To help get you started, we’re here to take you through some popular types of DJ setups for beginners. We’ve also included a checklist of must-have DJ equipment!
Types of DJ setups
When referring to “types of DJ setup”, we’re not talking about how the finished arrangement looks. While DJs have full freedom to customize their decks how they want, the type of setup refers to the equipment used.
As a DJ, you’ll have to make an important decision; choosing between turntables or computer-based controllers. You can switch between both if your funds allow it, but as a beginner, sticking with one (for the time being) will make life much easier.
Choosing between turntables and controllers will come down to personal preference. To assist with the decision, we’ve laid out the main differences between the two…
Old-school – turntables
When DJing first came on to the scene, everything was done through turntables. Although working with turntables requires much more concentration and technique, many DJs prefer having to put in the extra effort.
The popularity of using turntables for mixing really took off in the ‘70s when the Technics SL-1200 came on to the scene. This particular turntable allowed DJs to experiment with sounds and practice fiddly techniques without losing their passion for the art. This device has a direct-drive mechanism, allowing for seamless mixing without any interruptions. And, not to mention, mixing with it looks incredibly cool. Many DJs to this day still use the same turntable.
New school – controllers
Over the past few years, all-in-one DJ controllers have risen in popularity. As the name suggests, this type of controller consists of everything you need when mixing as a DJ. This includes:
- Pair of decks
- FX controllers
- Several (if not hundreds!) of dials
- Multiple connections
If the complicated nature of turntables doesn’t appeal to you, using an all-in-one controller will solve all your problems. While they still require a lot of talent to use, these controllers make it easy to rectify mistakes and experiment with sounds.
Important DJ equipment for beginners
No matter what type of setup you opt for, there are some pieces of equipment that all DJs will need. The more complex the setup, the more equipment needed.
As a beginner, you don’t need to focus so much on complicated pieces of equipment. Just make sure that you have the following:
- Chosen setup (turntable or all-in-one)
1. DJ headphones
It doesn’t matter whether you are performing to the masses or mixing in your bedroom – the right headphones make a world of difference. And, as a DJ, there are no better headphones than DJ headphones.
There are many differences between DJ headphones and studio headphones that you need to be aware of as a DJ. While the latter is designed to enhance studio processes, DJ headphones have a range of features that make mixing ten times easier. This includes:
- Swiveling system (allowing you to listen with one ear)
- Extra padding (for comfort and to prevent overheating)
- Closed-back design (for optimal noise cancellation)
While you could still technically get the job done with normal headphones, you might get uncomfortable or struggle to concentrate on the tracks. Investing in a good pair of DJ headphones will take your skills to the next level!
While speakers aren’t an absolute necessity, they do help to get a feel for how things will sound when performing to crowds. It always helps to get a different perspective rather than spending all your time with headphones on!
The type of speaker that you use doesn’t matter so much, just as long as it is compatible with your setup and packs a punch. Most beginner DJs opt for the following:
Subwoofers: A lot of DJs prefer to add a subwoofer to their setup, but this will entirely depend on the style of music you play. Subwoofers are ideal for adding deep sub-bass to your mix.
Standard Monitors: As a beginner, a pair of standard monitors will be just as satisfactory. They’ll allow you to hear your mixes clearly when practicing at home, without upsetting the neighbors or going deaf.
No matter what type of speaker you choose, always remember to check the specifications first. The last thing you want is a speaker that can’t handle the power of a DJ setup!
Unfortunately, this next piece of equipment isn’t quite as exciting. But, it’s one of the most important parts of your setup. Cables!
There are many types of audio cables out there, all with different purposes and functionalities. The type you choose for your setup will entirely depend on the equipment being used and the expected output.
Let’s take a quick look at the most popular types of cables used by DJs:
- RCA Plugs: ideal for analogue setups
- XLR Cables: needed for mics and larger sound systems
- TRS Connectors: used for balanced connections
- USB: needed for all-in-one controllers that hook up to computers.
Identifying what type of cable you need will probably feel like the most confusing part of your setup process. But, once you understand the requirements of your equipment, you’ll be good to go for many years to come. There’s nothing more satisfying than a seamless setup!
It’s time to hit the decks
Now that you know the basics involved with beginner DJ setups, it’s time to get mixing! Whether you choose to go old school with turntables or new school with all-in-one controllers, be sure to enjoy the experience and learn some new skills. Just remember to keep budgets in mind and only work with what you have space for. We all have to start somewhere!