The Laptop: Evolution or Revolution?

On one hand, our laptops are awesome portals into our entire music collection and the hub for our DJ setup, commanding sound waves with increasingly powerful software. On the other they’re clunky, we associate them with spreadsheets and email, and they literally put a wall between the crowd and us. The laptop’s enjoyed both major evolutions and revolutions in the past five years – is it due to bow out soon or will it continue to be an integral part of our setups?

First things first, the DJ booth hasn’t been the laptop’s friend for long. As little as five years ago (with Scratch Live 1.4, for carbon dating purposes) I encountered resistance from both sound system engineers and peers who learned I was intending to plug in a computer to the mix; a buffer under run, or worse a crash, was the main thing the sound guys were concerned about but the sheer clunkiness of a laptop in the refined industrial setting of the DJ booth was what provoked the ire of fellow DJs. They are, of course, right; hunching over a qwerty keyboard is a shallow experience compared to confidently thrusting turntable and CD deck controls. Manufacturers know this, too – DJ equipment manufacturers are trying to get the focus of the DJ back onto their gear, and computer manufacturers are constantly trying to improve the aesthetics and the ergonomic experience of using a laptop. We’re in that odd stage of technological development where we’re hurtling towards a fork in the road at breakneck speed, and it’s just not clear which way’s best to go – a perfect time, then, to attempt to look at the pros and cons of what seem to be the main approaches.


Pioneer’s approach to the laptop is as a music management, not performance tool. Using Rekordbox software to prepare files for use in their new generation of CDJs – as well as their CDJs and mixers linking up and playing nice with each other – means that simply plugging in a USB stick to a CDJ2000 is all that’s needed to access cues, loops, and mixer settings, and a much more traditional, focused DJ experience can be had.

Stanton are similarly on board with the idea that the ever louder sound of progress means that we don’t have to rely on laptops anymore with their SCS.4DJ, a true all in one system that runs a custom Linux based operating system in the box and thus allows for ultimate portability.

The two methods come from slightly different ideologies: Stanton are focusing on the personal instrument, Pioneer on setting a standard so that a DJ can arrive at a club with simply the digital equivalent of his record box. If Pioneer’s standard was open then we’d be much more excited, but entering the Cult of Pioneer is very much a requisite to the whole idea working, which is a bitter pill to swallow (not because Pioneer equipment is by any means bad, but simply because migrating from one closed standard that at least moves with you – your favourite DJ software – to one that can’t be guaranteed at a venue, seems like devolution). A combination of these two approaches, where extra effects and controllers can simply be plugged into mixers, might be the ideal situation for the future.

We Love:

  • Not having a computer in sight.
  • Saying goodbye to setup time.
  • Dedicated control mapping.

We Hate:

  • Lack of customisability.
  • Required investment in a brand.
  • Losing features we’re already used to.


Touch screen tablets are getting power injected into their tiny frames on an almost daily basis. We’ve already seen Algoriddim’s Djay turn the iPad into a hub ready for a controller with Numark’s iDJ Live, and whilst that’s more a proof of concept the new generation of tablet speed is approaching what was a respectable amount of clout for a full sized laptop a few years ago.

Getting your favourite DJ software to run on a tablet, thus relegating the laptop to the office, seems like a no brainer – right? We’d never advocate the replacement of your entire kit list with an iPad, but in conjunction with a controller there’s massive potential – Apple have shown with GarageBand that touchscreen music controls can work really well on the iPad (not to mention iTunes’ library management) and if there’s not a touch tablet R&D team beavering away at Serato and NI I’ll eat my hat.

We Love:

  • Super portable size and weight.
  • Computer and controller in one.
  • Breaking down the checking email look.

We Hate:

  • Fragile feeling.
  • Lack of power, for now.
  • Connectivity limitations.


Of course, manufacturers know that there are inherent issues with the laptop – size, weight, an increasingly strong desire to poke the screen in lieu of waving a mouse cursor around – and they’re continually finding ways to refine the time honoured clamshell design rather than completely reinvent the wheel. Quad Core i7 processors, the computing equivalent of a V16 fighter pilot engine (probably… note to self: make less uncertain similes), are now a reality in your lap; what really interests us, though, is the new designs. The netbook concept was ingenious but a little bit ahead of its time, and now that Apple, king of ergonomics has come out with the new Macbook Air my mouth is practically watering at the simplicity and tiny footprint of the 11” version. If anything it feels too elegant for the rough and tumble of a DJ’s life, but as received wisdom trickles down to PC manufacturers the good ole clamshell might have life yet… especially if they can mix the old and new.

Acer’s Iconia could be ‘the new’. A really novel idea, instead of a standard keyboard and display, the Iconia has two touch screens in its clamshell. It’s the possibilities more than anything that we’re excited about, though, as whilst Windows 7 has pretty good touch gesturing, DJ software is still designed for mice, keyboards, and controllers. We’re undecided as to whether this is a vision of the future, although at least a single touch screen is surely a given for laptops in the near future.

We Love:

  • Rugged reassurance of a clamshell design.
  • Power wise, the traditional form factor’s still king.
  • The last word in customisation and configuration.

We Hate:

  • A laptop is a laptop, and laptops have an uncannily ability to command your gaze.
  • Feeling like it’s there because it has to be.
  • Sharing them with our ‘normal’ life, word processing and all.

So, the laptop. There’s no doubt that it’s not going to be gone by next month, or even next year – but surely it’s always been a stop gap for us DJs between the age of simple electronic decks and mixers and the all singing all dancing, embedded operating system hardware of the future… Right? As always, let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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  • Guest

    The only issue I have is the price. Everything is so expensive wether it be a laptop or even a ipad the’re all a lot. I really wan’t to get into this but I’m stuck using this old athlon 1800+ desktop that cannot handle the software (I did not buy). Some of us just are not lucky enough to be able to step into this life but simply dream about it.

