What you need to be a DJ
What You Need To Be A DJ
All DJs need these items! DJs often need a whole arsenal of equipment under their belt to perform functional, diverse DJ sets. Some of the most exciting DJs have a whole myriad of gear used for different occasions and moods that they are trying to convey with their sets. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet. Nailing the most basic forms of DJ gear and accessories is extremely important for becoming an organised and reliable DJ, so it helps to understand what things all DJs should have:
Every digital needs a laptop or computer where they can download music and prepare playlists. Most DJs would use Rekordbox, Serato, Traktor or Virtual DJ to prepare the music and any number of websites to download or stream music.
If you are going to buy a computer make sure you have at least 8GB of RAM so that it’s fast enough to process audio for DJing and production. It can be either Apple or Windows, they both work for DJs.
A spare USB (or two)
Every gigging DJ knows that wherever things can go wrong, they will, even with the smallest of things! It’s not uncommon for USBs to plug in and display unformatted music, or perhaps they have brought a USB too large a size for the CDJs to recognise. Maybe the music files on the USB have been corrupted or the DJ forgot to export their music in Rekordbox. These are just a few examples of what could go wrong and potentially disrupt the flow of the event, affecting how the music sounds and therefore impacting the punter's experience. This is why carrying one or two spare USBs in your bag is essential as you never know when you may need them.
It’s all well and good to be an ambitious DJ with a five, ten or even twenty-year plan to remain in the music industry. Career success can in some ways be anticipated, but with big plans, you need to consider big protection - specifically for the tools you use most - your ears. A DJ relies on their ears for every aspect of their job so it’s imperative that they make sure they are protected from the get-go. It might be something that you shun initially, but ask the veterans and they will tell you that tinnitus and other loud music-related hearing problems are not fun. Therefore it’s worth spending moderate amounts of money on a few sets of scientifically tested and excellent quality earplugs - ones that can last you a long time. It’s also worth looking into which earplugs are right for your ears. Some earplugs take out too much low end and if you’re a bass music DJ, you need to hear this. Have a browse online because nowadays there are good quality earplugs for everyone.
Having headphones is an absolute DJ essential. Not only are they needed for cueing and mixing tracks perfectly, but you might also find yourself in a situation in a club where you discover a track or two on your USB that you forgot the sound of. Headphones are perfect for having a quick skim through so that you’re familiar with them again and also useful for setting some cue points on the fly. There are obviously certain brands of headphones such as Numark, Pioneer and Sennheiser that are popular within the DJ community, however, headphones fall within the category of DJ gear whereby if it works for someone, it works. A lot of a DJ's choice of headphones boils down to sound, reliability, and comfort. If you’re going to be wearing headphones pretty much constantly for a hefty all-night-long set, you’re going to need them to feel comfortable! It’s always a good idea to bring your own headphones to a gig you’re playing. The DJs playing before or after you may be willing to let you borrow their headphones, but due to hygiene reasons, I wouldn’t bank on it! They might also be very different to the ones you’re used to, this may affect your performance and how you hear the sound coming from the decks.
3.5mm Headphone Jack Adapter / Headphone jack splitter
This goes hand in hand with the headphones, but always make sure you have an arsenal of these! They can always be easily misplaced, or lost in the abyss that is underneath the DJ booth. Ensure you have more than a couple of these to hand because, like USBs, you never know when you’ll need them the most! You may also want to purchase a headphone jack splitter for those days when you want to go b2b with a fellow DJ because some DJ decks might not come equipped with this feature.
Studio Quality Speakers
High-quality speakers are a must-have for DJs, even if you’re just practicing at home. You might want to go for a pair of monitor speakers with a really good flat frequency response to get all those nuanced sound details. The reason being is you’ll want to gauge how your mixes will sound on a really crisp and well-balanced club sound system. If you’re trying out a few mash-up ideas or blends for your upcoming DJ set, it will be especially important to have quality speakers so you can sufficiently hear if one of the tracks is too loud or if the high frequencies in the other track are too overbearing. If you someday would like to get into producing too, looking at flat frequency response speakers is ideal so you don’t have to purchase another pair for when you eventually get into this.
Well okay, this is really optional! Whether it’s your style to incorporate a microphone into your DJ sets or you prefer to take a backseat and let the music do the talking, a microphone is still a DJ essential because there are literally dozens of reasons to use them. You may be a mobile DJ who regularly plays private events and weddings, so a microphone is important for giving shout-outs which in turn makes the event feel more personalised than if you were to just show up, play tunes and leave. The same thing is done when DJs decide to host a live stream DJ set on social media because engaging with your followers is a great way to build up your brand, especially if you’re a TikTok DJ. Microphones come with the territory when you’re at house parties, Jungle or DnB raves. So let loose and have some fun experimenting with freestyles over different genres!
DJ Setup or Access to DJ Setup
The DJ set-up is undoubtedly the most expensive bit of gear on this list, but it’s also the most important for obvious reasons. No matter how good the DJ is, they will always need to practice. Their sets, their blends and their technique will always need polishing and this can only be done by having some solid time in front of the decks. It’s extremely fair to not know what DJ decks or mixers to buy. There are so many options and plus - how are you to know that clubs will have the same setup as what you’re used to at home? It’s also not a surprise that not all gigging DJs have access to the full monty of club equipment. There are not a lot of DJ fees out there that would cover those costs unless you’re in the real big time! Some DJs tend to hire studios for a few hours at a time, and you can do this at our London Sound Academy London studio. Click here to find out more about our studios for hire!
This is by no means a fully comprehensive list of everything a successful DJ needs. Many DJs work with less and many work with more. Ensuring you have access to the right kinds of equipment suited to your techniques and lifestyle as a DJ can be important for further developing your skills in the direction you want them to. So If you’d like to learn more about becoming a DJ and the surrounding knowledge required to play gigs. Click here to contact us and find out more.