If you want to embark on a successful DJ experience, you need to invest accordingly. For starters, purchasing the best DJ laptops might be enough for a beginner. But if you want to become a professional, you’ll need a bit more.
Good pieces of DJ equipment can take your gigs to a whole new level. Laptops can be pretty restricting, especially when it comes to offering smooth transitions, quick effects, and easily track manipulation. For this reason, most professionals prepare an entire setup to keep their audience entranced.
In this article, we shall go through some essential DJ equipment and how you can use them with your laptop. So without further ado, let’s dive straight into the guide.
What Equipment Should I Purchase for DJing?
Before you kick-start your DJ career, you’ll need to invest in some essential features. For instance, even beginners on the first stage of their journey need two primary things – a decent laptop to oversee everything and good DJ software.
Let’s talk about these first.
Unlike gaming, DJing won’t put a lot of pressure on your computer system. Thus, you won’t need to go crazy about purchasing a top-of-the-line laptop. A decent one, considering today’s market, is more than enough to support your career.
For instance, an i5 or AMD equivalent computer with 8 GB of RAM would be a good fit for beginners, as well as for some professionals. The main area of concern is storage. If you want to go for Hard Disk Drives, try and ensure that they can hold up to at least 1 TB of files. This is important as DJs often keep a lot of tracks (of the highest quality) that may take up a lot of space on their laptops.
There are tons of DJ software available in the market. You can get one for free as well. But we recommend that you choose the premium versions as they offer a real DJing experience instead of a streamlined version meant specifically for designers.
Let’s talk about some popular DJ software –
- Traktor: It is one of the most popular and reliable software. It offers a whole of customizable options as well as some exclusive features that none of the other software can offer. It has a free version that is streamlined and meant for beginners. The premium version is available at $99.
- Serato: Serato is the major competitor for Traktor. It is also available at $99 but also can be purchased through a monthly subscription model. It is great in terms of features and reliability as well.
- Rekordbox: This is a relatively newer alternative and is a great option for professionals. It is a bit more expensive than the above mentioned alternatives, priced at around $129. Customers can also purchase a monthly subscription model.
So these are the primary pieces of equipment that are needed by any DJ artist. Apart from that, everything else is optional. But for a wholesome DJing experience, we need some other add-ons as well.
USB Audio Adapter
DJ artists can make do with only a laptop and appropriate software. However, there are several drawbacks to this. For instance, one limitation is that laptops will only have a single audio output.
It is a limitation as DJ artists often manage and preview tracks before presenting them to the listeners. They cannot do this if there’s only one audio output. Thankfully, there’s a simple fix for this solution – purchasing an external USB Audio Adapter.
Sound Cards or USB Audio Adapters aren’t that expensive. There are a lot of options in the market that you can choose from. The best part? Using them with your laptop is easy. There are no technicalities or difficulties.
All you need to do is plug it into your laptop, pair it up with your DJ software, and then start working.
The USB Audio Device can then send the tracks to the sound system for the audience while you can use the laptop’s audio output to preview tracks. Audio Adapters are also important as the default audio output of the laptop is not good enough for playing high-quality music on sound systems.
- Brand – Pioneer DJ
- Number of Channels – 4
- Item Weight – 4.1 Kilograms
- Soundcard – 24 bit/44.1 kHz
- Frequency Range – 20 – 20000 Hz.
- USB – 1 USB B port
Another external piece of equipment loved and needed by all DJ Artists is a controller. Using a keyboard and mouse to work with your DJ software will not work well during live performances. It won’t feel good or satisfying either.
The controller will give more control to the artists, allowing them to work with different audios and manipulate the tracks effectively.
Here’s how you can connect the controller to your laptop –
Connecting to Speakers: Connecting a DJ Controller to a laptop is relatively easy. All you need to do is connect the RCA output of the controller to the RCA inputs that you find on your laptop’s speakers. If there are no RCA inputs, there are other methods that involve RCA to XLR or RCA to TS cables.