  • Guest

    The only issue I have is the price. Everything is so expensive wether it be a laptop or even a ipad the’re all a lot. I really wan’t to get into this but I’m stuck using this old athlon 1800+ desktop that cannot handle the software (I did not buy). Some of us just are not lucky enough to be able to step into this life but simply dream about it.

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  • D-Jam

    I like having my laptop there, and I usually try to engage the crowd.  I personally think the DJ who would keep his nose buried in a laptop is the same who stares at the turntables/mixer and never at the crowd.  It’s up to the DJ to be an entertainer and connect with the crowd, even if they use a laptop.

    I think too many though worry about the “image” of the DJ when they should worry about how he/she sounds.  Look at that recent Steve Angello debacle.  He was in four CDJs and a mixer, “looking” like a DJ…but he wasn’t really DJing.


    I spin on Numark HDX’s and have done a set with an APC 40 and the laptop. It’s definitely different. For some reason I think people find it easier to fault a DJ with a laptop. One of the major problems today for DJ’s is that EVERYONE thinks they are a DJ. People can relate to a laptop or an iPad, but not so much a set of turntables and a mixer. 

    I feel bad for DJ’s who have never beatmatched on vinyl or even CD’s that use the laptop to sync everything. It’s part of the past and essence of being a DJ. Kind of like starting with a Maschine and never having used an MPC. You just don’t know where you came from in a sense, and don’t know how much easier things are now. 

    I talked with one of the best DJ’s at WMC this past year Manny Murillo and he mentioned that he never brings a laptop to a gig simply because he loses the connection with the crowd. Having done both, I think people respect a laptop-less DJ more. Unless of course you are insanely amazing like Ean G. That dude just blows me away every time.


    I spin on Numark HDX’s and have done a set with an APC 40 and the laptop. It’s definitely different. For some reason I think people find it easier to fault a DJ with a laptop. One of the major problems today for DJ’s is that EVERYONE thinks they are a DJ. People can relate to a laptop or an iPad, but not so much a set of turntables and a mixer. 

    I feel bad for DJ’s who have never beatmatched on vinyl or even CD’s that use the laptop to sync everything. It’s part of the past and essence of being a DJ. Kind of like starting with a Maschine and never having used an MPC. You just don’t know where you came from in a sense, and don’t know how much easier things are now. 

    I talked with one of the best DJ’s at WMC this past year Manny Murillo and he mentioned that he never brings a laptop to a gig simply because he loses the connection with the crowd. Having done both, I think people respect a laptop-less DJ more. Unless of course you are insanely amazing like Ean G. That dude just blows me away every time.


      Of course portability is a major factor. That’s the trade-off. Looks and perception of skill vs. portability and ease of operation.


      Of course portability is a major factor. That’s the trade-off. Looks and perception of skill vs. portability and ease of operation.

  • Mikemusic

    Ugh, some of the comments I’m reading are utterly ridiculous. “Typing on a keyboard is tacky. I don’t like looking at an Apple logo…blah blah”.  Perhaps Grandmaster Flash was “tacky” for repeatedly pushing the record back and forth.

    At the end of the day, we are hired to do a job, which is make the crowd dance.  Whatever tools we use don’t matter.

  • Mikemusic

    Ugh, some of the comments I’m reading are utterly ridiculous. “Typing on a keyboard is tacky. I don’t like looking at an Apple logo…blah blah”.  Perhaps Grandmaster Flash was “tacky” for repeatedly pushing the record back and forth.

    At the end of the day, we are hired to do a job, which is make the crowd dance.  Whatever tools we use don’t matter.

  • Soul Fabulous

    After years of caring heavy ass crates of records and then spending too much money on burning songs to cd and then sorting and then deciding should take this cd… I say screw put all I can on a hard drive and bring my laptop with control cps or a controller and done. As for the sync features on these software the… it only syncs the bpm it won’t correct your timing or actually match the beat especially if you’re using DVS setup.

  • Twwalter

    Laptops aren’t clunky.

    CDJ’s and turntables are clunky.

    Move them out of the way and there would be plenty of room for laptops and controllers.

  • Alan Camarena

    This is a very narrow view for the future of DJing… Personally if I have enough time to set my whole show up I will bring two computers… either dual mac minis to have enough processing and portability, and carry separate portable screens (bitches love fancy setups) OR 2 laptops (unless there is a laptop that will have a powerful enough processor to actually handle both softwares at once without overheating or jamming after several hours of hard input, effects and switching from task to task).
     It really depends on what I want to do, cause traktor for example by itself is cool enough even as much as ableton, and it really depends on which controllers you use, the software is very flexible indeed and it can be customized to fit any DJ´s workflow. If not, you can always route a live input to traktor and even re EQ and add the same effects you have on traktor, while mixing on another software. The hardware to do such things is to be taken in mind by the creative user. I run ableton and traktor at once, either routed(for traktor fx) or separately.Yeah its cool that you want to go back to expensive controllers and mainstream brands, personally I will never go back from computer DJing to CDJ-mixer-CDJ only setups…. come on, it´s BORING.Being a DJ… come on, anyone can DJ with a pair of CDJ´s and mixers, but who in the world can surprise the audience if everyone just leans back on computers and their flexibility? Learn some programming, DO your own devices, start your own shit, instead of wasting thousands of dollars in new setups just cause they can run by themselves, regardless of the looks of your setups, what you need is PERFORMANCE. You will only be limiting yourselves… and of course, none of the experienced DJs will leap back to such options and leave their other setup behind… they will most probably search for compliments and alternatives, when cash comes into account, they will only buy compliments… They won´t waste previous knowledge with new equipment that doesn´t work the same way and economy will always set the edge for such upgrades… if they really want to step forward and construct complete systems that exclude computers they MUST be competitive in pricing, design, and options.

  • Evolakim

    MAcbook, Ableton, Launchpad, APC40! That’s my set-up and I couldn’t imagine going back to fucking turn-tables. My set-up is totally customizable and I change temp[lates from night to night just for the fun of it.
    I guess touchscreen would be cool. Not a necessity at this point, though.
    I couldn’t go back to turn-tables, and I’ve never even tried CDJ’s.

