10 Essential DJ Tips And Equipment For Pros And Beginners
You are a newbie on the spinning wheel. But, we can make this a secret between only you and me, don’t let those guys on the dance floor know that you are not a professional. Yes, being a DJ is the coolest hobby ever. Exploding the dancefloor and getting paid to play is what we all love. How would it feel to spin the tune that becomes the next big thing? It’s never going to happen if you don’t know and use these ten essential DJ tips and equipment that all professional DJs know. You can call me Rexxxanne or only Rex.
Now, let’s get you started. The No1 thing you must put in your mind is that no DJ ever gets an overnight boom. Becoming a pro DJ is not an overnight success. We are talking of hard work, hustle, and a whole lot of patience. If you started, but you are not yet where you dreamed, don’t give up. Honestly, starting is easy. But being unique and exceptional is difficult. However, if I had learned these tips, I am about to share with you when I started, I’d be a more significant DJ earlier.
Tip #1 – What Does A DJ Do?
Why did you want to be a DJ? There are many kinds of DJs, and each man’s work is as different as the results. If you’re going to get serious about any job in the world, you need a professional profile that fits you in for the kind of job that you are required to do. Look at the following DJ profiles and let’s start your journey from there:
A club is not a boring place and must be jostling with activity till it closes. Many clubs have resident DJs and clubs are not the same. The feeling, reputation, and the kind of people that are there determines the type of songs that are played. A club DJ must be able to keep the dance floor active. I mean, a club DJ must move people to dance no matter how late or how tired they are. Do you dig?
This DJ will have to spin and play long transitions to blend different songs in a Please Don’t Stop The Music way. You know, he or she must understand the mood and the atmosphere in the club. Everything depends on this DJ to press on the energy or bring it down. To make people drink and dance. You know the drill. Are you this club DJ? I’ll get to how you can move up the leaderboard in a jiffy. No? See the next profile.
From small occasions to large wedding receptions, event DJs are trusted to bring the heat of music. He or she uses mobile equipment. It is the job of this DJ to spur the mood and the energy at the event, host party games, take song requests and make party announcements.
This DJ will have to provide music and entertainment at whatever event he or she is hired for as well as act as the MC wherever necessary. He or she would create playlists of appropriate songs for each incident or even accept a playlist that the clients have prepared. This DJ will also play special requests that some guests or hosts make. This DJ must be ready to create the atmosphere for the event by using visual effects like strobe lights, fog machines, and so on. The event DJ is the life of the party.
This DJ is a performer. They come out and work to impress. People come to see this DJ play and do tricks behind the decks. He or she works with turntables, and some people call him or her a turntablist. There are several tricks this DJ does that makes this DJ unique. To a performer, their playing is an art. The way he or she plays reflects this DJ’s reputation. This DJ mixes with raw skill, impressive tricks, and beautiful transitions.
This DJ is not just playing for a ticket, and he is an exhibitionist. Like an artist that plays at a concert, this turntable DJ is great at making people awestruck with their cutting and scratching skills and other tricks that make people love DJs.
Do you listen to one particular radio show just because you love to hear the DJ? Radio DJs play music from radio stations. This DJ must be able to deliver commercials, interviews, and commentary, per a schedule set by management and keep the radio program going.
This DJ specializes in a specific type of music that relates the kind of program they run, such as classic rock, pop, or contemporary R&B.
So now think about it. What makes you happy about becoming a DJ? Do you love DJing because you love the fun of moving a dance floor in a big garage? Or is it about getting to play banging tunes at some big festivals? Or maybe you want to run around events mastering the parties? Or you want to build an audience for your online radio show? If you have chosen your profile, we can now work on the next phase. Many people become a DJ, but only a few people stand out and become superstars. What you do next determines where you get to.
Tip #2 – Get The Right DJ Software and Equipment
The next thing you must do is get the right apps and gather the right equipment. This depends on the kind of DJ you are. A club DJ will be able to finish his job if he is given standalone players, a mixer, and a laptop/controller. However, an event DJ would use more of software on a laptop. You get it.
Let’s run through some essential software, how you can get them and who they can be useful for. Then, we will look at the best equipment that you could get and exactly where you can get them quickly.
Essential DJ Software
Now, about time for you to get your groove on with some banging DJ software and see how sweet it is to DJ!
The first universal software I would love you to get your hands on is Rekordbox.
This is one of the best free software of severe DJs in the industry. It is also available on mobile. You can also download it on the Google Play store or Apple store. RekordBox allows you to throw like a pro. It is scratchable, and the transitions are just beautiful. It gives you the power to manage all your music on the go on your phone or your laptop. It includes a plug and plays power. If you are serious about DJing your way to stardom, you know that you need more than just an android app to blow the dancefloor and electrify the audience, you need a compatible controller. Event DJs and radio DJs love this one software for its freedom of use.
