With the ever improving technology in all industries, entertainment among them, it’s always advisable that the relevant parties upgrade to the newest set up. As such, whether a beginner or a pioneer DJ in the entertainment industry ready to start the DJ adventures, it is vital to upgrade to the current DJ gear. The upgraded DJ setup allows the Disc Jockey to increase and ease the work flow as well as the spinning and mixing abilities. With improved DJ setup kit, one can be sure of presenting music to the audience as it is intended. Today we have created an evolving guide that will we always update from regularly in order to enlighten our readers on the best DJ equipment in the market. Let’s get started!
Choosing the top DJ setup kit
Before choosing and buying the best DJ gear, a thorough research plays a key role. For beginners, it is always advisable you start small by grabbing at least two affordable turntables as well as a DJ mixer, DJ controller, and recommendable DJ software depending with ones preference of either Digital DJ or traditional DJ. Our controllers for beginners’ article may be of great assistance.
However, if you are a DJ with experience of some gear in your DJ setup, perhaps it is time to upgrade you DJ kit. Or perhaps you may want to make some addition of DJ devices you don’t have to your DJ equipment kit, thus enhancing your workflow. One may feel the urge to invest into high-end Dj gear but lacks the information about the best items in the market currently. Or perhaps you may have bought your DJ laptop, DJ controllers, and DJ mixers; thus one feels the desire to invest heavily on top-end DJ equipment?
On one hand, it’s very vital for you to consider both the targeted audience and setting as a DJ. The reason behind this ideology is the fact that DJ audience and DJ gear will help a DJ decide on the best DJ gear and therefore, focus on upgrading his/her kit. For instance, if it’s a studio, you may consider adding some tweaking or scratches on your sample tracks, some lights, or speaker PA system, which may not be the reason you need the best DJ equipment. However, prioritizing on investing heavily on a better DJ turntable, DJ controller or DJ Mixer will be vital instead. On the other hand, events such as weddings, parties, bars or general venue DJs may force one to consider the best DJ speakers or DJ headphones to blend the playing music tracks.
Vital DJ Gear every Disc Jockey Needs
As we proceed to include all the constituents most DJ requires or uses, it’s very important to note that currently the controller always include features of a mixer as well as a software control surface while allowing connections for audio, iOS or USB gear. As such, a DJ setup may entail some or all of the highlighted equipment:
- Equipment to play audio (computer, DJ controller, DJ media player, mobile device, or turntable)
- Audio interface meant for directing the audio transmission to both external software and hardware
- DJ headphones
- DJ software as well as a controller for the computer/ iOS setup
- A standalone DJ mixer
- A powered or passive speaker system
In this post, we will cover all the major DJ software and hardware you will be using together with a PA system.
DJing Going Digital
In the past, most DJs performed with only two turntables and one mixer regardless of whether they were scratching vinyl or dance records. However, with the introduction of the MP3s as well as the CDs, most of the Disc Jockey opted to switch to the new DJ gear that because assured tem of reliability, portability, ability for extensive music control and manipulation; more so effective music library management. On the other hand, this prompted the DJ equipment manufacturers to act quickly while producing both the players and the controllers, which aimed at exploiting key features such as Slicing and dicing beats.
Soon after the introduction of upgraded mixers, controllers, and interfaces, the manufacturers are still working tirelessly to ensure more advanced DJ equipment is delivered in the market. Nowadays, DJ software is always effectively incorporated with a definite hardware. As such, the combination enhances the configuration process in to the controller’s settings perfectly. This process allows the novice to produce smooth beats as well as seamless shows.
DJ controller functions
Currently, the best DJ controllers possess three key features:
- Superb audio interface that always transmits the signal to all external equipment such as the mobile devices, laptops/computers PA systems, and processors depending with the type of connection one prefers.
- A control surface/platform that entails buttons, pads, jog wheels, knobs, and faders, which allows you to control the software functions as well as the settings. As such, the LEDs and displays portray the system status with the help of audio levels among other parameters.
- A control of smartphone and tablet apps are nowadays found in the upgraded and newer top DJ controllers in the market.
The presence of the DJ software allows you to use either a keyboard or mouse while Djing for control purposes. However, the challenge is the fact that the method is usually non-intuitive as it largely entails digging across endless menus. Perhaps, this is the more reason why most of these professional DJs prefer a hardware controller, which enhances easier configuration and operation of the present DJ software.
As a DJ, you should consider several aspects while looking for the best DJ controller. A mobile DJ should ensure the controller he/she is about to purchase allows them deliver quality music to the audience, thus they should always go for a gear that can hold up to the rigors of road. Therefore, it is very advisable for one to key his/her attention to the DJ controller’s layout, hence ensuring the arrangement allows easy performance. Of course, you should always consider the software you will be using with the DJ controller.
