The electronic dance music (EDM) scene has taken over the country the past few years and there’s no denying that. Thanks to DJs like David Guetta and Skrillex, EDM has risen from the underground and is now being played on radio stations, sporting events, bars, and even television commercials. It is no surprise that more and more people are aspiring to become electronic music DJs as opposed to a guitarist in a rock band or a singing pop star. So if you are one of those people, keep reading as we will tell you what type of DJ equipment for beginners will be required.
But before you go out and spend a lot of money on equipment, make sure that you are ready to make the investment. Just because you like the style of music and you want to be in control of the dance floor, doesn’t necessarily mean you should make the plunge towards becoming a DJ. It requires having knowledge in music theory and electronic music. However, if you feel ready to begin your journey, then let’s move ahead to the first step on purchasing DJ equipment.
One thing every DJ needs, obviously, is music. The art of mixing and scratching has come a long way since the days of vinyl records. Most of today’s electronic DJs mostly use a laptop and digital audio formats as their source of music, and it’s easy to see why. There’s no need to carry around records, it’s less likely to get damaged, and it will save you money in the long run. A 64GB USB memory stick can store about 16,000 songs. And with the type of mixers and DJ software out on the market these days, it’s almost a no brainer that digital audio files such as MP3s are the way to go.
There are a lot of websites on the internet where you can purchase high quality MP3s and other digital files. Make sure your media files are of good quality though, because nobody wants to dance to music that sounds distorted or grainy. Familiarize yourself with all types of music and new artists, and start downloading a ton of music so you build a decent size library of songs.
Having headphones is a must for any DJ, and having a good pair can drastically improve your executions. They are primarily used for cueing, allowing you to listen to the audition tracks without having to play them through the main speakers for the crowd to hear.
Which type of headphones should you buy? Technically, any type of headphones will do the job, but it really depends on how much you are willing to spend. Some of the most popular brands out there include Sennheiser, Pionner and Sony. We won’t tell you which model to buy specifically, but there are certain features you will want to focus on.
- Isolation – The main purpose of using headphones is to isolate the music from the main speakers. You will want headphones with a closed back to help with that as well as a loud, crisp sound. Read reviews and test out different headphones to see which one will work the best.
- Comfort – Since the headphones will be either around your neck or on your head for a long period of time, you’ll want something comfortable. If it starts becoming bothersome, it can affect your mixing and overall performance.
- Cable length – Make sure the headphone cable is long enough since you will be moving around when DJ-ing. At the same time, you don’t want it too long where it will get in your way or tangled on something.
- Durable – Having a solid, well-built pair will benefit you in the long run. Headphones take quite a beating since they are constantly in your bag, on your head and around your neck. They tend to fall on the floor once in a while also, so it can be worth it to spend a little more money on good headphones.
Unlike gaming and video editing computers, DJ-ing laptops are not nearly as demanding against today’s specs. The only thing the computer needs to do basically is be able to run the DJ-ing software efficiently. It is safe to say that most of the new laptops out on the market will meet the needs of DJ-ing, whether it’s a PC or a Mac. The minimum computer specs are 2GB of RAM, about 25GB of hard drive space, a processor with Core 2 duo or better, and a couple USB connections. With that said, there are some specs you will want to pay more attention to if you decide to purchase a new laptop. Otherwise, you can probably get away with using the one you currently have.
- Screen size – The standard screen size for PC laptops is 15.6″, which is also a good size for a DJ. Anything smaller might make it difficult to read the song names. You can get a bigger screen if you like, but remember that laptops are designed to be sat right in front of you when DJ-ing, and not kept in the back.
- USB ports – Your laptop should have at least three USB ports, preferably more. Most controllers require two USB ports, plus you may want to plug something else in such as a mouse. You can always purchase a USB hub also if you run out of ports.
- Battery life – Although your laptop will usually be plugged in during your set, having a laptop with a long battery life is good insurance in case you can’t charge it. Having the ability to sort, set cues and listen to music while in the car or on the plane can also be beneficial if you’re on the road. What good is a DJ without a running laptop?
DJ Controller / Mixer
Since you will be using a laptop and MP3s as your source of music, you will want to purchase a DJ controller. There are all types of controllers and mixers on the market, so we will try to keep this as simple as possible for you. Look for a controller connects to a computer via USB and has a built-in soundcard and audio interface because they are simple to hookup and use, compared to other mixers out there. Using a controller with a soundcard, along with your computer soundcard allows you to be able to hear what is being played on the main speakers as well as in your headphones. Numark and Serato are reputable companies that make these type of controllers. A lot of times they come with DJ software packages, which is needed to work with the controller.
There are different types of DJ-ing software out there, and it’s difficult to recommend one over the other. The two main players are Traktor and Virtual DJ. While they generally do the same thing, certain DJs have a preference towards one over the other. Our advice is to try out the free trial versions of both and then determine which one you like the best before purchasing it.
Now you just need a set of speakers so everyone can hear what you are spinning. The type of speakers and sound system you get will be based on your skill level and the type of venues you are playing at. If you are still learning how to DJ and aren’t playing in front of an audience, you can get away with a basic 2-speaker set with a sub woofer. The subwoofer will allow you to beat match easier since you can hear and feel the bass sounds. Or if your budget will allow it, you can jump right into buying DJ monitor speakers, which are bigger and louder. Self-powered speakers are a better choice because they are tuned and optimized with built-in amplifiers. Companies such as KRK, Yamaha, Pioneer and M-Audio make good quality monitor speakers.
Start Spinning Away!
Once you get all your equipment setup, just decide on your DJ name and you are ready to take off. You will probably be unfamiliar with everything at first, but educate yourself by asking other DJs for advice and research online. If you are thinking about expanding your role as a DJ, you can always learn about producing EDM as well. You may need to expand your musical knowledge, but a lot of DJs are learning how to produce as well to make themselves more lucrative.
As you become more familiar with your craft and performing at venues, you can start to invest in better DJ equipment. Using a better controller or speakers doesn’t technically translate to being a more skillful DJ, but it will give you more control over the sound and that can translate to more people liking your style. And as a DJ, isn’t that exactly what you want?