The first step is always the toughest one to take, and entering the DJ world is no exception. Paving your way towards something you want to achieve is a tricky but exciting experience. If your goal is to become a DJ and find out what would be the perfect beginner DJ setup, you are at the right place.
Surely you’re aware that being a DJ requires a lot more than getting the simple idea that you want to become one. First, you need to know your sound, practice your skills, and most importantly – you need a decent beginner DJ setup!
Hopefully, this article will give you a better understanding of DJ equipment and give you recommendations on entry-level DJ setups. I will start by explaining the basics, i.e. what are the essentials you need in order to get started.
The classic, or often referred to as ‘old-school DJ setup’ includes:
- DJ Turntables or CD decks
- DJ mixer
- Speakers (monitors)
- USB connection or laptop (optional but recommended)
On the other hand, a more modern DJ setup includes a computer (laptop) and a DJ controller. This is an easier way to learn and perform, especially if you no longer use nor have any interest in using CDs and vinyl. More about DJ controllers below after we wrap up with the old-school DJ setup.
Best DJ Turntables
The first thing you need as a beginner DJ are DJ turntables or CD decks. This piece of gear is the essence of every DJ setup as it’s where you will place your vinyl records or CDs. The standard DJ set includes two vinyl turntables, as there must be at least two tracks for you to mix.
You’ve probably seen a DJ spinning records and doing a tremendous job by mixing tracks, scratching, and so on. Sometimes, you see a turntable with vinyl records on it, but you also see a computer connected to it. Naturally, you ask yourself: what’s the deal here?
Obviously, a DJ doesn’t have the time to use thousands of records for one party. Instead, thanks to the DVS (Digital Vinyl System), the DJ can send audio data (tracks) from their computer to the so-called timecode vinyl records, which they will later use to mix together.
Let’s take a look at some of the best DJ turntables for beginners!
Wireless Connection: Sony PS-LX310BT
The PS-LX310BT turntable is a state-of-the-art turntable with a wireless Bluetooth connection. This is an excellent feature due to many reasons, the biggest one being, obviously, that you don’t have to mess around with cables or worry that they will wear off.
Instead, the Sony PS-LX310BT turntable has your next song at a single press of a button. Once you hit it, the device will play a song from the last device you paired it with. Moreover, the LX310BT has the USB ripping feature, which will rip all the records you want into digital files, so you will have your favorite mixes with you all the time.
Although this is a wireless turntable, there are still signs of a traditional wired connection. The PSLX310BT turntable has an RCA cable that you would use to plug your turntable into a stereo system. The whole package includes a 45 RPM adapter, a slipmat, a removable dust cover, and a USB cable.
To make it more clear, the 45 rpm adapter will keep your record in place, not allowing it to slip or scratch (not the good kind). Moreover, the DJ turntable has two speeds which means it will support both 33 1/3 rpm and 45 rpm records.
These two formats are essential and you have to know the difference. Simply put, records that are made to spin at 445 rpm usually have a better sound quality, while the 33 1/3 rpm have more distortion.
- 45 rpm adapter
- Good value for money
- RCA cable
- USB ripping feature
- Sleek style
- Bluetooth needs to be close to the receiver
- People complain about it being fragile
- Customers having trouble finding a storage place for the 45 adapter
3 Speeds: TEAC TN-180BT-W
The Teac TN-180BT-W is a DJ turntable that allows you to play tracks in three-speed formats: 33 rpm, 45 rpm, and 78 rpm. At the same time, it has a built-in Bluetooth option which means you can connect it to your speaker or headphones wirelessly.
The phono equalizing amplifier is a strong pro to this turntable, which is a component amplifying your turntable’s signal to a level that allows you to connect it to a sound system – the same way you would do it with any other audio source. This contributes towards better sound quality.
There is more! The turntable offers phono and line outputs. This means that the phono output signal that your turntable produces will be converted into a line-level signal. You might have heard the term AUX signal; it’s the same thing.
By converting it to AUX (line output), the signal can work with stereo systems, speakers, or a computer, also contributing to a more quality sound.
The design is quite modern, as the manufacturer offers it in black (my favorite), cherry or white. It comes with MDF (medium-density fiberboard) cabinets, which drastically improves the resonance reduction.
