Being a DJ is a dream job for many, travelling the world playing music at events, parties, and concerts. Watching people dance as your music mix spins. Meeting people from all walks of life and treating them to an evening they’ll never forget. Sounds good right? Well, aside from practicing and perfecting your DJ skills, you’ll need a decent amount of equipment to get you started on your DJ career. We have compiled a detailed list of everything you need and why you need it below, so read on to find out and start preparing for your new journey as a DJ today.
You may have heard many DJs referring to their skills as ‘mixing’ and that’s with good reason. Arguably the most important part of a DJ’s arsenal is their mixer and their mixing skills. In fact, the experts over at Next-Pro believed that “Without a mixer, a DJ is not a DJ. Without a mixer, you are simply putting on a playlist!” and they couldn’t be more right. DJing is a skill, and the biggest skills come with mixing. A mixer is loaded with effects, helps you control the tempo of songs, and helps you seamlessly blend all this into one continuous party track. A mixer should be the very first thing you purchase or practice on.
It’s all well and good having a mixer, but you need something to mix! This is where turntables (often referred to as decks) come in. Turntables sit on either side of your mixing console with your vinyl records spinning upon them. We’re talking traditional here – more on CD and mp3. Turntables created the original DJ scratching and allow for manually finding parts of songs you want to drop in to. With a turntable on either side of your mixer, you can ensure there’s never a silent moment in your set, as well as scratch, shuffle, skip, remix songs as you perform.
If we’re keeping it classic and using real turntables, then you’re gonna need some vinyl, and probably a lot of it! Depending on what music you like and what type of music you want to perform, you’re going to need to carry a big selection of vinyl. Though you may have a core-set which uses the same few tracks on a couple of vinyl records, being able to play varied tracks at the request of a guest or fan will make a huge difference to your set!
If you aren’t DJing old school with vinyl, or simply prefer a smaller setup, then a digital controller may be the tool for you. A digital controller replicates or replaces both your mixer and your turntables, creating one smaller piece of hardware that works in the same way. The difference here is you won’t have physical vinyl sat upon them, but instead tracks pre-loaded into them via mp3 or CD. The turntable parts of a digital controller are simply spinning discs that allow you to replicate the work of a manual turntable. As we say, this is a more compact setup and may be preferable to a more modern DJ. You need to experiment with both and see which suits your style.
Laptop and Software
Performing with a digital controller usually requires a laptop. It also requires some mixing software to be installed on your laptop. This way, you have the ability to select through previously downloaded songs, see what’s coming up next, and view tempo and effects. All the things that the mixer controls will be visible on your screen, making it easier for you to blend tracks and choose effects. In this way, it is effectively an extension of the mixer. You’ll also need to make sure you have plenty of music downloaded to the laptop. Again, once you know your style and music type you can fully load the laptop with music giving you plenty of flexibility. Laptops are certainly able to hold more tracks than a box of vinyl!
Next on our list, we have speakers. Professional speakers are not something that many people have lying around at home, but a DJ probably should. The benefits of having your own speakers are twofold. Firstly, you can be ready at a minute’s notice to go out and perform. If you own everything required to run the show, people will know they can rely on you. Though many gigs will have perfectly fine equipment in-house, this is still a benefit. Secondly, rehearsal. Practice makes perfect, and DJing is no different. With some professional speakers at home, you can spend some time practicing your live set properly, which is far more beneficial than mixing through headphones or some small computer speakers.
Headphones, like speakers, are also essential. Again, you could certainly do some rehearsal with headphones, but that’s not the main use for a DJ’s headphone. You need headphones to help you mix on stage. By using your mixer or controller, you can have a sneaky listen to what’s up next, whether it’s blending right, and what effects your throwing on a song before the audience gets to hear it. This is why you often see a DJ with one side of a set of headphones on. Then, when everything is starting to blend perfectly, you let the audience in!
Finally, the boring but essential bits. You’ll probably need flight cases for your records, decks, or controller, especially if you plan on travelling a lot to perform. You may want a microphone for addressing the crowd, and in that case, you’ll need a microphone stand. Finally, you may want your own DJ stand and/or table so that you know exactly how your gear will be set up every night. Don’t forget plenty of spare cables and power supplies, either.
There you have it – a comprehensive list of everything you’re going to need if you want to start a DJ career. A lot, maybe, but once you have it all, it’s going to be super rewarding and fun to get to grips with. Good luck starting your new venture as a DJ, we hope you have loads of fun!