In the early days the renowned DJ Remi played on the Sunday milongas in Rotterdam. On the practice night Cuartito Azul's Hugo Buiten played music from CDs. Hugo sometimes used CDs compiled by Remi, other times he used CDs bought straight from shops. Soon I started noticing a great difference in sound quality between CDs that were burned and ones that were bought.
But I started noticing an even greater difference when DJs collectively switched to playing music from a laptop. Apparently, the compression used to squeeze a large amount of tracks onto a computer causes great loss of quality. This didn't seem to trouble most dancers, but gradually I became more and more annoyed by the carelessness of DJs, concerning the large sound difference between real CDs and virtual ones.
Once a sound engineer explained, why loud compressed sound could make me so tired. He told to me that the brain is trying to make a whole of that incomplete sound again. My head knows the original high quality track and because I now unconsciously miss many aspects, my brain tries to complete the sound again. According to the engineer this is exhausting.
Loud sound, with a high compression, is unpleasant. It's much easier to enjoy loud sound if it's clear. In addition the atmosphere in a room will be more relaxed with clear sound. For a successful milonga it isn't just important to play good danceable music, but also to make sure that the music sounds clear and that the complete sound spectrum, from low to high, is present.
In order to achieve this, a good choice of music needs the back up of a good sound system and good sound equipment.
Anything that's been digitalised will be compressed. After I've digitalised something, there will be some loss of quality in comparison with a CD. However, in the wav quality, that I use most of the time, the loss of quality is only audible to people who are exceptionally sensitive to sound.
Whenever mp3 compression is used for good CDs, there will be an audible quality difference, even when 320 kbps compression is used. For this reason I always store good CDs in wav format.
For many tango tracks that can't be missed on a milonga, goes that they are recorded in such a mediocre sound quality, that a certain compression won't make a difference. These tracks are stored in mp3 at 320 kbps. I'm not able to hear a difference in sound quality after this compression.
There are also tracks with such a low quality that even a high 128 kbps compression won't make a difference compared to the original CD recording. These tracks are for the archive. I wouldn't recommend playing them at a milonga.
Some old recordings contain beautiful music, but to my taste their sound quality is insufficient. Whenever necessary I try to smarten up the sound quality in advance with an elaborate audio editor. Sometimes the sharpness needs a little reduction, sometimes the bass needs a little amplification and sometimes I combine these two.
Of course you can't get something out of a recording that isn't there. However, often the whole spectrum is present, but parts of the spectrum are transmitted too weak or too strong. A technical correction can improve the sound. It's time consuming, but the result is worth it.
Recently, I bought a laptop that is specially designed for audio application. Together with my wife, I'm continuously optimising both hardware and software for use in milongas. For instance, we installed a good external sound card on this laptop. A small equalizer [Behringer FBQ800] can adjust the sound. This is quite important, because of the large differences between tango recordings.
There is also a second laptop which displays the cover of the CD that is being played, as well as the name of the artist and the track. This will encourage the audience to buy the CD! (NB: We're still developing the programme for this, so it doesn't work perfectly yet).
To actually pass on the good sound quality to this external card, you need a good media player. For this we found djDecks. Initially the program was unsuitable for milongas, because in a milonga there is a need for breaks and this program was developed to play music continuously. The developer of this program has been so kind as to adapt the program to our wishes.
The play list can be filled in different ways. We developed a program ourselves to make the management of our extensive collection easy. From this program you can preselect a CD and listen to one or more tracks, while the main player plays on undisturbed. After this, you can add the preselected tracks to the play list of djDecks. It's also possible to send a track directly to the player, without listening to it first.
If there is no good sound equipment on location, my sound equipment is for rent; please contact us for options and prices.