5 Reasons Why Digital DJing Beats Vinyl

Technics turntables off into the sunset

Vinyl: It's been fun, but the sun's setting now...

There's no contest any more between vinyl and MP3 DJing, despite any misgivings die-hards may have about making the switch. Here's just five reasons while I'll happily argue the point with anyone who's got the time (and who doesn't mind losing an argument!):

1. You can have all of your tunes with you everywhere you go
This is the biggie. The biggie with digital cameras over film cameras was: You don't have to wait see your pictures. With MP3 DJing, it's this simple: you can have all your tunes with you everywhere you go. Of course you still need to plan your sets, but to have that "I know what would mix well into this!" thought, and not have it followed by "Shit, I haven't got it with me..." is, for me, the real big one.

(Actually, when I was a vinyl DJ, I knew I wouldn't have that old tune that had just occurred to me with me. So in reality, for a long time after switching to digital, I used to have exactly that feeling, then suddenly realise that actually, wahey!, I had ALL of my tunes with me. This joy was then invariably followed by the thought "digital is the way forward, now why won't everyone else realise it?" )

2. You can locate any tune immediately
Searching digitally is a great thing. With modern DJ software such as Serato ITCH, typing three or four letters, or a year, or a genre, or looking at last week's set list, all means you can find any tune in seconds.

Now, personally I was always proud of the way I could find a tune in my record box fast. But that was out of say 80 tunes (or 160 if I had two boxes with me), and it still often took a minute of crouching down out of sight of the crowd, and out of touch with my club night. Digital?  You can search 50,000 records in sometimes 2 or 3 seconds. No contest.

3. You don't have to put your valuable tunes into the hold luggage when you're flying
I remember when I used to play regularly at U2's Kitchen nightclub in Dublin, which involved a quick flight from Manchester airport over the Irish Sea. At that time (1999/2000) "DJ culture" was massive, and it was normal to see half a dozen other DJs with their carefully packed and weighed record boxes too.

And all of them had that ashen "I spent most of my money and half of my life finding these tunes, and now I'm going to let them out of my sight?" look on their faces. Bags go missing. that's bad enough. But records? To start with, they really are truly nickable, and secondly, what good is your tunes turning up a day later when you've just missed a DJ gig? Unthinkable.

Being able to tuck your laptop, controller, headphones and a change of clothes into a cabin bag and jump on a flight, secure in the knowledge that 1) You can be off the plane and in a taxi in 10 minutes, but more importantly 2) All your kit and tunes won't leave your sight, is a great thing.

4. No relying on record companies to send you upfront and hard-to-find tunes
Back in the 90s and early 2000s, to be on the record company's promotional lists was a major aim of many working DJs. It took years of effort to get in with all the right labels and promotional companies.

It was worth it, though: You got loads of juicy hard to find, upfront vinyl mailed to you practically daily. Lots of never-to-be-released exclusives, all for you! All you had to do was fill in reaction sheets to the tunes and post your top tens to various publications on a weekly basis. I used to get scores of records a week for nothing, and they made a major difference to the quality of my sets.

Thing was, the bigger the DJ, the more freebies. So while my DJ pals and I got some great music, sometimes only 5, or 10, or 50 of something would be mailed out, while we were only in consideration when they had maybe 100 or 200 copies of any given new tune. So if you weren't in the top 5/10/50 DJs for that genre, no free tunes. You heard the tunes on the radio and in the clubs, but no copy of your own to play.

And of course, newer or smaller DJs got nothing at all, and were reduced to trawling the second-hand record shops for copies that bigger DJs had off-loaded for cash because they didn't want to play them in their own sets.

While CDs and vinyl (don't get me started on CDs...) are still mailed out, that stranglehold is now well and truly broken. Now it's completely about connections that anyone can make online by putting the hours in to get to know their favourite artists and labels - and more to the point, by keeping their ears to the ground for new artists on MySpace etc. Of course, big DJs still get exclusives - but if you're an MP3 DJ, it's a far more level playing field than ever it was.

5. You can remix a tune on the fly without having to buy two copies
I often used to buy two copies of a record so I could create effects and mixes to make a tune my own. Whether "echoing" vocals by mixing them a beat or two apart all the way through, or lengthening breaks, or dropping acapellas over remixes, or removing dodgy bridges, such techniques are now far simpler - simply drag the MP3 onto both decks (or four if your controller allows it).

So what conclusion can we draw from the above? It's all about the music, stupid!

No coincidence that all of these points are about music. Nobody cares what you're playing on nowadays. If you can deliver a better soundtrack with what you're using, then the technology you've chosen is working for you. This to me will always win out over any other consideration, however you choose to DJ.

What do you think? Are you a recent convert to digital from vinyl? Do you think vinyl DJs are a dying breed? Or do you think real DJing only happens with two black plastic discs and an analogue mixer? Let us know your thoughts below.

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Comments

  1. Nice post. I particularly agree with your second point. Being able to quickly locate tracks has made such a difference for me.

    • In my country u cannot even get vinyls and if u can they are extremely limited and even more costly, never mind trying to get your hands on a set of decent turntables or the high cost of cdj/mixer setup – digital all the way for the underprivileged like me :D

  2. Phil Morse says:

    It’s horrible when you can’t remember the name of a track though. At least with vinyl you can look for “the yellow shiny sleeve with the big rip in it”. Bit harder when flicking through a folder or waiting, fingers hovering over the keyboard, for some obscure German techno producer’s alter ego to finally pop back into your drink-addled brain (I don’t mean you personally, of course, Robin).

  3. No offence but I dislike you’re statement “Vinyl: It’s been fun: but the sun’s setting now” very much. I have been spinning for at least 12 years myself and been a part of organizing teams for parties in northern Germany. Thus – as many DJ’s – I have observed the changes through the success of digital dj-software. Sadly I have come to the conclusion that a lot of “I-DJ’s” play a lot extremely boring new tunes. that honestly nobody would really listen to while being sober. Yes, I agree that times are changeing and that old school folks like me could use a little taste of modern software and technology. However, I strongly feel that with this “digital revolution” the amount of quality is overshadowed – or even overrun – by mediocre to dumb electronic music. Besides this, I think that audiences don’t really care how the dj does a sort of live remix of a track..So digital-dj’s please stop arguing that audience respond to your actions during your set. They respond to your selection and that’s it. And here come my final notes: after seeing and listening to dozens different digital dj’s (also big names)I must say that partying has musically never been as boring as nowadays. Therefore I would rather write: “Good bye, Electronica: Hearing and feeling quality productions was fun, but the sun is setting now”…Yet again I hope this won’t happen.

