Are DJs Switching Back To Hardware?

For years there was really no other option: DJs played on hardware exclusively, turntables dominated the scene and a few DJs braved CD players. In the early 2000s, computer and music technology combined forces which resulted in a DJ software revolution that, in many ways, DJTT helped to grow. During this revolution DJs around the world were switching from vinyl to the laptop, which promised a new platform of creative control. Lately though, that trend seems to have reversed. Are DJs moving back towards hardware like CDJs, turntables, and standalone laptop-free solutions – or is it just another phase?

A Sign Of The Times?

I noticed this trend last week when DJTT started calling past Traktor/S4 customers to see how they were liking their gear. The phone feedback was surprising and stark: almost everyone talked about moving away from the laptop and controllers – towards standalone hardware solutions like the Pioneer CDJ/XDJs.

Photo credit: Rob Fisher

Even more surprising was the feedback that, in many markets, young DJs are seen as “not serious” if they are playing with controllers. Wait, is this 2007 all over again, I thought we settled that argument years ago!?

Tell us in the comments – have you also seen a backlash against controller DJs recently?

On the production side, it’s hard not to miss the palpable excitement over a very real renaissance of analogue and digital hardware. After using DAWs since the late 90s, I now prefer to run hardware sequencers and dedicated synths for one simple reason:

Hardware is fun and limiting to the creative process, which can produce interesting results.

Sure, doing everything “in the box” offers a million more possibilities, better recall and editing but usually it’s way less fun and significantly more complicated. This got me thinking – has digital DJing really suffering from the same problem?

There is no question that a computer with controllers and custom mappings offers a much more unique palette of creativity. With these tools, many artists have even transcended the traditional idea of a DJ entirely, and evolved into a new class of performers. When you look at the way controllerists, live producers, and even some techno DJs perform, it’s very much dynamic creation and not simple audio playback.

A great example of live producers are Octave One – watch them play live in this Boiler Room set:

But besides music creation-oriented performers, it seems like most DJs just want to play some sweet jams, down a few cocktails, and have fun during the process. In that camp, hardware has admittedly done a better job than software solutions. It’s easy to use/learn, tends to be universally accepted, requires little setup, and works consistently.

In the tech/startup world, there’s a phrase for the three hard-to-achieve elements of a big breakthrough, “Better, Faster, Cheaper”.

Software DJing (mostly) succeeded in being “better” by offering way new ways to mix music but have not made less progress in “Faster” and “Cheaper” department. It’s still very expensive to have a truly professional digital DJ setup (including the cost of a laptop, controller, good quality soundcard, etc) and those models today are far more work to setup and manage.

Does The Data Show The Trends?

Going beyond pure conjecture, we want to find out if these trends away from DJ software are really substantial – so we took a closer look at the data for the last two years of gear sales. Based on industry reports, we’ve seen a slight drop year-over-year in units sold of MIDI controllers and an increase in CDJ/mixer sales, but not quite enough to yet confirm or deny these trends. However, our survey (see end of the article) has already shown some fascinating results:

This website embraces all tools, technology, and music styles, so we try our hardest to stay platform-agnostic and simply remain in favor of creativity and fun – thus our mission statement:

“To help, teach, and inform DJs and producers how to get more creatvity from music technology”

We’re advocates of any platform that helps to make it easier to DJ – hopefully while being affordable and offering great potential for personal expression and creativity. With Pioneer’s upcoming TORAIZ SP-16 sequencer, it seems that they want to provide tools beyond the “one-size-fits-all” CDJ, but software still does hold the promise of infinite possibilities.

Today we have a handful of major DJ software platforms, among them Traktor, Serato, Rekordbox DJ, Virtual DJ, and a few others but who is still using them? I invite you to answer the following questions, and please share this article with your friends. We will calculate the answers and publicly post the results, to hopefully answer the question: are DJs switching back to hardware en-masse?

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Comments (208)
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  • Uncle22

    Hardware is now catching up to the software, controller combo 😉

  • What Were The 10 Top Selling DJ Controllers In 2016?

    […] is a good sign of the DJ market’s desire for standalone gear – something that we reported on in this piece from May 2016. It’s a much cheaper way to get a complete Pioneer club workflow on CDJs. Denon’s standalone […]

  • DjCaylus Caylus

    Nice article 😉 20years I play electronic music.. I have the A10 for 4 decks with Traktor scratch on 3xSL1200MK2. Ableton with controllers to add a virtual drum machine and connecting midi instruments. Before I had to take 2/3 bags/case of LP. Now Just a computer, the sound card and 2 to 4 Timecode Lp or cd. Much lighter ! (better for your back) And you even have a effects integrate if there is no good one on the mixtable. The computer and sound card must be powerful but the weight, the place, the customization of your live setup is much bigger.. But for the price of a car If you have to buy everything new now (+3000euro the new technics). With pure hardware machines Its cheaper but limited and take place and weight…even if some hardware have really a soul like the TR909 😉 Conclusion.. MIX ! 😉

  • Timothy Kenefick

    I’m going to go back to my Vestax and a Z2 and pair it with a midi fighter and Maschine. I used an S4 MK1 Love(d) it but I bent the usb input and had to get it fixed (twice) with it still not turning on!! So gutted. but I don’t think I’ll spend another grand+ on a controller. I also don’t get the whole CDJ craze. Most people I know have cdj’s .. Which is weird to me.. They’re usually $1500+ so 2 to 5 times as much as a turntable. I mean I get it it has more features and the newer ones hook right up to the computer… but why not then just get a good controller for the price of one cdj ? and if you’re using it as a stand alone how does it work on those tiny screens ?

  • Juergen Tolksdorf

    Thanks for the article. It’s interesting to see this trend. Personally I do not mind playing with Serato, Traktor or Pionneer CDJ’s (and started wit turntables long time ago). Sure, you’re better as a DJ is you’re only working with one gear at a time (just in case I’m not clear …).

    I’ve tried Rekordbox with DDJ-XR2 as well. My issue with Software based setups is that I experience glitches here and there. Traktor crashed too often for me, while I still love the clean User Interface, the effects, the combination with Midi Fighter.

    Personally I never got really in touch with Serato, but I guess that’s because I’m not playing hip hop (I’ve seen awesome sets of DJ’s playing with Serato) or maybe I’m just too stupid for Serato….

    Hardware-only setups or Pioneers LAN based Link-System seems to be rock solid. I did not experience crashes with these setups.

    I LOVE the color waveforms in all Laptop based setups, as it just simplifies my life, but I guess that’s a different topic.

  • CUSP

    Nope (at least not in the SF Bay Area). In fact, I made a point of going out to bars and clubs in the last few weeks to check on this, and I see turntables covered in dust and in disrepair, while I see laptop stands made out of pipe and plywood almost everywhere. Funny thing is that most venue owners don’t want to keep repairing/replacing gear, and getting the kids to bring in their own is a big PLUS to them.

  • CUSP

    It took about 3 minutes to stop laughing after I read that title.

    I’d say a small group of DJs tried digital and found it was too complex for them, so they chose to go (back) to analogue. Please remember that analogue is not a perfect medium, but if paying a lot of money to play vinyl for your A-to-B DJing (…and maybe some scratching) is what you want to do, I’m not going to stop you. *IF* some DJs return to Turntables (or CDs), it will be because it’s their choice, not because it’s a better way of doing the job. As it stands, controllers produce the best return on investment regarding bang-for-the-buck. If you buy god digital tracks, they’ll always be better than ANY vinyl you’ve ever heard. For these reasons (and a few others) I seriously doubt digital is in any jeopardy of being abandoned, because it “is the better mousetrap.” I expect certain crowds will look down their noses at digital, but when the DJ is actually using the record player as a controller, it’s really those snobs attitudes that are the problem, not the media itself.

    You might as well ask these people if they’re returning to horse and buggy to get to their gigs, that they play hand-cranked gramophones when they’re playing. At some point, it makes sense to leave the bad old ways in the past. On the other hand, there are luddites out there who still don’t accept electricity into their homes… and that works for them, so… yeah.

  • schlommo

    isn’t the whole “hardware vs. software” terminology misleading? I mean, look at how much software is in the hardware (talking of CDJ)…? We are not talking about Technics 1210 anymore, but of devices with displays, a huge amount of software (firmware) in them, handling digital files. I don’t have experiences with recent models of CDJs, I still got a pair of CD-J 100… They played only audio-cds, and offered only one cue-point, displayed the percentage of pitch and had 3 FX on it.
    I recently bought the NI Kontrol 5, and I basically need Traktor only for organizing the files and the laptop as host for Traktor. The K5 has many knobs and sliders to the all the interaction with the sound and has a display to choose the files, the tracks, the stems and the prepared loops in the remix-deck: so why should this be called a “software-setup”???

    I don’t mention this to say this or that is better. And sure, THERE ARE differences between a CDJ and a Hardware-Controller. But my point is: it’s not so much about “hardware vs. software”… the lines are blurring, and what is called “hardware-setup” here, is mainly a very specialized hardware-device with a huge embedded software (or firmware) in it. To a certain extend similar to modern cars, fridges, coffe machines etc. And the difference to what is called “software-setup” lies mainly in the fact, that the user takes his own laptop, and installs a piece of “pure software” (traktor, serato etc) on it, but additionally uses a hardware-device to control that software-laptop-bundle.

    Now, I might be wrong… and sure, this argument might be true for some certain setups, and less true for other setups (and not true for those who spin only vinyl on technics). But I am pretty much convinced, that such simple – and to my impression: wrong – juxtapositions such as “hardware vs. software” are misleading and not improving the discussion. Sure, they are good for a catchy headline…! But they 1.) don’t help that much to understand this phenomena, and 2.) they only feed the trolls and strenghten an ideological divide, which in my opinion does only exist in the heads, but not in the setup (anymore – “vinyl only”-djs excluded).


  • Alexander Stormdahl

    People switched to controllers because of the low prices. Jeez guys, “DJ software revolution” lmao.

  • Elevate DNB

    In a professional/club setting, sticks and CD’s. End of story. Everything else is a distraction, inconsiderate to the flow of the night and to the other DJ’s. Inviting anthing and everything under the sun into the DJ booth more times than not causes too many problems.

  • Toby Whitehurst

    All they have to do is re-market the software and midi controllers as live performance tools. Problem solved. Then all the kids will be rushing back to buy them again as it’ll become cooler to be a ‘live performer’, rather than a ‘shitty’ DJ – it’ll give a nice dead cat bounce at least, before turntable supremacy wins once more.

  • Paul Startin

    Hi, I changed from a controller (Traktor S4) back to CDJ’s, about a year ago, currently running on DJM/CDJ 900 Nexus. I find the screens, on the CDJ’s provide the perfect Hybrid of Software and Traditional Hardware. I use Rekord Box and the ‘Link’ function, on a dedicated Network. I did purchase the Rekord Box DJ, but have never used it, as this means returning to the LapTop screen, was hoping that the ReKord Box DJ, would display on the CDJ screens, as experienced via the ‘Link’, but this was not to be the case. Whereas the Traktor, brought with it a mass of tools, most of which were never used, I find returning to the CDJ set up more intuitive, much more comfortable to use.

  • D. J. Freije

    Sorry but the only Hardware are the turntables and the very old CDJ. Actually the CDJs and similars have a microprocessor and a software inside.

  • nopalmex

    This is something like the classic “Mac vs Win”. In the end it’s just a bunch of talentless people without knowledge, discussing trivialities. In my city they have been all dj on fashion and some others too. Vinyl, turntables, CD, CDJ, do not guarantee anything. Most playing realy borring music music or just pure hits. The best music you would find in a small bar or at an after party some subject with laptop playing better than the DJ that charge 10,000 an hour. But, at the end, if the clubs want to keep inflating the ego of braggarts, it is their money.

  • Ole Marius

    Use a S4 and laptop today, but I`m tired of caring so much gear with me at all time, so I`m looking into new ways of dj`ing then how I`m today.

