How Do Weather Conditions Affect DJ Equipment? (How To Safely DJ Outdoors)

Heat/Cold, rain, thunderstorm protection advice and more! When planning an outdoor gig it’s essential to adapt to weather conditions to prevent gear damage. In this article we will share some helpful tips on taking care of your DJ equipment outdoors in difficult weather conditions.

1. Can you DJ outdoors?
2. Rain protection
3. Cold conditions (+extreme cold)
4. Hot conditions (+extreme heat)
5. Can You DJ during a thunderstorm?

(this article may contain affiliate links)

Before we begin you can check out the Above & Beyond DJ set from Ultra Music Festival in 2014 when their main stage equipment got permanently damaged because of the heavy rain and they were forced to use their reserve decks. (here, around the 16:00 mark). If you don’t have backup gear just laying around on the backstage you want to prevent those kinds of situations at all costs!

Can you DJ outdoors?

You sure can however you need to be wary of how certain weather conditions may affect your sensitive DJ gear. The main things you will have to try to avoid are: freezing cold temperatures, rain/snow, hot weather and both sand and dust.

Festival-wise although the organizers should be the ones to provide stage protection measures you should always plan prior to the gig how your DJ booth should look like by including all the necessary information in your DJ rider or by communicating directly with the person responsible for the stage setup.

The best choices for booth weather protection when it comes to self-organized outdoor events are either covered places near the buildings close to the main ground or waterproof tents that you are able to buy or rent in many places.

Rain protection

Tents and tarps

In case of rain not only your DJ booth should be protected but also the PA system alongside with the additional sound mixers and cabling.

At many times the PA system and other stage elements belong to the festival organizers so the sound engineers will try to do their best to prepare for the unpleasant weather surprises.

When you are the sole organizer of an outdoor even however you should protect not only the place you’ll be located in (your DJ booth), but also the PA system, monitor speakers, audio mixers and possibly other places that might feature sensitive electronic parts.

Foldable canopies

When the first choice when it comes to rain protection should definitely be a foldable waterproof tent a second best idea is to equip yourself with a considerable amount of industrial tilt, waterproof tarp or other covering that you will be able to quickly pull out and mount over the speakers and other electronics. The tilt sheets should have some kind of holes at the edges (they often come with metal reinforced mounting holes) so that you can easily mount the fabric over your equipment using pieces of flexible string or rubber in case of rain.

When choosing a tent you should keep in mind that when a tent doesn’t feature any kind of side walls the rain can still get in from the sides if the wind is strong enough.

The audio cables (ex. XLR cables) laying on the ground are generally fine with a small amount of rainfall (but don’t let them get submerged in the water!). Of course if you want to be 110% safe you can provide some covering for all your cable routes too.

You can research DJ equipment insurance topic if you are really worried about accidental damage to your DJ gear.

Cold weather (+extreme cold)

Condensation

The cold itself is most often not the main problem – what is problematic is the condensation effect that may occur after moving your gear from the cold outdoor environment to a warmer place indoors after the gig.

When it’s really cold outside and you’ve been using your gear outdoors when you get back into a warmer environment such as your house your devices may suffer from condensation if they are heated up too rapidly (small moisture droplets can form inside).

Photo by: Ozgu Ozden

Most of the times this won’t kill your device instantly but in some cases it might cause you problems later on (when the corrosion on small electrical parts sets in for example).

The wise thing to do is to let the cold gear heat up gradually and not use it right after bringing it inside a heated place.

If we are talking about extreme cold (temperatures way below 0°C) you should always refer to your device’s manual. There will always be a part dedicated to weather conditions in which the device is able to operate properly and without being damaged.

When it comes to temperatures below zero you should be also aware that many kinds of plastics tend to break much easier when freezing cold.

Portable heaters

A good solution is to heat up your DJ booth using a portable heater. There are two things that you should keep in mind here: one is to ensure that the portable heater itself will be protected from rain, snow and water. Ensure that the heater you’re getting is suited for outdoor use (this is often mentioned in product descriptions).

The second thing is depending on your heater’s construction you shouldn’t point the heat stream coming from the heater directly on your DJ equipment – this may cause damage! The heater should be used as a mean to rise the ambient temperature of your DJ booth area which should be a space closed-off enough for the heater to operate efficiently (ex. the heater won’t be able to heat up the inside of a simple open camping canopy).

