DJ equipment combines many devices that are used for playing music either at a club, a smaller venue, or even at home on a karaoke night. The venue where the DJ equipment is used largely determines the kind of devices that are required. Basic DJ sets contain a pair of turntables for playing the records, headphones, and mixing consoles that add special sound effects to the music. Some more elaborate sets of DJ equipment include disco lights or smoke machines and these are used mainly for parties or special events. Speakers and amplifiers that are essential for reproducing the music are not necessarily part of the DJ's equipment because they may already be installed at the venue.
DJ equipment is available as complete sets that combine the basic components or as individual pieces. Buying all of the DJ equipment components separately allows the DJ the freedom to customise the set up. However, beginners may benefit from ready made complete sets. DJ equipment may be found at some high street electronics shops, but a reliable source is an online retailer, such as eBay, which has a wide selection.
Components of DJ Equipment
All DJs require devices that play music, mix sounds, and create interesting effects, as well as headphones to hear the mix and a sound output system that plays the music to the audience. Of course, the music itself is also essential and this can be bought on a variety of sound mediums such as vinyl and CD.
DJ turntables play vinyl records that the DJ can mix. Compared to regular audio turntables, the DJ specific equipment allows for effects, like scratching the record. When buying DJ turntables, there are a few basic features that should be considered. The basic difference between models is the way that the records are spun on the platter of the turntable and this is determined by the drives.
Drives for DJ Turntables
Turntables with the direct drive move the platters directly from the turntable motor, while belt drive turntables use belts to spin the records around. Direct drive turntables are preferred because they provide more control over the speed with which the record starts or stops. Belt drives lose the force that generates rotation because power is transferred from the motor to the plate through a belt rather than directly.
Tonearms for DJ Turntables
The tonearm of the turntable is another of its important features. The tonearm is the long arm that controls the stylus, or needle, that tracks the groove of a vinyl record. The height of the tonearm can be adjusted, together with the anti-skating mechanism attached to it. This mechanism is responsible for balancing the tonearm to prevent it from skipping during playback. On the other end of the tonearm is a counterweight that balances the stylus.
Pitch Control for DJ Turntables
DJ turntables should have a pitch control button. The standard disc spinning speeds are 33 and 45 rotations per minute, but the pitch control slide button offers more freedom. Typically, DJ turntables allow the pitch to be reduced or increased by up to eight percent by changing the rotation speed.
Digital DJ Decks
Digital DJ decks, also known as CD or MP3 players, are similar to audio turntables because they play music, but the medium that they play is different. While turntables are for old school vinyl records, DJ decks play modern formats. Usually they offer similar controls and features as audio turntables, but have simpler designs because of the technology. Some CD players come with dual decks allowing DJs to play two CDs at once. The dual deck is a preferable choice for mobile use, but some DJs may prefer to have two decks next to each other. DJ decks can be used for creative mixes and newer models feature looping and sampling functionality.
DJ Midi Controllers
DJ midi controllers are similar to DJ decks or CD players used by DJs. Midi controllers use digital technology, so much of the mixing is controlled with special software. Using midi controllers involves interacting with the integrated software. All of the effects are created digitally, as compared to the vinyl methods of scratching and other effects. The controllers do not take up much space in the DJ equipment set.
Headphones are essential for DJs, as they are used to listen to the music that is played next, while the audience is hearing different sounds. DJ headphones are designed to reduce and remove sound leakage by sealing the ears from external noise with airtight ear cups. DJ headphones with closed backs deliver good bass sounds by adding some depth to the music.
DJ mixers mix the songs and are the centre of the DJ's creativity. The right DJ mixer is determined by how many outputs, channels, and sound effects are desired. The size of the mixer can vary: there are small mobile models as well as larger models used in nightclubs. Rack mounted mixers that can be stacked on top of other devices help to create complete sets of media players used by DJs.
Professional DJ lights can boost any event where the DJ is playing. If used wisely, the lights complement the music and add to the overall experience. The selection of DJ lights includes LEDs, lasers, mirror balls, star curtains, strobes, and UV lights. DMX controllers conduct the light show. The range of DJ lights is wide and can be used alongside other kinds of effects, such as snow or smoke makers.
Sound Output Systems
The sounds created and mixed by the DJ need some kind of output system in order to reach the audience. DJ speakers that deliver the sound can be either powered or non-powered. The powered version already has the amplifier integrated, so no additional device is necessary. In the case of non-powered passive speakers that have no amplifiers built-in, choosing the best amplifier is vital to enhancing the sound experience.
Setting Up DJ Equipment
The set up of the DJ equipment depends on the components used. The turntables or DJ decks, and speakers should be connected to each other by inserting cables into the right input and output sockets. Quite often, the cables are colour coded in order to facilitate finding the correct sockets. Some mixers can be powered with USB cables and this reduces the total number of cables, as do wireless headphones. When buying the devices, it is worth noticing what kind of plugs they use because the UK and other parts of world have different versions, so adaptors may be required to make all of the components compatible. Of course, the equipment should be plugged into the mains once it is fully set up.
Buying DJ Equipment on eBay
When looking for DJ equipment on eBay, you can either browse for complete sets, which are best for beginners, or buy all of the components separately and customise the set up according to your requirements. Start your search on the eBay main page by typing keywords into the search box. If you do not know exactly what kind of equipment is needed then start with a general search, such as "DJ equipment" and get inspiration by browsing the results that are offered. The results can be sorted by price in order to find equipment to suit your budget. When you have found the DJ equipment that you would like to buy, read the item description and look at the photos carefully. Pay attention to the details of the features of the DJ equipment, and observe any signs of wear on used devices.
Some DJ equipment components can be rather large, so look for local sellers who are willing to organise a local collection to save on delivery costs. In this case, you may also be able to try the equipment before completing the purchase.
DJ equipment is necessary for playing and mixing music at parties, clubs, or cosier venues. DJ equipment can be bought as complete sets that include all of the necessary devices and are suitable for beginners or as separate devices that allow the DJ to customise the set up. The core of any DJ's equipment is the device that plays the music. This could be an old style turntable used to play vinyl records or more modern DJ decks, that are effectively digital CD players. Some DJs prefer dual players, whereas others like to have two separate players. DJ midi controllers are another option. They are compact devices that combine features with software that takes care of the mixing and effects.
DJs also require a good set of headphones that block out any external noise. Speaker systems for delivering the sound to the audience, as well as DJ lights, are other useful parts of DJ equipment. All the devices are attached to each other with cables, except for those that are wireless or have USB connections. All DJ equipment, including accessories like adaptors and cables are available from eBay sellers.