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DJ Equipment Guide: How to Build a Beginner DJ Setup

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professional DJ equipment setup

Building your first professional DJ setup can be a daunting task, especially if you are simply starting out as a DJ. To start on your journey to great beat mixes, it is important to consider numerous components before making any gear purchases.

With so many options for DJ equipment and software platforms nowadays, making informed decisions on which equipment to spend your hard-earned money on is a key step to building a professional DJ setup fit for your budget and skills.

Rent or Buy?

Renting a wide range of DJ equipment is the best option for DJs who do not have the budget to purchase all the gear they need. This is particularly advantageous for those who are just starting out in developing their skills as a DJ and may not want to invest a large amount on professional equipment until they feel more confident in their skills and are ready to start booking gigs.

Aside from saving on the cost of purchasing new gear, you won’t have to worry about performing regular maintenance on the equipment. Another advantage of renting is that you will be able to try out different brands (for a fraction of the cost) and see which ones you like best before taking the plunge and buying the gear you want.

On the other hand, buying brand new decks and mixers has its advantages. Aside from allowing you to create a fully customized DJ setup that suits your needs, most equipment usually come with manufacturer’s warranties.

The obvious downside is the price, but if you are serious about your craft, it is definitely a worthwhile investment.

Basic Types of DJ Equipment:

DJ equipment turntable and headphones

While the choice of equipment combinations differ among DJs, an essential setup for every DJ usually includes monitor speakers, a mixer, turntables, headphones, vinyl records, or a laptop computer and DJ software. One setup may not fit a certain style, so it is important to mix and match gear to find what works best for your musical selection and DJing style.

The amount of DJ equipment options can be somewhat overwhelming for a beginner, especially since choosing the equipment is crucial to creating quality sounds. There are however a number of essential gear that a DJ needs to make killer playlists and provide your audience with enjoyment.

1. Input devices

Putting tunes together requires at least two input devices, which can either be turntables or CD decks. You can choose from a wide range of input devices that will allow you to mix tunes and mashup tracks without a pause in music.
Stanton T.92 M2 DJ equipmentStanton T.92 M2 DJ equipment
Stanton T.92 M2 USB Direct-Drive S-Arm USB Turntable ($299.00) is a professional-quality turntable that features a direct-drive motor and built-in USB connectivity. The turntable’s USB port allows for easy transferring of vinyl recordings to your Mac or PC. With features such as Pitch Control Fader with DSP Key Lock, you can control tempo without affecting pitch.

Another advanced feature of this turntable is its S-Shaped tone arm, which lowers distortion and reduces record wear.

Other recommended products:

2. Mixer

The mixer is the core part of any professional DJ setup. It is a type of audio mixing console that allows DJs to perform different effects and tricks. DJs use the mixer to make smooth transitions between different recordings while they are spinning a set. It can also be used to play record players.

Pioneer DJM-2000 mixer professional DJ equipment

The Pioneer Electronics DJM-2000 ($2,499.00) is a four-channel DJ mixer that features built-in instrument effects including Noise, Jet, Zip, Crush, HPF and LPF. It has a 5.8″ LCD touchscreen display that allows you to create new track slices through the mixer’s Beat Slice function.

The mixer has four channels located on the sides of the center LCD which you can use to connect your turntables to other analog players. Each channel features a fader that allows you to adjust the channel volume, a trim control to adjust input level, and a CUE button dedicated to the pre-listen function in your headphones. The unit also features Delay, Multi-Tap Delay, Roll, Reverse Roll, and Filter and Phaser effects.

Other recommended products:

3. Headphones

High-quality headphones allow DJs to listen, cue, and mix tunes with precision. It is one of the most important tools for determining the right timing to play songs rhythmically. The equipment you use is based on your preference, but it is important to consider comfort as one of the main factors in choosing your headphones. You’re going to be wearing headphones for hours on end, so you want to use a pair that not only reproduces sounds accurately, but is also comfortable to wear.

Another important factor to consider is flexibility. A good pair of DJ headphone does not easily break even when bended in different positions.

sennheiser headphones professional DJ equipment

Sennheiser HD 25 Plus Closed-Back Monitor Headphones ($199.95) is a lightweight headphone that provides high-quality audio. Its closed back design provides effective noise cancellation, making it ideal for use even in loud environments. It also features a rotatable ear cup for single-ear listening. The HD 25 Plus is capable of handling high sound pressure levels of up to 120 decibels, which allows it to perform well in loud environments.

