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How to DJ: The Beginners DJ Setup Guide (With Video)

Beginner DJ Setup Guide to DJ Equipment
19th May, 2020
How to DJ: The Beginners DJ Setup Guide (With Video)

So you want to learn how to DJ? If you haven’t had any prior experience, learning to DJ can seem like a daunting task. With such a wide variety of DJ equipment, gear, and software available, it’s hard to know exactly what you need to get started! In this article, we give you an all-inclusive guide to getting your beginner’s DJ setup up and running with the best equipment. As well as everything you need to do in order to get your bedroom DJ journey underway!

Keep in mind, we’ve tailored this setup guide specifically for entry-level modern DJs who will be learning the craft with a DJ controller. If you’re somebody who prefers the classic feel of an analog vinyl turntable, this article isn’t for you. However, we do recommend checking out the range of Reloop turntables as a good place to start.

With all that said and done, follow this starter guide, continue to practice and build your skills, and it won’t be long until you’re spinning like a pro; and ready to start looking for your first DJ gig. If you’re already set up with DJ gear you’re happy with, stay tuned for our next article where we get more into the technical side of things.

Beginners DJ Setup


DJ Controller

First of all, you’re going to want a DJ Controller. DJ Controllers pack a host of features into flexible and portable units while boasting incredible value for money. Combining both decks and a mixer into one device that integrates seamlessly with your DJ Software. Controllers are the perfect solution for both beginners, and even more competent DJs. Saving you thousands of dollars when compared to the alternative of a club-standard CDJ & DJM setup, or a classic vinyl turntable and mixer. While still allowing you to pull off some crazy sets!

If you’ve never used a DJ controller before, you’re going to want to opt for a basic 2-channel controller such as the popular Pioneer DJ DDJ-400 or DDJ-SB3.

Alternatively, the DDJ-200 is another cheap DJ controller option that features onboard Bluetooth. So you can easily connect to your mobile device or computer and DJ on the fly. Above all, the following choices are all great options if you’re just getting started:

For a more detailed insight into controllers, check out our blog post below. Covering the best DJ controllers for beginners, all-rounders, pocket controllers, and premium choices.

The Best DJ Controllers

Laptop for DJing

Laptop or Computer

At the core of your bedroom DJ setup, you’re going to need a good laptop or desktop computer! This is because you’re going to need something capable of running your DJ Software and communicating with your DJ Controller. These days, almost all modern laptops have the ability to run standard DJ Software, so you probably don’t need to go out and buy anything new. However, spending a little more money on something a bit higher end is always going to yield better results. While also futureproofing you for when things update and become more advanced.

If you are looking to get a new laptop, the Apple MacBook Pro still seems to be the go-to laptop for both music producers and DJs. Featuring the latest, 9th Generation Intel Processors, and up to 32GB of RAM – You’ll be able to record and mix complex, track, and plugin-heavy songs without suffering dips in performance. As well as perform heavy DJ sets for long periods of time. Another benefit of the MacBook Pro is its surprisingly robust aluminum casing. So you won’t have to worry about drops, knocks or bumps damaging your laptop during transport and travel.

So, unless you’re set on running the Windows operating system, want to run the Cakewalk DAW Software, or simply can’t meet the budget. The Macbook Pro is our top pick when it comes to laptops for DJing and Music Production.

For more info on choosing a laptop to DJ with, we’ve written an in-depth guide which you can find below where we list our Top 10 laptop picks.

Alternatively, if you have the money to spend, a standalone controller such as a Pioneer DJ XDJ-RX2 will allow you to ditch the laptop altogether and let you play your music straight from your USB’s, harddrives, or relevant streaming services.

Choosing a laptop for DJing

How to DJ using only a laptop

If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly solution, you can opt to learn entirely using your computer. Being able to mix with just a laptop is a great skill to have up your sleeve. Thankfully, with Serato‘s laptop DJ software Serato Play, you can do just that!

If you happen to be reading this article during the month of May, 2020; Serato Play has been made free for the entire month! So there’s no excuse not to download a copy of the expansion and take advantage of all its basic keyboard shortcuts that make laptop DJing a breeze!


Rekordbox

DJ Software

On the topic of DJ Software, that’s the next thing you’ll need to consider in terms of equipment and gear. When choosing your software, there are 4 main industry-standard software options you’ll need to consider, these include:

In short, all of the programs listed above have what it takes to get the job done; with Serato and RekordBox both being the leading industry choices. Although you might want to take any preferences you have into consideration before purchasing a controller. Because more often than not, the controller you pick will come complete with a software license for one of the programs listed above.

So do some research first in the form of YouTube videos, and even download the free versions of the aforementioned software to see which one resonates best with you. Then, keep that in mind when you’re picking a controller to go with it.

