Are you a beginner DJ? This guide will show every tool you need for starting!
If you’re a new DJ or want to get your first DJ equipment to start off as a DJ, you’ll get to know all you must have in the beginning as well as why each tool is essential. This checklist and tips will get you ready to start your mixes!
Let’s walk through the beginner DJ equipment guide.
1. DJ Turntables
First of all: get a set of turntables. Those are disc players that DJs use to play their tracks. Turntables play CD or Vinyl (some DJs prefer the old fashion Vinyl discs). The old fashion turntables were for Vinyl discs only and they had to handle the whole mixing without computer help. But the modern world turntables are known as “digital turntables”, and they of course allow computer connection. This means you can get a digital turntable and put your CDs or Vinyl to play and connect it to your laptop to mix your audio files with software.
Some of the turntable features are sound digitizing for storing in a device, pitch slide range switching, tempo changing while preserving the original track’s key and, of course: reversing, the classic platter rotation in reverse direction to create that famous DJ sound in your tracks.
You can get a fully digital turntable or one that plays discs, either way they are classic devices that every DJ needs because they give you that super DJ style and make you look like a pro right away even if you’re a newbie!
So you should definitely get a turntable for yourself as your first DJ gear. After that, you need to choose a DJ mixer.
2. DJ Mixers
Mixers are the heart of DJ equipment. The mixer does what it’s name promises: it will allows mix and match your tracks, manipulate and control your songs and go as far as your imagination takes you with your mixing effects.
It also allows you to transit from one song to another, play instrument like music records as background and develop your original sounds. It’s the mixer’s job to smooth the transitions between sound effects and full tracks.
Your turntable connects directly to the mixer just so you can live mix your tracks. Also, your headphones plug into the mixer to preview the sound effects before playing it to the audience. DJ speakers plug into the mixer too, which allows live mixing reproduction, and the DJ laptop plug into the mixer as well for a whole other set of possibilities.
You can also choose to get a DJ controller, a modern and cheaper device that will replace the turntable and the mixer.
3. DJ Controllers
They are portable, connect directly to computer software and are a turntable and a mixer altogether as one single device, with a lot more extra features because DJ controllers are made to grant a better control over DJ software.
Controllers have MC’s microphone connections, drum pads and trigger pads, computer USB ports through MIDI or HID protocols, built in sound cards and more. The computer software connection allows the audio mixing, which means you can import sound effects from your computer to your mixes.
You can also plug your headphones into your controller to preview any effect before playing it on the output. Some controllers have touch-sensitive pads, fader tempo control, motorized platters and touch-sensitive pads.
The classic DJ style is kept with controllers, and they bring up all the modern features you can wish to have at hand during your mixes.
They’re a great option to consider if you need a cheaper yet powerful equipment.
In case you choose to ge a controller as you primary DJ gear, the next tool you must have is DJ software.
4. DJ Software
Your primary DJ gear can be either a controller or a digital turntable and a mixer, in both cases you will need a good DJ software to operate your mixes. It’ the software that allows you edit your audio files.
If you choose a controller as your primary DJ tool, don’t worry about having to pick up a DJ software because most controllers have a pre-installed software array or at least one popular DJ software for you to start mixing right away.
Sometimes controllers offer a pro version of the pre-installed software as well, so you’ll need to check it out and see what your controller has as software.
If you’re using a digital turntable with a mixer, and not a controller, you will need to choose a software yourself. In this case, it’s better if you choose only one software at first because you will have to learn how to use it from scratch and acquire a few skills about the software to grant smooth and clear mixes, specially if you’re performing live.
There are dozens of DJ softwares (both license paying and free) that you can download and connect to your DJ system, so give them a try and search about it on the Internet.
DJ headphones are the next tool you need.
5. DJ Headphones
You may not be going to perform live DJ mixing right away, so DJ speakers can wait (unless you want to have a home studio to practice your DJ skills), but DJ headphones are essential!
DJ headphones will allow you to hear your mixes before you play them on the output (through speakers at home or to an audience during a live show). That’s why you usually see DJs holding one headphone on one of their ears and the other headphone handing on their necks: they’re listening to a preview of their mixes on the ear, the upcoming sound effects the crowd can’t hear. Coo, right?!
That’s why you must have a good pair of DJ headphones! And, of course, it makes you look like a pro even in your first DJ shows.
In case you will be performing for live audiences, the DJ PA speakers are the next tool you need.
If you want to practice your DJ skills before start mixing live in shows or gigs, a DJ home studio may be good for you instead of simply using your headphones to hear your mixes. Also, with a home studio you can show your first DJ mixes to your friends and family before meeting the crowd.
You will need DJ monitor speakers for a home studio.
If you want to learn more about headphones types see our post 14 Headphone Specs Explained.
