To be a DJ isn’t as easy as it looks. A professional DJ requires some serious training and equipment just like many other professions. In this case DJ equipment. Jocking is much more than standing in the DJ booth with the big headphones, feeling cool and having zero knowledge of the task laid out before you. Jocking is an art, an uplifting art mixed with technology. One that has been around since the 1980s and has continued to evolve into the beauty that it is today.
Beginning Your DJ Journey
There are a couple of things to consider when you decide to begin a DJ career. These are:
- The kind of DJ set up you want to use. There abound a variety of DJ setups. They can be traditional with the turntables and vinyl records, or modern with a computer and a DJ software. It could even be a mixture of both to heighten the DJ experience.
- Put into consideration your type of audience. This is very important as you will not want to play hip-hop and pop songs at a children’s party or an old folks home. Also, senior citizens will appreciate a traditional setup more than a group of teenagers.
- The kind of event, gig or occasion you will be playing at. This is closely linked with the type of audience you will be performing to. A frat party or aclub will require big loudspeakers while a wedding not so much. Also at a wedding, the microphones are a vital part of the setup.
- Before you concern yourself with getting gigs, you need to first get the right equipment. This is the first step to being the professional DJ you aspire to be. You might want to start old school with the turntable vinyl setup or go modern with a computer setup. For the former, the main needed equipment to start to DJ are the mixer, a turntable advisably one that can handle two decks, speakers, cables and vinyl records. Bear in mind that it will take a while to get a large collection of vinyl records so be patient with yourself.
- If you decide to go with a more modern setup, you will need a laptop, a digital collection of MP3s, DJ software and other necessary collection of external hardware such as a controller, DJ software interface, audio interface, cords etc. The necessary DJ equipment every beginner should have include
It is important to get a computer that can run a DJ software efficiently. Thankfully this is a task many computers on the market can handle. It is important to get one with at least 3usb ports, a long battery life and the standard laptop screen of 15.6 as smaller ones may be hard to read. Mac’s, Chromebooks and Asus’s work real well for a DJ setup.
One thing every DJ needs is certainly music which could come in the form of Mp3, vinyl or CD records. The art of DJing, mixing and scratching has revolutionized that a DJ no longer needs to haul around a heavy and bulky collection of vinyl or cd records. This ultimately saves time, energy and money. Similarly, a beginner can get a large collection of music at once and store them on a USB stick. However, make sure you get high-quality mp3 and digital files as no one wants to dance to woozy and distorted sound.
Headphones are a must have for any DJ and a good one can have a great impact on your art. They are basically for cueing and listening to the next tracks before the audience. This helps in determining the choices of songs to be played. Just about any headphone will do but good quality ones are recommended. To choose the right headphones, make sure it isolates sounds from outside, hangs comfortably around your head and neck for a long time, has long cables so you can move around and is durable.
DJ CONTROLLER / MIXER
Get a controller/ mixer that connects to your laptop via USB. They are used to loop and create new sounds. It is of great necessity to have a controller that has a soundcard or an inbuilt audio interface as they are simple to hook and use.
There are a large number of DJ software available on the market. Therefore, as a beginner, it is best to start out with the free versions
To crown up your equipment are speakers, preferably two to be placed on the right and left of the DJ booth. As a beginner, you can get two basic speaker set and a sub-woofer. As you advance in your craft, you will get better speakers to match with your skill level and venues.
WHERE TO BUY AND SELL DJ EQUIPMENT
There are ample retailers when it comes to DJ equipment. In The US, we prefer Guitar Center and Amazon online. You can also buy DJ equipment online here on Amazon or any other online shop results that return from reputable search engine findings.
LEGALITIES OF AUDIO FROM STATE TO STATE
The noise act of 1996 classifies the hours of the night between 11 pm and 7 am. Therefore, playing loud music during these hours can be considered loud. Determining the loudness of music is relative. There is no set time or SPL level but it comes down to noise complaints from neighbours, the opinion of the attending office, time, place or circumstance.
Before the cops show up there must have been a complaint from a member of the public, suspicion of underage drinking, some form of illegal drug taking or crime. They just don’t barge in to pull the plugs on a rocking party. You will get a friendly warning and if this fails to resolve the issue, a Noise Abatement Notice is served to instruct the occupants to stop noise immediately. Again if this fails, you get your equipment taken aware for a week.
