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06-03-2011, 04:07   #1
CyberWaste
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Beginner DJs Guide to DJ Equipment

Thought since this gets asked a lot, that this would be of some help to total beginners looking to buy or get advice on DJ equipment. Maybe sticky this for future.

____________________

Choosing the equipment you need to DJ with can be quite a task if you are inexperienced or just getting started.

A few things to consider first; DJing is NOT cheap. DJ equipment costs a few hundred a piece for a good quality item and if you buy cheaper equipment, you get what you pay.

There are many different pieces of equipment, formats of dj'ing and factors to consider before making any purchase to ensure you make the best choice to begin your DJ career.

DJs use many different types of equipment depending on the musical format they wish to spin: Vinyl DJs use vinyl records, CD DJs use CDs and Digital DJs use MP3s/WAVs.

Regardless of the type of DJ you choose to become, there is always a basic set of equipment each DJ must purchase:
  • 2 x Turntables
  • 1 x Mixer
  • 1 x Headphones (with 1/4 jack usually)
  • Some sort of speakers/sound output

These things can be got in different ways such as 2 vinyl turntables and a mixer for vinyl DJs, 2 cdjs and a mixer for CD DJs and a all in one MIDI controller for Digital DJs.

NOTE: For digital DJs, you will also need a laptop/mac book running mixing software such as Traktor, Virtual DJ, Serato or the free software called Mixxx along with your MIDI (connected by usb) controller to be able to mix and basically DJ.

Also, for digital DJs, you will also need a sound card to output the sound and to cue songs with headphones, since you are not using a traditional mixer which has a built in sound card. Most newer MIDI controllers now have built in sound cards, but older ones such as the Vestax vci 100 do not, so you will need to buy a external sound card, such as the Audio 2 DJ.

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The following is my recommendations for beginner DJs buying equipment for their format of preference but are sure they are going to keep DJing and that its not a short fad, if you can not afford the following equipment at the moment but are keen to get gigs and take DJing seriously, then I suggest you save up until you can afford the following pieces of equipment, instead of buying cheaper lesser known brand equipment. I will post under my recommendations for equipment, the equipment that complete beginners should buy if the insist on buying gear without having dont much practice or learning/


** Remember, prices for the following equipment varies from place to place and there is the option of second hand equipment**


CD DJ Equipment:

CD DJing was the next step in DJing; using CDs, DJs were able to bridge the gap between digital music releases and traditional “hands-on” mixing. CD DJing uses smaller turntables but their flexibility are unmatched; they fit perfectly between the analog and digital era. CD DJing is very standard for most clubs, festivals and events – it’s a great choice for those starting out that want to take full advantaged of modern technology.

Required gear for starting out (my recommendations)

The gear listed above is not the major club or industry standard for CD DJ’s but this gear is very capable of any type of DJing and will give you full control over your music and mixes; it’s another great start for those that want to have the “hands on” feel.

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CHEAPER ALTERNATIVES The prices for this equipment is about half the price of whats listed above it, but do the same job, but are just older /not of same build quality.




Vinyl Equipment:

The vinyl DJ is where it all began; you get the full effects of using your hands to make your mix. A vinyl DJ setup is a bit more expensive overall but if you’re the type that wants to get to the roots of it all, build a vinyl record collection and have full control over your mix than this is where you should start. Prices will range from a few hundred euros to a couple thousands depending on your level of learning.
Required gear for starting out (my recommendations)
The pieces of gear listed above might not be industry standard, but it is definitely the perfect starting block for people looking to DJ with vinyl. Choosing this gear will allow you to transition into any club, festival or party without any resistance in using gear – its perfect for those that want to get into vinyl DJing without breaking the bank so to speak.


CHEAPER ALTERNATIVES
NOTE: I do not have much experience in vinyl decks, but im sure there is cheaper alternatives to the technics 1210, just have a look online. But I recommend the following mixer.The prices for this equipment is about half the price of whats listed above it, but do the same job, but are just older /not of same build quality.




