Modern DJ controllers and laptop DJing bring dilemmas when it comes to setting up your gear. With record decks and a mixer, of course you need a substantial flat surface, isolated against accidental jogs and bass feedback.
But with DJ controllers, you can perch them anywhere – that’s part of the attraction. It means controllerists can play in places where you couldn’t even fit decks and a mixer, but it also means that if you are ever asked to play somewhere where a traditional set-up takes up all the space, you’re going to have to do some creative thinking.
Why buy a laptop stand?
In both of thesecircumstances, squeezing your kit effectively into the available space will almost always be aided by using a laptop stand – or even two (one for your laptop, and one for your controller).
Why? Because a good laptop stand will allow you to set up your laptop above either your controller, or other equipment that’s already there. You are in effect stacking your kit vertically.
Laptop stands that are suitable for DJing not only raise your laptop up, but also usually tilt it towards you, making the keyboard easier to use.
Squeezing your kit effectively into the available space will almost always be aided by using a laptop stand.
But perhaps the best bit about raising your laptop up is that it positions the screen closer to eye level.
There are plenty of reasons why this is good – easier to see, you don’t need as big a screen (a 13″ screen close to your eyes is as good as 17″ screen on a table down near your hands), and you can keep an eye on your screen more subtly without doing that big DJ turn-off: screen-gazing instead of watching your crowd.
Finally, having your kit positioned so you don’t have to twist your back and bend down to see or use it properly is going to help you through long sets from a comfort and performance point of view, and in the longer term help you through your DJing life from a health standpoint too.
Choosing a laptop stand
When you choose a stand or stands for your laptop and/or controller, the main things to look out for are:
- Ease of setting up/folding away – The quicker the better for crowded, dark DJ boxes. Fewer detachable parts is a good thing too, both for simplicity and to save you losing bits
- Sturdiness – You don’t want the stand toppling over or failing due to the fact that it can’t take the weight or the use you’re putting it to. This is particularly important if you are using a stand to raise your controller up into a more playable position, as your controller is probably heavier than your laptop, and will get more abuse too
- How its feet work – Some stands are great if you want to tuck them under record decks. Others are better if you want to tuck your controller directly underneath it. Which you choose will depend on how you will typically be setting your gear up
- What control you have over the positioning – Some stands are fixed height and position, others let you alter these settings. Generally most will put your laptop there or thereabouts, but if you’re particularly tall or short, or will be setting your equipment up on surfaces of very different heights, you may want one that you can adjust the height and/or angle of
- Any extra shelves – Some stands have (or have as an option) an extra shelf that fits below the main shelf, where you can put a sound card (typically). If you do have any extra kit like this apart from just your laptop and DJ controller, you may wish to look for such a model
- How easy it is to transport – Size and weight both come into play here. If you have a nice, compact, portable DJ set-up, having a great big, heavy stand that won’t fit into your backpack and you can’t carry around easily with you as you hop from party to party or travel by air with just your hand luggage won’t be the best choice
Our Top 3 Stands…
Height adjustment: yes; Angle adjustment: yes; Extra shelf: optional; Supplied carry bag: yes; Size when folded flat: 13.3″ x 12.6″ (340mm x 320mm); Weight: 3.1lb (1.4kg); Colour: black
They say: The Crane Stand is the highest quality adjustable laptop stand on the market and the only DJ laptop stand made in the USA. Adjustable and portable, the patented ergonomic 3-leg design allows for an infinite number of positions making the Crane Stand the most versatile and stable laptop stand on the market.
We say: Destined to become a design classic, this patented design is rock solid. Fast and easy to set up and fold away. Can be set up in 2 ways depending on the weight of the equipment you want to hold and how much space you need underneath it. Optional accessories include an extra shelf and a flat bottom for placing it under mixers that fit flush with the table. Will hold most sizes & weights of gear. The Rolls Royce of mixer stands, reflected in the price.
Odyssey L Stand S
Height adjustment: yes; Angle adjustment: no; Extra shelf: optional; Supplied carry bag: no; Size when disassembled: 20″ x 15″ (508 x 381mm); Weight: 3lb (1.3kg); Colour: white / black
They say: The most popular laptop stand out there is now available in a stand alone only table top package. Made for those who need the basic essentials of a reliable laptop / gear stand without sacrificing the quality and convenience of the Odyssey Original L Stand design.
We say: Fine for our 13″ MacBook but wouldn’t be good with big laptops. Not the best made device – some users report screws threading on assembly. Doesn’t fold/unfold, so not the best if you’re on the move. A little bit wobbly. If you’ve got small and light equipment and won’t be moving it around a lot, it’s a bargain at the US price, but not so much at the UK/Europe price.
Height adjustment: yes; Angle adjustment: no; Extra shelf: yes; Supplied carry bag: yes. Size when folded flat: 12″ x 12″ (300mm x 300mm); Weight: 3.4lb (1.5kg); Colour: black / blue / red / silver / gold
They say: An essential tool for the traveling laptop DJ / musician. Most DJ booths and performance venues were not designed to accommodate a laptop. The Uberstand alleviates this issue. Folded, it is the perfect travel companion to your laptop. Unfolded, its striking industrial design comes to life and safely elevates your laptop above your work space while providing a specially crafted shelf for your external hard drive.
We say: Well-built in aircraft-grade aluminium and steel, and portable as it folds flat into a supplied bag. Easy to assemble and disassemble. However, there’s noticeable “give” in the stand when touching your laptop, and it really needs to be locked into place with the supplied reusable zip ties. This is pretty straightforward to do, though. Good value for money.
There are plenty of stands out there: some that only lift the kit a few inches, some that aren’t sturdy enough for use by musicians, others that need clamping down. The 3 above are widely available, freestanding, and allow you to use other equipment underneath your laptop or controller.
The saying ‘buy cheap, buy twice’ is worth remembering with equipment stands.
Price will come into your choice, but the saying “buy cheap, buy twice” is worth remembering with equipment stands – having a sturdy stand you can trust is money well spent, especially if you’re on the move. That means either the Stanton or the Crane.
If not, and you only want a simple stand for home use, you could get away with the Odyssey. Otherwise, assess any stands you find in the shops against our recommendations before buying and you shouldn’t go far wrong.
• Thanks to Brandon Orr of Disc Jockey Services for his help with the Stanton Uberstand review.
Do you have a favourite equipment stand? How do you set up your gear when you play with your controller and laptop out and about? Let us know in the comments.
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