  • cosine83

    I wonder if the reason you’re seeing this kind of trend back toward standalone hardware is due to many clubs being invested thousands of dollars in the CDJ/DJM combos, limited setup area for a DJ, a Luddite attitude towards evolving technology (not a new occurrence), and younger/newer DJs having to conform to those standards than what they started on. From the few clubs I’ve been to here in Reno where my friends spin, the booths are almost universally small and usually stuffed with house gear. A couple of them require DJs to bring their own gear and keep the booth clear except for the house mixer/PA and when transitioning DJs.

    As a newer DJ, I personally liked my Gemini G4V enough but recently got a DDJ-SX2 to get closer to the professional feel. I absolutely love it and it was worth the money but it’d be a shame if I were forced to never use it beyond bedroom live streams and house parties.

  • Snoop Dogg

    Well, i Prefer Native Instruments controller + macbook than Cdj`s pionner.

  • Dennis Olivieira

    I see by myself that I only use my laptop to manage my tracks now a days. I sometimes use Traktor. But I use my CDJs with usb sticks or SDcards or use my macbook to prolink on my DJM2000. Perfect.

  • RalfN

    I’ve started DJing just a few years ago using Traktor. It was a cheap way to get first experiences on the way to find my personal style of music. I liked every new controller from Native Instruments so I buyed each one of them: X1, S4, Z1, X1 Mk2 and S4 Mk2. After problems running Traktor with the Kontrol S4 on Windows I decided to buy a Macbook Pro and everything works fine.

    The situation changed, after a buyed the Kontrol S5. A brilliant concept of controller – with the most buggiest version of Traktor I have ever seen – including seconds of silence during play! Weeks before I get the S5 I decided to migrate to El Capitan. I’d expected to get some problem with that, but after 3 or more updates without solving the problems I lost completly my confidence that NI will find the bugs.

    The insight, to pay all this money for these controllers and a simple software update makes them useless changed my mind. I ordered a Pioneer XDJ-RX that I use now and I am happy with this device. It has much limited features compared to Traktor, but I know, that the device will work the next years reliable and I dont loose money again.

  • BoldFaceType

    I made the switch from software/controller back to hardware mostly b/c of all the headaches I had with the
    setup/configuration of a laptop. Most of us are using our everyday PC
    laptops for mixing. Who has the cash for a dedicated DJ laptop? A
    MacBook Pro no less?!

    Adding a PC into the mix introduces a much
    higher level of complexity to your kit. That higher level gives you alot
    of options, at the expense of less reliability, longer
    set-up/tear-down, and harder trouble-shooting. All those features, and
    all that music on your HD doesn’t mean jack if you can’t play due to
    technical problems. What’s most important about a DJs kit is that it
    works all the time, every time. Hardware does that much better than a
    software/controller combination.

    In the days of vinyl, it was all
    about selection, and skills (I’m coming from a vinyl background). You brought your headphones and your
    music, and that was it. You were expected to know how a mixer worked so you
    could mix on whatever was provided or available. You were expected to
    know beat matching so you could mix on Technics. That *standard* was a
    good balance b/c it leveled the playing field so a DJ could showcase
    skills/talent on the decks as well as their music selection, which
    ultimately is what DJing is all about. DJing is not about all the
    gimmicky, glitchy, under/overused, features that your
    software/controller has. It’s not about how many GBs of tracks you’ll
    never use or listen to. It’s about how much you can do with what you’ve
    got. How creative you can be with just two decks and a mixer. How
    awesome a set you can drop with just 2 hours worth of music.

    and skill come from being limited, not from being unlimited. The
    Pioneer standard accomplishes what we had in the vinyl days by making
    DJing more about skills and selection. The paradigm is minimal, limited, reducing what’s needed to your
    music and you headphones. Your skills and selection. IMO, that’s how it
    should be.

  • BoldFaceType

    switch back to hardware mostly b/c of all the headaches I had with the
    setup/configuration of a laptop. Most of us are using our everyday PC
    laptops for mixing. Who has the cash for a dedicated DJ laptop? A
    MacBook Pro no less?!
    Adding a PC into the mix introduces a much
    higher level of complexity to your kit. That higher level gives you alot
    of options, at the expense of less reliability, longer
    set-up/tear-down, and harder trouble-shooting. All those features, and
    all that music on your HD doesn’t mean jack if you can’t play due to
    technical problems. What’s most important about a DJs kit is that it
    works all the time, every time. Hardware does that much better than a
    software/controller combination.

    In the days of vinyl, it was all
    about selection, and skills. You brought your headphones and your
    music, that was it. You were expected to know how a mixer worked so you
    could mix on whatever was provided or available. You were expected to
    know beat matching so you could mix on Technics. That *standard* was a
    good balance b/c it leveled the playing field so a DJ could showcase
    skills/talent on the decks as well as their music selection, which
    ultimately is what DJing is all about. DJing is not about all the
    gimmicky, glitchy, under/overused, features that your
    software/controller has. It’s not about how many GBs of tracks you’ll
    never use or listen to. It’s about how much you can do with what you’ve
    got. How creative you can be with just two decks and a mixer. How
    awesome a set you can drop with just 2 hours worth of music.

    and skill comes from being limited, not from being unlimited. The
    Pioneer standard accomplishes what we had in the vinyl days by making
    DJing more about skills and selection by reducing what’s needed to your
    music and you headphones. Your skills and selection. IMO, that’s how it
    should be.

  • BoldFaceType

    I made the switch back to hardware mostly b/c of all the headaches I had with the setup/configuration of a laptop. Most of us are using our everyday PC laptops for mixing. Who has the cash for a dedicated DJ laptop? A MacBook Pro no less?!
    Adding a PC into the mix introduces a much higher level of complexity to your kit. That higher level gives you alot of options, at the expense of less reliability, longer set-up/tear-down, and harder trouble-shooting. All those features, and all that music on your HD doesn’t mean jack if you can’t play due to technical problems. What’s most important about a DJs kit is that it works all the time, every time. Hardware does that much better than a software/controller combination.

    In the days of vinyl, it was all about selection, and skills. You brought your headphones and your music, that was it. You were expected to know how a mixer worked so you could mix on whatever was provided or available. You were expected to know beat matching so you could mix on Technics. That *standard* was a good balance b/c it leveled the playing field so a DJ could showcase skills/talent on the decks as well as their music selection, which ultimately is what DJing is all about. DJing is not about all the gimmicky, glitchy, under/overused, features that your software/controller has. It’s not about how many GBs of tracks you’ll never use or listen to. It’s about how much you can do with what you’ve got. How creative you can be with just two decks and a mixer. How awesome a set you can drop with just 2 hours worth of music.

    Creativity and skill comes from being limited, not from being unlimited. The Pioneer standard accomplishes what we had in the vinyl days by making DJing more about skills and selection by reducing what’s needed to your music and you headphones. Your skills and selection. IMO, that’s how it should be.

  • Tricksta

    Turntable > CDJ > controller

    This article presumes a dichotomy between controllers and CDJs. Frankly I’ve noticed more of a return of DVS and actual vinyl in the past few years because no one really uses CDs. I’m curious if the girl who approached would have been more or less excited if you used vinyl. My experience is that she would be more excited to see a turntable than a CDJ because so many people have used a CD but vinyl is often something rare and unique to the average person.

    Apart from the DJTechTools community, the stigma of ‘laptop’ DJ versus CDJ has always existed and never went away. This site has accomplished a lot but that war is/was never over.

    Perhaps the author has noticed the rise of the producer/DJ? Laptop use by a producer is expected but unnecessary for DJing from one MP3 to another. It isn’t unreasonable for someone paying a significant amount to focus on actual producers or DJs with unique skills like recognizing pitch, key, etc. by ear. A venue owner with decent musical taste isn’t crazy to hire people with skills that are unique.

    Most people buying new DJ equipment are inclined to keep buying DJ equipment so of course they will buy the latest and greatest thingamajig. There is a huge bias in favor of contacting people who always buy the latest thing if you call people who bought the S4 years later.

    Just to pre-empt any hate – I’m saying this from a point of self awareness as someone who chased the dragon of DJ gear instead of developing musical skill. The sad part is that someone selling an S4 to purchase a CDJ is using fewer effects, tracks, etc. which allows less musical expression by that person and displaying a preference for social perception rather than musical arrangement.

  • billybloggs

    For Northern Soul jocks in the UK it has to be hardware, viz tuntables, CDDJs and controllers are anathema to these guys.

  • Mr Smith

    Let’s face it. You’re not a real DJ unless you are using reel to reel. Period.

  • Grizz

    When I started DJing in the 90s it was simple, a mixer and turntables. For the most part the venue’s kept up the gear. Then we got the great sounding CD players. There were less issues and sounded great and took up way less space in the bag. The CD players evolved into turntables faces which were really innovative and creative. Then somewhere along the line venues started neglecting their gear. Tonearms were bent, Cd players skipped and mixers had broken knobs and sketchy faders. That’s when the computers and controllers kinda took off I think. Playing the same setup that you had control over and that you had at home seemed to make sense. The fact you didn’t have to carry so many crates and could adjust your set to the crowd made sense. Then DJing became “popular” and the venue’s started upgrading their gear again and more exciting hardware became available and the act of DJing became vague and artistic and individual. Whatever setup you had that was your personality behind the booth. Now it seems to be a “true” Dj you have to spin vinyl and use hardware. Listen we play okay music for the enjoyment if the listeners. Whatever way you prefer, in whatever venue you enjoy and whatever genre you get down to you want to enjoy time grooving with friends. Plain and simple. Jeeze that was a bit winded, and definitely not a rant just my two cents. Keep doing what you do and grooving to life.

  • Steve

    its funny how the author makes the very good point about hardware for production:
    “Hardware is fun and limiting to the creative process, which can produce interesting results.”
    yet fails to make the same logical connection with DJing on hardware. it is fun for the same reason.

  • Sam Stratigeas

    In the beginning when using 2 turntables and a mixer, the chore and the time was spent beat matching and making sure they didn’t go out of sync between mixes. There was not a lot of time left over for getting creative or scratching and the most you could do is pre-program the order of the songs you wanted to play and using drop-mixes when you wanted to change the tempo. Now that software has pretty much solved the beat matching and syncing issue, it leaves a lot of room for creativity and much more opportunity to combine 2 songs to make them one. I find that having a laptop close by with everything it can display will always be an asset no matter how far hardware comes with on screen displays.

  • Aaron Lamb

    I still think controllers are cool and have their place…..but!!! It’s a little shaky to have all your eggs in one basket. Over the past year I have went back to a 4 Chan Mixer, turntables and 2 XDJ’s. GIves me bunch of flexibility and lets me expand either analog or digital. I can’t tell you how many controllers have flaked out on me and I would have to jump back on a old mixer, 1200’s and a SL1. Never really cared for the mixer section in any of the controller’s for the exception of the Xone DX….which it had its own problems elsewhere.

    Anyways, my 1200’s still see more action then my DDJ-SX

  • Scoresman

    “What hardware do you want to buy next” is different than “What hardware are you going to buy next”.

  • JesseNYC

    It’s not the tools, it’s the artist! Everything else is corporate manipulation & consumerism. I started on a tape deck and an old belt drive turntable plugged mono into an old Kenwood receiver I found. Used the balance knob to mix.

  • Michael Lewis

    Started with Vinyl and then started using software because it was easy to use and you could record a set easily. Plus music was cheaper. I’m now back to Vinyl. I have to pay attention to a record and I could easily mess up. I am more involved and attentive playing Vinyl. Plus it feels sexy, lol.

  • Michael Lewis

    Started with Vinyl and then started using software because it was easy to use and you could record a set easily. Plus music was cheaper. I’m not back to Vinyl. I have to pay attention to a record and I could easily mess up. I am more involved and attentive playing Vinyl. Plus it feels sexy, lol.

  • Greg Lane

    I think the hybrid method is best. I played on tables for years and years and I love not having to worry about precision beat matching any more. I don’t have anything to prove. Now I can do more stuff and I actually do and not just say it. I currently have Traktor with 1 X-1, 2 F-1’s, Xone:43, and 2 1200’s. I want to add more or possibly replace the F-1’s with a maschine. I was never into the all in one because to me I don’t trust that type of setup and believe a hardware mixer is much better for sound and control along with all in ones honestly, really just looking like toys. I couldn’t be happier with what I have currently but I kind of try to emulate people like Chris Liebing and Richie Hawtin when it comes to incorporating new tech and trying to do more.

