Choosing DJ Equipment

When the scene first started, DJ used turntables for scratching vinyl and spinning dance records. After the arrival of CDs and MP3s, a lot of DJ changed to the new systems for their ease of music library management, transportation, reliability and potential for music control. DJ system manufacturers quickly adapted to this and started producing DJ mixer, controllers and players that could meet up with the demand.

 

Since they were introduced, the DJ controllers and mixers have grown a lot more powerful. Since the DJ software is pretty tightly knit into specific hardware, it’s easier for a beginner DJs to configure the controllers’ settings. Even though the controller allows you to manipulate the software of your choice, it is the software that does all the hard work and effects. However all of the new features make it all the more confusing for a beginner to understand their meaning, not to mention mastering using them.

 

We have compiled a list of different DJ equipment you might need. We have also included what you should look for when buying your DJ equipment. Before you make any buy decision, it is highly recommended that you check out our review section. We have hand selected only the best DJ equipment for you, and written a detailed review to make your buy decision easier.

 

Choosing DJ Mixer

Contents

dj mixer

 

DJ mixers basic purpose is to receive audio signals and send them out. This means you are receiving two or more audio signals, mixing them, and sending them to a DJ audio system like speakers or an amplifier. These audio signals come from the turntables or CDJ players on the left and right side of your mixer (traditional setup).

 

dj mixer

DJ mixer setup with two CDJ players.

 

The good points of the traditional DJ mixer setup, with two CDJ players is that they offer more control and features, compared to the old school turntable setup. The CDJ players nowadays support USB sticks, so you can play and mix music directly from your thumb drive or hard drive. It is a setup that is preferred by many club DJ.

 

 

There are a lot of different DJ mixers on sale and it might be difficult to compare them effectively. We give you the opportunity to compare the mixers side-by-side. We only feature the best mixers from beginner level to advanced, so whatever your need, we got you covered.

 

The specific DJ mixer features range greatly depending on the manufacturer and model, but they must all have ATLEAST the following components.

 

Basic DJ Mixer features:

  • Crossfader
  • EQ
  • Two channel faders
  • Master channel
  • Booth output
  • Microphone output
  • Headphone output

 

These are only the most basic functions your DJ mixer has to have. There are a lot of extra functions in mixers giving them ability to manipulate sound even deeper and wider. Below are few features a more advanced DJ mixer might have.

 

Keep in mind that the list below is no way a requirement for a good mixer, some mixers might have none of the features mentioned and some might have even more.

Advanced DJ Mixer features:

 

  • +3 channel faders
  • MIDI input
  • USB input
  • USB hub
  • EQ kill for all channels
  • 3-way EQ (treble, mid, bass)
  • 3-way EQ kill switch (treble, mid, bass)
  • Crossfader contour / curve setting
  • EQ curve setting
  • Universal MIDI Sync
  • Built-in effects (distortion, reverse roll, phaser, pitch shifter, delay, reverb, auto pan, auto BPM, loop, echo, filter, flange
  • Dual headphone output
  • Dual soundcards
  • Highly-Playable Cue Buttons

 

These features might come with a button, fader, switch, slider or a knob (depending on the manufacturer and model).

 

Best DJ Mixer for beginner / Best DJ Mixer for pro

 

Choosing the right DJ mixer depends entirely on your own needs. The lower price-range DJ mixers are usually lower quality making their durability suffer. On other hand, the more expensive DJ mixers might seem too confusing for a beginner, with their overload of features.

 

When purchasing a DJ mixer, best thing to do is ask yourself, “What am I looking for?” Here are few questions you should ask yourself:

 

  • How am I going to play, what features do I need?
  • Will I be playing mostly home, or should I prepare for club gigs?
  • Is a standard beginners DJ mixer enough for me or should I invest a bit more straight away to buy an advanced DJ mixer?
  • How many channels will I need?
  • What kind of layout am I most comfortable with? Different decks might have same features but with a different layout.
  • Is the layout made practically?
  • Will my fingers get in the way of some keys?
  • Can I accidently hit some buttons?
  • How’s my DJ setup going to look? How many inputs and outputs do I need?
  • Am I going to use DJ software?
  • Will I be scratching?
  • Can I operate the knobs freely?

