A disc jockey (DJ) is an artist who uses audio recordings to create new combinations of sound. Most DJs perform live at special events, while some record their work, and still others are hobbyists who play in the comfort of their home studios. If any of these avenues seem like the perfect creative conduit for your passion for music, then read on—we have a couple of experts on the SoundPro team who are eager to help you get started on your DJ journey!
LEARNING THE CRAFT
If you’re reading this article, you’ve already taken the first step in learning to DJ: doing the research. There is a lot of information available online. However, it’s also easy to be overwhelmed with all the options available.
There are a few types of DJs, categorized according to the type of audience or venue, or the type of gear the DJ specializes in. There are a few different ways to describe DJ types, including:
- Bedroom DJs/Hobbyists –DJ in their own home, usually without an audience
- Bar DJs and Club DJs – Perform at venues that usually have a preexisting setup
- Turntable DJs – Also known as Scratch DJs or Turntablists, famous for their skills on turntables
- Mobile DJs – Whose gear lets them travel to special events such as weddings
While having a specific plan is not necessary when you’re first learning to DJ—and you can always change direction later down the road—it will help you to focus on what skills to practice and what gear to invest in.
What Gear Does a New DJ Need?
If you’re just starting, it might seem like you must do everything yourself—buy all the gear, create a home studio, and get all the knowledge and experience—before you step out in front of an audience as a fully-fledged DJ. But that’s not always the case.
SoundPro Account Manager Derrick Ramirez’s DJ career began by accident. He was helping with sound and PA systems at events, and after being asked at one event to run background music “one thing led to another…and poof I am a DJ.” Derrick initially worked with a DJ/ MC mentor, so he didn’t buy any gear at the outset of his DJ career, instead investing in it over time. Fellow Account Manager Matt Douglas shared a similar experience: After catching the DJ bug in high school, he gigged at clubs or bars that had their gear through college, so he didn’t begin buying gear until after college.
The bottom line? You don’t need to have a complete professional setup right off the bat. As you grow in your DJ skills you can gradually level up your gear to stretch your creativity further.
Music Is Fundamental
Before any turntables, controllers, or other DJ-centric gear, music is by far the most important component of any DJ’s arsenal. In the past, DJs had to tote physical recordings of music (vinyl records, CDs, cassettes, etc.) to every gig. While you can still do this, the more popular method nowadays is to store it all on a computer. Computers have the added benefit of allowing you to download DJ software with even more potential for perfecting your techniques and pushing your creative boundaries.
Before you shop for any equipment, take stock of your music library:
- Is it curated to a particular genre, or does it cover a wider range?
- What sort of changes do you imagine yourself making to those tracks? (For example, mixes or remixes, scratching, mashups, etc.)
- Are you more inspired to create original music with samples or electronic instruments?
Knowing an answer to these questions should help you narrow down what sort of gear to look for once you’re ready to start investing in DJ equipment of your own.
ESTABLISHING YOUR FIRST DJ SETUP
Building on a foundation of high-quality music tracks and software, DJs rely on tools that deliver personalization and power. Whether you want to stay minimalist and digital with a DJ controller or crave a classic DJ experience with a combination of turntables and a DJ mixer, SoundPro’s compiled a list to take the hassle out of finding the right DJ Gear to get you started.
Mix-and-match controllers, turntables, mixers, monitors, headphones, and accessories until you have just the right setup for your needs and budget. Alternatively, if you want to get the basics all in one box, these DJ kits include everything you need to start making your DJ dream a reality.
Going Digital: DJ Controllers
Emulating the classic style of a DJ mixer flanked by two turntables, DJ Controllers are digital devices that link with your computer to control DJ software, giving you access to synthetic sounds, personalized presets, and a host of other features for you to play with. Controllers are usually pre-loaded with software to get you started right out of the box, while most let you connect to external software as well.
- Hercules DJ DJControl Inpulse 200 DJ Controller
- Hercules DJ DJControl Inpulse 500 DJ Controller
- Hercules DJ Universal DJ Controller
- Numark Mixtrack Pro FX 2-Deck DJ Controller
- Pioneer DJ DDJ-200 Smart DJ Controller
- Pioneer DJ DDJ-400 Compact Rekordbox DJ Controller
- Pioneer DJ DDJ-REV1 DJ Controller
- Roland DJ-202 2-Channel Serato DJ Controller
Keeping it Classic: Turntables and Mixers
DJ Controllers allow you to access all sorts of DJ tools right out of the box. But if you have your heart set on being an old-school type of DJ, you may want to check out the classic turntable-mixer combinations.
Modern turntables deliver analog versatility to scratch and mix, resulting in an intimate connection between you, your art, and your audience. DJ turntables are designed specifically to take physical punishment without compromising quality.