Follow this link to buy the compatible equipment also made by the same Pioneer company to bring out the best expert DJ experience on RekordBox.
Serato DJ Pro
Serato DJ Pro software is popular especially among newbie DJs because it is super easy to use and no one would ever know how new you are to DJ stuff! Serato DJ pro works with various mixers controllers and Serato and enabled hardware. Practice mode gives you to mix two tracks with no device connected, ideal for testing out your blends wherever you are. The practice mode is high if you want to test out a mix without hardware. You can do your gig on the plane, a train, a bus to your next show and have an idea that you want to try out. Now you can do this in practice mode. You’re able to mix two tracks, set and trigger cue points, create loops, beat jump, use flip, and even use Serato video.
Serato DJ Pro is perfect for cool event DJs, radio DJ, performer, and mixers. Get a controller to use with the Serato DJ Pro software here.
Another free amazing DJ software or app you must consider getting is the Traktor DJ software. This software supports lots of high performance features specially made for Electronic Dance music and especially club DJs. The Pro version of this software is 99 dollars. However, version 2 is free.
Other Amazing DJ Softwares
Sure, there is more than three software that makes a DJ’s job easy. Many millions exist. An excellent famous example is a Virtual DJ. It is so popular that even kids can play with it. Aside from Virtual DJ, you can find other software surprising, such as GoPro, Mixxx, and Mixvibes Cross DJ, etc.
Yes, there is no hard and speedy rule as to what software you should or should not use. My favorite might not feel well with you. However, you should do a lot of digging and find the best one. I guess I will review some of the best equipment, my friends and I love to use.
Essential DJ Equipment
As software is necessary to rock the dance floor, you cannot work only with your phone. You need some essential equipment to get your A game in this industry. Here is the essential equipment you need if you want to keep your years of experience a secret.
Starting with the obvious. Haha. You know that you need headphones to be a DJ. Any DJ at that. However, not just all headphones in the market can augment a DJ’s job. A bad DJ headphone cannot help the DJ to dissect tracks when it comes to pitch and background bass or sounds. I recommend that you read our comprehensive guide to choosing the best Headphones.
When people hear the word DJ, the first thing that pops in their minds is turntables. Another critical gear that any DJ needs to invest in is a turntable. Sure, I fell in love with DYing because of the way they scratch and the screechy quick my stunts. LOL. So here are some of the world’s favorite DJ turntables in the market today:
What is the best turntable you can get?
Best DJ Turntables
#1 – Pioneer DJ PLX-500-K
This is our best and favorite turntable. It’s perfect for all kinds of DJ. I’m not hyping it because it’s top-rated or famous, but because of its performance even in the hands of a rookie DJ.
The Pioneer DJ PLX 500 K offers beautiful vinyl sound so that your scratches are top-notch. It is designed with high-quality vibration damping and accurate audio playback so that you can invite the best feeling even if it is a track of custom beats or your favorite records you’re playing.
Turntable DJs and club DJs will have to get two of these babies to get professional mixing and blending of tracks. If you want to go big as a DJ, get the Pioneer DJ PLX 500 K.
#2 – NUMARK TT USB
The NUMARK TTUSB is a one-of-a-kind, plug, and play, turntable that is compatible with USB so that you can turn your vinyl record album or collection into your PC or Mac super quickly.
If you want something that is budget friendly, the NUMARK TTUSB comes with all the necessary cables so that connecting the turntable to your computer or stereo playback system will not have you buying extra cords. The NUMARK TTUSB is easy to use, and it can give your old records new life.
Well, what you get is actually what you pay for. The sound quality of the vinyl is not as good as the Pioneer turntable and so is not a right call for Turntable DJs. However, event DJs and club DJs are content to have this excellent tool.
Controllers are external devices that bring together a mixer and turntable. You can have controllers that can act as a standalone mobile DJ equipment and yet there are many others specifically for some purposes, such as only FX control gear alone, mixer, or standalone scratching platters. Controllers are especially suitable for event DJs. Since they move often and they would need mobile equipment. Here are the best controllers you can get in the market:
#1 – Numark Mixtrack 3 DJ Controller
Between you and I, you, as a beginner, need equipment that would make DJing sweet and smooth. Now the Numark Mixtrack 3 Controller is the one for you. With a beautiful interface and perfect turntable sync, the Numark Mixtrack 3 is the ideal all in one controller that is very easy to use.
The Numark Mixtrack 3 Controller has two vinyl units for scratching to imitate real turntables. The Numark Mixtrack 3’s track decks are of excellent quality, and they work just like a turntable that lets you scratch, loop, cues, and tweak samples. It comes with useful software that is very efficient. It is effortless to find here on Amazon by clicking Here.
