Few jobs can compare to the rush of DJing. I have DJed for over five years, among several other positions in the nightlife industry, and I am a firm believer that there is no better job than being in control of the music for a given night. As a DJ, you have control over the whole flow of the night.
While the DJ may not be running the club, they are responsible for getting people dancing and having fun. When people enjoy themselves and dance, they are more likely to buy drinks, so they are indirectly responsible for a large percentage of the revenue on some nights.
Of course, all of this depends on the degree of freedom that has been granted to the DJ. You may sometimes be restricted by setlists that are not your own, so you may only be responsible for mixing and transitions. Even in that case, however, you can still make or break a night with the integration of the tracks.
Over the course of today’s article, we will be going over some introductory information for DJ’s that are just getting started; it will be mostly focused on the use of a beginner DJ controller.
If you are new to DJing, or you prefer a more traditional style, you may not have even heard of DJ controllers. The idea is quite simple, though you will need to understand what a mixer is to know how a controller works. We are going to assume that as an aspiring DJ, you are acquainted with mixers.
A mixer has all of the controls and software needed to mix the raw audio input already installed, so you don’t need a computer to work with a mixer. With digital audio software growing more advanced, computers are increasingly capable of doing the work of mixers, and the controller facilitates that.
Since mixers can get rather expensive and beginner DJ's typically can't afford them, audio software on your computer and a DJ controller can give you mixing capabilities. A DJ controller is what you would expect from the name; it is meant to control the mixing of the sound on your computer.
Before we get into the details of using a DJ controller, we are going to go through a list of equipment for a beginner DJ, while we are still on the subject of gear for new DJs. If you are just getting started as a DJ, all you will need is a computer, an audio cable, some suitable speakers, your music library and a crowd.
While this barebones setup is ideal for DJs who are not sure if they will continue in the hobby since it is relatively affordable, it is not very accommodating for the DJ. If you want to be able to cue music and mix, you will need mixing software on your computer.
Of course, as a DJ, you will also need a quality pair of headphones. When we refer to quality headphones, we do not mean those which are marked up by 300% because of a celebrity endorsement.
Instead, we are referring to studio headphones that offer a neutral balance between the highs, mids, and lows. While headphones that have been bass-boosted until they rumble on your ears are fun for recreational listening of some tracks, they lack the balance needed in a professional setting.
Unfortunately, mixing software can have rather complicated controls that are inefficient when using a keyboard and touchpad. This is where your DJ controller comes into play. The DJ controller gives you a convenient interface for your mixing software as if it were an actual, physical mixer.
There are a few different ways to ensure that you get the most efficient use out of a DJ controller. We will start off by explaining how to get started with a controller directly out of the box.
Before you decide to purchase your DJ controller, you will have to ensure that you have all of the prerequisites. You will need a computer with mixing software and access to a library of music before you purchase your DJ controller. Otherwise, it will be little more useful than a paperweight.
When you have all of the necessary hardware and software, you will want to make sure that your chosen DJ controller is compatible with your computer and the software that you are using. Once you have made sure that your controller will work with your equipment, you can go ahead and order it.
When you take your controller out of the box, you will find that it resembles a mixer/CDJ, and that is the point. Getting it set up and ready for use is rather simple. Most DJ controllers come equipped with MIDI to USB cables that allow for a quick and reliable audio connection with your computer.
Upon plugging in your DJ controller for the first time, you will likely have to install plugins or software for it to run, and then you can see if your mixing program detects your controller. Once your controller has been paired with your software of choice, you can get to your digital mixing!
A DJ controller is not the complicated piece of equipment that many beginners see it as. As we mentioned before, the point of a DJ controller is to turn virtual mixing software into a physical mixer. When you take this into account, you will realize that you are meant to use it exactly as you would a mixer.
Every DJ has a different style of mixing, so we can’t exactly guide you through every step of the way, but you can use your controller for a wide range of functions that would be possible on a mixer.
We hope that this has been a helpful guide for DJs who are just getting started. If you are new to the profession, and you truly love music, this will be your dream job.