Which DJ Setup is Best for You? [Deciding Factors]

Which DJ Setup is Best for You? [Deciding Factors]


Which DJ Setup is Best for You?

If you’re new to DJing then it can be overwhelming to know where to start, let alone know which DJ equipment to buy initially.

Even if you’ve been DJing for a while then you may not know which DJ equipment to level up to next. In this article you’ll gain the knowledge about DJ equipment setups and help you how to move forward with your DJing.

DJ Equipment Format Options

Record Vinyl Turntables + DJ Mixer

The classic, yet least common option I’d imagine these days is the record vinyl turntables and DJ mixer.

If spinning record vinyls is your thing then this is the way forward. There are still some great DJs mixing it up on YouTube purely with vinyl.

If you like the sound of this option, then expect to pay on average about £6-10 for record vinyls, and a lot more for albums.

Turntables are a lot more bulky and can take up more space than other digital DJ equipment in comparison.

You will need:

  • 2 x Turntables
  • 1 x DJ Mixer

Record Vinyl Turntables + DJ Mixer + DVS + Laptop

A hybrid solution to the purely vinyl players is DVS (Digital Vinyl System).

I’ve personally got this setup in my DJ music man cave and I love the option of playing purely record vinyls, alongside digital music via DVS.

DVS costs more due to purchasing a DVS interface, DJ software package. It’s possible to escape having a DVS interface separate to the mixer and buy a DJ mixer with DVS built into it.

You will need:

  • 2 x Turntables
  • 1 x DJ Mixer
  • DVS interface
  • Digital time code vinyls
  • Laptop
  • DJ Software

CDJs / XDJs + DJ Mixer

CDJs are commonly seen in the clubs and professional events. If you’re serious about becoming a club DJ then this setup is the one for you.

Even if you don’t invest in this setup, it’s actually quite easy to find a DJ studio, such as Pirate.com.

CDJs are sometimes defined as XDJs also and are most commonly seen in clubs as the Pioneer brand, and in some occasions Denon.

You will need:

  • 2 x CDJs (or more than 2, e.g. 3 or 4 deck mixing)
  • 1 or 2 x USB sticks
  • 1 x DJ Mixer

DJ Controller + Phone / Tablet

Smaller DJ controllers such as Pioneer DDJ-200 offer compatibility with smartphones or tablets. In the instance of the DDJ-200 you can download Rekordbox onto the smartphone and start DJing when the smartphone is connected to the DJ Controller.

This is a great option if you don’t have access to a Laptop and you’re keen on DJing as a hobby on a budget.

You will need:

  • 1 x smartphone / tablet
  • 1 x DJ software
  • DJ Controller

DJ Controller + Laptop

A DJ Controller and laptop combination is a great option for DJs that want to not pay too much money for a decent setup. But in the meantime practice on a DJ controller that has enough functionality to help you get ready to DJ on club DJ equipment.

Affordable and value for money hits home with this setup type, and there are many mid to high end DJ controllers that you get started on. An example of this type of setup is the Pioneer DDJ-400.

You will need:

  • 1 x smartphone / tablet
  • 1 x DJ software
  • DJ Controller

All-in-One DJ Controller

This type of DJ controller is the most expensive but with the most functionality. Laptops are not needed for this type of DJ controller which makes it easier to setup. Simply plug in your USB sticks to access the music that you need.

This DJ setup is another great option for DJs looking to get the nearest experience DJing on Club DJ equipment, e.g. CDJs and a DJ mixer.

Pioneer DJ XDJ-XZ Professional is a great example of this type of All-In-One DJ controller setup.

You will need:

  • 1 x All-In-One DJ Controller
  • 1 x USB stick

What you need for a full DJ setup (Essential equipment & accessories)

Headphones

All DJs use headphones. It’s just a case of which headphones you like and suit you.

My personal favourite headphones for DJing are Sennheiser HD-25, although there are some great headphones on the market. Check out my recommendations here.

Types of headphones to consider are over ear or on ear headphones. Some headphones are also noise cancelling and wireless too. So there’s plenty to consider when choosing the right ones to meet your needs.

