Before we get to gear, I do suggest taking lessons. Knowing a little bit about music theory helps, too. It’s important to understand why a DJ does what he/she does. It is great importance to be able to count music. Most likely, you get that, but I do occasionally run across a person or two who have no rhythm, no music background, can’t dance, etc. They just see DJs having a great time and want to do it. Doesn’t mean they can’t learn…but it’s a much longer road.
So we’re talking about start-up gear. We want you to have something you can legitimately learn on, but won’t cost you an arm and a leg when you’re just finding out if this really works. It’s like anything else. You wouldn’t drop 3 grand on a guitar if you’d never tried it…or a cool million on a race car when your Hyundai is all you’ve ever steered around. You need to break in with some simple, solid, quality gear.
As an entry level DJ, you need to start out with a pair of players, either CD players or turntables. You’ll need a mixer, as well. When selecting a system you should look for a mixer with a 3-band EQ per channel. Turntable selection should start at the motor. I recommend that DJs only work with direct drive motors. As for CD players, you want a player that has Instant Start, meaning as soon as you hit play the unit plays. Here are setups that you could consider using.
Numark TT-200 Turntables – straight arm turntable (helps prevent skipping) direct drive motor (for more accurate cueing & scratching)
Numark CM200 Mixer – 2 channel, 4 input mixer (connects multiple sources at once), and kill switches (completely removes a frequency band)
Numark Axis 4 CD player – 2 loops with 3 hot stutter cues, built in tap beat BPM counter, Anti-Shock (skip protection), Fader Start
Gemini Components and Systems
Gemini TT-04 – Turntable with a high quality direct drive motor, straight arm, and a metal top for improved sound
Gemini PS-626X – 3 channel mixer, comes in both USB and EFX versions, 3 band EQ per channel
Gemini Cdm3600 – All in one unit that has a mixer built in between two CD players. This unit has a built-in loop feature, as well as pitch control for each player, and a 3 band EQ per mixer channel.
Numark CDMix Systems
Numark CD Mix-1 – Standard CD player with Pitch Control and Fader Start
Numark CD Mix-2 – Same as CDmix1 but with a Pitch Bend feature (buttons used to adjust pitch for minor pitch adjustments)
Numark CD Mix-3 – Same as CDmix 2 but with MP3 capability
Once you get your gear, you need to get comfortable on your system. If you live in Chicago, you can come by our store for DJ lessons. But if you’re anything like me, before you get ready to do that you’re going to want to play with the gear yourself. Well, there’s some simple and free ways to get some basic instruction…besides reading the manuals…who does that anyway?
Two words..Inter Net. Okay…one prefix and one word. First, check the manufacturer’s websites for videos they produce that show their gear in action. We have a lot of that video imbedded in our product pages so you don’t even have to go looking for it (we’re adding more every day). Second, go to YouTube. There’s pretty much at least 5 videos from 5 different people showing how to use all this gear in 5 different ways. Some are little hand-held camera versions done in a garage. Some are done in some pretty nice clubs. Either way, it’s a great way to figure out the basics…and to learn some tips and tricks that will help you get the hang of things even faster.
I’ll have a couple more articles up in the next few days dealing with mid-level gear and another on a full-blown pro DJ rig.
Nate Heldman is the webmaster for and part of the equipment pro team at Midwest Pro Sound & Lighting. In addition, he admits to a love of recording gear, motorcycles, and Mila Kunis