You can find a wide choice of portable heater models online.

For the best effect place the heater somewhere near you (or even pointing at you if you’d like) but not extremely close to your gear and ensure that the the space around you is enclosed in a way that makes the heating process efficient.

Hot weather (+extreme heat)

Give your gear some shadow

When you expect a really hot day and you know that you’ll be performing outdoors you should take some precautions to prevent your gear from overheating. The most popular choices here are either foldable tents/simple garden canopies and/or gear shades that when placed correctly will protect your equipment in your booth from direct sunlight and will also make the LCD screens on your players or your controller better visible by shielding them from direct sunlight.

In extreme heat vinyl records and in some cases even plastic buttons on your gear, rubber buttons and caps or electrical contacts inside of it may begin to melt – this can be a very expensive fix when it comes to a DJ controller and heat damage in case of a vinyl record is almost always irreversible.

Remember that using a plastic gear cover guard (those that are often used for dust protection) in direct sunlight often might make things worse – the heat will build up under the cover and may cause damage to your equipment. The same thing goes with leaving your gear in your car for prolonged amounts of time in extreme heat – after some time in direct sunlight the car’s inside temperature rises dramatically.

Simply DJing outdoors when it’s hot outside most probably won’t make your buttons melt or gear get damaged. However, when faced with a sudden heat wave or prolonged high temperature exposure take precautions – better safe than sorry!

Photo by: David Lezcano

Get yourself some fans [real ones ;)]

You might consider placing some fans facing your DJ booth when performing during a hot day. Also it’s always a good idea to get your laptop a cooling pad – overheating is dangerous also for this crucial part of your setup.

Many electronic devices will turn off when they reach a certain temperature to prevent heat damage. This can be quite problematic when you don’t have any kind of gear backup plan or when it’s your laptop that turns off.

Try to keep your gear in the shadow, avoid direct sunlight and use fans wherever it’s possible to get the air moving – this will help preventing heat damage and emergency shutdowns. Point the fans directly over critical parts of your setup (laptop, DJ controller) so that the air will blow right over them dispersing the heat.

If you don’t plan on getting huge fans you might use cheap USB fans or regular small table top household fans – those will also help to keep both you and your gear even somewhat cooler.

Just as with extreme cold when dealing with temperatures way above 35°C (95°F) you should refer to your device’s manual. Keep in mind that many electrical devices might simply automatically turn off when overheating to prevent damage. This as we’ve said includes also your laptop so you should be wary of that during your performance.

Can You DJ during a thunderstorm?

Outdoors:

When outside on a small self/co-organized event you generally shouldn’t continue your live set when a thunderstorm is close nearby. Disconnect your equipment from power sockets and pull the physical network connection plugs for maximum safety.

Unless the stage is high and big enough to feature a lightning arrester system (and that’s generally rare unless we are talking festivals) you should take a break to protect both yourself and your equipment.

In the big festival industry the organizers generally have a detailed “lightning safety plan” for the event of an unexpected thunderstorm. When you’re a part of an official event that is managed properly the management itself makes the decisions in terms of thunderstorm safety and you have one less thing to worry about.

There is a great article regarding this matter on the festivalinsights industry blog:
http://www.festivalinsights.com/2016/06/thunder-roars-indoors-lightning-safety-planning/

Photo by: David Moum

Indoors:

For safety disconnect all your gear from the power sockets and for additional safety also disconnect your equipment from the network (when it’s connected using physical cabling).

At home you should consider taking a break from your mixing session. There is a slightly smaller risk of getting your equipment fried when you live in a big city than when you live in the countryside because of the power grid architecture but it certainly happens and you don’t want it happening to you even when a chance for that is really small. For maximum safety disconnect your gear from the power sockets (including your laptop/PC) and additionally also briefly disconnect your network cables.

Summary:

When it comes to protecting your gear from various weather conditions it almost always comes down to right preparation. You should always check the weather forecasts before your gigs and even when all seems fine be prepared for the unexpected.

We hope that our tips will be helpful to you! Good luck with planning out your next outdoor event!

If you want to prolong your DJ controller’s or your general setup life you can also check out our extensive article on how to safely clean your DJ gear!

-> How To Clean DJ Equipment? (Simply explained) <-

Related Articles

Latest Articles