MI Online’s Beginner DJ Guide: Equipment Setup
THE GEAR AND GADETS YOU’LL NEED AS A BEGINNER DJ
As a beginner DJ, trying to wrap your head around the equipment required to start your career can be a little overwhelming. Who can blame you? All those lights, buttons, tables, cables, apps – it looks awesome! Okay, awesome, and at times intimidating. Beginner DJs typically need to invest in a turntable or computer setup. But before you head on down to the friendly neighbourhood DJ store and buy the most expensive gear on the market, just take a deep breath. You should consider your exact needs for DJing before purchasing any equipment. And trust us, there’s a lot. Who knows, maybe two weeks post purchase you decide to become a radio DJ instead of a club DJ, then you’re stuck with a pretty expensive paperweight. If possible, ask an established DJ to provide you with a comprehensive list of exactly what a beginner needs to start DJing. Luckily, we have DJ industry veteran and Intro to DJing course instructor, Charles Chemery (AKA DJ Charlie Sputnik) ready and willing to offer advice to MI Online students. Charles teaches online dj courses and gives a basic guide to Beginner DJ equipment setup below.
BASIC COMPUTER EQUIPMENT
Any regular functional laptop and free software like Mixxx will be enough to start with. Consider purchasing a laptop with decent hard drive space for that impressive track library, good processing power for when you run multiple programs at once and enough memory to save edited sound files. If that’s not in your budget right now, get a laptop where these elements can easily be upgraded.
Mixxx is probably the most full-feature free DJ software out there today. With 4-deck control, vinyl emulation, sample decks, effects, crates, auto DJ, recording and live broadcasting you’ll start to get a small taste of what it feels like to be a pro DJ. Another bonus is that Mixxx supports about 85 DJ controllers (great for that beginner DJ budget) and is available in more than 80 languages.
The next thing you’ll need to consider is your audio interface.
An audio interface is the missing link between a DJs laptop setup and the club’s sounds system and, ultimately, the dancefloor.
A set of quality speakers are a must, and you should ideally choose speakers that have been tuned and optimized with built-in amplifiers.
Whenever we see those epic music festival videos, the camera inevitably pans across the DJ booth for the money shot – the controller. As a beginner DJ, you should get to know your way around a virtual controller first. The software allows you to get your toes wet without having to fork out your hard-earned cash for the real deal. There’s no doubt that a USB controller will allow you to control effects, crossfading, loops, and beat-matching far better than a laptop but as we like to say: crawl, walk, run.
When it comes to buying DJ controllers the world is your oyster. Once you’ve graduated from a virtual model, try a small portable unit before you purchase a large scale deck.
*Top tip: the type of music you plan to play, will influence the type of controller you buy. Remember to research controllers that match your genre and style. MI Online’s, DJ Charlie Sputnik prefers Pioneer. “I use the Pioneer DDJ-SR. It is a pro-level Serato DJ controller, but isn’t too bulky, although it offers all the advanced features of the software. It comes with the pro version of Serato DJ and won’t break the bank at $499.”
The turntable is the holy grail of DJing, and a high-quality setup with vinyl records simply cannot be matched. For beginners with the inclination and the budget, investing in a quality turntable is probably the best way forward. You will have superior mixing and matching capabilities with a turntable, with a vinyl collection to match.
Still deciding which type of style you enjoy most? Maybe Charlie Sputnik can help – Electronic DJing vs. Vinyl DJing.
Irrespective of style or medium every DJ needs a fantastic set of headphones. If there’s any room for budget-stretching, here is where to do it. The two brands that have dominated the DJ headphone industry are Pioneer and Sennheiser. If there is a music or IT show in town, we definitely recommend paying each brand stall a visit and taking different sets for a spin. Make sure to load your phone with dynamic tracks to really put them to the test.
We’ll leave you with this: if you’re thinking about getting into DJing or you’ve just started out, and you’d like to up your game we recommend spending time with DJs who know the entertainment and business side of the industry well. An online course, like Intro to DJing at MI Online will give you access to industry vet Charles Chemery without costing you an arm and a leg. Check out his free DJ lesson and get a taste of what it’s like to learn from a music legend.