DJ Equipment: What You Should Use

by Mixing Dj on December 11, 2010

in DJ Tutorials


One of the most common questions I get on this blog is, “What DJ equipment should I use?”. Whether you’re trying to choose digital DJ equipment  or just need some advice on which turntables to buy, I can help you out. In the end, it all depends on your level of commitment and your budget, but here are my recommendations for the best DJ equipment.

When it comes to DJ equipment, I swear by Pioneer. Yes, there are other brands that make excellent equipment, like Allen & Heath and Rane. But from my extensive experience with Pioneer products, I can’t imagine ever buying a turntable or mixer not made by Pioneer. But it all depends on what kind of DJ you are. For electronic music, which is mostly my focus, Pioneer mixers are awesome. For hip hop DJs who do a lot of scratching, a Rane is the way to go.

Regardless of what type of DJ you are, if you are serious about being a DJ I highly recommend the Pioneer CDJ-1000 turntables. They are the industry standard that you will see at almost every club in the country and even the world. Not only are they packed with features, they last a long time too if you treat them well. My CDJ-1000s are a few years old now but they’re still going strong. They’re just a solid piece of equipment and that’s worth a lot.

The CDJ-1000 CD turntables will let you do pretty much everything you want. They have CD and vinyl modes, so you can emulate the feeling of using vinyl, you could scratch, you could even play the track in reverse. There’s a built-in loop function and you can save cue points to a memory card. Think about how cool this is – you’re working on a set at home and you’re saving all your cue points on a memory card. Then, you go to your gig at a club, pop in your memory card into the club’s CDJ-1000s and you’ve got all your cue points right there with you. Awesome, now you’re ready to rock the dancefloor. There are tons of other features and it just doesn’t make sense for me to talk about all of them here. Check out the Pioneer CDJ-1000 for yourself.

I must admit that the CDJ-1000s are pretty expensive, so you’d want to look into getting a used pair if your budget is tight. If that’s still too expensive, the CDJ-800s are a great alternative. They have most of the features of the CDJ-1000s but for a lower price. They’re equally dependable, though not quite as awesome. Still, they’re a great piece of equipment as well.

For your mixer, it really depends on what type of DJing you’ll be doing. Your mixer is your control panel and it’s very important that you choose one that fits your needs very well. I personally use the Pioneer DJM series, like the DJM-600 or DJM-800. It’s a very solid piece of equipment and mine has taken a lot of abuse over the years and it’s still working great. The DJM series mixers are also an industry standard that you’ll see in clubs everywhere in the world. You get 4 channels of inputs, plus a microphone input, you have all the standard gain & EQ controls, you get vertical faders for each channel, and even a switch to turn off the crossfader. I personally just turn off the main crossfader and use the individual channel faders to mix. This gives me a lot of control, especially if I have more than 2 channels playing at once. And of course, the DJM series mixers have some great standard effects built in so you don’t need a separate effects pad.

If you don’t need that much functionality, or if you are just going to be working with 2 channels, you should check out the Pioneer DJM-909. It’s a newer model and it has some amazing features, especially if you’re into effects. There’s a touchscreen effects control that is simply awesome, and you could set the effects to match up to the BPM of your tracks for perfect effect overlays. Plus it has an optical crossfader with fully adjustable curve control. You can definitely use this mixer for scratching, but it’s also perfect for dance music.

So those are my recommendations for equipment. There is lots and lots of equipment out there, so make sure you do your research before purchasing.

{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

Ear Plug December 13, 2010 at 1:19 pm

My friend is a DJ and he uses M-Audio DJ mixer, dont know which model and i am personally trying to learning…Do you think its good??

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admin December 20, 2010 at 9:17 pm

Yea, M-Audio is a pretty good brand and their products are generally decent.

Tipster December 30, 2010 at 2:53 am

do you know if there is free DJ software for the pc which works with I tunes? thanks

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Kayam Mathias October 27, 2011 at 9:56 pm

Hey.
I just saw your post. I have VirtualDJ. It doesnt “work with iTunes” but it indexes every audio and video file on your computer, and you just search for the name, and it comes up immediately, and you can load it. You can also browse folders and view all the contents of that folder. It has some amazing effects too, etc. Moreover, the Home Edition is free.
Its an awesome piece of software.

