How to Flawlessly DJ an Outdoor Event
With summer in full swing and wedding season hitting the peak months, it’s likely you’ve been booked for an outdoor event. Whether it’s a wedding, graduation, block party, festival or pool party, preparing ahead of time for an outdoor DJ set is a must. Create a flawless performance set up and protect your DJ gear from the elements with these tips and tricks.
Evaluate the Event Site
First up, gather as much information about the event as possible. Find out exactly what you’re expected to provide as far as equipment. Ask questions like where is the event located, will there be shelter and power available, is there a rescheduling plan in place or is the event rain or shine? If the event is at night, will there be enough light for you to work with? You’ll not only be more prepared for the event with these answers, but it will help you to manage client expectations as well.
Power is a necessity to make sure your performance goes off without a hitch. Find out how many outlets you’ll have to plug into, or if you should bring a generator as a reliable back-up source of power. Make notes of each item that you need to plug in and the watts for each item. This will help you to properly plan out and communicate your needs to the venue operator or event host.
Even if the forecast is perfect, summer months can cause humidity, unexpected thunderstorms or excessive sunshine that you want to protect yourself from. A waterproof and sun-blocking tent overhead is a great thing to have. If there are signs of thunderstorms, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Pack up your electronics and speakers and seek shelter. If it’s only light to medium rain, make sure your equipment is covered and keep watch for any rain accumulation that could cause problems with power supplies. Generally, if there is wind over 10 miles per hour, you’ll want to use caution when setting up tents or speakers that can easily fall over.
*Pro tip: Use a bucket filled with ice as a laptop stand to keep your laptop from overheating in excessive heat. Just make sure to keep your laptop dry and not in direct contact with any water.*
Sound and Ambient Noise
If possible, visiting the site of an event is the best way to plan out the sound system you’ll need. If you’re renting equipment specially for an event, a professional can help you decide on the type of speakers needed for different size events. For example, an outdoor event with between 150 and 300 people would require larger 15” speakers with 600 to 800 watts.
You should also check out the surroundings to see what kind of ambient noise you’ll be working with. Noise from wind and nearby roads, as well as sounds from surrounding waterfalls, fountains or rivers can build up and create unwanted distractions.
The importance of arriving early to the event and sound checking is immeasurable. You want to make sure that you have time to properly set up, test out equipment and replace or fix anything if necessary.
Here’s a quick checklist of items that you’ll need to make sure your outdoor booking goes smoothly.
- Proper equipment for the event size (speakers, speaker stands, etc.)
- Pop-up tent that is water resistant/proof, will block the sun and has side walls to block wind and rain
- Power generator to plug into if necessary
- Fans or portable air conditioner
- Bright extension cords
- Power strip(s)
- Tarp (this will protect your equipment in a situation of surprise rainfall)
- Bug spray
- First aid kit
Let us know if you have any tips or suggestions for DJing outdoor events. We want to hear about your experiences!