Some mobile DJs have two pairs and bring them both to their DJ gigs. For example, DJing for 5 hours or more may put your hearing at risk, so it’s great to have a pair of noise cancelling headphones.

If you’re a beginner DJ and hobby DJ then you don’t need to worry so much about noise cancelling headphones. Focus on a pair that are comfortable and audio quality is well balanced across the low, mid and high EQs.

Some headphones I’ve tested in the past are low quality and can hurt your ears if using them too much.

Speakers

It’s helpful to DJ with a pair of speakers connected to your DJ equipment setup, i.e. a DJ mixer or controller.

Most DJing equipment works best with a pair of speakers that connect to the Master Output (e.g. RCA Phono) on your DJ mixer or controller.

It’s not imperative to enjoy DJing in your own home as you can use your headphones and switch to ‘MASTER‘ on the headphones switch on the DJ mixer. You can enjoy your DJing session just as much through your headphones.

Tip: Always remember to keep the volume down to prevent hearing damage. Whether it be in your headphones or speakers, a long length of time exposed to high volumes of sound can contribute to potential hearing damage.

Cables

RCA (Phono) cables are the most common type of cables that you require for DJ equipment. Depending on the complexity of your DJ setup will determine where you plug in RCA cables.

Below are examples of scenarios that you’d use RCA to connect your cables to DJ Equipment.

  • Master Output to speakers
  • Connecting DVS audio interface to the mixer
  • Connecting to audio recording device
  • Master Output / Booth Output to external mixer

NOTE: you might need to find an RCA cable to 1/4″ Jack connectors. For example, my DJ controller output is RCA but my speakers connect to 1/4″ Jack connectors. Click Here, for RCA to Jack cable

XLR cables are fairly common when connecting DJ equipment such as DJ mixers to speakers. Usually the more high end professional DJ gear allows for these types of connections and cable types.

LAN Ethernet cables, are used for CDJ equipment setup. This allows DJs to plug in a USB Stick into one CDJ and connect the Ethernet cable from one CDJ to another. Allowing DJs to access music from one USB Stick, as opposed to having to use two separate USB Sticks (one per CDJ).

Check out my recommended DJ Accessories page here, to help you with your DJ setup.

Equipment & accessories (you might not of considered yet)

DJ Desk

Great for DJs to have a dedicated setup in their home or DJ studio. There are a lot of options out there on the internet, cheap and expensive.

If you’re on a budget then I’d suggest searching online for IKEA DJ desks. Many people seem to buy the inexpensive IKEA sets to then modify them for their DJ setups.

I’ve seen some DJs go onto online stores such as ETSY, where there are custom made solutions for DJs.

Alternatively if money is not an object, go to a DJ Equipment website, there are plenty of DJ specific desks. Some great options for CDJs and record vinyl turntables too, not just DJ Controllers.

Microphone

Cases

Cases are a great way to store and protect your DJ equipment from dust mainly, and for when you’re travelling.

It’s well worth investing in a case for your equipment if you plan on DJing at venues.

Note that some DJ equipment such as DJ Controllers do come with a protective carry case, lined with a foam and case to protect your DJ equipment.

Tip: Make sure you measure the size of your DJ equipment before investing in the right type of DJ carry case.

Covers

Plastic covers are a great way to protect your DJ equipment, for example DJ mixers and DJ controllers, from dust and dirt. Also protect from accidental damage simply being in your room or DJ studio.

Dust and dirt can gather up behind the outer casing and can sometimes causes issues with electronics. I’ve personally had this issue with my DJ mixers in the past, so it’s well worth considering a plastic cover for your DJ equipment.

Ear plugs

For you DJs looking to get on and make money from DJing, I’d highly advise getting a pair of ear plugs.

I’ve got a small case with ear plugs that I take to my DJ gigs, there are different sizes, each size letting in a varying degree of sound.

This allows DJs to use ear plugs according to the volumes (dBs) you’re dealing with at the event. The length of time that you’re exposed to the loud sounds too is important to think about too, which is where ear plugs come in handy.

