The essential equipment that every DJ must have!
Get everything you need to make sure you put on a show!
Are you putting together a wish list of what equipment you want to add to your collection? Or are you an aspiring DJ looking to make a name for yourself, but don't know where to start? If any of these apply to you, or if you're a soon-to-be married couple who wants to know what their DJ should be showing up with, then read on. Here, we list the best bits of kit any DJ worth their salt should have in their possession.
From lighting, to speakers and a variety of accessories in between, we have you covered. Speaking of which, if cover is something you're looking for before you head out to a venue for the first time, then musicGuard can make sure you and your equipment are safe from harm. We insure against accidental damage, public liability and will even provide you with rental equipment worth up to £2,000 if anything adverse were to happen to your kit ahead of the big day. These are subject to conditions, so have a look at our policies and what we can offer you today.
Mixers or controllers or both!
First thing's first, you're going to want to know what setup suits what you want to do. That means deciding which integrated audio interface you should invest in. This usually boils down to a choice between a controller, or a mixer (and not the sort from the bar).
The line is becoming ever-blurred between the pair, with many digital features overlapping between the two. Essentially, a controller is the stand-alone unit which includes the knobs, the buttons and the phasers to make the music easier to control, which is handy for turning down the sound for a speech. A mixer is a console that allows smooth transitions between songs from different sources and is more suited to creating unique sounds. Bear in mind though, that with a controller, you will need to hook it up to a laptop with the accompanying DJ software.
However, all-in-one controllers are particularly popular, as they feature a built-in computer system which can save you from inflicting a grubby venue onto your expensive laptop. Thankfully, you'll find that controllers aren't nearly as pricey as they used to be, and there isn't really much difference in price between them and mixers.
Some venues can have quite large halls or ballrooms, so you'll need a set of powerful speakers for all the hard-work you've put into your set to achieve its maximum potential. Again, these can be split into two categories: powered and passive speakers. Powered speakers come with a built-in amplifier to really boom home the hits for that energetic uncle with his tie around his head. Passive speakers meanwhile, are much more common and aren't nearly as limp as their name suggests. These are speakers that are just missing the built-in amplifier and instead rely on plugging them into one. This makes them much easier to transport.
Again, which is best entirely depends on how and where you're going to be using them. Passive speakers require only one cable to be plugged into them, so there's less to remember when packing your equipment up. As they're so powerful, you'll need fewer of them, so a powered speaker may be more cost-effective. Keep in mind though, that too much power in a smaller venue detracts from your music – no matter how good it is.
The risk when investing in a powered speaker however, is that the built-in amplifier could break, leaving you without sound and quite significantly empty-handed. If you want to protect your equipment then it's worth checking out what your insurance can cover you against.
Yet another thing to worry about we hear you cry, but don't worry yourselves. You don't need to go overboard at producing a show-stopping festival of light. Find out about the venue and what the requirements are beforehand and work around that. It's likely that your lighting will need to be suited to the tempo of the music that you're playing. If that's the case, then perhaps it's worth looking at investing into some fairly inexpensive LED lighting equipment, or not as the case may be, as a lot of venues these days tend to provide them anyway. Many of these LED systems come with a built-in feature to change to the beat of the music you're playing – which means you get to concentrate on your set. If you want to get more complicated and really stand out from a competitive crowd of DJ's then you can do by experimenting with strobes and lasers. Either way, it's better to have some form of lighting than it is not to. You'll be surprised at what difference it can make to improving the life of the party.
It's becoming increasingly popular in the modern age to solely use a laptop when performing. To do this, you'll need to equip your computer with appropriate DJ software. The age of the digital DJ has well and truly dawned and with it comes a variety of programmes, each tailored to let you create the set of your dreams. You can purchase DJ software online or use its open-source counterparts. There are a wealth of options to choose from and it's well worth getting a decent sound card and a stand to pop your laptop onto. This saves you from having to purchase a mixer or a controller if you really wanted to, but you may get a few disparaging comments from the older generations at the party.
If you do want to be a hit with the aunts and the uncles, then how about turning on the style and rocking up with a vinyl turntable? These design classics have never gone out of style, but they require a lot of practice and oodles of patience, so they may be daunting for the entry level DJ. Turntables tend to be available in either the belt-driven or the direct-driven variety, with the former being much easier to use than the latter. Vinyl records can produce a high-quality of sound and may just be a trendy enough niche to land your DJ business some good custom. You will though, have to contend with lugging all of your vinyl tracks around to every gig.
A handy thing to remember. You'll want a few microphones before you head off to your first gig. For the sake of practicality however, you'll want to steer clear of buying microphones with wires attached. Get yourself a few wireless mics and you won't need to worry about any of the guests tripping over. In fact, you can find a whole range of USB microphones these days which you can plug straight into your computer to charge.
The successor to the vinyl turntable, the humble CDJ's aren't as popular as they once were, but can nonetheless be very useful depending on whether they suit your style or not. Usually paired with either a mixer or a controller, but nowadays can even incorporate a laptop, the CDJ is a digital way of playing music from your CD collection. The CDJ tends to be smaller, lighter and less prone to skipping than the aforementioned turntables and they don't rely on what can be a frail needle. You'll just need to remember to pack your wallet of pre-planned CD's – make sure you take more than you need to give yourself plenty of choice.