  • Mark Smith

    I feel the survey lacked one question. I own both a CDJ setup and a laptop/controller setup. I owned the laptop/ controller setup prior to the CDJ’s however I love both. I did that on purpose to be prepared for any situation club or otherwise.


    I am a controllerist and use the Launchpad exclusively. I know how to get into most booths and don’t need to see my laptop in order to play and creative use of laptop stands mean I can play in the centre of the booth. Iv supported some huge artists over the last few years and never come across anyone hating on my setup, even held a residency for 7 months performing my routines every Saturday. I use the supplied DJ mixer for fx and creative eq but rarely touch the CDJs. I was inspired by madzach, m4sonic and the growing community of live launchpad based performers. Its not industry standard but I couldn’t do what I do on the industry standard 2000’s or whatever model a venue has. Having been a guitarist before I got into DJing it just made sense to perform live and make my sets as live oriented as I could, now with the LP pro I can have live synths, drum racks for finger drumming, crazy mashups with an LP light show to boot and a madeon style DJ performance set ready to rock in session view. For me its not what you use but how well you use it. Practice, practice, practice and then practice more regardless if your a controllerist or on CDJs, just do it in a way that you find fun and can rock a crowd with!

  • kebabtoy

    The day Pioneer implement beatjump on CDJ/XDJ, then I’m on USB stick. Beatjump is one of my best toys when I’m not familiar with the new songs

  • Steve Brown

    The trend is the segmentalizing of types of performers and importantly to the industry, consumers.
    Returning to the cdj is just one part of it. It needs to be looked at in the bigger picture which also contains all the portable scratching stuff, and the drum machine stuff.
    I know this, i go to gc to play on the 2000s, there’s usually other guys there with the same idea, they come to practice for clubs.
    for the most part, nobody is bothering with any of the other devices set up, the S8? The ns7, the pioneer controllers? Nothin…they just sit there ignored. This has been tru the last 4 or 5 times i went.

  • Simon Kennedy

    computers/controllers have no place in real genuine dj’ing, but if your mobile/bar dj i can see why using one makes sense, access to large library, compact setup etc

  • Doug

    Here’s my 2 pence… in terms of practicality (small venues) I use the DDJ SX…if Im required to show my skills, B2B, professional appearance it would probably be the CDJ’s…

  • LucidSFX

    Great topic!!

  • @blackdominoes

    CDJs and other hardware solutions are managing files and playlists better than they used to. It used to be, nightclub artist DJs used to prefer CDJs because it’s a more professional look /feel / vibe than a laptop. Nightclub DJs are usually also going to only play one genre or subgenre per gig.

    Nowadays the CDJs/XDJs/Aero/whatever have touch screens. Keyboard search.
    Rekordbox has made it easy for even the Mobile guys taking requests for little Timmy’s birthday party to manage huge collections.

    The small, flat screens are starting to pack just as much info as what was on older versions of Traktor/Serato on their displays.

    Looking down at esoteric gear will always look more professional than looking at a MacBook, so even the mobile guys are switching.

    Finally, the features loved by digital DJs of all stripes who like getting creative (multi track sync, slip mode, censor, beat jump, hot cues, cue drumming, waveforms, even recording your set etc) that used to only be the realm of software DJs are now easily done with hardware.

    One might even say done better with hardware.

    Here in Berlin I have seen maybe 2-3 computers in DJ booths —in total—in 3 years of going out to clubs of all sizes every weekend. Now that’s trickling down to DJs in other disciplines as well.

  • antmaper

    The reason I’m moving to CDJs is the fear of some drunk ppl spilling beer on my personal laptop

  • Thoughtful

    Great question to pose and very astute observation. It is an interesting observation for many reasons, but perhaps at its foundation, this change has been spurred by the popular rise of electronic music. While electronic music has been the focus and muse of DJs for seemingly forever, the tremendous spike in popularity seen over the past half decade has reshaped electronic in every way, including the manner in which it is performed. If we recall the provocative article by Joel Zimmerman that was a scathing rant of “laptop DJs” and “Controlerists”, this can be seen as an inflection point in the electronic music industry (I am hesitant to call it an industry but will not be so naive as to ignore “EDM” and the obscene festivals).

    While from my perspective I agree with the mission of DJ Techtools and am interested in what behavior is most prominent in this discipline, Joel Zimmerman sparked fear amongst many DJs as he threatened to devalue and reverse any authority one may have established for themselves as a digital DJ. It was from the stigma that controllerism and its popularity were discredited, and limitations on candid creativity within DJing were established.

    However, while the changing perspective was detrimental in some areas of electronic music such as digital DJing, the rise in production and production based performance have brought an entirely new and exciting face to DJing. Vinyl sales are simultaneously rising and, as mentioned in the article, analogue synthesis in music has been able to open an exciting door for the future of DJing and electronic music performance.

  • Steve Oaks

    I use both controllers and cdjs. I use a controller for small bars and patios and my cdjs for large main room settings. It comes down to risk, and cost of gear. I don’t want to put a ton of wear on my cdjs or have someone accidentally spill a drink on them. Lastly, the djm2000 just sounds better than any controller I’ve heard so far, so that’s my big room workhorse.

  • Adam Arthur

    Bottom line is that the DJ scene never veered away from stand alone controllers (primarily CDJ 2000s); Stages are setup with the DJ at the central location with all gear hooked up to the house mixer.. often times with 4 CDJ’s taking up all 4 channels (with no room to plug in another controller). DJ’s coming in with their own setup is generally a pain for the venue and in my eyes frowned upon because of the headaches it causes., for one, you never know what the DJ is going to bring, for two you don’t know if their levels are set right to match the house, and three, setting up a side DJ spot on the stage detracts from the stage focus and so controller DJ’s look like an afterthought. You have to also think about sound quality of the controller., you have to worry about if the DJ has a strong enough computer to handle the load plus not overheat and stop the music.. whereas the CDJ/XDJs handle all of this and are generally exceptionally reliable. The other problem is generally speaking controller DJ’s are controller DJ’s out of budget, or convenience. Usually it’s simply a case of a DJ not having the budget or friends with a budget to get time on CDJ’s to learn them, which is understandable of course, but the point is that venues have to do all this maneuvering to have a DJ do the same thing they could have done on a CDJ but just havent had enough experience to do so. I’ve seen very few controller DJs that actually utilize ALL the power at their fingertips to put on a true performance… and in the end true performance DJ’s are not appreciated by the audience as they should be. Like Shonstarr said, it’s all about keeping the music going., the audience rarely cares how that happens. The XDJ’s in my opinion added the best of both worlds. I originally came from TRAKTOR and one of my most used function in there was the beat jumping feature. Scrubbing through tracks in real time and synced to the music is HUGE. It added so much flexibility to work songs together musically, adjust for timing when a track takes too long to load etc. – and for whatever reason CDJ’s don’t include this feature., but the XDJs do.. which makes me extremely sad that PIONEER decided to come out with a fancy new version of the CDJ’s (which once again lacks this feature) instead of embracing this new controller. I can only hope that PIONEER gets a clue about this and creates a CDJ 2000/NXS2 comparable version of the XDJ. If they really embrace all the functionality of a laptop/controller., decrease song load times and allow on the fly track analyzation instead of having to run all tracks through REKORD Box every time DJing could be a place where both traditional DJs and Controller DJs could both find a happy home.

  • Mauri Moore

    As djs we should be worried about music . Nobody cares about what we use .

  • Jared Ross

    Interesting timing of this article and this post from a house music legend…

    • here_comes_the_sheik

      You can be as much of a legend as you want. But if you pretend that DJing with the latest Pioneer XDJ / CDJs is anymore hard (and needs more “talent”) than DJing with Serato / Traktor / etc. you’re just a narrow-minded douche.

      I understand it if they suggest DJ not to play with laptops due to organizational reasons (short sets, no space) but this is just pretentious bullshit!

    • Chuck

      It’s crazy. Less than one year ago, there was an anti-Traktor Policy due to the lack of experience of dudes using it and issues they met in clubs.

      • Rusty

        Agreed! That Kenny Summit post is a load of pretentious, hipster-esque shite! “Learn how to use CDJs already”, in order to “show us your talent”….. CDJs can just as easily mask a lack of talent as they can showcase it. I wonder if they’d even recognise the difference? Sounds like that place is sponsered by Pioneeer IMO. Snobbish tripe.

        • Chuck

          Definitely. I like some Pioneer products but not all.
          Here in France, if you dare talking about products they don’t promote (older CDJ’s, EFX series), they front.

  • Kyler Killips

    I’d like to shine some light on hardware that accepts software control. Like a rekordbox cdj rig or the Denon MCX8000. I use to use a set of old CD only denon CDJs. Now i use a cheaper Gemini Slate 4. And as of right now my next controller will be the MCX8000. For some reason I just feel more comfortable on my laptop. I’d also like to add in that i would much prefer to play on CDJs as i know that these are the industry standard for where ever you will go. but i have no way to practice on them. im also very use to using a handful of cue points for cues, loops, and cue juggling which make using CDJs even harder to try and put on a show that i know i can easily on my controller. Ive seen a lot of controllers lately but the hate is still there. and my 1 response to that is this: If we were made of money, most of us would have standalone gear.

  • Jake Bergeson

    I think controllers are seen as toys still, but it depends on what kind. If you have a modular setup but still use a DJM or 92, then you’re seen as someone professional. But if you use an all in one, it’s def still viewed as pretty amateur.

    I think the real thing that’s driving people back to hardware, is the computer is becoming integrated with the hardware. Traktor is now essentially within the CDJ in the form of rekordbox. You can see your entire waveform, have 8 hot cues, 10 memory cues etc. And now there’s a touchscreen with qwerty keyboard and 128GB flash drives.

    So essentially most all the major benefits of DJing with a laptop are gone, and you get more simplicity and a straightforward setup. And most people I know who are DJing are wanting to play track to track with the occasional 3rd deck. So why play with a setup like Richie or Dubfire if you’re not Richie or Dubfire? Unless you’re gonna play 4 decks and use ableton effect routing and live drum machines, CDJs make all the sense in the world.

    And now with Pioneer’s new sampler coming out with midi clock out, there’s even less reason of a need for a laptop, even with drum machines or other outboard gear.

    There’s a change, but it’s mostly that hardware and the computer are integrating, not that it’s a step back to what it used to be.

    • Dubby Labby

      The reason is price and upgradeability. Djing has become “pop” in the good and bad meanings so not everyone needs a thousand $ gear to mix 2 songs… When them could do it with actual gear (laptop from school homework or iPad…) but Pioneer wants to be the standard as it was creating the necessity in users (crappling them into rekordbox step like Apple with iTunes more or less) and works for them.
      Computer integration is iPad (Windows 10 tablets/phone have recieved a down with Intel news leaving the market) or dedicated hardware (like Pioneer) and maybe soon NI make some movements in this direction at last.
      Pioneer sampler still has to show its possibilities more than flashy lightshow and I don’t see live performers ditching Maschines or Push for this…

      • Chuck

        I totally agree with your last point regarding Pioneer sampler. Pioneer wanna be too much the industry standard with the highest prices ever, just like Akai did with MPC’s. Native Instruments with Maschine and got rid of Akai.
        The attempt to be back with the MPC Renaissance didn’t bring back customers at all. I doubt Pioneer succeeds to steal customers from other brands/products with this shiny piece of gear unless they got “A-list” DJ’s that can use it properly but the CDJ Mafia only uses basic Pioneer products functions…

        • Dubby Labby

          It could be a great product but not the best because price makes a point and this “hipterism” about mpc/sp-12 and workflows is ok but not the gospel truth (and history points in the oppossite direction leaving these “hyped” gear for few enthusiasts) so why to buy a expensive gear for do less? Stability? Standarization? Again the bigger market are bedroom on and on. We have experienced a new market cycle (about three years) in finantial crisis. Rich getting richter and poor, poorest… Pioneer? It makes seems the iPad the poor-man’s choice wtf!?

