Is it Worth Learning to DJ with Vinyl?
Difficult to imagine, but there was a time when vinyl was the only option for DJs. It wasn’t until several decades later that the digital DJ revolution set in, prompting millions of aspiring DJs to abandon traditional LPs altogether.
But does this mean that there is no place for vinyl on the contemporary DJ landscape, or is it the case of digital DJs missing out on more than they realise?
As with most things, there are pros and cons to using vinyl as a DJ, which are worth taking into account.
The Benefits of Using Vinyl
Ask any vinyl DJ to justify their loyalty to traditional LPs and they’ll immediately present you with the same argument:
Vinyl sounds better.
Whichever way you look at it, there’s a distinct richness and warmth to vinyl that cannot be replicated with digital media. Irrespective of the flawlessness of a digital file, it just doesn’t have the same appeal as an equivalent vinyl track.
Secondly, vinyl DJing is an inherently more hands-on experience. There’s no computer wizardry or trickery involved, it’s just you and your decks...period. Vinyl purists often accuse their digital counterparts of being too reliant on the involvement of their digital hardware and computer software. An accusation that is open to debate, but there’s no denying the rawness that comes with getting busy on stage with a classic vinyl setup.
As a result, some argue that using vinyl naturally makes you a more competent and capable DJ than working with digital decks.
The Drawbacks of Using Vinyl
As for the downsides, getting set up with a vinyl rig in the first place can be pretty pricey. From high-end turntables to mixers and more, it’s nowhere near as cheap as kitting yourself out with a basic digital setup.
In addition, carting vinyl DJ equipment to and from shows can be a pain in the backside. Packed in suitably protective flight cases, the whole thing can occupy quite a lot of space and quickly become extremely heavy. Something that counts double if you’re also porting a vast collection of LPs, as opposed to digital files.
Lastly, any damage your LPs endure along the way will most likely prove irreparable. Not the end of the world with a bog standard £5 LP, but no less than a nightmare with something completely priceless and irreplaceable. With digital files, it’s practically impossible to lose them once you own them legally.
Bottom Line - is it Worth it?
Vague it may be, but the answer to the question is...it depends.
Most of those who set up as vinyl DJs have a relentless passion for traditional turntablism and couldn’t care less about the costs or complexities involved. Elsewhere, others are about minimising costs and giving themselves an easy ride.
It’s therefore entirely a judgment call, based on what you intend to get out of it. But if you have the time, patience and money to give classic turntablism a shot, it’s definitely worth doing just that.