What equipment do you need for your DJ setup? What are the essential ones?
For beginners who are struggling with how to start their setup, this article is for you!
I understand the excitement of having your own equipment and the challenges that go along with it.
I also get it that you are here to learn the basics about DJ setup for beginners and that’s exactly what you’ll be learning here, so let’s get started!
- 1 What Is The Best DJ Setup For Beginners?
- 2 What Do I Need For A DJ Setup?
- 3 What Is A Good DJ Mixer To Start With?
- 4 How Do You Set Up A DJ Controller?
- 5 Conclusion
What Is The Best DJ Setup For Beginners?
Starting your own DJ setup can be daunting, confusing, and overwhelming.
When you start your research, you will be amazed at the different setup ideas available and the various equipment you can choose from.
If you are new to DJing, you’ll probably want a DJ setup for beginners.
Something that is simple and easy to operate without the complicated controllers and mixers.
The simple, the better and the easier it is for you to master before you take your skills to the next level.
Here are the different DJ setups that are friendly for beginners according to DJing Pro.
1. Traditional CDJ setup
This is the best setup for newbies because it is the simplest you can get your hands on.
It includes two multi-players to play your music and a mixer that you can use for the transition. It’s a simple 2 channel setup with two sources supplying your audio.
2. DJ Controller setup
This DJ setup makes use of a laptop and a DJ controller. When using this, you will play your music directly from the computer and mix it with the controller.
However, controllers do not allow playback of CDs. It uses DJ software in conjunction with the controller. Once you install the software, you will just drag and drop music tracks to the onscreen deck.
While the track play, you can control everything from the controller and even have the ability to add samples and effects to your set.
There are controllers with software and a built-in sound card. This version will make the entire experience easier because you just have to plug and play via your laptop or PC’s USB port. Any laptop will do, so you don’t need a new one for this setup.
DJ controllers are more affordable than a typical CDJ and mixer setup. That’s why many choose this. Also, this is versatile. You can use it if DJing if your hobby or if you are an established DJ who is always on the move.
This approach could be the cheapest and the best DJ setup for beginners especially for those who are in a budget.
3. Traditional turntable setup
This traditional turntable setup started in 2006 which is very helpful especially if you want to learn beatmatching with turntables. When you learn how to match beats perfectly on turntables, it will be easier for you to beatmatch on more modern DJ equipment.
4. Digital vinyl system
This is the hybrid version of the traditional DJ setup.
It is called a digital vinyl system (DVS) because it lets you play music from your laptop using a special timecode vinyl.
For this, you can also use multi-players instead of turntables using timecode CDs.
You can opt for Pioneer DJM-250 MK2 that comes with bundled software. With it, you can simply plug and play for easy setup.
If you want to purchase a normal mixer without DVS capabilities, you have to secure a sound card. In this arrangement, you will use your controller as the mixer. A controller with 2 phono/line input is recommended because it’s where you plug in your turntables.
Choosing a controller with soundcard will also make things easier for you. You can simply connect the mixer and turntables to it, then plug the sound card into your laptop’s USB port.
It’s best to get a full package like Denon DS1 which includes all the things you need like sound card, Serato DJ software, 2 timecode CD’s
5. Best of both setup
This DJ setup is may look complicated, but it’s actually still simple enough for beginners. Compared to the previous setups, this includes a lot of extra features without skipping the basics.
In this setup, you will need a controller to act as the mixer. I recommend a controller with 2 phono/line inputs where you can plug your turntables.
But if your controller has a soundcard, you’ll be able to plug it straight into your laptop or PC. A soundcard is necessary but don’t worry because most controllers have a built-in sound card when you buy it.
If you want this setup, choose one that comes with the necessary photo inputs, built-in sound card and software.
What Do I Need For A DJ Setup?
You are probably familiar with DJ setups. Of course, I assumed you have at least played it using pal’s and now you want your own setup. For starters who want a basic DJ setup, you need the following DJ equipment:
• Vinyl records
• Cases and mounts
I will explain each of those below to give you an overview of why beginners need them.
This is necessary to be a full DJ, without this, you’ll never get the feel of an actual DJ.
Turntables let you scratch, switch songs and albums, slow down tempos, change the pitch and more.
Even if it’s possible to DJ using a laptop only, I still recommend that you get at least one turntable in your DJ setup.
Honestly, it’s odd to consider yourself a DJ without an actual turntable, so please get one.
This is a requirement, it’s the centerpiece of an analog DJ setup.
Mixers help you deliver a powerful performance by allowing you to transition between one song to another for a smooth mix.
You can also create a few tweaks in your sounds and tracks using this.
I suggest that you integrate the slider to add DJ scratching properly. However, many also use it to control volume levels, panning, FX, tone and more.
High-end mixers usually come with better built-in sound cards. However, expect them to be more pricey too.