 

It is important to match your mixer to YOUR needs. We have compiled the best mixers and made it easy for you to compare the features, take a look.

 

DJ Mixer F.A.Q.

How to setup DJ Mixer?

See the section “DJ equipment setups” of this article.

How to setup DJ Mixer to speakers?

See here. 

How to setup DJ Mixer to laptop?

See above

Which is best DJ mixer software?

See the “DJ Software” section of this article.

Which DJ Mixer sounds best?

It is arguable, but see our reviews of the best DJ mixers out there.

What is a good DJ Mixer for beginners?

See our review section for the best DJ mixers for beginners.

What is DJ Mixer used for?

It’s basically used to mixing multiple sounds together and outputting them.

When were DJ Mixers invented?

In 1071 by Alex Rosner, see more.

How to clean DJ mixer?

Here is a good guide to cleaning magnetic faders.

 

Choosing DJ Controller

dj mixer

 

DJ controller is a very popular option for a DJ setup. Instead of buying a mixer and turntables separately, you have all of them in one package. Especially when starting out, you might not be able to invest as much as you want on DJ equipment, so you can save a few bucks buying a DJ controller. And don’t get me wrong, a lot of professionals use DJ controllers at gigs too, it’s simply convenient.

 

The DJ controllers today usually feature:

 

  • A deck filled with buttons, knobs, pads, jog wheels and faders that give you a real hands-on way to control DJ software settings and functions. LED lights and displays tell you system status, levels and other stats.
  • Transmit signal to computers or any other external DJ equipment.
  • The newer DJ controllers can operate tablet, iOS and android apps.

 

Using DJ controller makes it easier for you to operate your DJ software. Each of the DJ controllers are built to match a specific DJ software, so they work extremely well together. The higher end DJ controllers usually come with a full-version of a DJ software as you buy them, instead of a demo that comes with cheaper controllers. That is something to consider as well, money wise.

 

dj mixer

DJ controller with laptop

 

DJ controller allows very good control over your music, since they are made to control the DJ software you have running on your PC. You can map the controller however you like so it is very so you can customize it to match your needs and DJ software you want to use. Although it is recommended for a beginner to stick with the DJ software that comes with the controller. Another good point of DJ controller is its mobility. You can easily transport it anywhere, compared to having mixer and CDJ-players separately.

 

 

Just as with a DJ mixer, buying a DJ controller is about matching your needs. You should ask yourself the same questions as buying a mixer:

 

  • What features do I need?
  • How am I going to play?
  • Will I be playing at club or at home?
  • Is a standard beginners DJ controller enough or should I invest a bit more to buy an advanced DJ mixer?
  • How many channels do I need?
  • What kind of layout am I most comfortable with? Different DJ controllers might have same features but with a different layout.
  • Is the controller layout made practically?
  • Can I operate the keys freely?
  • Might I accidently hit buttons?
  • What DJ software am I going to use?
  • Will I be scratching?
  • Can I operate the knobs on the controller freely?

 

DJ Controller F.A.Q.

Which DJ controller for beginners?

See our review section for the best DJ controllers for beginners.

Which DJ controller is the best?

See our review section for the best DJ controllers.

What is DJ controller mapping?

Mapping means assigning keys for your DJ software. These are normally preset for higher-end controllers with their own software.

Why use a DJ controller?

Using a DJ controller saves you money and hassle when you are starting out. It’s simply easier.

How to connect DJ controller to pc?

See a guide here.

How to setup DJ controller with Traktor?

For a Traktor ready controller check here.

What are good DJ controller brands?

We only feature the best and most trusted brands, check out our review section for DJ controllers.

How to connect DJ controller to iPad?

Check out a guide here.

 

Choosing DJ Turntable

dj mixer

 

When choosing DJ turntables, you have two options. Belt driven turntables and direct drive turntables. The difference between the two is the way the platter and motor are coupled. Direct drive turntables motor is located on the center, directly connected to the platter, while belt driven turntables motor is located off-center and connected by a type of rubber band.

 

This makes the belt driven turntables react slower to pitch changes and can have a delay in getting in the right speed, which makes it harder to match tempos. The direct drive turntables are preferred among experienced DJ’s.