    I think, like the above poster said, that this is a debate amongst DJ’s and people who actually know whats going on behind the “decks” on stage. I too was met w/ resistance and negative comments when I first busted out the Laptop and controllers. “He’s cheating, his tracks are pre-mixed, there’s no skill involved, blah-blah.” But let’s face it, mixing 2 tracks together is ONE single skill. When all we had was 2 turntables and a mixer it was fun and seemed innovative but now it’s just plain boring! {Cue-up, cut lows, filter sweep, fade to new record.BORING!} With all tracks pre-warped and mixed the possibilities are endless!!!! It’s so much fun! And isn’t that why we do it?
    But, if a DJ uses pre-mixed tracks he should use his new-found time to manipulate the music in other, crazy ways. It’s quite lame when a dj has a laptop and he’s just fading back and forth.
    Anyway, I don’t see a problem w/ the laptop. It’s definitely a standard part of any performance right now. People expect to see them. I just went to Identity fest and every last artist, even Kaskade whose stage set looked like a KISS concert was mainly working on a laptop. Skrillex, too, even though he just plays tracks literally destroys them live! And even DJ Shadow. Yes, DJ Shadow whose persona w/in our collective un-concsious is synonymous w/ Vinyl, had a laptop!
    So until Ipads are as powerful as my MAcbook Pro, I’m stickin’ w/ my clamshell : )

    • Robert Ticho

      “He’s cheating, his tracks are pre-mixed, there’s no skill involved, blah-blah.” But let’s face it, mixing 2 tracks together is ONE single skill. When all we had was 2 turntables and a mixer it was fun and seemed innovative but now it’s just plain boring! {Cue-up, cut lows, filter sweep, fade to new record.BORING!}    I’m sooo with you there. I’m so sick of people saying that auto sync is “cheating.” Sure it’s cheating but I’d rather use that to do some cool shit than only beat match all night.

  • Fakexican

    Honestly, if it goes hard, it goes hard.  Whether you’re spinning Traktor, Ableton, Vinyl, CDs, or two iPods, just make it work and sound sick.  

  • Nathaniel Compton

    The fact of the matter is that there is no one catch-all solution for any situation.  

    If people are focusing more on you looking at your computer all the time rather than getting drunk and dancing, then the DJ isn’t doing his job effectively, fullstop.That being said, you will always have those one or two know-it-alls in the crowd criticizing your setup the whole time, when really they are just jealous it isn’t them spinning in the DJ booth.

  • Dandyrandy88

    i hate using my computer. i hate knowing that if my computer crashes i’m no longer a dj. i wish i could afford cdjs. so bad. i got an s4 anyone wanna trade for cdjs? hahahaha XD

  • Matthew H.

    all i can say is HID.  Serato, Traktor, and Pioneer all know it.  Make some bad ass, ultra responsive real world controls for the best software out there and you don’t need to think about anything but what song you’re gonna drop next.

    I play at a few clubs in San Diego, and HID on the 900’s and 2000’s has eliminated the need to touch the keyboard, stupid trakpad (when i’m a little buzzed cuz of the bar tab given to the dj ;-).  Dicers for the beat rolls and cues plus HID support for all the nifty buttons and platter on the cdj’s has really allowed me to throw my hands up and show a little enthusiasm to the dance floor.

    I’d really like to see some solid HID controllers at a price that didn’t require me to sell my car to afford.  And seriously, we don’t need the cd port anymore if it’s HID. 

  • Zach Smith

    I use my laptop because…I realized, hey you can produce on your laptop, why not dj? So I started playing with virtual dj, deckadance, some other no name programs, etc. Then I wanted cdjs because of the hands on factor, scratching, etc…I never bought them simply because of the price!!! In all honesty for me and a lot of other people it comes down to $$$. Also NI producing Traktor (imho) has bridged the gap between laptop, hardware, software, and dj! For example you get a MacBook Pro for about $1200 even less if you buy used…you can get an S4 for $899…and BOOM! You have the ability to run 4 decks…all FX…and you’re set to play out in clubs with it! Now go price out “the industry standard” and you’re easily paying DOUBLE that! Also you cannot even come close to what Traktor and the S4 bring to the table as far as portability, usability, AFFORDABILITY, and performance. To each his own! In the end it all comes down to personal preference and what YOU yourself find the most comfortable. I just think that it is AMAZING that for around $2000 you can have a FULLY PROFESSIONAL, QUALITY, LONG-TERM dj set-up. Personally I use my MacBook, two 1200 technics, audio 4 dj, a&h xone 22 mixer and Kontrol x1. I started out with just my interface, x1, laptop and mixer. Then when I got more money I eventually purchased some secondhand technics. All I am saying is that technology is our friend…not our enemy! It seems that the dj community as well as the rest of the world kinda has this scared to change with times/technology factor. Hopefully one day we can all embrace the GOOD and not bad that technology and computers has brought us and WILL bring us. Much <3 to DJTT and all of the rest of the members here! Without you guys I would definitely not be where I am with my mixing and DJing! Big shout out to Ean as well…you have definitely influenced my DJing and also I admire your ability to staying true to yourself.

  • Martin Wilson

    I have kind of the opposite mind frame of many people I’m seeing here. Its not that I don’t like seeing a DJ if he’s got a laptop, its that I feel like there’s a big screen TV sitting between me and the crowd if I’ve got my laptop front and center, and for me that’s kind of a buzzkill. I guess i’m sort of a dumbass when I DJ, I like to jump around and give people hi-fives and do stupid shit and now I feel like I have my super expensive lappy lap between me and them and I have to: 
         A: Babysit it from chronic beerspilling music over-appreciators and 
         B: spend too much time looking at it. I’m crossing my fingers for an iPad that can sit kind of out of the way and mostly be ignored. More for my benefit than the crowds. but maybe that’s just me. 