    • I must stress that there’s a huge difference between digital and Vinyl/CD. The approach is entirely different. There’s no comparison at all. It’s only a question of priorities and budget.
      Why is there no comparison possible? You can spot the difference between a tailor-made suit and one from K-Mart from a long distance. Same goes for mixing. Anyone who is able to mix CD/Vinyl tracks can easily master the digital approaches. The other way around is rather doubtful. With all do respect. I’m not claiming there’s nothing to it. But the threshold is so low, you can hardly feel any awe for digital mixing.

    • I can understand your dislike for the statement, but it seems analogous to someone saying to you after you have just purchased a new car “Hey, nice Mini- your old Range Rover was really getting over the hill.” No one likes anyone talking badly about their old car, even if it was a total piece of crap.
      But come on, your tirade on modern music and it’s lack of exceptionalism (other than being exceptionally boring) is totally off base with the whole point of this article. I mean, maybe you equate new technology in music with new music, but they are completely different domains.
      There is nothing stopping you from ripping all of your old vinyls digitally and then physically and continuing to enjoy all that great music you so love, just on a different (and exponentially more convenient) medium.

  4. Phil Morse says:

    In response to Taman: Thanks for your comments, absolutely no offence taken.

    I agree with you totally that tune selection is EVERYTHING. If you choose your tunes well first, though, digital gives you the kind of flexibility that vinyl doesn’t.

    It’s not really possible to stop technology moving forwards. I have DJed for a long time too and it’s my belief (and that of this blog) that DJing will be digital from here on in, like it or not. We have to learn to use the technology well and enhance the music with it, not detract from it.

    Also, many new digital DJs are desperate to learn the “proper” way of DJing… to their credit. They completely understand that they have to respect the legacy that vinyl has given them. This is one reason why I’m optimistic about the future of DJing in the hands of the new generation of digital DJs.

    Finally, I know a lot of vinyl DJs who play extremely boring tunes, too…

  5. Dj nostalgic says:

    i must say digital dj’s now a days, use track sequence apps before hand. So when they perform, everything is already layed out and mixed. This is why going digital is so lame, it takes away from actually performing. You might aswell, play your mix and walk away, because theres no need to stand in the booth and act like your actually doing something.Granted its harder to get mew music fast enough for a set with vinyls, and they take up so much room. But i do believe that people do notice the effort, and get more into it.

  6. I have been djing for 30 years now and i believe due to digitalisation the quality of music is not as good as it used to be. The quality of mp3 music is crap compared to an original cd. Most artists don’t release their music on cds anymore bcos most people just download music for free.

    You can’t beat live performance bcos if you are playing a pre-recorded set and it’s not moving the audience what do you do? I think the problem with digital dj’s is they learn how to run before they learn to walk.

    • Chris Kurbaali says:

      i agree with u fully digital djing is for lazy ppl that rather hit sync instead of actually doing some work , its not industry standard most real djs wud look down on u for it because they believe in turntables or cdjs ur above pints r good and true yes but there is nothing that beats going into ur case and finding dat record while de crowd waits in anticipation

      • Phil Morse says:

        Dear oh dear, there’s a hell of a lot of lazy DJs out there if what you say is true my friend. There was a day when vinyl DJs used to look down on CD DJs, you know.

      • Lazy people? The only DJs that complain about other DJs using the sync button are usually cats who just learned how to beat match.

        I have been beat matching for 30 years so if i choose to use the sync button so the f what. This frees me up to create more sounds more mixing.

        As good as I thought I was at beat matching it still isnt as effective as having it synced so I could concentrate on the music more. The people dont come to watch a DJ “keep it real” they come to dance. If you have ways to make them dance, then dammit do it! Don’t have cats waiting on your little blend skills so you can prove a point.

  7. To Ian: There’s no turning back the clock on music formats, for sure.

    While I agree with you that putting a beginner in a Ferrari won’t make him drive better, I disagree that digital means DJs play “pre-recorded sets”. Programming is and always will be the #1 skill of the DJ… and I for one have never “played” a pre-recorded set in my life.

    I am sure I am speaking for 99% of digital DJs here with that statement.

    • Chuck van Eekelen says:

      Putting a newbie driver in a Ferrari might not make him a better driver, but as long as he keeps it on the road he sure looks better than he would in a Vauxhall :-).

      I am a 35 yr “veteran” and have gone through it all, learned the hard way on various turntables (we didn’t all have SL-1200’s to start with :-)), played around with CD’s in the early days and have finally moved to digital recently, although I have been experimenting for years (anybody out there ever try Jackson DJ software?).

      I believe the quality of controllers and software has only now made it to a professional level that I feel comfortable with. My Denon MC6000 is as solid as a rock, my laptop has yet to fail me (knock on wood), but in case it does, two trusted CD players cued with floorfillers will help me keep the damage to under 2 seconds if it ever does crash. Pretty much a foolproof setup and still lighter, more compact and more feature filled than ever before. And because I know what I am doing, if my laptop is truely dead, I can still do most of my tricks on the CD players and noone in the crowd will be the wiser.

      Although on occassion I still like to mess about with Vinyl if I am at a venue that has it (I am as nostalgic as the next guy), I really don’t want to go back to hauling the whole gear & record collection around anymore.

      I think DJ’s that object to ANY particular way of DJ’ing are being shortsighted. It really isn’t about your technique, your gear or anything else. The ONLY thing that matters, as has been mentioned before, is getting the crowd going, keeping them going and sending them home happy. Some of my worst mixing nights have been some of my greatest party nights.

      I also don’t believe that digital DJ’s have caused a deterioration in quality. Obviously when it becomes easier to get in on the ground floor, you’ll have more beginners running around. Actually, thanks to digital at least most of them can get syncing right, even if it is digitally assisted and not an art. If you ever watched a novice Vinyl jock at work you know why that is a bonus.

