DJ Equipment 101

July 16th, 2010

Whether you’re interested in becoming a club DJ who spins the decks at the hottest clubs, or wish to go the mobile DJ route, playing weddings and events, you need to get yourself kitted with the right equipment. Although DJ’ing is, to a large degree, about skill and practice, a DJ can only be as good as the equipment he works on, so it’s essential that you get started on the right foot.

Whilst DJ equipment is an ever-developing and evolving topic, we can split it up into three main groups:

1 – Input Equipment

Here I refer to whatever equipment is involved in actually providing the source signal (the music). This could be a turntable, a CD player (commonly referred to a “CDJs”) or even a laptop or desktop computer. If you enjoy a hands-on approach to the art, you’ll probably want to go the route of turntables or CD players. This sort of gear gives you the most “hands-on” feel of each and every song. If, however, you prefer things to be as organized and as easy to use as possible, you may want to consider using a laptop or computer setup. Both of these have their respective pros and cons, and are common subjects of what I call “DJ debate”. Ultimately, it all boils down to application: If you’re planning to go the “Club DJ” route, then you want something that allows you to be as artistic and interactive as possible (turntables, CDJs). If, on the other hand, you are going to be playing for weddings all the time, you’ll probably want something that can hold a wide variety of music at all times, and is easy to use (such as a laptop with DJ software).

2 – Mixing Equipment

Here I refer to the mixing desk (or mixer). The mixer’s task is to give you control over the volume of each source so that you can create a smooth flow between tracks. Mixers come in all many different shapes and sizes for different applications. If you only plan to use a basic setup, such as two cd players and a microphone, all you need is a simple two or three channel mixer. If however you plan to have multiple sources, a five channel “club” mixer or even a mixing desk would be better suited. Once again, this all boils down to application.

3 – Output Equipment

Here I refer to the equipment that actually makes the sound, namely the speakers. There are two options when it comes to speakers – powered and unpowered, otherwise referred to as active and passive systems (respectively). Active speakers have a built-in amplifier which is perfectly matched to the speaker. Passive speakers on the other hand, are purely speakers, and require a separate amplifier in order to work. You will usually find that mobile DJs prefer active speakers, as this equates to less equipment to carry around, whilst clubs and bars use passive systems, as they never need to move any equipment. Once again, both systems have their pros and cons, and deciding on what suits you best is a question of application.

And that sums up the basics of DJ equipment. Of course, there are other types of equipment, such as microphones and headphones, but I’ve stuck to the basics here. When starting out, I suggest that you rent some equipment from a sound hire company and try it out before buying. This also affords you the opportunity to play around before committing large amounts of money to the cause.

DerekJay Entertainment specializes in providing Wedding DJs, Jukebox Hire and Karaoke Hire in Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa

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