The perfect DJ setup for beginners to perform like professionals
If you are a DJ who wants an affordable setup for your party events or home practise, we have the answer here, with the best DJ setup for beginners to perform like pro’s. And without breaking the budget!
In 2019, you can now have the same DJ setup with artists such as Richie Hawtin, Carl Cox, Nicole Moudaber, Sasha and Joris Voorn while spending around 400 dollars or even less.
The proper DJ equipment has gone far more than just a media player and a mixer. DJ controllers, turntables and DJ softwares, to create fantastic, versatile and unique setups and pick the one that fits your needs.
If you are a beginner and you cannot spend much, you are very lucky; You live in the years where DJ equipment is affordable for everyone.
The music and DJ market continues to grow, and people are now able to build a complete DJ setup with just a few hundred dollars. And I’m not talking about low-quality, cheap gear. But reliable and durable equipment produced by the most popular brands in the DJ world.
Whether you are a beginner DJ, or you are looking for a new or alternative DJ setup without spending a fortune, this is perfect for you.
The standard DJ setup:
The standard DJ setup in most clubs and music events, consisting of two or more media players or turntables, and a DJ mixer in between them. The cost of that can be anywhere between 2000 to 6000 dollars.
The beginner DJ setup:
DJ equipment for beginners list:
- Laptop for DJing
- DJ software
- DJ controller
- Audio interface (maybe)
- DJ headphones
If you are a beginner, you do not need to spend a lot on media players, turntables and a 4-channel DJ mixer. There is a much more affordable, and widely used, alternative option. Laptop – DJ software & DJ Controller – Headphones.
DJ equipment for beginners guide:
A. Laptop for DJing
I guess that most of you already own a PC or laptop. As a beginner, you do not need the latest iMac or MacBook Pro to start DJing. Start with the one you already own and then find one of the best laptop for DJing to invest your first savings.
If your computer is powerful enough to overcome the requirements of your DJ software, you will have an excellent experience. Thankfully, softwares do not require super powerful capabilities. You can take a look on their websites the specifications of each software and check if it is compatible with yours. Links and more info we will see below. All softwares are MAC and WIN compatible, so you don’t have to worry about that.
Also, try to keep your laptop clean from nonrelative softwares and large files that may slow its performance. Because nobody wants dropouts, “clicks”, or even a complete computer crash and close in the middle of your gig.
All PCs offer USB ports to connect your DJ controller. So, you have no concern here if your controller will connect with your laptop.
B. DJ software
The DJ software, installed in your PC or Laptop, it emulates turntables and a DJ mixer. With a DJ software, you can perform and mix a complete DJ set by simply “drag-drop” a track from anywhere in your computer into the software. You can create, and edit music libraries of your choice in no time. By creating music libraries in your software, you will be able to scan and analyze your music. That will offer the BPM, the key of your tracks and many other essential DJ information. The mixer is a replica of a traditional DJ mixer, you will have to invest on a DJ Controller, otherwise, you will have a hard time mixing with your mouse and PC keyboard.
Traktor Pro 3, Serato DJ Pro, and Pioneer Recordbox DJ are the most popular DJ softwares in the market. Prices here vary but is approximately one to two hundred dollars. However, every software offers a trial version for you to check before buy. Plus there are DJ controllers out there that offer free Lite version to start DJing right away.
Let’s take a closer look at these softwares…
1. Traktor Pro 3 DJ Software
Traktor Pro is a professional DJ software used by the most popular artists in the music scene. Richie Hawtin, Carl Cox, Gareth Emery, Nicole Moudaber, Sasha, Joris Voorn are just a few amongst others. This software has filled sound systems and dancefloors across the world, as well as house parties, bars, beaches, and everything in between.
The mixing software by NI offers four desc with color-coded waveforms that will help you identify the kicks, hi-hats, and snares of the track. There are nine different Mixer FX in Traktor Pro 3 (Reverb, Dual Delay, Noise, Flanger, Time Gater, Filter, Dotted Dealy, Crash, Barber Pole); similar to Pioneer DJ’s Color FX on DJM mixers.
The interface is extremely easy to learn and use. Plus the new, even darker user interface makes it much more visually pleasing in dark environments.
It is incredible what you will get for only $99. This professional sounding software can take you from bedroom DJ to a worldwide artist. With Traktor Pro 3 and a DJ controller, you can build your entire music DJ career.
