Whether you have plans on becoming a superstar DJ and get rich and famous or just want to enjoy and embrace music in a whole new way this guide is for you. In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to set up your own personal home DJ setup. Allowing you to hone your skills and explore the wonderful world of DJing.
There is actually quite a lot that goes into setting up your home DJ setup. It can seem like a daunting prospect at first but we’ve got you covered. We’ll go over all the various components you’ll need to set up your studio. Once all these elements are in place you’ll be all set to begin mastering the art of DJing. Even better it will be in your very own home. Before you know it you’ll be laying down your own mixes for you to enjoy or even share with your friends and possibly the world!
So let’s dive into everything you’ll need to get started!
Technology has changed all aspects of modern life and DJing is no different. Every modern DJ will need to have a solid capable computer. The computer is often the backbone that many home DJ setups are built on.
You can analyse and prepare your music before your set as well as organise your collection of music. Even if you have an extensive collection of vinyl’s or CDs you’ll want to turn those tracks into digital files. By doing this you can take advantage of all the creative tools available to DJs on a computer.
You’ll spend a lot of time on your laptop or computer preparing your tracks.
A large amount of modern equipment is designed to work in tandem with software. Making sure you have a good computer that can run that software is important.
There are also some DJ applications that run on iPads or tablets. If you don’t want to buy a computer you may be able to bypass this step. Be warned that you’ll find your choices in equipment to be limited. If you want to open up the full range of possibilities I’d suggest you aim to have a quality computer or laptop.
Additionally, your computer is vital if you plan on moving into creating your own killer tracks. The extensive range of DAW’s (Digital Audio Workstation) can give you all the tools to become a master music creator. Without a powerful computer, you’ll find it difficult to even run these programs effectively.
Your computer will also be your gateway to the full spectrum of available music. Gone are the days of been limited by the selection that was available at your local store. You now have access to a wide range of sources to discover and get amazing music to incorporate into your DJ sets.
It’s important before you head out and buy DJ equipment that you check that your computer will be powerful enough. Check the specifications of the DJ software and DAW’s that you are interested in.
Now you may be wondering whether it’s best to have a laptop or a computer for your home DJ setup. While there are some crucial differences there isn’t one right answer. It’s likely that the computer you currently have will be fine for you to get started. If you are looking at an upgrade and not sure if you should get a computer or a laptop you should check out this in-depth guide on the pros and cons of both.
There is also quite some debate when it comes to Apple Vs Microsoft when it comes to operating systems. While both camps have very vocal supporters you should be fine to stick to your own personal preference. The majority of modern gear and applications work on both.
Once you have a solid computer or laptop you can look at the next and most important piece of gear you’ll need.
While a computer is the backbone and foundation of a home DJ setup it isn’t a DJ setup until you actually have some DJ gear in there! This is by far the most important part of your setup. You should definitely take your time to research your options before dropping your hard earned money.
You’ll be spending the majority of your time in front of your DJ equipment practising your skills. It’s important to get equipment that is going to be able to fulfil your initial needs. It also should have the capacity for you to improve and expand on your skills once you’re ready.
There are a lot of options out there but be careful to read through the details and check out reviews of any gear you are thinking of purchasing. There are some options out there that claim to offer you DJ functionality but in reality, are nothing more than glorified Hi-Fi systems.
It’s important to stick to quality well-established brands that have a long history in the DJ scene. Companies like Pioneer, Native Instruments, Roland, Denon and Numark to name a few. They have spent countless years developing and creating gear for DJs of all experience levels. If you want to make sure you have access to the best features I’d recommend sticking to these brands.
Buying quality DJ gear made by reputable companies will make learning DJing easier.
With the explosion of digital DJing, all the major DJ gear manufacturers offer high-quality gear at a variety of price points. While high-end gear can get expensive DJing is no longer something that is limited by your financial situation. Everyone has a good opportunity to dip their toes into the world of DJing.
When it comes to the type of gear to buy there are various setups you can look into. You can go for a turntable-based setup if you want to mix using vinyl. It will also give you that classic authentic DJ experience. You can go for a CDJ based setup if you want to utilise your collection of CDs. There is also the option of DJ controllers which utilise digital files. All these various setups have their pros and cons. Often selecting your DJ equipment is a personal choice. If you have something in mind already feel free to pursue that as long as it fits within your budget.
If you’re starting out you may feel a bit overwhelmed by the huge amount of choice. The massive differences in price points can also be daunting. Luckily we have you covered. Check out this in-depth guide that goes over the different types of DJ setups in detail. It also contains our recommendations for the best choices for a beginner DJ.
