DJ Mixing Equipment
Paul Kalkbrenner @ Gasmaschinenzentrale, Unterwellenborn 02.08.2008
Paul Kalkbrenner while his performance at Gasmaschinenzentrale Unterwellenborn
So you want to be a DJ? Get DJ gear wisely
DJ mixing equipment
DJs rule the world. They fly from city to city in clandestine private jets, indulging in white leather luxury, as adoring fans crowd the dance floor to get a glimpse of their favourite superstar DJ. Bodies glisten in the heat; fists triumphantly pump in unison while the crowd heaves to the relentless beat. So how do you become a part of this exciting world?
Well first up you need some DJ gear. While back in the day the ultimate DJ gear set up consisted of two Technics turntables and a mixer but now things have become somewhat more sophisticated. The industry standard is now Pioneer whose CD decks and mixers are the weapons of choice for most DJs and nightclubs with many features on offer. Multimedia inputs, midi mapping and special effects like 'phase', 'trans', 'delay', 'filter', 'crush' and 'roll' a sampling repeat effect that can add a new dimension to tracks.
These effects can be applied to existing tracks to make new sounds and interpretive versions of the original music. These days DJs only have to turn up with a USB stick, a pair of headphones and they're ready to rock a crowd. Furthermore you are now able to synchronise up with software programs like Traktor and Mixvibes to create personalised sets and remixes. But wait a moment; we are getting ahead of ourselves. How do you go about securing the best value DJ gear available? Cheap DJ gear might not always be the best option but on the other hand expensive top of the line gear might not always be the best immediate solution either. Do you stick with a brand name like Pioneer or perhaps look at other more affordable brands that may offer similar features like American Audio or Gemini. If you are looking to buy DJ gear then you will need to do some research and this is where you can really save money.
First up however the type of gear required is often dictated by the type and style of music are you playing. This will determine what type of equipment is needed. If you love hip-hop and rap perhaps a scratching set up is warranted. Are you playing vinyl or CDs or other types of digital media? The mixer of choice for scratch DJs will usually have a bulletproof cross fader with curve adjustment. Perfect for scratching up a storm and dropping beats. For those playing house or trance a mixer with effects and high sound quality is usually most desired. Whatever DJ gear is needed whether in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane or Ibiza, more research is required. There are plenty of DJ forums and websites out there that prove invaluable when buying any type of DJ gear, from 'old school' (Technics turntables) through to 'new school' state of the art equipment (Pioneer CDJ2000s).
The old school crowd regard turntables as being the highest level of art using 2, 3 or sometimes 4 turntables to produce staggering layered mixes. Carl Cox was well renowned for his 4 turntable 8-hour sets. Scratch DJs on the other hand like Q-Bert typically use 2 turntables and construct new sounds from existing vinyl sound bites. Q-Bert even went on to design his very own Vestax QFO turntable complete with built in mixer. Digital DJs tend to stand more in the producer end of town having more control over variables, and as such are able to get more technically creative in the mix. A lot of the challenge in using turntables has been taken away in the digital world, even for something as simple as beat matching. Digital DJs experience the luxury of having sampled sound bites automatically beat matched, pitch shifted and synchronised all at the touch of a few buttons. This enables DJs to really get inside their gear and use a vast array of effects and transitions to create mind-boggling world-class mixes and mash-ups.
Having some knowledge of the types of media i.e. vinyl versus digital, the style of your music and how you are going to deliver your set now allows us to discuss the all amount selection of DJ gear. First I would advise to set a budget. While a minimum quality level is recommended you need to set a budget that sits within your skill level. There are some terrific set-ups out there for well under 00. At the other extreme two Pioneer CDJ2000s, a Pioneer DJM2000, software package and laptop could easily crack the ,000 mark. Even the more affordable setups can offer you the same features and functionality of the higher priced name brands. There are plenty of DJ businesses that offer rehearsal studios (DJ booths) where you can practice with professional gear or you can attend a DJ school and pick a course that most suits the direction and style of music that interests you.
There are stories of underground DJs that labour in their bedrooms or in DJ booths for many hours before coming out to wow the crowd at the DMCs or other similar competitions, thus catapulting them to the top of the talent pool. Ideally playing experience provides skill and it might be case of working your way up the set list to get better and better gigs. Of course it helps to have a good few hundred friends on Facebook as crowd pulling power incentivises promoters to book DJs for gigs.
Forums are the best place to start looking. DJ gear manufacturers also have their own forums such as forums.pioneerdj.com by Pioneer. While these are obviously going to be slanted in a positive light, posts will often reveal first hand knowledge about the whys and wherefores of the various types of equipment. Features, benefits and how they relate to you the end user. Remember if searching on Google or similar make sure you use intuitive search topics. And remember a search engine like Google offers paid keywords for retailers and manufacturers wanting to appear at the top of the searches as sponsored advertising. In other words try and ensure you are reading neutral information as opposed to sponsored information.
If a website is more about paid advertising links and out of date posts you are probably on the wrong site. Before purchasing any gear, try and make sure the outlet has a good reputation in the market and make sure they have been in the market a decent period of time. If they carry most of the major brands such as Pioneer, Technics, Numark, Gemini, American Audio, Vestax, Allen and Heath, Traktor, Mixvibes etc, then they should be OK. Discuss with the sales person all of the points mentioned above with regard to the music you are playing, vinyl vs. digital, software etc and get some options. Remember knowledge is power so the more research and discussion you undertake, the better informed decision you will make and leading you to ultimately become the superstar DJ you want to be.
DJ mixing equipment question by me: What beginner DJ equipment should I buy and do I need to take a class to learn how to DJ?
I just went to a concert (bfd) and saw DJ A.M., Mastercraft, and Moby, and I was amazed how much fun it was. Now, I'm interested in getting into DJing as a hobby, but I don't know where to start or what equipment to buy. What kind of equipment should I buy (i.e. turntables), for a reasonable price and that I can (preferably) play using songs off my computer or mp3 player? And, can I teach myself how to start mixing or is it worth while to take a class on DJing?
DJ mixing equipment best answer:
Answer by Talizzle what?!!
Man DJ AM is THE MAN. I love him, he's like my idol in djing!!
Ok so get into Djing if you trully have a passion for music, not because it's cool being a dj. So, I don't know what music genres you're into but you must basically know everything about every good song of the latest 10 to 20 years (or more depending on the music genre). And ALWAYS manage to have the newest stuff. Once you've got the music, you've got maybe 40 to 50% at least of the job done. Believe me, you can be an incredible mixer, scratcher, but if people don't like the music, they will not dance and therefore will not be happy. So after that you gotta get yourself some dj gear. I would suggest sticking to turntables if you're into Hip-hop/R&B and cd players if you're into House/Techno. Other than that, get a small package (where you get 2 turntables/cd players, a mixer and a pair of headphones) to start with. And start practicing, and practicing. Practice as much as you can. And once you think you're starting to become good at it, practice some more. That's how you should get started. Then once you think you're ready to start djing at some parties, contact me and I'll help you out!!
And no, taking classes is like 80% useless because it's all about practicing. Though maybe you can take like 1 or 2 classes just so they'll show you how a song is built (32 bars, BPM) and like how you plug a turntable with a mixer. But take my advice: use that money to get yourself better gear once you improved.
Welcome to your new hobby!