Ultimate Guide to Building a Home DJ Setup
It may seem simple on the surface, but becoming a DJ actually takes a lot of skill and equipment. Whether you want to immerse yourself in music in a new way or become a professional DJ, this guide will take you through everything you need to know when it comes to building your own home DJ setup.
From the computer all the way to the speakers, you’ll be able to start DJing in no time and be able to start your journey.
So without further ado, here is everything you need to know about building up your own home DJing setup:
The first thing that is integral to your setup is the computer. Every professional DJ has a solid computer that has a lot of storage space and durability as it will need to withstand plenty of travel.
The computer is important as it will determine the quality of your DJing skills as well as allowing you to organize your music collection properly. Budding DJs will find that they spend much of their DJing time practicing and setting up their computer or laptop so it is capable of playing and manipulating music.
One of the major decisions you will have to make is whether you want to opt for Microsoft or Apple. Both have their advantages and disadvantages and when it comes to DJing, there are plenty of softwares exclusively available for each which means that it is important that you make a decision you are fully confident with in the beginning.
Making sure you save for a high end computer is going to ensure that it lasts for a longer period of time and also provides consistently excellent performances on a regular basis so your DJing output doesn’t suffer.
Also, depending on what kind of computer you purchase, the subsequent equipment you buy will have to be compatible with it so always treat the computer as the foundation of your DJing career.
Once you’ve selected your computer or laptop, it’s time to invest in your DJ equipment. It goes without saying that this stage requires extensive research before making any purchase as the quality standard differs greatly depending on the brand and how much you are willing to spend.
Naturally, the more money you have to spend, the higher the quality of the equipment will be which in turn will produce better results.
However, for those who are on a stricter budget then make sure you research thoroughly to ensure that you are selecting the right gear for your computer and that will allow you to practice your skills and develop your confidence.
As you are going to be spending most of your time practicing using your gear, make sure that it fulfills your own needs so you can get the most from it. Not only should it allow you to practice the basic techniques, but it should have the capability of challenging you to become even better.
Choosing reputable brands such as Pioneer, Numark and Roland among others will ensure that you have DJ gear that will last for years and give consistent performance while being catered to all experience levels is a great place to start.
You’ll find that investing in quality DJ gear not only makes it easier to learn how to DJ but also more enjoyable and you’ll become a better DJ overall because of the high quality performances. There are plenty of options available at varying price points so making sure you start with a reputable brand is the best route to take.
The best DJ gear to look out for is a CDJ based setup which allows you to incorporate your collection of CDS or a turntable based setup to incorporate your vinyls.
A lot of modern DJs like to select a DJ controller which is solely using the computer or laptop. They all have their advantages and disadvantages and vary greatly in price so it is best to research each one and decide which one is for you.
Choosing your computer is half the battle but it is the software that you use that will determine the quality of your DJing skills. More and more DJ softwares has become available as technology has advanced which helps to emulate the traditional setup.
Allowing you to mix songs into the next and manipulate your music without damaging any vinyls or equipment, DJ software is a great and financially beneficial tool to have for beginner DJs who are practicing their skills. A lot of DJs nowadays use DJ software rather than the traditional setup because of how accessible it is.
You can store your whole collection into the computer meaning that you are not having to carry around a lot of vinyls and other equipment.
A lot of gear that you buy will come with a software integrated into it whether it is a trial or introductory version. This is always worth trying out as a lot of brands have designed their gear with the included software in mind so it is bound to sound a lot better when using it.
If you want to create your own music from scratch then this will mean that you need a DAW package that allows you to compose your own music. This can cost a lot of money on top of the basic software so bear this in mind.
For those who want to make their own music but don’t have any DJing experience, it’s best to learn how to DJ using existing music and then advance to DAW packages so you know what to expect. This will prevent any user intimidation as it can be difficult to learn.
The headphones are one of the most important products that you will purchase for your setup. This is because headphones can vary so greatly in quality that you need to make sure that you pick a pair that is going to provide the nuance that you need when listening to those particular details in the music.
The most important skill that a DJ will learn is how to listen to music in such a specific way that they can track the beat and know when it is ready to switch a song out or manipulate the music. A quality pair of headphones is the best way to learn how to do this.
When you are practicing, you’re going to be spending a lot of time wearing your headphones so it is important that you buy a pair of professional headphones that allow you to clearly hear the different details whilst also remaining comfortable on the head for long periods of time.
Due to the DJ lifestyle, you want to make sure that they are incredibly durable as it is likely that they will be taking a beating many times during your career.
With a variety of styles and colors to choose from, it can be overwhelming to know where to start when it comes to deciding which pair is best for you.
However, sticking to brands that have garnered a positive reputation is the best way to go while still allowing you to maintain your own personality whilst wearing them.
Headphones can be expensive but they are worth the investment and will last a long time for a variety of different uses whether exclusively for DJing practice or when you are out and about.
