It’s one of the great myths that all you need to DJ is a phone and a playlist. Since the digitisation of music, and before that, in fact, it seems like people have deliberately misunderstood or underestimated what it takes to be a good DJ. That goes for the skill, the preparation and the equipment. It’s not as simple as knowing what a good transition between two songs is, and it’s not as easy as having a premium music subscription service on your mobile phone.
The right equipment may vary depending on what you’re looking for exactly. Maybe you’re looking to just tip your toe in and experiment with the DJ software you’ve already got loaded up. Maybe you’re thinking it’s high time you took the leap into investing into some serious equipment to take that next step forward in your journey. We are still several months away from live music venues reopening so there’s never been a better time to get to work on honing your skills. There are a wealth of different options available based on everything from experience and comfort level to aesthetic preferences, but if you’re just getting started, we can break the essentials down by starting right at the beginning.
On The Decks
Even if you weren’t interested in DJing, the chances are you at least have a passing familiarity with what a deck is. Now, back in the day, DJs would have their record turntables set up, but these are not just a thing of the past. No indeed, with records making a big comeback over the last few years, everyone has a newfound appreciation for both the aesthetics of the record turntable and the unique sound quality they provide. If you want to embrace the old school roots of DJing, we’ve still got you covered and a Pioneer PLX-500 High-torque Direct Drive Turntable could be the perfect fit for you. However, you may want to get started by opting for tech that offers a blend of old and new, and that’s where controllers come in. But before we get into controllers, let’s break down the individual elements.
While you may see some DJs choosing to ditch the deck set-up and go with a laptop, so much of what we think of as the true art of DJing comes from what a DJ does with their deck.
If you’re looking for an entry level style deck combo to help you get to grips with the tech before splurging on a pro-level piece of equipment, the Pioneer CDJ-350 DJ Deck with CD Drive and USB Playback allows you to connect to your PC or Mac for plug and play control and walks that fine line between giving you the tools to learn without swamping you with unnecessary options and information.
In The Mix
Mixers are a crucial element of any DJ set-up, allowing the DJ to create transitions between the tracks, and giving you control over everything from volume and tone to incorporating that scratch, and allowing you to switch between input sources. As a separate piece of equipment, it’s really the element that allows to make the step from spinning records into the realm of the pro DJ. Of course, the more that you’re willing to spend on a mixer, the more freedom and options you’ll have. If you’re just starting out, then something like the Pioneer DJM-250MK2 2-channel Professional DJ Mixer brings in plenty of professional features and combines them with straightforward controls that are easy to pick up. Contrast that with the Pioneer DJM-900NXS2 DJ Mixer, which is the brand’s first ever 64-bit mixing processor that offers unbelievable warmth and nuance in the sound and an incredible amount of flexibility, and you’ll see just how far you can go if you commit to this journey. We have options for a range of different budgets and skill levels.
So, now that we’ve broken down the difference between the elements, it’s time to talk about controllers. “Controller” is a word that covers a broad range of tech, but at its base level it does what the name implies – it gives you control. So, for example, the Allen & Heath Xone K2 DJ Compact Midi Controller is designed to be used with any DJ software you may have on your computer. It has a 4-channel soundcard, and its MIDI control means that you can set up your own layout depending on your needs.
This is a great choice if you’re just starting to get to grips with the basics of DJing, but it’s important to note that “controller” can also be used to refer to a set-up that includes a deck and more complex mixing. The Pioneer DDJ-200 Smart DJ Controller, for example, is a great “next step” option that will help you learn how to mix using songs stored on the device or software of your choice. As you build more confidence and become more familiar with the different software and options available, you can start looking at more advanced equipment, such as the Pioneer DDJ-1000SRT Club-style 4-channel performance DJ Serato controller.
And The Rest
Of course, investing in DJ equipment doesn’t end with buying that one deck. You are going to need several bits of supporting equipment, such as flexible, comfortable headphones. Have you thought about how you’re going to transport your equipment? Depending on the size of the gear, you may need a protective case or a carry bag. Have you thought about using an Arm-Mount Cartridge for scratch and back-cueing? As you develop your own preferences and style you can take your pick from a whole range of specific bits of tech, but there are some tools that you can’t live without.
Now that we’ve given you a bit of a primer on what the absolute essentials are for any beginner DJ, head over to Energy AV Sales to see what DJ equipment takes your fancy. There are options available for all experience levels, as well as handy bundles for anyone who wants to get started as quickly as possible. If you’ve got any questions at all, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team. We pride ourselves on our expertise and matching the right equipment with each customer.