        • Jake Bergeson

          You’re forgetting 2 main features of the Pioneer sampler though that are different from the NI Maschine.

          1. Standalone. No laptop. This is a big selling point for some people right now.

          2. SYNC’s with CDJ’s, and has MIDI OUT. Again, without a laptop. This means you can sync a TR-8 or other outboard gear with a CDJ setup without the laptop.

          That’s the differentiator, and that’s what’ll allow them to sell it. Not to the bedroom market at first, but definitely to the professional market.

          • Chuck

            You forgot an important point: the price. How many Pioneer products have you seen in the last 3 years sold under 600$/600€, apart from headphones and the entry level controllers ?

            Even legacy products are still pricey and there is no more support for those who purchased them. How do you explain that the XDJ-R1 is still sold around 1000 € though it’s not one of the latest products ? See the link below :

            We will see how many dj’s use it on stage and take advantage of its features. Only James Zabiela, Cristian Varela, Laidback Luke, DJ Antonin (the DJ showcasing Pioneer products in France, also playing with David Guetta in Ibiza) master these products.

            I’ve been into DJing and production for a while so i can tell that even if new shiny products (CDJ-900/2000) appeared in 2009, those sold the most here i France were Weego.

            Now the ranges evolved but only DJ’s doin’ corporate/private events can afford to buy these.

            For less money, with Maschine, i have a modular set-up efficient for DJing and production too…

      • Jake Bergeson

        There are 3 area’s like Ean mentioned. Fast, Cheap, Good. Price is only one of the 3, and it’s a factor, but not the only factor that people consider when buying a product.

        • Dubby Labby

          My answer was for your question about why people will choose laptops (or modular) when them aren’t Ritchies, well upgradeability is the key and if you arena bedroom dj boy price is the most limitant factor. Then enters the “mybro'” mind and youngs dream about techn… Pioneer gear because it’s the “true” way (talking likes theirs bros’) now let me explain it further…

          In this case Price not means Good (or better if you prefer) for most users. Instead of, Pioneer tries to show “cheap” as “crappy” by inverse fallacy and makes an iPad Pro seem a cheap solution when it’s probably the most affordable as tool if you work with audiovisual content. Djay Pro and DjPlayer offer more options than rekordbox or even these screens in Tour series and maybe soon NI wake up and update their iOS app to compete. And this is as players but iPads (from 4/mini2 and up) are suitable for music making handling the two things by less the price of one Pioneer unit. Controllers could be even irrelevant if you learn how to deal with touchscreens but that’s another topic…

          When the proposal is expensive and crappy turns the not so cheap but good, cheaper and reliable.
          Don’t forget those circles are relationed. Never is one alone.

          Perhaps not all the people not consider money factor, ok… but if you re-read my comment you will understand who Pioneer (as Apple and even NI) use the market segmentation and how Pioneer is putting itself in the high stack to seem “the best” option but it wasn’t never and it isn’t now. That’s why people like Ritchie or Dubfire don’t go these route if there isn’t a sponsorship thing working in the background and also why not A>B people will still carry laptops with Ableton, Traktor and Maschines if it not increases even more with D2, F1 and iPads.

          Price and upgreadability (hability to upgrade if these word doesn’t exist 😉 )

  • Dustin

    I have to admit, I’m starting to move towards using hardware more than the software myself. I have a DDJ-SX2 and use Serato DJ, but it’s really becoming a pain to lug that stuff around to gigs. I forced myself to learn CDJs/XDJs simply for convenience; most of the clubs I play have them already set up. Just load up my music on Rekordbox onto my thumb drive, and I’m good to go. Later on, I plan on learning to mix with turntables (no DVS) as well; something I’ve been wanting to learn to mix on since back in the day when that’s all you had to dj with.

    I prefer simplicity and being limited, as opposed to having a bunch of options and being overwhelmed, both with DJing and music production. Forces me to be creative with what I have.

    • Dubby Labby

      Simplicity and focus.

  • MoMo

    I don’t know. If you find this in a month, a year, five years, ten years…. end of the world and you really were on the so-called ‘wrong side’ of the current trend of DJ technology, then you will really have something to reflect upon but today, it is okay if whatever you are using is good enough to make you express yourself. If you started somewhere like, with vinyl and reel-to-reel ended up only using downloads/digitized vinyl files in CDJs, DVS or…. as samples in hardware samplers alongside modular gear with a massive array of patch cables, FX pedals, controlled by a laptop and another laptop running some live performance software, with controllers, sound cards, and clocking devices then you better sound good because whatever is relevant in the future will be easy peasy if you stick with what works for you today.

    Stick to what you like and never worry about the future, embrace technology that works and keep looking forward

  • John Viera

    I’ve DJed on everything and Traktor is the best. Anything else is moving backwards.

    • Oddie O'Phyle

      Agreed, although give Rekordbox DJ a couple years and a 64bit version and the stability should be up to snuff. By far though Traktor has to be one of the most flexible pieces of DJ software on the market.

      You can play off anything.

    • Dubby Labby

      As regular djing I’m agreed. As live remixing you should take a look into Modstep, AUM mixer and new Garageband on iOS. These offer some nice startpoint for modular or semi hardware setup.

  • Jeroen Krieger

    I think everyone is using some kind of software these days. It can be Traktor, serato, rekordbox etc…. I haven’t seen Dj’s lately who are packing there record or cd casess with them. I started like that and never want to go back to it, it’s just to haevy!
    All Dj’s use software to prepare there set, so software has definitely made it’s mark on the industry. A CDJ now days is a controller, a very expensive one! I still use my turntables in combination with software and controllers. Even when I spin on CDJ’s I bring my controller and laptop. For me the extra controller means more looping functions, more Que points, just more hands on functions. The CDJ gives me great platter control and faster back cueing.
    So both worlds has there ups and downs.

    • Beet Salad

      Right there with you. I’ve been utterly confused by the reference of CDJ’s as anything but a controller or the people who use them anything less than a controller DJ (By the way, I detest the title “controller DJ.”). All forms of DJing are valid in my book. Like you, I started on vinyl, moved to a CD stage, then adopted Traktor (via DVS), and eventually added X1(s) to my setup. If I’m playing out, the X1(s) and laptop are coming with me regardless of the base setup for the reasons you cited (looping, cue points, etc.). What I love about the hybrid setup I’ve accumulated at home is I get the best of all worlds. If i’m feeling nostalgic…turntables and mixer it is. When for some reason I get delusional and think I’m Nicole Moudaber or Carlo Lio, on go the loops and 4-track mixing utilizing the creativity and spontaneity of Traktor.

      • Jeroen Krieger

        The best of all worlds. That’s essentially the phrase I was looking for! Nobody just uses a controller or a hardware setup. Everybody uses computers, even the popular ( afrojack, David guetta, etc…) Dj’s. Just spin as you like and be yourself, just make make a great party!

  • Ian Williams

    I’m happy to carry on using a computer & Traktor, as it’s been relatively stable for me.
    I am however, moving to a Kontrol S5, so i can hopefully spend less time staring at my laptop.

  • Sevenkami

    The real issue is Traktor getting less stable and more buggy each new version. So it makes sense people go back to hardware because of reliability.

    • Oddie O'Phyle

      I find that I have less issues with stability when I strip Traktor down, it’s part of the reason why I use a hibrid set up. I generally leave key lock, limiter and auto gain off and do the work that a DJ should… like monitoring harmonics and setting levels. I don’t use software FX either, instead I use an RMX-500 and mix externally through hardware. I haven’t had many problems since the switch, now it has the added bonus of sounding warmer from picking up colour off the hardware.

  • jprime

    Turntables at the gig, controllers for portability for those spontaneous parties. What’s a “see-dee-jay”?

  • Jay Neural

    What about ditching the laptop for iOS/Android device ? Could be best of both worlds in terms of portability, but also usability. I honestly thought it would be the next trend, and I’m surprised of this back to 90s trend that’s happening right now.

    • Dubby Labby

      Next? It’s present for some users but people still complaint about iPads without know (or Apple hatism) instead enjoy the possibilities… I recomend it and it should be the year of iOS with most developers going further with iPad pro power and newcoming iOS 10.

    • Steve Brown

      Plug an ipad into an ns7, ns7II, or hs5500…and see if it works?

      • Dubby Labby

        Nop for numark these aren’t class compliant. About denon I haven’t info.

    • cyberfunk77

      What’s up Jay. I thought about ditching my laptop and iPhone for an all in one iPad solution. I’m talking phone, DAW, and DJ Software all on the same device! Unfortunately the technology is just no there yet. Limited storage is a major issue with iPads. As as far as phone calls you can get an iPad with Cellular but you can’t make cellular phone calls and VOIP only works with wifi I think. As far as DAW’s there’s nothing for iPad that can match my Pro Tools setup. For DJ software Virtual DJ seems to be the best bet but the sofware has issues with it’s KeyLock algorithm so I can’t use it. Aside from that connectivity with external drives and devices is also an issue when it comes to iPads. Give it a few more years for the technology to catch up and I think that an all in one iPad or even Android Tablet solution will be a possibility.

  • John Rodriguez

    The poll is missing options for multiple setups. I play out on CDJs using thumb drives and occasionally 1200s. I have a system for throwing undergrounds based around CDJs and 1200s. I also have a Traktor S2 setup in my office for when I don’t want to go fire up the main system, and use my CDJs as controllers when I’m banging on the mains at home.


    My biggest reason for concidering switching to hardware is simply due to the computers themselves. I grew up with shitty computers running windows (and i fucking hate windows no matter how good the computer is). So i switched to apple and fell in love. Everything was simple, looked nice, and it worked. But now it seems apple hates us (media producers) and theyve done everything they can to hurt us by taking everythin out of the laptop. I cant get a macbook with enough space to hold and handle everything i need and now less ports to plug things in. so now i have hubs and hard drives all daisy chained around making a mess. On top of that OSX tends to hate everything u use for 6-8 months after a new update. So what am i to due? Go back to windows? FUCK NO! But hey, these cdjs have lilttle computers built in that seem to run flawlessly and handle heavy performances. Makes me concider making the switch


    YO! “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the naive brand jocking DJ world that a CDJ playing mp3s and wavs is not just some giant, immobile, overpriced, outdated DJ controller.” …Yes ladies & gents hate to break the bad news to you but a CDJ is a DJ controller than can also play CDs 🙂


      BTW as a mobile/traveling DJ I would NEVER go back to hardware to just play prerecorded music. It makes no sense for me. Now if we are talking live/production hardware maybe… For local open format parties i’m rockin with (2) D2s and a Xone 23C. Traveling open format (2) D2s and a Z1. For house & techno parties i’m controlling Traktor decks with just the laptop keyboard, mixing with the Xone 23C – going between Traktor decks and also original beats and loops with input from my Ableton Push running through channel B on the Xone.


      BTW as a mobile/traveling DJ I would NEVER go back to hardware to just play prerecorded music. It makes no sense to me. Now if we are talking live/production hardware yes… For local open format parties i’m rockin with (2) D2s and a Xone 23C. Traveling open format (2) D2s and a Z1. For house & techno parties i’m controlling Traktor decks with just the laptop keyboard, mixing with the Xone 23C – going between Traktor decks and also original beats and loops with Ableton Push running through channel B on the Xone. That’s all I need!

  • cyberfunk77

    I started on American Audio CDJ’s in 1999, moved to vinyl in the early 2000’s and graduated to a fully digital setup in 2007. I moved to Ibiza and paid to ship all of my vinyl there fully expecting to use it at some point. In the end I never touched a vinyl record again and have been using Traktor DJ Studio 3 with various MacBooks (and a few PC laptops on occassion) for the duration of my professional career. My setup is rock solid and as a multi-genre DJ and Radio host it allows me to cater to a plethora of audiences and clients without having to hire a Boeing 747 to carry all of the vinyl I would need had I stayed with that medium. My setup is rock solid, portable and highly adaptable. I don’t enjoy playing on CDJ’s as I don’t find them as versatile as a laptop and controller. I like having access to the web to purchase and download the odd request I’ve omitted from my collection. Plus I can break open Pro Tools for a last minute custom edit or check in with my fans via Social Media all from the same device. It’s just too versatile a setup to abandon for anything else at the moment. If there is a better option out there I’m open to try it but at the moment Traktor DJ Studio 3 and a MacBook is the best and most reliable setup I’ve found.