Once you know your computer is up to the challenge and you have the gear you want it’s time to get the software that you’ll need.
The most important software you’ll need will be DJ software. DJ software emulates the traditional DJ setup. It allows you to mix one song into the next as well as prepare and manipulate your music. Most modern DJ setups are designed to work in tandem with software. This has seen it grow into a $300 million USD a year industry. They allow you to access your music collection and control the functions in the software with your chosen DJ gear. Unless you have chosen a setup that doesn’t need a computer you’ll end up needing some form of DJ software. To give you an idea of the features that come with modern DJ software check out the trailer below for Pioneer’s rekordbox DJ.
Usually, the gear that you buy will come with some sort of software. It could be an introductory version, trial version or in some cases the full software package. It’s worth taking some time to familiarise yourself with the choices that are available. There are also some free applications available out there as well.
Check out our guide that covers the difference between Serato DJ Pro, Native Instruments Traktor Pro and Pioneer’s rekordbox DJ. These pieces of software are the most common ones you’ll encounter when buying your gear.
While DJ software is the most important piece of software you’ll need there are some others to keep in mind as well. If you plan on creating your own music you’ll need a DAW to compose your music. These software packages tend to be expensive. Be sure to take your time researching the various options available before you commit. Check the recommended specifications as well to make sure your computer will be able to run them. Having said that if you have no plans to create your own music anytime soon you can skip this step. You can always explore this further down the track.
Beyond that there isn’t much else you’ll need when it comes to software. A good MP3 tag editor is handy but you’ll find that good DJ software will allow you to edit tags within the application. An external app may not be necessary. Most quality DJ software allows you to record your mixes as well. You’ll likely not need a dedicated piece of software for that either. Be sure to have your core DJ software sorted and you’ll be ready to move onto the next step.
The next step is to get yourself a pair of headphones. You can get started with any headphones you already have available. Having said that you’ll definitely appreciate the sound and comfort that a quality pair of DJ headphones will provide you.
Headphones are a critical part of any DJ’s setup. They allow you to listen to and prepare the next track for your mix. You will alter the track so that the beats match as well as selecting your perfect mix point. This is all accomplished in your headphones. You’ll be spending a lot of time with your headphones on. Not only on your head but around your neck as well. It’s worth investing in a comfortable pair of headphones that deliver outstanding sound quality. It’s also worth considering their durability as they will take quite the beating.
Headphones are also a great statement piece in your arsenal of gear. With a wide range of styles and colours to choose from. It’s a great way to inject a bit of your own personality into your DJ studio.
A quality pair of headphones is one of the most important parts of a DJ setup.
Also, don’t be fooled by marketing gimmicks when it comes to headphones. Some headphones are more suited to personal use or even for gaming but not ideal for DJ’s. Once again stick to brands that have a history of making quality DJ headphones. Also, check out other user reviews before purchasing. DJ headphones can get expensive but it’s an investment that will be worth it.
The main choice when it comes to headphones is whether you get a pair of open back or closed back headphones. Open back will allow your ears to breath and will provide you with better sound quality. You’ll have to deal with exterior sound leaking into your headphones as well as sound leaking out. If you plan on mixing in a loud environment I’d suggest you go with a pair of closed back headphones instead. These will help prevent exterior sound making its way into your ears. This allows you to focus on your mix without distractions. If sound quality is important and you don’t mind exterior noise coming in get a pair of open-backed headphones.
Still not sure whether open-back or closed-back headphones will be better for your home DJ setup? Check out our guide that covers everything you need to know when selecting headphones.
Now you’re almost set to begin laying down your first mix but before you start there is something else you should get. One of the last items you’ll need for your home DJ setup are some decent speakers. You want to have quality speakers that can accurately represent the music coming from your gear. This is important for when you are mixing as well as when you plan on listening back to your mixes.
You may already have a Hi-Fi system or even some computer speakers at home. These will be fine to get started but you’ll want to get your hands on some higher quality speakers as soon as possible.
There is a staggering amount of choice. When it comes to good DJ speakers there are many things to consider. Many professional studios have a pair of studio monitors that transmit sound in its purest form. This is ideal if you plan on creating and mastering your own music. Even in a DJ environment, they are fantastic for giving you the authentic unaltered experience of the music you’re playing. Keep in mind that studio monitors are designed to be used in smaller spaces. They will not be able to fill a large room with loud sound.
High-quality speakers will give you the most satisfaction when DJing at home.
Hi-Fi systems tend to deliver a more coloured sound. They place emphasis on the lows and highs. This can add a more dynamic feel to the music you’re playing and also your mixes. They’re often designed to fill larger spaces as well. If your home DJ setup is large or you plan on taking your gear to parties it may be worth investing in these types of speakers instead.
