Opinion: Does DJ Gear Really Have To Be So Big?

Phil Morse | Read time: 2 mins
Dj gear size
Last updated 19 November, 2020

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A student posted the above photo in StudentHub, our student-only group for owners of our DJ courses (thanks, Florian!).

Who’d have realised quite how much the Pioneer DJ CDJ has grown over the years? And It raises an interesting question – does DJ gear really have to be so big?

One size fits all

Originally, two Technics turntable and a mixer had a certain footprint, defined by and large by the size of a piece of 12″ vinyl. Even back in the day, though, many mixers endeavoured to reduce the overall footprint of DJ gear (anyone remember this old Ecler beauty?)

Ecler
The Ecler Duo helped DJs reduce the overall footprint of their gear “back in the day”.

The DJ controller era

The first DJ controllers were a lot smaller than all of that, of course, with the Vestax VCI-100 being considered the most professional of the early bunch (here’s a pic of me reviewing the VCI-100 MkII a decade ago…):

VCI-100
Me reviewing the Vestax VCI-100 MkII in 2010… nice shirt, Phil!

Just like the CDJs, controllers slowly crept up in size, to the point where apart from a couple of notable exceptions (such as the Numark DJ2GO2 Touch, or of course the lovable oddity that is the Denon DJ Prime GO), even basic DJ gear is now appreciably bigger.

It’s not just DJ gear

It’s not just DJ gear, of course, But when it comes to cars, whether or not you approve of the size creep over the years (nothing new to our stateside readers of course, but a relatively new phenomenon here in Europe), there is at least an argument to be made regarding safety, the argument that if “their cars are bigger, I need a bigger one too, so I can see out properly and protect my family”.

cars
Cars have grown in size over the years, too…

Do we really need big DJ gear?

But for DJ gear? Hmmm. It certainly does feel different DJing on a full-sized DJ set-up to a DJ2GO2 touch, of course, and I’ll never feel more at home than behind a pair of turntables, personally (that’s my age showing) – but also for me, half the fun of digital was (and is) that it makes it all so portable, allowing you to DJ in places that otherwise would have been impractical or impossible to DJ in.

Learn to DJ (on any size of gear), with us: The Complete DJ Course

The video below is a recording of a livestream we did at the top of a mountain recently learn how we did it). Yeah, we drove up, but still, I wouldn’t have liked to have had to set up two CDJs and a V10 on that precarious ledge (we were literally perched on a rock in front of a sheer drop when playing that set!)…

People often say you “don’t look professional if you’re not using big gear” – and that is true to an extent (if someone is paying for a DJ, they want to see impressive “DJ decks” at their event, arguably) but I’d say you can stick a capable, smaller controller (such as the Roland DJ-707M) in a flight case and it looks just as pro as anything else.

With Pioneer DJ’s brand new DDJ-FLX6, a decidedly low-end, consumer-focused DJ controller, sporting “full-sized jogwheels”( they are the size, if not the quality, of the CDJ-3000’s), it does seem there is a taste for bigger DJ gear over yesterday’s more compact pieces.

So what do you think? What is the “perfect” size for DJ gear? Should digital gear be portable, because it can, or is it nicer to play on full-sized equipment? Let us know your thoughts below!

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