DJ Setup: Top 5 RIGs (Drawing Demos)

The DJing profession has come a long way since its first appearance in parties. The traditional DJ setup has revolutionized over the years and gone digital. What this means is that the most basic requirement for DJ is a pc and a free or professional DJ software. Let us take a look at the variety of DJ setups depending on needs and preferences. These are


Equipment needed for this set up are:

  • 2 x DJ Turntables
  • 2 x DJ Cartridges (needles)
  • DJ Mixer
  • Slipmats which are felt mats that go between record + turntable platter
  • DJ Headphones
  • Vinyl Records
  • RCA Cable (to connect the mixer to audio output)


The pros of this setup are that it is the base, foundational and pioneer DJ setup. It is also the recommended setup for learning how to DJ as it is the most tactile form of DJing and can be used as a digital setup with the addition of Serato Scratch Live, Traktor Scratch, etc.


What you will need for this setup include:

  • 2 x DJ Turntables
  • 2 x DJ Cartridges needles
  • DJ Mixer
  • Slipmats
  • DJ Headphones
  • A computer
  • DJ Interface Package such as Serato Scratch Live, Traktor Scratch, etc.
  • Audio Interface to connect your equipment to your computer
  • DJ software
  • Special recorded Vinyl for use with DJ software
  • all necessary cables such as RCA cables and USB cables


The advantages of this set up are that it allows for the tactile feel of the turntable setup, it is most preferred by professionals, allows the use of both vinyl records and digital files and opens up a lot of additional features


What you will need for this setup include:

  • 2 x CD DJ Turntables
  • DJ Mixer
  • DJ Headphones
  • CDs or MP3s


The advantages of this setup are that it offers more control and features than the Turntable setup. Digital files from thumb drives, hard drives etc. can be played on CD turntables with USB inputs. It can create custom CDs to play and can be used with most DJ programs including Serato Scratch Live, Traktor Scratch, etc. which makes it one of the most preferred by club DJs.


What you will need for this setup include:

  • 2 x CD DJ Turntables
  • DJ Mixer
  • DJ Headphones
  • Computer
  • DJ Interface Package such as Serato Scratch Live, Traktor Scratch, etc.
  • Audio interface to connect your equipment to your computer
  • DJ software
  • control CDs i.e. special CDs for use with DJ software
  • all needed cables such as RCA cables and USB cable


The bonus points of this setup are that it allows one to play both CDs and digital files.



What you will need for this setup include:

  • Computer
  • DJ Software
  • DJ Controller to transform it into a DJ controller setup
  • Audio Interface not necessary, but recommended


This is an inexpensive option if you have already had a computer.  It is the most compact setup, most portable, and can be used by non-professionals. As a bonus, it can be transformed into a DJ controller setup with the controllers which allows for tactile control and manipulation of music and more control over the DJ software. It can be customized to individual preference and is very portable.

From the above-listed DJ setups, we can tell what DJ equipment is most important for the standard DJ setup.


All the way through this article, we have seen controllers being mentioned time and time again. Well for those who do not know, comprised of knobs, encoders, jog wheels’ faders, backlit buttons, touch strips and other components, controllers are devices that help DJs mix songs using DJ software. Controllers serve as intermediates between the DJ and the DJ software, doing the functions of the keyboard, cursor or mouse, touchpad on iPad for example only better, quicker and with less hassle. They help the DJ send commands to the software on how it should mix the music and transition to the next.

Controllers sometimes have up to four outputs which provides the DJ the strategy of listening to a mix via headphones before sending it out to the main sound channels. The communication between the controllers and software is through MIDI and HID protocols using the USB cable.

Controllers act as the traditional turntables and mixer, just less expensive than the two. They are flexible in their use and can help make the software do a lot more. Sometimes, they are specialized i.e. they are specifically made for a particular software and may not function at all or as well with other DJ software so it is important to get a controller that is compatible with the software to be used.


Turntables are a circular rotatable platform that plays vinyl records, they are a major instrument used by DJs. However, they are not so much in vogue anymore thanks to the arrival of the DJ software. To create a context as to what has been replaced by the DJ software, it is best to give a bit of background on turntables. Turntables are used to play tracks, manipulate sounds, create sound effects, and alter the beats of songs and transition music.