6. DJ Monitor Speakers (for home studios)
Don’t confuse monitor speakers with ordinary home stereo speakers because monitor speakers do what their name promises: they perform audio monitoring and critical listening during mixing and recordings. Instead of boosting the audio levels, the monitor speakers keep all audio frequencies flat just so you can get a pure and clear audio quality.
They come individually, but you need to get two monitor speakers, not just one single sound box: you need a stereo effect to check your mixes quality the right way.
To grant some great mixing productions as a DJ, get a pair of monitor speakers and connect them to your computer while using your digital turntable or controller along with your DJ software.
And don’t hesitate to keep your DJ headphones (one on your left or right ear and the other on your neck, like a pro DJ!) to preview the audio effects before you output them to your monitor speakers. This will give you that DJ feel of a live show like you can’t imagine!
Just to make it clear: your primary DJ tool (your digital turntable and mixer or your controller) + your DJ software + your DJ headphones + your DJ monitor speakers ARE your home studio! Once you have them all, you have your DJ home studio.
Next, you will need DJ PA speakers to your live shows and gigs as a DJ.
7. DJ PA Speakers (for public shows)
Public Address speakers, a.k.a. PA speakers or even PA systems, are essential when you’re ready to perform live shows or do some gigs as a DJ. Let’s call them PA speakers. As a live show or live gig DJ, what you must have is a fair set of DJ PA speakers.
“DJ sound system” is another way of naming PA speakers for DJs.
They are a sound system that put together a set of microphones, loudspeakers, amplifiers and other devices to reproduce sound for crowds in shows or performances.
Imagine a wedding, a birthday party, a graduation party or a nightclub full of people who want to listen to quality music but are talking, laughing and having fun all together. You can’t perform your DJ mixes to them without a powerful sound system, right? That’s why DJ PA speakers are so important for your DJ gear, and you definitely need one.
The size of the PA systems you need depends on the crowd size of shows/gigs you are making. Larger audiences like weddings and outdoor events will require a more powerful system, but smaller gigs like birthday and private parties will require a simpler system. It’s up to you to decide what’s best!
Next, you need a few stands and cables to make your DJ life easier.
8. DJ Stands, Racks & Cables
There are a few accessories you can get to make your home studio or live shows as a DJ much more practice and safe. They’re completely optional and you can choose if you want them, that won’t affect your first DJ practices. But it would be cool if you decided to get them at some point because they do ease things up a lot!
First, you can get laptop stand for you laptop alone, it doesn’t matter if you’re using a digital turntable or controller as primary gear. Laptop stands have space for your laptop and also space for USB hubs, hard drives and other computer assets. If you have a DJ home studio, a laptop stand will keep your computer safe from getting drink spills and protect it from any damage in general.
Also, you can get stands and racks for your turntables, controllers and mixers. There are many different stands you can get for your DJ equipment, it varies from singular PA speakers stands to full racks to put all your gear. They’re useful if you’re performing live shows, doing DJ gigs or traveling around with your DJ systems. Decide what’s best for you and have the gear security and performance improvement in mind when choosing what to get.
You may also need to get some specific cables to connect your gear. That will be very specific for each DJ system because it depends on what equipments you have (turntables, mixers, controllers, headphones monitor speakers, PA controllers, laptops…), just take some time to see if there’s a device of your DJ system that needs a special cable to connect to another device, and don’t hesitate to get it if you need any!
Then, with some bags and cases to keep your gear, your DJ system will be complete!
9. DJ Bags & Cases
They can be very useful if you’re traveling around with your DJ equipment and needs to keep it safe, but it’s also good to get some bags and cases to keep your devices even in a home studio because it will prevent it from being damaged in many ways.
Also, if you’re taking your gear from one place to another (not necessarily a trip) it’s better to put it in bags and cases to prevent damages. Don’t think for a minute that you can simply through your DJ equipment at the back of a car and drive around town with it!
So, check out what’s the best set of bags and cases for all your gear, there are special bags and cases for laptops, turntables, controllers, mixers and even speakers. You can also choose to get bigger cases that can keep more than one DJ device at once.
And that will make your DJ system complete!
Are you all set up with your DJ equipment? See what’s next
Great! Once you choose your primary DJ tool (turntable and mixer or one controller), as well as your DJ headphones, DJ software, DJ monitor speaker or DJ PA speakers, finish it all up with some stands, cables (if needed) and make sure to keep them safe in DJ bags and cases, you’re all set up!
So, now what?
Start a DJ online course!
Commit to the long term in your DJ adventure! It might progress from a hobby to a full time income and even a career. Who knows? Give it a try! Look for a durable stay on the DJ universe and think about all you can achieve.
You won’t regret it!
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