You can’t be a DJ without the proper equipment! Putting together your first setup can be challenging as well; especially if you don’t know what specific components you need. Here’s a look at some of the tools you’ll need to pull off a great mix. Keep in mind, you don’t need to buy all of these. For example, a controller can often replace input devices and a mixer for the beginning DJ.
Input Devices – Some of the most common input devices are turntables and CD decks. You’ll need at least two of these to mix music without a delay or pause in the setlist. Most input devices today have built-in USB ports and direct-drive motors, making it easy to transfer record recordings to a computer. Turntables give you the opportunity to switch songs seamlessly, scratch, change pitch, and slow down the pace of a song. Input devices are a crucial part of a DJs style and repertoire, although many have switched to using controllers.
Mixer – Known as the main part of a DJ’s analog setup, mixers help to create a good transition between songs. They also give you the power to put different sounds and effects into a playlist or over a song. A mixer is basically the command center during a performance; you can control volume, panning, FX, and tone. All of these devices come with a sound card that processes the music playing to your audience. Also, you can plug your headphones into the device to hear what’s next. The mixer can also store a recording of your set for mastering and release later.
Controller – This piece of equipment combines a mixer and input device into one, making for a simpler setup when used with a laptop. Many modern DJs choose to use this basic setup because they no longer use CDs or records. According to ALC A controller “allows you to mix music through the software with the use of knobs, encoders, jog wheels, faders, assignable backlit buttons, touch strips, and other control components.” If that sounds intimidating, don’t worry. There are many different types of controllers out there, so finding one that fits your skill level isn’t too difficult. You’ll learn how to use each function progressively over time.
Speakers – First off, don’t worry about buying and carrying around your own speakers. Most venues will have speakers that you can hook up to. However, to preview your sets as you practice, you’ll need a good pair of monitor speakers. Consider investing in a pair of studio monitor speakers; it’s an excellent way to hear what you’re mixing up with clarity. If you’re planning to play venues that aren’t likely to have their own speakers (events taking place in a person’s home for example), you may need to make the investment in a portable setup. One of the most important factors to consider when purchasing speakers is the environment you’ll be playing in.
Headphones – There’s a reason you will never see a DJ playing without a set of headphones, and it’s not because they want to look cool. A set of high-quality headphones gives you the opportunity to listen and mix music with the utmost precision. Headphones are key in knowing the right timing for playing and switching between songs. Key factors to look for in headphones: They should be wired to plug into your mixer or controller, and should be able to cover your ear entirely to isolate the sound. Most importantly, make sure that pair you purchase are comfortable. You’ll be wearing them for long periods of time.
All of these tools will help you get started as a DJ. Before investing in new equipment, try it out. Always make sure to pick equipment that best fits your needs and where you plan on playing. The bare minimum you need to get started is a controller, a set of home speakers, a laptop and a good pair of headphones.