VnTimâ„¢ December 30, 2010 at 10:13 am

Yes, I was used to M-Audio DJ mixer

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ReeLAPSE January 12, 2011 at 12:46 pm

How do you feel about Numark?
It’s really all my budget will allow, from looking at everything.
I’m thinking the ICD box kit.

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admin February 1, 2011 at 6:32 pm

Honestly, I’m not a big fan of the Numark equipment. It’s decent to start with, especially if your budget is limited and you’re just learning. But you should expect to have to get new equipment eventually. My first mixer was a Numark and even though I thought it was great, when I switched to a Pioneer mixer I could hear an audible drastic difference in the sound quality.

Steve March 20, 2012 at 12:42 pm

Thanks for your reply, I’m in a similar situation as ReeLapse. I’d love to drop money on the CDJ-1000’s, but I just cant commit that much money to one thing right now. It’s good to know that I can survive with a cheaper alternative until I can save more.

thom January 23, 2011 at 8:32 pm

I’m very new to the DJing world and have been listening to deadmau5 and Tiesto to try to familiarize myself with the music and sound. I’ve read most of your tips, and have no idea what the hell you’re talking about. I’m really passionate about DJing though…do you have any extra tips you could possibly lend me?

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DJ Deebar February 28, 2011 at 4:34 pm

thom,

Try to check out what genre your going to play with your gigs. so that you can focus and familiarize them. and so that you can organize your library and for you to know the capacity of your equips…

^_^

Sam January 27, 2011 at 9:00 am

I recently started off and I ordered stuff from Seismic Audio, I love it so far. Im on a serious budget and can’t afford expensive gear.

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versicherung January 29, 2011 at 2:00 pm

I heard about the Pioneer CDJ-1000 turntables and its realy great, and its great if you know how to play mixs with it. Great article and with your web site im learning everithyng about DJ, thank you..

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WannaBeDj February 7, 2011 at 12:23 am

Is the Gemini Brand good to go? Or is there some notable differences?

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admin February 9, 2011 at 10:16 pm

Personally I think that Gemini has lower quality products. But they’re also usually a bit cheaper, so if you’re on a tight budget it’s a decent way to get started.

cj uppal February 14, 2011 at 7:46 am

Nice info on recommended DJ equipment. I too would also be interested any free DJ software if there is any available.

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Aprender Guitarra February 25, 2011 at 6:50 pm

What about the equipment you need for recording your music? I just bought a pair of turntables but I don’t know how to actually record what I’m playing to share it online. Any insight? Thanks!

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admin February 26, 2011 at 6:26 pm

I use Ableton Live to record my live music, but you could also use Audacity which is a free program.

Sean Usher February 28, 2011 at 9:08 am

If you wanna be a professional DJ or you want to play in clubs, save up a bit and buy a pair of Pioneer CD turntables and a Pioneer 600 mixer, learn on the best gear because if you end up playing in a club, its most likely the gear you will be using, so you’ll be comfortable straight away.

Before CD’s, there was only on turntable of choice the ‘Technics 1200’.

The same applies to the Pioneers.

I was at a club in Manchester about 3 years ago, MAW were playing. they had there own setup but the warm up DJ was using Denon’s, He asked Kenny Dope if he wanted a go, and Kenny said “I don’t know how to use them” lol.

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DJ Deebar February 28, 2011 at 4:32 pm

I use Adobe Audition or Audacity to record live music.. hehehe…. without edits.. ^_^

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estee March 1, 2011 at 1:44 pm

I love my rane ttm57sl mixer,but i don’t know how to hook up for video will you send me a digram I have two cdj 800 and an hp labtop what do i need too hook it up oh yes i have a projector too. Can you help me?

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Tommy Patterson March 9, 2011 at 7:04 pm

I love Audacity and have used it for many years and for many uses.

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steve March 23, 2011 at 8:43 pm

I’m new too djing and would like too know if you could hook me up with some scratching and mixing tutorials. Also is the typhoon a good djing controller too start with ?

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Best Music Pool for Pro DJs April 18, 2011 at 9:29 am

Hey there,

Excellent post and we dig your blog overall. Hope you don’t mind if we share a few pointers with our DJ community.