  • Chuck

    It seems that there’s a switch to hardware now. We see more and more CDJ only set-up and turntables only set-up (so vinyl only dj sets) in France.

    DVS users are mostly Hip Hop DJ’s and are mainly on Serato (Scratch Live for rebels) and Serato DJ. Gear Evolved over the years so i went from 2 turntables and one mixer to a modular at will set-up with several dj mixers, controllers (M-Audio Trigger Finger, Numark Orbit, Midi Fighter 3D), a few dvs (Serato Scratch Live, Serato DJ, Mixvibes Cross), unconventional dj gear (Wacom Nextbeat) and production gear.

    There are many debates regarding dj gear (“is using a controller real DJing”, “what gear should we buy” etc…) that are useless to me.

    Gear/software become obsolete quicker than ever (M-Audio Xponent/Torq, Pioneer pre “Nexus” range CDJ’s, for example), brands get gathered in groups ( Alesis, M-Audio, Numark and Denon DJ into Inmusic), others try to lead us with “Nexus” gear and scary prices but don’t remain focused on our real needs (Inmusic deciding to stop producing Numark TTX, all their pieces of gear looking like plastic toys, Pioneer controllers and newer CDJ’s at prices biggest clubs only can afford). On the other hands, Rane soundcards are excellent but the mixers are pricey, Native Instruments offers great capabilities that dj’s don’t really use (stems), SeratoDJ looks at it all and act on the downlow.
    It’s hard enough to be considered seriously, respected and paid decently, as everyone pretend to be a dj (whether it’s club, wedding or anything else). I decided to look for my own conception of future of DJing and add what i think useful to my rig that helps me to stand out…


    I use mostly Seaton with my turntable set up and I also use a controller set up…it all depends on the type of gig I’m doing

  • teufelzkerl

    Of course companies love more hardware sales, so they push it. Can’t speak for Club DJ’s but as a mobile one like me it would be backwards thinking. X1 or D2 + 2 channel mixer are good enough for all occasions. No Point in dragging CDJ;s or even turntables around, most of the time there wouldn’t be space for them anyway. Traktor still works reliable, even if it’s stuck in 2012 and NI seemed to come to an end of evolving. So Controller all the way for me.

    • Vladimir Chilikov

      Not that there is much more to inovate or change in Traktor… All new changes are subtle

  • Rob Ticho, Default Rejects

    Don’t let gear dictate who you are as an artist. Gear is gear. We are too personally attached to our choices of a particular configuration of plastic and metal.

  • midiman

    no hardware for me . i dont live in the past. hardware is where the money is made, this is why companys like pioneer want us to go the hardware route but not me.

    • anarchocaptiolist

      No, hardware has margin and diminishin returns. The real money is in software and the data is provides. And that’s why rekordbox was created.

  • DubluW

    I use XDJ 1000’s in conjunction with traktor and X1MK2’s to use with the other 2 decks within traktor, all running through a DB4. It’s a flexible setup that gives me the best of both worlds.

    My kit gets used a lot for gigs that i throw and a lot of other DJ’s jump on and off and my setup can accomodate that. I’ve also got the luxury of traktor for making mixing across 4 decks a bit easier.

    Ive held onto traktor from when i had an S4 and started out, as im familiar with it and it holds all my music that ive spent a few years collating and organising. I occasionally use turntables for vinyl mixing as well as having USB’s with rekordbox for when i go other places.

    Hardware can allow more people to jump on the decks and they’re instantly familiar with it. The pain it causes when someone shows up with a controller and refuses to play on anything else is a sign of the times as far as i can see. If you’re playing anywhere other than your bedroom, you need to be familiar with hardware, especially CDJ’s/Turntables.

  • jm2c

    Ohh this again! well I love my SC3900 and my mixtour with traktor/ipad both, different situations call for different gear. A professional (as in earning a significant living) DJ should be able to play on any equipment.

  • Rob van Erp

    The dj’s i see, mostly techno(big names) are for the better part on traktor, using various controllers such as the Xone K2, S8, d2’s, kontrol x1, push etc etc, lot of them are using sync and frankly i don’t give a dam, if the music is good its good..

  • kebzer

    I think it’s pretty obvious: in a sea of cheap controllers & software, top DJs revert back to hardware in order to distinguish themselves from the DJ masses. All this easy access to DJing was going to lead to this anyhow. Democratizing DJing wasn’t gonna last forever.

  • Onion Soup

    Totally agree! If Pioneer were to release a 4 channel standalone unit (XDJ-RZ?) I’d drop my controller in a heartbeat.

    PS: I know Denon has one on the market right now, but you can only use 2 channels in standalone mode. 🙁

  • Stephen Nawlins

    I never switched to Controller and Computer Technology so I might Count as a Trendsetter LOL

  • Mark

    Should enable multiple answers – I have both hardware (turntables and mixer) and controllers, depending on what gig/event I’m playing

    • Spacecamp

      What do you use most often? Do you really find you use both equally?

      • here_comes_the_sheik

        The question says: “Which type of DJ setup do you have now” not “Which type of DJ setup do you use most often”.

        It does not cover aspects like: “What do you use where?” “Do you use multiple setups” “Do you use something but not actually own it” etc etc.

        The results will be of no use!

        On the other hand I think the whole article is quite vague. Is the XDJ-1000 “hardware” or is it “hardware with software on it”. Is the XDJ-RX a computer with a attached controller or a controller with a laptop inside.

        • Spacecamp

          Great suggestion! I’ve updated the survey with the clarification.

          In terms of the hardware/software debate, it’s more about *standalone* gear (no connection to a laptop/computer required) versus gear that runs through a central hub of DJ software running on a laptop.

  • Paul Muller

    @ean I think the survey might be misleading. The question makes it sound like an either/or. I just finished a gig this weekend where I played on Pio CDJs using cue-points I setup with Traktor using my D2 and imported to Rekordbox using Rekordbuddy. A month ago I was in Singapore and for whatever reason they only had a Pioneer controller, so I played on Serato (which to be honest I barely know how to use, but I played like I owned it) and then to top it all off, I did a gig in Vietnam where the CDJs were screwed so a local DJ arrived with a trusty old S4 and we had another rocking night.

    I think the question for me is what the evolution of skills is – I suspect more people are starting with controllers (it’s cheaper, convenient and frankly easier to learn) and then “graduating” to CDJs and probably eventually to real (versus control) vinyl if the hobby turns into an obsession (as it has in my case).

    I actually prefer Traktor and a controller setup, I love the spontaneous creative options it offers – I had three CDJs all “on air” this weekend and keeping them all in synch was a (fun) challenge (I refuse to the use the “synch” button when on CDJs for some reason), but it doesn’t leave a lot of time for creative flair or thinking about your next track.

    The problem with Traktor as you point out, simply finding space to setup in the booth is a challenge, a lot of clubs are not even laptop friendly let alone having enough space to drop your controller, plug in a sound card, etc. A USB and pair of headphones and I can play anywhere!

    As my rant comes to an end the two things I really admire but don’t have the talent for are turntablists and live producers, I think these guys are the future of what we do.

    • Spacecamp

      Good point, many DJs might be using multiple setups – it’s a bit too late to change the survey now, but I would suggest choosing the one that you use most commonly. I personally have a controller backup, but 80%+ of the time I am playing on CDJs these days.

      • Dubby Labby

        And it could seem 2/3 of market vs 1/3 but not real for any way…

      • Paul Muller

        right!?! I’ve gone from being a controller boy to being all about the CDJs (not that I like them more, they’re just everywhere) – it’s gotten to the point where I don’t even bother with HID, all the plugging and unplugging USB cables, forget it…
        The only reason I am CDJ friendly though is that I went out and bought a pair of 2000’s – that’s a whole order of magnitude more $$$ than software and a controller…

  • Tim L

    I started out with the 2 Technics and a mixer. But I’ve always been adding to the setup. At one point, pre-laptop, I had the 2 Technics, an RMX 500 and a CLoops Sampler. Going to Traktor really opened things up. Went from using the control vinyl and 1 X1, to not using control vinyl at all and going %100 digital. Now it’s two X1 controllers (1 MKII), F1, an LPD8 (For filters, Running FX chains and MIDI/ sync for)….the iPad (With the iOS version of the Korg MS-20), TR8, TB3 and an MX1. Everything is routed through my DB4 (The Aira gear and iPad are going into the MX 1 snd I have the MX 1 running into the DB4 on the Mic/ Aux).

  • calgarc

    Well cdj’s are easier, you can fit the whole mix on a cd and don’t need to carry any USB cables :p

    I mean isn’t that what the pros do

    • midiman

      what kind of “pros” do you mean? do you mean the “big guys” on festivals who plug in their usb with a premixed set and do nothing?

      • calgarc

        You ain’t number 1 for nothing ;)… oh wait you are lol.

        Yes I am poking fun at those guys

  • Kosta X

    Still waiting for NI to produce an all-in-one deck that doesn’t require a laptop (but still allows custom button re-mapping). When that day comes, I’ll leave my X1 w/ custom mapping & laptop behind. Having a $1000 laptop that’s only used to run traktor isn’t ideal, yet necessary at the moment.

  • Gavin Varitech

    From vinyl in the late 90’s to CDJs in 2006, to Traktor via timecode CDs till this day. I have played with Rekordbox before as well but all but one time I used my laptop still (before Rekordbox DVS) instead of a portable drive.

    Don’t plan on ditching Traktor any time soon. It’s nice being able to plug one cord into a DJM850/900, pop in timecode CDs and go (also plugging in my Control X1, which is like nothing). It would be nice to have Traktor on the screens of the CDJs but totally not necessary (and I can play on legacy CDJs that don’t even have USB/screens, which those that moved on to Rekordbox-only cannot), or even 1200’s if that is all there is.

    • Eloy Zoet

      U do know that with modern CDJ’s (from cdj850/900 and on) u don’t need Timecode cd’s? Just plugin USB and you’re good to go. And u can get Traktor info via HID on the CDJ screen. Using timecode with cd’s is only usefull in this day and age when using old cdj’s like the cdj1000mk3.

      • Gavin Varitech

        I do and have done that but it’s in no way easier than using timecode CDs or having timecode on a USB drive plugged into one of the linked CDJs..

        With CDs I throw the CDs in there and I’m good to go. Likewise with the timecode tacks on a USB drive when playing on USB enabled CDJs.

        With the Advanced HID method I do like the screen but it isn’t plug and play. To do USB-only (on Mac) you have to set up an aggregate sound card between the two CDJs, which is a pain, and a few other settings after that. That’s fine if you are playing by your self but when I am playing after someone it is much more of a pain, and annoying to the person playing.

        Not to mention when both USBs are used up it makes it hard for the next DJ if someone is playing after me.

        BTW: There is no advanced HID on CDJ850’s, only MIDI.

  • NKLY

    The only people who care what gear you’re using are other DJs.

    • Gavin Varitech

      If only that were true.

      • NKLY

        For the average person out at a club/bar, I’d argue that it is true. They just care that the music sounds good and the DJ is playing something they like.

        • Jayson Joyce

          I’ve heard that argument in every forum when the topic comes up..I don’t think they really know enough to care….but…they do care..the same way..all things being equal..the average car buyer should pick a fully loaded Honda to a BMW or Benz based on needs, cost, reliability etc. but millions don’t..they don’t know what makes it more quality…they just know it is..and if you walk into Amnesia or Space or Stereo or fill in the blank big club and see a DJ playing on a controller they are going to want some of the $30 to $50 back they paid to get in and $15 drinks instead of $20..