Connect to Laptops: Connecting the controller to a laptop is just as easy. All you need to do is use the USB cable that you will get with the DJ controller. You can plug the USB cable into your laptop and get started. Then, you need to start your DJ software and identify/configure the controller. Once done, you can get started.
USB MIDI Controller
A MIDI controller is inexpensive and simple to connect with your laptop. The MIDI format means that you can attach any hardware to your laptop and then configure the buttons of the hardware to work in tangent with some buttons/dials on the software.
For instance, you can map the controls of the MIDI hardware to trigger a specific action of the software when you press any key.
If you’ve dreamt of being a DJ for a long time, you must have thought about the idea of you swaying the crowd on a turntable. For any artist, having a turntable is almost a symbol of their career as a DJ.
For putting out exciting tunes, there are two pieces of external equipment that DJ artists usually gun for – either a turntable or a CD deck. In the modern world, turntables have all the edge over their counterparts in CD decks. However, if you are looking for a cheaper option, going for the latter makes more sense.
Turntables, especially the traditional vinyl ones, produce the classic scratching effect that is symbolic to any DJ artist. At the same time, the equipment is capable of manipulating tunes, playing with different tracks, and creating an organized set of songs for the audience.
Here’s how you can connect a traditional DJ turntable to your laptop to enable its functionality:
- Find the USB connection available on the turntable that you purchase.
- Establish a connection between the turntable and your laptop by plugging the turntable’s USB connection inside a free USB port on your laptop.
- Connect a 1/8-inch audio cable to the headphone jack of your laptop.
- The other end of this audio cable should be connected to the audio jack that you find on the turntable.
And that’s that – you can now use your digital turntable to create tunes and embark on your professional DJing career.
Another vital piece of equipment in the setup of any professional DJ artist. A DJ mixer is an upgrade over a controller. It has a lot more options and allows the artist to mix different audio and tracks to form a wholesome listening experience for the audience. It also offers a wide selection of features to help DJs manipulate different effects and tricks during the performance.
Thus, a DJ mixer makes everything easier – producing effects while playing, transitioning between different audio tracks, and managing all the audio signals that the system will face during the performance.
Here’s how you connect a DJ Mixer to your laptop –
- Gather all the associated hardware and cables that come with the controller. It’s always better if you plug in the mixer to an external power source so that it doesn’t drain the laptop.
- Get a USB cable and start establishing a connection. For this, you will need to plug in the box-end of the cable to the equipment (DJ Mixer). The flat end of the cable, on the other hand, will be connected to the USB port of the laptop.
- Configure the settings on your preferred DJ software. Open the application and navigate through the Audio Device tab. It could be labeled somewhat differently on your software. Now, find and select the USB Audio Codec option.
And there you have it, you can now start using your mixer (sometimes with a controller) to make your desired audio tracks for the audience.
Other Pieces of DJ Equipment
We know that any professional DJ setup would require the following:
- DJ Controllers
- DJ Software
We’ve covered all of them in this article. For headphones, it’s up to the discretion of the DJ artist, they can go for any option that they like. It’s also very easy to plug in their headsets to the system. All the need to do is literally plug the thing in.
Establishing a DJ setup overall is a bit trickier. But we’ve covered everything that you would need to do to enjoy a full-fledged DJing experience – from how to install and use mixers to how to make everything easier through the latest DJ Controllers in the market.
Read Also: How to DJ with a Laptop: Beginner’s Guide
There’s a huge difference between the needs of a beginner DJ artist and a professional.
In this article, we’ve mentioned all the pieces of equipment that a professional might be using in their setup. Whether or not you want to go for all of them is your choice. Frankly, you can even start an amateur DJing career with just a laptop and appropriate software.
Vishal is a founder of the ElectronicsXpert.com, and loves to play around different electronics gadgets and share his real life experiences on the website to help people make the right choice and buying decision.