A beginner DJ looking for new gear will come across dozens of options of DJ controllers, CD players, turntables, DJ mixers, headphones, softwares, and speakers to make a complete DJ setup and start mixing. Today we review all the best DJ equipment for beginners in four different DJ setups to choose the one fitting your budget, desires, needs, and skill level.
You can always head to the nearest music equipment store and find available DJ equipment for rent. However, owning your own DJ setup is preferable for many reasons. Incidentally, some of the best DJ equipment in the market is now more affordable than ever. There are a variety of tools to approach, review, and find the best suitable choice for everyone.
The basic DJ equipment for a beginner should last at least two to three years of DJing, but it mostly depends on your budget. If you can afford premium equipment from the top brands such as Pioneer DJ, or Allen & Heath, then you will end up with a setup for a decade.
There are plenty of options out there, for every available budget, and personal preference on brands and characteristics. Since the market for DJ equipment is huge, and new models come out often, I made significant research and ask professionals who currently use this equipment.
We will examine each DJ setup separately and suggest the right tools for you. As well, you will find detailed reviews of each model in referral articles with the best-of gear to choose from.
The 3 most popular DJ setups:
To round up, here is a list of the most popular DJ setups used by professional and bedroom DJs:
- Basic DJ Setup: Pair of CD media players and a DJ mixer
- Vinyl DJ Setup: Pair of Turntables and a DJ mixer
- Beginner DJ Setup: DJ Controller, DJ Software, and a powerful Laptop.
1. Basic DJ Setup
PAIR OF CD PLAYERS + DJ MIXER
A. CD MEDIA PLAYERS:
Thankfully the cd players that exist in the market now offer extremely useful features. Even a beginner can take full advantage of a player, and its features. The budget varies from $500 for a decent semi-pro player to $2000 for the best player in the market. For a starter, a semi-pro solution is perfect, and prices don’t get higher than $500. All the latest cd players in the market support all audio formats and also have a USB port.
TOP 5 media players for beginners:
- Pioneer XDJ 700
- Pioneer CDJ 350
- GEMINI MDJ 1000
- AMERICAN AUDIO RADIUS 3000
- DENON DJ SC5000
Pioneer XDJ 700
Pioneer CDJ 350
DENON DJ SC5000
The Pioneer CDJ 2000 Nexus 2 is the ultimate best DJ CD digital player in the world right now. However, this professional player is only an unreachable dream for most beginner DJs out there. Pioneer DJ came up with a much more affordable player while keeping the most essential features from the CDJ2000NX2.
The XDJ 700 is lacking on CD input, but who needs it in 2020, when most DJs have their music in a digital form on a USB memory stick. The large full-color LCD touch screen for easy track selection and all the Pro-DJ features inherited from topline media players makes it an excellent choice for beginners, and professionals.
B. DJ MIXER:
Regardless of your DJ mixer, there are many available options in the market. Since we are looking for a starter tool, the list has mainly 2-channel mixers but also a budget-friendly 4-channel. All mixers offer all the basic features such as the ability to control equalizers (low/middle/high), sound effects, microphone input, “record out” etc.
TOP 5 DJ mixers for beginners:
- ALLEN & HEATH XONE:23
- Pioneer DJM S3
- NATIVE INSTRUMENTS TRAKTOR KONTROL Z2
- RELOOP RMX-22I
- DJ TECH DIF1S
ALLEN & HEATH XONE:23
Pioneer DJM S3
NI Traktor Kontrol Z2
The most popular DJ mixer, seen in most DJ events, festivals, and party booths, is the DJM 900 Nexus 2. Together with the CDJ2000 make the ultimate DJ setup, but it comes with a cost – a big one.
The Pioneer DJM S3 is a two-channel mixer dedicated to the Serato DJ Pro software. However, you can connect it to turntables or players and fit in any DJ equipment and setup. It offers high-quality sound, a scratch-friendly layout, dedicated filter knobs, and a highly durable Magvel crossfader, inherited from the topline DJM-900NXS2. Premium features that are mostly seen on more expensive gear.
