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Advanced DJ Gear: Taking Your Art Above and Beyond

Advanced DJ Gear: Taking Your Art Above and Beyond

Posted by Laura Strommen - SoundPro on Apr 6th 2023

You’ve learned the fundamentals of DJing—studying music theory, mastering techniques of mixing, and assembling a library of tracks. You’ve explored your artistic identity—honing your craft, deciding what types of gigs you want to pursue, and incorporating basic light effects to emphasize the mood. Now it’s time to take the next step in your DJing journey. You’re ready to become an Advanced DJ.

When it comes to the art of DJing, there is no “finish line.” Music, techniques, and technology are in a constant state of flux—and even the most accomplished and knowledgeable DJs can always find something more to learn. Therefore, becoming an Advanced DJ isn’t so much about reaching the pinnacle of your talent—you can always reach higher—it’s about pulling out all the stops, incorporating more complex techniques, and creating a more immersive entertainment experience.


As you’re fully invested in your DJ career, you’ll want to invest in top-level, professional-caliber gear. Most performance venues will already have a permanent setup but having your own allows you to bring in favorite pieces that the venue might not offer. Additionally, you may want a personal setup for practicing with different types of gear, rehearsing for gigs, and just for fun.

If you are planning to use your gear for gigs, take time to understand what you’ll need to avoid accumulating unnecessary equipment. Depending on what type of professional gigs you want to cater to, you’ll have slightly different needs. For instance, the type of gear that is appropriate for a nightclub performance won’t necessarily fit a special event such as a wedding. Understanding—and anticipating—the expectations of your audience will help determine what gear you’ll need to meet (and exceed) those expectations.

Denon DJ PRIME 4 4-Deck Smart DJ Console with Touchscreen (Left), Pioneer DJ XDJ-RX3 2-Channel All-In-One DJ System (Middle), and Pioneer DJ DDJ-FLX10 4-Channel DJ Controller (Right)

Feature-Packed DJ Controllers

Boasting an intuitive layout that imitates the classic setup of a DJ mixer sandwiched between two turntables, DJ controllers link to a computer for streamlined access to synthetic sounds, personalized presets, and beyond. Most DJ controllers come with built-in software so you can get mixing right out of the box, while most are compatible with third-party software so you can pair your controller with your favorite DJ software.

Audio Technica AT-LP1240-USBXP Direct-Drive Pro DJ Turntable (Left), Pioneer DJ DJM-A9 4-Channel Professional DJ Mixer (Middle), and Rane SEVENTY-TWO MKII Premium 2-Channel Scratch Mixer (Right)

Premium Turntables and Mixers

Built to handle intense scratching and mixing, DJ turntables deliver analog versatility and uncompromising quality that professional DJs demand from every performance.

Meanwhile, DJ mixers use features such as crossfader technology, EQ, and a vast range of effects that can be used to blend tracks, add texture, and customize your sound.

Pioneer DJ HDJ-X10 Over-Ear DJ Headphones (Left), Reloop RHP-15 Closed Back DJ Headphones (Middle), and Shure SRH750DJ Professional DJ Headphones (Right)

Professional DJ Headphones

From the cockpit of a live show to the production studio, a quality set of headphones is paramount to hearing an accurate representation of your mix. As your audience is enjoying one song, audition your transition to the next. DJ headphones must deliver long-term comfort and solid sound isolation, while also allowing you to adjust and pivot the earcups so you can keep an ear on the live mix.

Denon DJ SC6000 PRIME Professional DJ Media Player (Left), Pioneer DJ CDJ-900NXS Professional Multi-Player (Middle), Pioneer DJ CDJ-3000 Professional DJ Multi-Player (Right)

Multitask with Advanced DJ Media Players

DJ Media Players such as CDJs, DJ consoles, and all-in-one DJ systems transfer your music collection from your laptop, tablet, or mobile device to a turntable-inspired piece of gear. Use saved files and pull new sounds from streaming services or the cloud for an unlimited media library wherever you play. Many media players are compatible with DJ software, expanding your options for adding effects and accessing synthetic sounds.