The emergence of software made turntables in the traditional sense somewhat obsolete. Coupled with the fact that they are a little bulky and not easy to move or use like the software version. That notwithstanding, while they still exist in the software, they remain a favourite among professional DJs for the texture, depth and original sound it creates.


Mixers are basically as the name sounds. They are used to mix songs and transition from one song to another. The mixer is a mixing console is like the powerhouse of a DJ setup. All other DJ equipment is connected to the mixer. It is the brainbox of a DJ system. The mixer is used to make seamless transitions between songs and to create new sounds.

What this means is different songs sound like it’s on one track and within each other so that there’s no clear start or finish of a track. A trick to the effectiveness of the mixer is that it is connected to the DJ’s headphones, allowing the DJ to listen to the next song and to mix and match seamlessly.

A mixer


The headphones are connected to the mixer to enable the DJ to know the lineup of songs and when to play them.  Headphones are used by professional DJs in all DJ setups.


This equipment doesn’t at first thought seem like a vital DJ equipment but its importance cannot be overemphasized. This is the reason it is used by all professional DJs. The microphone is the DJs means of communicating with the audience to increase the feel, tempo and hype of the music.


The PC is versatile in its nature and has found a purpose in all aspects of life, the disk jockeys not exempted. DJ software applications are downloaded into a computer which is then connected to an interface or a controller.

A computer, headphone, controller and microphone. Notice the miniature turntables attached to the controller.


These come with the traditional DJ setup. They are used for scratching on vinyl records while playing on a turntable. As little as they are in comparison with the other DJ equipment, they are of great importance to the turntable DJ setup. This is because, without a cartridge needle, there’s no sound and a bad cartridge needle kills the groove.


This list will not be complete without paying tribute the first music store, the vinyl record. Long before the coming of CDs and MP3, the vinyl records ruled the DJ world. They were vital for all DJ setups. Their importance has not diminished as they are still loved for their originality.

vinyl record on a turntable with a cartridge needle


An audio interface is a piece of external hardware which is basically used expand and improve the sound output of a computer. They can be used in the place of a mixer although it has a purpose completely different from that of a mixer.  From the audio interface, speakers and amplifiers can be connected to the computer.  The audio interface produces a very clear and accurate representation of sounds from a system which makes it a recommended hardware for computer-based DJ setups.


These can be the red and white tipped, two or three tipped cords. They are used for connecting the DJ equipment to each other. To work efficiently, make sure you are always connecting output into input and vice versa.  The XLR cables are microphone cables.


It goes without saying that speakers are  a  vital component of all DJ setup. It can be connected to the amplifier or audio interface through cables or directly to a computer via Bluetooth or a cord.



To create the standard professional DJ setup, make sure you have a set of turntables, a mixer, an amplifier, one or more loudspeakers, preferably two, all necessary cables and a microphone for yourself. The first step is to set the turntables on a table or a flat surface. Place the mixer next to the turntables and plug them in using a three-prong extension cord.

The next equipment to be set upon the table is the amplifier which will similarly be connected the mixer. Next place the speakers on the left and right side each of the DJ booth. Note: Really large speakers should go on stands or on the floor while smaller ones can be set on the table. It is important that the speakers should be angled facing the audience and at the hearing level.

To plug the turntables into the mixer, use the RCA or the XLR cables which goes into the tape inputs or the microphone channel respectively depending on the turntables. Remember to adjust the gain of that channel, which is the sensitivity of the input so it is loud enough. Plug in the amplifier into the mixer with a 1/4 cable and the amplifier into the speakers with two more ¼ cables.  Lastly, connect the microphone to the mixer and test out your turntables. Remember to mute all channels not in use so as to avoid interference from outside.

Follow this order to turn on your equipment: mixer, turntables then the amplifier

This process doesn’t apply to the use a computer DJ setup or the use of a DJ software as most come with come with in-built DJ equipment. All that one needs to do is to put on the computer, plug in the interface and necessary other external hardware and begin to mix.

DJ equipment is limitless depending on the needs of the audience or the desires of DJ.  It is however advised to find the equipment and software which works best for you and your audience to get optimal results from any DJ setup.