Gear Maintenance – Learn To Protect Your Equipment
Maintenance is often overlooked in the blogosphere; many people watch tutorials and reviews, but there seems to be a lack of information regarding proper maintenance and care within this world. We have compiled a list of tips and suggestions for DJs/performers, producers, engineers, and even just the average listener.
Turn down all your volume knob when plugging and unplugging any and all equipment
Turn off your gear when not in use
Avoid chemical cleaners; use a slightly damp towel insteadElectrical issues
Be sure to turn the volume all the way down when plugging/unplugging or turning devices on/off.
Keep powered devices (speakers, mixers, etc.) powered off when plugging/unplugging
Dust is your worst enemy; vacuum your workspace regularly, and wipe down dusty surfaces with a damp cloth.
For DJ’s and performers
Humidity, rain, snow, and spilled drinks (this happens all the time) can cause serious damage to your equipment. Fortunately, Decksaver offers protective covers to shield your gear from the elements. The covers are available for a wide variety of industry-standard and niche audio products, and have been endorsed by artists such as James Zabiela, Miguel Campbell, and Dubfire.
When setting up DJ equipment outdoors, make sure you are in a shaded area. Prolonged exposure to sunlight can really mess up the equipment internally. A pop-up canopy is an affordable option that will keep you safe on this front.
Keep all drinks away from your gear. This one is self explanatory.
Invest in a good hardshell coffin or set of road cases (for obvious reasons) – if you can spend the extra cash, Gator Cases makes high quality cases and coffins of all types.
When mixing, keep your levels in check and stay out of the red – many nightclubs have limiter systems to protect the speakers, so you won’t be getting any louder, just distorting; however, if your amps at home are cranked and your in the red, you can easily blow out your speakers.
Avoid letting smoke into your equipment – tobacco smoke is worse than other types of smoke, but they are all bad; however, “smoking” from a vape right next to your gear is the is the worst, since the vapor is actually made up of small particles of water and whatever other liquid flavorings are used
When playing in exceptionally humid environments, take extra caution – roll up several hand towels and place them around the equipment; this will absorb a good deal of condensation that might otherwise accumulate on your gear
Don’t stack your CDJs, mixers, or other gear; this puts extra strain on the platters, faders, and knobs, which can jam up or even break. If you must transport or store your equipment outside of a coffin, keep each piece side-by-side
Protect your vinyl records from warping; don’t stack records on top of each other, and don’t store your records in direct sunlight
For producers and engineers
First and foremost, consider investing in a power conditioner. I’ve heard them referred to as “glorified power strips,” but that’s entirely inaccurate. Although power strips and power conditioners both distribute power to multiple devices, their similarities essentially end there. A power conditioner is necessary for maintaining power at a consistent voltage, which must be accomplished for optimal performance of studio equipment. While you can spend anywhere from a hundred to several thousand dollars on a power conditioner, generally there are two routes you can go. The first is to start with a low-end conditioner and upgrade to a higher quality unit when you end up investing in more expensive gear (both to protect it from the damage that electrical spikes can cause and to get the best sound out of the equipment).
Only use phantom power with a condenser microphone. Phantom power (+48v) supplies a voltage to charge the capsule of a condenser mics; when phantom power is used with a dynamic or ribbon mic, serious damage can be done, and to a greater degree if your cable has any deffects.
Don’t hot-swap (or hot-plug) a microphone; this refers to plugging and/or unplugging a condenser mic with the phantom power on. This will damage your mics (over time, and sometimes instantly) and whatever gear is supplying the power.
When storing microphone in foam-lined cases, try to wrap it in a paper or plastic bag; tiny pieces of foam can make their way through the mic’s “grille” and damage the capsule.
Turn all gain knob all the way down before turning your gear on/of, as well as before plugging/unplugging any cables, speakers, headphones, or gear.
Invest in a high-quality, properly-weighted mic stand(s)
When turning your gear on/off, use the acronym RCA in my CAR to determine the proper order: for powering up, once all your knobs are turned down, start with the (R)ack (this includes audio interfaces, preamps, mixers, midi devices, outboard gear, etc.). Next, turn your (C)omputer on; finally, all of your (A)mplifiers/speakers. For powering down, first turn off your (C)omputer, then your (A)mps/speakers, then your (R)ack.
Avoid laptops on a bed/blanket/other insulating surfaces while they are turned on
Never stack laptops when they’re powered on
Turn your laptop off when transporting it to a new location (hard drives are spinning disks, and can be damaged if moved while running)
Restart your computer at least every couple of days to clear out the RAM and reduce the likelihood of crashes
If your external hard drive (firewire only) requires its own power supply and has an on/off switch (rather than being powered by the computer), power up the external drive before plugging into the computer. ALWAYS eject your drive or turn off your computer before unplugging. Always plug in and unplug while it is turned off. This is because when you plug in a firewire cable that has no signal coming from the other end of the cable, your computer thinks it is supposed to power the device; this means sending electricity through the cable. This can corrupt data or even damage the electronic circuits.