Music & Entertainment

DJ-ing with Your Own iPod

The ins and outs of DJing your own reception

It seems the old African saying, "If you can walk, you can dance; if you can talk, you can sing" has been expanded lately to include, "If you can iPod, you can DJ." These gadgets are now being used to provide the music at various wedding events. Some DJs are even getting in on the action, billing themselves as "iPod DJs" who essentially handle your playlists.

For a large, formal wedding, you probably still want to leave the music to a professional, but you can definitely use MP3 music (via a portable player such as an iPod, or a laptop's music library) during the rehearsal dinner, the cocktail hour, when the band takes a break, or for the wedding after-party. It's easy to pull off, provided you offer lots of variety, says professional musician and iPod devotee John Woo, of Brooklyn. "You want an assortment of jazz and classical, and pop and rock songs," he says.

Here, the pros and cons of this new wave of entertainment.

Pros

You'll hear only the songs you choose. When Jay Brida got married in 2003 in Portland, ME, he used iTunes at a number of the weekend's get-togethers. "I wanted to have control over the music, which was particularly important to a music snob like me," he says.

It's inexpensive. Equipment other than the MP3 player or laptop itself should cost less than $30, and your venue should be able to provide speakers.

It's participatory. At an after-party, guests can turn the iPod into a jukebox of sorts, picking out their songs and queuing them up. (But this can be a negative, too. See "Cons.")

Cons

It may be hard to switch up the music. "With an iPod, you can't change pitch or tempo or the transition from song to song," says Marvin Coleman, a New York City DJ known as Qool DJ Marv.

There may be "dead air." Without a second iPod or a mixer, pauses may occur between songs, which can put a damper on dancing, if only for a few seconds.

It can encourage too much participation. Guests may take it upon themselves to start running the show by changing your lineup or swapping their iPod for yours.

What You'll Need

Consider hooking up either your laptop's iTunes or the MP3 player itself to a stereo receiver or to powered speakers via a ministereo-to-RCA cable (cost: about $10 at RadioShack or Best Buy). For good measure, also pick up a "male-to-female" RCA extension cable that gives you additional options for setting up the iPod or computer.

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