Why is DJ Equipment So Expensive?


When you’re new to DJing it’s quite easy to find out that DJing equipement is pretty expensive. Especially certain brands and high end DJ gear with enough faders, switches and FX to put you off even DJing. You might be thinking “Why is DJ Equipment So Expensive?“.

The cost of components in technology has advanced with display panels and a vast array of functionality. A focus on ‘quality’ mixed in with brand perception also plays a part in the high price points of DJ equipment. DJ equipment is not mass produced to the point where cost per units are really low either, which does keep up the retail price too.

I’ve been DJing for just over 17 years now, maybe longer I lose track, and in my time have bought a fair amount of DJ equipment to share my insights into why DJ gear and equipment is expensive. I’ll also provide you with insights into which DJ equipment is best value for money in comparison.

Let’s get technical

The amount of money you part with can depend on how complex a product is, especially if the CDJ or DJ controller is made of many internal electrical components and electronics.

Basic DJ controllers are remarkably affordable these days with the cost barrier being low, allowing the entry level to start DJing. These basic DJ controllers have a low amount of functionality, components and inputs/outputs for example.

See the Pioneer DDJ-200 vs the Pioneer DDJ-1000, or even better for a higher spec comparison Pioneer DJ SYSTEM (XDJ-RR).

Higher Spec DJ Mixers, DJ Controllers & CDJs usually include more advanced features which require:

  • more wiring internally
  • more components
  • more digital display screens
  • USB connectivity
  • audio interface
  • better quality materials to protect the digital display jog wheels
  • finally output ports

The more complex the DJ controller or CDJ the higher the price. It’s a cost thing for manufacturers and brands. The more components and parts that make up a product will determine the price.

Functionality & technology

As technology evolves and demands of DJing functionality progresses, we have seen in the DJ equipment industry that price has increased.

The presence of digital music has caused this and now that CDJs are becoming more advanced, e.g. digital displays on both the jog wheel and at the top of the CDJ, so has the price increased.

Even more impressive functionality from Pioneer’s XDJ, have no CD required, just purely a digital music to be played.

Interlinking CDJs using a LAN cable is another feature added to newer versions of CDJs making it possible to use one USB stick for all CDJs being used to mix the music.

Another example of how technology has evolved along with the digital age is the Digital Vinyl System, AKA DVS. Allowing DJs to use a audio interface to connect to a laptop using DJ software, with digital encoded record vinyls. The perfect hybrid of DJing digital music for the old school record vinyl DJ.

On a positive note, due to all the new integrations of the digital screen within CDJs and all-in-one DJ controllers, this does make using a laptop and DJ software redundant for certain DJs. So you could argue that you gain a slight cost saving there for not having to buy a laptop and DJ software.

Pay for quality

When it comes to DJ equipment there’s usually an obvious budget option, for example a set of headphones, DJ mixer, speakers or CDJs.

And in some cases for certain types of DJ equipment, there’s a mid-range quality option and high-end quality option too.

I do feel that outside of the budget section of DJ gear there’s a bit of a blurred line between the mid-range and top-end DJ gear for certain types of equipment.

For example, CDJs or DJ controllers there doesn’t really feel like that there’s a mid-range feel for quality. It’s either budget quality, or it’s higher-end quality.

Quality split of DJing Equipment, including CDJs or DJ controllers

Speakers, laptops and DJ Software are more segmented by quality. The more you pay, the more you’ll get by way of quality.

Quality split of DJing Equipment, including speakers, laptops, DJ software

You can certainly tell the difference between budget, mid-range and high end speakers for DJing.

  • The sound of budget speakers would just sound lacking in audio quality and a bit coarse.
  • Mid-range speakers would sound clearer in comparison, maybe slightly muddy in frequency possibly.
  • High-end speakers would simply be crystal clear, crème de la crème!

Price is certainly linked to quality but not in all areas of DJ equipment so keep that in mind if and when shopping around.

Check out my DJ Gear Recommendations here.

Brand perception

Next there’s brand perception, and if you’re already in the DJing scene you’ll probably guess that I’m going to talk about Pioneer.

Pioneer certainly has a brand perception in the DJing industry by way of “quality” to some and their brand being “industry standard”. To some people maybe even questions like “why would you not go with Pioneer?”.