 

dj mixer

Classic DJ turntable setup, with DJ mixer and two turntables

 

The mixer-turntable setup is the most classic DJ setup there is. It is recommended for anyone that wants to learn how to DJ, since managing turntables and matching beats requires tactile thinking. After mastering and understanding the basics of DJ’ing, should you move to more high tech equipment. There are also software available from Serato and Traktor for example, that make the setup digital.

 

dj mixer

DJ setup with mixer, turntables and a laptop.

 

The turntable setup with laptop and mixer is preferred by many experienced DJ. It allows you to play vinyl and have the feel of them, while also being able to play digital files. The DJ software on PC adds a whole new element to the old turntable setup, with it’s effects and features.

 

DJ Turntable F.A.Q.

What the best DJ turntables?

See our review section for the best DJ turntables.

what are good dj turntables for beginners

See our review section for the best DJ turntables for beginners.

What are DJ turntables used for?

Turntables are used to play and scratch music.

How to setup DJ turntables

See the section “DJ equipment setups”.

How to use DJ turntables?

See http://www.wikihow.com/Scratch-or-Be-a-Turntablist

How do DJ turntables work?

Motor operates the platter and plays music.

 

CDJ Players For DJ

dj mixer

 

Many of the CDJ players of the present allow you to insert a USB stick in it, by passing the need to use a laptop or carry around a library of CD’s. A tabletop CDJ setup is just like a traditional turntable setup. The CDJ unit is on the left of a mixer and connected to another unit on the right side. The digital turntable units nowadays consist of a jog wheel that allows you to perform very similarly as a regular turntable. You can fast forward, rewind, scratch etc. using the jog wheel dial.

 

dj mixer

DJ mixer setup with CDJ-players.

 

The CDJ + DJ mixer setup allows more control, and offers more features than if you had DJ mixer connected to turntables. It can be used with DJ software such as Serato Scratch Live and Traktor Scratch.

 

 

dj mixer

DJ mixer setup with CDJ-players connected to a laptop.

 

Adding a laptop to the DJ mixer and CDJ setup gives you the ability to play digital files more easily, as well as using DJ software.

 

DJ CDJ Player F.A.Q.

What is the best CDJ player?

See our section for CDJ-players

What is a CDJ player?

Basically it’s a player to play CD’s but now days you can hook up USB-stick to them as well.

 

DJ Laptop Specifications

dj mixer

 

Laptop is a big part of being a DJ. The laptop should have enough power to run your tasks and most importantly, it should be reliable enough to get through even the most heavy-duty use. Nothing is worse than your laptop freezing in the middle of a club gig. Some things to consider when choosing a DJ laptop are:

 

Processor: Since you are using real heavy-duty programs like Traktor Pro, Serato DJ or Deckadance, and doing a lot of mixing, effects or playing HD video. You should invest in an intel i5 processor MINIMUM!

 

RAM: Your laptop should be able to handle as many simultaneous programs and tasks as you need. You should invest in 8 GB of RAM MINIMUM!

 

GPU: You are doing pretty highly demanding graphical tasks, like video DJing, mixing so you should invest in a dedicated GPU with and 2GB graphics card MINIMUM!

 

Operating System: The eternal Mac vs. Windows discussion. Both of the operating systems have their good and bad points. You should choose an operating system that you are most comfortable with. Generally speaking Macs are regarded as more reliable and do not have as many viruses, but they cost more. Where as you can get same spec PC for a lot cheaper.

 

HDD: Your operating system will need a fast SSD but as you will probably have a big music library it might cost quite a lot. That’s where a hybrid comes in. You will be able to store your operating system on a SSD, and your music library in a mechanical HDD, which is cheaper than SSD.

 

Screen size and resolution: Since you will be moving a lot, your lap top should be able to fit in your bag and you would have to be able to set it up at a gig. Generally a 13-15” monitor should be optimal for DJs. For screen resolution, bigger is better. Usually though the best resolution monitors cost a lot so you might have to make compromises in this category.

 

Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi 802.11, USB 3.0 (two or more preferably), HDMI ports.

 

DJ Laptop F.A.Q.

What laptop DJ use?