Now let’s get serious. As a DJ, the center of your whole work is a DJ mixer. If you’re a radio DJ, a turntable DJ or just a performer, you need more than controllers, you need good quality turntables and mixers. So let’s look at the two best mixers you can ever find.
Best DJ Mixers
The best DJ mixers as I and a group of experts DJs have tested and used by the top superstar DJs whose names appear on your screen, some of which are probably the reason why you love to start to DJ. Now let’s look at the top favorites:
#1 – Pioneer DJM 2000
This DJ mixer is Armin van Buuren’s fave. Well, if you are sure that you want to go big and boom as a DJ, the DJM 2000 is the big kahuna DJ mixer you would need. This mixer has everything! With an inbuilt USB audio interface, and up to 4 audio sources, there is so much you can do with a mixer like this.
Recording on Pioneer DJM 2000 is bliss. There is no latency, and the sound quality is beyond superb. It has touchscreen technology with a beat slice that splits tracks by time, or auto-sync feature that works with BPM. With plugins as these on a mixer, you could never go wrong.
If you are anxious about performing and wary of mistakes, you need to get a mixer that you can be sure of. That mixer is the Pioneer DJM 2000. The downside is the cost. So let’s go down on some alternatives that will make up for that price.
#2 – Numark M6 USB
Whatever eggs you are using, this Numark M6 Mixer will work just right with you. It is one of our favorites because even though it is budget friendly and not as costly as the best one in the market, it gives almost the best quality performance.
The Numark M6 comes with four input channels, and each channel has gain, LED screen for meters, and a 3-band EQ control. It can be used with any PC or Mac. We tried it with the Serato DJ software, and we mixed a track perfectly. Only that I don’t recommend this mixer if you want to get big at anything aside mixing.
So if you are on a little budget and you yet want the best DJ mixer to be professional, go for the Numark M6 USB.
#3 – Behringer DDM4000
If you still want something of low price and that would yet deliver well (as that is what I recommend for anyone who is just finding a footing in the industry), so I mean that if you want to get an edge out the ‘beginner tag,’ the Behringer DDM4000 is for you.
One thing about this baby we love is the beautiful digital new age design. Although that isn’t necessary when we are talking about mixing and mapping music, we look at how smoothly the fader moves. We get four multi-FX control, BPM counters, 2 XLR microphone (mono) inputs (gain, EQ, FX), and talk about a very good digital fader and MIDI functions. You might need to buy an audio interface to do some cool DJ tweaks.
#Tip 3 – Perfect Basic DJ Skills
Being outstanding at any game or any field requires you to do things better or different in the right way than all other people already know. How can you ever do that if you don’t even know the skills the other people already know have? There are several skills you must keep an eye out on. Cool DJ skills mixing, EQing, phrasing, beatmatching, and prep. I will go over each of them a briefing.
When DJ boosts or cuts frequencies to make multiple audio tracks blend nicely and play a beautiful tune, this skill is called EQing or Equalizing.
When used by a creative DJ, EQ creates beautiful mixes, and the results are wow and nods or even explosive dance battles. Almost all DJ mixers would come with a three-band EQ that you can use to create the perfect blend. EQ is a creative way that a DJ can express himself and let the crowd feel it.
Although knowing this skill will not automatically fix a bad mix or change the sound of a bad song, equalization can be used to make multiple audio signals get along with each other pretty well, and make our mixes come out with a sweet posh that draws up smiles.
This skill is essential for DJs that make smooth transitions and blends in songs and tracks. The main reason for beatmatching is to sync the tempo and phase of two tracks that are playing simultaneously. The rhythm is the song’s speed while the stage is the beats and instrumentals from both songs.
A DJ uses the pitch fader well to adjust the tempo of both songs to sync them and the jog wheel, pitch bend toggle, or even the holding of the record on the vinyl deck or any other way to manipulate the movement to go together.
So many people can beat-match with a touch of a button in their DJ software, and others learn this skill. Many DJs will look down on you if you don’t show up with a card like this one. Yea because doing beatmatching manually can give you total control of how the tracks come and go. It makes you more confident when you have mastered this skill.
The phrasing is how you the words or lyrics of the song are sung in the time interval or rhythm of a song. Good DJs will understand when it is best to push forward or pull back, to create musical tension and emotional impact. We phrase when we mix tracks at specific points in the songs to bring out an effect on the crowd.
If you are working EDM, hip-hop, or even all the songs you would be working on will have an interval of 4/4. In music, this means that the song has four beats in one bar and that the quarter note gets one hit. So phrasing means putting the songs together in the same rhythm or the same count of four.
Gain control is about the loudness of the track and strength of the audio over the background noise. Gain is the Audio input level of the clips, while volume is the output. When you are recording on your mixer, the gain is the control that the microphone signal goes through.
