You have decided to go digital! You are welcome to the party, and we thought you would never show up. Who likes stacking up old records and goes about with them when you can get hundreds of tracks on your laptop? You can imagine how much easy it would be to be able to sort your records with their BPM or by the artist name, or just anything! How can you get started as a digital DJ?
Whether you are a newbie DJ or an expert DJ that goes around with bulky turntables and mixers, bags filled with vinyl records and a head reeling back the tracks and their details that you have earlier crammed (Oh Come on!), we will be looking at some crucial tips to set you up digitally and take your game to the A level. This post will help you answer the question: What gear would you need to bounce a fantastic, memorable gig? How can you plug in and play at the correct level and volume? These Digital DJ Tips and Tricks will help you get started or keep rolling in the box! Leggo!
Who is a Digital DJ?
There was a time when their turntables, mixers only knew DJs and records no matter what they’re playing at. But those formats were really stressful and somewhat unreliable if you know what I mean. One scratch on your vinyl record can ruin a good beatmatch. However, when some creative DJs started to use MP3s and CDs, we have switched to using them because they are very much more reliable, not as bulky, and easier to use than the old ways. We can get super semi-automatic music library management, and we can control and manipulate each song with only the flick of the mouse. How hard could it be? If you would not take the stress of going all the old-fashioned way the line of every little thing you do as a DJ, you might as well be a digital DJ.
Digital DJ Tips
These few tips will help guide you on your journey to becoming one of the greatest DJs starting from your first gig. We will be arranging these tips into two categories: 1) Getting Ready to Digital DJ and Setting Up for your Gigs, and 2) Plug-in and Play.
Part 1: Getting Ready to Digital DJ
These tips are what you need to look at before you can call yourself out as a digital DJ.
#Tip 1 – Get the Right Equipment
Now don’t get it twisted. Going digital doesn’t mean that you would never need any hardware or physical gear. What it means is that you would rely solely on digital means to do your thing. These are the equipment you need to take the most significant step into the magical world of DJing.
#1 – Laptop Computer
As a digital DJ, the central part of your setup is your laptop. We will get into the part where you must get your computer ready in a jiffy. Just stay with me, all right? So, now the first thing to do is to buy a budget-friendly laptop with a good size RAM and install all necessary software. You can read about the best software you can get for your first gig here.
#2 – DJ Controller
After you get a laptop and installed your choice DJ software, you must get a suitable DJ controller. This guide here explains all you need to know about controllers. The price range of controllers is between $100 and $2000.
#3 – Headphones
A DJ headphone is his number identity. What makes a DJ headphone different from any other headphones is that a DJ headphone is made with a higher frequency range and gain levels so that the DJ can dissect a song when he hears it over the loud crowd at events or clubs…
#4 – Speakers
Alright, next, you should get yourself a handy speaker. Well, this is optional for some club DJs because most of that would already be in a club or at some events setting. If not, you might have to rent a speaker. Any good speaker or subwoofers is enough to get the crowd crazy. Only thing is you must also be wary about when getting your speakers is the bass sound because tricks like beatmatching would need you to feel the beats kicking. The best speakers you can count on to bring out the best of your audio gigs are M-Audio, Mackie, Pioneer, KRK or Yamaha. You can click those links to get them on Amazon. They are all excellent speakers. Otherwise, you should get self-powered speakers as they come with built-in amplifiers.
#5 – Cables
To start your set up, you need to get some cables ready. That is the way to transmit your audio from your digital MP3 to the speakers. The most commonly used types of cable connections are the RCA. Remember the red, white, and yellow cords that came with your TV? Yes, that’s the one. You would find RCA inlets on your controllers. If you want to promote your DJing to another level, though, I would say you buy some high-end cord like the XLR connections to provide better and smoother sound quality. This depends solely on your controller. Some old controllers don’t come with XLR connections.
#Tip 2 – Set Up Your Computer
Now you’ve got all your equipment ready, and you need to get your laptop ready for your first gig. You must buy, download, and install the best DJ software. When you have installed them successfully, you must keep all the DJ software installation files and serial codes with you at every gig just in case. So for security reasons, I advise that you keep the CD copy of the installation file with you. Since I have been using Mac, I don’t think I have had a glitch with my work lately. Windows can give issues sometimes. However, there are ways and means which we look at now.