USB Memory Sticks

If you’re keen on the CDJ or XDJ setup then it’s important to get hold of a USB memory stick or two.

This will give you the ability to store music on your USB sticks, plug them into the CDJ device to access music to then play music and DJ.

According to this Reddit thread “CDJ/XDJ users, what USB stick are you using?” some good examples of USB memory sticks include:

General advice is to have 3 or 4 USB sticks with the same tracks on, just in case the technology fails and you need a backup. Especially important if you’re DJing live in Clubs, festivals etc.

External HD or Cloud storage to back up music

Backing up your digital music collection is really important especially if your laptop or USB sticks become faulty for whatever reason.

Using an external HD like myself to update every week or so can give you piece of mind your music is backed up. Also cloud storage is a good idea allowing you to access your music anywhere without having to take a physical drive with you everywhere.

External Recording Device

If you’re not using DJ software to record your DJ mixes, or not using DJ software at all that is, then an external recording device will do the job.

I’ve written about recording DJ mixes here, where I’ve featured the Reloop Tape 2 is a great option for recording DJ mixes, also the Zoom H4n Pro.

6 Deciding factors for your DJ setup

1. Space and size available in your room / studio

The space available to you may be limited, so it’s important to think about how you can fit in your new DJ equipment setup. Measure up your DJing area / DJ desk and make sure you’ll fit all your gear on there. Maybe even venture into a shop to measure up equipment if online websites aren’t giving you the measurements.

Also, a good example of space saving. If you love DVS setup, but concerned about space then you can get DJ mixers with DVS built-in, giving you extra room (no DVS audio interface to plug into).

2. Budget to spend

Budget plays a big part of buying a DJ equipment setup.

You can get a high end club DJ setup for lower prices, you may need to consider going down the finance route, buying second-hand or good old patience by saving up your money and then buying your new setup.

3. DJ software you prefer

If you’ve managed to DJ with a specific DJ software before purchasing your DJ equipment, then it’s important to check out compatibility of DJ equipment with certain DJ software.

4. Style of DJing and music

Pick the DJ equipment to suit your mixing and DJing style.

Dance / House DJs may simply need two turntables and a mixer to allow them to do drawn out mixes with the EQ’s and filters.

Whereas, if you’re more of a turntablist, then picking DJ equipment that suits that style of DJing is really handy.

Traditional setups such as turntables and DVS setups are great for this type of DJing, but you can get hold of DJ controllers with platters that offer a similar feel to normal record vinyl turntables.

5. Hobby or Pro – your objectives as a DJ?

Consider what your DJing objectives are.

It’s cool to be a DJ, even if you’re a hobby DJ at home or a club DJ. So considering which setup to buy initially will help you achieve what your objectives and goals are.

A hobby DJ could buy whatever type of DJ equipment you like, no issues.

A club DJ or mobile DJ might want to consider a more professional option to travel about with, offering some great functionality. And of course offer a range of outputs to connect to external mixers and speakers for example.

6. Try before you buy

Personally I’ve tried out DJ equipment before I’ve put money down. It’s worth it to understand a lot more about DJ setups, look and feel of equipment, and finally size.

Having DJing friends and family really helps to gain access to DJ equipment and setups to try out.

Alternatively you could go to music shops that have DJ equipment to try out or even trade shows.

Related Questions

Can you DJ with just a laptop?

DJ Software can be installed on laptops, such as DJAY by Algoriddim. Using the DJ music on the laptop, DJ software will allow you to use the keyboard and mouse pad to control mixing and transitioning between tracks.

Do Pro DJs use controllers?

It’s not very common to see Pro DJs use DJ Controllers, potentially in their own studio they may use DJ Controllers. Most pro DJs in club or festival environments use CDJs or XDJs connected to a DJ mixer. Most popular brand being used is Pioneer.

What is the best brand of DJ controller?

Pioneer appears to be the most dominant brand on the DJ market, and arguably the “best”. There are other brands that are similar in quality such as Native Instruments, Roland, Denon and Numark.

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