You want to start to DJ but not sure what with? You did find DJ controllers, but is it what you need? Are DJ controllers really the best option for beginners?
DJ controllers are a good solution for beginners. It is affordable and easy to start with. The computer will give you visual feedback to help you understand how it works. The computer can even help you to mix. It is the best solution to learn fast.
Sill not convinced DJ controllers are good for beginners? Here are 8 reasons why they are:
1. Affordable price
Let’s start with the obvious. DJ equipment are generally expensive like any audio equipment. A regular setup of USB players + a mixer is around $2,000 to $4,000. For a new hobby, spending several thousand may be out of the question. What if it is nothing like you expected?
That’s why DJ controllers are great for beginners. You can start with a good DJ controller at $250, like the DDJ-SB3. $250 is not much if you start by doing house parties and birthdays for friends. You can have your money back pretty quickly in fact. Start low and if that’s really become a big activity for you, upgrade!
Of course, you will need to own a computer. But most people have one at home. No need for a powerful one, an i3 processor can make the software to run. What’s important is to have 4 Go of RAM minimum, what most computers already have. If you don’t own a computer, some DJ controller works with smartphone apps.
2. Best to train and improve skills
DJ controllers are the best equipment to start with. Indeed, the computer adds visual feedback to help you understand what is happening. All the feedbacks are great for beginners because it helps in understanding the basics.
First, you have the waveform of the 2 songs overlapping. So when you change the speed of one song, you physically see it stretch. The computer also shows on the same waveform the beats and bars (1 bar = 4 beats). All these visuals help the beginners understand how beatmatching works.
Moreover, the computer can give some help. Though it is optional, it is great for beginners to learn the basics. First, you have a “sync” option, which will change automatically the speed of a song. This way it will set the BPM (or beat per minute) as the other song BPM. The computer will even sync the beats together.
But more than that, many software now propose new music suggestions based on your library. These helps are a good introduction to keys and harmonic mixing.
When all these notions are understood you can deactivate all the helps and start mixing as on regular CDJs!
3. Record your set easily
Another great advantage of DJ controllers is that you can record your set by a simple button. No need for external equipment, complicated wiring or anything else. The software can directly record what you do on your computer.
For beginners, it is a great way to analyze your transitions and see where you can improve. You can share it with your friends or other DJs and ask for honest feedback.
Though it may seem obvious, it is an important point for beginners. Indeed, when you will begin, you will probably start with house parties and birthdays, mainly for your friends. Many DJs start like this, that’s a good way to learn to read a crowd and mix under stress.
Therefore you will need to carry your equipment to these parties and DJ controllers are great for that! They are small and light compared to standard equipment.
When you eventually have the skills to mix in clubs, they will already have their own equipment. Thus you will bring a USB stick instead. But when you start, believe me, you will bring your own stuff everywhere, so start light!
5. Large music library
DJ controllers allow you to have your complete computer library all the time. That’s a huge benefit for everyone and not only beginners, but it is even more suitable for beginners.
As said before, you will probably start with house parties for friends. In that case, you will probably receive requests for popular songs, rock, RnB, etc. As such, having a large library will give you more flexibility: more transitions tracks, etc. Jumping from style to style is a kind of art. It is difficult to achieve with small USB sticks in my opinion.
Other that than, you can manage your library to ease your work and lower your stress. You can add comments: “mix well with this tune”, “great to transition to rock”, etc. Information you cannot have on regular setups but can with DJ controllers.
You can even organize your song into folders classified by BPM or similar style. This way you know the song in it mix well together. The computer and DJ software can add many advantages for beginners.
6. CUE and loops storage
Another great advantage of DJ controllers is that everything is stored on the computer. You did find a nice loop? Save it! You have improvised a great transition? Put an “in” and “out” marker on each track! This way the next time you mix, you can capitalize on what you did before.
For beginners, this is a good way to go back on what works and what does not. It helps a lot to improve!
7. Good enough reliability
Some people will say that DJ controllers are crap. Because of this, some beginners feel like they need to buy expensive equipment. Do not listen to these guys! Yes, that’s true professional equipment sounds better and is more reliable. But DJ controllers are reliable enough!
Indeed, professional equipment can withstand dust and some spilling (limited spilling). But they are build to be played in clubs which are closed areas.
But in case of a DJ controller, you won’t play in a club with that. You will mainly use it at home in a clean environment. From time to time you may play weddings, but that’s nothing compared to a shady club.
Moreover, because it’s your stuff, you will take extra care. Professional equipment is kind of different, they are put in a DJ booth for everyone to play with. And let’s be honest, not everyone takes care of the equipment…
I own a DJ controller since 2013 and it still works today! As a beginner, I really advise to start low and improve your equipment only if you feel you need more.
8. Not an amateur equipment
That’s almost the same point as the previous bullet point. Some beginners hesitate to start with DJ controllers because others say this stuff is for bad DJs or newbies. You know what? People were saying the same thing when CDJs started and vinyl was the main format! What is the most used equipment nowadays? CDJs!
There will always be people complaining about evolution in technology. Most people complain about DJ controllers because of “sync DJs”. But you know, having a controller does not mean you have to use the sync button. You can still beatmatch by ear!
I started to mix with CDJs, at a time when you could not plug USB sticks. It was very expensive and I had to burn CDs which was tiresome. I now love my DJ controller, I can sort my songs, have the history of what I played, etc. I use it as I was using CDJs: by mixing by ear. But now I have all the other benefits the DJ controller offers.
Moreover, if you buy a high-end DJ controller like the Pioneer DDJ-1000, it has nothing to be ashamed of. Indeed, the DDJ-1000 has inherited the CDJ-2000 jogs and the maglev fader of the DJM-S9. That’s not me who says it, it is Pioneer itself.
This controller has many inputs and outputs as any professional mixer. DJ controllers nowadays are nothing of amateur equipment. This was maybe true at the very beginning of controller history. But things have evolved a lot since!
What DJ controller I recommend for a beginner.
Convinced that DJ controllers are good for beginners? Great! Here are two I recommend for beginners: the Pioneer DDJ-SB3 and the Pioneer DDJ-400. The first uses Serato, which is a more clean and easy software. The second uses Rekordbox, the software from Pioneer itself which is becoming the standard little by little. Both controllers are at $249 only! You can also read my guide listing all the best DJ controllers under $500 depending on your usage.
If you are now wondering about what price range to opt for, go have a look at my article detailing the price of many DJ controllers. It categories the controllers per different functions and features with their associated price.