Monday, January 02, 2012

Struggling to be heard

New Year's Eve we attend a very nice dinner/dance. Well, mostly nice. There was a problem with the DJ.

But this post isn't so much about those problems as to what others thought I said was the problem.

The DJ was hired on the recommendation of one of the organizer's daughters, and was reputed to be the best in Charlottesville. Well, actually, he was the most popular DJ for fraternity and sorority parties at UVa, which is an entirely different thing.

While there were some twenty-somethings at the party, for most part the age range was 40-70. When the DJ got going, his selections tended to skew young -- as befitted his normal audience. Most of the people (including the folks at the table I was at) said they couldn't dance to that stuff.

My complaint wasn't with the music, but with the sound system. Even for a PA system, it was really bass-heavy. So much so, that the very low frequencies were boosted to the point that they rattled my chest. If there was an EQ curve, it must have looked like a big smile, because the high end was really crunchy. And the middle was nothing but mud.

So every time the DJ made an announcement his voice was so garbled it was impossible to make out the words (And he introed every song -- that was another of my complaints. He never beat-matched or even cross-faded to keep the mood going. Every song came to a full stop, then we got an unintelligible intro, then the next song started.)

And the volume was too loud for the room. It was a small space, and the very low tones pushed physically against my sternum and my eardrums. It was wearying, to say the least.

But in talking with people afterwards, everyone agreed that the music was terrible.

No, no it wasn't.

And it wasn't what I was saying at all.

No matter how many ways I tried to make it clear that my objection was to the sound itself, all anyone seemed to hear was that I shared their complaint that the selection of music was awful.

It's bad enough that there are people my age saying things like "I can't stand that rap stuff," "That's not music,  that's just noise." and "Why can't they play good music like [stuff from their youth]?"

Good grief. It's the same litany I heard from my parents. It sounded old then, and it sounds old now.

My gripe was with the mix, not the music. But trying to communicate that to folks who aren't really listening is like, well, like a DJ talking through a badly EQ'd PA system.

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