The Beginner DJ Blog

How To DJ: Basic DJ Equipment Guide

Muxx April 28, 2010 Gear No Comments


This post is one of many in the ongoing ‘How To DJ‘ series presented here at BeginnerDJ. This guide is meant to shoot you through what basic DJ equipment to buy, for a more thorough guide, check the beginner DJ equipment guide.

Every DJ needs a starting point and that often begins with choosing your first set of equipment. You’re already comfortable with the thought of DJing and you know your tracks, now you’re eager to get right into the mix.

But hold up for a second because if you jump in too quickly, you could end up spending a ton of money on worthless gear.

What is the best DJ equipment?

To begin, I want to empasize there is no best DJ gear, it’s all in your mind.

Allow me to explain: Much like a car, you are show dozens of options. They are always flashy and the salesman leads you to believe you need all of them but in the back of your mind you know something is up.

This is how DJ equipment works. A business is a business, large companies and retailers need to make their bottom line which means they’ll push DJ equipment on you which you don’t really need.

My best advice is to ask a friend or visit your local DJ shop, they usually don’t intend to sway your decision or push you to buy any DJ equipment you don’t need (usually).

Okay so are you ready to jump in and figure out what basic DJ equipment you will need?

At this point you nod and say yes.

A Short History Of DJ Equipment

Back in the old days, DJs were really limited. I mean…really limited. Modern DJs don’t know how well off they are compared to some of the originators but do consider that technology has to change, we all benefit from it.

Early DJ equipment comprised of basic turntables and don’t even think about a mixer because that would take a while to show up. DJs of yesteryear literally would just mix records back to back until Francis Grasso begins the craze that is slip-cueing (which later becomes beatmatching).

Not to bore you entirely about the history, I suggest you go take a look at The History Of DJing I wrote on BoyInABand.com.

So fast forward to today where we have a vast variety of choices when it comes to our DJ equipment.

I know, it’s a bit of a mind boggling experience when you first set out to buy your first DJ setup but stick with me here cause Muxx’ll fix you up.

Basic DJ Equipment: What You’ll Need

Every DJ setup comprises of just a few key elements:

  • 2 turntables
  • 1 mixer
  • 1 pair of headphones
  • 2 speakers to listen

Your most important element are your two turntables (and a microphone!). These are what play your music and can be many different formats.

Today, the most common turntable varieties are:

  • Vinyl
  • CD
  • Digital

All 3 of these types have begun to blend with advances in technology. The MP3 you downloaded (ha, I caught you!) can be burned to a CD to play on a pair of CD decks. Likewise, you could just load them into a program and mix them with a digital controller. There is even time-coded vinyl which gives you that vinyl feel but digital music format.

For a beginner DJ, I suggest you scope out sites like:

These websites have great deals on all kinds of DJ equipment, just be sure to shop around because where one will list a turntable at $500, another may have it at $400.

As far as my opinion goes, the 3 sets of turntables you should keep an eye out for are:

Expensive? Yes. But like many hobbies or careers, you need to invest in a proper set of turntables so you don’t burn through cheapo sets.

These 3 types of turntables are tried and true but remember that these are my personal opinions, make sure you ask your friends or other DJs before you make a purchase.

Okay, so let’s move onto the mixer.

The mixer is what bridges the sound from both turntables and allows you to hook up your headphones, control the sound and route it to your speakers.

In short, it’s what holds everything together.

The mixer allows you to control the sound however you see fit.

You can craft the music to sound completely different, add cool effects, create a better mix and remix any song you want.

A mixer doesn’t have to be your most expensive piece of basic DJ equipment but you should invest in one that will last you.

I would suggest:

Just make sure the mixer allows you to hook up your equipment, control the sound and has a slider (now that’s basic!).

Next up is my favorite topic of discussion: headphones!

Headphones are like some kind of sacred ritual, you know those movies where some old guy hands a kid the family weapon or something along those lines? That’s what finding a great pair of headphones is like.

Headphones really depend on your own personal preference, you just need to make sure they fit you, give you great sound and are sturdy enough.

I suggest you read through “how to choose a great pair of DJ headphones“, it’s a bit long winded but should get you right up to speed on picking out a great pair.

Lastly, we need to run through speakers.

Speakers make the sound, durr. There are lengthy articles all over the net that will be more than happy to explain to you the full workings of every electrical part of a speaker but we’re running through this quick.

For now, you could use your computer speakers. You may need a cable adapter to hook it up to your mixer but they’re really cheap, you can find them at any store (hint: try Radioshack – they could probably use some business anyway).

If you want to step up and buy a better pair, I suggest grabbing a set by M-Audio, they’re cheap and sound great.

And, if you wanna drop some big money, go check out some DJ/PA speakers but try to stick to brands you know and trust like JBL.

All-In-One Packages: A Quick Look

All in one DJ packages are about as basic as you can get. These “DJ in a box” sets give you turntables, a mixer, headphones and that’s about it – basic.

The main appeal many people have with these are their costs, they’re cheap as hell. For a little over $300, you can begin DJing without that expensive overhead.

If you take a look at this beginner DJ equipment setup by Numark, you can see it gives you what you need. The only problem is these pieces of equipment are a bit cheap and may break easily which is why I suggested the quality equipment above.

Don’t let this deter you however, these packages are fairly decent overall if you don’t want to invest a ton of money up front or you’re not entirely sure if you want to progress pass the bedroom.

Wrap It Up Already! I Thought You Said This Was Short!

Okay okay, sorry for dragging on a bit but I hope you enjoyed this quick run through of the basic DJ equipment you’d need to learn how to DJ.

Take some time to decided if you’re really passionate about DJing, if you didn’t┬áhesitate┬áto say YES! I say go for it and start picking up some gear.

Hope this helped ya.


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