      Personally I think that everyone should do what they feel comfortable with and what makes them able to entertain a crowd. And not taking advantage of modern technology because “well it takes the art and skill out of things”, is a bit silly if you ask me. If you are a good DJ from the vinyl and/or CD age and you can make the transition to digital well, you’ll be a great digital DJ and you can use all of those nice new possibilities to explore new ways of pleasing the crowd.

      But even if you have never been to vinyl or cd before but still know how to operate your gear properly AND use that to get the party going, more power to you.

      So for me the whole discussion about digital DJ’ing is a tad obsolete. I don’t care if my mechanic uses a hand wrench or an air tool, as long as he gets my car fixed I am fine with it.

      Greetinx,
      Chuck – DJ Vintage

  8. None of the five about sound quality.

  9. Would “Junglist for Life” who added a great reply to this post drop me a quick email ( phil AT digitaldjtips DOT com ) please as your email address didn’t work and I really want to publish your reply – it is excellent. I hope to hear from you soon :)

  10. Digital djing is fake and takes far less effort to mix than real vinyl.

    Vinyl sounds better.

    Music these days, at least the majority of it, is just mass produced crap. The rise in digital has killed so much of music in so many ways.

    Keep it vinyl. Be a real dj.

  11. The only reason on this page to switch to Mp3 for me would be searching faster. But after all, it’s fun searching the right record no?

    Many friended dj’s of mine tell me to switch, but DigitalDjing doent feel real to me; I love to feel the vinyl so a can do with it what i wont;

    I know you can do way much more “specials” with DigitalDjing but i still prefer Vinyl;

    I hope vinyl won’t die; but i believe it won’t :)

  12. Your crowd appreciates you more when your face isn’t buried in a laptop.

  13. Hey, why can’t you anti-folks see beyond the technology? As the article states in the end, “it’s all about music, stupid!”

    I do agree that the accessability and low cost of digital music today lowers the quality of peoples taste in music. Combine that with the fact that anyone with a couple hundred bucks in their pocket can get into DJing and you get more tasteless DJ’s.

    But I can’t see what’s more “real” about vinyl than mp3’s/wav’s. I understand that if feels different to handle a vinyl than spinning a plastic jog wheel, but with software like Traktor Scratch you can spin digital files with timecode vinyl. There ya go! No difference in feel – big difference in usability and workflow.

    But to say that vinyl sounds better than 320 kbps mp3’s is so freaking stupid. The only one who notices any difference is you, the DJ, and I could bet my left nut that it’s all in your head. And even if there is a difference – who cares? Not the audience, that’s for sure.

    I am a DJ because I enjoy giving people a good time and making them dance to the best dance music I could find. Do you really think the audience would say: “Dude, the DJ’s not even on vinyl. Sounds like shit! I’m outta here.” Of course not. They’re there to have a good time. They don’t give a damn wether you’re using vinyl, cd or mp3’s, nor if you’re mixing like mad or just standing there nodding your head to a pre-recorded mix. The only thing they ask of you is f-ing kick ass music.

    And that’s the other thing – why do you think that digital DJ’s play pre-recorded sets? Why the hell would anyone do that? The only thing even remotely similar is my backup CD with a DJ set loaded in the unlikely case of a computer crash. I’ve never used it so far.

    Now, take a chill pill and practice on your mix. That’s what I’m gonna do. :)

    • Lawrence says:

      Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    • Here here! That’s PRECISELY the reason anyone should be djing. It’s not about lording your skills of beat matching over the crowd. Lord knows there’s enough ego-centric dj’s out there already.

      Best way to set yourself apart from other dj’s is to be genuine, play music YOU like and be original in as many ways as you can come up with that help your set :)

  14. @Dave: Just because you brought a laptop on stage doesn’t mean you have to stare at it through out the whole set? With all the tactile, physical DJ controllers out there this is hardly a problem. And if you’re interacting enough with the audience, the occasional glance won’t bother anyone.

  15. Belgian Jungle Sound says:

    For me, the subject of vinyl vs digital is very weird: there has never been a more fierce debate between an analogue and digital format ever. Did anyone give a rat’s bollock when everyone started using digital camera’s instead of the ones with tape? No, because there is no equivalent of a DJ for videos who, having grown up and learned his trade on an analogue format, felt threatened by this new format. For me, digital djing is obviously infinitely better than vinyl with only the slight side effect that you don’t attach any feeling to a particular track as you would on vinyl which ultimately helps you make a better decision when thinking of that next track. Despite that, at the age of 14, I have fallen in love with vinyl and I’m currently building up a collection from scratch. The reasons that I love vinyl are threefold:
    1) Generally, vinyl is better sound quality, although I’m pretty sure even a sound engineer wouldn’t be able to tell the difference in sound quality between WAV. In any case, the quality of digital media is limitless while vinyl’s isn’t so this argument will be invalid very soon.
    2)Record shop owners are almost without exception extremely helpful and nice; at the record store I usually go to in brussels the guy let’s me practice on his decks. This adds to the meaning you attach to a particular song which, for reasons listed before I think is a good thing.
    3) For sentimental reasons; you can actually touch and feel vinyl while digital tracks are just there on your hard drive, stored as a series of 1s and 0s that will never see the light of day. For some reason the fact that maybe in 1000 years someone might find my turntable with a record on it and be able to listen to it for me makes vinyl a better format than digital media.
    Vinyl probably won’t last very long in face of the digital onslaught that will be coming in the next few years, but I sincerely hope it lives on as a V-fingered salute to lifestyle that is becoming increasingly virtual.

  16. Phil Morse says:

    To Belgian Sound Jungle: Thanks for your entertaining and thoroughly reasonable reposte! Your story and feelings are the exact reason why of course vinyl will live on – just like film cameras will live on. We’re all different, and there’s room for everyone.

  17. Marly Marl says:

    I’ve been DJ’ing for 21 years now and must agree that VINYL may be dying but it will never be forgoten. To me (personal opinion) nothing sounds as good as vinyl. I have moved on to playing with Serato which gives me my vinyl feel (98% lol) and allows some digital aspect to my sets, still buy vinyl though in hopes to keep it going that bit longer. I look at Serato & Tracktor as the viagra of the analogue DJ’ing world to spice up an old love affair. Big up to them. “Long Live Vinyl”

  18. Chris Argueta says:

    I have a HUGE vinyl collection (20 years of collecting), a custom-made three turntable coffin holding three Technics 1200 MK2s that aren’t even 2 years old (my third set, each with less than 50 hours use), a Rane MP2016A mixer, three brand new AT-PEQ3 phono pre-amps and Ortofon OM Night Club needles. In other words…

    I LOVE my vinyl collection of Classic House, House, Disco, Garage, New Wave, Classic Rock, HI-NRG, Freestyle and Techno. And I love how vinyl sounds.

