This post offers you an easy way to catch up on some goodness from Digital DJ Tips that you may have missed throughout the year. Below we highlight the best of 2010: Have a look through and see if here’s anything you missed.
We’ve covered hardware, software, DJing techniques, technology developments, opinions and beginners’ topics: there’s bound to be something to help you get ahead in 2011 in this lot. Happy hunting!
What is this digital DJing thing anyway?
Digital DJing is only just coming of age and didn’t really exist 5 years ago. But the demise of Technics only serves to prove that it is here to stay. As with many new things, it is being met with enthusiasm and a certain amount of hostility. We put our flag in the sand early with 5 reasons why digital DJing beats vinyl, and just for fun, spent the odd Sunday morning musing on what we’d do with all our old vinyl and old CDs now we have digital in our lives.
Realising many people just want to “have a go”, we covered digital DJing on a shoestring, and answered a pretty common question: “Help! I’ve Just Bought My First Digital DJ Kit. What Do I Do Now?”. Our fun test, 7 signs you can be a great DJ, was designed to get people kickstarted into DJing, and how to juggle kids, career and DJing was written especially for dads (and mums!) returning to DJing with digital, years after having done it with vinyl in the 1990s and 2000s.
Of course, many DJs will be adding digital to an existing set-up, and equally many parents will be wanting to buy digital DJ gear for their teenagers – we carried how-to articles for both these groups of readers.
We got out and about this year, visiting clubs, lounges, gear shops, top DJs and the BPM Show in our hunt for new gear to report to you. And we found lots of it…
You know, you can happily DJ from just a laptop, but 4 out of 5 of you use a controller of some kind. Having told you how to choose a digital DJ controller, we rounded them all up in the web’s biggest DJ controllers buyer’s guide. We looked in more detail at the Numark Mixtrack and Mixtrack Pro, which turned out to be the most popular new budget controllers of 2010 by a long way.
The Vestax Spin is selling great for the Apple Mac though, and its PC counterpart the Typhoon also stood out. Speaking of Vestax, their 4-deck follow-up to the game-changing VCI-100, the VCI-100 Mk II caught our eye, as did Hercules’s follow up to the Hercules RMX, the Hercules 4-Mx.
European manufacturer Reloop gave us the Digital Jockey 2 and the new Mixage, and we were impressed with the mega-portable Stanton SC System 3. For real beginners, we couldn’t resist covering the cute little Ion Audio ICUE3, and we were intrigued if not bowled over by an iPod-dock DJ controller, the Numark iDJ3.
At the upper end of the controller market, the Traktor Kontrol S4 and the Denon DN-MC6000 both garnered considerable interest, so we thought we’d also look at them head-to-head. We also covered the high-end Vestax VCI-300.
Compact DJ headphones can give you DJ quality in a small package, but whatever you go for, it’s important to understand what to look for in a pair of headphones, not least to try to avoid hearing damage. (That’s if you even need headphones any more….). People get confused about sound cards and whether or why they need them. We looked at sound cards in general, rounded up some budget sound cards, and reviewed the Vestax VAI-80 in particular. 2011 may just turn out to be the year of the touchscreen. 2010 certainly saw interest building: We found a juicy touchscreen DJ system, but no sooner did we report that, another touchscreen system came along.
We covered the new, extremely popular Virtual DJ Pro 7 with its 99 decks, and we looked at the differences between the 2 controller editions of Traktor, in Traktor Duo vs Traktor Pro. We also reviewed the intriguing MixTape, designed to help you make DJ mixes. Buy a DJ controller and you’ll get a cut down version of DJ software more often than not. In bundled DJ controller software: facts & myths we examined whether such software is any good, but we also looked at a completely free version of Virtual DJ 7 to see if it’s really good enough to DJ with for nothing. One trend this year was software and hardware coming together. Serato ITCH 1.7 comes with only selected hardware, as does Traktor Kontrol S4). We reckon we’ll see more of this in 2011.
DJ mixes are the next step. We covered extra software needed for digital DJing in general, and we also explored ways of looking after your music library including TuneUp, TrainSpotterTwo, and BeaTunes.
Is it worth mixing in key? We ran a live experiment with Mixed in Key software to find out, and we also looked at Platinum Notes, software designed to give your MP3s some extra oomph, from the same manufacturers.
Basic DJing skills and techniques
From learning to beatmatch by ear to programming DJ sets, some things are the same however you DJ. We tried to illustrate DJing techniques in a fun way, looking at what pop concerts and the movies can teach you about DJing.
Music is the biggest part of DJing, bringing all sorts of challenges to the digital DJ. We gave you 3 simple steps to a great digital record collection, warned you about the 7 deadly sins of record collecting, and explained why all music is good music for the very best DJs. Organisation of your music is key, which is why we brought you a 2-parter, how to organise your tunes while DJing; explained why packing a good box of tunes is more important than ever; showed you how to plan your sets with iTunes, and wondered how often you have an MP3 spring clean.
Vinyl DJs will want to know how to rip MP3s from vinyl, and all smart DJs will be interested in 7 easy ways to sound better than other DJs. We looked at why DJs need to record their mixes, before running a full week-long series called the definitive guide to making a mixtape, still the most in-depth tutorial available online to help you make your own mixtapes. We even showed you where to get a personalised ident for free to make your mixes stand out. You’ll want to promote your mix once you’ve got it, and we presnted to you 5 ways to promote your DJ mix on SoundCloud.
Words from the wise
From veteran superstar DJ Danny Rampling to Allen & Heath’s Andy Rigby-Jones, and from free software pioneers Mixxx and Mac DJ software leaders djay, to inspiring Digital DJ tips readers Marvin Kamikaze and Domas, we tried to talk to as many movers and shakers as we could this year to learn from their experiences – something we’ll be doing much more of in 2011.
Everyone should have a DJ book or two. There are many DJing books out there, and to sort the good from the wannabes, we rounded up some of the best, also looking in more depth at Everything You Need To Know About DJing And Success and The Record Players: DJ Revolutionaries.
Taking it further
Playing out is very different to playing at home. We advised you of 10 essential DJ items you shouldn’t leave home without, and then gave you a whole host of tips on surviving your first public gigs, from DJing in sports bars to dealing with attention, using digital gear in bars and clubs to botch-fixing overheating amps. Whether you want to play a great indie set, keep on the right side of your fans, carry on playing past curfew time, or just survive your first ever public gig, we were there with lessons and tricks.
Not all of you just want DJing for a hobby. Paying for your tunes and gear by charging for your services can be a bit of cash on the side, and sometimes turns into a full career. We showed you the mix of skills you need, how to stop being a freejay and start being a DJ, advised on choosing a DJ name, and gave you 7 easy steps towards your first DJ booking. In conjunction with DJ Tech Tools we have been writing about promoting your own club night, in our building your club night and DJ career with guest DJs and how to launch a club night series of posts.
Want to know why it’s so important for pro DJs to compile DJ charts? Why many swear by DJ record pools? We’ve got the stuff – all you’ve got to do now is miss a flight or two and you can call yourself a real pro!
You wanted to know…
As our readership grew, we started to publish your questions, something we’ll do more of in 2011. From asking about free software for mixing in key to organising your music better in Traktor, from multi-tagging your music in bulk in iTunes to wondering if your cheap DJ gear will sound rubbish in a large venue, we posted your questions, offered answers and let you join in and help too.
That’s the beauty of this DJ community we’re working hard to build: thanks for being a part of it in 2010.
What was your favourite post of 2010? Let us know in the comments – and if you haven’t already, why not take our Reader’s Survey and tell us what you’d like to see on Digital DJ Tips in 2011?