I know that you are impressed after learning about turntables and mixers, but braced yourself because this new DJ gear world will surely take your breath away.
DJ controllers is a 2-in-1 instrument because it combines turntables and a mixer into one. Thus, it allows you to control more features, customizations, and settings. If you have a controller, you no longer need a mixer.
There are several DJ controllers for beginners in the market. They come in different shapes, sizes, functions, feels, and more. Some of them are great for tweaking track settings, volume, panning, and more.
Meanwhile, others offer you a platter of jog-wheel that lets you scratch on them (like turntable), and literal digital audio track (without having to fuss with records) with others even coming with built-in drum pads to let you experience with a variety of sounds.
Consider DJ software as the backbone of a digital and hybrid setup.
Once you connect your controllers to your computer via USB, the software will allow you to merge the two and operate.
You can then proceed to DJ mix, edit, copy, cut, paste, add FX, mashup, change tempo, organize files and playlist, scratch using MP3s and more. A DJ software also makes it easier for you to get into the rhythm.
This is important if you intend to play live or travel with your DJ gear. When you buy, get one that is powerful enough that it is suitable for the environment where you will be DJing.
These are absolute must regardless if you are Djing at home, at a club or anywhere in the world.
DJ headphones are necessary because they allow you to hear what you do before you portray it to the audience.
Do you notice how DJs hold one side of the headphones to their ear with their shoulders with the other half hanging by their neck?
While they look cool doing that, they actually do so because they listen as they mix the sound.
While the audience hears the tracks play, DJs can hear what is coming up so that they can tie the music correctly while the current track plays for a “proper mashup” and transition.
Cases and Mounts
Professional DJ equipment tends to be pricey especially, so I do not recommend that you just place your gear on any surface.
You have to invest in DJ equipment cases especially if your gear is expensive to keep it safe.
Choose one with a foam padding interior to keep your controller safe.
Also, you should consider a case with lightweight construction and an adjustable padded shoulder strap for optimal comfort when carrying.
The go-to brand for this is EVA series by Gator Cases
What Is A Good DJ Mixer To Start With?
There are tons of great DJ mixers on the market. However, for beginners, I highly suggest that you get the Pioneer DJ DJM-S3 2 Channel Mixer for Serato DJ.
This DJ mixer is a 2-channel mixer with a built-in sound card. It features highly durable MAGVEL crossfader inherited from the DJM-900NXS2 model and independent channel filters.
It also comes with a scratch-friendly layout that creates room for you to be creative in the booth. If you want to take your creativity to the next level, you can connect the DDJ-SP1 controller and use its large Performance Pads for tactile control of many Serato DJ Pro features, including its FX. This offers flexible connectivity, so you will surely love it!
I highly recommend this for beginners because it has a simple design and it is very easy to use. In fact, it is Serato ready, you just have to plug and play Serato. Also, it has a compact design and solid feel.
How Do You Set Up A DJ Controller?
Setting up your controller might be smooth and easy at home. But when you take your DJ setup outside, say in your first gig, you were shocked to find out that it didn’t work as you expected.
There are actually several factors that might affect your set-up.
Here are some tips to set up your controllers with the least stress and maximum respect for other DJs especially if you have a gift outside.
🎧 Set-up all the equipment in the most ideal positions possible and test as if you are DJing.
• Tuck away the sound card and leave it or RCA extension plugged into the mixer
• Leave the USB cable running to where your laptop will live
• Tuck away controllers but keep USB cables running to eventual laptop position
• Leave power cable plugged in
🎧 Just before the show
• Connect the controllers and sound card to computer off to the side (out of the way of the other DJs)
• Bring a long USB cable for the sound card in case your setup area is far from your eventual DJ area
• Boot up programs and make sure that the audio signals are running into the mixer properly
• Test if controllers are working properly
• Close the laptop and place controllers on laptop
🎧 Once it’s time to switch
• Move the laptop into position
• Place the controllers in position
• Everything should be connected and ready to go
• Switch over to your input on the mixer
• Plug in the headphones and rock it!
🎧 During your timeslot
• Bring MP3 player, CBD or anything that can record for at least 20 minutes
• Mix into your pre-recorded mix in the least invasive way possible
• CD’s off the CDJ’s are generally the easiest
• Wait until the other DJ has completely left the booth
Your DJ setup may be as simple or as complex as you want them to be. For beginners, I suggest that you get a simple setup.
Aside from the fact that you won’t be spending too much on it, they are beginner-friendly, so they will be very helpful to you.
Also, when you are working on your DJ set-up, consider your choice of equipment because it matters.
Also, your experience might be another factor. Whether you are a beginner DJ, Home DJ or Professional DJ get a setup that best reflects your application or the way you will use.
Check out our homepage for more guides to DJing and other essentials for you to become a DJ.