- Competitive price
- Nice design
- 3 speeds
- Phono/line output
- MDF cabinets
- A number of customers have had problems pairing their devices via Bluetooth
- There is a huge sticker over it that is hard to take off
The DJ Mixer is probably the most interesting part of the whole DJ setup, not only for beginners but for those with greater experience as well. This is the console that makes the magic happen! Without a mixer, you wouldn’t be able to manipulate the tracks or make your own party mix.
The mixer is connected to an audio source. This can be a turntable, CD deck, or a computer with installed DJ software. The DJ draws tracks from these sources and then uses the mixer to make a smooth transition of tracks, set the volume level, bass, treble, and so on.
A mixer is considered to be the priciest unit of DJ equipment. High-end mixers exceed $1,500 easily, while you could find a mid-range one for some $500-$700. However, there are cheaper examples that should do fine assuming you are a beginner DJ.
Here are a few mixers that I find are great for beginner DJ artists.
Scratch Mixer at a Beginner’s Price: Numark M2 BLACK
The Numark M2 Black is a quality professional mixer with a very competitive price, and that’s not even its strongest attribute. We are talking about a 2-channel mixer, which is also offered in 3-channel and 4-channel variants with higher respective price points, of course.
The design is perfect for beginners, simple and clear, unlike many mixers I’ve seen with thousands of buttons, half of which you don’t even use. It’s compact and portable, as it can easily fit in any normal-sized backpack.
The M2 Black has a lot to offer from a technical aspect as well. Each channel has three-band equalizers (EQ) ensuring that you don’t need to worry about the frequencies. Moreover, it has plenty of useful tools such as the crossfader reverse, which enables scratching to be done outward, a.k.a. the hamster scratching.
However, I did notice people online complaining about the build quality. I have to say I’m surprised, as I’ve rarely heard anyone in my circles complain about this mixer. That said, many don’t manage their expectations given the price of this unit, so take that for what you will.
- Very competitive price
- Simple design
- Compact and portable
- Three-band EQ
- Crossfader reverse
- Poor build quality according to some reviews
- Crossfader starts bleeding after a time
- Questionable cue output
Runner-up: Pioneer DJ DJM-450
I find the Pioneer DJ DJM-450 mixer to be a solid piece of gear for a beginner DJ. It comes at a reasonable price, although not really cheap, and has interesting features which you will easily learn.
The 2-channel mixer includes the Magvel fader, one of the most prominent crossfaders on the market. You will be able to smoothly transition from one track to another with this piece. The Magvel is combined with an EQ and a channel fader which guarantee a smooth mix.
Thanks to the EQ, you won’t have to worry about combining tracks with different frequencies. It will easily balance high, mid, and low frequency regardless of the channel. Your creativity could be unstoppable with this mixer and its features. You can use the various effects such as the Sound Color FX feature and the Beat FX – both stunning features which will make your mix the real deal!
Moreover, the DJ mixer comprises a 64-bit digital signal processor, which allows you to draw tracks from analog and digital audio sources. However, another thing that adds to its value is the license keys you will get for two DJ software – Rekordbox DJ and Rekordbox DVS.
This way, you can connect your computer to the DJ setup, take the tracks from there and manipulate them via the turntables and mixer.
- Magvel fader
- 64-bit digital signal processor
- License keys for two DJ software
- Good bang for your buck
- Not suitable for bigger clubs
Studio Monitors (Speakers)
Owning a pair of quality speakers is a great asset to your DJ setup. Before going to the club, you’ll want to practice a bit or discover new tracks. When purchasing speakers, make sure they have a good bass response and frequency range, among other things.
We recently wrote an article about the best DJ speakers, so I advise you to check it out and find your pick.
DJ Headphones can be the most underestimated piece of DJ gear in the setup. However, experienced DJs will tell you that a DJ without headphones is like a bird without wings, and that’s understating it.
This piece of DJ equipment is a must in the DJing world. By using headphones, you will be able to carefully listen to the sound quality of the tracks you’re playing. Moreover, you can isolate yourself from the track you’re playing at the moment and pay attention to the next one.
Also, you will be given the opportunity to hear the hot cues you love and prepare a list of songs that will join your party mix. Here are some recommendations on DJ headphones I personally love!
For High-Pressure Sound Levels: Sennheiser Pro Audio HD25
I always recommend the Sennheiser HD25 DJ headphones due to their elegance and solid features. When it comes to headphones, their shape and weight are as important to a DJ as their features.
