Reader Torino187 writes: “I have a CDJ / DJM350 set-up. I use USB sticks when I practise at home, but find that most gigs I play at don’t have USB capability, as they tend to have CDJ200s. At the moment I’ve started ripping disks because of my venues and this is a hassle. I have looked at the Serato SL4 and Pioneer DDJ-T1 controllers as options. Would it be redundant or a waste of money to get one of the two? And do I need them? Thanks.”
Digital DJ Tips says:
You have three options, then. Firstly, continue burning CDs. I can see what that’s annoying you! Secondly, use a DJ controller (you mention the Pioneer DDJ-T1). Thirdly, use a Serato box, and you mention the SL4.
These three options are basically “traditional” (ie analogue) DJing (even though your music is from a digital USB stick, the rest is how it’s always been done); digital controller DJing, where you have one controller plugged into your laptop that is your mixer and decks all in one; and what’s called “digital vinyl” or DVS DJing. (Confusingly, it still gets called this even when you’re using CDJs not record decks.). If you’re not clear about the final one, it is where you use a computer, a small interface box and special “timecoded” CDs or vinyl to “control” music from your laptop using the club’s existing equipment.
The way you do it right now is the way most pro DJs still do it, although they play in clubs where USBs are very common. It’s just bad luck for you that you don’t. If this is the only reason you want to change (you can’t be bothered burning discs), you need to weigh up whether the leap from DJing the “traditional” way (albeit with USBs) to one of the two forms of digital DJing you’ve identified is worth it for you. If so, you have highlighted two options: Using a DJ controller (you mention the Pioneer but there are dozens – get our free guide), or using a DVS (“digital vinyl system”).
The controller route I think wouldn’t make a massive amount of sense for you, as you already have DJ gear and you’re happy using it (and using the stuff in clubs, apart from the CD question). DVS makes more sense, because you could use a similar set-up at home as in the clubs, getting a lot of the benefits of digital DJing as a bonus.
If you decide to go the DVS route, I’d recommend you consider either Rane SL 2 for Serato Scratch Live or Native Instruments Traktor Scratch A6. Both are good systems to allow you to use whatever gear you find in the clubs to DJ with your laptop, using Serato Scratch Live and Traktor software respectively. I’d also take the time to research both pieces of software and see which you like the look of best, as this is an important decision.
How would you advise our reader? Do you have the same problem where you are? How did you solve it? Please share your thoughts in the comments.