    But, vinyl USED to sound better than MP3s. Ill say it again: it USED to sound better.

    I’ll explain. Music used to be recorded through Neumann mics, Trident consoles, Urei 1176LN compressors and Otari or Studer multi-track recorders. If you have a vinyl record from that era that is presently in pristine condition and compared to a 320kbps MP3 copy of that same record, you are going to hear the difference. The vinyl will sound better.

    But that is with old vinyl, recorded under different circumstances with much different equipment than now.

    Today’s recordings are completly done in the digital domain using ProTools, USB mics, SPDIF out, Synthesizers, SoftSynths, etc. All post production and mastering is digital. The only analog devices are the mics and speakers! So the 320kbps MP3 being produced nowadays from the studios sound great. Now, take that same digital file used to make the MP3 and press it to vinyl. It’s not going to sound as good.

    Why? Look at the dj equipment that is being used to reproduce the vinyl that came from the digital studio’s digital file. Pioneer DJM-800 mixer. Not the best phono preamps, for starters. 2nd, this dj mixer is almost completely designed for Line Level signals.

    I think there are times when vinyl will sound better and times where MP3s will sound better. You have to qualify your statements. I think that it all depends on what, where and how you play your media. It’s all relative.

    • Phil Morse says:

      The tragedy is that as you get older and your hearing tails off, it’s all immaterial anyway! And half the DJs who have this argument are probably the least well positioned hearing-wise to have a valid opinion!

    • it really is about the MUSIC, both the SELECTION and the SOUND QUALITY. no point talking about personal taste, coz we’d never reach a consensus.

      however, sound quality is debatable and the facts are that 320 kbps is only 23% of the size of CD quality 16 bit wav (1411 kbps), worse you consider 24bit 48kHz (2500+ kbps), so it seems pretty obvious that CD or original studio digital files have better quality sound than mp3, even at 320kbps.

      i fail to see how anyone can justify emasculating sound to 23% of it’s “standard” size & say nothing is lost in the porcess.

      some sites (Bandcamp) and individual artists/producers are offering FLAC, lossless files at around 45% (size in mb) of a 16 bit wav, which seems to genuinely maintain sound quality, so with the new cdj2000 out last year, i’m moving the other way, 16 or 24 bit, and burning onto CDs or using my 1TB HD to play in my setup (all my wav files fit in it’s 300g casing).

      as an artist, i don’t use sites that don’t offer a wav dl setting, bcoz i don’t wanna offer quality lower than wav.
      i’m always looking for quality sound & i switched from vinyl because a lot of what i wanted to play was no longer availble on vinyl… to quote a friend at naked music, “we just can’t afford to print in vinyl anymore”
      then i moved to brazil, where vinyls come with 60% import tax… OUCH!

      let’s keep it real, fun & at the best quality available
      ask an expert @ http://www.funktion-one.com/

      • the full link to the article is: http://www.funktion-one.com/dl/files/1789.pdf
        my bad

      • Chuck van Eekelen says:

        It is fun to see all these numbers fly back and forth once again, so much% of the original so it must be so much worse.

        I guess we overlook the way our ears process music/sound. If you ever read a book on psycho-acoustics you know your ears can be fooled easily. The brain just “makes up” the missing bits if necessary. By the same token something like masking makes that you only hear the loudest bit in every frequency range. So if there is a kick drum and a bass, where their frequencies overlap, only the loudest bit matters, everything else is wasted information/energy.

        It’s what they do in studio’s. If the bass masks the kick, you take the masking frequency TOTALLY out of the kick signal. End result, more “”room” in the mix.
        Trust me when I say that you won’t know if you are not told. And you definitely will not MISS the kick sound.

        Four years ago I set up a blind test to convince some fellow DJ’s and the owner of a mobile discotheque I work with that MP3 is the way of the future and there is no quality issue at work here. And to put an end to the “this is better than that” discussion once and for all. What better proof than your own ears, right.

        We set up in a club, I had 30-second clips of various styles made in 128, 192, 256 and 320 fixed rate, 240 variable and WAV. All neutral EQ and normalized. I played them in random order and asked those present to write down what they thought they were listening too.

        After a fun afternoon we tallied up the results and wouldn’t you know it:
        * SOME (especially the young ones) picked out the 128kbps MP3’s MOST of the time
        * 192 and higher, more lucky guesses than really knowing
        * 256, 320 and WAV … absolutely impossible to tell the difference in this setting. Actually I had more 256 samples mistaken for WAV than any other mismatch.

        I am not saying that in an audiophile setting with 10.000 euro speakers, 5.000 euro amps, an acoustically optimized room and a set of very good and discerning ears you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference (although even on a scope the difference between 320 and Wav is hard to discern), but in the typical environment where DJ’s operate there is no reason to not use 256kbps and up MP3’s over WAV. Most DJ software now will handle Flac as well which is lossless. And harddisk space is at such a price level that if you want to rip CD to WAV … no limitations there either.

        So don’t worry if your collection isn’t all on wav, flac or 320 kbps, just stay away from 128 and if you can help it 192Kbps and you’ll be fine. Noone in the crowd will notice when it is coming to them at 100dB over the club PA.

        Greetinx,
        Chuck – DJ Vintage

  19. James Glover says:

    I’ve been buying records since the turn of the 80’s and collecting properly since the mid 80’s, then eventually buying 1210’s in 91 and putting hours of my time daily into learning the art of mixing for months on end to get to a satisfactory level before I would even dream of playing at a friends party, then years later playing venues. You make some valid and interesting points in favour of digital, but I believe you omitted some points in vinyl’s and vinyl dj’s favour too.

    Like any good chef that puts effort into learning their trade and sourcing the finest ingredients, many vinyl dj’s have put a lot of time into sourcing their records too (possibly years), often on hands and knees in dusty basements and when you put that kind of effort in (often without great returns), you do form an emotional attachment to a piece of vinyl and the music on it, compared to my mp3 collection which I download easily and don’t feel the same connection to.

