Incredible DJ Booths: Show Your DJ Setup Winner

Our moderators on the DJ TechTools forums recently held an awesome contest in the Show Your Setup sub-form that we kicked off almost exactly a year ago. The contest saw some incredible setups, but only one could be the winner, as forum members voted to determine the best of the bunch. Take a look inside to see the full photos from Ryan Ruel’s winning setup and learn more about his DJ booth in a quick Q&A.

Ryan’s setup – which he’s nicknamed “bluedoor” –  is quite fleshed out, with a well-designed booth, some awesome DJ kit, and a full lighting setup to seal the deal. Instead of simply congratulating him on getting our envious votes, we thought it’d be awesome to ask him the details on his gear and learn more about the different elements that make up his DJ setup.

Hey Ryan, congratulations on winning!  Give us a quick description of how you use your gear and what your standard workflow/practice session consists of?

The most important part of my workflow is of course music selection and preparation. Over the years I’ve built up a large list of followed artists and labels, and several times per week I sample new releases. I key my tracks and sort them into customized genre categories using iTunes, then use smart playlists to sort based on those genre categories. I maintain two separate iTunes libraries, one on my main Mac which contains all of my music, and one on my DJ Mac for dance music. Once the tracks are tagged and sorted on my main machine, I move them over to the DJ laptop and analyze the tracks in both Traktor and Rekordbox.

On the playback side of things, I use Traktor with the Audio 10 DJ interface. The CDJ-2000’s are set up in advanced HID mode to control two decks in Traktor, and the Technics are set up to control another set of decks using timecode vinyl.

Having two Kontrol X1’s allows me to have full control of the effects units in Traktor on all four decks. I have adjusted the layout such that the left side X1 controls the left CDJ and Turntable, and likewise for the right side of the booth.

My workflow tends to be music and mixing focused rather than being highly technical. I generally do not use sync capabilities, although occasionally will do so when looping for extended mixes. Other than basic looping, I do use effects sparingly. I particularly like the new macro effects in Traktor 2.6, and I also frequently will use the filters as a mixing tool. I primarily mix using the CDJ-2000’s these days, although I do occasionally break out my vinyl collection.

Rotary mixers are great for some people, other people hate them – what’s the background on why you’re rocking that Rane kit?

When I first started DJing in 2005, with Boston being an East Coast city with close proximity to New York, many of the clubs here were using either UREI 1620LE’s or Rane 2016’s, and I longingly had always wanted one. Like many, I have had a number of DJ mixers over time. I first owned a Numark DXM01, then a Denon DN-X1500, and then I moved to a Xone 92 Rotary.

In 2008 I went through an “Ableton Phase” and purchased a Xone 3D, selling my Xone 92. That phase didn’t last long (I do still love Ableton for studio use), but I wound up selling the Xone 3D.

At that point I decided to step up to a classic rotary layout with the Rane MP-2016 and XP-2016 EQ expansion. The sound quality of this mixer is fantastic and the ALPS black beauty pots are a joy to mix on. I like that the Rane only does one thing: it mixes, and it does it exceedingly well.

The Rane MP-2016 also features a large number of inputs and outputs, which means it works great in a booth like mine where I can play directly from turntables and CDJ’s, or a laptop.

What about the new CDJ-2000 Nexus units, not very many of our readers will have had a go on them – how have you enjoyed them so far?

So far so good! I’ve read that there are still some firmware bugs that are being ironed out, but I have personally not experienced any issues with them. The new quantization features are great, and looping is nicely improved. And of course, the waveform displays are wonderful. All in all, I’d say they are great upgrade from the previous generation.

Can you talk a bit about your sound setup? It looks like you’ve got a significant rack below your mixer – what’s in that?

The Rokkit RP6’s serve as my main monitors and are self powered, of course. The space below the mixer holds a few different components, at the bottom are two rack mount power strips used to turn everything on and off. Above that is a Rane ME-15s, which is an EQ unit that allows me to precisely EQ the booth monitors. And above that is an American Audio DB Display, which allows the master out level to be carefully monitored. I’m a stickler for levels.

What about other sound in the room, anything besides those Rokit monitors?

I have the master out of the Rane running to my home theater setup. That system is powered by a Denon receiver, and my speakers are by Orb Audio. There is a 10″ subwoofer for that system in the corner, and it’s more than enough for the space. I actually did have a larger system when I first moved into the loft, but it was actually very overbearing with all of the exposed hard surfaces.