Cheers!
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Reply

Nuno April 21, 2011 at 9:18 am

Hey I was planning to buy the CDJ 350, can you give me some feedback about that CD Player?

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Old Skool Jungle May 12, 2011 at 2:43 am

I have been DJing for just over 10 years now, since I was 15 and I have tried various set ups.
I have always had my Stanton STR8-80’s and SMX401 mixer, I thought I would have 1210s by now by the Stantons have been so strong I have had no need to change.

I did buy some CDJ-100s but never got to grips with the, I didnt find mixing fun on those, so now I have an M-Audio Connectiv soundcard, and use Virtual DJ with Serato Vinyl for control. I did try Torq software but didnt like it so much, and considered Serato but it was too expensive when I can do this for a third of the price.

For recording, I always use Soundforge, Audacity is good as its free but you just use what you are used to I guess, Soundforge has a few more features, and Nero to burn gapless CDs always!

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Sam May 16, 2011 at 5:04 pm

I am about to purchase 2 American Audio PSX cdj’s and a Q MX-2 American Audio Pro Mixer. (I’m getting all of this with a full road case for $500.
Just wondering your opinions on this purchase. This will be my first piece of DJ equipment, I wanted to start myself an electronic music project and play live sets as well. Started producing in Logic Pro in January, also have Traktor Scratch Pro lined up to use.

If you want to check out my stuff I post regular videos on youtube of my songs in HD

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J May 19, 2011 at 6:36 pm

I’ve always wanted to learn how to DJ, but I’m not sure if I can really cough up enough money to buy legit equipment without learning the basics and feeling confident. Do you have any suggestions on how I can DJ without the equipment for now?
Also, could you email me any tips? Thanks!

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Simon May 22, 2011 at 4:13 pm

Is ableton live good for dj’ing, and if so, what would be the best software for it?

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The Mixing DJ July 5, 2011 at 7:50 pm

Bad Credit Auto Loans In Portland says
Thanks for the tip on Audacity, I have been looking for something that would fit the bill for a long time.

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Ryan July 13, 2011 at 8:43 pm

I am a beginner as far as DJing, but i have a love for music and lot of it so i want to be able to do something with it instead of just having it. Ive tried to get into it but money is tight. I have been doing research on multiple items as far as DJ equipment but I have yet to find consistency with cheap beginner equipment as well as dj programs. I have ableton live and ultramixer free. Ableton is amazing but i don’t know what a lot of the things on there mean. seems like its more for pro’s rather then beginners. ultra at least helps me get the hang of mixing somewhat, but i still have yet to learn what all the lil knobs and such mean. are there any tutorials for ableton or in general to explain what each little asset does? So any suggestions? thanks

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DJ Terminal July 14, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Do you really have to spend $1,000’s on DJ equipment in order to become a DJ? I found this program called Virtual DJ, and I am getting an external mixer that works with the program, It’s rather small, but powerful, it does everything you seem to say DJ equipment needs.

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Ryan July 18, 2011 at 8:48 pm

Ive heard about Virtual DJ. Well mind you i didn’t have to pay for ableton live. But I am a beginner and just working with equipment. So what external mixer are you getting to go with the program?

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DJ Terminal July 18, 2011 at 9:22 pm

Hercules DJ Control MP3 e2 USB Controller.

Ryan July 18, 2011 at 9:31 pm

Ahh yea i heard about the hercules. my friend suggested that to me a while ago. and it works well with Virutal DJ you say. I’ll have to def look into that and put ableton off until i get more familiar with how things work. Thank you

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DJ Terminal July 18, 2011 at 9:33 pm

You are welcome.

Ryan July 18, 2011 at 9:38 pm

Just out of curiosity, I’d assume you plan on upgraded at some point and getting turntables and such or your content with Virtual DJ?

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Ruben October 18, 2011 at 8:19 pm

Hi , I just stumbled onto this website. I am a beginner dj and have been using virual dj basic. I recently bought the Hercules DJ Control MP3 e2 USB Controller and was wondering if anyone can tell me if there is a way to somehow add a microphone so when i do a party i can use it.or do i have to buy another dj control that has a mic output such as the Hercules MK4.