    Sure there will always be good cooks that might rustle up a decent menu and have a good customer base to their cafe/restaurant, but the chefs who can cook up their vinyl will always command more respect from me because they HAVE to learn their art before they can open their restaurant and for me i’m more likely to think about what i’m eating.

    Don’t get me wrong here, digital DJ’s have their place and have a massive advantage over vinyl DJ’s, but because it’s so much harder to become a great vinyl DJ, i’m far more likely to form a connection to them and get a buzz out of that.

    • Phil Morse says:

      Valid points, I am of your age too I guess so came through much the same thing.

      What about the 14 year old starting to make tunes on his laptop and remix and reedit pop stuff? Should he do it your way, or start playing at parties the way he knows when he’s 15 or 16?

      My point is, what you just described is history, like it or not. Most tunes don’t even make it to vinyl now. It’s something for old folk to debate, while the teenagers get on and do it – digitally.

      • James Glover says:

        ….and I guess why much of what they get on with doesn’t carry much artistic merit and why it’s harder for committed analogue/digital dj’s that have put the time in, to get heard and booked.

        So many of the ‘product reviews’ on youtube for the new controllers are painfully terrible to watch – by so called ‘reviewers’ that think they can mix because of the new technology. It’s an offence to the artform and thankfully can’t happen to the same extent when using records. Even sadder is that most of kids watching these videos think that these so called DJ’s are good.

        It takes time, an ear, effort and commitment to acquire real skills, but auto beat matching makes kids think they can DJ right away.

        There are some talented digital DJ’s that i’ve heard that you can tell have put time in to learn how to mix properly and create a mix worthy of listening to (maybe they’ve learnt on vinyl or cd’s), but this technology is making it easier for bad DJ’s to get a break.

        • Phil Morse says:

          It’s certainly true that there has been an exponential rise in the number of bottom feeders since the barriers to entry were lowered so much, and that autosync does allow anyone to do one or two passable mixes before their lack of real DJing skills trips them up, but there’s no need to worry that these facts mean there’s a generation of non-musical, skill-less DJs coming through.

          Most of kids with any musical feeling watching those videos don’t think that these so called DJs are good, trust me. In my lucky position, I am in contact with DJs from 15 upwards who are heart-meltingly enthusiastic, and seriously talented – and believe me, they’re not using vinyl.

    • Dustin Bowls says:

      Well said, perhaps that should be a disclaimer on “DJ Hero” You MUST know how to Express your VISION with carefully selected ingredients.

  20. Dustin Bowls says:

    So those would be what I consider 5 conveniences… but really nothing more. Do we now overlook the keys to unlocking the power of 2 songs? The result of a talented (in my case House Music) DJ using his/her ability to combine 2 carefully selected songs, (chosen by envisioning the “effect” that these songs will have on those around them) does not require a 10,000 MP3 library in one night, it actually dilutes it. If you are slamming beats or have entered a DJ CUT MASTER contest, then you need multiples, remixes and lots of PoPulAr sh!t. But my mixes have a Soul that is a result of real skills and an ear for what would moves feet and cause one to peak. After learning how to spin CDs and MP3s… it became clear.

  21. Agreed with all points. You really can’t blame technology for persons being lazy or approaching the craft half-assed. Once someone has a true love and respect for the craft they would seek to excel in it in every regard.

  22. Digital Dj’ing is all well and good convenient even , but being able to beat match by ear earns someone the title of dj , not a stack of fancy gear or anything else … thats the skill thats the job ..

  23. My 13 year old son loves dance music and has never used or bought (with a gift card, etc) a CD, let alone vinyl, in his life. Its I-Pod for him & his friends and all media for them is digital. Don’t think he would even know what vinyl is to be honest. If doing things with Vinyl works for you now; that is terrific, but the accessability of new music for Vinyl is coming to a close very soon. Technology is moving far too fast, it is smarter to be able to keep the pace of the Real World. Keep an eye on the new DJ experience and don’t be left behind. The next phase for ALL FUTURE DJs is adding video elements to collaborate with your music, but that is another topic.

    • Chris Argueta says:

      I agree with almost everything you said. The only reason my 13 year old knows what vinyl and turntables are is because I got my setup in the living room.

      Vinyl will stay alive as a niche for quite a while. But vinyl is no longer a practical medium.

      Only a small percentage of club DJs spin vinyl. And I don’t know any mobile DJs that still spin vinyl.

      What I don’t agree with is that video will be a must. I think video distracts from the music. If video is to have a place in the “super-club”, it’ll be the lighting guy or video guy’s job. Not the DJ. He’s got enough to worry about.

  24. Marly Marl says:

    I am able to do video with control vinyl for quiet a while now. The only thing will stop vinyl sales is the retirement of purists and the take over of the Digital DJ. Check http://www.juno.co.uk releases on a weekly basis. You will be suprised how much is still available on vinyl.

  25. Wheattoast says:

    from the ear of sound engineer who enjoys both

    digital mixing may be easier to maneuver but
    vinyl has a raw and soulful sound that digital music can not emulate.
    the timing of vinyl mixing has a more organic feel. .
    digital timing has a more synthetic feel though it does allow more for in-depth precision.
    digital sound waves are generally richer and fill a room more forcefully than vinyl generally does.

  26. teddyroxpin says:

    I’m sure people who knew how to use an abacus were choked when calculators made simple math easy thus making their skill less valued… but then finally they realised, “hey, this makes math easier for me too!”

    I’ve been on the 1’s & 2’s for over 10 years. Started on vinyl and switched to Serato Scratch Live with timecode vinyl & midi controllers just a few years later (can’t beat the convenience for getting new tunes)…never really got into CDJs. I like the feel of vinyl under my fingers.

    It’s ridiculous to think you can fight inevitable technological advances.

    Beatmatching:
    A skill that vinyl DJs obviously need to have. The CDJs came along and made that easier with their BPM displays. Now DJs can hit the SYNC button with certain software.

    Think about the advances in the automatic transmission for automobiles… DJs who are stuck in their old vinyl ways and shit on everyone else are like purist drivers shitting on 8-speed transmissions that shift in milliseconds.

    Embrace change. You cannot fight evolution.

    That being said, the sound of warm monotone bass off of classic vinyl still makes my heart weep.