Some musicians get paid thousands of dollars to perform in festivals like Tomorrowland, Burning Man, Ultra Festival, and they use this 99 dollar DJ software. Why would YOU not invest in it? Seriously, let us know if you have your reasons not to buy it.
For more details about Traktor, prices, and downloads you will find at native-instruments.com.
2. Serato DJ Pro Software
The second most popular DJ software in the market is the Serato Pro. It provides similar features, interface and audio quality with the Traktor Pro, and it is also a choice of many beginners and professional DJs. Fatboy Slim, Skrillex, and Kygo are just some of the names that come to my mind who have performed with this software. Visit Serato.com, and you will find more artists who support it.
The frequencies are easy to identify with the color-coded waveforms. Red shade waves represent low frequencies such as bass and kicks. Green is the natural mid-range frequencies. And with the blue shades, you will see the high-end.
Serato scratch DJ is also a great choice for scratch and hip-hop artists with its impressive DVS (digital vinyl system) support.
The Pro version is available for 129 USD dollars, but you can also try for free the Lite version. More details and download available at Serato.com
3. Recordbox DJ Software
Where there is a DJ, there is also Pioneer’s tools and equipment. DJs such as Armin Van Buuren, Axwell, Nicky Romero, and Chris Lake trust this DJ software for their sets and live performances.
Pioneer’s latest Recordbox 5 offers an improved track loading, browsing, and scrolling. The track analytics delivers the familiar and reliable sound of Pioneer, and to top it all off, you can connect to DJ players with a USB or SD card.
If you love vinyl, you can also purchase extra the Rekordbox DVS with Pioneer’s highly responsive Control Vinyl to perform smooth, low-latency scratching with excellent sound quality.
Once again, you will spend a little compared to what you will get. It is a little bit more expensive but still, way under the $200 budget. Check their plans and a free 30-day trial at the official website of Pioneer Recordbox DJ.
There is no right or wrong, or better for beginners, or cheaper DJ software. The final choice is yours, and it should come down to personal preferences. All these three DJ softwares offer all the tools you need to perform a professional DJ set.
If you want to learn more about the above check the best DJ softwares in the market and the best free DJ software for beginners.
Before you decide, wait and see some DJ controller that offers free Lite version of the integrated software.
C. DJ controller
DJ controllers emulate the traditional DJ mixer and turntables in one piece of equipment. The interface makes it so easy to mix music through the software in your laptop with the use of knobs, encoders, jog wheels, faders, assignable performance pads, and more. There are three basic things to consider when choosing a DJ controller. Features, software integration, and budget.
The models we will see here offer knobs, buttons, jog wheels, performance pads, and faders. You can also work with waveforms, samples, apply effects, connect turntables, CDJs, and instruments to your setup.
Since we are beginners and we cannot spend a lot, we will look at DJ controllers from 200 to 300 USD dollars. And just because we sacrificed on the budget, it doesn’t mean that we will also sacrifice on quality. All models we will see below are produced by brands extremely reliable and well-known in the music industry such as Pioneer and Native Instruments.
Even if many of these controllers have been designed for specific software, these are all MIDI controllers that are mappable for any MIDI software. So, you can do the mapping manually by yourself. Or you can find online pre-mappings that match the hardware to your preferred software.
1. Pioneer DDJ 400 Recordbox DJ controller
Pioneer DDJ 400 Recordbox DJ controller has a similar club style layout of the CDJ-2000NXS2 and DJM-900NXS2. It offers a built-in sound card with plug-and-play USB connectivity. It also comes with Rekordbox DJ license key and Rekordbox tutorial feature to help you learn how to DJ.
There are 2 big buttons similar to CDJ’s that give immediate access to Play, and Cue. Under the jog’s, 8 performance pads give you access to Hot Cues, FX Fade, Pad Scratch and Sampler.
Each channel offers 3-band EQ, filter and gain knob per channel, good quality faders (with VU meters to check the volume), and a crossfader. The filter function applies High and Low Pass filter to either channel.
DDJ 400’s jog wheels, buttons, and faders are suchlike to the premium and famous NXS2 media players and mixers by Pioneer.
For just over $200 you a get a high-quality DJ controller produced by Pioneer, and you will also save from purchasing a DJ software. Win-win-win situation.
2. Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 Mk3 DJ Controller
Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 Mk3 DJ Controller offers similar features with the above model by Pioneer. On this familiar club-standard layout, you will be able to browse tracks, adjust Beat-grids, use effects and features like Flux Mode, directly on the Traktor Kontrol S2.
