How to Start DJ'ing + Gift Ideas DJ's Will Love

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Now that pedestrians carry their music libraries with them, searching for a song has become as common as walking and chewing gum. This may help explain the rise in popularity of DJ'ing. Maybe you're interested in learning how to DJ. But where do you start? This guide will introduce you to various DJ'ing styles, equipment you need get people dancing, and products that will help you rock the house.



Tip #1 – Consider learning traditional DJ mixing styles

When a new karate student arrives at the dojo for the first time, they don't expect the sensei to start them off as a black belt. It's tempting to start DJ'ing right away with automated DJ software or an iPod DJ Mixer.

Two sweet entry-level DJ turntables are the Numark TT1650 and the Audio Technica AT PL-120

Two sweet entry-level DJ turntables are the Numark TT1650 and the Audio Technica AT PL-120

While the digital approach is a perfectly legitimate way to DJ, taking the time to learn the techniques of mixing on turntables will give you a foundation of knowledge and confidence that will serve you well as you fully explore all of the possibilities of DJ'ing. It takes a lot of practice, but the job of creating a compelling mix of music requires a consuming dedication. For more detailed information on turntables, check out this B&H educational guide.


Tip #2 – Learn how to use a DJ mixer

Imagine DJ'ing in front of a large crowd at a huge club with everyone on the dance floor fully celebrating what it feels like to be alive. One way you can get there is to become intimately familiar with the standard equipment that is used in every club. One such item is a DJ mixer. The way they operate differs greatly from a standard mixing board, and the best way to become comfortable with them is to put one in your home and make it your best friend.


Get your hands on the Numark DXM-06, the Pioneer DJM-400, or the Behringer DX-626


Tip #3 – If you prefer playing music on compact discs, adapt it to DJ'ing

When CD players specifically designed for DJ'ing first made their appearance on the scene, many old school DJ's scoffed at the idea. However, it wasn't long before machines like the Pioneer CDJ1000 were fixtures in the DJ booth. Many of these CD players have lots of useful DJ'ing capabilities like being able to speed up or slow down the tempo, create cue points, loop, add effects and more.

Mix up your CD's with the Fusion 111, a pair of Pioneer CDJ200's, or go rack-style with the Numark MP102
Mix up your CD's with the Fusion 111, a pair of Pioneer CDJ200's, or go rack-style with the Numark MP102


Tip #4 – Research different DJ'ing software and decide which one is best for you

DJ'ing software is a relatively new advancement that has been embraced by DJ's worldwide. There are numerous programs available that all have similar features. Currently, the most commonly used program in professional circles is Serato Scratch Live, however, many DJ's use other programs and successfully adapt them to the clubs in which they perform. Most of these programs feature capabilities that are impossible to achieve with turntables and decks. Many digital DJ's prefer to get away from the mouse and computer keyboard and get more hands by using midi control surfaces.

Turn your computer into a DJ rig with Traktor, Numark's Cue, or Ableton Live
Turn your computer into a DJ rig with Traktor, Numark's Cue, or Ableton Live


Tip #5 – Learn how to use a timecode control system

DJ timecode control systems are a new innovation that also quickly became a standard in most clubs. The name sounds kind of freaky, but don't worry, these things make some aspects of DJ'ing a lot easier and give you more freedom to express yourself. What they do is allow you to take music files from a hard drive and control them with vinyl turntables or DJ CD players.

Serato Scratch Live, Numark Virtual Vinyl, and Traktor Scratch are popular timecode systems
Serato Scratch Live, Numark Virtual Vinyl, and Traktor Scratch are popular timecode systems


Tip #6 – If you can't afford to buy a complete DJ'ing system, don't let it stop you

The core of what makes someone a good DJ is the skill involved with selecting which song to play next. You cannot buy that in an expensive piece of equipment. The best way to sharpen this skill is to immerse yourself in as much music as possible. Learn as much as you can about the history of the music you play, while paying equal attention to your contemporaries and music that is being released right now. As you slowly save up cash to get a DJ rig together, work hard to find music that you enjoy and want to play for others. A DJ can never have too much knowledge about music!


More DJ'ing solutions + gifts that will make DJ's happy!

Assembling an entire DJ rig can get a little pricey. Luckily there are complete DJ'ing solutions (like the Fusion 111 we mentioned earlier) that can get you up and rocking at a fraction of the cost. If you have two iPods, the Numark iDJ is a DJ mixer that will use them as DJ decks. If you have a computer, the Numark Total Control will act as your control surface for the included DJ software. And if you prefer CDs, the Numark CD Mix 2 has two CD players and a DJ mixer all in one.

The iPod-based iDJ, the computer-based Total Control, and the CD-based CD Mix 2
The iPod-based iDJ, the computer-based Total Control, and the CD-based CD Mix 2

Headphones are the most quintessential DJ'ing accessory. We wear them when we're mixing music. We wear them when we're walking down the street. We've even tried to go to sleep with them on, but alas, they get in the way of the pillow. We use headphones so often that they eventually wear out, which makes them the perfect gift.

Give your DJ the Panasonic RP-DJ300-S, upgrade their earbuds to the Shure SCL2, and make them look sharp with AKG K 81's
Give your DJ the Panasonic RP-DJ300-S, upgrade their earbuds to the Shure SCL2, and make them look sharp with AKG K 81's

Digging through crates of records at second hand stores and garage sales is somewhat of a tradition for DJ's. Digital DJ's and CD DJ's can get in on the fun with a USB turntable. It enables them to easily record any vinyl record into a computer. From there they can add the music to their DJ'ing software, or burn a CD for their CDJ.

The Numark TTUSB simplifies capturing vinyl to a computer
The Numark TTUSB simplifies capturing vinyl to a computer

Thank you for reading this B&H article! If you have any further questions about DJ gear, or any questions about professional audio in general, don't hesitate to contact us at 1-800-416-5090

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