There’s a lot of talk flying about regarding what gear is right for you and many questions around what piece of equipment you need to be the next best thing since Paris Hilton. Sorry, that was a joke. But seriously you have to navigate this arena with much caution and also try to understand the importance of being flexible and not to have such laser focus on one particular piece of equipment. Let me explain why.
Firstly, I do not get paid by any company for anything related to Traktor, or any other DJ manufacturer for that case. I do not earn money from sales of equipment and I only have a handful of affiliate links dotted around my site, which have not generated enough cash to buy even one sandwich. The income from this site comes solely from my online courses and provides me with a little pocket money to fund my love of DJ’ing and to encourage me to provide people with more content for the site.
With these reasons taken into account, I can maintain my stance of impartial advice, holding no biased allegiance to any one DJ equipment manufacturer. My recommendations are simply based on my own experience as a DJ for over 20 years.
Gear through the Years
As I mention, I have followed my passion of DJ’ing for many years now and as such have had the privilege to play in many different venues on many different types of equipment, all of varying quality.
Before we were all separated by the internet (ironically, i thought it was meant to connect us) , groups of DJ’s hung out and threw parties, moving equipment between houses, one week it was turntables, the next week it was CDJ’s, the next week it was a midi controller with Ableton.
If you wanted to play to your mates at the afterparty, then you’d have to learn whatever equipment was on hand, else you’d just have to sit there passing the hobbit tobacco whilst the conversation spiralled into confusion. Thankfully I was always keen to learn and always wanted to play, regardless of whether or not my mixes caused my friends’ ears to bleed.
This afforded me the ability to learn the different disciplines of DJ’ing.
Whilst each discipline would come and go, the ability remains. It’s kinda like riding a bike, you might be a little wobbly the first time you get back on after a few years, but you soon find that you’re riding in a straight line and your mixes are back on point in relatively no time at all.
Flexibility Equals Fun
In order to highlight the message here, I must tell you this short story, don’t worry, I will get to the point.
I was asked to play the opening set for a local outdoor party for Halloween 2014. I was super stoked about this and was very keen to play. The issue I had, was that I was going to be out and about prior to the gig, and not owning a car makes the transportation of equipment very difficult. Lugging a bag with a controller in it can just be plain annoying when you’re socialising with friends, especially when you’re dressed as a wizard!
The set up at the party was going to be turntables connected to Serato. “What the heck”, I thought. I’ll just throw some tracks onto a USB, pop my headphones around my neck and turn up.
I arrived to be greeted by three of the towns best well known DJ’s and an empty dance-floor.
In North America they have adopted a strange phenomena of turning the turntables sideways (Scratch Style) something I needed to rectify right away. So after a switch around of the turntables, the connecting of a USB stick and headphones, and a quick tour of the mixer: cues, EQ’s and curve, I was ready.
The first track beckoned two people to the dance-floor and after the first few mediocre mixes, I was back and the dance-floor began to fill up. The mixes were tight and I didn’t care that Serato was staring at me, because I only looked at it when I was selecting a track.
By the end of my set the dance-floor was full and the two that came on at the beginning danced for my entire set.
By being flexible to using different set ups, I was able to thoroughly enjoy and experience such pleasure by supplying these partiers with so much joy. That’s the reason I DJ: to make other’s happy. So if we can release the things that tie us to our ego wants and desires and simply act as a medium for channeling our musical inspirations, we connect with something much bigger than the equipment we are using. You have to see through the equipment to the end result: dancing people.
Does Equipment Matter?
Yes and no.
If you play at home a lot, you want to make sure you are playing on what you enjoy. Take your couch for example, if you spend a lot of time on your couch, you want it to be comfy. All couches do the same thing however, and the choice of couch is completely unique and down to you. When was the last time you asked somebody what make of couch they have?
This applies to DJ gear too. Who cares what someone else has, get what’s right for you, use what you are comfortable with.
I recommend you hang out with other DJ’s. Don’t see them as competition, we’re all here to help one another.
Share your equipment. Do a gear swap for a week or two. Learn something new, but don’t go out and buy stuff just to appease the disease and bow down to capitalism. It’s like car pooling, sharing is good. It saves money, energy, the environment and even helps build community.
Be open to using other ‘brands’, you don’t have to own it if you don’t want to, but don’t be scared of it. We need to bring this world together more and create less of a divide. By creating a ‘them’ and ‘us’ mentality, we upset the harmonious balance and create ‘dis’-ease.
I would recommend knowing how to mix on turntables, CDJ’s, and know how Traktor and Serato work. These are all industry standard and to be able to jump from one to another is extremely beneficial. Knowing only how to drive an automatic car, limits you from borrowing your friends manual stick shift.
By trying out other gear you build your skill set and your level of competency increases to that of what you might term a “Real DJ”.
Yes, we’ve all heard the nonsense of what a “Real DJ” is and we will all have different opinions on it. Just ‘cos DJ Craze can scratch, doesn’t mean he can play a smooth Deep House Set (he might, but who cares). You are simply being marketed to.
The question we should all be asking is, “What makes a real human?”
When we’ve got that down, we will truly start to evolve from the ego dominated forum of separation, and what I would term ‘Bully Marketing”.
Do not let companies bully you into buying things because they’re telling you you’re not a real DJ.
It’s the same as a cologne company, or cosmetic company, or diet ads. They’re intended to make you feel less worth and therefore make you buy things to feel better. You will never feel better, ‘cos they will keep telling you you are worthless without ‘X’ product.
So back to the point in hand.
Forget branding, forget loyalty to companies. Be loyal to yourself and follow your passion of DJ’ing without the need to pay attention to the gear you use. Be flexible, allow yourself the freedom to explore, without the need to spend and accumulate.
Set your goals on your true desires and let things unfold. By being open to using different equipment you open up the possibilities for more DJ gigs and will give yourself the confidence to play on anything and in any situation.
Remember that feeling of what it’s like to have a dance-floor full of people dancing and smiling, not once did anyone poke their head into the booth to look at my set up. They don’t care.
Now go practice and rock it.