If you’re just getting started, it pays to see if DJing is something you can commit your time, effort, and money to. Before investing in your own setup, try gaining some practice through a DJ school or on a friend’s equipment. When you’re ready to look into buying your own gear, here’s what you’ll need to save up for the essentials to be a DJ.
While there are a lot of ways you can approach your setup, and a lot of it depends on your preferences and style, many DJs in the industry recommend that learning to DJ on vinyl records is the best way to learn, and the quickest way to fall in love with the art. Vinyl is to DJing as the stick shift is to car lovers—you just can’t beat learning the traditional way. While there’s nothing wrong with computer-based mixing, learning the traditional way will sharpen your listening skills and force you to really pay attention to the music—the beats and waveform. Plus, you’ll get to practice your scratch beats and develop an on-stage presence. You might prefer to go the route of CDJs, MIDI controllers, and laptop down the line, but if you can afford the space, opt for a pair of turntables.
If you’re going the turntable route, you’ll need a vinyl collection versus carrying your money on a USB drive. While it may take more time to rummage through collections at sales or online, you’ll gain a greater appreciation for the art, be choosier with what you purchase, and get your paws on some rare finds. Depending on what kind of mixing you want to do, you might need two of the same record.
Of course, you’ll need a mixer, which is the heart of your setup. The minimum number of channels is two, which is probably sufficient if you’re just starting out. You’ll also need to look at the other features of a mixer such as the channel EQs, which is a cluster of knobs that allow you to tweak a channel’s frequency bands; the level meters, gain controls, and mixer outputs.
Headphones when DJing are different than listening to music at home or working in a recording studio. Whereas headphones used in studio mixing require a “flat” frequency response so you can get a “pure,” uncolored sound, when DJing you’ll want a pair of professional monitor headphones where you can pick up on the bass sounds and mid- and high frequencies.
Among the things you’ll want to look out for include comfort, as you’ll be wearing them on your head or around your neck for extended periods of time, durability, and the ability to withstand wear and tear from being lugged around to different locales. You might also want a pair with pivot cups, so you can swiftly check the sound of your mix against the speakers.
You’ll need RCA cables to connect your turntables to the audio output. A 1-foot dual male-to-male cable should do the trick. These are fairly inexpensive, and it couldn’t hurt to have a few extra on hand just in case.
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