Four Useful Tips for Aspiring DJs
There’s a lot of mythology around DJs, and some of the superstars – Mark Ronson, Skrillex, David Guetta – are worth millions. But before you become a superstar DJ, you need to get the basics down. Aside from your music, you’ll need the right gear, including a portable powered speaker system to give you gigging flexibility. And have you thought about DJ lights?
Here are four tips on the equipment you’ll need to start your DJ career out on the right note.
1. Staying in control
Two turntables and a microphone worked for Frankie Knuckles back in 1980, but for portability and reliability, today’s working DJ needs a midi controller. This piece of kit attaches to your laptop and simulates the hands-on-turntables experience of mixing vinyl. It’s at heart a two-track mixer, so it can cue tracks, scratch and mix beats – all the things that a couple of Technics 1200 turntables can do. The difference is everything is kept in the digital domain, and you’re not paying a fortune for expensive and delicate gear.
2. Shedding some light
Anyone who’s been clubbing knows that DJ lights are a major part of the experience. You could start with a couple of LED mega pars for subtle mood shifts. LED technology means these lights are compact and have a range of colours built in (ask your dad what ‘gels’ are!) If you want more trippy FX, the Revo range lays down a complex series of patterns. For that classic laser look, the Micro Galaxian fits into your hand and delivers the sort of light show that cost thousands ten years ago. Thanks to changing technology, it’s now well within your financial reach to leave a lasting impression with your lights as well as your tunes.
3. Get a grip on the visuals
Rather than leaving your lights to their own devices, you (or a mate) can control your DJ lighting set up with a controller such as the UC3. Compatible with most American DJ lighting fixtures, this controller allows you to switch between lighting modes, run the lights at various speeds, add gobos to create patterns, and trigger the other capabilities of your light fixture.
4. The art of speakers
Fifteen inch? 12 inch? 200 watt? 500 watt? There are no shortage of options – and opinions – when it comes to buying speakers. Often described as the weakest link in a sound chain, you shouldn’t feel that professional quality speakers are out of your reach. Keep in mind that the speakers you monitor your mix with at home may not be suitable for live use.
You need powered speakers, and something like the Alto TX8 rated at 280 watts will do a decent job when you’re starting out and want a portable rig.
If you want something portable that you can use for bigger venues, check out the Alto TS112A, rated 800 watts. The range includes 15-inch speaker versions for a fuller bottom end.