There’s no denying that electronic dance music has slowly made its way into the spotlight. Famous DJs such as Calvin Harris, David Guetta and Skrillex are pioneers of a movement that has taken the world by storm. EDM is now commonplace in bars, clubs, radio stations, sporting events and even commercials.
Surely it comes as no surprise that people now hope to become a DJ rather than a famous guitarist or pop singer. After all, the most famous DJs earn millions of dollars yearly, so who wouldn’t hope to pursue this career?
So if you’re set on becoming a DJ, the first thing to deal with is proper mixing equipment. A proper DJ setup includes a variety of speakers, mixers, turntables and synthesizers and they come in all shapes and at different price ranges.
Essential DJ Gear
Before setting out to purchase the equipment you plan on using, think about the kind of DJ setup you’ll use. Depending on the venues you hope to play in as well as your target audience, you setup should differ slightly. The four basic DJ setup options for you to consider are:
- Computer-only setup
- DJ Controller Setup (an ideal choice for beginners)
- Vinyl turntable setup
- CD Turntable Setup
Though certain components are designed to accomplish specific tasks, DJ Controllers usually get everything done, acting as a mixer, player and software control surface. Additionally, it features the audio, USB and iOS gear connections you will need.
All these four basic setups will have a number of fixed components, including the actual gear that plays the audio tracks (your DJ controller, the Media Player, the turntables if you’re using vinyl or CDs or the computer if you go for this sort of setup). Aside from that, they will include the audio interface that directs the audio from your computer or turntable to the external hardware. Headphones are a must, and depending on the venue, you may need to solve the issue of a speaker system if there’s no suitable PA.
Deciding on the Setup
If you’re more traditional and prefer vinyl, you’ll most certainly go for a vinyl setup. Of course, they involve a lot of effort, especially because of transportation limitations. Some DJs prefer the portability of digital music or CDs to the clear, unmistakably clear sound of a vinyl record. It’s not always possible to carry a massive vinyl collection from gig to gig, so you may end up deciding to go for a CD setup.
There’s also the option of buying all of your equipment as a neatly offered package. I wouldn’t recommend going for such packages, though, as most DJs want to customize their setup in order to get the exact sound they want.
There are a multitude of variables to also consider, from turntable types to pitch control, speed selectors, start and stop buttons, mixer inputs, channels, and many more.
Mixer Price Ranges
The mixer is an essential part of your setup, performing a multitude of tasks and controlling settings and effects. Of course, you pay for quality and brand, so that a mixer can range from $60 and go upward of $2,000. A simple, good-quality, two-channel mixer, will cost you approximately $200-$300. If you’re hell-bent on having an exceptional, four-channel mixer that, be ready to spend over $2,500.
If you’re looking for the best turntables on the market, be prepared to pay anywhere between $120 and $900 for a piece of quality equipment. Of course, various companies offer turntable packages that cost approximately $1,300 – $1,800, so if you think you’d be better off getting everything out of the way, go for such a solution.
Speakers and Subwoofers
There’s one place where you really don’t want to go cheap: your speakers. Great differences in price almost always reflect a massive difference in quality and subpar speakers will lead to unhappy customers. Shop around and aim for the $250 – $500 price range for some good-quality to price ratio.
Don’t Forget Transportation
Having bought all this equipment is fine and dandy. Of course you want to take it for a test drive, but remember, before starting to play, you will actually need to get this equipment from point A to point B. And most equipment gets damaged if improperly transported. So make sure that you put some money aside for high-quality mixer flight cases.
A complete, high-quality DJ setup should end up costing you between $1,500 and $2,000, though that range may vary if you’re set on purchasing specific turntables or mixers. Remember, though, that even if such a sum may seem much, it will end up paying for itself. Going overboard with your budget can also be a good thing, especially if you plan on getting particularly lucrative gigs.
You don’t even need to be the biggest DJ in town. Think about this for a moment: the average DJ earns as much as $500 to $1,200 for a single wedding. But landing those gigs requires you to also bring certain qualities to the table.
Accessories and Added Costs
We’ve discussed the four essential equipment pieces, however, you’ll constantly need to restock on accessories and small equipment pieces, including cables, connectors and, most importantly, headphones. Don’t be cheap on headphones, because they allow you to set up for every song you choose to play.
Remember that an iPod or a laptop also counts as an extra cost, so if you also need to have them by your side, factor them into your purchasing decisions.
Don’t be squeamish about an initial investment. If you start everything off with high-quality gear, you’ll have a great head start. Not only will you have the opportunity of practicing on exceptional equipment, but you’ll also have reasons to charge equipment fees. With time, you will be able to upgrade each equipment piece and, as you feel more comfortable with your equipment, you’ll become more skillful and secure the fan base that you hope for.
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