DJs use laptops that meet the above specs minimum. We have collected and review the best laptops for DJ use, have a look.

How to connect laptop DJ mixer?

Here is a good guide on connecting your DJ mixer to your laptop. http://www.wikihow.com/Connect-DJ-Mixers-to-a-Laptop

How to DJ with laptop only?

You will need a decent computer and DJ software to match. Take a look at the DJ software section of this guide.

How to build a DJ laptop?

Build your laptop match the hardware specifications above and you should be good.

 

Different DJ Software

dj mixer

 

Although many controllers have a specific DJ software they are made of, you can also use other software. The thing you have to consider though, is that mapping the keys is a lot of work and making a practical setup might take some time. We have listed the most popular FREE and PAID DJ software below:

 

Mixx

 


PROS:
  • Free
  • Good support, community and tutorials
  • Two decks with support for effects
  • Sampler decks
  • iTunes integration
  • Vinyl timecode control

CONS:
  • Free so you will have to thoroughly test it before a live


 

 

Cross DJ Free

 


PROS:
  • Free and paid version
  • Two decks
  • Video mixing
  • Good for beginner

CONS:
  • Lack of hardware support
  • Free version limited


 

 

 

Virtual DJ

 


PROS:
  • Free and paid version
  • Support for 99 decks
  • iTunes
  • Video mixing
  • Great organization features

CONS:
  • Mouse and keyboard only
  • Advertisements
  • You will have to upgrade eventually which will cost


 

 

djay Pro (Paid, Mac & Windows)

 


PROS:
  • Spotify integration
  • iTunes integration
  • 4 decks
  • Colored waveforms
  • Sampler
  • Drum pads
  • Effects,
  • Loop and cue points
  • Beat and key matching
  • MIDI controllers
  • USB audio interfaces
  • Easy

CONS:
  • Lack of depth
  • Mac only


 

 

Deckadance (Paid, Mac & Windows)

 


PROS:
  • Two or four decks
  • 10 audio effects
  • Powerful in-built sampler
  • Beat matching
  • Smartknobs
  • GrossBeat
  • Customizable user interface
  • Support for MIDI devices and DJ controllers
  • iTunes library integration
  • Support for VSTi virtual instruments

CONS:


 

 

Traktor Pro 2 (Paid, Mac & Windows)

 


PROS:
  • Industry standard
  • Premium features
  • Four decks
  • Remix decks
  • A powerful library
  • iTunes
  • Excellent sync controls
  • Tempos, beatgrids, and musical key Automatically beatmatched
  • Over thirty separate effects
  • Complex looping tools
  • Cueing tools

CONS:


 

 

Serato DJ (Paid, Mac & Windows)

 


PROS:
  • Big name
  • Digital vinyl system (DVS) support
  • Four decks complete with full colour waveforms
  • Quick sync controls are available
  • Hotcues and loops
  • Slip Mode
  • Beat Jump
  • Support for a range of DJ controllers
  • Serato Remote (iOS)
  • Comprehensive library
  • Fully integrates with iTunes
  • Smart crates
  • Video support can be purchased

CONS:


 

 

DJ Software F.A.Q.

Where to download free DJ software?

Read the guide above. It has few very good free software listed that you can download and begin your DJ career.

Which DJ software to use?

Depends on your needs, skills and what you feel comfortable with. We have listed the best free and paid applications above so take a look at them and compare their features.

Which DJ software is best for beginners?

The free DJ software we have listed above is a good way to start. As you build experience you can look at a  paid alternative.

What DJ software is compatible with Spotify?

Djay PRO.

What DJ software do professionals use?

Professionals mostly use Serato DJ and Traktor Pro 2. You can’t go wrong with those 2 industry standards.

How to learn DJ software?

Most of the DJ software include a training library on their website but you can search through YouTube as well. YouTube is filled with DJ guides and tips.

 

Speakers and amplification system

dj mixer

 

It should be said first that “Do not buy home theater system to DJ”. They aren’t meant for it. You should only invest in a speakers that are from a reputable company in the DJ industry. I can’t stress this enough. There is a reason for good speakers and amplifiers to cost so much, and that is they work. If you are serious about achieving a good sound and pleasing your crowd, this correlates directly.