2. Vinyl DJ Setup
PAIR OF TURNTABLES + DJ MIXER
There is a significant and constant enhanced production of vinyl turntables. When the output of the Technics 1200 turntable stopped in 2010, we had to recheck our list for new models; thankfully, we found some pretty good options for every available budget. It is not the best option for mobile DJs, as you will need a big DJ desk.
“The old-school DJ equipment for beginners is alive and keeps rise in popularity”
TOP 5 turntables for beginner DJs:
- TECHNICS SL-1210MK2 Professional Turntable
- STANTON STR8-150
- RELOOP RP 8000
- AUDIO TECHNICA AT-LP120
- PIONEER PLX 500
3. Beginner DJ Setup
DJ CONTROLLER + LAPTOP with DJ SOFTWARE
“The most affordable, common, and best choice for beginner DJs.”
A. Laptop for DJing
I guess that most of you already own a PC or laptop. As a beginner, you do not need the latest iMac or MacBook Pro to start DJing. Start with the one you already own and then find one of the best laptops for DJingto invest your first savings.
If your computer is powerful enough to overcome the requirements of your DJ software, you will have an excellent experience. Thankfully, softwares do not require super powerful capabilities. You can take a look at their websites the specifications of each software and check if it is compatible with yours. Links and more info will see below. All softwares are MAC and WIN compatible, so you don’t have to worry about that.
Also, try to keep your laptop clean from nonrelative softwares and large files that may slow its performance. Because nobody wants dropouts, “clicks”, or even a complete computer crash and close in the middle of your gig.
All PCs offer USB ports to connect your DJ controller. So, you have no concern here if your controller will connect with your laptop.
You probably already own at least one PC or laptop, but I recommend having one just for your music. DJ software and DAW‘s use lots of CPU and memory, and you don’t want your laptop to freeze or “crack” during a live performance.
TOP 5 Laptops for DJing:
- APPLE MacBook PRO
- ACER ASPIRE V15 NITRO
- ASUS ZENBOOK PRO UX501VW
- DELL XPS 15
- ASUS ROG GL551
B. DJ software
The DJ software, installed on your PC or Laptop, emulates turntables and a DJ mixer. With a DJ software, you can perform and mix a complete DJ set by simply “drag-drop” a track from anywhere in your computer into the software. You can create, and edit music libraries of your choice in no time. By creating music libraries in your software, you will be able to scan and analyze your music. That will offer the BPM, the key of your tracks, and many other essential DJ information. The mixer is a replica of a traditional DJ mixer, you will have to invest in a DJ Controller, otherwise, you will have a hard time mixing with your mouse and PC keyboard.
Even cd and vinyl junkies at some point in their career tried DJing with software, and many loved it. In 2021, with the right tools, you can achieve a live performance impossible to perform years ago with a standard setup. Plus, DJ software is more flexible and budget-friendly. The first 3 (Traktor Pro, Virtual DJ, Serato DJ) are the most popular DJ software used by professional DJs and musicians around the globe. Most of these softwares offer a free trial version to “try before you buy”.
Traktor Pro 3, Serato DJ Pro, and Pioneer Recordbox DJ are the most popular DJ softwares in the market. Prices here vary but are approximately one to two hundred dollars. However, every software offers a trial version for you to check before buy. Plus there are DJ controllers out there that offer a free Lite version to start DJing right away.
TOP 5 DJ software:
- NATIVE INSTRUMENTS TRAKTOR PRO
- SERATO DJ
- VIRTUAL DJ
- REKORDBOX PIONEER DJ
We cannot pick just one DJ software for you to buy and start DJing. Traktor Pro, Virtual DJ, and Serato DJ are the most popular and best-featured DJ softwares on the market. We suggest you download and try each software and pick the one that matches your style and skill level. here is a Youtube video with a deep comparison of Traktor Pro, Virtual DJ, and Serato.
Traktor Pro 3
Traktor Pro is a professional DJ software used by the most popular artists in the music scene. Richie Hawtin, Carl Cox, Gareth Emery, Nicole Moudaber, Sasha, Joris Voorn are just a few amongst others. This software has filled sound systems and dance floors across the world, as well as house parties, bars, beaches, and everything in between.
