In the early days, you needed a special kind of DJ equipment to be able to even dream about having a career in this line of business. Turntables and a mixer were a must, and beat-matching was a skill not many could master. However, times have changed.
Nowadays, all you need to be a DJ is your laptop, some DJ software, and much simpler and more affordable equipment. But with so many options to choose from, it might get overwhelming, especially if you are just starting out. That is why we decided to create a guide with all the tips and tricks you need to become a master. Read on to find out.
What Is the Best DJ Software?
In the past few years, the DJ software market has expanded dramatically. Today, there are many apps and programs you can choose from. However, not all of them are equally useful, affordable, and high-quality.
The two major players in the DJ software market are Traktor and Serato. Although you might think they are completely different, their software is, in fact, quite similar. Both current versions allow users to prepare and organize their music, as well as to combine tracks.
Users can also slice or loop sections of tracks, add samples and different effects. Additionally, both types of software can analyze the tempo and key each track, and sync any song to a track you’re currently playing.
Though it would be nice to have free DJ software that is also high-quality, that isn’t quite possible. To be able to use either of these, you’ll have to pay around $100. They are, thus, also similarly priced.
Both companies offer free versions of the software as well, but these are not enough if you wish to be a full-on DJ.
So, What Separates Them?
As you have read above, Traktor and Serato are quite similar. If we had to pick a favorite, though, it would have to be Traktor. Something that this one has that Serato and the others don’t is a Stems deck.
The Stems deck allows the music to be played in four separate parts (the vocals, the bass, the drums, and the melody). Using this deck, you can tweak all four parts individually and create even better effects for your tracks. The Stems deck is what ultimately puts Traktor ahead of everyone else in the game.
What Is the Best Laptop For DJing?
Before we dive into the DJ equipment you’ll need to become a true master, we will quickly go over the kind of laptop the job requires. First and foremost, you’ll need some speedy RAM and a great processor. These will ensure the DJ software runs smoothly.
Secondly, you need a laptop with a lot of storage. The best option is to get a dual drive with both a hard drive and an SSD. That will ensure you’ll always have space for your files and samples.
Finally, the laptop should be durable and highly portable, as you’ll probably need to take it with you on trips. Thus, ensuring it doesn’t take up too much space and that it can take a few bumps here and there is quite important.
DJ Equipment For Beginners: Everything You Need to Know
So far, we have focused on the DJ software options you can try out and what kind of laptop you need. Now it’s time to go over the equipment you’ll need for that software to run smoothly. Though it might seem outlandish, we can tell you how to DJ with just a laptop.
Granted, you can do this only while you’re still starting out and learning your way around it all. But it can be done. Both types of software that we mentioned allow you to use your mouse and keyboard and get all the basic DJ features and options.
We recommend that you stick to using just your laptop while you’re still learning. That way, you’ll be able to find your way around the software easily without the hassle of any additional equipment.
However, if you want to take everything outside of the comfort of your home and become more serious, you will need additional DJ equipment. Namely, you will need an audio interface and a controller.
If you’re planning on hitting up any house or club parties, you are going to need a sound output of decent quality and with a lot of power. Your laptop will not be enough, as the sound quality of its built-in output is often too low for such parties.
Additionally, an audio interface is necessary if you want to use all the benefits of DJ software. Both Traktor and Serato have the “cue” option. This option allows you to track a song over headphones without it playing over the speakers. You will not be able to use this feature without an interface with a separate headphone output.
Apart from an audio interface, something that you should consider purchasing is a controller. Although you can use the software with just your keyboard and mouse, you’ll achieve better effects with a controller. Your laptop’s screen does not have the resolution necessary to show all the commands you’ll need for your set.
A controller allows for lightning-fast changes and creativity in mixing the tracks and creating a great atmosphere. You don’t need to reach for your mouse and move the cursor to click on something. With a controller, you simply reach out and tap.
The good news is, both controllers and audio interfaces can come together in DJ equipment packages. Saving up to buy one of these can be easier if you do it while learning how to use the software on just your laptop. That way, you’ll be ready to take your talent to the next level as soon as you buy the DJ equipment.
If buying new equipment is too expensive for you, there are other solutions as well. Finding a used DJ setup for sale should not be so hard. A lot of people sell equipment that is in great condition, so you can consider that as an option as well.
As you have read, there are many things to consider when it comes to DJing with just your laptop. Hopefully, our guide and tips help you find the software, laptop, and DJ equipment best suited to your needs and preferences. We also recommend that you explore even further, as there is still a lot you can find out about this subject. Good luck, and happy DJing!