Reworking My Large System

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DJ Bobcat

DJ Extraordinerror
Nov 8, 2014
6,187
9,261
115
Oklahoma City
#1
Here we go again.:laugh: Never one to rest, I've decided to rework my large rack system. If you'll recall, last summer, I completely reworked my small system. It was supposed to be an easy project, but suffice it to say, it turned into a MUCH bigger project than I anticipated. You can click the link below to get my final entry, which summarizes the entire project...

https://r.tapatalk.com/shareLink?share_fid=40437&share_tid=47276&share_pid=614791&url=https%3A%2F%2Fourdjtalk%2Ecom%2Findex%2Ephp%3Fposts%2F614791%2F&share_type=t


The small system rework came out GREAT, and I love the result. The small system upgrade morphed into a less extensive redo of my large system as well, but left some work to be done. Now I want to accomplish some similar objectives with my large system.

Before listing the goals of this project, perhaps it would help if I talked about my two systems (Large and Small). Why do I even have two systems you might ask? My small system was intended to be used for house parties or for smaller venues where getting my large rack inside might be difficult. Originally, I also had several speaker setups too, so I could scale up or down depending on venue size. Since I sold all my speakers and have just 3 RCF EVOX 8's, I'll be using the same PA speakers for every gig (though I can still scale by using one, two, or even all three). My large system is the one I use for 80-90% of my gigs, but when I say LARGE, I mean HEAVY. I don't know how much it weighs, but I can't lift it alone. I have a folding ramp I use to get it in and out of my minivan. The weight is actually the biggest issue I'd like to resolve. I like the components I have in my large rack since the upgrade last summer, but it needs a little downsizing.

My small system has fewer components, and was originally intended to be used without a dance lights (though I have since purchased a second Eliminator light controller and mounted it in a smaller portable rack, so I can use lights in Sound Active mode with my small system if I need to). The small system consists of the following components in a Gator Cases GDJ-8x2 Slant Top Mix Station Rack Case.

1. Dell Optiplex 7440 AIO computer
2. Denon MC6000MK2 Controller
3. GTD Audio G622HL Wireless Microphone System
4. 1U Drawer
5. Rack mounted Power Strip

upload_2018-1-9_15-34-19.png

My large system consists of a Gator 14U Rack with Casters (GRC-BASE-14) containing the following components:
Frontside...
1. Furman Power Distributor
2. GTD Audio B-33 Wireless Microphone System
3. Denon DN-410X 10 Channel Mixer
4. Eliminator ETPro-8 Light Controller
5. Keyboard Drawer for Video Computer
6. DJ (Music) Computer
7. Video/Light Computer
8. 3U Drawer
Backside...
9. ART T8 8-channel Hum Eliminator/Isolation Rack
10. Rack mounted Power Strip
Inside...
11. 4 Port Ethernet Switch
12. MyDMX 2.0 DMX Dongle
13. IMP Line Level Combiner

upload_2018-1-9_15-34-42.png

... And as you can see, my American Audio VMS 4.1 Controller is in a separate case that sits atop my folding table, and the dual 22" monitors and mounting arms (travel in yet another case), mount to a pedestal attached to the inside of the controller case.

The graphic below is a feature comparison between the large and small systems:
upload_2018-1-9_15-36-35.png

So now for the objectives...
1. It would be nice to downsize if possible (smaller and lighter), but at a minimum, my large system needs to be more mobile. I'd like to be able to lift it in and out of the minivan.
2. It needs to be quicker to setup. Even with all the internals pre-wired, it still takes and hour to set up, and nearly as long to tear down (but that includes lights).
3. It needs to be durable.
4. Needs to retain as much contingency/backup capability as possible.

That's it, in a nutshell.:laugh:

Where to start??? I plan to buy a split rack... a slanted top for mounting a controller with some lower space for mounting additional components, and I'll buy a smaller (than my current rack) rolling rack for additional components to fit underneath of and attached to the top rack. A configuration kinda like this...

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B004X67W12?tag=viglink22816-20

Of course, this will have fewer spaces than my current rack for mounting my components (the 10U top can't be considered since it will house a rack-mounted controller), so I'll need to eliminate some stuff. Also, since it's likely not possible to split the components to fit correctly in this new split rack configuration, I'll probably need to make some other modifications, or find more suitable components. I hope to keep the component changes to a minimum, though, as I really like the way everything works.

