Which is the Best DJ Setup?

Which is the Best DJ Setup?

At the risk of jumping straight to the conclusion, the answer is – whatever suits you best.

Truth is, there really is no such thing as a ‘best’ DJ setup. It depends entirely on your personal preferences, along with the type of DJing you’re into, and how much money you can comfortably afford to spend.

These days, you can put together a rudimentary DJ setup for next to nothing. If preferred, you could also easily spend five figures on a true club-standard setup. 

All DJ setups have their own unique advantages and disadvantages, so which is right for you?

That’s for you to decide, but here’s a brief overview of 6 popular DJ setups, which may give you a better idea:

1. Laptop & Controller

First up, this is the single most popular setup for 21st-century DJs. You probably already have a laptop, and you can set yourself up with a fantastic controller for less than £500. At which point, you have absolutely everything you need to put on a show. Some say that the ‘feel’ of this kind of digital setup isn’t quite right for them, but it’s nonetheless the preferred choice for millions of amateurs and pro DJs worldwide.

2. Pro DJ Separates

There’s no laptop involved here, as your entire music library is played direct from an SD card or USB stick. The most commonly used media players are CDJs, which basically let you control CDs as if they were vinyl records. Some of the more modern incarnations of CDJs can be absolutely fantastic, but aren’t of a huge amount of use to anyone who doesn’t still have a vast collection of CDs. 

3. Standalone Systems

By a clear mile, these have a tendency to be the rigs of choice for mobile DJs.  Or at least, mobile DJs looking to keep things as simple and compact as possible. An all-in-one setup is designed to do the same as a pro DJ separates setup, only with everything baked into a single unit. Everything you need to put on a show is right there in one compact piece of kit – controller, mixer, media player, and some kind of on-board ‘computer’ to power the whole thing. All-in-ones are also great for newcomers on a budget, with decent options starting from as little as £250 (sometimes less). 

4. Records Decks and a Mixer

This is the all-time classic setup for purists, and is also gaining traction among a whole new generation of aspiring turntablists. As the name suggests, this is where you combine two DJ turntables with a high-quality mixer of some kind. If you prefer a more ‘hands-on’ DJing experience with minimal reliance on technology, this is the setup for you. Though for obvious reasons, becoming an immensely talented vinyl DJ isn’t quite the same as putting out a few tunes via a laptop and controller combination.

5. Digital Vinyl Systems (DVS)

This particular setup takes some getting used to, but can be absolutely fantastic when you get the hang of it. DVS technology is basically used to take a traditional vinyl setup and transform it into something that can interact with DJ software. Essentially, it’s a way of tapping into the best of both worlds with the same setup – all the power and versatility of digital, coupled with the classic look and feel of real vinyl DJ decks. A special controller/transmitter sits on each deck, sending signals to the software to do its thing accordingly.

6. Laptop Only 

Last in line comes the laptop-only approach to DJing. Does this constitute cheating? We’ll leave that debate for another day, but the popularity of laptop-only DJing is huge. And understandably so, as not only is it comprehensively affordable, but the computer does most (if not all) of the hard work on your behalf. Today, it’s possible to load your laptop with all the software and ‘virtual’ controllers you need to negate the need for any physical hardware. Whether or not this is a good thing is up to you to decide, but it’s hard to deny the appeal of something so simple and affordable.

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