Their monopoly on the DJ equipment market has been dominated by strong marketing and focus on getting their DJing equipment into all clubs as standard.

There are other aspects that Pioneer have seemed to of push for such as mostly working with Rekordbox compatibility, which seem to add to the perception of “exclusivity”.

All in all what this does is give Pioneer control in the market when setting prices of their DJ equipment products.

And unfortunately for some of the higher-end products, e.g. DJ controllers or CDJs, pushes competitors such as Denon try to compete at a similar price level. Essentially trying to show that brand perception / quality exists for their brand too purely because of matching the price point.

So if you’re a money conscious person and don’t want to spend over the odds when it comes to Pioneer then here are some other brands to consider:

  • Numark
  • Native Instruments Traktor
  • Denon
  • Hercules

Check out my DJ Gear Recommendations here.

Marketing & Production

The DJing realm online and in certain live events gives off a glamorous luxury vibe. It certainly doesn’t give off a budget vibe.

Thinking about certain genres of music such as Electronic Dance, with many related genres including Disco, EDM Funky House, Deep House, is played at venues in Ibiza, Las Vegas, London, Bali, just to name a few. The clubs or settings in these locations are high-end luxury.

As a result the price point for DJ equipment from certain brands is pushing towards the high-end market. I suppose to match and make it in line with the perception of DJing at these luxury locations.

As a result it seems that brands such as Pioneer, don’t mass produce equipment so that the cost per unit is lower and therefore the retail price is decent and affordable.

It’s probably why the range of DJ controllers has become available for newbies, with a Numark Partymix DJ controller being affordable around $90 and a Pioneer DDJ-200 being around $150.

As people progress with their DJing skills and upgrade to better DJ equipment, this creates a ‘second hand’ and ‘used DJ equipment’ online market place. So you can easily pick up cheap online DJ equipment, check my tips at the end of this article for advice.

Amount of gear adds up

The thing that can be frustrating and be over whelming is the final total cost of everything.

If you’re a person that likes to get stuck in and get all the gear then this can add up to a sizeable cost.

Especially costly if you find out that you don’t like DJing and then you’ve got the task of selling your DJ gear again.

The below is a typical DJ equipment list, I just wanted to point out if you get carried away in a shop then you might over spend and over buy equipment that you don’t need as a beginner DJ.

  • DJ Controller or CDJs & Mixer or Turntables with DVS
  • Cables
  • Speakers
  • Headphones
  • Carry case

If you’re a beginner DJ you might not want to spend a lot on DJing equipment.

When comparing yourselves to better DJs and watching them on YouTube and seeing all the DJ gear they have, you have to remember there may be different ways they’ve attained or funded their DJ equipment.

More advanced DJs might know that this is 100% their hobby, DJ professionally or as a mobile DJ business. Hence why they’ve invested in top notch gear.

Tips for buying DJ equipment

Now let’s explore tips around expensive DJ equipment and strategies around how to get hold of DJ equipment.

In my opinion there should be no way in which there should be stopping someone from DJing, it’s such an amazing hobby, skill or profession to have.

  • Decide if you want to be a DJ for fun or as a career. Deciding this very fact will enable to you figure out what you’re going to do with investing in your DJ equipment.
  • Consider 0% finance to fund your DJ equipment if the online retailer offers it. Always read the small print, don’t get caught up with lots of fines and unnecessary costs e.g. late fees or early repayment fees.
  • Buy Second hand! Check out Facebook market place, Gumtree, ebay and even some DJ shops provide clearance and ‘Used’ equipment. Cash converters is another idea too. There are dedicated re-sellers of old equipment too, see deck-converters based in the UK. Always worth it if you’re not precious about having brand new gear, you can save tonnes of money in the process of buying second hand DJ gear. Just make sure you get an honest seller and check the gear is not broken or malfunctions.

Related Questions

Are CDJs better than controllers?

CDJs and DJ Controllers both offer similar basics to allow DJs to mix music. CDJs are more widely used in clubs which is why CDJs are better to gain experience if a goal of a DJ is to become a club DJ, or have a career as a club DJ.

What’s the difference between CDJ and DDJ?

A CDJ is a separate turntable, separate to a DJ mixer and second turntable, which plays either a CD with music on or music from a USB stick plugged into it. A DJ controller has two turntables and a mixer built-in, which makes it easy to transport.

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