    Also, for what it’s work, I’m okay with the SYNC button being used as a tool, like if the DJ is doing some crazy live remixing, but I think it’s lame if it’s because they CAN’T beatmatch. Keeping with the automobile analogy, I’m very good at parallel parking :) but my new/current car does it for me! haha

    Seeing a DJ using a little controller to play tunes doesn’t do it for me. A traditional mixer & turntables just looks right to me…

    But ultimately, it’s about the music…it’s about pleasing your audience…whether you’re using a VCI-300 controller, turntables, or CDJ2000s…if you’ve given them what they’ve “paid” for, you’ve done your job.

    • DJ Jackmoney says:

      If there is such a thing as embracing change why is SERATO designed to work on the 1200’s that started it all. Always a good idea to begin with vinyl & then whatever works for you is great. I can never trust a laptop to do an entire gig. The iphone is the shit though! LOL! Got me out of a jam before

  27. DJ Jackmoney says:

    When I started DJing 25 years ago I got into it because I loved rocking the crowd-not expecting tools to make it easier. Being able to travel with your tracks is cool, but for most gigs an experienced DJ would know what to put in his/her crates to rock the party. Back in the day you couldn’t pretend to be a DJ because people trusted you to do just that. Now people will hire you-pay you- and stand right next to you the entire night telling you what to play. Thats not a DJ- Thats a JUKE BOX. I still use Vinyl & CD’s

  28. I think the definition of a great DJ is a versatile one. Versatile with multiple genre’s in the arsenal as well as versatile in their DJ platforms.

    Now, as you stated in this article, the advantages of digital dj’ing is not a question when comparing to the use of records. But, as both a digital and vinyl DJ, I find there to be certain gigs where I will gladly go back to bringing a case of records vs. my laptop with its ease of use, looping abilities, and overall limitless creative input.

    Why you ask? Simply to please the crowd. These type of gigs I’m talking about are the abandoned warehouse at the most ghetto part of downtown, the top floor loft that was probably a sweat shop a few decades ago, or simply an extravagant house party with your close friends. Bringing your records not only adds the touch of nostalgia to the crowd, but shows your love for the music you own. (At least if you dance to them the way I do B) You create a history with the records you own, a mild love affair if I may say myself, and I think the essence of every crowd you’ve played that record for, comes back to touch every new audience that hears it. (As well as adds to the love you have to that record, which easily expands to your audience)

    A far stretch into my personal philosophy of dj’ing, sure, but I think many will agree. Like I said before, I think the greatest DJ is the most versatile one, and playing records vs bringing your laptop just might add to the versatility that I speak of.

    • Well argued and heartfelt – and I agree on a personal level. As an ex-vinyl jock, how could I not? :)

      • As a novice to the art of djing, its both the flexability and cost that has attracted me to it.
        traktor is becoming a production tool in its own right, especialy with the remix decks that are available.
        Im a drummer and i remember when electronis drums were starting to come into their own,, i heard all these old skool drummers complaining that was the end of drums and drummers, well 25years later,What do we have? Well we still have drummers with real skill! what electronic drums have done for drummers is provide them with an invaluable tool.!!!
        As far as im concerned the same rings true for the djing culture,, embrace it people i think its one of the coolest things to happen it is the future!!!
        Cheers
        Darran

  29. Djentrification says:

    More Wax sold last year than in 1992-Vinyl isn’t going anywhere-also-I notice many crowds really prefer it-but music is music and we are just lucky to have ears I think

  30. disco bee says:

    I’ve started dj’ing with CDJ’s, than I started to collect vinyl, which was not easy due to geographical conditions & economical reasons.

    Since that time vinyl vs. cd flamewars started, which i never take care, the only thing i cared was i can play 20 years old vinyl but not cd’s. Anyway, CDJ’s become superb, preparation was easier with a PC. I was dj’ing with CDs and vinyls (sometimes both) but I played in many places which only have cd dj setup. But there was always nerds around which are only talking about tiny details which really doesn’t matter (You can see these guys still discussing headphones, brands etc). I kept on with CDs (I was playing only disco/italo/electro etc with vinyl).

    Now I moved to another country, have to stay in a flat without private studio of my own or shared, even burning CD’s started to become painful. So I bought digital vinyl/cd system. I’m still practicing with cheap controller at home (yeah, behringer bcr2000). Than heading to club with my time coded things and laptop. I still feel not very comfortable playing with computer & timecode, because of computer fail etc. (nothing happened yet, knock on wood).

    Now when I’m going to vinyl shops (which are rare now with so-so collection), really there are very few vinyl I would like to buy in the shop. I would like to prefer vinyl dj’ing over digital because of the taste of the life. You take a bus/metro, go to store, spend the day inside, touch the plastic that you’ve paid for. but now this process just become obsolete for me. the shop I know is quite lacking… . I’m supporting all kind of dj’ing… digital dj’ing is more affordable. don’t forget guys: not everybody living in major countries where is more comfortable to buy vinyl/equipment etc or rich enough (if you are resident of a 3rd world country, think about how much you can spend for music or how much you can receive for dj’ing. thus digital dj’ing bring some democracy to the field. I had to pay double for a vinyl (plus my countries bad exchange rates); look from the economical part please! not everybody is lucky enough.

    Now you can continue to talk about vinyl sound quality (an than jump to stylus brands/mixer/sound system discussions).

    btw; I still have many vinyls with poor sound quality, so I can not say any word if vinyl releases are better or not (in the age of digital workflow & recordings). Still have tr-808? good for you, take care of it.

  31. a wise man once said (maybe danny tenaglia???) it’s not about HOW you do it, but WHY you do it…

  32. I must say I disagree with completely labeling laptop dj’s as lazy. I have spent hours upon hours warping tunes with ableton live in advance of any set that I play. Similar to the way I practice djing with vinyl for hours before a set. To me doing this work in advance is not lazy by any means. Also in terms having a “set” lined up, I think that is a misconception as well. Any good DJ knows that you need to play your tunes a lot in advance on vinyl in order to play them out proper in live. When I rehearse with vinyl, I am making mental notes as to which tunes go well together & when to cue them & will most likely end up putting many of those tunes together live & sometimes will even use post it notes to note the bpm of the tune. With Ableton I can choose tunes on the fly in the same exact fashion as I would with vinly. The bottom line is, no one criticizes live bands for having a rehearsed set prepared for a concert tour but you criticize a dj for having a set list? If you want to show up & just start throwing tunes up “at random” then they better be tunes that you have never played or heard before in your life to justify that argument. Funny that people who play vinyl criticize laptop djs… On vinyl, you are simply playing back two tunes but with a lappy I can remix on the fly & even play my own tunes tracked out & to a live pa on the fly with them as well… A vinyl dj is usually simply mixing two tunes that were written & recorded by other people together. No disrespect for vinyl as I play it all but saying that laptop djs are lazy, cheaters or not real dj’s is just totally false in my opinion.