#1 – Get Your Laptop Ready To Play Songs
You must get yourself a big music library. However, a music library takes up most of your computer’s memory. If you must get your music library working well, you must have at least 20% of your hard disk free so that your laptop computer can run smoothly and in good speed. If you don’t have this, I advise that you put your music library in an external hard drive. This is also an excellent backup for your laptop.
Now that you are ready to play, you cannot work on your laptop when it goes into screensaver mode, and the screen goes off every time. If you are using a Mac, you should get this small application from Apple Store for Mac. It’s called Caffeine. It is an app that sits in your toolbar up at the top, and it’s a little icon of a coffee cup. When you click on it and fill up the coffee cup, it’ll stop your Mac computer from going to sleep. Although this application has already been out for PC on Website. However, you can do this by simply changing the settings in your Windows PC following these steps:
- Open up Power Options in the Control-Panel. In Windows 10 you can get there by right-clicking on the start menu and going to Power-Options.
- Click Change plan settings beside your current power plan.
- Change “Put the pc to sleep” to never.
- Click “Save Changes”
#2 – Kill All Other Apps
You can’t be too cautious. Nothing screams “STUPID NUBE” louder than having random Skype calls interrupting your gig. So you must make sure to stop every other application that may be running in the background that you don’t need running at the same time, particularly the ones that may output sound. You remember Skype, FaceTime, iTunes, and others like that. Not only about the useless sound interruptions, but also having other applications in the background would be taking up all your computer’s memory. You want to save all of that CPU and RAM resources for running your DJ software so that it runs as cleanly and as smoothly as possible.
#3 – Adjust Latency On Your Computer
When you are playing audio through software especially on DJ systems, it takes some time for the computer to respond to your request to play the audio and also for the signal to get through to the speakers. This time it takes the computer is what we call latency. You should adjust the lag on your software and the hardware to determine the output delay time.
If you work more on the decks while you’re mixing, scratching or using special effects or samplers, you should set the latency low so that the input response time would be shorter with as high performance and little delays. Unless you are playing a long track or continuous playback without any effects, never settle down for high latency.
Part 2 – Plugin and Play
Now you are all set, and you got all it takes to be called a digital DJ. All right, now heads up, man! You have arrived at your gig. Let’s say this is a club. You came with all your gear as we have outlined in the first part. How do you plug your controller in at the club, and how can you ensure that you sound fantastic?
#1 – Connect Your Controller
Alright, here you are. You have to plug everything in and be ready. Are you ready? Let’s do this. Put your controller down on the table. Take your audio cables now and plugin at the back of your controller, make sure to follow the color codes. Now, if the club has a spare mixer, you should probably use that. So take the same cables you have in the controller and put them at the other channel on the club’s mixer. Once you have, it plugged in, set the switch at the top to the input that you used. Once that is done, forget the wires. That’s how to get plugged in. Do you dig? Leggo!
#2 – Optimize The Sound
All set now. The next thing you have to do is to get the best sound and do that like a professional, all right? So you would get a loop at the part of your song that has the high pitch, that is the loudest part. Once you get this loop, it’s going to be your test run. Do you get my drift? Check the channel where the circuit is on and turn on the gain till it’s almost blinking red. You know when it’s red, it spells DANGER, right? So don’t leave it there. Otherwise, you would scare the daylight out of the crowd in the night club and ruin your DJ career. So you fix the gain on the channel till it’s almost red. You would do that for all the songs that you would load.
#3 – Check The Faders and CrossFaders & Filters
Now lets a quick look at the high, mid, and low, our filters and the master knobs and check if everything is set to level. Then we turn the fader up, and we open the crossfader so that the track will play nice nicely. Now, you have to turn the master volume up, not in the danger zone but almost. We don’t want to scream in people’s ears.
Make sure to use only the master knob to control the volume. To turn the whole place up or down!
It’s in your hand, champ. Let it roll and hit it!
We have seen the best tips to help you begin your first gig as a digital DJ and continue a promising career in the big game. Get the best equipment, get the best tweaks ready, and hit it! If you want to learn all the rookie tricks that can boost your way to pro in lickety splits, read my in-depth post on the Essential Tips For Beginner DJ to Pro