Wonder what DJ Software do?
Mostly, DJ software as well as apps are largely customized to allow the DJ to monitor, relate the filters and selected effects, trigger samples, configure music waveforms, and enhance lots of DJ tricks. Dj software and apps play a key role in loading music tracks to the storage, virtual controls, and creating a virtual decks which the DJ will be using to mix his/her music.
While looking for the available software alternatives in the market, you will discover that most functions the same way. However, the performance will largely depend on two key aspects; how effective the controller manage the software and your ability to use the software’s user interface.
What you should know about different types of software for your controller
Perhaps, after deciding to go for an all-in-one DJ controller, you may want to choose the best DJ software. However, it is equally important to understand that all available DJ controllers in the market always come with different types of software. More so, a beginner DJ may find these limited-edition versions may be vital in starting the DJ journey. Nevertheless, as time goes by, one may want to upgrade to the full version.
A dj controller with all the cool features gets a boost from the use of top DJ software; the software allows the DJ to perform smoothly and efficiently. The reason behind this key function is the fact that the software allows the DJ apply the effects, beat juggling, and filters as well as the perfect beat-matched transitions.
As such, when shopping for topnotch DJ controller, there are several factors that need to be put into consideration. Some of the key aspects include the cost, budget, features, and software compatibility among others. Evidently, some of these DJ controllers are basically designed to specifically combat with some software products. The reason behind this recommendation is the fact that DJ controllers are categorized in to two groups:
- Software-versatile controllers
- Software-specific controllers
Software-specific DJ controllers are always easy to use and faster to configure as all the functions are massively mapped. However, the main challenge with software-specific controllers is that most of them are not compatible with numerous programs. In most cases, software-versatile controllers are always compatible with various software programs. DJ software is always the soul of the controller as it largely translates the signal from the DJ controller.
Some of the leading software platforms to help you downsize your research
Native Instruments Traktor
As we are all aware, Native instruments is one of the first companies to largely focus on the integration of both the software and hardware. Native Instruments has proved beyond reasonable doubt by combining powerful software to latest DJ controllers such as Traktor Pro and the Traktor Scratch Pro earn top positions in key functions in DJ production and performance software.
NB: Traktor Scratch Pro always works with likes of Traktor’s proprietary DVS (digital vinyl systems) and the DJ controllers.
The NI Company has continually produced various Traktor-based software with the aim of meeting the client’s budget, professionalism, and skill sets among other factors. Some of these software have the capability of incorporating videos. Moreover, Traktor largely boasts most of the strongest MIDI integration in the business. Traktor allows the DJ to manipulate all the components of music like slicing, dicing, stretching melodies as well as free-styling in the playback. Besides, Traktor avails a perfect customizable interface, which can be configured to match all your working style.
Quick Overview of the Native Instruments products readily available for DJs:
Traktor Kontrol D2
The D2 controller is usually ideal for any mobile DJ. Some of the key features include touch-sensitivity as the control surface largely integrates with the famous Traktor Pro 2 basically for hands-on performances. Perhaps, NI always perceives it as major performance instrument compatible with a touch and seek controller.
Traktor Kontrol S2 MK2
S2 MK2 controller latest version of perfectly fitted out with a lighting cable, which helps transform iPads and iPhones in to fully packed DJ controllers using TRAKTOR app. Initially, the S2 MK2 design possesses dual hands-on decks as well as a remix deck, which are perfectly integrated with the NI software. Evidently, with at least 30 FX and an amazing control of up to 64 loops Remix Deck make S2 MK2 one of a kind controller in the market.
Traktor Kontrol S8
Kontrol S8 is largely a standalone controller with a perfect mixer format. As such, Kontrol S8 is hugely regarded as one of the top-of-line controller with full fitted touch-sensitive pads, four channel ability, which make it stand as a sound beast in the DJing profession. Moreover, the touch sensitive pads and four channeled features allow you to exhaust all Kontrol functions. Kontrol S8 is fitted with TRAKTOR Scratch PRO 2 software app mainly for outstanding performance, which usually includes the availability of the Remix Decks technology by NI. If you are an experienced DJ looking to present jaw-dropping performance, then Kontrol S8/software combo will help you achieve this goal.
TRAKTOR KONTROL Z1
TRAKTOR KONTROL Z1 is usually intended for all those DJs looking for an affordable as well as a compact unit, which in turn runs the Traktor Kontrol while at the same time integrating an iPad or iPhone. Z1 Lightning Controller always works flawlessly with the Traktor Pro 2 and Traktor DJ software. Moreover, Z1 Lightning simplified surface allows a DJ control EQ, volume, filters and effect smoothly. Some of the key features include:
- TRAKTOR KONTROL Z1 comes with a complete, ultra-portable system for the Traktor DJ.