    • PS in terms of sound quality, I can play 24bit 96KHz wavs with my laptop… better quality than 16 but 44.1 KHz of CD’s.

      • PPS Many clubs I have been to have beat up & unreliable turntables & cdj’s… all I need a club to provide with my lappy is a decent mixer… I bring my sound card, midi controller & laptop & can ensure consistency ;)

  33. On Reason No. 2. You can locate any tune immediately, the counterargument is that with anything more than 30 records, you rely on the visual cues to pick the right one. So many names and titles to remember at any one time. And that’s something that no keyword or first few letters of a keyword would help with!

  34. ive been a dj on vinyl for coming on five years now but dont really feel the crap club scene nowdays, im a hard trance / hardstyle dj and when i found my passion for it was probably around the time of ‘E’ when everyone congregated for the love of the music. nowdays it has become a sport of arrogance and such a clicky profession where it has all been commercialised (UK) to town centres where you get drunken idiots making bad atmospheres. getting more to subject i am selling my beloved 1210s and getting a mixtrack pro and my vinyl will be going in the attic as theres not enough money in the world to part with them. that said i wont be syncing, ill still use familiar beat matching by ear because that is what comes naturally. i looked on discogs the other day for a tune i have been trying to get for years. Black money – White powder. £25 pound for a vinyl when T.I.D sells it on mp3 320kb which is not as inferior a sound £1.49. same with a lot of old classics, its a no brainer. also i am starting to produce, if a label sees potential in my track then i may get to spin it in a club. with digital i can play my own makings in a club and that is the way things are going nowdays and right too. i love my technics and will be sad to see them go but time for me to evolve. i do it for the love of the tunage and there is nothing better than playing what i love and still being able to afford. 6 beers and a pizza :) peace

  35. AUNTJMTIMA says:

    this is why we disagree:

    1. even in mp3 format, individual hard drives or storage mediums will not provide enough space. carrying everything with you is a breeding ground for requests, your a catalog at that point.

    2. a relationship with your music is sacrificed when you are scanning through a list of names that look alike and begin to run together, not flipping through tangible, touchable items, with visual recognition from record covers. not to mention the dexterity acquired through the art of finding the next piece of vinyl only compliments the skill necessary to manipulate a record and control a mixer.

    3. carry your records.

    4. pretty sure a rare release or hard to find song implies they are not available in a mass media digital format that can be spread like a virus which will void the uniqueness or rarity it once possessed. if very limited copies are pressed to vinyl, a digital versions is not going to be released simultaneously.

    5. the identity of the remixer is masked in the digital format. especially with the ease provided by serato-type software. using two of the same 12 inch displays your skill with a turntable as an instrument compared to an ability to use your software or point and click a mouse well.

  36. listen, i started with vinyl, then went to cds now i use a controller. i have used everything but my favorite is my controller. i can bring all my tunes, i use effects, it’s easier to mix two copies, the looping is great. i will say this, as far as sound quality, vinyl is the beat. alot of people mistake louder with better. people say cds have better sound quality but no it doesn’t, it’s just louder. alot of people hate digital djs because of the sync button. i NEVER use the sync button, digital djing is more convient. less to carry. it’s not being lazy, it’s just less to carry. old school djs just need to embrace new technology. i’m old school but i went with the times and alot of old school djs should do it to.

  37. DJ Sippy says:

    I have been DJing for only a few years, and CD’s have been my goto source. That said, I have welcomed with open arms the digital tecnology that is MP3’s and others. I’m adjusting to the sync and in time will be better at it, but for now, I still mix by ear.

    After saying all this, I still must say that I admire the “old school” DJ’s who at one time, or continue to spin vinyl. after all, isn’t about the music no matter what medium?

  38. Reel2Reel,tape,dat,cd,vinyl,mp3 – whatever rocks you boat as a dj is all that counts.

    Use them all – Vinyl,cd, digital

    Vinyl – At Home (keeps them nice)
    Cd’s – at the shit clubs where they wanna nick your laptop
    digital – At weddings – where you need every kind of shit record.

    Music is music – But long live vinyl.

  39. How do you all feel about Traktor Scratch and Serato where both units give you that feel vinyl while using digital music? Also, I’m currently learning how to spin and it’s been taught to me that it’s best to learn on vinyl because you’re actually doing the work and once you learn vinyl the transition to CDs is smooth; where as with learning to CDJ first, you kind of hit the ground running but it’s detrimental to learning some of the fundamentals like true BPM adjustments.

    • It’s either the best of both worlds or the worst of both worlds, depending how you look at it (ie, all the fun of vinyl with all the advantages of digital, or conversely, big, bulky prone to malfunction etc but not even real vinyl)!

      Me? One or the other. I find DVS (“digital vinyl systems”) a stop-gap.

  40. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-21010240

    Lol it’s not over till the fat lady sings ;).

  41. Thanks Phil for fixing my post.

    And i must agree with you we can have the best of both worlds , we are spoilt rotten really.

  42. kali bigbear says:

    my only reply is vinyl’s dont crash

  43. Reasons to play only vinyl

    – Warmth, depth of the sound through a decent system is sensational (think Function One)
    – Unique selection of tracks in the DJ-case makes a DJ the DJ with his own unique signature instead of all those boring “drop hits DJs”
    – Vinyl is sexy and got me laid many times :-)
    – You get the reaction of the crowd back through the needle into the crowd again which makes the club sweat and pump
    – The look and feel is far more natural
    – It separates the skilled and experienced DJs from the Digital ones
    – The experience of playing vinyl is far more energetic than the static laptop Serato DJ
    – You can flip flop easily through your records without having to remember names
    – It has value in terms of money
    – You can let the crowd show what record has been played by showing the cover
    – Every record has its unique own story where it has been purchased, so stories are always there…..
    – Its nice to collect records and have them in the room
    – By buying records you support the producer, the cover making artist and the industry as a whole
    – You can give your collection to another person or let your children use it when you are a grumpy old man
    – It doesnt crash

    but the most important thing is that its FUN to use

    Yeah its heavy but that separates the men from the boys too ………..

