Your Guide to Disco Equipment

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Your Guide to Disco Equipment

Disco equipment is usually categorised as any DJ equipment intended to play disco, and includes mixers, DJ decks, CD players, speakers, lights, PA systems, and even karaoke systems, depending on the intended use. Disco equipment can be purchased in music or electronics stores, online, and on eBay for a variety of professional and home entertainment uses. Most disco equipment is sold to DJs wishing to play disco music for dance clubs and venues.

Sometimes venue and club owners also wish to purchase their own equipment, especially if they focus on disco dancing, or frequently feature it in their venue. In this case, speakers, amplifiers, music players, and a mixer are all necessary for a good disco setup. For smaller needs, such as disco DJ, or for home use, settling for a good sound system and portable players and speakers might be a better option. To be able to make an informed decision, anybody interested in purchasing disco equipment should know how to choose the right speakers, amplifiers, mixers, decks, and players for their needs, including from eBay.

Disco Speakers

Disco speakers can include any type of DJ speaker and are commonly HiFi loudspeakers. Anyone purchasing disco speakers for whatever reason should consider the wattage, SPL rating, speaker type, and power in order to make the best purchase. Choices also include making a decision between active and passive speakers, which can make a big difference in the necessary equipment. Most of the time, it is better to purchase professional quality speakers than budget brands because they are louder and more durable, but can also be more expensive.

Passive Speakers vs. Active Speakers

Passive speakers are any type of loudspeaker that does not come with a built-in amplifier. This means that buyers must purchase amplifiers separately and connect them each time they want the speakers to be played. Some people claim that, compared to active speakers, passive speakers offer better quality sound, with less distortion, but others radically disagree. Generally, passive speakers take more time, cost more, but do allow more control over sound as the amplifier has individual settings, while active speakers do not. However, active speakers are easier to find, often cheaper, and take less work to set up than passive speakers. Some people have the same indecision over cabinet materials, some saying that wood sounds vastly better than plastic speakers, with others not noticing a difference. Ultimately, the type of speakers and their materials depend on the buyer’s preferences.

Speakers Connections

DJ speakers come with two types of connections, including Speakon connectors and jacks. Some very old speakers might also come with XLR Canon connectors, but this is rare. Generally, jacks are cheaper and easier to find, but Speakon connectors are more reliable at high volumes. Most DJs who want to play in large venues chose the Speakon versions for more reliable quality. However, jacks are very commonly used, and are generally quite acceptable under most conditions.

Speakers Power and Quality

Speakers should be purchased according to their power (wattage) and quality (SPL rating). Generally, the wattage only stands for how much power the speakers can handle, despite the common misbelief that the speakers are louder and clearer the higher the wattage is. The higher the SPL rating, the louder the speakers can get without distortion, making it the best measure of quality. Power considerations include that a small venue can be used with 600-watt PA system (or two 300-watt speakers), while a larger venue might need 1600 watts or more. Anyone purchasing passive speakers should take into account that the amplifier should be within the same watt range as the speakers in order to avoid blowing out the speakers or losing quality.

Guide to Speaker-Related Terms

Various terms such as SPL rating can often be quite confusing to anyone who is not familiar with audio or who does not use audio equipment for a living. These terms can be used to help gauge quality, loudness of the speaker, and the level of distortion. It is important to remember that some terms, such as PMPO and maximum rating do not affect the quality of the speaker.

Term

Disambiguation

SPL

the speaker rating in decibels; the higher the rating, the louder the speaker can get without distortion

Watts (Power)

the speaker power resistance; affects what the speaker can be connected to and sometimes the volume of the speaker

Speakon

type of audio connection

RMS (Root Mean Square)

used to calculate power wattage and resistance

While there are many other terms, most do not come into play when choosing disco speakers. Generally, you might also find the term drivers, which can include the number and type of speakers inside of the loudspeaker, but this is not normally a factor when choosing speakers for a PA (public address) system. Speakers can be purchased online, in electronics stores, music gear stores, and on eBay. Most people recommend that buyers find an audio sample with the speakers before making an online purchase.

Mixers and Amplifiers

Anyone who has decided to purchase passive speakers should look for and purchase an amplifier, and anyone who wants to mix and provide quality sound, especially through a venue or club, should invest in a mixer. DJs who travel should also buy a mixer in order to personalise and ensure the quality of the sound. Buyers looking to play disco music or set up a music and dance room can also benefit from an amplifier, especially if using multiple types of equipment such as a turntable, an MP3 player, and a CD player.