Is there anything in your setup that you want to replace or get rid of?

Actually, there is nothing that I would get rid of at the moment. I am very good at purging what I am not using. I recently had purchased the Kontrol F1, which is a brilliant piece of kit, but I found that it wasn’t fitting into my workflow and ended up selling it.

Nice wheels! What type of desk is that? It seems like a fancy version of the DIY Ikea DJ booth

The desk was purchased from dualsf.com in 2008. They make a great product, and what is particularly great is what you cannot see: All of the wires inside. There is a large chamber behind where the vinyl storage is located to hold all of your cables and adapters and such. It’s great that it’s on wheels (makes cleaning easy), and it’s very heavy and solidly built.

Seems like a lot of work went into building a very club-like environment in this room that you’re showing off – can you talk a little bit about this space? Do you have parties there, what’s your favorite thing about the room, etc?

I’ve always been intrigued by loft spaces, and so I finally purchased one. The space is one big open loft, with a bedroom area upstairs overlooking the living area. The building is a converted factory from 1903. What I love most is the 16 foot ceilings, massive windows and the exposed wood and metal from the original factory.

I owned the booth in much the same state it is now when I moved into the space, and it fit perfectly in the room. Once I had moved in, I had the idea of installing a few club lights up on the beams. Of course, a few lights turned into quite a few lights. I had electrical work done to properly provide power for all of the lighting. All of the fixtures are LED, and I had it wired such that I can turn on the wash lights separately from the somewhat noisy moving yokes. The wash lights then serve double duty as accent lighting when I’m not DJ’ing.

I actually don’t have as many big parties as one would imagine, as I do have neighboring units, and I’m very respectful about noise. I play a weekly time-slot at Radio4By4.com, and a few friends and neighbors will tend to pop in during my broadcast.

One of the costliest things in the space was actually the custom blinds. I have one set of shades that act as normal shades, and another which are full blackout. The blackout shades are very useful for keeping the light both out, but also keeping the light in when I have the lighting rig turned on. Sadly, they aren’t motorized (the additional cost was absurd!).

Tell us more about how you control the lights in the room? Are you using any DMX software or lighting controllers? 

The lights are controlled via DMX software running on main desktop Mac. I am using a product called Artist 3 from ShowCad systems, who specializes in club lighting control and are installed in many clubs in the UK and beyond.

I am using my iPad as the main point of control for the lighting and visuals. Artist 3 of course has full MIDI support, and I created a customized interface for Liine software’s Lemur app to trigger cues, effects and adjust levels. I use Arkaos and Modul8 on a Mac Mini in my home theater cabinet to provide visuals for the projector and television. A great feature of the Lemur App is that it can send MIDI and OSC to different targets (meaning different machines), therefore my custom interface can control both the light software running on one machine and the visualization software running on the other.

See the video below to see the lights in action:

Do you play gigs out and about often? What gear do you bring?

I have played out occasionally in Boston over the years at a few different venues. Most notably, I’ve had the privilege of playing at RISE Afterhours here in Boston. I tend to play there every other month or so. I particularly love playing in the lounge at RISE as it presents an opportunity to play 5 hour sets, which is great. This year RISE was awarded slot number 42 on the DJ Magazine’s top 100 club list, it’s amazing achievement for everyone involved.

With regard to what I use when playing out, In the past most venues have had CDJ-1000’s installed with a mixer provided. In those instances, I would bring a Macbook with Traktor and a Kontrol X1. Recently, I’ve been primarily bringing my CDJ-2000’s with me if they aren’t provided, and playing off of USB sticks. As much as I love Traktor, the simplicity of using CDJ’s with digital media is very appealing.

Anything else you’d like to share while you’ve got everyone’s attention?

Stay in school! All kidding aside, this is a serious hobby for me, and it has allowed me to combine my passion for the music with my tech-nerdiness and take it to an entirely new level. I certainly have a lot of toys, but of course what matters the most is always the music and having fun.

Try not to get caught up in the drama and have a good time.

You can check out all of the photos of Ryan’s setup in this thread on the DJTT forums or see all of the other setups that our forum members are showing off. Share yours, and if it’s way cool, we just might feature it on the blog in the next Show Your Setup feature! 