I've already made a few decisions that I'll talk about in future posts in this thread. I think this is enough for now.:)
 

DJ Bobcat

DJ Extraordinerror
Nov 8, 2014
6,187
9,261
115
Oklahoma City
#2
OK... For all you Project Management purists, I know this isn't a REAL project unless it has a start and end date, and a budget. So the start date is today, and I plan to complete the project within two months. My budget is somewhat uncertain, since I haven't developed my specs completely, but I think $2000 ought be sufficient, unless something unforeseen arises.

But there are a few issues I might run into that could affect my plans. Here's the first issue. I want to purchase another Denon MC6000MK2. I love the one in my small system, and want to have another in the top of my large system... in the new slant top rack. I'd prefer to buy a good used one. I could probably get a new one for around $600, however, I hope to spend closer to $450. Right now, there's nothing on eBay to bid on. I'm watching every day, though. If you have a good Denon MC6000MK2 you'd like to sell, or know someone who has one, please PM me.

I was able to get Traktor working with my MC6000MK2 on my small system, which is great. It took changing just two (somewhat obscure) settings, which were not included in the instructions.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
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Handinon

DJ Extraordinaire
Oct 1, 2014
1,089
1,659
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#3
The pic of your small system shows VDJ on the computer, and the VMS 4.1 on the large system is not Serato compatible = you are not running Serato...therefore you can save even more money by getting a Denon MC6000MK1.

Ditch the "power conditioners". IMHO, unnecessary weight.

Do you really, really, really need 2 large computer screens?

Last, I think having a spare wired mic is really overkill when you also have 4 wireless ones, unless you're in the habit of wearing a belt and suspenders at the same time!
 

DJ Bobcat

DJ Extraordinerror
Nov 8, 2014
6,187
9,261
115
Oklahoma City
#4
The pic of your small system shows VDJ on the computer, and the VMS 4.1 on the large system is not Serato compatible = you are not running Serato...therefore you can save even more money by getting a Denon MC6000MK1.

Ditch the "power conditioners". IMHO, unnecessary weight.

Do you really, really, really need 2 large computer screens?

Last, I think having a spare wired mic is really overkill when you also have 4 wireless ones, unless you're in the habit of wearing a belt and suspenders at the same time!
When the pic of my small system was taken, I was unable to get Traktor to work with the MC6000MK2, so I ran VDJ-8, which ran flawlessly out of the box. I have since resolved the problem with Traktor, and run Traktor on both large and small systems.

The dual monitors??? There are two computers, so each needs a monitor. I could go with a bit smaller monitors, but I like being able to see everything without any eye strain. Besides, reducing the size of the monitors an inch, or even 3 inches, would not significantly reduce the weight or setup time.

Finally, the second wired mic is more of a contingency. I don't set it up unless the wireless mic system won't work, which hasn't happened yet (knock on head), but you can never be too prepared.
 
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DJ Bobcat

DJ Extraordinerror
Nov 8, 2014
6,187
9,261
115
Oklahoma City
#5
...Do you really, really, really need 2 large computer screens?
This is an issue I think about a lot, but have no solution for. Like I said previously, the large system has 2 computers... one for music and one for lights/video/and Internet (and backup for music if the music PC crashes). You need a monitor for each computer (unless you don't mind switching back and forth on one), and any monitor between 17 and 22 inches isn't going weigh significantly less or take less time to setup. Actually, the monitors don't weigh much at all... significantly less than a 17" laptop computer. It's the mounting arms that are heavy, and even that weight is far from backbreaking.

The problem with the monitors and mounting arms is just the time it takes to unpack them and repack them, and to get them mounted and unmounted. It's not a lot of time, but all those little times add up. I think I've done all I can to streamline it. After mounting each monitor, I plug in a short IEC cord that's already plugged into a power strip in the controller case, and I pop in an RJ-45 cable for video that also pops into a jack on the rear panel of my rack.

On my small system, the computer is an AIO unit, and it's permanently mounted on the small rack and the cords are already plugged in. It folds down like a lid over the controller for transporting. All I have to do to setup is lift it up like opening a box... easy peasy. I need to figure out something easy like that for my large system. Not as easy to do with TWO monitors.
 
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DJ Ricky B

DJ Extraordinaire
Mar 9, 2015
4,541
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#6
What events do you require your "Large" System for? Also, how often are you gigging with this system?

