Over To You: Best First Set-Up For A New DJ/Producer?

Phil Morse | Read time: 2 mins
Pro
Last updated 6 April, 2018

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traktor
A mighty fine Native Instruments / Traktor set-up for DJ/producers… or is it? well, that depends on you – and until you start doing this stuff, you won’t know – so don’t shell out loads of money on gear too soon.

Digital DJ Tips reader Maya writes: “So, for my birthday present this year, my parents are going to allow me to buy some gear so I can learn how to DJ. I really want to learn how to DJ super well and eventually learn techniques such as freestyle sampling, but I also want to become an EDM producer. I’ve done a ton of research into the things I have to have in order to achieve my goal, and I really like all of Traktor’s products for mixing and the DAW FL Studio for creating music. I want to buy as little unnecessary stuff as possible, and I was wondering if Maschine / Kontrol S4 are compatible with FL Studio. I also wanted to buy a Midi keyboard and possibly a Launchpad, and definitely some speakers.

Digital DJ Tips says:

I think you’re running before you can walk a bit here. You say you want to avoid unnecessary purchases, but until you start doing this stuff, you won’t know exactly what you want or need. To achieve what you set out above is going to take years, so it makes no sense to buy everything you think you might want at once when you might regret some of those decisions later. DJing and production are linked, sure, but they’re not the same thing, and baby steps in both are what’s required here.

As far as DJing goes, if you want to go down the Traktor route, your best controller for utilising the loop recorder and basic remix decks for some freestyle sampling is indeed probably the Traktor Kontrol S4. You could always add a Kontrol F1 later if you wanted to really get involved in samples and on-the-fly remixing. On the production side, FL Studio is a fine DAW, but don’t rush to buy Midi keyboards, launch pads and so on. You can experiment with the software without any hardware at all, and that’s what I recommend you do at first. What if you choose to go with Ableton Live software instead? This will affect your hardware requirements. Both FL Studio and Ableton Live have free trial versions, so this is where you can experiment before shelling out on gear.

As far as speakers go, if you want to use them for production and DJing, you want a set of monitors with a reasonably true, flat response. At the budget end of the market, smaller KRK speakers are popular among our readers (look at the VXT6, for example – or even better, listen to then).

Get to first base before spending more

Just to reiterate, you really must set real steps in place here. Play a DJ gig before adding to your DJ gear further. Make a simple production before buying production hardware. Only by actually doing this stuff will you work out the best route forward. Too many people buy more and more stuff, thinking the next bit of kit or software is what is going to help them get properly started, when the reality is that the thing that’s stopping them getting started is lack of action! Start small, take baby steps, make measurable progress, and hold off buying every further bit of gear until you’re hand-on-heart 100% sure it’s right for you.

Have you agonised over starting your equipment and software buying in order to begin DJ/producing? What did you buy/do? Did you make any mistakes? What advice could you pass on to Maya to save potential errors? Please share in the comments.

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