          Second..I believe that clubs use the ability to play on CDJs or Turnables as a way to weed out the influx of thousands of people that are DJing now because of cheaper controllers, sync functionality, eliminates a large portion of hobbyist DJs without asking to many questions or spending time listening to them play..
          Kind of like saying that you have to have a master’s degree to apply for a job..

          Third..I think experienced DJs have figured out #1 and #2 above and are going toward more high-end setups to make sure they get gigs and higher paying ones..

          • Oddie O'Phyle

            So, does a person graduate from hobbyist to professional standings by ditching the software sync and pressing sync on a pair of CDJs? Just sayin’, my NXS have a master and sync on them. Whether or not they get used is a different story, that would depend on the person using them.

          • Jayson Joyce

            No the point I was making is they graduate by having an $1800 mixer..has nothing to do with sync. It’s the cost of entry that eliminates most of the DJs..

          • Oddie O'Phyle

            The cost of setting yourself up to use a clubs CDJs with the same software on your laptop that you use on your controller at home is… the cost of 2 USB cables.

          • Lamar LeRoy

            I dunno about that, most of my second hand gear comes from, young guys who’s parents spent a grip on their “first dj setup” and months later it turns up on Craigslist for half the original price. Having an excess of cash doesn’t create skills, or keep unskilled people out of anything.

            btw clicked the wrong reply tab. Oddie your right on point

          • Oddie O'Phyle

            Huh? Isn’t that the point I’m trying to make? I’m saying here that in order to use a pair of CDJs and the house mixer in a club, all you need is 2 or 3 USB cables and your software with laptop. It doesn’t matter what you spend on the rig that you have at home, all you have to do is install the CDJ/DJM ASIO drivers or the agitator tool for the OS you are using and run it in HID.

          • Lamar LeRoy

            yeah I meant to reply to the fellow before you!

          • Oddie O'Phyle

            No worries… had me confused for a minute.

          • Jayson Joyce

            In reality..the majority of people don’t hook up traktor to a CDJ..they use Rekordbox to prepare and use USB..and to practice and get used to a club DJM or CDJ you need access to one or a setup at home..DJs that would use the DJM900 or 2000s or even a Xone 92 to its full capability are the ones the clubs hire the majority of the yeah you can practice on a controller at home and go to club and plug in a laptop and some X1s but the DJs that do that are already comfortable with the DJM and the CDJ so it’s no big deal..and of course any decent DJ can play on any decent mixer..but we all know that if your not comfortable behind the decks your not going to perform at your highest level..

            So to my first point..the unwritten requirement to use a CDJ and no laptop helps to weed out the hobbyist or part time for the pro club DJ..and so people are just getting a CDJ setup for home practice

          • Oddie O'Phyle

            I don’t know about you, but I like to be able to browse more than 6 tracks on a screen at a time, through 1700 tracks. One of the biggest reasons why DVS has been so successful, other than space and weight. So, how is this less professional than using a DVS box for reading timecode? DVS requires a laptop too, the difference being that with HID there is literally less to set up.

            I have never had a problem taking a laptop into the booth. A controller… yes, due to available space… but not a laptop. BTW, if you haven’t noticed most DJs use a hibrid setup using both hardware and software.

            This works with Rekordbox DJ too… you don’t need the X1 or even a USB cable to a DJM 850 or 900NXS…

            From what I have seen in my area; most people aren’t getting CDJs; the trend that I see is that they are buying the XDJ for home use. Due to the price.

          • Jayson Joyce

            I don’t disagree on your points of searching for tracks and the ease of use of bringing a point is that reality is what it is..all across the US and the world the majority of clubs have a DJM/CDJ setup so pioneer has a monopoly on the club setup..I know DJs that hook up a laptop and use HID but the majority don’t.. especially now with Rekordbox adding features..

            Personally I prefer to use traktor scratch with turntables but I think I’m going to go with Rekordbox DVS just to keep from moving from two pieces of software and have more hardware flexibility..

            And I was thinking of getting an XDJ setup along with the PLXs at home..

          • Chuck

            DVS has been so successful due to touring DJ’s gettin’ pissed off of luggin’ around crates of records and having records stolen or the whole flight cases lost when they travelled. This permitted Serato and Rane to settle it with the SL-1, Native Instruments to come up with the Audio4/Audio8 and Traktor, M-Audio with Conectiv and Torq, Mixvibes with DVS Producer, DVS Ultimate that became later Cross. You shouldn’t forget that Rekordbox was first developped by Mixvibes, then sold to Pioneer (i had a talk with an engineer from Mixvibes about it last year).
            I will add that i started getting paid gigs when i stepped up my game from Torq (Xponent/Conective) to Serato Scratch Live (SL3).

          • Oddie O'Phyle

            I remember what a fully packed 50 piece flight case feels like, I was pretty happy to see Torq and Final Scratch. It’s the reason why I laugh when people tell me that Serato was the first DVS. M-Audio, Stanton and NI were at the head of that pack in the beginning. Pretty sure Serato was still a pitch and time plug in for Pro Tools at that point… I’ve been around the block too.
            Started with +8, Nova Mute, Stickman, Warp and Harthouse in the 90’s. When I first went digital I looked at an Xponent as a friend of mine was using a Connectiv, but ultimately I settled on Live 4 using an EMU, Uc-33e and sampling the analog hardware that I had laying around.
            After a while I missed beat matching and found that Traktor was a happy middle ground.

          • Chuck

            I still have old magazines with other dvs attempts from 2001. I like Serato DJ thought the automatic loop doesn’t satisfy me like the loop function in Serato Scratch Live (i wanna decide the loop start and the end manually).
            Sticking to one software doesn’t make us versatile at all.
            Traktor offers different capabilities and i’d like to give it a go too. I already got my hands on Mixvibes Cross…

          • Oddie O'Phyle

            I really want to check out Cross DVS, it’s the last Dj software left on my “software to try” list. I was lucky enough to win a free Rekordbox DJ license over last Christmas from Worxmas. I try to switch it up as much as possible. Traktor one day, Rekordbox DJ the next, formatted USB or streamed from Android over my internal network.
            I kind of miss Final Scratch, I enjoyed the fact that they had a FreeBSD client. It makes me wonder why NI hasn’t presented us with that or even a Linux option by now.

          • ScoobyDoo

            Thats like saying “Ya im gonna DJ with Fruity Pebbles in a nightclub that holds 15,000 people”. ROFL

          • Timothy Kenefick

            Sucks for people who dont like cdjs and are more into turntables. soon enough the only ones with ‘skills’ are cdj djs and turntable djs are crap cause they use a laptop .. ughhh

          • Martullia

            In my experience many clubs don’t want you to bring a laptop. Because they think it’s a burden. They see only problems “there is no space for it” is a common heard quote and many more fake excuses. There are a still a lot of people around that have preconceptions about notebook dj’s.

          • ScoobyDoo

            And what do you do when your LCD on your laptop decides to burn out.
            Or your hardrive decides to crap out?
            Or your operating system crashes and your laptop does not want to boot up anymore and you have 5,000 people standing on the dance floor with no music playing for 15 minutes while youre trying to fix your laptop.?
            What then ?

          • Oddie O'Phyle

            Pssst… Hey Troll, I’m a Net. Eng. and an electronic tech. Know the tools of your trade and how to repair them. You are talking to a person that specializes in laptop repair for this reason. Having Admin experience, the #1 rule is fault tolerance. This is why you put a RB formatted USB stick in you pocket with a network cable when you head out the door. I’m the guy with a fallback plan for my fallback plan.

          • ScoobyDoo

            So when a DJ is at a nightclub and at 2:30-am in the morning at peak hour durring his or her set the laptop decides to just blank out and can no longer work because either the HDD died or LCD burned out, YOU are going to go to the club at 2:30 am thats filled with 5,000 people and fix the computer laptop within 15 minutes ?
            You are just talking shit and have no clue what a real nightclub DJ and club owners clubs filled with 5,000 people is really about.
            you and your USB and network cable is not going to fix any fucking laptop within 15 minutes
            to continue playing music for a packed nightclub while the owner of the club is standing right next to you wondering why your ass is not playing music…….

          • Oddie O'Phyle

            I’ll repeat the part that you didn’t cherry pick…

            “#1 rule is fault tolerance. This is why you put a RB formatted USB stick in you pocket with a network cable when you head out the door. I’m the guy with a fallback plan for my fallback plan.”

            Fault tolerance isn’t exclusive to myself, many people consider it.

          • ScoobyDoo

            You have no clue what the hell you are talking about……

          • Oddie O'Phyle

            I’ll try to use smaller words, so you can understand. Take ownership of your gear and plan ahead. If you you own a car, don’t maintain it and it breaks down…. do you you blame the mechanic because you left home without throwing shoes on? You seem like a person that would blame those around you for your failings. Sack up, own it and plan ahead. Many others here are adult enough to do it.

            Tonight when I go out to do my Saturday night routine, I’ll pack my gear and laptop, as I always do. We all know that writing down a set list as you play it is a pain, so I’ll export my history as an HTML when I’m done and enjoy my mix. Just in case… as I always do, I’ll put my 32Gb FAT32 formatted USB stick with Rekordbox prepped tracks in my pocket.

            If you think that vinyl is the ultimate medium, you are more of an idiot than you have proven thus far. I’ve had friends show up to parties after a hot drive in a car, just to pull unusable vinyl rollercoasters from their flightcases. Some of us planned ahead and packed ours in coolers… there’s that phrase you don’t understand “plan ahead”.

            Hope for the best, expect the worst.

          • ScoobyDoo

            When you are a real nightclub DJ for 35 years in mega clubs that hold 5,000+ people and work 4 nights a week for 35 years, then you can talk shit.
            otherwise you have no clue what its like to really dj in mainstream mega nightclubs and its disasters it holds when equipment fails and the owner is standing 2 feet away with a pissed off look because someone decided to bring their tonka toy to big boys playground.

          • Oddie O'Phyle

            I’m still not understanding how or even why I’m responsible for you or someone else for that matter, I already have kids. Professionalism is partly about taking responsibility for yourself, try it. If you bothered to look at the attached photo, I’m using MY CDJ 2000 Nexus with MY DJM 850, the current club kit is the DJM model up (DJM900NXS, same circuit paths and ACs) or a Xone:92… no Tonka Toys present. Part of My fault tolerance is owning players instead of relying on an All-In-One controller. If I’m at a club and their shit breaks down, that’s on them. Not me.

            As for playing a mainstream club… if you didn’t notice, the show that I run is called “The Underground”. If I have dead air, my program manager has a few choice words. My crew and I have been doing underground parties in my area for the last 20 to 25 years, we started doing radio 7 years ago as well. I speak from experience at this point, how about you?

            Unless you are at least 55 years old and speak from experience… you have little of value to add.

          • Timothy Kenefick

            lol. 35 years ? and anything to show for it other than being bitter ? Ive played 100s of gigs with laptops and controllers.. never had a problem. and always had back ups. Grow up or get out old man/women . Getting tired of your grumpy ass

          • Oddie O'Phyle

            BTW… you realize that a RB formatted USB drive is formatted for Rekordbox… a network cable links the CDJs. I know a bunch of laptop DJs that use the same practice.

          • John Viera

            Pioneer scrambled to get Rekordbox out (the prep version) so that CDJs could be like Traktor.

          • CUSP

            You’re operating from personal bias that you want others to accept.

            I’ve played sets with a lot of gear, with almost no gear, and (in my opinion), it’s always come down to “Am I really playing what the people groove to?” Gear, no matter how “legit” or expensive cannot satisfy the audience the way a good set does.

            For your analogy, it’s the driver that matters. A great driver can drift circles around an average driver whether they’re in a BMW or a Honda.

            Please stop pushing this “it’s the gear that matters” agenda.

    • Brent Silby Maestro B

      Customers are becoming more knowledgable. I recently had a person request a song and she was like “oh wow, real CDJs… no computer”.