There is a big knob on top of each jog wheel to browse through your library and pick your next song. There are two channels with a 3EQ band on each side and very robust knobs and faders that will guarantee long-term use.
Traktor Kontrol S2 Mk3 is light, durable, affordable and it comes with a full version of Traktor Pro 3. That’s right, for a little above $300 you will get professional DJ hardware and software by top brand Native Instruments.
There is an alternative option for those who do not want jog wheels or performance pads and prefer a more compact gear. The majority of famous DJs who perform live with a controller and software, they choose Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol X1 MkII.
3. Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol X1 MKII
The most popular Traktor controller in the market!
So what is so unique about this little DJ controller? You can browse, cue, sync, and loop while with the touch-sensitive strip and knobs you will experience quick software navigation.
There is a multi-purpose touch strip that delivers ultra-precise command over track position, pitch bend, and FX. X1’s touch-sensitive encoders respond to reveal Traktor’s views and functions. You can instantly switch to the Browse view at the touch of the Browse button.
The RGB cue point trigger buttons will help you visually identify cue points from loops or load markers. Orange, blue and green are the primary colors shown on this controller as well as the software. You will have clear visual feedback – so you can stay focused even in the darkest clubs.
X1 Traktor controller is very light (weights as much as a book), durable and very easy to transfer anywhere you play. It comes with a 50,00 € e-voucher to purchase TRAKTOR PRO 3 or any other downloadable NI software to expand your sonic arsenal.
However, X1 takes only one channel of music from the computer, not two. So you will need either a DJ mixer with a built-in audio interface or you will have to purchase an external one. Most famous DJ’s prefer to connect a Traktor Audio interface to the DJ mixer and Laptop. That way you can use the club mixer to mix two or more tracks properly.
Another option will be to add the Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol Z1 DJ Mixing Interface to use it for mixing, eq and filtering. A great option if you want to release your hands from the standard DJ mixer and extra spending of an audio interface. While wit the X1 you will control loops, cue points, and effects on two-track desks.
4. Roland DJ-202 Serato DJ Controller
You will probably find Roland’s innovating music instruments in every recording studio of the world. They cannot be missing from the equipment for DJs.
Roland DJ-202 is a two-channel, four-deck controller that’s powered via USB and capable of being transported and set up with minimal effort. Though it is quite compact, Roland still manages to offer large, low-latency platters, dedicated 16 performance pad and transport controls, onboard sequencer, and mic input with professional vocal FX16. All knobs on the mixer are pretty big, and you will have no difficulties performing and mixing. As Serato controller, it also has dedicated knobs on each desk to quickly browse, pick and play your next track in your DJ software.
The standout feature on this controller are the eight built-in drum kits from Roland’s legendary TR-909, TR-808, TR-707, and TR-606. Bass Drum, Snare Drum, Closed Hat, Open Hat, Tom, Rim, Clap, and Ride. You can add your sounds or loops to the tracks, and perform like a pro.
DJ 202 comes with a Lite version, but if you purchase in the U.S., you also get a free Serato DJ Pro upgrade. So for only $300 you get a fully featured DJ controller and professional DJ software. And if all these do not sound enough, Roland’s built-in drum machine samples from the legendary TR-606, TR-707, TR-808, and TR-909 drum kits will close the deal.
If you want more detailed info for the above check the best DJ controller under $400. Unless, you can afford more, so go to the best DJ controllers under $1200.
E. DJ Headphones
For many DJ’s this is the one tool they will carry everywhere they go. With a good quality pair of headphones, you will protect your ears from So make sure you will make the right choice, as it is an essential tool for every DJ.
In the loud environments of clubs, bars, home parties, or festivals, you need a pair of headphones that will offer great sound isolation. How to find that? Closed back type of headphones offers excellent sound isolation compared to Open-type. Better sound quality is most likely to find on open-type, but this is not always the case. The models for under $100 we will see below are closed-back types.
The second most important feature to consider when buying DJ headphones is the sound quality and performance at specific frequency ranges. Deep bass and crisp mids and highs will help you beat-match and mix without the need to pump up the volume. So we need crystal clear sound on low and high frequencies.
As a DJ, you want headphones that deliver high-definition bass and super-transparent highs across an ultra-wide dynamic range.
