Tuesdays are DJ Tips days on Lets Go Big tunes, from beginner to expert, they are bound to be of help.
Step 5: Breaking Out of the Box
While it’s possible to begin DJing using only your laptop, you’re eventually going to want more control over what you’re doing. It’s time to look into some hardware!
There are several types of DJ setups to consider:
DJ Controller Setup (Recommended)
Without a doubt, this is the most cost effective way to mix with hardware. A DJ controller gives you tactile control over DJ software, allowing you to mix music on a device that’s specifically designed for the task.
A modern all-in-one DJ controller contains everything you need to mix and record music (except for a laptop), and options are available anywhere from $100 to over $3000.
You can also piece together a setup from any number of smaller modular DJ controllers. This option is preferred by DJs who have very specific needs, or generally enjoy gadgets. Modular setups are the most flexible, but they can also be the most complex.
The controller market continues to grow, and DJs may choose among the options which fit their budget, workflow, and preferred software. This is wonderful news, but it can make for a tough decision!
As the so-called industry standard, CDJs can be found in nightclubs, festivals, and arenas all across the world.
Originally designed to play music from compact discs, modern CDJs (and XDJs) play digital music stored on USB drives. The players are plugged into a hardware DJ mixer.
Pioneer CDJs (combined with their DJM mixers) provide a shared platform for DJs. Many venues already have them, and they are the expected standard for any large show. Great alternatives also exist, such as the impressive SC5000 by Denon DJ.
CDJs tend to be more expensive than their controller counterparts, but they do offer a level of separation from the laptop, which some people appreciate.
The Pioneer CDJ Guidebook (compare and learn about CDJs)
Records are harder to mix than any of the other listed options. Vinyl is also the most expensive format to buy music on. So why would anyone want to go this route?
Three reasons: it’s rewarding, it’s sexy, and people love it.
For a lot of people, mixing records is simply fun. Many DJs love that tactile feel of moving the physical record, and many people love watching a “real” DJ playing “real” records. It’s also still the best route for the pure scratch DJ.
This isn’t the route for everyone, but for many, it’s the only way.
Timecode and HID Setups
I love the feel of mixing records. However, I love all the functionality that I gain from software… such as perfect loops, four deck mixing, and recording. And I love being able to have my entire digital music collection with me, wherever I go.
Many people feel that using a timecode (DVS) setup can give you the best of all worlds.
According to Wikipedia: Vinyl emulation software allows the user to physically manipulate the playback of digital audio files on a computer using the turntables as an interface, thus preserving the hands-on control and feel of DJing with vinyl. The technology is also referred to as DVS, for either Digital Vinyl System or Digital Vinyl Software.”
You use a special vinyl record, which contains an audio signal that your software picks up and uses to manipulate digital files (like mp3s). You can then use modular controllers to add whatever functionality you feel is missing from the traditional “decks-and-mixer” setup.
DVS setup are sometimes a compromise for traditional vinyl DJs who don’t want to change their workflow, but want to take advantage of modern features.
Many modern players (like CDJs) support HID connectivity, which allows you to accomplish the same thing, without the use of special timecode records or CDs. Basically, this allows you to use your CDJs “as controllers” in your favorite software.
If you are an expert or just a beginner, there is sure to be something for you in our weekly tips. See you again next week