MIDI / Digital DJ Equipment:


Midi and Digital DJ equipment is the latest flavor of gear used for DJing. There are many great pieces out there that give you unbelievable control over your mixes, allow you to use your digital music, transition into clubs, festivals and parties – and it’s extremely cheap.

Being able to play virtually any available song is one of the main appeals to digital turntables and time-coded systems. Another being the fact that you can have thousands of songs with you, just stored on your laptops hard drive instead of carrying hundreds of cds/vinyl.

In digital systems, DJ’s use controllers connected to programs on their computer and cue up MP3′s/WAVs which they have downloaded or ripped from their collection.

Digital is increasingly becoming a great choice for beginner DJs due to the ease of building a massive song collection on their computer without having to hunt down vinyl and CD’s in shops and across the net.

There is one thing though which can come down to preference, which is the laptop that you use. Macbooks are generally used by digital DJs, due to reliability and stability, but are expensive at the same time, but Windows laptops can also be used. Its your choice really.

Required gear for starting out (my recommendations)
The gear listed above comes with everything you need to get started DJing: turntables, mixers, headphones and DJ software (Traktor S4 comes with a copy of Traktor pro 2)

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CHEAPER ALTERNATIVES
  • 2 x Hercules RMX MIDI Controller
  • 1 x Windows 7 laptop (Varies to your preference but are cheaper than macbooks. You can read about minimum specs needed to run traktor/serato/Virtual DJ etc. on their websites) Example here! Price is only €280
  • 1 x Copy of MIXXX DJ software (its free)

The prices for this equipment is about half the price of whats listed above it, but do the same job, but are just older /not of same build quality.




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If you have already had a few DJ lessons and have used many pieces of DJ equipment and are sure this isn't just a short fad, then I suggest you follow this advice:

Before you make any decision on the DJ gear you plan to buy it’s best to determine your budget. Many people rush into making a purchase only to pick up gear which breaks within a few years or even months or is unreliable. Like the old saying goes “you get what you pay for”.

I highly suggest you make a budget of what you can afford along with a wish list, this way you can distinguish between needs and wants.

Set aside a bit of money from each paycheck, pocket money or whatever to go toward your gear funds. You may be tempted to buy some cheap pieces of equipment now with the money you have saved, try not to make any purchase just yet to ensure you’re buying top notch stuff. But if you insist on buying equipment even though you've not even learned to beatmatch yet, then I suggest you follow my recommendations above under "cheaper alternatives".


Other pieces of equipment I suggest buying, these are not essential though:


A flight case

These can save your equipment from damage over the years, and are well worth investing in. They come in all different shapes and sizes to fit pieces of equipment. Prices vary.

A Four Sleeve CD Wallet


These are handy for CD DJ as its easy to navigate through cds and can bring many at one time. I suggest you buy one such as the Case Logic CD wallet (these can be got in HMV currently for €17) or a Slappa case.

________


I hope you found this guide helpful and lets you know what you need to start DJing immediately.

As noted in the beginning, knowing what to buy before hand will help save you many headaches and unnecessary purchases.

I recommend saving about €1000 – €2000 before you make any definitive purchase, this way you’ll be able to pick quality gear from the beginning.

You can check local shops, browse online or find local deals through adverts, ebay, done deal, buy and sell etc.


There is always people selling their gear to upgrade or DJs that are getting out of the game. There are bargains out there, but if buying pre owned, make sure to thoroughly test EVERY function of the item before buying or bring along a experienced DJ to look at them with you.


Try to test out every piece before you buy, make sure nothing is broken and that it will work well with your other pieces of gear.


Last edited by CyberWaste; 06-03-2011 at 19:06.
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06-03-2011, 15:10   #2
RMD
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There's no point in picking up "quality" gear unless you know you're serious about it. CDJs for example, you're much better off going for a set of CDJ400s/350s and a basic 2 chan mixer, than a set of 800s/850s a an A&H 2 chan.