- It’s fitted with faders, pro-quality knobs as well as the backlit buttons.
- The mixing interface has 3-band EQ and in-built 24-bit sound card.
NS7III is a 4-channel motorized DJ controller that largely works best with Serato DJ. It tops the list as the best DJ controller with outstanding motorized platters. Furthermore, NS7III is recommendable for those DJs who wish to upgrade from vinyl to digital. With 4-channels, FX looping, 16 drums, color screens, and Serato software, NS7III remains one of the beasts in the entertainment industry. However, for those people who have doubts on the sound quality, then NS7III may not suitable as it pose at 44.1 kHz.
Denon DJ MC7000
MC7000 is among the best professional DJ controllers currently in the market. It has 4-channel Serato DJ proficiency as well as a dual USB connection. As such, the two USB interface usually allows two DJs play at the same time on their DJ software. Equipped with the Denon DJ famous build and a 24-bit audio production, MC7000 is always suited for both club and mobile DJs. MC7000 largely combats with the full version of the Serato DJ Pro, which enables the DJing outstanding.
Pioneer DJ DDJ-RX
DJ DDJ-RX is a well-built controller with impressive key features specifically for Rekordbox DJ software, which Serato lacks. However, it should be noted that DDJ-RX is largely resembles DDJ-SX in terms of key features as they are solid, perfectly built, and a very impressive layout. The controller is built with a chunky plastic layout with a metallic top plate. Despite it being sturdy, DDJ-RX is very portable. Additionally, the selectors, knobs and faders have a perfect pro Pioneer feel.
One of the key factors you are looking for the perfect DJ headphone is comfort. This fact being that as a DJ, you will be required to operate using DJ headphones, thus wearing them for longer hours while performing. Another vital aspect is your flexibility as a DJ. As DJ, you may be forced to twist, bend, and dance a little as you drive the energy towards the crowd; hence it is recommended that you find head gear with perfect swivel earpieces. The headphones should produce high quality sound especially when cueing the next song or track.
Furthermore, you’ll have to find those headphones that have a closed-ear built so as to isolate loud noise in very high volume instances. The more the headphone’s ability to isolate or reduce noises, the easier you will be able to control high volume, this not damaging your ears. You can check our DJ Headphone Selection Guide for more information on the best headphones.
The Vinyl Preference
With the ever changing technology, most DJs have decided to go digital. Apparently, digital DJ tools have creates ease and flexible environment. However, most of vinyl supporters/users argue that some instances the sound quality is usually inferior. The reason behind this argument is the fact that digital audio usually takes a snapshot, when trying to capture analog sounds as it barely produces complete sound waves. Therefore, it hugely reduces both the music impact and definition.
Nevertheless, some experienced DJs have reasonable motives of using vinyl. They argue that it largely promotes creativity whereas others with just say that it’s excellent. As such, most DJs usually find the inclusion of vinyl more rewarding, thus most of club DJs always incorporate upgraded vinyl and turntables while performing.
While we are trying to validate these aspects, you should know that DJing is all about fun, enjoyment, and professionalism at the same time impacting yourself with new experiences. If you are interested in upgrading you vinyl, check out our vinyl/turntable guide for more information.
Despite the fact that most DJs upgraded to mixing with software-based controllers, some of the DJs still prefer traditional work-surfaces only found on DJ mixers. Whereas DJ controllers and interfaces have been fitted with key features, mixers have been upgraded to be compatible with most DJ software. As such, latest mixers have been equipped to integrate with most DJ programs. One of the major difference among all DJ mixers is the inputs/outputs, channels and effects they offer during a performance.
For those people aspiring to begin DJing, you can check out our affordable DJ Mixers guide for more exposure.
Some of the basic DJ mixer features you check before making a purchase:
- Back panel
- Channel faders and crossfader
- Kill switches
- Gain control
- Peak meters
- Master level
- BPM counter
- Cue level and mix
- Mic input and the talkover button
As a DJ, it’s your work to ensure that your speakers produce very clear and quality sound. We are all aware that it is the work of the broadcast quality sound to the present audience. As such, it’s very recommendable to acquire a good set. If you happen to perform in venues fitted with their own PA systems, then you will just plug into them. On the other hand, if you happen to perform into venues with no sound system, you’ll be required to buy your own powered PA system, which always eliminate the standalone amplifier.
Whereas we have specialized speakers designed for particular musical instruments, as a DJ, you need DJ speakers that would perfectly cover all the necessary range of frequencies so as to reproduce all the musical sounds your music encloses. You can have a view on our review guide of various DJ speakers for more information.
NB: as a DJ, you probably consider including speaker stands when planning your budget to acquire DJ speakers. Elevating your speakers is always vital in ensuring your music is heard clearly throughout the event venue.