      • Davide Cassarino

        I think that the main problem in today’s bar/clubs there’s no real dj booth, and most bar owner rely on djs equipment, and that make it easier to show to the gig with your own controller…

      • [O/][iii][O/]

        “Customers are becoming more knowledgable” vs “oh wow, real CDJs… no computer” – Well, they’re evidentially not very knowledgable at all considering this is pretty much an oxymoron. CDJs ARE computers, not to mention CDJs have the same feature sets and play the same files as computers that look more like a traditional computer.

        • Brent Silby Maestro B

          I think you get my point. The point is that they recognize the difference and they now make judgements. In the past I doubt if any average customer would even know what a CDJ looked like.

          True, CDJs are computers in the strict sense of the word — CPU, Rom, Ram, input, and output. But there is a difference. They run dedicated software for an exclusive function. You can’t run other software on them. My car contains a computer too, but it is not in the same category as a laptop.

          So, not quite an oxymoron unless you misunderstand the intended meaning.

          • ScoobyDoo

            exactly – and as I posted earlier to him as well was.

            what happens if the Hardrive on the laptop decided to crap out??
            What then ? what do you do when the laptop hardrive or LCD screen decides to not function any more.
            Or the Operating system decides to Crash in the middle of playing music and wont boot back up and does not recognize the OS while trying to boot or get through POST on the computer.
            And the nightclub has 5,000 to 15,000 people just standing their
            on the dance floor with no music playing.?
            What happens then ?

            Too many new DJ’s depending on laptop,

            See with CDJ2000, if one unit goes thats fine, all other units can read off the same 1 USB stick.
            and a real nightclub has a minimum of 4 CDJ2000 and the audio engineer of the club has at least 8 more in storage for the just incase moments, specially if there is an extra room like a VIP room with another DJ in it..

            But if a laptop goes, the entire night in the nightclub is completely and utterly fucked.

          • Tony Soul

            Its called being prepared. Having a CD or USB in the CDJs when available. Simple as that. Please stop with the over dramatization

          • ScoobyDoo

            please stop with the retardness. thank you.
            youll make the world a much better place and everyone will gain an extra 50 years of life. So please stop being retarded.

          • CUSP

            If you have that many people in a space, you can be absolutely certain that there are going to be backups and backups for those backups. At no point would your theoretical “worst-case scenario” happen in a festival like this, because there’s too much money at stake. Of course, there may be a fool out there that draws that many people and insists upon having only one Laptop ever, but that’s a pretty laughable situation.

            “Doomsday scenarios” are easily circumvented. How do I know? It’s my ‘day job’ to make sure stuff like this doesn’t result in the “world ending catastrophe” you speak of.

            Push for education and preparedness, not fear and panic.

        • Reticuli

          The problem is automation. Keep at the automation thing and eventually it will just be producers and jukeboxes. If the laptop didn’t block your head and had all the cheats and automation turned off, and there was an apparent effort and raw struggle to DJ live, then a laptop system would be just as legit as using vinyl.

          • [O/][iii][O/]

            But the “customer” comment above wasn’t about vinyl, rather it was comparing “CDJs” to “computers”, which is why it doesn’t make any sense considering the fact that CDJs have the same automation capabilities that DVS/laptop software systems do.

          • Reticuli

            And my point is it doesn’t matter whether it’s a CDJ or a laptop, you don’t need automation, BPM readouts, and moving waveforms in the design for it to still be useful and it is certainly more legit without them (equivalent to vinyl). Continue with this automation trend, and they’re eventually pushing the DJ completely out of the equation to the point that all there will be is jukeboxes and producers.

          • CUSP

            Um… you might not like any automation, but when I link a bunch of things together (such as lighting, and video) to audio, I really want that automation to be there.

            Maybe you’re trying to speak to something different: Use of automation for things that are supposed to be creative. I’m pretty sure no one here uses auto DJ in their sets (where the machine picks and then mixes songs), but (as I’ve stated above) there are some things you really do want automated. Linking lights to critical parts of a song, or triggering a video loop to follow an audio loop, that’s not creative, that’s procedural. What you really want the human to do is make the judgement call of where to put the lights, when to play a clip, how to make a transition… and most importantly, which songs will play in which order.

          • ScoobyDoo

            No you are wrong – – – laptops have far more superior leeway when it comes to software and audio control and manipulations of the audio.
            And what happens if the Hardrive on the laptop decided to crap out??
            What then ? what do you do when your laptop hardrive or LCD screen decides to not function any more.

            See with CDJ2000, if one unit goes thats fine, all other units can read off the same USB stick.
            and a nightclub has a minimum of 4 CDJ2000 and the audio engineer of the club has at least 8 more in storage for the just incase moments.
            But if a laptop goes, the entire night in the nightclub is completely and utterly fucked.

      • synapticflow

        Which had nothing to do with the music, so it was actually “oh wow, a real snob.”

        • Brent Silby Maestro B

          Are you saying that DJs who choose to use CDJs are snobs? Gosh. I thought as a profession we’d moved past that. I thought DJs were allowed to use anything they wanted. I wonder if anyone considers laptop DJs to be snobs.

          When I saw a chef manually mixing bread dough, I didn’t consider him a snob compared to the guy who used an electric mixer. What do you think? What other reason could he have for mixing dough manually? Maybe he just enjoys it.

          Regardless, my point above was a response to an earlier claim that customers don’t know (or care) about what gear DJs used. I offered a real life counter example to that claim. Some customers do know. The person in question had obviously seldom seen CDJs. I don’t think she was making a value judgement. She seemed genuinely interested.

          • CUSP

            No one is saying that someone preferring to use CDs or Vinyl is a snob, but to push a topic up for debate to the extreme means you’re attempting to make an issue “black and white” instead of the various shades of grey it should be. Extremists try to justify their actions by claiming you’re either for us or against us, and that’s simply not what’s going on here.


      YO! ^5 and AMEN! to that… I’ve played sets using everything from D2s, an iPad, Ableton Push, DDJ Controllers to CDJs and the ONLY people who actually cared what I was using were other DJs or “that one guy” 🙂 …So tired of this new culture of nerdy gear head DJs who are more interested and obsessed with gear than the MOFO music and party. Keep your nerdy asses in the bedroom and out of the parties please. Danke! 🙂

      • ScoobyDoo

        If you dont DJ with hardware and are dependant on software and laptop, then why should any nightclub hire you.?
        They can just grab any 12 hour pre-recorded set on a mp3 or lossless audio file and dont have ANY DJ’s at all.
        They will save thousands per night, because they dont have to spend money on YOU…..

        • nopalmex

          Oh please, I’ll say someone has a CDJ is like Jimi Hendrix, com’on?
          “If you dont DJ with hardware and are dependant on software and laptop, then why should any nightclub hire you.?”
          Well they are doing it right now. Lots of DJ play with laptop, known and unknown DJ’s.
          Tell me what is the difference between someone who mixed with a screen in front and someone who dont. Perhaps the CDJ not have sync button??, I guess they have. What is the added value of someone carrying a burn CD folder to one that brings the music in USB. It is better if you use CDJ, the DJ has more talent? You have better musical taste with CDJ? What can make a CDJ that does not make a controler that makes it so wonderful ?? What stops the owner of a club to put music on an iPod instead of a DJ with or without laptop ??

        • CUSP

          Why should a club hire a digital DJ? Um, because they bring people in to the club to drink? No 12-hour pre-recorded set will draw people like a person mixing songs *FOR THEM*, right there, that night. Maybe you missed the point of a DJ… it’s supposed to be about interaction, and crowd pleasing.

          I’d also like to add that the live producing, digital DJs can realtime remix (including looping, playing drums/synths, sing or playing a cappelas (with or without vocal effects), and trigger samples whenever they want)… that’s not something a strict analogue DJ can do.

          I don’t expect a zealot to understand this, but maybe someone who knows zealots like this, can explain to them how digital DJs are actually able to do more than analogue DJs… you know, with a blanket, or a stiff drink… or both.

          • Timothy Kenefick

            How can you be on a site like djtechtools and be against digital djing. lol

          • CUSP

            Uh, where do you get that from? Take a long look at all of my posts on this site, and you’ll see I strongly support Digital DJing.

          • Timothy Kenefick

            oh Im sorry I was replying to Scooby Doo… must have clicked on the wrong name.

    • Spacecamp

      We (DJ Techtools) care about what gear you’re using so we can work on creating interesting, educational, and informative content around it. Thus Ean’s mention of the DJTT mission statement in the final section of this article 🙂

    • Mauri Moore

      + 1 million

    • LucidSFX

      I’d be careful with that statement. True most party goers these days don’t know much about music let alone the DJ…you could also argue who needs a DJ then…just grab any 8 hour prerecorded set and press play.
      Someone had mentioned that people didn’t care back in the day if you were on Techniques or not. I am calling out on this. Numark was trying to make a name for itself in the late 80’s. They just didn’t perform well (back then). So your set would suffer unless you were used to them as decks. I remember throwing Hip Hop Parties using Bose PA’s and we’d get jilted for not using Cerwin Vega PA’s. Hell … the Bose were better, smaller, lighter and yet the demand for the speakers would kill me. The crowds would rather have the large wall of PA! No joke. It was an uphill battle until Bose started to get known (in my world).
      The thing with today vs back then is that you can still use a different deck for spinning back then but the skill to DJ remain honed to beatmatching, blending, scratching, and knowing your gain (track levels). Today, most of the above is already given to DJ’s on a silver platter so creativity becomes the major skill. I have no problem with a DJ who uses sync while orchestrating a mix by performing live on hardware sequencers. I also like the idea of having more time to become creative with synced loops and planning the next track. What I do have a problem with is the DJ who doesn’t dig for music and only plays what Beatport (or equivilant) tells them is hot and spends most of their time with their hands in the air.
      Truth is that when you do play in solid clubs where people actually come for the music they do know what is going on. Don’t kid yourself. There are many sophisticated people out there that know their stuff. I can remember going back 20 years when Carl Cox played in Toronto at Industry night club. DJing was not hyped as it is today but definitely respected. I remember chilling on the side having all sorts of conversations about selected tracks, mistakes, breaks of genius, etc with random people throughout the night. People would dance when the music truly hit them. They wouldn’t just throw up their hands every time there was a build up because it’s cool. Anyway that’s another conversation..
      I don’t think a person is a better DJ one way or the other (hardware/controllers) but unless you have a unique setup where you truly need the customization of a laptop it is a waste of effort. Meaning, you are using Live for crazy sequenced FX’s, triggering video, etc.If you are just playing songs and mixing 1-4 decks then it isn’t needed. Someone had mentioned that they want to browse 1700 songs which is why they like their laptop setup. That is insane. I listen to my music till I bleed so though I do not know the names of each song or artist a quick listen and I know if it is what I want to play next. I also ensure that I properly prepare for the gig by tagging, colour coding, and creating play lists. This way I have a general idea of where certain types of tracks are kept and I ensure that the songs I definitely want to play out are in an easy to browse list. Citing the example above, save money and use controllers at home. Have Rekord Box for your live gig…to prepare for your big night and only bring the songs you know you will play (and a bit more)…no need to bring the entire library…and you end up keeping your equipment in good condition longer! From time to time rent or use a buddy’s CDJ’s so that you keep familiarity with them.
      For the Dj on this forum who mentioned playing in various parts of Asia with different gear…I have total respect for him. You never know what you are going into. The more versatile you are with different setups the better! Seriously … hats off to you man.
      Ultimately, unless I am performing for more than 2 hours I’d rather bring a USB stick to plug into the CDJ’s so I can enjoy the rest of the night and not worry about my gear.

      • CUSP

        Yeah, anytime someone is a gear snob, just find the fastest, cheapest way to appease them with fake labels or something similar. I’d have suggested getting a couple Cerwin Vega badges and gluing them onto the Bose speakers. If someone demands a record player, bring one (or two), and either use it on your DVS, or simply just never use it while it’s spinning around. If they want to hate, it’s their own prerogative. Do whatever you can to deflect or diffuse any hate of new school to these kinds of people.

        I totally agree with what you said, BTW.

