Are you thinking of upgrading your DJ equipment? Read this first!
Beginner DJ equipment keeps getting better, with more performance features than ever before. The Hercules Inpulse 500 is an excellent example of an entry-level controller, outperforming more expensive units. So when do you need to upgrade your equipment and are there certain situations where a DJ outgrows their equipment? In this article, we break down the five most common cases when a DJ may need to upgrade!
Hardware Limitations (Professional Connections)
Most DJ controllers now can access a wealth of advanced performance features. Advanced features are usually available by paying for a software update or by customising the unit via MIDI map. However, when a DJ starts playing in more professional environments, the DJ will require better connections. Physical ports found on the decks limit the connectivity, with most entry-level controllers featuring no inputs and only unbalanced outputs.
A typical professional sound system requires a balanced connection. You can learn more about the various cable types and why they are essential in this guide. Unlike performance features, there are no software updates that can improve the quality of the connections on your decks.
In a professional environment, most venues will expect the DJ to be able to connect to a P/A system and usually also to a booth monitor. This will require the DJ’s equipment to have balanced XLR outputs and TRS booth jacks in most instances.
DJ’s who want to mix external sources such as turntables, CDJ’s and instruments into their mix will also require professional inputs. Most mid-range equipment will start to include line-level Aux inputs with high-end mixers and controllers allowing the DJ to input various microphones (singers and instruments), phono (turntables) and line (CDJ’s) into their mix. Send and return channels also allow for external effect units to be routed into a performance, essential for creating unique sounds in a performance.
Reach Your End Goal!
Almost every DJ will have a dream set up whether it comes from aspiring to play on the same equipment as our idols or on a set up used in our dream DJ booth. Upgrading your DJ equipment to reach this goal may not enable new features or allow better performances, however, it can teach better practices and feel.
For example, an aspiring scratch DJ may start on a Numark Mixtrack Pro FX controller and be able to perform great routines and scratch patterns. Upgrading to a Numark Scratch Mixer and a pair of Turntables may not necessarily enable new skills. However, learning the feel of vinyl and the difference of a moving platter will benefit the DJ moving forward, especially as they progress towards competitions and events where more expensive equipment will be in use.
The same principle applies to DJ’s who eventually want to play in clubs. A controller arguably enables more performance features than a CDJ 2000 Nexus, however, to get used to playing on the club-standard equipment. A DJ may benefit from upgrading to CDJ900 units, learning the layout and honing their capabilities.
More Performance Features
As a DJ’s skill grows, so does their need for more performance features. The most common reason to upgrade is to perform on equipment that allows more channels to be mixed at once. A third or fourth deck enables a DJ to get creative with sampling acapellas and drums, for example.
Higher tier controllers and mixers also allow for better effects and control over them. The method of applying the effects can also change with some mixers using paddles and even foot pedals!
Technology is advancing all the time, making our lives more comfortable and more convenient. DJ technology is advancing at a rapid rate, from streaming songs to replacing needles on a turntable with a wireless device. Upgrading to the latest technology can not only make a DJ’s life easier but unlock new creative possibilities too.
The vast majority of all modern DJ’ing has revolved around a computer, from performing with software to preparing USB sticks with music collections. A laptop was essential to almost every DJ until recently.
Now, the latest Prime technology inside the Denon DJ equipment enables DJ’s to stream directly and analyse tracks instantly on the decks. This lack of reliance on a computer is a huge selling point and allows a DJ to focus more on performance than preparation.
DVS users will be used to the chores of DJ’ing with turntables. From weighing the needles correctly, to ensure the decks are isolated from feedback in a venue. Setting up a turntable isn’t a quick process. Recently, Phase DJ changed all this. The user now only has to place a simple controller on their vinyl to get playing. Long gone are the days of worrying about warped or scratched vinyl. Wireless DVS control is quicker to set up and easier to play on.
New Lease of Life
It’s incredible what a new piece of equipment does to a DJ’s creativity and morale. Learning the unique capabilities of the unit will often spur a DJ to find new ways to mix. This spark within a DJ will often lead to a new lease of life, finding new ways of mixing the same song and spurring on more creative routines.
It’s not uncommon for a DJ to feel like they have mastered a particular piece of hardware, stopping them from exploring all the creative options it enables. Whether it be a completely new feature or just dedicated hardware buttons for an existing feature, a new piece of hardware can reignite the passion to DJ.
Here in the office, we are fortunate enough to have access to an extensive list of dream equipment. However, it’s always the latest delivery that gets us excited, eager to play and try new things. This is the same whether it’s a cutting-edge Prime GO all in one unit or an entry-level DDJ-200 controller. There’s something about new DJ gear that excites a DJ, and sometimes you need that spark to reignite your passion!
Only you as a DJ will know when you’re outgrowing the equipment you’re using. Whether it be a more professional output or a third deck that’s required, a DJ will know when their creativity is restricted by the equipment. It’s important to notice when motivation slips as a DJ, becoming complacent with one set up can stop the exploration of all the creative features.
Obviously this won’t be the case for every DJ, with many people happy pushing the limits of their existing hardware. Entry-level controllers now have more professional features than ever, meaning the time frame to upgrade is much longer. It’s worth remembering that new equipment won’t make you a better DJ, but bad hardware can certainly hold a better DJ back.
Have you ever felt held back by your decks? When did you feel the need to upgrade? Let us know in the comments below!