The mixing software by NI offers four desc with color-coded waveforms that will help you identify the kicks, hi-hats, and snares of the track. There are nine different Mixer FX in Traktor Pro 3 (Reverb, Dual Delay, Noise, Flanger, Time Gater, Filter, Dotted Dealy, Crash, Barber Pole); similar to Pioneer DJ’s Color FX on DJM mixers.
The interface is extremely easy to learn and use. Plus the new, even darker user interface makes it much more visually pleasing in dark environments.
It is incredible what you will get for around $100. This professional-sounding software can take you from a bedroom DJ to a worldwide artist. With Traktor Pro 3 and a DJ controller, you can build your entire music DJ career.
Some musicians get paid thousands of dollars to perform in festivals like Tomorrowland, Burning Man, Ultra Festival, and they use this DJ software. Why would YOU not invest in it? Seriously, let us know if you have your reasons not to buy it.
For more details about Traktor, prices, and downloads you will find them at native-instruments.com.
Serato DJ Pro
The second most popular DJ software in the market is the Serato Pro. It provides similar features, interface, and audio quality to the Traktor Pro, and it is also a choice of many beginners and professional DJs. Fatboy Slim, Skrillex, and Kygo are just some of the names that come to my mind who have performed with this software. Visit Serato.com, and you will find more artists who support it.
The frequencies are easy to identify with the color-coded waveforms. Red shade waves represent low frequencies such as bass and kicks. Green is the natural mid-range frequencies. And with the blue shades, you will see the high-end.
Serato scratch DJ is also a great choice for scratch and hip-hop artists with its impressive DVS (digital vinyl system) support.
The Pro version is available for 129 USD dollars, but you can also try for free the Lite version. More details and downloads are available at Serato.com
Where there is a DJ, there is also Pioneer’s tools and equipment. DJs such as Armin Van Buuren, Axwell, Nicky Romero, and Chris Lake trust this DJ software for their sets and live performances.
Pioneer’s latest Recordbox 5 offers an improved track loading, browsing, and scrolling. The track analytics delivers the familiar and reliable sound of Pioneer, and to top it all off, you can connect to DJ players with a USB or SD card.
If you love vinyl, you can also purchase extra the Rekordbox DVS with Pioneer’s highly responsive Control Vinyl to perform smooth, low-latency scratching with excellent sound quality.
Once again, you will spend a little compared to what you will get. It is a little bit more expensive but still, way under the $200 budget. Check their plans and a free 30-day trial at the official website of the Pioneer Recordbox DJ.
There is no right or wrong, or better for beginners, or cheaper DJ software. The final choice is yours, and it should come down to personal preferences. All these three DJ softwares offer all the tools you need to perform a professional DJ set.
C. DJ controller
DJ controllers emulate the traditional DJ mixer and turntables in one piece of equipment. The interface makes it so easy to mix music through the software in your laptop with the use of knobs, encoders, jog wheels, faders, assignable performance pads, and more. There are three basic things to consider when choosing a DJ controller. Features, software integration, and budget.
The models we will see here offer knobs, buttons, jog wheels, performance pads, and faders. You can also work with waveforms, samples, apply effects, connect turntables, CDJs, and instruments to your setup.
Since we are beginners and we cannot spend a lot, we will look at DJ controllers from 200 to 400 USD dollars. And just because we sacrificed on the budget, it doesn’t mean that we will also sacrifice on quality. All models we will see below are produced by brands extremely reliable and well-known in the music industry such as Pioneer and Native Instruments.
There are a few factors to consider when buying a DJ controller, but the most important is the DJ software that you are planning to use with it. Many controllers offer perfect integration with the major DJ software like Serato or Traktor pro. Although you can still manually map every controller to every software, why get into that trouble when the package also offers free lite or even a full version of its supported DJ software.
This is the most futuristic DJ equipment you will find in 2020!
5 DJ controllers for beginners setup:
- NATIVE INSTRUMENTS TRAKTOR KONTROL S2 MK2
- PIONEER DJ DDJ-SB3
- NUMARK MIXTRACK PRO III
- DENON DJ MC4000
- BEHRINGER CMD STUDIO 4A