DJ Production Software

While it’s not relegated to Advanced DJ skillsets, DJ production software is a must for artists who crave more flexibility and features. This software enables you to digitally recreate the sounds of classic DJ gear such as turntables and mixers—from a computer or controller that takes up a fraction of your workspace. While some DJs might swear by analog, many DJs like using production software due to its versatility—and the fact that it’s easier to transport from gig to gig.

For professionals performing live, the industry standard is Serato DJ, which delivers tons of effects for mixing, and more recently has been offering Serato STEMS (Real-Time Audio Source Separation). On the other hand, if you’re a DJ in a studio, Ableton is a good option. However, software preference is subjective, and some pros swear by other software options including rekordbox (which allows you to format a USB drive to save music and cue points for mixing), TRAKTOR, and Virtual DJ.

The type of production software you use is primarily dependent on the brand of your gear. For instance, Pioneer DJ is optimized for rekordbox, Native Instruments for TRAKTOR, and so on. When you’re shopping for hardware such as a DJ controller, make sure to confirm that it supports your favorite software.


When performing at professional gigs, DJs usually won’t need to bring gear—many entertainment venues will already have a lighting setup. For DJs that demand total control over their show, however, an immersive visual experience will set you apart from the competition. In our previous article, Intermediate DJ Gear, we discussed the basics of DJ lighting. Now we’ll explore how higher-end setups offer larger, more efficient rigs with enhanced options.

Chauvet DJ GigBAR Move + ILS 5-in-1 Effect Lighting System (Left), Chauvet DJ Intimidator Spot 360X Moving Head (Middle), and ADJ LINK 4-Universe DMX Hardware Controller (Right)

All-In-One Lighting Systems

For artists who want to go beyond the basic light fixtures (such as pars, color bars, or gobo lights) and try their hand at automated lighting productions, the innovative ILS Series from Chauvet DJ offers an alternative to DMX-controlled light setups that may seem intimidating.

Moving Heads

Achieve high-end, precision performance with moving heads. These powerful, compact fixtures pivot vertically, horizontally, or both, for a fluid movement that seamlessly changes. Features include panning, tilting, dimming, color-changing or blending, and much more. With the ability to adjust mid-performance, moving heads are ideal for live entertainment in touring and permanent installations alike.

Lighting Controllers

When you’re in the middle of the mix, you don’t have time to focus solely on your lighting. Lighting controllers let you craft an immersive experience and streamline your workflow. Coordinate multiple light fixtures with functionalities that allow you to create standard presets or fine-tune adjustments in real-time.

Advanced Lighting Effects

Create a dynamic backdrop to any show with Fog & Effects Lighting. These fixtures are really where you can branch out with your visual creativity, adding colors, flashes, textures, and other atmospheric touches that perfectly mesh with your musical storytelling.

ADJ Encore Burst 100 IP Strobe Light (Left), Chauvet DJ Hurricane Haze 4D Haze Machine (Middle), and ADJ Starburst RGBWY+Purple LED Mirror Ball Effect Fixture (Right)

Blinders and Strobes

Make your light sync to the beat with Blinders and Strobes. Blinders create high-intensity bursts of light that momentarily causes a blinding effect. Strobes are great for creating tension, as well as a unique “stop-motion” effect, adding impact to high-octane shows.

Atmospheric Effects

Fog and haze machines add drama to the entire performance environment, with the added benefit of making the beams of light easier to see—and therefore showing every detail of the lightshow during your performance.

Multi-Effects and More

Multi-effects fixtures are an easy way to add pizazz to your show, while mirror balls evoke old-school party ambiance. Other effects fixtures include black lights, water effects, and lasers.


One of the younger branches of the DJ art, Video DJing (also known as VJing, VDJing, and other variations) adds another layer to your performance, in addition to audio and lighting. Adding visuals to your shows can incorporate an entirely different level of expression for you and immersion for your audience—and one more skill you can market for potential gigs.

A primary necessity for VJing is the processing power required for mixing video live. Be aware that finding a laptop that can run videos and effects will be quite an investment. An external hard drive is also a good choice for storing your audio and visual library.