Each channel on your rig has a gain knob that gives you the chance to adjust the level by watching the meters. Each channel also has a line fader that toggles the signal you send to the main output. The crossfader is also used to fade between one channel and the other when making a transition.
Many DJ software out there has an Auto Gain Control feature to minimize you manually adjusting the volume between tracks.
#Tip 4 – Create A Home Studio
Like all athletes, a DJ must have a play studio at home. Whether in his room or his basement. My first and (now my biggest) recording studio is a room in my house. That is my comfort zone. I record demos, my playlists, and even original tracks there.
If you want to move up on the leaderboard real quick as a DJ, you must not use your skill at work alone. You must have an avenue where you bring out the big superstar in you. I get excellent ideas when I am in the shower (I know how weird that sounds) and I get out to make it work and boom!
One thing though, you must make sure that you don’t just get any equipment in your house to create a home studio. You must understand the correct equipment that complements your work. I mean, a club DJ should buy a scratch mixer and turntable that would simulate a club environment or something that looks like a rap battle scene.
This is the only way you can get yourself right on the tracks of building a DJ career and help keep your head in the game.
#Tip 5 – Build Your Fan Base
Like your collection of songs (I don’t have to tell you how important it is to have a group, right?), a building of followers is crucial to your career and your stand in the industry in the long run. There are so many things you have to do to put yourself in the limelight. You are going pro, remember?
Build An Online Presence
Never underrate the power of social media on your career. You must create a social media presence with your DJ name, create your support base, and show them your value. Unless you are only doing this for your enjoyment and not to build a career out of DJing. If you want a long time career, it is essential to be online and be trending. If you may, you should get yourself a DJ website and give your visitors an insight into how you work and your lifestyle.
Publish and Share Your Mixes
Any awesome gig you record, no matter how long or short, you must make it very interesting enough that people will share and invite others to hear it, then you can publish it and make a name in the online world will be talking about you. Fortunately, there are online websites that can give you space to host any mixes for public releases. Most of them are free. A great example is MixCloud.
On MixCloud, you get a safe online site to host your tracks, and the site is secure, unlike some others that might take your recordings down for “copyright” reasons. Another option you should consider is HearThis.at
Promoting Yourself on Social Media
Any social media platform you choose, the purpose is simply the same: To keep people aware of how you work and the value of your work as a DJ (whatever kind of DJ you are).
To keep yourself afloat in the overwhelming sea of content available on social media here is what you must do:
#1. Be Consistent. You must have a well-known schedule of how often you post. This would make your followers know what to expect from you and when. They would keep a lookout for the next work you are going to drop. If you aren’t putting work out, nobody will notice you. And that means most of your sweet mixes would go unnoticed. So make sure to post and be consistent. Never be quiet. Once, one of my friends said, “Rex, don’t blow your trumpet.” I replied, “if I don’t blow it, how will someone else know how to blow it for me?”
#2. Don’t Have It One Way. Your work is music, and that is what you love. That’s okay. But it’s not about you, sucker, it’s about the fans. You must post your work, your favorite music, inspiring artwork that you have, and stories that move you. I mean anything and everything that tells your story. Don’t post only music, or only text, or only graphic designs. You should mix up what you post. You post videos, images, and even live videos get more interactions these days.
#3. Avoid Spam. What your fans hate are annoying spam messages. True, you have to be consistent, but being too regular would be like craving attention unusually. You would not want to see a post from the same person throughout your timeline, would you? You can’t imagine how many people I have blocked because of this.
#4. Give value to others. Building a loyal fan base is hard; you have to win their love. You must give people credit, and you must also notice other people’s work and share. They will be obliged to the same for you. Do you have something that you think would benefit your followers, share it? People love to take, and they give you back.
#Tip 6 – How To Get Your First Gigs
Now, this is where you begin your career as a DJ. That is what this whole thing is about. That is what we are all about.
Depending on you, you could start playing at small, private events for a small charge to get in the groove and make yourself known, or you could take a shift at a club or bar. Tell your friends to host parties, and you would DJ and also ask people to refer you to people who are hosting parties. Better yet, you could start performing by the roadside.
You should also make catchy business cards or fliers to give people, promoters, other DJs, and people that come to events, you DJ. No one ever gets gigs quickly, especially when you are just starting. So you have to ask.
#Tip 7 – Final Tip
Never sell yourself too cheap. I’m not talking about how you charge your clients, and I am talking about the value they get from hiring you. If you play exceptionally well, they will be very much likely to remember you any time they need a DJ. But if you play poorly, they will also not forget you every time they need a DJ only that this time, they would be wary of not hiring a DJ like you. So make sure you are sure of yourself and remember the tips and the equipment we discussed in this article and go for the Gold! Who knows? You could be the next big superstar DJ every musician is looking to work with. Keep that goal in focus and never lose sight of it. Never forget why you started. And have no mercy!
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