    • synapticflow

      Amen! I’m so sick of the elitist snobbery.
      I feel like locking all these people in a cage and blaring over a loudspeaker 24/7
      (with ear piercing needle scratches between every sentence)

      “You don’t drive a stick? You’re not a real driver.”
      “You don’t use a straight edge blade? “You’re not a real shaver.”
      “You don’t make your own clothes? You’re not wearing real clothes.”
      “You’re not flying on the most upscale airlines? “You’re not really flying.”
      “You’re not dating a supermodel? “You’re not really dating”

      There are so much more important things in this world to worry about than someone’s music setup. In the end every gigging “real” DJ is just making money off of someone else’s music and probably shouldn’t be so worshiped and rewarded for doing so. They’re not Gods.

      • Brent Silby Maestro B

        What if you had an autonomous car and just selected your destination and let the computer do the driving? Would you still be a real driver? You’d be a destination selector, for sure. But who would be doing the driving?

        • synapticflow

          Real DJs don’t drive computerized cars. 🙂

      • ScoobyDoo

        Why should any nightclub hire you.?
        Nightclubs can grab any pre-recorded mp3 or lossless audio file and play that for the entire night and they will save thousands per night, because they dont have to spend money on YOU…..

        • synapticflow

          I’m not trying to get hired.
          I play events where people just want to hear music They dance and smile, and don’t go around with corn cobs up their butts about the gear being used. The venue owners don’t say a word about it either. And at the end of the night, nobodies night was ruined by my laptop and controller.

          And in this age of being cheap, every club might begin to do what you say and do away with all DJs. But guess what? I’d still go out, because I go out for music, not to see if I a DJ can lower the needle with his tongue while rubbing his butt with a back scratcher and doing a backflip.

        • Timothy Kenefick

          They could always do that… Let me know the next time a club gets huge by doing it though .. lol

      • ssenz

        So true !!!!!!!!!! I m also so sick of it. But fighting a battle with those “DJ racists” is useless. They don’t listen. Sadly a lot of them are new to the game and I have been buying vinyls and learning how to do a flare scratch while they have been listening to David Hasselhoff. Now those cats wanna be super cool.

        They are racists. Thats what they are, just in a different package.

    • Reticuli

      Patently false. Patrons and owners do not like DJs’ heads blocked by a laptop. Owners also think they could be doing the laptop thing themselves, and some have told me they have done so before and do not want to pay anyone to just do that. The CDJ2000, though, is just an expensive turnkey automated laptop-style system, though, that has been designed to appear authentic and manual, but is not. It is meant for the appearance of traditional DJing without the traditional DJing.

      • ScoobyDoo

        DJ’s are going to fuck themselves out of a job. let them keep using this laptop controller bullshit and see what happens….
        Sooner or later nightclubs are just going to wake up and hire an audio engineer to install automation computers and software and play an audio file themselves.
        And when you ask a Nightclub owner,
        the owner will respond “I can do it myself and save thousands a night”

        • Timothy Kenefick

          lol. They can and could always do this!!! But guess what pretty much most big and or decent djs I know use a laptop. I have turntables and I use a laptop! oh my gawd! Nobody is going back to strictly vinyl and cdjs arent taking over 100% because they mostly are used with a laptop if not then a usb.. unless you want to bring 100s of burnt cds.. soo cool such wow!
          Club owners who think like this ultimately fail and don’t give a fuck about their club other than making money so fuck um. Id rather go to a real club and listen to a dj whether his using a turntable, laptop or a funking ipad . if its jamming its jamming and most club owners cant keep up with music or keep it exciting enough for the customers without djs. And really if you need some one to look at on stage while you’re dancing go to a concert. smh.
          Gaslamp Killer uses a laptop and an Ipad and is one of the most amazing and eccentric djs i know

        • Timothy Kenefick

          Djs are just expanding there talent. If clubs don’t get that then guess what they lose not us. Any Club owner who thinks they can do it all by themselves we realize fast that they can’t and they will fail.

    • ScoobyDoo

      If you dont DJ with hardware and are dependant on software and laptop, then why should any nightclub hire you.?
      They can just grab any 12 hour pre-recorded set on a mp3 or lossless audio file and dont have ANY DJ’s at all.
      They will save thousands per night, because they dont have to spend money on YOU…..

      • CUSP

        Um, relax on the Jihad, dude. What bar pays their DJ thousands of dollars a night? Bars hire people to mix music because they’re a novelty that drinkers enjoy where they’re drinking. People DJs have a certain “I’m real, and here” sense of exclusivity and (if you’re lucky) interactivity.

        You don’t need lots of hardware to be a good DJ, but you do have to move the people, and no machine (yet), can do that interactively.

  • Gian-Piero Furaro

    I went to a controller/traktor setup using 2 k2’s a crazy midi map, 1F1, maschine a few years back. I am now on 2cdj 2000 nexus, xone:db4, virus Ti2, and Octatrack.

    The reasons I did this is were
    – carry less gear to gigs,
    – use fairly club standard gear
    – laptops burnt out
    – software changes too much
    – midi maps fail
    – audio routing was a pain until I bought an RME UFX.
    – I enjoy beat matching on CDJ’s which offer more control personally speaking to become more creative with blending etc.
    – I found I spent more time configuring the right setup for performances which also lead to months of reconfiguring the setup for a new possability. In other words I spent more time planning a setup than actually playing music….
    – I think beat matching is a prerequisite for any DJ. Most controllers dont have enough resolution to do this effectively…however some newer ones do!
    – makes no sense to use HID mode
    – DJ software FX are too obvious (though you cna make awesome fx in Live)

    I still use my daw for production and recording but simple is always better. The limitless possabilities with a computer system become the very issue of creativity block.

    Sync features position you as an amateur. I fond sync useful when performing on hardware sequencers (I have the CDJ’s sync’d so that I can beat match the hardware to the cdj’s easily. Dedicated hardware is far more reliable. Does anyone really want to bring $7000 worth of gear to a dirty/humid club/beach etc to have equipement problems? Of course I still have to bring my mixer because the pioneer mixers are in my opinion crappy (feel free to flig dirt my way if you disagree).

    Back on topic : I believe their is a trend. Hardware is more constant and is now becoming more infused with software features.

    Again this is my personal view about my own preferences. However just look at What Tom Cosm can do with Ableton and a laptop….he’s awesome in my books and I dont see him using traditional DJ gear.

    Final point for hardware: It will always work reliably for years to come. Software can be nuked by new drivers/OS’/other software etc….

    • Oddie O'Phyle

      I like having CDJs for fault tolerance. In case of computer related technical difficulties, I always keep a Rekordbox formatted USB stick in my pocket with a couple playlists.

  • DJ MiCL

    I think consistency of the DJ experience is one big factor. I remember DJs back in the 90s that would bring their own mixer to the club if they didn’t like the Vestax or A&H mixer installed in the club.

    When this comes into play, there are two easily conceivable solutions to the problem. One is to get used to CDJs, because it’s rare nowadays to run into a situation where, for example, the club only has turntables and a mixer, and you can’t DJ with just your USB stick. The other is to bring your ultra mobile setup, like an iPad/iPhone and a 2ch controller, which is usually hassle free when it comes to finding a spot for you to set-up in the booth. The problem is with a setup involving a larger controller, laptop, and perhaps another sub controller. You can find a place to setup your controller towards both sides of the booth in many occasions, but rarely in the middle. Even if no one pointed it out to you, you really can feel like a kid fiddling with the toy he brought to the club, when you’re DJing behind one of the monitor speakers with no one visible from the audience in the middle of the DJ booth.

    I love the idea that DJs can really devise unique setups with semi-large controllers and some custom MIDI mappings; unique enough to stand out of the crowd even when playing all the same tunes, I think. I once thought that customizing your setup was almost the equivalent of crate digging for that rare tune in the 90s. This is all too cumbersome, though, without the proper support from nightclubs. I wish there were a way to set up your controller at least next to the main mixer in all clubs, without becoming this dude that brought complicated sh*t and needs some of the decks to be removed during the previous DJ is still playing. Feeling like an obstacle is never good when you want to stand tall and lead the crowd to musical transcendence.

    Far from an ideal solution, but these Japanese iron boards (don’t have crossed legs) are quite useful in the DJ booth, and I wish all clubs at least offer a solution as good as this.

  • Eloy Zoet

    Over the years i went from traditional setup to controller setup to DVS setup and since about a year or 2 back to hardware only. I do keep a digital setup (still got the X1’s) and recently got the big daddy of all mixers imho: the DB4, wich has best of both worlds i believe. So i usually just use CDJ’s and the mixer for gigs (loving the looprecorders on each channel _O_) and digital for recording studio mix sets. Or as a small setup for on the go (X1 with Z1)

    My main reasons for this:
    – Laptop screen at gigs distracts me from audience and bassicly just having fun… With laptop i tend to get to serious and focussed to add more and more and do more complex stuff (first with sample decks, now stems) that i find it actually brings less spontinuity (hope thats correct grammar, im dutch sorry 🙂 )-to my set.
    – Cables cables and more cables (soundcard, laptop, controllers the whole lot…) now with just two cdj’s its simple…
    – The ‘2009 discussion’ still holds some level of truth to this day… I absolutely don’t agree but in my experience general people (non-dj’s) see it that way. And I do think that hardware producers like Pioneer, Native Instruments and such did contribute to this by making loads of different (and cheap) models. My 8yr old nephew has one…

  • ksandvik

    It’s all about brand marketing and selling products, not what a DJ could play…

    • midiman

      very true!

  • One key point id like to add is that HID mode integration has gotten much better. If a club has CDJ2000’s & a DJM900 mixer, and you still want to use Serato or Traktor, you only need to bring your laptop, a USB hub and 3 USB cables (and club kit license for Serato DJ). You get pretty much the best of both worlds. You don’t have to own the gear yourself, a controller at home to practice on is enough. But then you can still feel familiar enough on the “standard” club hardware typically found in the majority of DJ booths.

    That’s why I think a lot of people have moved to standalone hardware. Even if they use HID mode, it’s not long before a DJ begins asking, “well do I really need the laptop & traktor/Serato if I’m doing this. Maybe I should try Rekordbox”. Mixing on CDJs now, especially with the Nexus series has gotten so simple. Even ignoring the whole sync topic, it literally shows you the beat grid alignment of other CDJs playing above the current one. You just have to match the numbers on the tempo display to match, hit the play button as close to the down beat as you can at the start of a 16 bar phrase and your timing will only be milliseconds off. A small adjustment to the platter and your tracks are now beat matched and unlikely will drift out of time (if you analyzed in Rekordbox properly & checked the beat grid).

    • Oddie O'Phyle

      Dude… same. DJing for me has always been a social experience. A time to hang out with like minded individuals, relax and share the music we enjoy. For this reason I have been known to throw small parties and currently co-host a weekly radio slot featuring DJs and producers in my area. It’s just an excuse to hang out with friends.

      For this reason I saved up for a pair of NXS series CDJs and a DJM 850. To be honest, purchasing made more sense than a weekly rental and another 2-3 nights on average a month for club nights and birthday parties. I have found it to be the most flexible kit that I could have assembled, catering to the most amount of people… software, CD, USB stick… even Rekordbox streamed over WiFi.

    • Reticuli

      And I don’t think that’s been a good trend in DJing, as now you’ve got a bunch of talent-less rich kids and producers calling themselves DJs and trying to dictate trends in the clubs.

  • Dubby Labby

    Djing was and is elitist from vinyl retrourning hipstering to Pioneer 5 screens wall of Tour series.
    Music production more or less with flat response speakers, analog tube preamps, analog mixers… And UA, Apogee…

    In the other hand the most growing market is bdroom dj and casual party… With smartphones usually. So the “in the middle” people will go to “pro” (or expensive hobby like turntablism) or “amateurism” (or cheap mobile soundsystem).

    It’s caused by usually pendulumm market movements reinforced by finantial crisis and brands know it. That’s why the last and present year were presented iPad pro, Pioneer Tour, Technics AEG, StpVtx, S8… And in the low side of market Chinesse bluetooth speakers (with lightshows), tablets and smartphones, frisky faders, portablism…