  • Anthony Woodruffe

    In answer to the question Evolution or Revolution? I’d have to proclaim that it is sadly just evolution. By and large people still use a laptop to play back to back tracks the whole night. However the new wave of younger DJ’s who do not fear ‘sync’, who have never touched vinyl or CDJ’s for that matter will be the revolutionists who will mix, merge, cut and launch samples at such a rate that they’ll make the likes of Ean Golden look like a beginner.

  • Jonathan Jorge

    Laptop FTW. DJs who are concerned with how others are going to perceive them are very new to the game to realize that anything works as long as the music is clear and mix sounds good 😉

  • Steve Francesco

    I imagine more controllers being put together with tablets in mind, keeping the effects side of things, sampler and mixer as hardware and tunes selection / timestretching and Playlists on the Tablet really would be the best of both worlds IMHO. 

    Of course the controller would have to be good enough to make that happen.. something like the pioneer t1, with an embedded OS and EFX1000 built in. Sure it’d be more expensive.. but i’m thinking install grade here. 

    The numark is a step in the right direction, as is the stanton, but someone else needs to push the embedded controller even further

  • JV Bomb

    I’ve been a DJ for 20+ years. Started with vinyl, moved to CDs, and then about 10 years ago started using my laptop. I made my own custom wavs at the time because there were no MP3s. I have even been known in the past to use, dare I say, cassettes during my sets. Frankly no one gives a shit what I was “spinning” on. No one left the club or bar or where ever I was gigging because I had a tape playing a song or two. This whole notion that “I don’t want to see a DJ touch a mouse because then he/she is not a real DJ” is one of the dumbest things I have heard about this topic. I do whatever it takes to give the crowd (who is there to have fun and dance, not really giving a shit about a laptop) awesome tunes (to the best of my ability). Using a laptop, tablet, iPhone, or whatever doesn’t matter. My last gig was a huge (250+) pool party and all i had was my laptop. I had more people come over to me and tell me how awesome it was that I was playing music on a laptop. No one tried to drown themselves because OMG I HAD A LAPTOP. This article stating that laptops are a stopping gap for DJs is incorrect. If anything, they have enhanced the experience. It’s called progression of current technology. And I use it because it works well and I like what it does for me and my time spinning. Yes I still considering it spinning even though it’s on a laptop.

    • LEDPaint

      If the crowd is going to look at the dj at all, do they care that his face is in a laptop?  No.  They care that he’s as into it as they are and has his “dj face” on. 

      If the dj’s face is so up in the screen they can’t see him, it’s time for glasses.

      • JV Bomb

        Laptops in general aren’t going anywhere. I don’t care what anyone says. I’m no fanboy. I’m in IT so I know what the “tech” companies are doing. Will tablets be more mainstream? The answer is… Probably as the technology gets better. Will they replace the laptop? Yes and no. As they are able to do more tasks they will replace more low end systems for people like traveling sales users. As for DJs? Maybe a long time out from now. I don’t want to use a tablet or Ipod to play at a gig. I think it’s like having a toy to do serious stuff. For my home setup? Maybe. That is my opinion. But I have more flexability with a laptop. All of these DJ snobs that are bashing the laptop or are saying I don’t want to see this or that are just afraid of using it because they have no idea how it all works.

        • LEDPaint

          I’ve been saying the same for ages.  I have a vinyl snob buddy who’s admittedly terrified of the technology.  After bashing my new NS6, He was slack-jawed when I rocked out without using autosync in a set he admitted couldn’t keep up with, and he’s a good dj, so that’s saying something.

          • Zuti

            for one thing sure the laptop or ipad or something of new tehnology will be replacement of vinyls and cds…but what i am trying to say….people how are coming to the club to dance  wont look at the the dj but if you where a dj you will probable do and look at him how he dj’s…i do that when i go to clubs….new tehnology makes all djing easy….i have started to dj one year ago and i still didnt master everything  soo good…the new generation of dj’s (like me) started with the new tehnology and it was easy but those how started 10 or more years ago then it wasn’t so easy…give a vinyl to a new generation dj and you will see if he knows how to dj or not….probable not thats for sure….today everbody is buying a control on a external sound card….I respect every DJ i dont have no buy 🙂 everybody has his style of music…i am IT too and i love new tehnology and programs but sometimes the old stuff are still good like mixer with no effects only filter and vinyls…

          • JV Bomb

            I hear ya. Welcome to the brother/sister hood of DJing. I do the same thing when I go somewhere that has a DJ. I look to see what he/she is using. But this whole smug attitude that some of these ppl are posting is rediculous. Who cares what they are using. Who cares if the DJ needs to touch the mouse or keyboard. Seriously. Is the entire world of EDM going to end because the DJ touched his laptop? I love technology. I thinks it’s cool when a DJ is behind the laptop or has a computer display in front (or to the side) of them. I eat/sleep/breathe it all in. If a DJ has a Dell or Toshiba I don’t sit there and say you suck cuz it’s a PC and not a Mac or vice versa. Even though I have been around a long time and learned from masters of vinyl, I still embrace what we have today. I wouldn’t say technology has made it easier to DJ now just because you can sync and beat match. I know plenty of vinyl DJs that just slammed track after track because they forgot one thing…. practice, practice, practice. It’s just like playing a guitar. No matter how awesome the guitar is you will still suck if you don’t practice. Turn off all the beat match and sync options and practice. I used to teach new DJs how to mix using vinyl. I did it for years. It takes time and patience and most of all practice. When I started DJing turntables and anolog mixers were the newest technology. You use what is current. Don’t sell yourself short because you didn’t learn it the ol’ skool way. Just practice as much as you can without all of the auto shit turned on. You will have much more fun DJing. I have to be honest. I don’t miss carrying around 6 crates of records, 10 cases or more of CDs, and hundreds of pounds in equipment. I love the new stuff…… But that’s me.

