Our experts walk us through the best starter DJ gear
If you’re a beginner to the world of DJing and want the insider info on what gear you need to start breaking into the DJ world and EDM scene then look no further, we spoke to our in house DJ specialist Benjy over at Dawsons Music Manchester to find out exactly what products you need and which ones you should consider. Let’s get straight to it!
Headphones for DJs
So you’ve read the Beginners guide to DJing blog, and you’re up to date with all the different pieces of kit you should be packing in your rig, but you need a little more information on what equipment is ideal for beginners. Well, the first thing on your list, should be headphones. Considering there are a myriad of different headphones out there, it’s hard to sift through the different brands, and get some on a budget that will do the job without breaking the bank.
A great pair of beginner DJ headphones come in the form of the Sennheiser HD 205 Headphones. Clocking in at just under £40 they are a professional grade option that are not only incredibly lightweight and comfortable to help reduce fatigue but offer fantastic isolation from outside noise to give you an accurate representation of what’s being played. The ear cup rotates for single ear listening, which is obviously an important feature especially if you’re into ‘on-shoulder’ monitoring and the 3m single sided cable makes sure you’ve got plenty of room to play with. A great starter option.
Pioneer have a ubiquitous presence in the DJ world, so we couldn’t talk about DJing equipment without showing off some of their best gear. Pioneer are great at creating professional grade equipment that just works, and their more “budget friendly” option such as the Pioneer HDJ-500 Headphones are no different. Don’t be fooled by the modest price of these headphones – they’re more than capable of lasting a world tour thanks to superior construction. For those who can’t stretch to the popular HDJ-1000s and the flagship HDJ-2000s, this is a fantastic middle ground as it borrows technology from the HDJ-2000. You get to choose from 3 colours, they’re lightweight with a close fitting ear pad to provide great isolation and the right ear cup rotates through 60 degrees for single ear monitoring. Budget friendly yes, but totally comfortable in the professional arena.
Beginner DJ controllers
There is also a myriad of different DJ controllers out there to lose yourself in, and not all of which have to cost you a fortune. In the same vein, you also have a wide variety of DJ software, and based on your needs and preferences, your controller will need to be compatible the appropriate program. So Benjy has recommended 3 starter DJ controllers that are compatible with either Serato, Rekordbox or Traktor.
DJ controllers for Serato users
First up is the Pioneer DDJ-SB2 DJ Controller, which is not only compatible with Serato, but it comes bundled with Serato DJ Intro software – perfect if you don’t already have a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). Not only is the DDJ-SB2 perfect for beginners, but it’s sophisticated enough to last you well in to the years of your professional career (think big, we believe in you!) due to the fact it is based on the popular original DDJ-SB. You have 2 large jog wheels that have been constructed meticulously to decrease latency as much as possible as well as all the usual suspects such as hot-cue, auto and manual loop. However, you also have a brand new filter fade function for extremely smooth blending and a host of trigger pads allowing you to cue sounds. A sophisticated workhorse that is easy to use with exceptional build quality. You can rely on this piece of equipment thanks to Pioneer’s meticulous design.
DJ Controllers for Traktor users
The Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 MK2 DJ Controller makes Benjy’s list again, no doubt due to the fact it is a complete DJ system that comes bundled with DJ Traktor Pro 2 software to get you started straight away. The cool thing about the Traktor Kontrol S2 MK2 DJ Controller is that you don’t actually need a MAC or PC to operate it – you can use a wide range of devices including iPads and iPhones, making it a super portable option for those who might have limited space, or want to be able to gig straight away. You can pair it with the Traktor DJ iOS app for superior control, cue-ing and club-ready output levels which is a real bonus. Another major highlight is the intuitive display via bright, colour-coded RGB buttons which you can use to trigger sounds, cue points and loop parts. MC’s will appreciate the mic in-out with gain control offering the option to add in vocal overdubs too. A great option for the beginner DJ who wants a controller that allows them to learn.
DJ Controllers for rekordbox users
For those who use rekordbox DJ software, the Pioneer DDJ-RB Portable 2 Channel DJ Controller is the one for you. With two large aluminium jog wheels to play with you get superior scratch control, which is perfect for honing your scratch technique. The smooth action faders offer that typical Pioneer precision, making it a totally reliable piece of kit. It’s also bundled with a rekordbox DJ software licence that you can download start mixing straight away. You have the usual cue controls, mixer knobs and faders, gain pots and a VU meter for accurate signal measure so you’re good to go as soon as you plug in, but those who enjoy triggers will appreciate the fact Pioneer have built the DDJ-RB with 16 performer pads to trigger any samples you have. In case you missed the clue in the name, the DDJ-RB is a portable option. Weighing in at a mere 2.1kg, it’s very easy to carry around whilst the robust build quality and brushed metal construction ward off any minor knocks and scratches.
Beginner Monitor Speakers for DJs
Whilst you’re perfecting your set at home or creating your music, you need a set of speakers to give you an accurate representation of how it’s sounding. Mixing and creating music on headphones is all well and good, but you need to hear what it sounds like in a different environment. You may find that your levels are all over the place when it comes to hooking up a PA system, so get used to mixing with speakers when you want your final results. Here’s Benjy’s top picks for those who want high quality, accurate monitors without too much of a financial investment.
First up is the KRK Rokit RP4 G3 Monitor Speakers (Pair). These monitor speakers offer exceptional response at a very affordable price, and are actually professional grade options that are perfect for recording, mixing, mastering and playing back your sounds. KRK have an impressive reputation for crafting equipment that professionals can rely on, so you’re in great company when you buy a set of these. You get a 1-inch soft-dome tweeter, which is paired with a 4-inch glass Aramid composite woofer to provide superior clarity and an extended range to 35kHz. Those treble notes are taken care of and the deep bass sounds are accurately represented. At just under £200, they are a reliable and an affordable option that will last a lifetime and wouldn’t look out of place in a professional studio – all in all a great purchase for beginners or the established musician.
Another great option can be found in the form of the M-Audio BX5 D2 Active Studio Monitor Speakers (Pair). Straight out of the box you get 70 watts of distributed power thanks to 5-inch low frequency drivers created with Kevlar to handle those deep low end sounds – perfect for those who are heavy on the bass. The cool thing about these speakers is the fact they are crafted with Magnetic shielding which eliminates any interference with other electronic equipment you may have – perfect for DJs. The waveguide-loaded silk dome tweeters handle the high frequencies too, all helping to reduce listening fatigue, which can of course set in when you’re still mixing at 5am! Trying to find that sweet spot with your speakers is also made really easy thanks to the ingenious pinhole LED’s at the front of each speaker. Simply align these speakers so the LED is at its brightest and hey presto – that’s your sweet spot. For those are not familiar with setting up speakers, these are a great option that will last you for years to come and provide you with studio quality sounds at all times.
View a complete range of DJ gear and equipment for both beginners and professionals over at the Dawsons website.
Lee Glynn is a guitarist and multi-instrumentalist who lives in Liverpool, England. After moving to the UK from Perth, Australia, Lee enjoyed a successful career as guitarist in Liverpool based rock band Sound of Guns.
After releasing two albums, a myriad of EPs / singles and touring extensively around the world for 6 years including stops at Glastonbury, Latitude Festival, as well as the coveted Reading & Leeds Festivals, Lee decided it was a time for a change of scenery.
Utilising his experience in music journalism, Lee now works within the web team at Dawsons Music, where he can still relay his passion for music by producing great content for the Dawsons blog and social media. Lee is still an avid guitar player and writer.