Other recommended products:

4. Sound system

Using studio monitor speakers is a great way for beginner DJs to hear their mixes with clarity. While Hi-Fi speakers produce high-quality sounds compared with inexpensive audio equipment, they also amplify certain frequencies that can make it difficult for beginner DJs to hear what the mix actually sounds like.

Keep in mind, however, that this is an optional element of the ideal basic DJ setup. When you start playing gigs, you’ll find that most venues will have their own sound system that you can use. However, if you’re still learning and you want a good sound system for your home DJ setup, go ahead and invest in your own.

monitor speakers professional DJ equipment

Mackie CR4 4″ Woofer Creative Reference Multimedia Monitor ($149.99) delivers studio-quality audio performance ideal for multimedia creation and entertainment. It features 50 watts of articulate stereo sound, as well as premium and high-performing components such as sound-enhancing waveguide system.

The Mackie CR4 features a front panel volume knob, and auxiliary input for easier access.

Other recommended products:

5. Controller

Most modern DJs opt for a simpler (and easier) digital setup composed of a controller and a laptop. If you no longer use vinyl records or CDs, then purchasing a controller is really the only step you need to take to create a viable DJ setup.

Controllers essentially mimic the function of turntables and mixers. They allow for easier manipulation their chosen DJ software. It allows you to mix music through the software with the use of knobs, encoders, jog wheels, faders, assignable backlit buttons, touch strips, and other control components.

native instruments traktor kontrol s4 controller professional DJ setup

native instruments traktor kontrol s4 controller professional DJ setup

The Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S4 MK2 DJ Controller ($599.00) is a portable, all-in-one option for digital DJs who want high functionality and usability along with ease of use. Its components include silicone-damped jog wheels with premium aluminum plates, a built-in 24 bit/96 kHz soundcard, two customizable FX units with over 30 DJ effects, brightly colored RGB triggers, and a 4-channel mixer with faders, Flux Mode, and Loop Recorder controls. It also comes with the Traktor Pro 2 software.

Other recommended products:

Sample DJ Setup For Beginners:

professional DJ setup with turntables and mixer

Setups vary widely among DJs. The equipment comprising a complete setup depends on each DJ’s personal preference and musical style.

Here is a sample setup for beginners who want the classic turntable setup:

  • Two turntables (with built-in slipmats)
  • DJ mixer
  • Headphones
  • USB/audio interface (optional)
  • Monitor speakers (optional)

1. Numark PT01USB Turntable ($99.00)

The Numark PT01USB is a portable, AC or battery-powered turntable that converts vinyl to WAV or MP3. It makes recording and importing audio simple through the EZ Vinyl Converter 2 for PC and Audio Converter for Mac software that is included in the turntable.

Features:

  • USB connection and USB cable
  • Belt-drive motor
  • Protective dust cover with carrying handle
  • AC adapter
  • Built-in speaker
  • RCA connector and headphone jacks
  • 45 RPM adapter
  • DJ cartridges

2. Behringer DJX750 Professional 5-Channel DJ Mixer ($199.99)

With its fairly affordable price point, the Behringer DJX-750 is an attractive option for beginners who are building their first DJ setups. But don’t let the price fool you—this 5-channel mixer has the features and functions required to serve the needs of professionals as well.

Features:

  • 24-Bit effects processor
  • Tactile effects control
  • Two automatic BPM counters with time and beat sync display
  • 45mm VCA-controlled crossfader
  • 3-way frequency kill switches
  • Adjustable XPQ stereo surround effect

3. Sennheiser HD 600 ($288.00)

The Sennheiser HD 600 is an audiophile-grade headphone that features a dynamic design. It is one of the best headphones for DJs (and even professional sound engineers) as it features advanced technology that allows it to reproduce accurate, high-quality sound, allowing you to hear notes in perfect clarity.

Features:

  • Open metal mesh grilles
  • Magnet systems that reduce harmonic and intermodulation distortion
  • Lightweight aluminum voice coils
  • Neodymium magnet material for excellent dynamic response
  • Oxygen-free copper cable
  • Detachable headphone cord

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