You will be pulling all-nighters wearing headphones, so you don’t want anything heavy and tight around your head and neck. That’s why I love the aluminum voice coils that are rather comfortable and light.
The Sennheiser HD25 headphones can handle high-pressure sound levels (up to 114 dB) without hissing sounds. The sound will stay clear and isolated from the surrounding noise, with the frequency response ranging from 30 – 16000 Hz.
Also, you can rotate the capsules when you want to listen to the track on one ear. This is very helpful as you don’t have to put the extra capsule all the way to the back, risking dropping the headphones on the floor.
These headphones only come in black and don’t have a wireless connection, but they only have one cable attached to them. Just be careful with them as they are pretty fragile due to their light weight.
- Aluminum voice coils
- Rotating capsules
- Can handle high-pressure sound levels
- Good frequency response
- Easily breakable if dropped from a height
- No wireless connection
- Questionable bass response
Good Value For Money: Sony MDR 7506
Another pair of headphones I would like to recommend to you come from the already famous brand Sony. The MDR 7506 model is the real deal when it comes to quality headphones, suitable for DJing purposes. They are excellent for a beginner DJ, first of all, because they are very affordable.
These headphones are made of neodymium magnets which are the lightest type of all magnets. However, I was surprised to find out that some people complain about them being tight.
From a technical aspect, the MDR 7506 has a solid frequency response ranging from 10 to 20 kHz. This allows you to hear every detail in a track on low and high frequencies.
Their sensitivity level is quite impressive, amounting to 106 dB. As an example, everything below 80-85 dB is considered poor. The higher the sensitivity level – the louder it will play.
This model also includes 40 mm drivers which give a very powerful and sharp sound. Moreover, the sound that goes through the capsule is completely isolated from the surrounding noise, so you can literally isolate yourself while preparing your next track.
They’re not wireless but have a very long cable (9.8 foot) with a golden jack at the end. The headphones also come with a 1/4 inch jack adapter, which will allow you to plug the headphones in almost any other device, such as a guitar head, speakers, or amplifiers.
- Neodymium magnets
- Solid frequency response
- Good sensitivity level
- 1/4 inch jack adapter
- Some people have reported that the capsules get warmed up easily
- A bit tight on the head for some people
If you don’t want to use all the DJ equipment from above and wish it could all just be integrated into one device – don’t worry, that’s what DJ controllers or MIDI controllers are for.
A DJ controller comprises two turntables and a mixer and is connected to a computer with an installed DJ software in it. Typically, you would have your library in the software, along with dozens of features allowing you to scratch, loop, select cue points, and so on.
The DJ controller has a lot of advantages over the classic DJ setup. Also, it’s suitable for beginner DJs, especially regarding the price you will pay for one. You could get a controller for some $100, although there are expensive ones reaching $2,000.
Beginner Friendly: Numark Party Mix DJ Controller
The two-channel Numark Party Mix Dj controller is the first one that comes to mind when recommending a DJ controller to beginners. Even experienced DJs praise this piece of gear due to its durability and credible features.
The Party Mix has very simple and tiny jog wheels, which might not be the best option for professional DJs, but they’re great for starters. These knobs allow you to shuttle or “jog” through your tracks, where the latter means going through your content at low speeds. On the other hand, shuttle means doing the opposite.
One of Numark’s selling points is the party lights it packs. These are three LED bulbs (red, green, and blue) that auto-sync to your music and will always ensure you look good in front of the crowd. Even if you’re spinning at home, it’s great to have this addition to your MIDI controller.
The Numark Party comes with four pad modes that give you absolute control over your cue points, beat jumps, and other features, as it also offers automatic and manual looping.
Another great thing is that the controller comes with Serato Lite DJ software included. However, this is not its best selling point because you will only get a few songs with it, and after a month, you will have to start paying to unlock more features, according to some customers.
Moreover, the model includes an audio interface with 1/8″ headphone output and 1/8″ main output so you can connect it to your speakers or DJ mixer. With that in mind, this is probably the best beginner DJ controller on the market.
