Portable Party Power: we countdown the best on-the-go speakers
Is it possible to travel light and still pack a punch at your party? DJ Mag Ibiza investigates some portable DJ set-ups for your next villa afters. Get ready to drool over some very sexy tech...
No matter how, when or why you’ve taken a trip to Ibiza, there are three constants for everyone who visits the White Isle. Number one: You’ll hit it too hard on the first night. Number two: Your taxi won’t be able to find your villa. Number three, and most likely of all: there will be an after-party. For the first two, we can’t help you — you’re on your own (good luck!) — but luckily for you, after-parties are our specialty.
Villa party DJs might seem out of reach for the humble holiday-maker but with so many powerful, portable and plane-friendly speakers on the market, as well as apps like Djay and Traktor for iPad, it’s by no means a stretch to fit your whole set-up in your hand luggage. On the other hand, if you’re planning something special, there’s plenty of options to hire a full CDJ set-up and speakers once you arrive on the island.
We’ve prepared the ultimate tech guide for your pre- or post-club party, be it DJing for your mates around the pool before you head out, or hosting 50 party veterans for an all-night rave. Disclaimer: Ibiza has strict laws about excessive noise, so make sure you’re inside by 11pm and the volume is controlled — you have been warned. Let’s start out with some mini speakers that pack a punch...
RIG IT UP
Up until recently, portable speakers — Bluetooth or otherwise — have always cut corners when it comes to sound. Their smaller size meant low volume and little bass — not ideal for a rave. Lately though, a few brands and models have managed to buck the curve, delivering fairly powerful sound from a small and very portable package. Minirigs — manuafactured in the UK and one of our go-to mini sound-makers — are an excellent choice for a smaller soirée. Not only does a single speaker provide more bass than anything we’ve heard from a speaker its size, it’s possible to chain two or more together and there’s even a subwoofer to add to the mix for extra bass power. Though they do have powerful battery, we’d recommend plugging them in via the 3.5mm jack to avoid any catastrophes, and although they do all work wirelessly, Bluetooth isn’t made for DJs and the latency can really throw you when mixing. Plug ’em in, crank ’em up and pack ’em back into your hand luggage when you’re done.
STYLE & SUBSTANCE
If you’re looking for a speaker that will look right at home in your luxury villa, look no further than the Urban Ears Stammen. Boasting elegant Swedish design and a powerful bass response, the Stammen works over Bluetooth and Airplay and has both Spotify Connect and Chromecast built in, for ultimate flexibility. It can also store Spotify playlists as presets and even recall Internet radio stations, so Sonica is never too far away. Although it’s bigger than the other speakers on test, it’s defi nitely hand luggagefriendly and it’s the most versatile for poolside radio or Spotify listening — chain them together to get extra oomph as the sun goes down. But just like Minirig, too much latency means you’ll have to wire it in. They also won’t run on batteries, so you’ll need mains power.
SHAKE THE ROOM
Another great portable option is the Ultimate Ears Megaboom — definitely one of the best options we tested. A single 360-degree speaker delivers powerful, thumping bass with little to no distortion even at high volumes but the magic happens when you download the UE Megaboom app. Once loaded, up to 50(!) of them can be wirelessly chained together and dotted all over your villa, all controlled from one device. It’s the ultimate portable party solution and although 50 might be slightly excessive, if you all pack one each, it can deliver a very impressive sound when chained together. They even managed to reduce the Bluetooth latency until it was almost unnoticeable, though they do have a 3.5mm input jack too.
TRAKTOR FOR iPAD
Of course, the best speakers in the world don’t matter without the right DJ tools, and Traktor DJ for iOS and the Kontrol Z1 controller are another very portable option. With two ‘decks’, XY-style FX control and a SuperSlicer to remix on the fl y, it’s not as fully featured as its bigger brother but is a great option for anyone travelling light. Once combined with the Z1, all three EQ bands, filter, crossfader and level controls are all done from the hardware, giving you an impressive mini DJ set-up for a very small size and price. It’s also got a dedicated phono out and even a headphone output for monitoring. Of course, the bigger S2 and S4 Traktor controllers will also work with Traktor for iOS, while the Z1 can also control the flagship Traktor Pro 2 on your laptop. Very cool.
GO HARD OR GO HOME
For some of us though, only the best will do, and that means packing only your best party outfits in your luggage and hiring some industry-standard equipment once you land on the island. As you can imagine, there are plenty of options when it comes to hiring DJ equipment in Ibiza but our favourite is definitely Ibiza Audio Services. For €400 a day you can hire two CDJ2000nxs2s, a DJM900nxs2 and two Pioneer PA speakers. Considering that’s probably what you spent on Coronas at Space closing last year, it’s a pretty good deal, especially when split among all party-goers. You can of course chop and change, add turntables, swap for an Allen & Heath mixer, add extra decks, controllers, anything you need for your line-up. Why not go all out and build a temporary studio in your villa for when you return from the club inspired to fi nally fi nish that track? It’s all possible — check out their website at IbizaAudioServices.com.
*Declan McGlynn is a freelance writer and DJ who deeply enjoys disco, Spurs and memes about ducks. Follow him on Twitter here.