Beginners Guide to a Basic DJ Set-Up at Home

The DJ scene has evolved over the years into an accessible and interesting career path for many. In Dubai, UAE, there is scope for aspiring DJs as part of the city’s vibrant nightlife. In this article, we briefly discuss the equipment required to set up your very own, fully functional DJ system at home. 

In short, you would require the following gear:

DJ Deck

A DJ deck is the centrepiece in every DJ professional’s gear. This item practically defines and controls the whole creative suite in the audio production process. There are a wealth of options for every artist from age-old vinyl turntables for enthusiasts to newer all-in-one systems that have redefined the simplicity and accessibility of the art. For a beginner, however, one of two options are recommended:

1. CDJs + Mixer

This option is popular with transitioning professionals, mainly because of its versatility and functionality. These devices are capable of working in a standalone capacity and are commonly seen in pubs and clubs around the world. These devices will feel right at home at any event or gathering, and is a worthwhile investment if you’re planning to go pro. Owing to the powerful capabilities of the device, they tend to be rather large and hefty, so ensure that you have space and resources to run and maintain the device. In recent iterations, most CDJs go by the term ‘media players’ due to the inclusion of input devices like USB, SD Cards, and online music platform integration.

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2. DJ controller

This option has seen an upward trend in recent years. Owing to the lightweight chassis and a significantly lower price point, DJ controllers are much easier to recommend and use. Most controllers come with MIDI controls like pads and memory banks to simplify audio production processes like looping. Contrary to the CDJs, this device cannot be used without a laptop. However, for a beginner, this is our primary recommendation. A DJ controller significantly simplifies the DJ’ing process and acts as an accessible gateway into the world of disk-jockeying. Some controllers also offer the option to connect directly to your mobile device for on-the-go DJ’ing.

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Audio Interface and Laptop/PC with Software

This device acts as the middleman to help relay crucial audio data to the computer in the appropriate format. Moreover, when performing live, it is always good practice to have a mic to keep the audience on their feet and add a vocal dimension to your performance.

If you're curious about the best solo audio interfaces of 2020, read our article - Our Favourite 5: Audio Interfaces for Solo Artists in 2020- here.

In addition to the built-in sounds and vocals, it is advisable to opt for a monthly online music subscription to fuel your creativity. Using a DJ controller requires an interface like Virtual DJ or Serato DJ Pro. There are numerous options, many paid, which offer a suite of options unique to their software. Spending a few minutes on online forums can greatly help make your decision. Finally, a laptop or a PC is required to bring the whole system together. Especially with DJ controllers, a PC is the powerhouse of the whole system.

DJ Headphones

The right pair of DJ Headphones can offer rich audio quality to fully hear what your audience can expect from your mix. Moreover, a touring DJ is best equipped with headphones that are optimized for travel and package size. Also, the isolation offered by DJ headphones are a notable reason to invest in one. A closed-back DJ headphone offers isolation from the environment around you to aid in a higher-quality playback and an all-round superior cutaway from the often loud environment surrounding a DJ.

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Monitor Speakers

These are a staple requirement for all music producers. Investing in a good pair of studio monitors is essential for accuracy when mixing. These aren’t necessarily the most portable option, but it is meant to accompany your system in a home studio setup. Monitors have a flat response which helps identify and remove any imperfection that can affect a performance.

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Accessories:

When working with a deck and a laptop, oftentimes, space becomes an issue. To alleviate this simple issue, we simply elevate the laptop using a laptop stand. In this manner, the laptop is easily accessible and has greater visibility as it sits above the DJ equipment. Another accessory to consider is a carry bag or case for the deck. If you expect to spend the most time at home and travel infrequently, a soft case would do the job just fine. However, if you plan to travel frequently or simply want superior protection for your long term investment, the hard travel case if worth the extra bucks. It is also wise to add in a few extra cables so you’re not left hanging at a performance with damaged cables from your past performances.

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