 

Here are a few questions to consider:

 

  • What is my budget?
  • Will I need a subwoofer?
  • Am I playing at home or will I play at larger halls? Should I invest in speaker stands?
  • Do I need active or passive speakers + amplifier?
  • I am on a tight budget, should I buy used brand speakers instead?

 

Generally speaking, passive speakers aren’t widely used anymore, except for bigger clubs and such. But for an independent DJ, active speakers are the way to go. Active speakers are an all-in-one solution that do not need a separate amplifier and the active speakers are linkable. The bad side of active speakers is their price, but as said before, you cannot put a price on sound.

 

DJ Speaker F.A.Q.

What to look for in DJ speakers?

Depends on where you are playing. Is it active or passive? How many watts? Are they brand name speakers?

What are the best DJ speakers to use?

Check out our review section for the best active DJ speakers. You should only buy highly trusted brand name speakers for the best quality.

Who makes the best DJ speakers?

We only feature the best brand speakers that are well known and work. Check out our review section for DJ speakers.

Why do my DJ speakers crackle?

It might mean you need to optimize your machine to make it run smoothly. Try different USB-ports first, some might be better than others.

Why do my DJ speakers buzz?

Buzzing might be caused by electrical interference in the wires. Check that all of the wires are properly mounted in their rightful place and nothing is interfering with the signal.

How to position DJ speakers?

Have a look here for tips on positioning your DJ speakers’ right.

How much do DJ speakers cost?

A pair of good brand name active speakers might cost quite a penny but you get what you pay for. Check out review section for DJ speakers to find the best high quality speakers for as cheap as possible.

How to wire DJ speakers?

You will most likely need RCA-cables. If you need more detailed instructions take a look here.

 

Headphones for DJ

dj mixer

 

DJ uses headphones queue tracks without having the need to play them through the main speakers. You can basically use any decent quality headphones but there are few things you should still consider.

 

  1. DJ headphones are meant for you to queue music, so they must be able to isolate sound enough for you to hear well, even though the main speakers are rocking hard.
  1. Since you are having the headphones hang from your head or on your head a lot, they should be comfortable. After a long gig it will be really bothersome if you aren’t comfortable with your headphones
  1. The cable length should be just enough for you to move freely, but not get tangled up in it.
  1. Higher priced usually means higher quality durability wise. Since the headphones will be in hard use, they should be enough to take a few hits, so you won’t have to invest straight again to new pair of DJ headphones.

 

DJ Headphone F.A.Q.

Which DJ headphones are the best?

We only feature the best of DJ headphones. Take a look at our DJ headphones review section.

What makes DJ headphones different?

They isolate music well and usually are quite durable and comfortable.

Why do DJ use headphones?

To queue music.

Why do DJ headphones rotate?

So it’s easier to use them quickly to queue music.

How to clean DJ headphones?

Take a look at the guide here.

 

Audio Cables

 dj mixer

 

Most DJ equipment use RCA-cables. If you aren’t familiar with RCA-cables, they are same cables that you might use to hook up your home theater or car audio system. All of the DJ controllers should offer RCA-connectors, but you better make double sure. The controller or mixer should be able to be hooked to the speakers with those cables.

 

Music\MP3s

dj mixer

 

Obviously you will need some music to play and mix. Unless you are going to be playing vinyl or cd, which is highly unlikely, you will need to get mp3’s for your computer/USB.  Here are few places where you can download music to play legally:

 

 

Cases and Gig Bags

dj mixer

 

DJ Cases protect your DJ equipment. This is something many people don’t consider when starting out. You need case/cases to transport your DJ setup. This not only makes transportation easier, it also protects your expensive equipment. Why spend thousands of dollars in DJ equipment just to break them while moving from venue to another?

 

Stands, Racks, and Tables

dj mixer

 

Having your own DJ stands, DJ racks and DJ tables gives you more control, no matter the venue where you are playing. Even though some venues are similar, to have ultimate control and familiarity over your own set you will need your own gear. They help you keep organized so you can focus on what you do best while doing a club gig. Having your own DJ stand, DJ rack and DJ table also protect your DJ systems from liquor or disorganized surfaces.

 

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It's House Music
It's House Music