Typically, newer entry-level Pioneer DJ controllers such as the DDJ-400 give you a license to its native Rekordbox software. While you will find others that still come packed with Serato DJ such as the Pioneer DJ SB3 or other options by Reloop.

Then you have the controllers by Native Instruments that come with a copy of their own Traktor DJ software. As well as Numark and others who bundle their hardware together with Virtual DJ.


DJ Speakers

Another piece of gear you’ll need for your DJ Setup is a set of speakers. For bedroom DJing and home practice, we’d recommend opting for a set of studio monitors for your desk. Then, when you’re ready to make the leap to DJing your first party, you’ll want to make sure you have a set of PA powered speakers such as the AVE REVO’s.

For a beginner DJ looking for a setup on a budget; we’d recommend picking up a pair of the AVE Fusion monitors that sound great for an affordable price. Depending on the size of your room and budget, you can pick up a set of Fusions ranging from smaller 4″ models all the way up to 8″.

Alternatively, there are a number of other options you can choose from, which we’ll list below. Although whatever you choose, you’ll want to make sure your speakers have an RCA or Aux input so you can connect them straight to your controller.

For a full breakdown on studio monitors, check out our complete buyer’s guide below!

The Best DJ Controllers

AIAIAI DJ Headphones

DJ Headphones

The next thing you’ll need as part of your setup is a pair of DJ Headphones! Sure, you can use any old pair of headphones or earphones with your setup such as the ones that came with your phone; but a good pair of DJ headphones will help you take your set to the next level. DJ headphones feature much better low-end bass response, clarity, and noise isolation, allowing you to zero in on your mix and cue up your next track with ease, even when you’re performing in a noisy and crowded club. Additionally, most DJ Headphones will provide you with a superior level of comfort that makes them perfect for hours of long listening and DJing sessions.

If you’re constantly using consumer-grade headphones, not only will you get uncomfortable but you might even suffer hearing loss. You’ll find you’re constantly turning up your volume to compensate for the lack of clarity and bass levels on a standard pair of headphones.

Like all things DJ Equipment, there are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to DJ Headphones. But if we had to recommend one pair, we’d go with the Sennheiser HD25s.

Originally released in 1988, the Sennheiser HD25’s have remained the industry standard in DJ Headphones for many years. Featuring a superior rugged design as well as sound quality that’s unmatched. With the advantage of fully replaceable components so you can easily replace parts once they become unusable, meaning you might never need a new pair of headphones again!

The one downside of these DJ headphones is that the padding isn’t quite as comfortable as some other varieties. Overall, a highly recommended pair of headphones for professional DJs looking to get the best performance out of their cans.

Above all, the following options are all great choices when it comes to DJ Headphones:

Check out our DJ City buyers guide where we go more in-depth into some of the best DJ Headphones on the market.

The Best DJ Headphones

Music

Finally, the last thing you’re going to need is music! You’ve probably already got loads of MP3s lying around that you’ve either bought or downloaded over the years. That’s going to be a good start, but you should be ready to start buying some additional music to mix with and expand your library. So we’ll cover the best places to buy music to DJ with below.

Alternatively, if your software and controller allow it, you might be able to utilize your favourite streaming services too!

Carefully choosing your music is vital to producing a standout DJ set. Yes, it’s important to include songs that people are familiar with and that will get the audience vibing. But going the extra mile by scanning blogs, charts, undiscovered Spotify playlists, and DJ Pools can help to shine your mix shine in a different light. Especially when you’re playing one-of-a-kind remixes, edits and mashups. Remember, you want your mix to be unique!

But most importantly, you want to choose music that gets you genuinely excited. If you love what you’re playing, you’re probably going to do a better job when you’re mixing it together. This will also likely translate on-stage when you’re playing your mix in front of a crowd! Because your on-stage performance can be just as crucial as the music you’re playing.

iTunes

The most well-known mainstream platform, iTunes offers music downloads from the biggest artists worldwide.

Beatport

Beatport is the largest online digital DJ music store in the world and is the go-to place for so many of the world’s best DJs.┬áTherefore, making it the perfect place to discover new artists and original remixes as well as download high-quality files

DJ Pools

Finally, DJ Pools usually offer a subscription-based service that allows you to download a certain amount of MP3’s per month. These are great places to find unreleased originals, hidden gems, and fresh remixes that aren’t yet being played to death by other DJs.

The Final Say

There you have it, everything you need in order to get your beginner’s DJ setup up and running so you can learn how to DJ. So if you don’t have the gear already, make sure you have everything you need, and stay tuned for part 2 of our How to DJ series where we show you exactly how to set everything up and get ready to spin!

More Resources for DJs

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