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admin October 19, 2011 at 2:57 pm

That is a good unit but it doesn’t have a mic input. If you have a mic with a 1/8″ plug, you can just plug it into your laptop’s mic jack and the sound should go into Virtual DJ. Otherwise, you can get a cheap USB sound card with a mic input. Those are the most cost effective options. The real solution is to get a mixer with a mic input.

Slater October 26, 2011 at 4:35 pm

Whats up I’ve been djing for a little under a year just playing around with virtual dj I haven’t bought any equipment yet because my budget hasn’t permitted me to. I mostly do reggae/dancehall I don’t know if you know anything about dancehall or if it even matters but my question is what is the best way to organize your music.

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Sandy Yates December 14, 2011 at 1:05 pm

I was reading your tutorial on what equipment to buy, what do you think about the novation twitch? I was told by a friend that was what I should get.

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Byron December 26, 2011 at 12:24 am

I’m a beginner dj and I’ve been djing for fun for a year in my computer. I decided it is time to get a little more serious with this, so I want to ask you what dj controllers, mixers, headphones, and other useful equipment do you recomend me so I can get started. I like to play all kind of music, but I mostly like to play spanish music. Thanks for your help, man.

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Goran January 23, 2012 at 8:35 pm

I’m trying to get into djing and have been doing research online for what kind of equipment to buy but I don’t know the difference between most stuff. Your website has helped me out a lot but I do have a few questions. I like dubstep, electric, house, etc. and am looking to get into that sort of style of djing. I have been looking at turntables but don’t know what kind to get. I’m looking at a turntable under $200 so some of the ones are Stanton and Numark, but I’m not sure what other types there are or which ones are good for my price range. If you could help me narrow it down I would appreciate it. Also what is the difference between CD mixers and turntables? thanks

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chris January 30, 2012 at 4:13 pm

hey bud, i understand ur article was written last year, but the new standard for clubs is the cdj 2000 with the djm 2000 or djm 900 nexus. dont you find them so good? i tried out the dvjs and i found them to be pretty bad

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Atul February 28, 2012 at 5:16 am

Hello !

You are just god for me today , the information you have put up here is so helpful to learn a lot of things and I came to know a lot of things which are important to gain respect in DJing 🙂

I am just a beginner at the moment and I am using the program Virtual DJ Pro 7.0.4 ( also a cracked version). I have an external USB sound card and the mixer I use is BEHRINGER DX 626. I usually play, The commercial dance music along with Electro and Electro House. I have started playing in gigs and student parties and i am having only 2 problems at the moment. I would be really grateful if you can invest your time for answering these,

When I start to record there comes a problem, I want to record what actually the output from the speakers is and not what I hear. BUT unfortunately after recording two or three times I realised that what I recorded is all what I was hearing in headphones ( which was all catastrophic and un-synchronised mixed up shit ) , I guess its regarding the configuration but now sure how I can get rid of it 🙁

Additional Info:- I use Windows Vista Home Basic , SP 2 , Processor : Intel Core 2 DUO 2 GHz
System 32 bit.

A thousand thanks in advance 🙂

cheers
Bugs

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admin March 12, 2012 at 5:59 pm

Hi Bugs, it sounds like you just have the sound card hooked up to the computer audio rather than the mixer audio. You need to plug the mixer’s “Master Out” or “Monitor Out” into your sound card’s “Input” in order to record the output from the mixer.

dj shredz March 12, 2012 at 9:25 pm

hi, ive been djing just no vertual dj but i want to start getting some legit equipment and i think i am gonna get the numark mixtrack pro to start out on can some one please let me know if its any good

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dj shredz March 12, 2012 at 9:26 pm

i commented and i made a mistkae i said just no vertual dj but i meant just with vertual dj

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harj mann March 13, 2012 at 10:17 am

I have pioneer cdj’s mk2 1000’s and running these with a djm 600 mixer, what software can i download for digital dj’ing, ive heard its possible to connect my hardware to some software that enables me to fully use them? any recomendations??

Thanks.

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admin March 24, 2012 at 11:58 am

Sounds like you’re looking for Serato or Traktor. Check those out. I prefer Serato, personally.

harj mann March 24, 2012 at 3:04 pm

Am I able to download these for free?

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