Once you get into it, get the basics down, get your head around music choice and the right place to find it then invest in quality equipment that will last. If you decide it's not for you, it's fairly easy to shift a set of 400s and 350s without losing to much on them.
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06-03-2011, 15:42   #3
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Good post, definitely a sticky. Maybe put in a budget reccommendation of gear for each one? An S4 for example is huge money for someone starting out!

Maybe put in some more about DVS, just down to how many DJs use them.
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06-03-2011, 16:35   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RMD View Post
There's no point in picking up "quality" gear unless you know you're serious about it. CDJs for example, you're much better off going for a set of CDJ400s/350s and a basic 2 chan mixer, than a set of 800s/850s a an A&H 2 chan.

Once you get into it, get the basics down, get your head around music choice and the right place to find it then invest in quality equipment that will last. If you decide it's not for you, it's fairly easy to shift a set of 400s and 350s without losing to much on them.
Fair enough I get what you mean, but some people teaching lessons recommend not to buy cheap equipment when starting out, as you will end up upgrading anyway. But ill edit the post to reflect your contribution.
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06-03-2011, 16:41   #5
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defo sticky

so sick of new threads everyday on this
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06-03-2011, 17:28   #6
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Great Job CyperWaste, stickied
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06-03-2011, 18:23   #7
RMD
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CyberWaste View Post
Fair enough I get what you mean, but some people teaching lessons recommend not to buy cheap equipment when starting out, as you will end up upgrading anyway. But ill edit the post to reflect your contribution.
Ye, if you're getting lessons you'll be serious enough about it so good quality equipment is a good choice but if not a cheaper set isn't a bad idea. 400s/350s still aren't cheap, a pair will of 400s second hand will cost €800 at the least if they're in good nick and a new pair of 350s will cost €1200. A set of cheap CDJs like Numarks or Geminis isn't a great idea. Forgot to say, great post.
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08-03-2011, 14:47   #8
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Just to add to your cheaper alternative, them DJX700 mixers are terrible, I would suggest looking at a DDM4000 or even a second hand DDM4000 if you really needed a 4 channel mixer.
This is one of my posts from a similar thread;
Quote:
Ok so you want to become a DJ but your not sure about all the equipment that is out there! My prefered online shop is Thomann, they have free delivery if you spend over €200.

CDJ's
CDJ's can range in prices from E166 to over E1000 depending on what you are looking for and what you can afford. Pioneer are by far the best in this category. The CDJ-1000 is the Big daddy of the CDJ world but personally I prefer the CDJ-400 due to its compatibility with a usb stick.

There are budget options such as the Numark Axis4 or the American Audio Radius 1000

Vinyl Turntables

Technics, Stanton and Vestax are your big brands with Technics being the so called Industry Standard. The downside of buying vinyl turntables is the price of vinyl. Vinyl can be expensive 5-10e per record, not to mention the weight of having to carry around 2-3 record bags, therefore you can consider a Digital Vinyl System (DVS).

Mixer
In my experience you are better off buying the best CDJ's/TT's you can afford and buying a cheap mixer. You can always upgrade the mixer in the future plus you will not notice the difference as you are only learning. It is also best to stick away from a mixer with effects as they can be distracting when you are trying to learn the basics. There are a ton of mixers under 100e here. Behringer are a company who produce cheap products. The only mixer they produce that is of good quality is the DDM 4000 and at 315e is a bargain.

Software & Controllers
There are again a load of options in this category but you are best not buying cheap as they can be un reliable. The Torq Xponent is an excellent Controller that comes with Torq software. Vestax also produce the VCI range such as the VCI-100 although you need to purchase an external soundcard.
As for DVS systems there are a range of them but the best in my opinion are Torq, Serato and Tracktor. There is cheaper options such as Deckadance and the Free open source Mixxx

Headphones
To be honest don't waste your money, just buy cheap to get you started, As I said earlier send the majority of your money on CDJ's or TT's. I bought a pair of Sennheiser HD-205 in Dixons for €40 when I was starting out and they where excellent!