          • LEDPaint

            It all comes down to style.  Some people still prefer vinyl, some people want to emulate vinyl with a Scratch program.  Some people love cdj’s, some just want to smash buttons.  There’s no right way to dj.

  • Sebastian Rattansen

    I agree with the general sentiment of the article and it is something I’ve thought about a lot.

    Generally…dj’s really suffer in comparison to other performance artists. A laptop and a controller is simply nowhere near as ‘cool’ as a guitar or a drum kit. I’d say 1210s and vinyl probably just matched real instruments, but they are now on the way out. CDJs…again…nerdy looking and too complicated to be cool. 

    On the other hand, as people have mentioned, I’ve yet to see a dance floor where a DJ who is playing mad tunes is empty because he’s playing them from a laptop. In fact, the last proper gig I went to (Layo and Bushwacka) I was at the front and their faces were all about the neon glow. One of them was staring at the screen almost the whole night. The night went off and everyone was loving it. So…I don’t think it’s too big a deal 🙂

  • Derwo soheisst

    Now imagine you were a piano player. OMG! Where do you get an update for a Steinway?! 
    If you believe it or not, there still are people playing real instruments. Clunky things, 20, 50 or even 200 years old. They are not even ashamed of performing with anything that does not resemble the latest wave of trash that we! need! to! have! NOW!
    Face it: you can’t buy talent. Not even from Mr. Jobs.

  • Ryan

    Lately, I’ve been using the ipad to mirror the screen of the laptop, and using insomniaX to keep the laptop alive while it’s closed.  No bright-ass mac logo, more focus on on the controller, and if I need to use the browser or anything, the ipad is propped on the side. 
    Only problem with this is the delay sending the screen from laptop to ipad.

  • Anonymous

    I am wondering how long it will be before someone like Pioneer or Stanton truely break with the laptop paradigm and actually build a music controller with a minified computer, complete with OS and software for DJing all in one unit, with no excel sheets or email exta BS that cause pops and crackles;). It would be a bit costly, but not much more than a PC or Mac and controller now (ok Stanton even tried). And I bet a music “computer/ controller” and even a monitor (which has to be there in some shape or form) can even be fit into a modern day controller now. The only problem is, with this paradigm, your stuck with that computer in the controller. The laptop we have now can be replaced at any time.

    ewww dreaming a bit. How about removable SSDs for different gigs in this new music computer/controller?:D Or even a removable “computer”, so when the computer is improved, you don’t have to buy a new controller.:p Hey, that sounds like a laptop. Oh, back to square one…..

    As for a Laptop being a wall between the crowd and DJ. I think that depends on what the DJ does. Sure in some cases it is in the view of the DJ and the crowd. But the DJ shouldn’t truely be the center of attention. The crowd and their reactions should.


  • Lauti

    The ONLY important think I don’t want to see is a dj using a mouse. THat is a turn off. THe rest, do whatever you want as long as you sound cool

    • Derwo soheisst

      The one thing, I don’t want to see is the DJ. If I wanted to watch divas, I’d go to the movies.

  • D.j. Rizzo

    RE: “Sharing them with our ‘normal’ life, word processing and all.”

    Then don’t do that. Make your DJ Laptop only for DJing. If you wanted to listen to a CD in the office, would you have a CDJ sitting on the file cabinet?

    • erkron

       yep, mine is only for music, but honestly I think its still cool to be able to do many more things if necessary… you can’t browse the internet with a cdj2000, but you can do  a million more things with half the price MBP 13… anyway laptops are still awesome

    • Wongaling

      Mate I’d bloody love a CDJ out at the till at the servo I work at, actually my whole setup out the front would be sweet.

  • NotSoSiniSter

    The shit you can do with ableton running on a laptop will never be matched by w/e people come out with. Its won’t happen. I can see the laptop being replaced by a tablet once they get powerful enough, but thats probably the extent of the foreseeable future. 😛

  • R3 Bonaire

    The audience doesn’t mind what source you play from. Its the show and what comes out the speakers. Style, Show and playlist and grabbing the crowd is what matters. Like with rock bands. Who cares that Kirk Hammet uses ESP and Jackson’s guitars. Or Eric clapton a Fender Strat. It is the style and music they make and on top the show that entertains the audience. Laptop Dj’s have the ability to use sync and that leaves time for other stuff. Look at SHM movie Take One. They prep a whole show on a apple and bring it on a thumbdrive to the CDJ2000. No need for auto sync cause software warped all grids ready. Tap in, start the next Loop in or out and fine tune sync with the platter and kick in those effectors on it when the break down comes..Also these pro’s are looking at a display in the CDJ. Of course nobody tells they have a bad show, they are great and make big bucks. It is all a show and such pro’s make it that way. 
    I like what some one said , use your ears but eyes are as important as. look at the audience. look at your mixer VU meters Listen to the sound system. It is a shame there is so much hate or bad talk in the DJ world. After all we all like what we do, no need to lowgrade any one doing it different. The key to succes lies in your own ability to separate your style and knowledge and make an audience feel good in your show.

  • Charlie

    Like Tony said, these types of issues appeared during the
    transition from vinyl to CDs. All the manufactures hopped on board and there
    were a million choices. It’s funny that the public preferred a deck style setup
    that mimicked turntables. I think the same thing will happen here, maybe just
    on a smaller scale.

    When I first moved to laptops, I had an awards show gig
    where I was up on stage off to the side. I decided to just use a laptop and a
    controller. I tucked in the wires and had a nice clean look, the gear was
    almost hidden. After the show, people I knew that were in the audience asked me
    what I was doing up there during the show. They didn’t realize I was playing
    all the music. The next year I did the same gig, but this time with a laptop,
    controller and turntable all sitting on top of flight cases. I put it on top of
    a skirted table and let all the ugly wires show. The only comments I got that
    time was how great the music I was “spinning” was. The lesson learned here was
    that if you stray too far from what the public expects a DJ to be, they get
    confused. So the latest and greatest – isn’t always the greatest.