My large system = Add a pair of Alto 15s to my 12 inch Subs, and 12 speakers. I did that ONCE this past year. Everything else I have goes to every gig, amount of guests, and size of hall determins what speakers I bring, and if I bring a sub or 2.
 
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dunlopj

DJ Extraordinaire
Aug 14, 2008
4,366
3,925
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Belair MD
#7
I agree with Ricky. Bobcat, before you go through all this song and dance, look at the last 2 years and determine how many times you used the larger system.

Is it all worth the effort? Just sayin'...

Your smaller system looks like a perfect main system for 95% of all DJ's. Maybe just add more speakers as needed for each event.
 
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DJ Bobcat

DJ Extraordinerror
Nov 8, 2014
6,187
9,261
115
Oklahoma City
#8
...Ditch the "power conditioners". IMHO, unnecessary weight.
This is a good point. What do these power conditioners actually buy me that I couldn't get with a good power strip?

The one in the first 1U at the top of the rack has a power button and retractable lights on the front. I use the retractable lights A LOT... The power button is nice because some idiots put their power buttons on the REAR of their rack mounted components (DENON), so you can't actually reach the power button of those units. When they're plugged into a power distributor with a switch, at least the switch can turn everything off.

All the rack mounted gear is plugged into these rack mounted power distributors, so most of the power cords are not visible. I have outlets mounted on a panel on the back of the large rack, for plugging in speakers, and lights, and anything else external. All those outlets plug into those power distributors inside the rack... There's a lot of weight in power cords in there.

The large rack has two electric inlets for hooking up two extension cords (one per power distributor). I designed it that way so I could use two different circuits if the venue could provide them.

Now... I have to decide if the benefits of these power distributors are worth the added weight??? That's a good question.
 
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steve149

Urbane Legend
Sep 26, 2011
20,537
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Prospect, CT
#9
When the pic of my small system was taken, I was unable to get Traktor to work with the MC6000MK2, so I ran VDJ-8, which ran flawlessly out of the box. I have since resolved the problem with Traktor, and run Traktor on both large and small systems.

The dual monitors??? There are two computers, so each needs a monitor. I could go with a bit smaller monitors, but I like being able to see everything without any eye strain. Besides, reducing the size of the monitors an inch, or even 3 inches, would not significantly reduce the weight or setup time.

Finally, the second wired mic is more of a contingency. I don't set it up unless the wireless mic system won't work, which hasn't happened yet (knock on head), but you can never be too prepared.
Actually .. many of the newer wide-screen monitors have multiple inputs and picture-by-picture modes (or PiP as well), so you can have the one monitor show both computers.
 
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DJ Bobcat

DJ Extraordinerror
Nov 8, 2014
6,187
9,261
115
Oklahoma City
#10
Actually .. many of the newer wide-screen monitors have multiple inputs and picture-by-picture modes (or PiP as well), so you can have the one monitor show both computers.
Haven't seen a monitor with PiP, but my monitors have two inputs, so I could use a single monitor and simply switch back and forth (by pushing a button on the front of the monitor). I think it would just be a little cumbersome as much as I use both computers at the same time. I share the mouse and keyboard, so I can move between the computers as if it's a single computer with dual monitors. It's seamless.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
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Handinon

DJ Extraordinaire
Oct 1, 2014
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#11
I did not know you were a Traitor to the Human Race and was running Traktor! :cheers:
Seriously, I think both versions of the MC6000 work with Traktor.

Having been a Techno Nerd most of my life, my real concern is the shear complexity of your large system. I believe in KISS engineering, as well as Murphy's Law. Complex systems work well until something goes wrong - then, having wires buried in cabinets, along with multiple/duplicated things, really starts to work against you when you're in a rush to get it working.
 

DJ Bobcat

DJ Extraordinerror
Nov 8, 2014
6,187
9,261
115
Oklahoma City
#12
I did not know you were a Traitor to the Human Race and was running Traktor! :cheers:
Seriously, I think both versions of the MC6000 work with Traktor.

Having been a Techno Nerd most of my life, my real concern is the shear complexity of your large system. I believe in KISS engineering, as well as Murphy's Law. Complex systems work well until something goes wrong - then, having wires buried in cabinets, along with multiple/duplicated things, really starts to work against you when you're in a rush to get it working.
You're right... the complexity is something to consider. There has to be a balance between having contingencies and complexity. Not sure I have achieved that balance. I keep my wiring diagram with my system, otherwise troubleshooting would be impossible. My memory ain't that great for remembering where every wire goes. There's no less than 40 cables inside that rack, not including power cords. Thassalotta wires!

