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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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