For new Digital DJs it can seem pretty daunting – what DJ Equipment is necessary to start DJing with a computer based DJ setup, or to make the leap from "traditional” hardware based DJ equipment?
In this post we’ll provide a rundown on the DJ equipment requirements for a basic digital dj setup. For starters, take a look at the Dj gear in the picture next to this paragraph – as you can see there are only 5 really key Dj equipment components needed to get into the mix right away.
Now let’s outline each piece of DJ gear you’ll need for a basic Digital DJ rig:
DJ Laptop Computer
DJ Software is standard in any mobile dj or club installation, and is the “brains” behind your entire setup. All the DJ equipment we’ll refer to in this post is driven by DJ mixing software – without the software the remaining gear we’ll discuss is all large, expensive paperweights.
Thus, the most important piece of DJ equipment you possess is your DJ computer. You may already own one that is sufficient. Please take a look at our system requirements for PCDJ’s flagship DJ software solution, PCDJ DEX 2 HERE If you own or acquire a computer of at least the listed specifications, chances are your MAC or PC will run DJ software with ease. However, no out-of-the-box computer is DJ ready – HERE is a list of highly suggested DJ system optimization tips!
The MAC or PC debate is always polarizing. Personally, if you’re dedicating the use of your DJ computer to your DJ software solution of choice, I feel a Windows machine performs just as well as a MAC. In fact, if you plan to add video mixing capabilities you’re probably better off purchasing a Windows machine with the required high-end video card since you’ll get twice the machine for close to half the price.
Regardless, purchase or use a laptop suitable for your budget that meets the recommended requirements set forth by your DJ software provider.
DJ controllers are not necessarily a "requirement" for your digital DJ equipment setup, but personally I would never DJ without one. If you’re not familiar with DJ controllers, please check out this blog post HERE that explains what they are and why you’d want to use one to control your DJ software. DJ controllers provide tactile hands-on control over DJ software, eliminating the need to use a mouse.
There are DJ controllers for every budget, ranging from as low as $80 to as expensive as 2K. PCDJ recommends when shopping for a DJ controller to select one that includes an I/O interface built right in (this is the sound card that includes 2 stereo outputs, so you have a headphone cue channel and a main output. Read more about DJ sound cards HERE)
There are many “beginner DJ controllers” to select from, and PCDJ supports over 60 (zero-configure) as of today. Every popular DJ equipment manufacturer has entry level Dj controllers and high-end solutions. Check out Numark, American DJ or Hercules for basic controllers that include an I/O interface and are of solid and reliable construction, yet are still highly affordable.
If you want to jump in with both feet immediately, check out the Pioneer DJ or Denon DJ controllers on the market for professional solutions with a myriad of in-depth functionality. Whatever DJ controller you decide to go with, try not to go too entry level. Don’t go with a controller designed for home/bedroom use for instance, since as you hone your mixing skills with digital dj equipment you’ll want room to grow.
We have a DJ Equipment page at PCDJ.com that includes some of the latest digital DJ equipment that’s plug-and-play with PCDJ DJ software, as well as bundles that include both our DJ software solutions and DJ equipments (sound cards and DJ controllers)
Other brands to consider when researching DJ controllers for your DJ rig are Reloop, Gemini DJ, Stanton DJ and Vestax.
In order to cue-up, or otherwise pre-listen to tracks using a DJ controller (or DJ sound card) you’ll need another iconic and vital piece of DJ equipment – DJ headphones.
There is a ton of headphone variety on the market today, in pretty much any color and style (including “in-ear” buds). If you’re just starting out, you may not want to spend $200+ – and you don’t have to for good quality cans.
What is special and important regarding proper DJ headphones is that the frequency range is wider with higher gain levels, and most include 50mm drivers to ensure the bass cuts through the mix (which you’ll be thankful for in a noisy club or when at a loud event). So don’t purchase headphones designed for home use for your pro DJ equipment.
Sony, Pioneer, Denon, Numark, Beats Audio and Vmoda are all popular brands with pro DJs.
If you are planning to build your first DJ equipment setup for your home, any type of home theatre system or computer speakers should be fine for practice. Although one thing to keep in mind is that home based systems are configured for “normal” audio output and levels, so you don’t quite get the same sound you would out of a larger mobile DJ speaker system or even less at a club.
For a new Digital DJ that wants to start mixing at parties or events, we’d recommend a basic self-powered speakers setup. Self-powered speakers are already perfectly tuned and optimized making setup a breeze for even the greenest Digital DJ. The amplifier is built directly into the speaker casing (just like the Mackie speakers pictured at the top of this post).
Check out self-powered speakers from EV, Mackie, Bose, JBL and B-52.
For your basic digital dj equipment setup the most commonly used cable is RCA. All DJ controllers and DJ sound cards offer RCA connections. You’ve certainly seen RCA cables before, as they are commonly used with home entertainment system and typically sport red and white connections.
RCA cables are unbalanced however, and much of the time pro DJ equipment includes other audio I/O options such as 1/4 inch or XLR (which are balanced connections) and provide better sound quality.
Check your DJ controller and the speakers system you plan to run out to in order to see what connection options are available. For most any mobile DJ gig unbalanced RCA’s are just fine – but any club gig will most certainly want to use a balanced output.
We hope this post helps you understand the basic dj equipment you’ll need in order to perform with a DJ software based DJ rig. Do you have any other essentials we missed you’d like to add? Feel free to share in the comments below!