- Dazzling light show (three LED bulbs)
- Four pad modes
- Serato DJ Lite included
- LED light arrays
- Small buttons
- The software comes with a demo license
- Smaller than other DJ controllers
5-Day DJing Course Included: PIONEER PRO DJ DDJ200
The Pioneer DDJ 200 is an excellent choice of DJ gear for beginners as it comes with already installed Rekordbox DJ software, phone apps for your iPhone, as well as a free 5-day course by the DJ Coach to get you on board with mixing.
After the course is completed, you will be given the chance to create and send a 15-minute mixtape and receive professional feedback!
The DDJ 200 is very user-friendly and makes sure that no user feels lost in the process. The manufacturer developed a few smartphone apps, such as my personal favorite, the WeDJ for iPhone. This one also provides tutorials for beginners as well as hints that you will certainly find helpful.
The beginner-friendly Pioneer offers features that are warmly welcomed by experienced DJs as well. This 2 deck controller has two channels and offers you to select 8 hot cues, while most beginner controllers will allow you to have 4 cues.
As for the effects, you will love the pad FX which will allow you to beat jump, slice, loop, and everything else you’ve always wanted while guaranteeing smooth transition between tracks.
The DDJ 200 might be too small, but I actually find its compactness very convenient. It’s also relatively lightweight and you can pack it in a suitcase or backpack if you want, allowing you to take it everywhere with you without pulling a muscle!
- Already installed Rekordbox DJ software
- Free 5-day course
- DJing smartphone apps included
- 8 hot cues
- The manufacturer says you can stream music from iTunes, Deezer, or Spotify, while some customers reported having problems with this feature.
- Too small
Based on the controller you are using, you will see which software fits it best. I personally recommend Serato DJ Lite for beginners, but there are other manufacturers that offer high-quality mixing software.
Once you have your controller and software ready, you are good to go!
What To Look For When Buying Beginner DJ Setup
After reading all the recommendations on the best beginner DJ gear, it’s time to put in a few words about the buying approach to make your experience the best possible.
Exchange Money For Value
The market is flooded with products, which means that some of the sellers will try to overprice their products. As we already mentioned, if you’re a beginner DJ, your first DJ equipment doesn’t need to be very expensive.
Make sure that the DJ equipment you’re buying is suitable for beginners and that its price doesn’t exceed the average.
Quality DJ equipment for beginners should range from $1,500 to $2,000 in total.
Decide Which DJ Setup You Want
Don’t go blindly shopping for DJ equipment if you still haven’t decided between the old school and digital setup. The last thing you want is to end up with a mixer and a controller.
Instead, set your priorities! Do you want to be a DJ who has a modern controller or do you prefer spinning vinyl on turntables? Both are great choices, but take some time to decide.
In case you still don’t have an idea what to buy, let me give you a quick summary.
If you decided to go with the classic setup, I strongly recommend that you opt for the Sony PS-LX310BT turntable. It has wireless connection and is excellent for beginners since it’s very easy to use.
As for a mixer, I’d say go with the Numark M2 Black. It’s very affordable and comes with a user-friendly display – perfect for a beginner DJ! If you have a bigger budget, on the other hand, consider the Pioneer DJ DJM-450.
Headphones are a different story. I already said I love the Sennheiser HD25 as they have one of the best noise cancellation features. Their price is also solid, so you don’t need much thinking here.
Of course, when it comes to controllers, I strongly recommend that you try out either Numark Party Mix or Pioneer DDJ 200. Both are quality controllers, although the latter is twice as expensive. If your budget is stable, consider getting the Pioneer. If that price is not an option for you, don’t worry – the Numark has everything a beginner DJ needs!
Best Beginner DJ Setup: FAQs
How Do You Start Off DJing?
To put it plainly, make sure you know what music you want to spin and what you want to achieve. Then, explore the market and purchase the proper DJ equipment. Make your own mix, promote yourself, and hopefully, you’ll get recognized! Recently, we wrote a proper guide on how to be a DJ that should contain everything you might be wondering about.
Where Do DJs Get Their Music?
Although DJs only take popular songs and mix them together, they still have to be careful when it comes to copyright. Most DJs pay for their music using well-known music platforms. However, you can always find some free platforms with royalty-free music.
The best scenario is if you inherit a music collection so you don’t have to spend a lot of money on tracks. Depending on the country you play in, you may or may not be required to have a digital license that will allow you to play music without violating any copyrights.
USA DJs usually have to obtain these licenses.