Updated: January 25, 2020 by Richard Cole
In the past several decades the world of DJs has completely changed. The onset of digital technologies gave us so much flexibility that couldn’t even be imagined before.
These days a DJ can control just about any aspect of the mix on the fly, adjusting what needs to be adjusted without having to deal with delay or cumbersome equipment. Everything is compact, accessible and versatile. However, the fact that technology made life easier for DJs doesn’t mean that the amount of available equipment didn’t expand as well.
Our topic for today’s article is to look into what do DJs use in term of equipment. We are going to figure out what you need to have in front of you if you want to be a club DJ, and if you want to be able to mix music using your computer as a the base of your setup. We won’t go too far into specialized gear, but instead we will focus on what is most commonly used by DJs world wide. With that said, let’s dig in.
What is most commonly used Today?
There are numerous answers to this question. Today a DJ can be a person using only a computer and an audio interface to play the music in a club. It is literally that simple if you want to go basic. Some will say that the days of turntables are over, but that is so far from the truth that it is not even worth commenting on.
The old school DJs will generally still have two turn tables in front of them connected to a mixer unit. Those turntables feature DJ cartridges of choice, which is something every DJ has to figure out for themselves. Since we are using vinyls for this setup, you will need those along with slip mats.
Finally you have your RCA cables to connect the mixer to the audio output, and your headphones for monitoring.
A more modern setup will have CDJ turntables instead of old fashion vinyl ones. These will also be connected to a mixer, followed by an audio interface and finally a computer running some sort of DJ software like Serato or Traktor.
You can exclude the audio interface if you go for a more complex and expensive mixer. High end mixers will have an integrated audio interface.
A lot of people like to use what you could call an Ableton setup. This is a very simple configuration that consists of three main elements. You will have your computer packed with Ableton software, an audio interface, and finally a dedicated Ableton controller.
Today a lot of professional DJ software has a whole range of dedicated hardware designed to work with that software alone. Although it may sound like it’s a very streamlined setup, a rig like this can actually be pretty flexible.
In essence, a good mixer is the most important part of any DJ setup. If you have a very limited mixer, you simply won’t have the freedom to achieve what you want to, no matter how extensive the rest of your gear is. IF you are building a DJ setup for yourself, start by finding a good mixer.
A big question these days is whether to go for old school turn tables, or to use the more modern CD DJ variants. That depends on what kind of sound you are aiming for. CD DJ turntables will generally be a lot more flexible since they are not limited to what’s on the vinyl. You can feed them a digital signal and use that instead.
As you can probably imagine, this additional flexibility is an awesome thing to have.as a DJ.
The technology has advanced to a level where you can build a very decent DJ rig for a fairly cheap price. Now that we know what do DJs use, you can start sketching your own setup according to your needs and requirements. We will repeat what we said earlier.
Don’t cheap out on the mixer. This doesn’t mean that you have to go for the most expensive unit you can find, but finding a solid model will save you a lot of headache down the road. After you get this covered, you can build the rest of your setup more easily.