In this Instructable, I will be showing you how to build a DJ setup with the classic turntable style using vinyl. Whether you are a hobbyist or want to become a professional, and possibly tour around the world earning an income, these steps will you get you what you need to get started. I suggest you take note of all of the items listed in these steps, and when you're ready to shop, especially at larger audio shops such as Sweetwater, Guitar Center or Sam Ash for example, they most likely will put together a discounted "bundle package" with all of the items you need to build your DJ equipment setup!!
(Please note I do not endorse any specific brand or product or store, the images and suggestions are used as examples so when you get ready to purchase, you know what to look for in the store!)
Step 1: 2 DJ Turntables (and Cartridges)
In order to mix your music and tracks, you need to input devices such as two DJ Turntables (or two CD Decks). For this setup, you will get two DJ Turntables and two DJ Cartridges aka needles. With so many options to choose from whether online or in the store, I suggest you call a local audio store, speak to a sales rep and inform him/her your ultimate DJ goals and your budget, and go from there!
Step 2: DJ Mixer (aka Audio Mixing Console)
For any type of DJ setup, the DJ Mixer is the absolute core of it all! Did you ever wonder how DJs transition smoothly from one song to the next? It’s because of this amazing piece of gear. With this type of audio mixing console, not only can you play vinyl records, you can perform all the cool and insane DJ tricks and effects of your dreams!!
This is one piece of gear you do not rush purchasing. Make sure you take the time to do your research online, check out reviews and call audio stores and speak to a live representative to ask question and get answers.
Step 3: DJ Headphones
Yes you need them - the all classic DJ Headphones, but not all headphones are created equally. Make sure when you do your purchase, you specifically get high-quality audio mixing headphones so that the sound is reproduced accurately. DJs not only use professional mixing headphones to listen to the sound, but also to hear sound with precision that way the sound the audience will hear is the same sound you as the DJ will hear when mixing and creating effects. Low-quality headphone will reflect an unbalanced sound - meaning what you hear in a pair of cheap headphones is not what your audience will hear!
Tip: If you can go into a local audio store, you may be able to try on a pair of headphones they have on display. A pari of great DJ Headphones aren't about style, they're about quality and comfort (since you'll be wearing them for most likely hours at a time).
Step 4: Studio Monitors (optional for Beginners) & RCA Cables
If it’s not in your budget, you can hold off on this step! In the meantime, you can use your headphones to listen to the audio while saving up for a good set of studio monitors. Studio monitors are not the same as home stereo speakers you may have plugged into your home stereo (which can actually become damaged or blow if you plug into your mixer and use to pump out sound).
Studio Monitors are designed for pumping high volts of sound through (typically used for DJs and music producers), and produce a more “narrow” sound vs a surround sound you will get from your home stereo speakers. The reason behind this is to get a more accurate and precise balance of frequencies, so you when you are mixing the sound that comes out into the speakers is reproduced accurately, and when you take your mix and play it on different devices, the sound will be very close to what you heard in your original mix.
You will also need to purchase a pair of RCA Cables to connect your audio mixer to the output of the speakers. Since there are tons of different cables on the market, make sure to speak to a sales rep whether in store or over the phone, in order to get the correct type of "RCA to Output" cables you will need. Just mention you are connecting your DJ Mixer to your Studio Monitors, and you'll be good to go!
Step 5: Laptop (optional for Beginners) & RCA Cables
If you already have a laptop whether Mac or PC, then you're already ahead of the game! Although this is not a requirement for vinyl, is it an extra option you can use for using DJ Software programs and syncing it with your DJ Mixer to record and mix your music. If your goal is to record and create professional tracks, whether for personal use, to give to your friends or become the world next top DJ, then you definitely want to invest in owning a laptop if don't already have one.
Note that some music software programs are not compatible with PCs, so make sure if you are planning on purchasing audio mixing software for your laptop, check if it's compatible with your laptop. Most audio software programs are geared toward being compatible with Macs, which were designed for audio and graphic design users.
If you already have the laptop, then you just need to purchase RCA cables to connect audio output to your laptop. Make sure to consult with a live sales rep before purchasing to make sure you get the right cable!
Step 6: DJ Coffin (optional for Beginners)
If you plan on traveling and taking your DJ gear with you, will will want to purchase a DJ Coffin to not only protect your equipment, but to use a setup for live performances. Depending on your needs, you can find a coffin with a laptop stand and other perks for storing vinyl, cds, cables, promo flyers, and more!
Step 7: Your Favorite Vinyl!
If you haven't already, you'll want to start building a Vinyl Collection of your favorite artists and prepare for the mixdown! The best part of being a DJ is using your creativity, developing technical skills, and honing your craft to express yourself through music already produced and created by wonderful artists. As a DJ, you can use an endless amount of mixing styles and tricks to blend different types of music sounds, styles and genres together to make and record your own masterpiece!!