    As far as some of the comments about perceived street cred
    and whether or not you’re a real DJ  because
    of the gear you use – or hitting the sync button – what determines whether you’re
    a real DJ or not is if people hire you to DJ an event – that’s it.

  • Djmaoz

    Laptops, Mixers, Soundcards, Controllers, EFX  equals $$$$$ money…. a mixer or setup with all this features will take care of this dilemmna cdjs vs laptop.. but manufacturers dont want this is better selling each device.. stanton is a mini attempt to settle this issued but is a toy, cdjs still dont have all traktor features… in the end us consumers suffer and are guided by what industry dictates we are allowed to perform with.. is a system…. laptops are not reliable 100% am always thinking when is it going to crash!! horrible feeling.

  • James 'Pioneer' Burkill

    i dont get people that hate laptop jocks and yet dance music is made on the things thay hate the most laptops & computers electronic music for me it progression studio to club check out NI’s vid with booka shade a perfect example

  • Darrin Bisson

    i’d like it if something like the SCS 4dj had a few extra knobs and buttons for a sampler. then let me plug in my ipad for a larger screen (to see the entire track’s waveform, fx feedback and other details on one screen/page) and i’d be happy. 0 start up time. ipad is still really optional in this equation cause the scs 4dj has a screen.

    also, i would hope the scs 4dj is supported through updates to advance as a controller – rather than making us buy version 2 in a couple years (like say the ipad). maybe upgrading things so that one of the FX sections can control a sampler (yeah i’m really stuck on the idea of a sampler for more creativity/layers).

    lastly, just wanted to note that i understant that apple (or any other manufacturer) doesn’t “make” anyone upgrade to a newer product.

  • David Weitzen

    I find that the reason laptop DJing has become a great thing for many beginners is due to sheer price of equipment. I’m 19 years old and would love to enjoy a sweet pair of CDJ2000’s with a DJM800.

    But when it comes down to it, this isn’t realistic for most people. The only reason I use a laptop is because midi controllers are cost effective and the software that you can use is so powerful now.

    I see myself remaining on a laptop sheerly because of financial reasons.

  • Ryan Supak

    Oh, and regarding the idea that an all-in-one wonder-box will take the computer’s place: not likely IMO. Laptops (and tablets, and smartphones, etc…) are so useful because they’re multi-purpose data processing tools.

    For the long-haul professional capacity I would not want a dedicated box that tried to be my library container, my display, and my controller. (This is why I think Technics 1200s will still be around in 20 years, but that’s another story.)


  • Ryan Supak

    The main thing I dislike is when the laptop is in front of the performer’s face and you see the glow of the screen on their skin (unless they’re doing something super-technical and super-nerdy, then that sort of thing “works”).

    Putting the laptop off to the side, and only looking at it to pick new songs, has always worked for me. (In that way it becomes more of a “record crate analogy”, as others have said here.)


  • D-Kem

    Been Djing for 18 years.  Not sure about this wall argument.  When I was primarily a Vinyl DJ I would spend minutes on occasions searching through my crate(either below the booth or with my back to the crowd) for the perfect record to drop next.  CDJ DJ’s can be found rifling through their folders (lack of interaction here too)
    Not really any difference in my opinion.  DJ’s have always required time to pick the perfect track for the crowd and timeline of the floor.  That is, however, unless you go in with a preordained set which sucks and never works.

    • Sebastian Rattansen

      good point. at least the laptop dj is more ‘facing’ the crowd (even though they might have a horrible nerdy lcd glow on their face if the screen is too bright 🙂

    • Anthony Woodruffe

      I think it depends on the event whether a primetime set playlist works or not. If the crowd are aware that they are there to hear carefully selected tracks that will take them on a journey, then I know from from my gigs they will stay and enjoy the experience. I also means I can burn through about 40 tracks an hour in my 2 hour set. The mixes are sometimes synced sometimes not. I can beatmatch and I’ve done the odd train-wreck too. But when I do it I just remind myself of what Danny Rambling said to Boy George when he done the same at Ministry “Well at least the crowd now know your here.” 

      • D-Kem

        Haha Boy George really shouldn’t have bothered bless him.

  • Lewis Fisher

    I would love to ditch the laptop and go back to vinyl as i knew where i stood and it was not a hassle to play music to people. controllism and digital is really good and fun for the dj ,but its now becoming a warzone with company’s fighting for dominance of being industry standard. the Dj’s are the casualty’s  as we are the ones getting caught up in it all. what do we buy? will it work with this? will it work with that? we are now bombarded with technical features and specs by manufactures to sway people into buying their equipment specs and features that have no relation to a record being played to a crowd. DJ’s now argue in forums over equipment instead of chatting about music. sad but true. 

    • BigMixxx

      Denon….DN-S3700’s and a mixer….Back to vinyl and mp3’s…

  • Tony Nanton

    Funny…. 7 years ago I showed up at my residency bat that time with an iBook, Traktor2, a sound card and MidiFox thing controller. Other DJs were whispering, I was ‘cheating’, it wasn’t ‘proper’. Fact is, I could do more ‘live’ than anyone, and had so much choice compared to two heavy boxes of vinyl and CDs…… 

    Within months 95% of those guys (no women sadly) had asked my advice or simply gone out and copied. By that time I’d moved on to the next stage Traktor and equipment…. 

    I still used Mac & Traktor now, with an X1 and CDJ control, or VCI-100 in a small venue. I’m liking the Pioneer look, but most places have let other DJs ruin them already. Fact is, I’m 44, been playing out properly and paid since I was 18, and I had all this nonsense when I started using CDs as well as vinyl…. 

    We use the tools to do the job required. I’ll admit, I despise Ableton, but if it works for you, that’s all good. I’m looking forward to showing up with the bare minimum, but until then, I’ll carry on as I am. Cheers.

