier kit and the Sennheiser ew 100 G4-835-S handheld kit. I bought six of these kits over time. Check out my article for a much deeper dive into the different “tiers” of mics available and some info on frequencies.
The Price: Averages $550-600 per kit.
Purpose: I have split my microphones into two “mic kits”, one with two microphones, one with four and an antenna combiner, which allows me to swap them as needed. Sometimes I could need up to six microphones for a ceremony, I could need four mics for a reception live performance while in most cases I just need two. With making these to “mic kits” it gives me the flexibility to apply exactly what I need in virtually any given situation. And when I need it I have an RF Venue Diversity Fin.
Digital Mixer: I have talked ad nauseam over the years of the benefits of the Soundcraft Ui16 and have an extensive long term review of it here. The TLDR version is this is pretty much the single most important piece of equipment in my entire setup. I’ve also added a simple NETGEAR router to improve the range of the Ui16.
The Price: Averages $450
Purpose: I purchased two of these digital mixers, one for ceremony and one for reception, with also the intention that they could be pressed into service if the other fails. So I have made the configuration as close to identical as possible with the only change needed is swapping one cable.
In-Ear Monitor (IEM): Some of the best IEMs available are those from Sennheiser. I’d recommend the IEM G4-TWIN kit since the receivers on the IEMs cost $500 each. Cost savings are a nice thing!
The Price: Averages $1300 for the twin kit, $1000 for the single kit, $500 per additional receiver.
Purpose: It’s hard to beat the ability to broadcast out to speakers without wires. The problem is there are some products out there that I have personally used that are just OK. But if you work in a mission-critical environment like a wedding you can’t
PDU: I needed some simple power distribution inside my digital mixer racks so this TrippLite RS1215-RA does the job well. I terminate the end with a PowerCon receptacle with a custom plate made by NLFX.
The Price: Averages $50.
Purpose: Without getting power to other equipment it would be hard to be modular. 🙂
UPS: Two models tick the checkboxes of a pure sinewave unit with ample power delivery and identical specs, the CyberPower CP1500PFCLCD, and the APC BR1500MS. Check my article on using these UPSs for ceremony and reception.
The Price: Averages $160-200 ea.
Purpose: Owning both of these UPSs has given me a peace of mind that is hard to calculate. Knowing that I can go independent for an entire ceremony if the venue lacks power or if a power anomaly happens at a reception, I’m protected. And if one takes a major hit at a venue, I can simply use the other till it can be replaced.
Primary Speakers: After spending years with the very underrated Yamaha DXR/DXS series, I wanted something even more compact. The EV Evolve 50s really fit the bill. Check out my comparison video between the two.
The Price: Averages $1600/ea. (I own three).
Purpose: The science of sound. Being able to shed weight and change up things where needed is really nice. I ordered a third speaker in case I ever blow one or need extra reinforcement where my secondary speakers are not enough.
Secondary Speakers: The Maui 5 Go speaker from LD Systems has been a great complement to my setup. With battery power that has lasted from pre-ceremony to the last song and then some, they have staying power. They are not an exceptionally powerful speaker or packed with chest thumping bass, but for what they are, they are incredible. Check out my review here.
The Price: Averages $800 ea.
Purpose: Exhibiting exceptional versatility, these are used for ceremony, cocktail, and even dinner and dance fills. Being battery powered is awesome and tying them in with my IEM makes them unstoppable.
The Controller/Mixer/Deck: There are times I want to run with my Numark NS7iii, there are times I want to throw it back to my Rane 62 and Reloop RP8000 turntables. And with the power of my setup I can run both with no issues. I’ve placed this inside a Gator G-TOURDSPNS7II case.
The Price: The NS7iii runs $1300 and while the Rane 62 is sadly discontinued you can get the awesome Rane 72 for $1900. Reloop RP-8000s can be had for $800/ea.
Purpose: Interchangeability is the key here. On those rare times I get an all vinyl gig I can roll with almost every other piece I normally would, just swapping out the controller for the mixer and turntables.
Hub/Laptop Power: Making the changeover to my MBP with only USB-C and Firewire 3 ports meant that I needed to rethink how I was going to hook things up. Now I could go with a single cable from the hub and deliver connectivity and power, and that I found in the DockCase P1 which I did a review of over here.
The Price: Averages $70
Purpose: This might be the least modular piece of my entire setup. It can be swapped but takes a bit of effort. Frankly, this was bought so I can make things simpler to connect.
Laptops: I just recently updated to a pair of the latest MacBook Pros that are out and fully committed to the USB-C/FW3 changeover. My primary gig laptop is a refurbished mid-2018 / 16GB RAM / 256GB SSD while my everyday laptop is a late-2018 / 16GB RAM / 512GB SSD / Vega20 which serves as a backup to my gig laptop and is a workhorse for projects like video.
Purpose: The math is simple. If one laptop fails, the other takes its place. I will also practice with my everyday laptop to make sure things are up to snuff.
External Drive: It seems every few years I change up how I store my music. For 2019 I am using the extremely fast SanDisk SDSSDE60-2T00-G25 2TB external SSD.
The Price: Averages $330 for 2TB
Purpose: Previously I was relying on internal storage and managing a lean library of music with that while also managing a much larger external drive of songs. I got a bit tired of the micromanagement and after 86ing a bunch of older inferior rips of music over the years, re-ripping my entire CD collection to lossless, and some more management, I keep everything now on these SSDs. I also used symlinks in MacOS (you can do this in Windows as well) to store all my VDJ and Serato files on the external drive. So everything is always in sync on the drive.
Cart: I rocked with the Rock & Roller R12 for a while but they started to stress quite a bit from the load I carried. I switched over to the Muver6 (now known as the AMG 750). Neither cart is perfect but I’d give the advantage to the Muver6.
The Price: Generally look at $250-$300 for pricing.
Purpose: You gotta be able to move things from Point A to Point B. Since I don’t have a big van to transport things in I need to use a more compact and collapsible cart. Both of these will do the jobs, with some pros and cons with each.
Bags: I am always trying to stay as organized as possible. The CablePhyle CFB-02 bag really helps in that department.
The Price: Averages $100 for the medium-sized bag. I own two, one for Ceremony and one for Reception.
Purpose: I’m a stickler of knowing where everything is and being able to get it in a moment’s notice. While these bags can get a little heavy once you have loaded it up, it’s not unmanageable and sure a piece of mind knowing everything is organized. Check out my review on the bag.
Cables: Virtually every single cable I have is a custom made cable from NFLX. With their beyond lifetime warranty and focus on craftsmanship and quality, honestly, I would not trust anyone else.
The Price: Varies
Purpose: While you can purchase cables from a lot of places, they just don’t hold up as well. And knowing you can get properly sized and market up cables, panels, and the like, it’s the place to get them.
So what does modularity bring to the table? A few extra minutes of time to setup? Maybe but with the right strategy, you can refine your process down to 30 minutes or less and breakdown, load up, and be on the road in less than 25. Some places can shed weight while others can add it. But what all of this provides for the ultimate in flexibility. Being able to mix and match pieces at a whim, if a piece of equipment fails there is a good chance you could swap out for another piece quickly. It’s served me well for quite a while now. And sure you would be foolish not to think about getting a rolling rack, or combining a couple of cases into a larger case. But you should examine all these scenarios with your real-world experiences and determine the best route for your business.