10 Commandments For Better Digital DJing, #5

Phil Morse | Founder & Tutor
Read time: 4 mins
Last updated 28 November, 2017

CDJ and digital
You’ll be able to work happily in DJ booths alongside CDJs and record decks if you follow this commandment…

So we reach the halfway stage in our definitive 10 Commandments of Digital DJing, with a commandment that will help digital DJs to earn the respect of vinyl DJs, CD DJs and venue owners.

Today’s commandment should help to ensure that when you’re DJing in pro DJ booths, you can play your part and join in fully, and feel more confident that you can handle any situation that might get thrown at you.

Today’s commandment

This one is important not only in “pro ” DJ booths, but in general if you want to play with non-digital DJs, anywhere:

Commandment #5: Know how to use at least CDJs and preferably records, as well as your digital gear.

Watch the video below for a full explanation of this and why it’s so important, and if you’re rusty or your skills in these areas are non-existent, we’ve got a whole host of useful resources for you too to help you get up to speed.

As with previous commandments, this one is part of our 10-day Campaign For Better Digital DJing, and we are asking you to click the Facebook Like button at the end of today’s post, if you enjoy it. This will pass the rule on to your friends on Facebook, and hopefully some of theirs, and we’ll be able to spread the word that digital DJs care about the art of DJing into the wider DJing community further than we’ve managed before.



Know your CDJs
Unlike in the DJ controller market with lots of excellent brands all vying for your attention, in the CD arena, Pioneer’s CDJs have just about stitched it up. There are great models from other manufacturers, particularly Denon, but Pioneer is what you see everywhere.

The CDJ-1000 is the model you’ll see the most of – they’ve been the club standard for many years, and went through three incarnations. Now they’ve been replaced by the CDJ-900, and the new flagship model, the CDJ-2000. There are also lower-end models, aimed at home users, but the happy thing is they all work pretty much exactly the same way – which is, very similar to your DJ controller.

If you can’t get a go on a pair, either in a local venue or via any DJing contacts you have who have some they’ll let you practise on, then the Pioneer DDJ-S1 and DDJ-T1 digital DJ controllers are basically CDJs with the mechanical CD bits ripped out – they’re a good place to get a feel for what CDJs are like.

As a minimum, you need to be able to put a CD on, select a track and get it playing. That means that when you play gigs, you can have a CD lined up in case of disaster. You also need to be able to stop it and switch smoothly over to your digital DJing gear.

Here’s a video giving a good walk-through of the features on a typical Pioneer CDJ:

Know your turntables

As far as turntables go, of course it’s all about Technics 1200/1210 Mk II – these two models (the different numbers indicate silver or black) have dominated for decades, even though they’re discontinued now.

Get a friend to talk you through the basics if you can, and at least learn to put records on and mix out of them to your digital gear. It might sound silly, but you just need to be comfortable getting records out of their sleeves, cueing them up, starting them, and adjusting the speed etc. Nothing major – but imagine your embarrassment if you were asked to do this and couldn’t! Try and get a go on some Technics as soon as you can (nowadays you may come across Stanton, Numark or Vestax turntables too – they’re all very similar).

Integrating vinyl, CDs and digital
you may decide that you’d like to get really good on vinyl or CDs (or both), and get yourself a full hybrid set-up at home. If so, How to Add Digital DJing to Your Existing Vinyl or CD Set-up will help you to make the right decisions regarding your gear.

Fully digital or digital vinyl?
Many digital DJs struggle to decide whether they should use a controller, or go for a digital vinyl system line Serato Scratch or Traktor Scratch. There’s no right answer, so take a look at this reader’s question and the helpful answers to get a broader idea of whether digital vinyl could be for you: Over To You: Should I Sell My Controller & Buy A Digital Vinyl System?

We hope this material has been useful to you, and thank you once again for Liking this post in order to help us spread our campaign for better digital DJing far and wide…

• Watch out tomorrow for the sixth of our ten “commandments”. And thanks again for your support – it’s truly appreciated.

Check out the other parts of this series:

What are your views on our fifth commandment? Do you think it’s necessary for DJs to know how to use analogue gear? Or will all that stuff be history in a few years, so why bother? Please let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

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