Learning
Now for learning the basics, there is a thread all about Mixing advise for the beginner here or alternatively check out youtube videos such as the ones posted on this site http://www.djtutor.com, not everything I say is gospel feel free to disagree or add some advise!

Edit: Cleaned up the post a little!
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08-03-2011, 15:50   #9
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Hey great thread.

Just to add for the vinyl side of things, better not to save on the turntables. If you're a scratch dj, maybe get one of the newer high-torque things but otherwise, technics only, because you're so heavily reliant on how it "feels" you'll need that +/- 8% pitch and the feel of the technics torque, or you'll have a whole new learning curve when you go anywhere to play out.

Not an absolute "DONT BUY ANYTHING ELSE" but just saying, better to get a terrible mixer and technics decks, if you're on a real tight budget.

Also might be worth saying the DVS solutions are the most versatile, cos you can use them with cd, vinyl, and controllers, and you can play both digital and analogue formats.

I advise towards a DVS initially at the moment. Gives you lots of wiggle room to go towards cd, vinyl or computer based stuff later down the line.

Also, I find the cheap numarks great for the super-budget stuff. Better than the behringers, for me. Everything on them works as it should (for a limited time) rather than the behringer where half the features dont even work properly out of the box (by design).


My 2 cents.
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09-04-2011, 23:18   #10
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13 Y/O Wanabe

Lads Great thread but need more help
I have a Y/O who wants to DJ at his local GAA Jounior disco and progress to Family parties.
He has a good laptop but am lost as to what else he needs including lights. All advice welcome.
Is this the kind of gear he needs dont want to spend too much incase he finds out its not for him. you know what kids are like.
http://www.adverts.ie/amps/professional-dj-set/514048

Thanks again brilliant advice
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19-04-2011, 12:53   #11
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DJ starter help

Great post, if anyone wants any further info I'd be glad to help. I work selling this kand of equipment so PM me if you have any questions.

Niall, Aquariussound.ie
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19-04-2011, 13:23   #12
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Nice one Niall, good to have you on boards!
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28-04-2011, 00:20   #13
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Suggestions on monitors/speakers.

Yo, I posted this on another thread before noticing this one, think my question is more fitted to this thread.

Anyway, I bought a pair of Technics recently and I'm just wondering if anyone has any suggestions or advice as to what monitors/speakers to buy? I'm somewhat clueless about it. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks!
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30-04-2011, 12:29   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Renter View Post
Yo, I posted this on another thread before noticing this one, think my question is more fitted to this thread.

Anyway, I bought a pair of Technics recently and I'm just wondering if anyone has any suggestions or advice as to what monitors/speakers to buy? I'm somewhat clueless about it. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks!
It all depends on how much you'd want to pay and the power (Watt) of the speakers too. I haven't had active monitors so I'm not sure if I'm the right person to answer but I know a very standard set which a lot of my friends use (and I've even seen Pro's with them in their studios) is the KRK range. Or more specifically for the lower cost option the RKT6 or 8's. Im gonna start shopping around for a set myself soon and probably gonna go for these ones myself. I think you can pick up a set of RKT6's for around €400.

I'm sure somebody here might have more experience in the area and might be able to help. But these are a good little set anyway.
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30-04-2011, 14:38   #15
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there are loads of options open to ya on Monitors. Alesis have some great budget ones The M1 active 520's are 70 watts each and are 225 a pair.

If you want more punch , look for 8" monitors like the Yamaha HS80's. 120 watts each and 500 a pair.

Yamaha also make a HS50, 70 watts each and 310 a pair.

All info on www.aquariussound.ie

Niall
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