When it comes to actually select the speakers there are many specifications and types that you will run into. It can be a bit overwhelming especially considering the amount of marketing fluff you’ll encounter. If you want to learn about the various nuances to speakers check out this guide. It will help you in selecting speakers for your home DJ setup.
Once you have selected your speakers you’ll also need to make sure you set your gain structure correctly. This will make sure that you get the best possible sound from your speakers.
Once you have your speakers sorted you may want to add a subwoofer. While not mandatory it does provide some benefits.
A dedicated subwoofer can handle the lower frequencies and reduce pressure on your main speakers. It’s also a great way to enjoy the music you love. Much like speakers, there are different types of subwoofers. There will be more commercially orientated subwoofers and also studio subwoofers.
If you have a large studio you should invest in a quality subwoofer.
Keep in mind your personal studio space and whether you will need a subwoofer to help fill the room with sound. If you do buy a subwoofer you’ll also need to make sure to place it in a good spot to maximise its effectiveness. Usually, the best spot is centralised between your two speakers but this isn’t a set rule.
Purchasing a subwoofer can also be a daunting prospect. Check out this handy guide that covers everything you need to know about adding a subwoofer to your home DJ setup.
You now have nearly everything you need to start but there is one final crucial component to your technical setup and that is the cables. All this shiny new gear you have purchased needs to be plugged in correctly and with the right type of cables to ensure you can get mixing straight away. While by no means the most exciting part of your studio it’s also very important to pick up quality cables.
Audio technology is a deep field and there is a lot of information available out there. There are various types of connections to be aware of. There is also a lot of information on how the cables actual transmit sound between devices. While it’s great to have a deep understanding of this field it’s by no means mandatory.
You need to make sure you have the right audio cables when setting up your home DJ studio.
The most important aspect when selecting cables is to make sure they are appropriate for your gear. You want to be able to connect your speakers and computer to your gear with ease. You may already be able to connect your gear with existing cables you have around your home. These cables are used to connect other devices like DVD players or home Hi-Fi systems. If possible get a dedicated set of cables for your DJ gear.
With such a large variety of connection options, it can get a little confusing. Check out this guide about the various types of connections you may encounter. It also covers which cables will be appropriate for your home DJ setup.
Now you need some music to play! One of the most fun components of the DJ lifestyle is discovering and using new music. Whether you plan on playing vinyl, CDs or using digital files there are a wealth of resources available to you to discover and get new music. Check out this guide that goes over some of the best ways you can build up your personal music collection.
Make sure you have a good amount of tracks available. This way you can play with different transitions and combinations. Keep in mind you don’t need a massive collection of music to get started. You can always build up your music collection over time.
No matter how you store your music keeping it well organised is important.
Beyond discovering and acquiring new music it’s also important to make sure you have your music well organised. Getting into a routine of tagging your tracks as well as setting up cue points and fixing beatgrids within your software will make the learning process of DJing easier. When you are starting out you’ll find that you’ll spend a lot more time working on your beatmatching and transition skills. The less time you spend hunting through your collection for your next track the more time you’ll have to spend on nailing your next mix.
In the beginning, I’d suggest you aim to get a solid selection of tracks that you love. You want these tracks to roughly fall into the same genre. Mixing from one genre to another can be challenging. You’ll want your skills well established before taking on this challenge.
It’s easier to begin mastering DJing with tracks with similar styles and BPM’s. These earlier basic mixes will also help build your confidence. They’ll also help teach you about the structure of the music you like the most. I encourage you to explore different genres as your skills improve.
This last section is a bit of a bonus section if you want to take your home DJ setup to the next level. There are many smaller items you can add to your studio that can make your life a lot easier and also a lot more fun!
Be sure to have the core items covered like a quality desk and chair. These can make your home DJ setup an inviting and comfortable space for you to master the art of DJing.
Adding some small party lights to your studio can add a huge amount of atmosphere and give you an awesome feeling when you are on the decks.
Adding party lighting to your home DJ studio adds a lot of atmosphere when mixing.
Beyond aesthetic items, things like surge protection, laptop and speaker stands are also handy.
Want more information on the types of extras that will be perfect for your studio? Check out this guide that goes over some of the best accessories to add to your studio. It also covers why it’s worth investing in them at some stage.
You now have everything you need to set up your own personal home DJ setup and begin the awesome journey and hobby that is DJing. There has never been a better time to become more connected with the music that you love. There are affordable options now available to any aspiring DJ. Get out there, grab the gear you need, get yourself set up and start mixing up a storm!