Another factor to be aware of when mixing video is the venue and the event itself. Keep in mind who is paying for your performance, and what sort of experience they want. As with music, some images and video clips might also have branding or licensing constraints, while other content might be inappropriate for specific scenarios. Just as you plan your sets to best serve the audience, try to plan for the video needs that will best match your audio mix.

Video Displays

The enhanced pixel density of Video Display panels enables them to portray every detail of the images they display. Adjustable monitor brightness lets you add contrast or match the tone of the room. Stable, yet dynamic colors achieve finely nuanced visuals that seem to jump off the screen. Use them individually or link them together for a video wall.


Bring your imagery to life on a larger scale. Projectors receive video signals and project the corresponding visual onto a screen, wall, or other flat surfaces. Since this is accomplished by using a bright light source (such as LCD, laser, etc.), projectors achieve the best results in low-lighting environments, or in rooms where the surrounding light source can be dimmed for better image contrast.


Round out your setup, protect your investment, and get the most out of your gear with accessories for your audio, video, and lighting setups. Connect your light setup with premium cables that will deliver the best results. Truss and stage equipment is vital for suspending light fixtures, speakers, and video panels. For DJs that need to make announcements between tracks or want to add vocals in other ways, handheld dynamic microphones are designed to provide professional polish even in the loudest high-demand environments.


Aside from DJing as an art, performing as a professional DJ also carries with it a business aspect. Your skills aren’t relegated to musical or technological know-how, but business savvy as well. Unless you grow into a big enough outfit to hire staff, you’ll have to wear many hats. Even if you’re a one-person business, you still need to present yourself professionally so that clients will take you seriously. Invest not only in the music and the DJ gear but in promoting your services so you can share your art more widely.

Be Your Own Agent

Network - Get to know people in the industry personally—particularly those who are connected to the venues you want to perform at. Get yourself a business card and hand it out to prospective clients. Know how to sell your skills—but keep your interactions genuine, as building a good personal reputation is fundamental to building client trust.

Develop an online presence - Be active on social media platforms. Create a website for your DJing business. Put together an Electronic Press Kit (EPK), which is a resume on a flash drive or weblink.

Be Your Own Accountant

Learn the tax side of your business - Research how to properly file your income, and make sure to take advantage of potential write-offs.

Protect yourself with paperwork – Get insurance and have the documentation in case a venue requires a copy. Learn the legal ins and outs of invoicing and making business contracts. This will be particularly useful for tax purposes, for safeguarding deposits in the event of last-minute cancellations, and in the event of any client disputes.

Organize your calendar - Never overbook or double-book yourself. Not only will this save you a lot of headaches, but it will also bolster your reputation as an artist who always shows up and delivers what you promise.


We said it in DJ Gear for Beginners, reiterated it in Intermediate DJ Gear, and now—you guessed it—we’re going to state it once again: When you’re a DJ, you never stop learning. Inspired by a love of audio artistry and fueled by experimenting with new techniques, new technology, and new sound, even veteran performers will still face new situations and need to solve new problems. It’s part of what makes the art of DJing continually challenging—but it’s also part of what makes it fun.

As DJing grows in popularity, demand for great DJ gear has also increased. As a result, product availability may vary by brand or product category, which may prove a factor when deciding what gear is best for you. Reach out to our Account Managers at 800.203.5611 or e-mail; they can walk you through the available solutions to meet your specific needs.

Laura has been part of the SoundPro team since 2021. She is not a DJ, but just in case she ever becomes one she has several dope DJ names in mind.

Research Contributors:

Derrick Ramirez – Account Manager, SoundPro

Before joining SoundPro in 2019, Derrick was a DJ/AV Technician for the Frisco RoughRiders for over five years, and still operates AV for professional, collegiate, and minor league sporting events.

Matt Douglas – Account Manager, SoundPro

Matt studied Music Education and has over 21 years of experience in the AVL industry. Passionate about music, he is also a working mobile DJ in the DFW area.