27 March 2022
You have made the choice to become a DJ. I can imagine that you don’t really know which gear to buy. Which DJ gear do I need? In this blog I explain what the 5 basic gear requirements are to get started as a DJ.
DJ decks are the first DJ gear to look at. They come in all shapes and sizes and can be divided into two groups. There are controllers and CDJs. A controller is an ‘all-in-one’ device. They come with and without a screen. The disadvantage of a controller without a screen is that you always have to connect your controller to a computer. A controller with a screen works without a computer. There are also CDJs. CDJs belong to the club standard. Each CDJ serves as a single channel, which you connect to a mixer. So for a complete set you need at least two CDJs and one mixer, for example the DJM-900 NX2. Most professional mixers have 4 channels, but they are even available with 6 channels. That means you can connect 6 CDJs to one mixer. The price of the latest CDJs, the CDJ-3000, is no less than 2300 euros and for a 4-channel mixer you pay about 2400 euros. A complete set with two CDJs is therefore already 7000 euros!
Anyway, I can imagine that as a beginner you cannot make such an investment. Fortunately, that’s not necessary either! If you really want to try out whether DJing is something for you, then I recommend starting with the DDJ-400, the perfect entry-level model. For about 279 euros you already have a well-functioning two-channel controller including the most important functions you need as a DJ, including an Fx and loop function. If you have a little more budget and still opt for a controller without a screen, then the DDJ-FLX6 or the DDJ-1000 is also recommended. Both the FLX6 and the DDJ-1000 have 4 channels through the switching function, despite both having two jog wheels. Both have ‘on jog displays’, where information can be seen on the jog wheels such as the BPM, key and track position. What makes the DDJ-1000 different from the DDJ-FLX6 is the amount of possible connections. This makes it possible to connect speakers directly from the device. In addition, the DDJ-1000 has the possibility to connect CDJs to it. You use the DDJ-1000 as a sort of ‘stand-alone’ DJM mixer! The advantage of controllers with a screen is that you don’t need a laptop. You can therefore load your next track from your decks to mix in, so more time to connect with your audience ;-). Options for controllers with a screen are the XDJ-RX3 (2000 euros) or the XDJ-XZ (2400 euros). In principle they have the same functionality as a CDJ setup with a DJM-900 NX2 mixer, only they are a lot more compact and therefore also cheaper. Despite there are other brands that produce DJ tables, I always recommend getting a Pioneer, because then you get used to the club standard.
To put your tracklist in a playlist, you need DJ software. You also need software when you use a DJ controller without a screen. There are various options in the software selection. However, I recommend people to use Rekordbox, because Rekordbox is the most compatible with Pioneer products. In Rekordbox you can drag tracks into your collection. It is also possible to directly create a playlist. When you’re happy with your tracklist, you can export your playlist to your USB! Make sure you are in the correct Rekordbox mode. You use the performance mode, for example, when you are using your controller. You use the ‘export mode’ when you are creating your playlist. In Rekordbox you can also put your cue points in a track. Download Rekordbox here: https://rekordbox.com/en/
Perhaps the most important from this “Which gear do I need as a DJ?” list: Music! Even if you have the best gear and DJ skills, you can’t play a good set without good music. The best way to get your music is to buy your music on Beatport. Here you have the option to buy your music in mp3 or wav file. A wav file is CD quality and therefore the best quality. Mp3 is more compressed. In general, the difference is only clearly audible when you listen to it on large speakers. I also recommend buying wav if you actually need to play at a gig. Make sure your mp3 quality is at least 320 kbps, if you decide to play with mp3. A track of 320 kbps can be considered as good quality. The best thing is of course when you produce your own tracks. People usually know you from your music and not necessarily from your DJ skills. By the way, nowadays it is very important to have your own music to become big within a scene. Maybe you know an artist with whom you can swap your own produced track with his or her track!
When choosing the right USB stick, it is important to look at three things. The storage, the speed and the material. In principle, 32GB is more than enough to run a set. However, if you want to have enough storage for all your music, it’s better to look for a USB with a higher storage capacity. Today, USBs usually come in 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, and even 512GB. It is also important to look at the speed of the USB, especially the ‘reading speed’ is very important. A speed of 80Mb/s is more than fine, but to make your USB future-proof it is better to look at USBs with a reading speed of 150Mb/s (or more). Generally, USBs come in two different materials, plastic and metal. I recommend getting a metal USB, because metal USBs are more shock and water resistant and more heat resistant.
Headphones when DJing are necessary when beat matching two tracks. It is important to choose a headphone that gives an honest representation of the sound. An honest representation of the sound makes it easier to mix. It is also nice if your headphones slightly muffle the sound of the audience. And lastly, choose headphones that can take a beating. It would be annoying if your headphones break during a performance. Headphones also come in all shapes and sizes. Good headphone brands are V-Moda, Sennheiser, Pioneer and Audio Technica.