Choosing an Amplifier

Most people choose an amplifier first and then choose passive speakers based on the specifications of the amplifier. Most professional DJs choose to purchase the most expensive amplifier they can afford with speakers of matching qualities. While the exact specifications of the amplifier are important, it is more important to match the Ohm rating of the speakers to that of the amplifier, which is called impedance.

Matching speakers to a lower Ohm amplifier can cause the amplifier to overheat and lowers the quality of the sound, while matching speakers to a higher Ohm amplifier can cause the speakers to blow out. Essentially, matching the Ohm rating is the most important thing you can do to protect your equipment and your sound quality. Ensuring that the wattage on the amplifier is in the same range as that of the speakers can also help to improve quality of sound. This is known as power or RMS and most speakers only mention max power, which means that they should be matched to an amp with a similar max power.

Quick Guide to Mixers

Sound mixers for disco music are intended for live play, meaning that they alter sound as it plays, rather than after the fact. The first major difference between different mixers is that some are intended for live play and others for studio play. Unless the intended use is to record and master music, it is usually a better idea to go with the live mixer. The next decision is to choose between digital or analogue mixers. Analogue mixers use two channels to mix sound while digital mixers use a variety of channels, and are usually considered higher quality, but can be more expensive. Any HiFi disco equipment is most likely to be digital.

Powered vs. Non-Powered Mixers

Powered mixers are a common smaller type of mixer that is self-contained, similar to the powered speakers, meaning that buyers do have to connect any additional equipment other than speakers and audio source. Quite ironically, powered mixers have less power than a larger setup with a mixer, effects, and power. This is because the entire system is integrated into one small, lightweight, and portable box. Powered speakers are easier to carry around and are perfect for home use, small venues, and even reception rooms. They are easy to set-up, and excellent for anyone travelling, but anyone who is looking to set-up a larger disco system, such as in a large venue, should not choose these mixers.

Term

Meaning

Mic/Line/Instrument In

connections for a musical instrument; can be jack or Speakon

EQ

equalizer

Inserts/Direct Out

used for routing to external effects

Onboard/Outboard

built in or separate effects

Busses

point circuits; most mixers have at least 4

Mains

output configuration (mono or stereo)

Monitor Outs

for connecting a separate mixer

Powered/Unpowered

all-in-one or requiring a separate power amp

For most small areas, you can choose a smaller mixer with fewer options, while touring DJs, anyone who wants to play for large crowds, or who needs additional effects and options should purchase a larger mixer with different inserts, more busses, an unpowered speaker, and a mixer amplifier. Because most unpowered mixers are simply large mixing boards, most people install them into a pre-built portable deck or table so that the board is easy to transport and move.

Decks and Players

Any disco setup needs a certain amount of players. Many DJ prefer to go with DJ decks or turntables for the sound quality of vinyl, while many others choose to go with CD players, MP3 players, to use a computer, or to purchase a multi-deck, such as one that plays MP3s, CDs, and vinyl. Still other choices include very old fashioned tape decks which play cassette or 8-track tapes. However, these are rare and not normally used unless the person using them already has a sizeable collection of tapes. Anyone purchasing any of these players should check the wattage and maximum/minimum power settings on the back of the players to make sure that they are compatible with purchased speakers and amplifiers.

Buying Disco Equipment on eBay

Whether looking for players, speakers, mixers, amplifiers, or a full disco setup, you can look for disco equipment on eBay. In most cases, purchasing professional quality is the best option for good sound, but buyers can also choose to purchase budget brands, or pre-owned equipment of high quality. Make sure you also know the sound quality, wattage, and other considerations talked about above before looking on eBay for your disco equipment.

Purchasing disco equipment on eBay should involve researching your options, deciding what equipment you need, and then looking for the equipment. For example, if you need a powered mixer with two 300-watt powered speakers, or a dual turntable, you can type these keywords in the search box on any eBay page. Once you find the options that you are looking for, check to make sure that the seller will ship to you, ask any questions you like from the seller, and check whether or not the seller is authorised if you are purchasing new audio equipment.

Conclusion

Disco equipment includes a wide range of audio equipment, and can sometimes include lights and karaoke machines, although these are not covered in this guide. Buyers should choose the equipment they need based on the size of the play venue, whether or not it should be portable, and according to compatibility specifications including impedance and wattage. Other options include choosing the connections and jacks, choosing between powered and unpowered amps and mixers, and selecting a brand, price, and quality.

Most of the time, disco equipment should include a player of some type such as a DJ deck, an amplifier and inactive speakers or active speakers, a mixer, and any cables and instruments required. Most of the time, it is best to purchase equipment in the same quality range, and to purchase the best equipment that can be afforded at the time. Both new and used disco equipment can be purchased on eBay, which has a large selection of musical instruments from sellers in the UK and abroad.

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