Mobile DJs spend a huge amount of time carrying, setting up, and packing away their equipment at the start and end of each gig. The type and quantity of equipment used, as well as the number of people available will determine to a large degree how long this process takes, but there are several steps that can be taken to optimise the setup, and many of these are applicable to both large and small systems. Implementing some of these ideas can make a surprisingly big difference not only to the setup time but also to the amount of stress involved in the process.
However your equipment is transported, it pays to spend some time organising the order in which it goes into and out of your vehicle. Equipment that’s needed first on arrival should be packed last. Equipment that’s needed last should be behind or under that. Equipment that’s optional should ideally be packed such that it doesn’t have to be moved in order to access anything else. If you have the luxury of a van or trailer, then adding some internal racking can help enormously — a shelf for backup equipment and spares that are rarely touched keeps them out of the way of the main equipment but still handy for the rare occasions that they’re needed.
Consider adding wheels to any large or heavy items such as big speakers and subwoofers. For items that can’t easily have wheels added, maybe a trolley or wheeled board would help. For essential equipment that’s needed every time, combining several items onto a single trolley that fits into the vehicle fully loaded can be a huge time saver, whether the items stay in place on the trolley during the event or not. Perhaps the main speakers and decks could all be strapped onto a trolley that can be wheeled into and out of the vehicle via a small ramp, and directly into the venue. This not only reduces the amount of manual carrying required but also helps to minimize the number of trips into and out of the venue, which saves valuable time. With the right vehicle and trolley it’s entirely possible to use the trolley as a deck stand during the gig, such that the decks never have to be lifted off it. However, it would be wise not to become too reliant on a trolley, otherwise the next gig that’s upstairs and without a lift could become more stressful than ever!
Cabling all of the audio and lighting equipment together can take a very long time if it’s done from scratch every time. Many of those cables run between roughly the same two points such as the power and audio signal cables to an active speaker or the power and DMX control cables to a lighting fixture or stand. Grouping cables into looms using tape, cables ties, or spiral cable wrap saves time by reducing the number of individual cables that need to be run. This applies to both audio and lighting equipment, and in the case of a simple setup can reduce the number of individual cable runs (looms) to just 3 or 4!