I gotta say, I've been lucky so far that I never had a problem in my rack at an event that required getting inside the rack. The few problems I've had were me doing something stupid, like forgetting to turn on a switch.
 
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steve149

Urbane Legend
Sep 26, 2011
20,537
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Prospect, CT
#13
Haven't seen a monitor with PiP, but my monitors have two inputs, so I could use a single monitor and simply switch back and forth (by pushing a button on the front of the monitor). I think it would just be a little cumbersome as much as I use both computers at the same time. I share the mouse and keyboard, so I can move between the computers as if it's a single computer with dual monitors. It's seamless.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
PiP is OK, but PbP (Picture-by-picture) will make a monitor look like 2 monitors shoved together. There's a bunch out there like this one: ASUS PB277Q 27" 1ms (GTG) TN Panel Widescreen LCD/LED Monitor, Height, Tilt, Pivot and Swivel Adjustment, Built-in Speakers, Extensive Connectivity with Native WQHD Content - Newegg.com
 

steve149

Urbane Legend
Sep 26, 2011
20,537
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Prospect, CT
#14
Can also use a tablet (I use an iPad) as a monitor .. including use as a main monitor for a computer (assuming you don't need 2 large monitors. I use the Duet app and it works just fine for karaoke.
 
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DJ Bobcat

DJ Extraordinerror
Nov 8, 2014
6,187
9,261
115
Oklahoma City
#15
Why even do a rack system? Some DJ's say big rack systems like mine are passé. Is that true? Opinions please?

I could just take a bunch of gear, set it on a table, wire it up, and put up a facade to hide the clutter. That's what some of DJ's around here do.

Or maybe I could build a table and mount everything in it. That's an idea I have thought about. Something like that could get pretty heavy too, though. For me, there would have to be a minimum of 3U thickness inside the table top, to accommodate my thickest component (my Denon mixer). A table with 9U of space in the front @3 times 3U would have to be about 5 feet long, and 2-2 1/2 feet wide. You wouldn't want it to be too big, or it would start to become unwieldy getting through doors. It's something to think about.


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steve149

Urbane Legend
Sep 26, 2011
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Prospect, CT
#16
I'm tooling to a split system. I plan on a rolling rack (not sure of the size yet, though I have a 10RU already to test it) that will have my Denon media player, Behringer digital mixer, wireless mic receivers, IEM transmitter, either my Ashly or Rane line mixer (or both), Lexicon, Virtualizer and DriveRack. Plugging into it will be either my MC6000 (which will also have a single wireless mic receiver) .. or my Rane MP25/Denon HC4500. The MC6000 can be used by itself for small needs, The other top also can be used stand-alone and has more inputs. The rack can be used stand-alone for times when I don't have to man things.
 
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DJ Bobcat

DJ Extraordinerror
Nov 8, 2014
6,187
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Oklahoma City
#17
Can also use a tablet (I use an iPad) as a monitor .. including use as a main monitor for a computer (assuming you don't need 2 large monitors. I use the Duet app and it works just fine for karaoke.
It's the size... 10 inches is too small. I'm usually standing about 3-3 1/2 feet away from my monitor. Tablets are fine if they're 18 inches away or less, but at twice that, it would be tough for me.

I know part of it is me. As an IT guy for 40 years, I was always running multiple computers with various OS's and applications, and surrounded myself with multiple monitors... kinda like a control room. That's the kind of environment I feel comfortable in, so maybe I have recreated that environment to some extent with my DJ systems.
 
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steve149

Urbane Legend
Sep 26, 2011
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Prospect, CT
#19
It's the size... 10 inches is too small. I'm usually standing about 3-3 1/2 feet away from my monitor. Tablets are fine if they're 18 inches away or less, but at twice that, it would be tough for me.

I know part of it is me. As an IT guy for 40 years, I was always running multiple computers with various OS's and applications, and surrounded myself with multiple monitors... kinda like a control room. That's the kind of environment I feel comfortable in, so maybe I have recreated that environment to some extent with my DJ systems.
That's why I like the PbP .. you can run 2 system outputs side by side, or switch to one of them and go full-screen .. or leave one in a small PiP window to monitor.
 
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