    • OMR3021

      it would be pretty cool to see a show & be able to see what the DJ sees on his laptop sceen – see what he’s seeing… and doing. like in the DJTT demo videos… sort of the opposite of the glasses – sorry!

    • Gav Grant

      why do you despise Ableton??

  • Eoghain

    I don’t know about anyone else but I am usually to busy having fun and dancing to notice if a DJ is using a laptop / looking at his screen all night / or using the keyboard to select tunes. Normal people do not go out to stare at the DJ all night as if he is the life and soul of the party.  

    I think the issue with laptops is more of a snobby DJ thing rather than a general public thing and we forget that all to often. The bottom line is your average Joe does not care as long as the tunes are good. The only time I ever had a problem with someone using a laptop was when I went to see a big name DJ who will go unnamed that hid his laptop under the booth and played a pre recorded set because he was to fucked to mix. As long as a DJ has a look at the crowd every so often and plays tunes to keep things going I really don’t see a problem with them looking like they are checking their facebook.

    My main problems playing out with a laptop are People expect you to have every song ever made and they seem to think you can download it there and then if you don’t. Apple have not made a beer proof laptop yet.   

    • JayFurnace

      This is absolutely true. No one cares but other DJs, and frankly, who gives a shit about those within your community who hate for no reason? DJs should support other DJs. It makes everyone’s life easier.

      All I really want to see is energy. The DJ should be into it, and that’s been discussed here already. If they’re into on their turntables, their CDJs, their S4, their Midi-Fighter, or using an overlay on their MacBook and pressing the keyboard buttons, who cares as long as the tunes are good?

      I mean, imagine if the average party-goer didn’t see it like Eoghain said; you would get people saying, “This is my favorite song but I’m not going to dance because the DJ is using an iPhone.”


    • PhatManMoshiach

      You guys are like the most logical people in the world.
      And I’m waiting for the vodka and cigarette butt proofed laptop.

    • Derwo soheisst

      Exactly. That’s it. “boom! boom! boom!” is all you want to hear and see about a DJ. Nothing more ridiculous that a bunch of DJs with their new gadgets acting like 13year old girls in their new sunday dresses. Shut up and play music, that’s what you get paid for!

  • Zuti

    Every one can be a dj with a laptop and play good music when the songs are sync :)…..thats my opinion….i dj with the laptop too but i only using it for putting songs in my decks…CDs are for me history….i dont know how to play on the turntables but when i learn that , than i will call my self a dj…..i know one guy that is a dj and he plays with the laptop too but he doesnt know what is a beatmatching he just turns one two three time the decks and then press the sync and he calls him self a dj :)…my opinion is…yes the laptop is a new generation of dj-ing but what i am trying to say is dont call yourself a dj if you dont know how to play on the turntables where you can’t see the bpm and adjust the tempo…practice your ears not your eyes….

    • LEDPaint

      Everyone can play tunes, but not everyone can be a dj.  You have to know how to read a crowd, you have to know how to program your music, you have to know what and when to mix in and out of tracks.  I know a shit-ton of guys who gig small clubs, but I’ve only met a handful of real dj’s who could work a crowd rather than just blasting off every high-energy track in their arsenal like most small time club and bedroom dj’s do.  It’s one thing to have a hundred or even two hundred of your facebook friends cheer you on, quite another to have the skill to get up in front of 1,000 or 2,000 or even more people and rock the crowd.

    • LEDPaint

      Let me be a bit more specific: I agree with you that everyone who dj’s needs to know how to beat-match, but dj’ing is also about programming skill as much as learning to beat match.  Most of these button bangers can do neither, but a good dj who masters the new technology can do far more than on tables or cdj’s.

    • Evolakim

      I think the term “DJ” is fading. We need to come up w/ a new title for ourselves. Because your right, a DJ uses tables. Controllerist sounds cool but I think we can do better.

  • dj rezs

    It’s just at matter of time before big sharks like Pioneer will make pricy players with alot functionality than smaller players today. The cdj-350 is a perfect size for mobile dj:s. It should at least have same functions as cdj-2000, a better dispay (waveform), quantization for better looping etc. If you wan’t a competitor for the laptops this is a must.

    /dj rezs

  • Hashkiosk

    Let laptops be there in order to be helpful to all instead of dj’s or something else

  • Sarasin

    We need LCD Glasses!

    So we can see the Traktor Sceen in out periferal vision while still looking at the crowd!


    I bet thats what Daft Punk and Deadmau5 have in their helmets!


    • Vinicius Hoffmann Bernardes

      Totally agree with you…
      There is a mod of a CDJ-style controller with a LCD screen for seeing the waveforms and the deck information at the forums.
      For me that would be perfect…

    • Vinicius Hoffmann Bernardes

      Totally agree with you…

      There is a mod of a CDJ-style controller with a LCD screen for seeing the waveforms and the deck information at the forums.

      For me that would be perfect…

    • James Richman
      I tried a pair of these out (found them at my job in a closet)-I hooked them up to a laptop, and they left a lot to be desired.  They seem like a handy idea, especially because you can wear them and see your computer screen easily and look below the screen to see your hardware (think of it like using bifocals).  The problem is just that the display was not that great of quality. Though it’s possible that I didn’t completely calibrate them correctly. At the time I didn’t think of the DJ application, so now I want to try them out again…

    • Anonymous

      actually deadmau5’s helmet shows him ableton live, he cant see the crowd when he dj’s

  • Clonmelvideo

    I’m really excited at the toughts of using iPad connected to something like a NS7. My iPad has a very strong armed case so perfect for the Dj booth

  • Itsbentheboy

    you should never touch the keyboard of a laptop in performance… its tacky. parforming is done on controllers, DVS systems, or straight vinyl and mixer. you should have nothing but the waveforms on screen (see traktors interface) and your playlist should be set. be prepared to perform. dont use your keys to perform.

    • Atlas.

