What makes a great piece of beginner DJ gear? In today’s article, we’ll dive into a few ideas about starter DJ equipment and seek to provide a clear path for a DJ who – today – says they want to start DJing.
The Needs Of A Beginner DJ
There’s a number of things to take into consideration when buying beginner DJ gear. The needs of a new DJ are varied, but in general, they fall into a few categories:
- Relevant to the Greater Skillset: Nothing is worse than learning your way around an obscure piece of gear, only to learn that those instincts that you start to develop don’t apply when you move on to DJing on other gear. A good piece of beginner DJ gear has simplified the same principles of DJing without adding unnecessary quirks.
- Easy To Learn / Quick Start-Up: Being able to just start mixing really quickly. If you have no idea what you’re doing, being able to at least get a couple of tracks playing and playing around with sync and EQing should not be a challenge. Gear should get out of the way of play as fast as possible.
- Reasonable Investment: There’s always the chance that DJing might not be for you, or that you might quickly move on to other gear – so retaining resale value can be a big factor in purchase decisions.
What Options Are In This Article?
We’re not going to include every single piece of beginner DJ gear in this article, but instead a suggest a few good directions and options. If you’re an experienced DJ, you might have your own ideas – please mention them in the comments at the end of this article!
Get A Simple Controller + Streaming DJ Setup with the DDJ-200
Right now, there’s one controller on the market that you can buy and with just a tiny bit of effort, gain access to DJ software and a full DJ library: the Pioneer DJ DDJ-200 ($199). You can power it off a battery, you can connect to Bluetooth speakers – it’s pretty much ideal for anyone who wants to buy just one piece of gear and start DJing.
Watch our friend DJ Ravine demonstrate the portable power and versatility of this piece of gear – he has it linked up with djay pro, which is able to stream directly from Spotify’s library.
Learn Traktor’s New World With An S2
Traktor has a solid track record as being one of the most versatile pieces of software, and their new generation of hardware and software is a good way to get DJing really easily.
The Kontrol S2 MK3 ($339) and an iPad is a pretty complete setup – and the Traktor DJ 2 app will continue to grow more powerful over the years as it becomes the centerpiece of the Traktor ecosystem.
Get Serato Ready
Serato holds a solid reputation as well among beginner DJs – and it helps that the top-selling DJ controller of the last few years has consistently been a version of the DDJ-SB. Sales numbers don’t lie: this is the controller that many, many new DJs have started with.
DDJ-SB3 ($249) is a well-established winner – and while it doesn’t boast the DDJ-1000-style refresh, it still works incredibly well. It even has a tool to help you learn common scratch techniques built right into one of the pad modes.
So, you want to get into scratching? This is what most people seem to think DJing is all about, and while many DJs don’t scratch, learning to do it is incredibly fun and a useful skill.
The best investment that any aspiring turntablist can make is by buying a Numark PT-01 ($129) and some scratch records. It’s a really easy way to start cutting over music (you can play it through the PT-01 with the audio in jack), and almost anyone can pick up one of these units and start having fun.
It’s also incredibly portable, battery-powered, and has a massive mod community – tons of people sell aftermarket upgrades for this tiny scratcher.
Get Ready For The Club
Just because a piece of gear is cheap doesn’t mean it’s a good choice for a beginner. Many soon-to-beDJs just want to know what gear they need to buy to get something close to what they’ll experience if they go to the club.
My recommendation for this remains the standalone Pioneer DJ XDJ-R line, which specifically is designed to be an all-in-one CDJ-style experience. If you’re looking for a smaller hit on size and budget, you can grab an XDJ-RR for $999. It’s a hefty investment, but will retain a lot of value over the years – and the payoff is clear: you’re learning on a near-standard piece of equipment.
There always will be a little bit of transitioning to do when learning a new setup, but the jump from XDJ-RR/RX to CDJs is one that I’ve seen many new DJs do in just 10-20 minutes of practice.
A Decent Set Of $70 Headphones
What would an article about beginner DJ gear be with mentioning the powerhouse ATH-M30x headphones ($69)? We’ve listened to a lot of pairs of headphones, and our take is that Audio Technica has mastered the budget set with their ATH-M30x/40x models.
As further proof, look around and you’ll find that these cans are consistently one of the highest reviewed low-cost headphones on the internet. It’s not a ruse, people love these things.
Could you spend three to five times as much and get better sounding headphones? Absolutely. But these are a great place to start, and have the endurance to last through years of use for most beginner DJs.
Interested in seeing what the DJTT store team has chose for their picks? Check out the Best Beginner DJ Gear collection here – we’ll add top-commented gear to it as well.