What makes DJ’ing so popular? Imagine yourself playing music at a cool place, partying, socialising with other cool people, and GETTING PAID for it! No wonder so many youngsters wish to be a DJ.
Gone are the days (especially the 90’s) when the DJ had to carry bulks of vinyl (packed in boxes) every single gig. Besides, they also had to spent lot of time browsing through the music collection. DJing was fun back then too, but DJ’s were less productive due to the technology that was available back then.
Changes in technology gave rise to unique DJ’ing styles behind the decks. Surprisingly, using computers was not acceptable to professionals back then (it was seen only for novices) but today its an essential tool in any pro DJ setup.
The good thing is that, with modern technology, you can easily build your own DJ setup, including music library, without having to spend a fortune (it used to be expensive until few years back).
Today, you need a laptop computer, a DJ controller, a set of headphones and a great music library to get started. You can choose from several brands of software and hardware, available for almost every budget.
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Essential DJ Equipment to Rock the Dance Floor
When you are beginning out, renting the DJ equipment could be a good option, but as you start getting more work, it does make sense to buy your own gear. And when it comes to choosing the right equipment, doesn’t matter if you’re doing this just as a hobby or are already a pro, having the right set of DJ gear makes life a lot easier.
In case you’re a beginner and really serious about DJing, it would really help if the next time you visit a dance club, just make a trip backstage to check out the DJ equipment.
And it’s not that you’ll need just one equipment; you will need a few!
No matter whether you are a pro or a beginner, one thing is certain – you’ve to go digital in some way. Here are a few scenarios that will help you to choose what sort of DJ setup is best for your needs.
- Use an all-in-one controller (such as Traktor S4, NuMark Mixtrack, etc.) in conjunction with a software running on the laptop.
- In case you already own some equipment, you may want a hybrid set up, something that blends analog with digital, allowing you to use your laptop in conjunction with the decks or CDJs that most clubs provide.
- Use the laptop and not rely on the CDJs or turntables in the DJ booth. In this case, you could use a smaller controller that links to the laptop and use the house mixer provided by the club.
DJ software can be as basic as a digital record crate, or as complex as a full system with 4 digital turntables. If you’re new to DJing you will have to decide what kind of set up you’re going to use because that will determine your software.
The two major players in the market, when it comes to DJ software, are Traktor and Serato. Traktor is an open system, while Serato is closed. Traktor works with a wide variety of controllers and devices (made by third party manufacturers) besides working with equipment made by Native Intstruments. Traktor is also more flexible to use.
Serato, on the other hand, works only with Serato certified equipment, including mixers, controllers and soundcards. Serato is also not very flexible. However, Serato still remains the favorite software for DJs who still mix with vinyl and turntables (most common with scratch DJs and hip hop DJs).
Controllers offer deck control and usually come with a built in mixer. Several models nowadays come with an internal soundcard as well. So basically, all that the DJ needs to do is plug in the controller to the sound system, connect the laptop and he/she is ready to roll.
Controllers made by Native Instruments and NuMark are quite popular.
Wondering why the DJ needs headphones when the music played is anyways so loud? Why do you need Headphones when there’s so much sound already coming out of the speakers? Its because the DJ needs to cue or monitor the next track before bringing it into the mix. Besides, a DJ has to mix great music for which you need to hear the music clearly (from where you may be positioned).
DJ Headphones are designed to reduce outside noise, but don’t block them altogether. DJ headphones cover your ears but do not completely block the music from the booth monitors. So when buying a DJ headphone you don’t really need one with high output. Neither do you need noise cancellation headphones that will completely block outside sound.
Most traditional setup used a DJ mixer. A DJ Mixer brings all the sounds together, which you can then control from one equipment. It lets you connect your vinyl and CD turntables. Even these come with midi capabilities nowadays.
You also need a DJ mixer (connected to an amplifier and two or more passive / active speakers), especially if you’re going to use a modular controller, or even CDJs or old school turntables. You may choose from scratch mixers or standard club mixers.
Nowadays, a turntable with vinyl is used only for scratching. DJs find it much easier to scratch on turntables, whereas scratching on controllers or CDJs is not that effective and accurate. Also, vinyl is still very much available for scratch DJs, whereas it is gradually dying out in other music genres.
Speakers or amps will be required, in case you’re performing at a smaller venue and they may not have PA / speakers.
Some more equipment / accessories include:
Over time, you could also be associated with event management, where you’d try to get things organised on your own.
Choosing the Right DJ Tools
Would you really look like a singer, if you see a picture of yourself without a microphone in front of you? Similarly, a DJ may not look like one if you don’t see him spin discs on a turntable.
2 Turntables and/or 2 Mixable CD players or Laptop
This is one of the important ones that you need to have. If you are a beginner one would be fine, but experienced DJs use two, so that they can accomplish more. For a long time, Vinyl turntables have been the preferred equipment for most DJs. It gives you the the true feel of DJing.
However, DJ CD turntables are also becoming fast popular and is seen as the next evolution of DJ equipment. The easy integration of CD turntables in a midi environment make them more flexible and gives you access to an endless digital music library.
You now also get compact DJ Midi Controllers, which makes it possible to replace most physical equipment with DJ programs and software. These are smaller in size and makes them quite convenient to carry around.
It’s also better to invest in a laptop that can handle thousands of songs and can be synced with the other DJ equipment such as turntables and CD mixers.
The ability to produce great music mixes requires experience, but then to be able to bring the dance floor alive, you also need to invest in quality DJ equipment.