With our studio headphones, we do want flat and accurate frequency response. But, for DJing, we want to listen to the audio elements that are most important for mixing.
If the headphones you pick also have rotatable ear-cups and soft pads, you will end up with a durable and extremely comfortable piece of equipment.
Pioneer HDJ-2000 and Sennheiser HD-25 II are probably the most popular DJ headphones amongst the top DJs in the world. If you want to take a closer look check the best DJ headphones. There are, however, but great options from well-known brands for under 100 dollars.
1. Pioneer Pro DJ Black HDJ-X5-K Professional DJ Headphone
With this DJ headphone, you will finally get the Pioneer sound you always wanted while spending just 100 dollars. Except for the high-quality sound and very appealing and robust design, the HJD-X5 offers comfort ear-pads and adjustable headband for a comfortable fit. The swivel mechanism allows you to wear them comfortably, whichever way you prefer, for long periods. Plus, the cables and ear pads are replaceable which makes those headphones a long-term investment.
This closed, dynamic type of headphone will perform in the 5 – 30000 Hz range with a sound output level at 102dB. It is also available in a silver edition to match your style and preference. Pioneer DJ headphones with the above characteristics and a prime sound quality for under $100.
2. Sony MDRV55 Red Extra Bass & DJ Headphones MDR-V55
This closed-back type of headphones offers great noise isolating. The padded, adjustable headband will provide excellent comfort. And the 40mm neodymium driver unit frequency up to 25,000Hz and 105 dB sensitivity rating will give you loud and clear sound.
Sony MDRV55 is a great value for money choice for a beginner DJ. There are couple of hundred great reviews on Amazon store to prove that this is a good pair of DJ headphones.
3. Behringer HPX2000 Headphones High-Definition DJ Headphones
The last headphone, we will suggest for you is produced by Behringer and is probably the most affordable pair for DJing. This over-ear pair of headphones are an excellent choice for casual listeners as well as beginner and professional DJ’s.
The two rotating, reversible ear cups with the cobalt capsules offer a high dynamic range, as well as deep bass and transparent highs. You will have a great sound for the money you will pay to get this pair. The design and material feels and is cheap. However, it provides great comfort, even for long DJ and mixing sessions. HPX2000 is Amazon’s choice, and you will find thousands of great reviews about this product.
These was our complete guide of a beginner DJ setup without breaking the budget!
Five beginner DJ setups for under $400 to perform like a professional:
TRAKTOR PRO DJ SETUP 1:
1. Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 Mk3 DJ Controller
2. Included FREE Traktor Pro 3 DJ software
3. Pioneer Pro DJ HJD-X5 or Sony MDRV55
TRAKTOR PRO DJ SETUP 2:
1. Traktor X1 and Traktor Z1 DJ controllers
2. 2×50$ vouchers to get Traktor Pro 3 DJ software for FREE
3. Behringer HPX2000 Headphones or Sony MDRV55
TRAKTOR PRO DJ SETUP 3:
1. Traktor X1 and Traktor Audio Interface
2. 1×50$ vouchers to get Traktor Pro 3 DJ software for half the price
3. Behringer HPX2000 Headphones or Sony MDRV55
RECORDBOX DJ SETUP 4:
1. Pioneer DDJ 400 Recordbox DJ controller
2. Included FREE Recordbox DJ software
3. Pioneer Pro DJ HJD-X5 or Sony MDRV55
SERATO DJ SETUP 5:
1. Roland DJ-202
2. Included FREE Serato DJ pro software
3. Pioneer Pro DJ HJD-X5 or Sony MDRV55
All the above DJ setups are complete sets for beginners and professionals as well. High-quality equipment and tools for DJing while spending the minimum.
If you still prefer to DJ with vinyl, you can still combine it with digital DJ equipment. Go to the best Digital Vinyl System for more.
You may have heard a lot of trash-talking about DJ controllers and how they are not for professionals. Well, famous DJs such as Fatboy Slim, Richie Hawtin, Carl Cox and many many more perform with a DJ software in their laptop and a DJ controller.
Remember the primary job of a DJ is to mix music, entertain people and keep the vibe on the dance floor. It doesn’t matter what tools you will use as long as you deliver the job.
Your best DJ set is waiting for a couple of very affordable tools. Everything you need for creative mixes at your fingertips, you can have for only a few hundred bucks.
Keep it simple, spend wisely, keep working and you will get there. And if you want a quick guide to master your mixing skills, check how to become a professional DJ.
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