- Pioneer DJ PLX-500 Direct Drive Turntable
- Reloop RP-2000 MK2 USB Direct Drive USB Turntable System
- Reloop RP-2000 MK2 Quartz-Driven DJ Turntable with Direct Drive
- Reloop RP-7000 MK2 Upper Torque Turntable System
A DJ mixer enables you to blend tracks and sculpt music for an immersive audio experience. Mixers designed for DJs are typically more compact than mixing consoles intended for sound reinforcement or recording booth applications, making them easy to add to DJ setups of any size. Add texture and personality to your audio with customizable features such as crossfader technology, EQ, and effects.
- Allen & Heath XONE:23 2-Channel DJ Mixer
- Numark M2 2-Channel Scratch Mixer
- Pioneer DJ DJM-S5 2-Channel DJ Mixer
- Reloop RMX-22i Digital FX Mixer with iPad Split Connection
An essential component of any aspiring DJ’s setup, studio monitors allow you to accurately listen to your mixes. Whether you’re DJing for your private enjoyment or practicing in anticipation of an upcoming gig, studio monitors are high-quality speakers that enable you to perfect your mixes with confidence.
- Adam Audio T7V Nearfield Studio Monitor
- JBL 306P MKII 6" 2-Way Powered Studio Monitor
- Mackie CR4-X Pair of 4" Reference Multimedia Monitors
- Pioneer DJ DM-40 4'' 2-Way Powered Studio Monitors (Pair)
- Pioneer DJ DM-40BT 4'' 2-Way Powered Studio Monitors with Bluetooth (Pair)
- PreSonus Eris E3.5 Active Studio Monitors
- Yamaha HS5 Powered Studio Monitor
If you plan on taking your music to an audience, you’ll want a set of headphones. Headphones are crucial for live performances because they let you “preview” an upcoming track while your audience is still listening to a current song. The best DJ headphones provide long-term comfort, and good sound isolation, and allow you to adjust or even pivot the earphones for optimal monitoring of your mix.
- Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Closed-Back Monitor Headphones
- Pioneer DJ HDJ-X5 Over-Ear DJ Headphones
- Reloop RHP-15 Closed-Back DJ Headphones
- Sennheiser HD 25 LIGHT On-Ear DJ Headphones
- Sennheiser HD 25 PLUS On-Ear DJ Headphones
- Shure SRH550DJ Professional DJ Headphones
From hobbyist level to professional-caliber equipment, all DJ gear is an investment worth enjoying to its fullest. Ranging from protective dust covers to furniture for creating a comfortable home studio, DJ accessories are essential to complete your setup.
- Gator Frameworks GFWLAPTOP2500 Clampable Laptop & Accessory Stand
- Glorious Controller Dust Cover
- Glorious GigBar
- Glorious Mix Station
- Glorious Session Cube XL
- Jamstands JS-LPT100 Single-Tier Laptop/DJ Stand
- Jamstands JS-LPT200 Two-Tier Laptop/DJ Stand
THE NEXT STEP OF YOUR DJ JOURNEY
You have the motivation to learn to DJ. You’ve done your research, and either found a place that has DJ gear you can use, or you’ve purchased gear to equip a home setup. Now what?
Matt’s recommendation is to “find a mentor or a group of DJs that do what you do and learn from them.” You may be able to volunteer to help more experienced DJs at their gigs, allowing you to see first-hand what techniques you need to learn, how to use gear, and other crucial skills. “Some of the best information and advice I got in my early career was in the moment at a gig with my mentor.”
“Sponge it up!” Derrick summarizes. “Find online videos from famous or weekend warrior DJs, manufacturers, and any real-world experience you receive.” Depending on where you live, you may be able to find a DJ school, class, or private tutor; online courses are another great resource for beginners or even intermediate DJs looking to hone their skills.
As you experiment with new possibilities, discover your unique performance style, and sculpt a personalized sound, your gear needs may change along the way. Just remember that at its core, DJing isn’t about the gear—it’s about what the gear equips you to do. So express your creativity, indulge your passion for music, and connect with others through your craft—start your DJ journey today!
As the art of DJing has become more popular, the demand for great DJ gear has also grown. As a result, product availability may vary by brand or product category, which may also prove a factor when deciding what gear is best for you. For any questions regarding what is needed for your setup, make sure to reach out to one of our knowledgeable Account Managers at 800.203.5611 or email@example.com; they can walk you through the available solutions to meet your specific needs.
Strommen – Web Content Specialist, SoundPro
Joining the SoundPro team in July 2021, Laura brings her English degree and over five years’ experience as a content writer and copy editor.
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