DJ Equipment - Online Guide
This guide is intended to help you in your future choices and purchases of equipment for the practice of DJing, whether it is a first configuration, or an evolution of your setup.
First determine your current level and type of use:
- Are you an: amateur / semi-pro / pro?
- Your use will be: occasional / regular / intensive?
This will allow you to target the category of product most suitable for your use.
In order to complete our explanations, examples of products will be cited throughout the guide and descriptions. These lists are not exhaustive.
It is the basis of this practice. The technology has been widely diversified for more than 30 years, with innovations constantly renewed, especially since the transition from music to digital format (CD, WAVE, MP3, dematerialization...).
The DJ's tools have evolved accordingly, and the computer has become essential in modern systems, allowing now to simulate physical products (platens, mixers, effects...) at a lower cost; we will come back to this later.
The following audio supports can be distinguished:
Records :The oldest of the audio supports used by the DJ, it knows today an important comeback due to its unique audio properties (important dynamic amplitude, high sonic details, strong presence of the tone...).
CD:The first commercialized digital format of the history, albeit very resilient, this format is currently disappearing in favour of the dematerialized format.
USB stick or hard drive:The current media in use allows the transport, storage and playback of your audio files (WAVE or MP3 format for the most common ones). It is easily duplicated, distributed simultaneously on several devices, whether wired or wireless, modifiable in real time (logging, sampling, effect processing...), stores a maximum of tracks in a minimum of space, to get your favorite songs directly from the Internet, etc....
Simply follow your listening habits to easily create an audio library, ready to be used with your future material.
A major choice is offered to you as for the mixing hardware, either go hardware or software.
- Direct drive turntables:
The direct drive turntables are motor-driven turntables which have an instant start and stop speed thanks to the motor connected to the plate. The more powerful is the torque, the stronger the drive, and the more precise the turntable. It is mandatory for scratching. These turntables can be equipped with a USB interface to digitalize your vinyl records.
Examples : Audio Technica ATL-P120, Pioneer PLX500 et PLX1000, Numark TT250…
- Belt-drive turntables:
Equipped with a motor mounted on the outside of the deck connected to a belt, these vinyl turntables are designed for Hi-Fi playback only. This type of turntable has the advantage of preserving your vinyl records from rapid wear and tear, thanks to its very soft drive. These turntables can be equipped with a USB interface to digitalize your vinyl records.
Examples : Akai BT-100 et BT-500, Reloop RP-1000…
- The DJ cartridge (elliptic or micro-tip):
The hi-fi cartridges are suitable only for reading records. Their role is to offer maximum audio detail. The finer the diamond, the better the sound.
Examples : Ortofon OM pro, Shure M-97…
- The DJ (spherical) cartridges:
More stable and sturdy, they offer a larger reading surface but wear vinyl faster and are ideal for semi-pro/professional conditions, ideal for scratch or club use.
Examples : Shure M44-7, Ortofon serie Concorde DJ-s/Q-bert/Elektro…
- The CD / USB drive :
At first, DJ hardware was used with CDs (wave, mp3...). But the evolution now makes it possible to use various media such as CD, USB, SD card, DVD on the same device. The latest generations even offer a control interface for software, a software or hardware solution to use simultaneously. The most advanced models offer a network connection to ease the delivery of audio files across your entire control system, and provide advanced synchronization capabilities. It's the favorite solution in a professional environment.
Example : Pioneer série CDJ, Denon série SC, Numark série NDX…
- The mixing desk
It is the general mixer for your control system's audio sources. Thanks to its different types of input (Line, Phono, microphone), it allows you to overlay different songs simultaneously and switch from one source to another easily. They include an equalizer (or EQ), filters (hi pass / low pass). Some include a multi-effects that will allow you to diversify your mix.
Please note that some of them offer a sound card mode, which allows you to use mixing software or DVS systems (Rane TTM series, Pioneer DJM-S9, NI Kontrole Z2...). Choose a table with a number and type of entry that corresponds to your needs.
For example, a "scratch" DJ generally uses 2 turntables: a 2-track mixer with no effect, with a robust cross-fader. A DJ who uses multiple audio sources will need a 4-track mixer, ideally with effects. This allows him to have more audio tools for sequencing and mixing several tracks simultaneously.
Examples : Pioneer série DJM, Numark serie M, Reloop serie RMX, Rane 62/56/57sl…
Digital solutions have opened up new mixing techniques, thanks to tempo synchronization, you save time to develop a mix in a more personal way, and new tools are now at your disposal.
- The controllers
Based on the computer and the audio file, they are the latest tools for DJs. The controller combines the simulation of several decks (or decks) and a mixer, usually 2 or 4 tracks. This controller is in fact a "remote control " that allows you to control the DJ software installed in the computer. The set allows you to play your mp3 or wave audio files, as if you were using physical hardware. The main advantages are the small size, lower cost than physical hardware, and advanced functions in remix, samples and effects processing. It is an ideal solution for beginners, allowing them to learn at a lower cost with as many functions as possible. The most advanced controllers make it easy to mix software and hardware, with audio inputs for CD player, turntables and cumulate the DVS system.
2 decks // Numark Mixtrack PRO-3, Pionner DDJ-RB et SB2 Native Instruemtns Traktor S2…
4 decks // Pioneer DDJ-SX2, DDJ-1000, DDJ-SZ2 et RZ, Native Instruments Traktor S4…
- DVS system
The DVS or digital vinyl system allows you to control your audio files via software from a turntable or CD player, using a specific type of record/CD called "Time Code". This system requires either a sound card dedicated to this use, or a mixing console integrating this type of interface. This last solution allows you to use, for example, your favorite turntables, while enjoying the benefits of the mixing software. This system is particularly popular for scratch and vinyl aficionados.
- Audio interfaces (or sound card)
They are mainly focused on the use of the DVS systems (Serato scratch live, NI Traktor scratch). They can convert Time Code signals sent from a vinyl turntable or CD player. They fit between the turntables and the mixer.
Examples : NI Traktor Audio A6, Serato Serie SL…
- Hybrids or combo
A new generation of stand-alone system from controller formats is emerging. They offer the use and compact format of the controller, without the use of the computer, simply from your CDs, USB sticks or HDD. At the crossroads of different technologies, they prove to be very versatile.
Examples : Pioneer Xdj-R1, Xdj-RX2, Denon mcx8000…
- HeadsetThe headset is an essential tool for the DJ to preview and adjust his songs. Choose a robust and precise model. The reference remains the Sennheiser HD25. One last tip, don't forget that the cases/bags as well as the transport and storage protections are the guarantee of your products' lifespan.
Examples : AKG série K.DJ, Pioneer série HDJ, Sennheiser HD.DJ...
You now have all the basics you need to get started and choose your DJ material. It's obvious that not everything is summarized in this guide and you may have some questions or wish to get more advice about choosing your DJ material. The Star's Music team is at your disposal to guide you in our stores or by phone +33 1 80 930 900.