So you’ve decided you want to try DJing, and are excited to dive right into it! As DJing is a very hands-on skill, you’ll need some actual gear to learn and practice on. If you’re unsure where to start and need advice on which types of gear to buy first, then read on. In this article, we’ll look at DJ equipment for beginners, outlining everything you need to get started.
What Equipment Do Beginner DJ’s need?
When you’re just starting out, searching for DJ equipment and deciding what to buy first can be quite confusing. This is because there are so many different types of DJ equipment available in the market to cater to the various DJing styles, setup configurations, and skill levels.
However, it’s important that you get the right type of equipment that will ultimately set you up for DJing success. At the start, you probably want a set of equipment that:
- Is simple enough to set up and get started with
- Will enable you to learn and master the basics of DJing and more
- Has all the functions for basic music mixing, as well some more advanced performance features
- Is suitable to use at potential gigs or as a mobile DJ
- Can help you gain knowledge and skills that are transferable to pro DJ setups such as those used in clubs or festivals
- Is cost-effective and will give you the best value in the long run
With these considerations in mind, here are the essential equipment and tools that you will need.
The first and most important part of your DJ setup is the computer. This is what you will use to:
- Find, download and keep the music that you will play
- Run the DJ software, and
- Connect to your DJ controller
Ideally, this should be a laptop so that you could easily transport it to potential gigs, and it could easily fit into any DJ booth or setup.
If you already have a fairly recent laptop, it will probably be good enough to use so that you could start learning right away. For more serious DJing, though, we recommend investing in a reliable and sturdy laptop such as a Macbook Pro or Macbook Air. For more options, see our list of the best laptops for DJing.
2. DJ Software
Once you have a suitable laptop, you will need to install DJ software. This software will provide most of the functionality that you’ll need as a DJ such as organizing playlists, loading and playing music files, mixing tracks, applying effects, and so on. It’s even possible to DJ using only a laptop and DJ software!
There are several available options here, and we recommend choosing among Serato, Rekordbox, and Virtual DJ. In this article, we review and help you decide which one is right for you.
Headphones are one of the most fundamental pieces of DJ gear. This is because headphones enable you, the DJ, to prepare the next song privately and in advance while the current one is still playing to your audience on the speakers. Using headphones, you can cue up the next track, beatmatch it, and finally drop it in when the right moment comes.
While there are many good headphones available in the market, you will want something that is specifically designed to meet the demands of DJing. Have a look at our list of the best DJ headphones, and you’ll surely be able to choose something that meets your preferences and budget.
Finally, we’ve reached what’s arguably the most exciting part of your kit – the DJ Controller! You’ll use this to control the DJ software, but in a more tactile way, using jog wheels, faders, knobs, buttons and performance pads rather than with a mouse or a keyboard.
The DJ controller is what actually enables you to “perform” as a DJ, and unleash your creativity and that performance aspect of DJing in the same way that pro and performance DJs do on their CDJs and mixers. This is because most DJ controllers replicate the standard club layout of two decks and a mixer.
With a bit of research, you’ll find that there’s such a wide range of DJ controllers available, starting from toy-like devices up to the massive standalone, all-in-one DJ controllers that even pros will want to use. In this article, we look at the best DJ controllers for beginners to help you choose the right controller that can help take you from beginner stage all the way up to being club-ready!
When practicing in your bedroom or home studio, you’ll need a good set of speakers. While it’s okay to start learning with ordinary home or multimedia PC speakers, it would be good to have a good pair of studio monitors instead. These will allow you to hear your mixes more clearly and accurately.
For beginners, we recommend using active studio monitors. These already include a built-in amplifier so that you don’t have to buy one separately, and this greatly simplifies your setup. When you are ready for this step, you can look at our list of the best studio monitors to help you decide.
6. Cables and Adapters
Once you have all the equipment, make sure you know how to connect everything and that you have all the necessary cables, connectors and adapters to hook it up and get it all working together. Some of the cables and connectors you might need include:
- Power cable
- USB cable
- RCA or XLR cable
- Headphone adapter
Some of these might already be included when you purchase a controller or another part of your kit, so be sure to check first. The actual cables, connectors, or adapters you’ll require will be specific to your setup configuration and the equipment you are using.
To familiarize yourself with those that are commonly used in DJing and in the audio industry, read our guide to DJ cables.
Now that your equipment has been set up and everything is working, you need some tracks to play! But where do DJ’s get their music?
As an aspiring DJ, you probably already have an idea of some songs that you want to play in your sets. However, for continued success and growth, you need to be able to expand your repertoire so that you’ll always be able to drop the right track at the right time. For ideas on how to discover new (and old) songs and grow your music collection, check out our article on that topic here.
Even as a learning or beginning DJ, our opinion is that one should never use any illegal copies of music, and that we should always purchase our music files from legitimate sources. Some obvious answers here are Apple and Amazon, but there are other music sources that cater specifically to DJs and dance music enthusiasts. There are also streaming services that you can explore. For our recommended music sources, take a look at our article on the best music sources for DJs.
With your setup now complete and ready to play, it’s time to start building your skills as a DJ! You’ll need to start learning some basics such as:
- Music selection and programming
- Basic music theory
- Getting familiar with your new gear
- Counting and beat matching
- Basic mixing techniques and transitions
We find that it’s best to learn such practical and hands-on skills firsthand from an experienced DJ who can show you the ropes. However, not everyone knows a pro DJ who is willing to take the time to teach them one-on-one. Fortunately, there are many good DJ schools, some of which offer courses online. We feel that this is an important part of a DJ’s journey as the right training and mentorship can make all the difference and increase your chances of success.
To help you explore your options in this area, we have put together a list of the best DJ courses for beginners.
In this article we looked at the different types of equipment that a beginner DJ would need.
We saw that a laptop, software, headphones, and controller are some of the essential items that a DJ needs to get started. We also considered speakers and other accessories such as cables and adapters.
Beyond the hardware, though, we identified having the right music and training as often-overlooked necessities for a DJ to be fully equipped.
We hope this article has provided you with enough information and inspiration to get you started in planning and putting together your first DJ setup. Stay tuned for more upcoming articles about DJing!