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  • Larry

    No surprise that this setup won. Well deserved. I dont understand why all the hates about the gear. This guy has worked hard for it and he obviously knows what he is doing and how to get the best out of it, from the wheels on the booth to the lights on the ceiling. That setup could easily compete with most of the clubs round here. He could be working with half of the equipment and it would still be pretty special to see set up.

  • Traktor Tips

    Love it – some wise words said too!

  • Ryan, we miss you on Faderwave Radio.

  • Viirus::..

    after party’s at your place must be epic!

  • It surprises me that so many are quick to hate on the cost of the gear. Lots and lots and LOTS of people outfit their home setups in gear costing WAY more than that. Not to say its not a costly setup, but this contest was about the way its laid out, functions, and looks. I’ve been playing (like many others) for over a decade and I don’t care to do the math on how much I’ve spent!

    Everyone has their own opinion on what looks good and what doesn’t. If you took the lights away and just saw pics of the stand, you wouldn’t be stoked? Even if the gear was mid-range, the layout is great. Super clean, super tight. I’d take it in a heartbeat… but no Traktor thanks 😉

  • modred

    great dj setup! but i am much more interested in your loft!! do you own it? pay rent? how big is it?any pictures of the whole loft? a place like this was always my dream.

    • I own it. It’s just over 1300 square feet.

  • Jake

    Hey Ryan, I’ve got the CDJ Nexus decks as well, but seeing as you’re probably one of the few people that use it with traktor, I’m curious about something. From the pics I noticed you have a waveform up on the nexus deck. Are you able to display traktor waveforms in HID mode or only when utilizing traktor??

    • Jake

      *Utilizing Rekordbox*

    • The scrolling waveforms only display if using with rekordbox analyzed files, or if you are playing from rekordbox. For Traktor HID, it shows the static waveform but not the scrolling.

  • Zach

    This is amazing! Out of curiosity, Ryan, what’s your day job?

  • Very nice gear with a practicality in mind!! I love his obsession with workflow, having being a mad gear slut myself i know what its like to go overboard and destroy your workflow.

    I also agree with him on the USB thing.. Here in Australia, most events and gigs i play have CDJ2000’s (even the small gigs) so i don’t even both bringing a laptop.. theres no point.

  • Can anyone say echos….

    It’s a shame to spend so much and not at least acoustically treat the room. Sounding like a club is a bad thing. I’m always surprised clubs don’t treat more anyway and always pissed me off. When you hear a club that does have well controlled audio and a system it’s a dream.

    • It sounds quite good in the space, actually. The audio in the video is from a DSLR mic, it’s not going to sound good. I’ve never had any complaints!

  • Prince Charles

    Ha… he can’t f%ckin mix….

  • Dancefloor

    Why nobody dancing ?
    🙂

  • MR DJ

    Homeparty every freakin weekend, bring the friends ahaha, INSANE, if i just had the time to make my setups complete, 2x CDJ 2000 / DJM 800 Rotary, 2x Denon 3700, DJm 909, Native S4, Denon MC 6000, Denon DN 9000 – Denon DnX050, Roland MC808, Rmx 1000 / Kaosspad 3, Alesis DB16 Drummachine, American Audio SD1, Ledbars, lasers, strobs and lots more, but havent gotten into the build yet, maybe next year ;D, gona change the 800 into a 2000 and get 2 more CDJ 2000s, gona have 4 *lol* . . . Anyway congrats to the winner, rad setup and really nice design!

  • This guy obviously has some serious loot to be rocking a kit like that. But it’s nice to see he has good taste and knowledge to back it up properly. Great set up, Ryan. Well done!

  • Eyomuntu

    “…Dude your set up it the bomb for days. My fav’rite piece there is the rotary mixer. I cant wait to buy one of those. Isolators are king.”

  • Juan

    That is a awesome set up

  • Nice nice nice. A very cool setup. Best of luck 2 u 🙂

  • ¿no funktion 1 system? jajajaj, jk. crazy laboratory mad scientist, ¡bravo!

  • Rhapz

    What’s up Ryan? Sweet set-up and very well-spoken interview. And glad to know that this was done from the love of the music rather than to just show off. Need to work my ass off to get a set-up half as decent as this haha

    Props to you bro

  • Anonymous

    Love the setup but one bit of advice:

    Try to be more energetic in your videos.
    It almost looks like you’re being forced to mix at gunpoint…

  • Real Talk

    Capitalism wins again!