To prevent this, check that your music is not too loud by closing your doors from outside to test its loudness or by installing soundproof doors.
COMPARING RENTING TO BUYING OF DJ EQUIPMENT
As a beginner, purchasing the basic DJ equipment is probably your best bet as you are free to practice whenever you want to. As a professional on the other hand, hiring equipment is more advantageous than buying for the following reasons.
Renting is more affordable than buying. As every event is different, needed equipment to perform at this events differ too. When you settle for renting equipment, you will get what you need for that specific occasion which will amount to spending a lot of money if you opt for buying. Sometimes you may never use them more than once and they get outdated quickly. Consequently, you don’t get your money’s worth.
Renting presents limitless options. A rental service will most likely have an array of DJ equipment to choose from. Furthermore, you get state of the art equipment as rental services are up to date with industry trends.
Renting is low maintenance. Purchasing equipment puts the burden of maintenance and safekeeping on you. When you rent, on the other hand, the burden is placed on the rental company.
HOW TO STORE DJ EQUIPMENT
Keeping your DJ equipment may be more difficult than you think as its quite an irony that the most dangerous place your DJ equipment can be is at a gig. Your gear needs to be protected whenever it’s in use or just lying around. The first thing to do is to make a checklist of all your equipment. This will enable you to keep a close watch on them before and after each event.
Ensure your equipment is elevated during a performance and kept away from drinks and liquids at all times. Set up your booth in a nice location separated from the audience as this will protect devices from liquids and people from tripping over cables.
What doesn’t come to mind readily when speaking of storage equipment is music. Vinyl and CDs can be physically protected with the rest of your items but not your musical collection. Therefore, ensure you back up all mp3 and digital music files on the internet.
When equipment is not in use, store in a large storage area protected in bags, cases or whatever you see fit to protect it from the forces of nature. Find more ways to store equipment here.
HOW TO SETUP DJ EQUIPMENT
Setting up your DJ booth is pretty easy when you have the right equipment and the knowledge of it. It is important to follow the process of a setup.
For a traditional DJ setup, on a table or a raised flat surface, place your turntables on both sides of the mixer, the speakers on the right and left ends of the DJ booth facing the audience. The amplifier should be placed adjacent to and connected to the mixer with the appropriate cables. Turntables should be connected to the mixers and speakers to the amplifier. Turn on the mixer, turntables and amplifier respectively. Ensure all unused channels are blocked and all cables are protected from human interference.
Computer DJ Setup
A computer DJ setup, on the other hand, is fairly easier to connect and less bulky. Place the controller, interface and computer on an elevated surface side by side with each other and connected by the relevant cords. The speakers should be placed on the extreme left and right of the booth and connected to the audio interface.
2019 and Beyond: The Future is Yours
The world of the DJ is always evolving and developing to accommodate new technological advancements and meet the growing needs of its market. Here is a rundown of some of the latest in DJ equipment.
The PLX-500 is very popular and in high demand among professional DJs. It is designed to simplify recordings and the PLX produces a high-quality sound from the vinyl. The Turntable comes with an accurate audio playback and topnotch vibration damping for that chilling raw feel when playing vinyl records. It works well with DJ software and allows recording of vinyl records into custom-made digital files. If it falls within your budget, a pair is recommended.
The M2black is for starters budget friendly. Giving you the basic functions required to capture your audience, the M2Black is built with a three-band EQ, a channel gain on each and a slick fader. It has a Master and Record (RCA), two switchable lines which make it easy to create sounds.
For obvious reasons, Native Instrument equipment works best with other native instrument equipment. Notwithstanding, they work well with other brands too. The native instrument is a leading brand in the DJ market and we expect nothing less from its controllers. The S2 is designed for optimal integration with software specifically the Traktor DJ and allows you to have an easier time when using an iPhone or an iPad. It allows scratching, tweaks FX, assigns sounds, holds 2-channels and much more.
This list will be incomplete without the mention of the DJ software. It is almost impossible to go modern with a DJ setup without the software. Serato changed the game completely in 1998 when it introduced the software and the game has only gotten more competitive. The leading brands the Serato and Traktor continue to change to accommodate new features that make them almost indispensable.