      The one great advantage that digital DJing gives you is that you can more easily play the tunes the crowd expects you to play. Fixed playlists? No thanks. Might as well put on a mixtape in iTunes and dance around a little with your headphones lodged between your ear and shoulder.

    • DJ Q&A

      Your playlist should be set? Oh hell no, way to kill any kind of responding to the groove at hand. Sure, if you’re doing a technique performance like turntablism or controllerism, then you need to have a list ready. But for playing a party? No way.

    • JayFurnace

      A lot of DJs need to get over this idea of performing. You’re not performing, you’re entertaining. No one but a fellow, trainspotting DJ knows or cares what you’re doing behind the decks. In fact, most of your fans don’t know what a CDJ is, they don’t know anything about transforming, or reverb, or bit-rates. In fact, in a lot of cases, they don’t even know the genre of the song you’re playing, and it’s not that they’re stupid or naive, they just don’t care because they are paying to be entertained.

      Most party-goers don’t go to a club to catch a DJ, they go to a club to have fun! Or, if they are going for a particular act, they’re not there to marvel at their skill behind their chosen medium, they’re there to have a fucking good time. You deliver, they love you; you don’t deliver, they hate you.Like I said above, no one is going to love the songs you’re throwing down and then discredit you because you’re clicking a few keys on a keyboard. “I love this song, and this party is hoppin’, but that DJ touched his MacBook so I’m going home.” Yeah, right.:)

      • joshua spaz

        Seeing girl talk, I wasn’t as impressed as seeing babu… simply put no keyboard can add alot to shows. Not saying one is better. Just me as an entertainer. I’m not blinded by pretty lights. The drunk blond will want you either way. I prefer my trigger finger and cdjs. I put the laptop away from me. In fact. I like leaning my gear so they can see my hands. I don’t want to be a tiesto and be viewed as larger than life. It’s about a party or having fun. I like more mixing style rather than mashing. But both get the job done.

    • OMR3021

      obviously, the laptop has limited control (no knobs/faders) but if it’s going to help you out, have at it – some even tweet up on projectors to add… something – just don’t touch your penis… to your laptop. XO

    • LEDPaint

      If you’re going to have a playlist why bother mixing?  Why not just prerecord your set as all you’re doing is repeating yourself over and over again.  What happens if your crowd doesn’t respond to your set?  You’ll have no idea what to do because you’re locked into what you’re playing.  Seen a lot of technically adept local dj’s bobbing their heads like they’re rocking Sensation while a floor clears.  What do they have in common? The answer is playlists.

    • basement_at_the_Alamo

      Yes because touching the keyboard is so horrible that everytime you do it a puppy or kitten will die. Or worse…. you may get hairy palms. No offense dude but that is one of the dumbest statements I’ve ever read.

    • DJ Master P

      I actually believe, that controllers and actual mixer plays a big part, and I agree that using a laptop demands a lot of preparation in order to keep hands off the keyboard..But getting an idea during a set and deviating from your playlist, is part of giving the audience what they really want. A BANGING NIGHT!!.
      And when it come to planning your set’s, there are many DJ’s that compare that to just having an iTunes playlist.. Nahhh i do not agree I believe it is a good idea to have a plan up front, and then of course we turn towards reading the audience.. REQUESTS I HATE THEM, that is just not getting the respect you deserve. e.g. Does Carl Cox plan his sets.. Yes I believe he does.. Does he do request I don think so.

    • Lindersmash

      You have to play for the crowd not yourself, If the crowd isnt digging your set you dont say “fuck em” and keep playing your set, you have to adapt.  As for myself, the only time I touch the keyboard is when Im searching for a song.  Yes, I prepare set lists, and I organize my files well, but inspiration hits you, you see the crowd reacting a certain way to a certain style, and you run with it. 

  • Josh

    I love my Macbook. I had to go digital About a year and a half ago. I dont consider a laptop being a wall to the Crowd. I got pretty stickers that says support your local 81 as well as the products I use so you can look @ my laptop and know ITs a Mac w Traktor and Skullcandy Headphones. plus I only stare @ my laptop for a minimum of a min and a half due to picking songs queing and then mixing other then that im djing 

    • James

      I love this “support your local 81” classic! I just want to know how many people know what that is without checking google.

    • Rosco

      Sneaky reference to the big red machine on a dj site. OMG!

    • Sebastian Rattansen

      yeah…with Apple getting so big now – seeing the apple logo on the DJ’s laptop is as good a marketing tool as anything.

  • Michielygil

    If an Iphone-sized device could run TSP2, I would go for that. I only need the browse and scratch functionality really. Wave form display isn’t really necessary.

  • Trump

    If the laptop is hidden, what’s the difference between it and a couple of well designed CDJs and a nice mixer, paired with some freshly burned CDs?

    • erkron

       customization customization customization, oh yeah and endless software possibilities 😉

  • guest

    let there be laptops, so everybody can see them!!!  it let the dj’s stand out from the ones that dont, that nowadays, in my opinion, dont play that good anymore, just sounds outdated to me! its up to the crowd to decide if he’s worth beeing there!!! but i love seeing a mac on the booth!!!!!

    • Alanp303

      I was playing in Sri Lanka a month ago, in front of 2/300 people. I was doing 1 hour back to back with the residents. The local guys had a cheap ass numark mixer with battered cdj’s . I had MacBook pro with kontrol S4. The crowd had a great night as did I.
      So i don’t think it matters what you play on its the tracks/technique and giving the punters a good night that matters

  • Kent Sandvik

    A hidden laptop in the DJ booth is a good laptop.

    • Killmedj

      I agree 100%. I hate looking up at an apple logo when I’m at a gig!

      • LEDPaint

        1. Use a pc.
        2. cover Apple logo with tape.

      • Ferd Mertz

        If it’s your gig then why does it matter that the Crapple logo is showing? Are you looking at the back of the laptop during your entire gig? I usually am looking at the crowd or the display.

    • Thump and Hustle

      snobbery – all that matters is the sound.