  • Percy

    Brilliant. A guy that obviosly loves his music and appreciates quality sound. Good to see that some people still just do whatever the hell they want. Not everyone that loves to play the stuff they love is striving to be a super star DJ. The cost is not important im sure he works his nuts off to pay for it. I have a question for Ryan. Did those speaker stands come as part of the DJ booth? If not what are they. I am looking for something like that.

  • Alex from Germany

    Do you really need all this fancy tech stuff ? Im no vinyl nazi but imo 2xTechnics and a simple 2-channel-mixer or 2xCDJ (at least 400’s) are enough for a home setup. Thats enough to have some practise. Better go out and play gigs. Setups like that simply confuse geginners and let them think they need to spend thousands to be a “real dj”
    just my 2 cents

  • Party at Ryan’s

  • Golden shower

    …….

    We would all think a contest between models to go out and buy the most expensive dress was absolutely pointless, in addition stupid as hell wouldn’t we?

    What if the people who started the contest make clothes for a living?

    …… Come on.

    • Conall

      So what? People like looking at cool setups, there’s threads on it on any dj/music related forum you’ll find on the net, why not have a contest? it’s not like he’s getting a medal.

  • Go Ryan!

  • djyanaki

    this setup is what inspired me to build my own… and this forum in general and i am super happy with the setup at the moment!!!

    • feel the same way about my setup and this forum

  • dad

    and…. you’re giving him free stuff? for a contest? nice.

  • vic

    Oh, to have money.

    • Yeah this contest could have been called, “who spends the most money on DJ equipment.” But it’s still a killer setup. Really should have parties though. Can’t imagine spending that much and not really using it. Then again… Party people suck and having them in your home would suck even more.

      • Ha, like I said I do entertain often and use the system at least once a week, and I do have people over during my weekly online broadcast. And of course the occasional party. But yeah, wild parties with tons of randoms over to trash my home? Not so into that.

        • Invite me! I’m very respectful of people’s spaces.

        • Love your place. I had a huge 2000sq ft studio / loft in downtown Denver from 1998 – 2001 dubbed Studio 74 that I had completely remodeled myself..all old oak floors, etc. I had alot of parties there, maybe one large one every 2 or three months with many smaller gatherings interspersed. I stopped once the police kept showing up! I’m 40 now and just “party” by myself at home and I agree, I got really sick of people trashing my nice place (including the po-po) lol!.

  • Kunal

    Was it even really a contest? Let’s be honest! His setup was in my mind hands down & by far the best! May as well have been a nice small bar in that apartment!

    • For all that he has, it’s still a relatively mid/old-school setup (somewhere betweeen old and new-school). He didn’t include a 25-Key Keyboard or something with buttons, sliders, X-Y pads and dials to control effects, drum samples or remix clips (with MF3D, Kontrol F1, etc.) so he still has room to grow if he chose to. Weirdly enough, I get this strange sensation like most people are actually going to try and “Pimp their DJ Cart” (making their gear mobile while still as versatile as possible)… I strangely like that idea and I can’t wait for next year when someone shows off their “Shockwave” or “Optimus Prime” Transformer, an All-Touch or V/R interface and someone makes a Monster Truck DJ cart… and yes, I have DJed out of the trunk of my car through my stereo so it better have projectors for visuals as well at least one smoke machine.

  • As amazing as this is, I don’t understand, why? If you’re not into having parties, or live with neighbours close by, what’s the thrill? Standing there alone in an empty room with headphones on and jamming out? I don’t mean any disrespect, I just don’t understand.

    • preset

      For the love of Music

    • Well I do still entertain often. By “parties”, I mean I don’t have 50 people over until 4am. It’s more like a lounge for friends.

    • Jay

      I figure, why not? A man’s home is his palace, is it not? I know I personally come home to ‘get away’ from it all.

    • JuanSOLO

      Standing there alone in that empty room jamming out, sounds like a good time to me.

    • It’s like asking a guitar guy why he owns 5 Les Paul’s when he can only play one at a time. For the love of them, and because he can. (and maybe a little bragging rights)

  • Neotechtonics

    Sweet setup. Can’t wait til mine is all up and running.. might give Ryan a run for his money.

  • Wow, that’s some serious cash sunk into that place. It’s basically a club space in his house. I see everything but the P.A. speakers he’d use to push sound throughout the space, but that’s a serious commitment to gear.

  • steve

    awesome to see you guys highlighting stuff from the forums, not enough of that…..
    ryan’s dj rig is absurd, wish I had the cash to have one like that!