When it comes to setting up your first DJ system, there are a few things you will need as well as your actual DJ gear. Most are essential, one or two here are “nice to have” – but you should consider getting all of the below, if not now, then at some point.
Two pieces of good news here: First, you probably have some of them already, and second, you don’t need much. So here’s the list:
7 Extras Every New DJ Needs
Have you got a home cinema system? Hi-fi? 2.1 system for gaming? Even a loud portable speaker?
Yes? Then as long as you can have that in the room you want to DJ in, you’re sorted. Your controller can plug into that. (You’ll need a cable, though. Don’t use Bluetooth. There’s a delay, see? DJs don’t like delays.)
Still want to buy something? On a budget, go for a loud twin satellites-plus-woofer gaming computer speaker system – the Logitech-type of system.
These are all “powered” meaning you don’t need separate amplifiers. Oh, and don’t use them for parties. You’ll blow all of the above if you do, sooner or later. Rent a PA, use a Soundboks, or borrow someone else’s speakers! (I didn’t tell you the last bit…)
Even more important than speakers, headphones are absolutely essential for any serious DJ. They need to be able to cover your ears to isolate you from ambient noise, be durable, and be loud.
Our favourite for the last year or so in the Digital DJ Tips office is the Pioneer DJ HDJ-X10 which sounds fantastic and is comfortable enough to be used for hours on end. Pricey, though!
When buying, remember that coiled cables are preferred by most DJs (you don’t trip on them as easily), and detachable cables mean you can replace them if they break.
If you buy a DJ controller, it will come with a USB cable to connect it to your computer, but whatever you buy, you’ll need cables to connect its audio output to your powered speakers (or amp and speakers).
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If your speakers have “RCA connectors” (a red and white pair of sockets), a “2x RCA male to 2x RCA male” cable will do; it will usually have two wires joined together with a pair of sockets on each end, red and white, for right and left channel.
If you’re using computer speakers that have an 1/8” TRS socket for an input, you’ll need a “2x RCA male to stereo 1/8″ TRS male” cable. If your computer speakers are the cheap type with only a headphone jack on them that’s meant to be plugged in to a computer headphones socket, you’ll need an 1/8” TRS female to 2x RCA male lead. Buy one longer than you think you’ll need. You can probably nick one from your Dad’s old stereo in the garage anyway.
DJ Techtools’ Chroma Cables are awesome and durable, plus they come in different colours and lengths.
4. Laptop stand
Laptops ideally need raising from their “sitting position” at the table you’ll no doubt be setting your gear up on, so a laptop stand is pretty much an essential – especially if your eyes struggle at all reading your computer screen.
We are particular fans of the Magma Traveler, but whatever you go for, look for one with a range of adjustments. Note that they are often invaluable in DJ booths too, because you can raise your laptop above the existing equipment.
5. Portable speaker
While your “studio” or “main” speakers will be great for practising at home, you’re often going to want to listen to your DJ sets, your streaming service, or even do a bit of DJing with your controller (especially if you choose a small one, or DJ from some iOS software) away from those speakers.
Enter your portable speaker. Chances are high you’ll buy a Bluetooth one, which is great, but just make sure it has a Line In so you can plug a cable into it from your DJ set-up when needed. Bluetooth can have a delay on the signal making the gap between what you “do” on your gear and what you hear noticeable, and highly annoying!
We like this little Minirig 3 speaker, as it’s well-built, loud and feature-packed, and there is no latency on the line-in (yes, with Bluetooth speakers, you even sometimes get latency when you wire them).
6. Bag, case or backpack
You really don’t want to be carrying your DJ gear around in a plastic bag, in the box it came in, or even worse, under your arm. And nowadays, you don’t have to. All the manufacturers of bags and cases – names like, Magma, UDG Gear and more – now have “budget” no frills cases.
Of course, there are also models that go all the way up to all-singing, all-dancing trolleys, backpacks and even “true” hard cases made of plywood and aluminium.
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For most, a mid-range backpack or shoulder bag will suffice. Don’t risk moving your DJ gear around without one.
7. Transparent plastic cover
This type of snugly-fitting plastic lid is a great idea for both covering your controller up at home when you’re not using it, and for putting over it when you stash it in its bag, case or backpack to travel with.
Read this next: What DJ Gear Is Worth Spending Extra Money On?
These polycarbonate cases protect the knobs, faders and switches from accidentally getting bent in transit or worse, as well as keeping the dust out in-between times.
The biggest name in the game is Decksaver.
Don’t worry about everything on this at once. Build your equipment slowly, buy the best you can afford, and use what you’ve got in the meantime – the further down your DJ journey you get, the more you’ll be sure of what’s important to you and what you can skip.
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