How to buy DJ equipment
A DJ equipment buying guide
Parties are seldom complete without a quick or extended stay on the dance floor. Besides skill, the factor that separates a good DJ from an excellent one is the equipment being used. Whether you plan to perform for a crowd of twenty thousand or a crowd of one, there are plenty of things to consider when it comes to how to buy DJ equipment.
>> How and where will you use it?
Beginners, hobbyists and seasoned pros have different types of DJ equipment that they can choose, so assessing your current and future performing needs is an important step in figuring out how to buy DJ equipment. Consider how regularly you perform and the type of crowd you are most likely to entertain. Considering the environment in which you will play will also help you determine the best DJ equipment to buy.
If you are a beginner or occasional DJ trying to figure out how to choose DJ equipment, play to your ability level by considering all-in-one DJ packages since the components are designed to be automatically integrated. If you are a professional or highly skilled user, look for more manual top DJ equipment in order to customize your setup to your particular needs.
>> Consider the audio player
When deciding how to buy DJ equipment, remember that the two main types of music sources are vinyl and digital recordings. If you are more traditional and prefer spinning, consider vinyl. It is a popular choice among DJs because of the superior sound quality, opportunities to get creative with your performance, the ability to see the breakdown of a groove and the availability of glow-in-the-dark vinyls. You would also do well to look for digital music sources if you prefer the portability of CDs, MP3s, hard drives and SD cards. If you are unable to decide, you can always use both.
>> Consider turntables
Also known as decks or tables, turntables are found in most DJ equipment checklists due to the superior quality of sound they produce when using records. The two main types of turntables are direct and belt drives. If you are a beginner, consider a belt drive because the recovery time after scratching is much faster. Experienced DJs favor belt drives because they have a motor with a ring of strong magnets that reduces the time it takes to get up to speed. Direct drives, on the other hand, are less susceptible to outside forces and generally have less distortion when first starting to play.
Sometimes you will want to use the start-stop buttons so you can wind the music down or start slowly. So, when considering new DJ equipment, look for turntables with start and stop buttons and a speed selector that works best with your performing style.
The arm that holds the cartridge used to play a record is known as the tone arm. If scratching is part of your playing style, consider a straight tone arm as it minimizes skipping. The S-shaped tone arm features a better sound quality and is considered to be top DJ equipment for non-scratch DJs.
>> Consider CD players
Many DJs plan where they will store their playlist when considering how to buy new DJ equipment. As such, CDs offer a great alternative to decks due to their portability, music storage and ability to be used in laptops. For flexibility in transitioning between the items on your playlist, consider dual players and DJ systems. Your ability to control fading, speed, pitch and song skipping is more adaptable on a CD player than a turntable. Additionally, when buying new DJ digital equipment, consider the audio formats it supports so you know ahead of time which stored songs will be supported by the CD player.
>> Consider the mixer/controller
A mixer, also called the controller, is a piece of top DJ equipment for the entire sound system. It gives you control over all the audio sources. Excellent DJ equipment brands will consolidate all sound from your CD player, laptop, turntables, microphones and other audio sources into one control system that unifies your DJ and live sound. For beginners, a mixer with two to three channels with enough outputs for your turntables or CD will be most suitable. If you are more experienced, you should consider a mixer with more channels to allow frequent changes to tone and volume according to your performance style.
>> Consider mixing software
You can enhance your performance by connecting your hardware, such as CD players or turntables, to a software, such as virtual DJ mixers, that allows you to carry out isolation of band instruments or live mixing of tracks. Before considering DJ software equipment, decide what you would like the software to do. For example, you might want to play music instruments and karaoke, multiple tracks simultaneously, loops or sync the music you are playing to music videos or a previously recorded mix. Be sure that the DJ equipment you are considering will work well with any software you want to use as well.
>> Consider the sound
Apart from the music source, there are several other pieces of sound equipment that you can consider when deciding how to buy DJ equipment. Consider a microphone, or a combination of a DJ mic mixer and amplifier, to make announcements or to interact with your audience. If your performance style consists of live mixing, consider a good pair of DJ headphones to help make your job easier. For a surround sound effect, consider DJ speakers and monitors.
>> Consider optional features
When deciding how to buy DJ equipment, consider optional features that will enhance your performance. New DJ equipment can come with effect features that allow you to create filters and echoes. You can also have LCD lights, smoke machines and video displays to enhance your performance.
>> Think about the transportation of your DJ equipment
Lastly, consider how easy it will be to set up, tear down and transport the DJ equipment you are considering. This can be especially important if you plan on having gigs at a number of differing venues, or if you are performing in multiple locations on the same day or in the same night.