Five Essential Items To Kickstart Your DJ Career

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Five Essential Items To Kickstart Your DJ Career

Words by Will Brewster

Everything you need to take it to the stage.

There’s no job cooler than being the DJ. Whether you’re spinning tunes to adoring crowds at the city’s best clubs over the weekend, setting the vibe at a corporate function or even just having a bit of fun on the decks at a house party, there’s something truly special about dropping banger after banger to soundtrack a night of shenanigans.

While some of the gear that professional DJs tend to gravitate to in the booth might be a little daunting to look at, in reality, DJing is a pretty easy pastime to pick up, and with a banging playlist and just a bit of practise, you’ll find yourself ready to perform in front of crowds in no time. 

However, it’s important to make sure that you’ve got all the necessary gear at your disposal before you take on the dance-floor, which is why we’ve teamed up with DJ City to spotlight five of the best essentials to kick off your DJ career with a bang.

Gear you’ll need:

  • A Controller
  • Headphones
  • A Mixer
  • Speakers
  • Cables

Read more features and columns here.

1. A Controller 

Sometimes referred to as the decks, a controller is where you’ll be doing the majority of the work while DJing, using the jog wheels, mixer and faders to adjust tempos, match up rhythms and fade in your tracks to create a cohesive, free-flowing set. They come in a variety of different forms and can vary drastically in price, but most all share a similar layout and interface to help you mix with ease.

By connecting a controller to your computer via a USB cable, you’ll be able to browse playlists, stream from SoundCloud or BeatPort and even incorporate effects into your mixes, while the visual display of your laptop screen provides an easy way to get acquainted with the basics of DJing before you take to the stage. 

However, some units also accept USB and CDs, and can be used ‘standalone’ – or away from your laptop screen – for a really authentic DJing experience, and serve as a good way to become familiar with CDJs later down the line.

If you’re looking to get started with something relatively affordable and easy to use, a controller like the Numark Mixtrack Pro 3 will get you started off with a bang, while units such as the Pioneer DDJ-FLX6 serves as a killer option for those looking to make use of four channels and become familiar with club standard mixing workflows.

2. Headphones 

Headphones are used to preview and cue upcoming tracks in your setlist, and are crucial when mixing in the next song of your set to ensure for a smooth transition. They’re also useful for blocking out all the background noise that might be distracting in a club or live music environment, ensuring that you focus on the task at hand: dropping bangers, of course!

Generally, most professional DJs tend to use a collapsible pair of on-ear headphones when mixing, with their malleable construction making them a lightweight and comfortable fit over longer hours. However, there’s no harm in using a set of over-ear cans, especially if you’re looking for superior isolation and want to use them for other recreational or critical listening purposes. 

If you’re after a set of on-ear headphones to mix with, you can’t go past the Sennheiser HD-25s, which have been the industry standard for more than 40 years due to their tough, lightweight construction and great sound. For a viable over-ear alternative, AKG’s K245 cans are a pretty solid option, and they’ll also sound awesome when working on tracks in your DAW at home. 

3.  A Mixer

The heart of any DJ setup. While most DJ software controllers already have a mixer built into them, anyone who’s running a pair of CDJs or using turntables to spin their records will require a mixer to hook up each unit and control the volume, EQ, filtering and processing of each sound source, with some mixers even featuring built-in effects to help colour your sets even further.

Again, there’s a number of different mixers that are best suited to varying applications – for instance, a DJ who likes to scratch with vinyl will often opt for a different unit to one who uses CDJs exclusively – but on a foundational level, they all share pretty similar functions. 

A simple, cost-effective model to get you started could be something like the Reloop RMX-22i, which functions as a hardware mixer and can also be hooked up to your smart device to control DJ software if need be.

4. Speakers 

Another crucial aspect of DJing. Of course, you need monitors so that your audience can hear what’s going on, but it’s also important to have a set of speakers in the booth to help you pay close attention to tempo adjustments, fade-ins and transitions with the assistance of your headphones. 

There’s a range of different speakers available to suit this purpose, but if you’re on the hunt for something to cart around to gigs, it’s worth looking for a powered PA system with a subwoofer to make sure that bass is pumping like it should be. 

Something like the Vonyx VX800BT 12” Split PA System should do the trick for applications like these, but if you’re just DJing at home and don’t need a heap of volume, there’s no harm in setting up a pair of studio monitors like the AVE Fusion 4 or KRK Rokit 5s to do the job for you. 

5. Cables 

It might be one of the more boring aspects of DJing, but having the right cables and accessories on hand is absolutely vital to your success as a DJ. There’s nothing worse than rocking up to a gig and realising that you don’t have the right cables on hand, and you don’t want to run the risk of damaging your gear by using third-party alternatives.

One of the most important sets of cables you’ll need in your kit is the humble RCA cable, which is often used to hook up your speakers and mixer/controller to output audio. Some systems might require RCA to Jack cables or even XLR leads, and it’s also worthwhile to have a spare 3.5mm aux cord on hand in the off chance you need to hook up your iPhone to play some tunes. 

For accessories like these, you can’t beat brands like Connex, who offer a range of different XLR, RCA and 1/4” cables in different lengths to suit whatever your needs may be. 

Once you’ve got these five essentials down pat, you’ll be ready to roll out in no time. Catch you in the booth!

Head to DJ City for all your gigging needs.