  44. Ok, so I read both “5 Reasons Why..” I’m a Dj from the old school of House music going way back to Adonis and No Way Back(if you don’t know, go get a clue instead of djing). I can definitely understand the statements made on both ends. I know Technic 1200’s very well and it’s a unique experience that not all can understand.(Ex. Recognizing a record by its label or playing the B side). You got mad respect for being able to Dj because it took real skill and a developed craft to control the crowd, never double beat, and play unheard imports hand picked from Tower Records. In some of the worst neighborhoods, no one messed with the Dj because they needed him for the next party.
    Technic Dj’s have a great skillset, which could be judged as being better. But honestly, only those that know the difference actually care and I hope that people still care. I’ve seen horrible Dj’s do parties and get paid simply because technology has made it possible. Who can really tell the difference between mp3’s and vinyl? Yeah, I can. But the 21 year old party goer may have no clue. All they know is mp3’s and louder. Maybe not all, but most want to hear whatever it is they’re listening to on a regular basis on the radio(terrible).
    Let me end this by saying: The value is still with the actual Dj. A good Dj can burn down the house, any event, with great skill and knowledge of music and how it’s put together. There is a major advantage for those that have mastered the analog and digital realm. Digital means ease of use, while analog gives you the crown of quality that not everyone can have. Peace&MadLove-Dj UNC
    ThirdFloorMixes; TXIMUSIC, Inc.

  45. Hey my name is DJ L City just starting out on the digital Djing but vinyl Djing started the Dj movement digital Djing is just another way of making it easier for the vinyl Dj to put more mixing in into there set. I would love to learn the old school way in the future but i got to learn how first. But the insight is real good and a lot people have experience in Djing I’m just starting out so that’s just my opinion on everything.

  46. Vinyl is a lot of fun. Still is. CD is a different in that you don’t get to actually touch it like vinyl to scratch. Digital is also different in that you don’t actually get to touch like vinyl, or hold and insert like CD.

    And because I now have a renewed interest in DJ-ing since 1991, and with all that vinyl and equipment long gone, I have to start with digital laptop DJ-ing. I still have an old analog mixer which I could probably recommission into action at some point later on. But the laptop is now where my tunes reside. No more crates. Less equipment, less bulk.

    While some purists might scoff at it, I am of the opinion that DJ-ing is now evolving and may even change its form, usage and style again in the future.

  47. I am a vinyl DJ, and the only reason that I can come up with that makes me want to convert to CDJs is that there are too many digital DJs in the world today. Many record labels are no longer pressing tunes to vinyl because the demand has diminished. As a vinyl DJ, I can’t get these tunes unless I pay a fortune for dubplates or one-off cuttings.

  48. I am a big digital fan. Being able to have a selection of 20K+ tunes on my 160Gb iPod classic, awesome. I can sit on a bus, plane, train and select whatever music I want. Better than one or two cassettes to play on a walkman.
    Must admit that I have just re-invested in a record player, many of the bands I like to see are underground and in the d.i.y scene, issuing their own 7″/12″ and LPs on vinyl, although some still issue with a digital download code so you don’t have to rip them yourself.

    The problem that I find with much of the digital stuff is that you can find versions at 128kbps or 192 kpbs but trying to find higher quality versoins e.g. 320Kbps can be difficult.

  49. This is an interesting post and great comments. I read it when you first posted and now once again. Its also been an interesting transition for me in that time. I fell on one side of the argument before, but I am going backwards it seems as now I an undecided.

    I got started in DJing a few years ago and would not have been able to do so without the aid of digital tools and the loads and loads of mp3s I have. However, I decided I needed to learn to beatmatch and learn to use CDJs at some point along the line.

    In doing so, I have started to really enjoy it more as I connect more with with music than I did waveriding from my laptop + controller. I even started burning a single track to CD, which is about the most inefficient thing you could do, but it has been awesome flipping through a CD binder looking at songs to pick the next one. Its been an effort of trying to give them more character than they have as a line item in a piece of software.

    I bought my first vinyl record last week and I don’t even have a turntable yet to play it on. I just HAD to have the track, and it was vinyl-only. The funny thing is that is got me really interested in vinyl now. Which from an efficiency point of view is ridiculous. I already have spent countless dollars on mp3s and now have a single record. But, I think I understand the connection of the record now; and I want that. The physical connection. Part of this is just knowing that I have this awesome track on this record that is just waiting to be played. Believe me, I get excited about mp3 purchases too, but they seem much more fleeting.

    I will always still play with mp3s, it would just be stupid not to, either USB, djay, traktor, or whatever — but I understand the place for vinyl now too. I think there is room for both.

    Whats interesting to me personally as well is that I am a software engineer and my whole life has been about automating things or making things more efficient. Which like I said is how I got into DJing in the first place. I was busy trying to make crafty controller tricks with traktor or ableton. But over time I am enjoying the more simplicity of it, and… the analogue. I have been trying to create the vinyl experience with CDs.

    Picking out a physical record that I remember getting, that is a hard to get import, that tells me a story with it, and then playing that to rock the room just has a connection that seems hard to match.

    • Funnily enough when I wrote this post (a long time ago), I was using a Vestax VCI-300; no simpler controller can you get. I liked and still like it because it feels closest to analogue…

  50. Ok…I am brand new to this and have no idea how to mix songs on vinyl let alone a laptop. But here’s what I think: Jut because you’re using a laptop and a program to make music doesn’t make you any less talented. I really hate it when people slam electronic musicians, saying “that’s not real music…blah blah blah.” And then, we have electronic musicians slamming other electronic musicians because they choose to make use of technology. Wipdee Frickin doo people. I mean, how archaic and close minded can we be?! That would be like stone age dudes who used to bang on drums telling whoever invented the first guitar that that wasn’t real music because it wan’t done on drums. I mean REALLY?!?! Mind your own business and make your own tunes and stop being so judgmental of others!!! I mean I honestly think that some people just aren’t happy unless they are slamming someone else. GROW UP!!!

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