Getting started as a DJ
How to Get Started as a DJ
Aight, guys, this one isn’t half as confusing at it may first appear. All the usual’s are obvious, but there are a few more eccentric components necessary to have you spinning black wax, cuing tunes, and mixing tracks. So I’m laying it out, nice and easy, for all those dreaming of the being the next Nina Kraviz. Everything you need to be de de deejay!
– 2 x Direct Drive DJ turntables.
– 2 x Cartridges (preferably DJ carts)
– 1 x Mixer
– 1 x Monitor (pair)
Direct Drive (DJ) Turntable
The hallmark component of any professional DJ’s kit are their decks. Brand and model are the mark of your seriousness as a player. And for the longest of times if it wasn’t a pair of Techics 1200s, you weren’t on top of your game. But those days are long gone. There’s a wealth of pro-model decks that’ll outshine a 30yr old turntable, even if it was the benchmark for decades. But all that’s for later. You gotta start somewhere, guys, and I’ve got the perfect decks for you.
Pioneer Pro PLX500 Professional DJ Turntable
Based on the design of its bigger brother, the Pioneer PLX1000, this professional grade DJ turntable with inbuilt phono USB, high torque, remarkably strong build and 45rpm adaptor is a badass place to begin for any serious starter DJ. The thing that separates DJ turntables from any other direct drive turntable is pitch control. This allows you to speed up or slow down the track to beat match when you’re mixing tracks. Without it, you’re still a DJ. You’re just a really crap one. This is essential to the process and the first thing you need to look at when purchasing DJ turntables. Other handy features are inbuilt phono preamplifiers, high torque (I’ll explain the necessity of this in future write-ups), and 45 adaptors. Often smaller 45 singles have larger centre holes. You need an adapter to fit in the centre of the record as well as fit over the centre spindle of the turntable. When you have a turntable that throws one in, it’s pretty helpful. Oh, and it comes in white! WHITE! How sick is that.
Audio Technica LP120 USB Direct Drive Turntable
This is one of the highest selling turntables, the world over. Based on the benchmark DJ turntable of the last thirty years (Technics 1200), this heavy-weight entry-level deck with high accuracy quartz-controlled pitch lock and pitch change slide, inbuilt phono preamplifier and USB output for audio recording is great place to begin your journey into the world of slinging wax. There’s nothing the PLX500 offers that the LP120 doesn’t have. I guess you’re either a Pioneer person or an Audio Tech head. Your call. But it comes finished in either silver or black, is pre-fitted with Audio Tech’s AT-95E cartridge, has all the bells and whistles of a professional DJ deck and a few extras as well. An important feature to note is that of the USB tag in the title of this turntable. If you ever see it on a turntable it simply means there’s an inbuilt phono preamplifier with recording capabilities. You know, for adding another skill to the title: DJ / Producer.
2 X Cartridges
Now, fortunately for you, if you’re buying one of the above turntables they already come pre-fit with cartridges (your needles). And if you’re only starting out this is perfectly adequate. However, upgrading to a professional DJ cartridge, like the Ortofon line of pro DJ carts we offer here at Vinyl Revival, allows you to back cue or scratch – essential characteristics of any serious DJ. Standard hifi cartridges, like the carts pre-fitted to these two turntables, cannot sustain that kind of work load. They’ll break, and you’ll be up for new needles and a replacement record. So do yourself a favour and save a few extra clams over that latest release from Europe and in no time you’ll have yourself a pair of serious DJ cartridges.
1 x Mixer
This one’s the brains of the operation. The meat in the sandwich. The dog between the buns, maybe? I’m talking about your mixer, man. You know, that magic little machine that seamlessly transitions between tracks. The most simple and affordable model, so the one you’ll most likely want when starting out, is a two-channel mixer. If you’re Jeff Mills you might be running three decks and a drum machine and in need of four channels, but let’s walk before running, shall we.
Pioneer DJM250MK2 2-Channel DJ Mixer with DVS
This little baby is super affordable and comes equiped with everything you need to begin slinging wax right away. Two RCA line inputs and matching Phono line inputs. It just means there’s a couple of onboard phono preamplifiers in the mixer, just in case your turntable didn’t come with one – or one is busted, maybe. Standard Trim controls (also known as gain), EQ for bass, mid and treble adjustments – corresponding level metres, channel upfaders and a crossfader for smooth track transitions. There’s also a pair cue buttons, a quarter inch headphone jack for monitoring audio, balanced and unbalanced lines out. Now I’m not going into detail about what does what. That’s for another, much longer, feature on the ins and outs of mixers. But for now know that you need at least two channels, something affordable, and the Pioneer DJM250MK2 Mixer is exactly that.
1 x Monitor (pair)
This is where you’ve got options people. A pair of monitors basically means you’ve got a pair of speakers to monitor your audio whilst you do what you do on your decks. It’s that simple. And when it comes to you mixer, there are both XLR and RCA line outs. Meaning, via XLR you can plug into an active pair of professional studio monitors(Genelec), via RCA with a pair stereo actives (Audioengine), or, alternatively, an integrated amplifier and a pair of passive speakers you might already own. The options are many and each one will depend on the chunk of change you have left over after your decks, carts and mixer. That I leave up to you.
It's not all dollar signs and digits
There are a few other features necessary to finesse your work as the next best Steve Aoki, and I’ll definitely go over more of the details in future features, but just understand that these basic components necessary to mix tunes on black wax. You have to start somewhere, and it’s surprising how little you need and just how affordable it all is to get up and going. A couple of good decks with a mixer and some active speakers can have you set up for well under 1500 bones. The rest you finesse as you go.