You need to decide whether you want to select a pair of open back or closed back headphones.
The main difference between them is that the former allows your ears to breathe and provides better sound quality while also allowing some exterior sound to leak through whereas the latter blocks all exterior sound out and means you can focus on your mixing without any distraction.
If you are using them exclusively for home use then a pair of closed back headphones are best whereas open back can help you gage the reaction of the crowds when you are performing.
No DJ setup is complete without a pair of high quality speakers. Any successful DJ will invest in a set of speakers that can play the music accurately, meaning that what you are listening to when mixing is an exact depiction of what you are mixing.
Cheaper speakers tend to have poor quality meaning the sound will be distorted and inaccurate leading to your own practice and confidence being hindered. Having a pair of high quality speakers will mean that you can hone those skills quicker and become a better DJ.
There is an overwhelming amount of choice of speakers on the market. You want to make sure that the pair of studio monitors you get can transmit the sound as accurately as possible, especially if you plan on composing your own music.
The size of the monitor should reflect the size of the space as well. If you are mixing in a smaller space then go for a smaller set of speakers and vice versa for large spaces. You’ll also need a set of dedicated performing speakers for parties and gigs if you are wanting to venture down the professional DJing route.
So what does it mean when you have a high quality set of speakers for home practice? More accuracy and an enjoyable experience that is enhanced when mixing.
Hi-Fi systems in particular can deliver that emphasis on the highs and lows of your music which can make the output more dynamic as well as allowing you to be more experimental in your practicing.
A pair of 8 inch studio monitors can help to develop that unaltered sound and works best for home setups for the majority of spaces.
After you purchase your speakers, your next decision will be regarding the subwoofer. This is an optional purchase but will enhance your overall sound by handling the lower frequencies and reducing the amount of pressure on your speakers. This will mean that your speakers will have a longer lifespan while also ensuring that the sound transmitted is more accurate.
There are different kinds of subwoofers available so making sure that you select one that is compatible with your speakers is important as well as bearing in mind that the size of the space is crucial as you want to make sure that the bass isn’t too strong.
You want to place the subwoofer in an ideal spot to ensure that it is being maximized to full effectiveness. Usually, this is between the two speakers but not always. Have fun with the subwoofer and put it in different places around the space until you find the spot that delivers the best sound.
So you have all the gear and equipment needed thus far but there is another important thing you need to think about. The cables to link it all together and get it plugged in.
The right types of cables will ensure that you can get mixing straight away with no worries as well as reducing the chance of getting your equipment all tangled up. Quality cables will withstand long periods of wear and tear and will ensure that your equipment is fully operational and transmitting sound accurately between devices.
Audio cables should be able to connect your speakers to the computer with ease and ensure that you have the best sound quality possible. Having a dedicated set of cables for your DJ gear will mean that you don’t have to worry about the condition of your cables wearing or tearing as they will only be used when you practice.
Now the part that you have been waiting for – the music! The most important aspect of DJing is finding the right music to play around with. Whether you want to use vinyl, CD or digital files, your DJ setup can be designed to accommodate as such so you can work with the music that you want to use.
The first thing to bear in mind when choosing the music you want to mix is to have a lot of tracks on hand so you can experiment with a variety of techniques and different music genres. The great thing about DJing is that you can grow your music collection over time as your skills improve.
Making sure your music is well organized and stored properly will save a lot of confusion and hard work further down the line as well. Tagging your tracks will mean that you can set up your cue points and beatgrids on your software without having to waste time searching for the right track.
The best place to start is using your favorite tracks as you’ll most likely know them off by heart and be able to pick up on the tiniest details and nuances.
If you want to mix your tracks, try to keep it within one genre at first as mixing genres can pose a challenge due to the shift in style and tone. Starting with tracks that have similar tone and BPMs will mean that you can master those basic techniques quickly with no issues.
Accessories allow you to make the space more comfortable while you practice. Of course this section is optional but purchasing furniture such as a desk and chair will mean that you can practice for longer periods of time without feeling any strain or discomfort.
You can also create a customized space by incorporating party lights to provide ambience which can help inspire you and influence your mixing depending on what kind of music you are working with. For those who want the entire space to feel like an immersive experience, accessories can help elevate the room to the next level.
The last thing you want to think about is optional but a laser light show can help elevate any home DJ space and create an immersive experience while you practice your mixing.
Not only does it make the experience more enjoyable but it can help give you an idea of how your music and the setting can affect the space and influence you in terms of what kind of DJ you want to be.
Now you have everything you need to build your own DJ setup in the comfort of your own home. You may find that DJing is quite difficult at first but once you start practicing, you’ll be able to learn those basic techniques and hone your skills.
Whether you want to compose your own music or work with existing music, this is the first step of what will be an incredible journey for you.