How to Start DJing: Recommended Gear by Style – A Beginner’s Guide

Author: DJ SORA

I wrote an article summarizing the different approaches to starting as a DJ and the essential equipment needed. If you’re interested in becoming a DJ but unsure where to begin and losing sleep over it, I hope this article can be helpful to you.

How to Start DJing 1: Choosing Your Style

Choosing Your Style When beginning your journey as a DJ, the first step is to determine your style. DJs have a wide range of musical genres and performance styles to choose from. It’s essential to find a style that resonates with you and reflects your passion for music.

First, let’s decide what you want to do as a DJ. The equipment you’ll need can vary depending on your preferences and goals.

Originally, DJs started by playing records one by one on record players while adding MC (Master of Ceremonies) elements to liven up venues such as discos and dancehalls. However, nowadays, the term “DJ” encompasses various styles.

It’s essential to clarify what you want to achieve as a DJ and then start acquiring the necessary equipment accordingly. Here are some of the main DJ styles that come to mind:

  1. Club DJ: Playing and mixing tracks to keep the dance floor moving in nightclubs and parties.
  2. Turntablist: Focusing on scratching, beat juggling, and other advanced turntable techniques.
  3. Radio DJ: Hosting shows on radio stations, curating playlists, and engaging with listeners.
  4. Mobile DJ: Providing music and entertainment services for events like weddings, birthdays, and corporate functions.
  5. Producer DJ: Creating original tracks and remixes to perform live or share with an audience.
  6. Digital DJ: Using software and controllers to mix music digitally, often without physical media.

These are just a few examples, and there are many other DJ styles to explore. By identifying your preferred style, you can begin assembling the necessary equipment and developing your skills accordingly.

Scratch DJing

A style commonly found in genres like HIPHOP, where DJs directly manipulate the rotation of analog records with their hands during performances. It all began with the art of scratching, which evolved into a style embraced by HIPHOP fans, with scratch competitions becoming popular events. The distinct and captivating sounds of scratching have led to its incorporation into various genres beyond HIPHOP.

In the present DJ landscape, many have shifted from the bulky and challenging-to-manage analog discs to more prevalent forms of expression using CDJs or PCDJs (equipment that allows manipulation of USB or computer data). However, it’s worth noting that not all players can accommodate scratching, so caution is required when making a choice.

While analog might not be entirely obsolete, it has its own charm, including unique noises and the collectible nature of discs. As a result, analog has been gaining renewed attention in recent times. For those who appreciate its qualities, it’s worth giving it a try.

Scratching can also serve as an accent and expand the range of expression in what is known as “MIX-style” play, as mentioned later. While scratch practice can be done with either headphones or speakers for monitoring, having both allows for a more club-like environment during practice.

By the way, below is a glimpse of the DMC contest, where DJs showcase their scratching skills.

Equipment Required for Scratch DJing:

  • DJ player capable of scratching (some integrated units available)
  • Mixer (some integrated units available)
  • Headphones
  • Speakers (not essential, but recommended)

MIX-style DJ

The MIX-style DJ is a commonly observed approach in clubs and dance-oriented festivals. Originally, DJs used to select and play individual tracks one by one. However, with the introduction of a mixing equipment called the “mixer,” it became possible to seamlessly play tracks one after another without stopping them.

This allows DJs to smoothly transition between songs without diminishing the atmosphere in the venue. Typically, the player adjusts the speed of tracks with similar BPM (beats per minute) using headphones to monitor the next song (outputting only to the performer and not the venue’s speakers). While doing so, they use the mixer to perform tasks like equalizing and blending the tracks together.

The ability to adjust speed enables expression with various players and mixers, including analog equipment. While modern software can automatically synchronize the BPM, eliminating the need for manual speed adjustments, I believe mastering the skill of BPM matching remains crucial for DJs.

To prevent the mix from becoming monotonous, DJs often incorporate samplers and effects to add and alter sounds dynamically. Below is an example of a DJ set that energizes the venue by seamlessly mixing dance-oriented tracks one after another.

Equipment needed for MIX-style DJ:

  • Players and Mixer (Some models have both integrated)
  • Headphones
  • Speakers (Not mandatory, but recommended for better monitoring)
  • Sampler & Effects (Not mandatory, optional)

Home-based DJ

This style encompasses any of the above-mentioned styles, but it specifically refers to DJs who perform at home. Nowadays, with the advent of platforms like YouTube, it’s possible to DJ at home and even stream performances online. For this purpose, a computer capable of internet streaming and an audio interface to connect the computer with the mixer are required.

Moreover, an audio interface becomes essential if the DJ wants to record their DJ sets on the computer, even if they don’t plan to do live streaming. Having one can prove useful in various situations.

Below is an example of a DJ performing at home.

Equipment needed for home-based DJ:

  • Players and Mixer (Some models have both integrated)
  • Headphones
  • Speakers (Not mandatory, but recommended for better monitoring)
  • Audio Interface
  • Computer

How to Start DJing 2: Getting the Right Equipment

Once you’ve decided on your style, the next step is to gather the necessary equipment. The right gear can vary depending on the type of DJing you want to pursue, whether it’s vinyl turntables, CDJs, or digital controllers. Acquiring the appropriate equipment is crucial for delivering a seamless and captivating performance.


A player is a piece of equipment used to directly manipulate audio sources. The choice of player depends on the type of media the DJ wants to play.


The CD-J is designed to replicate the basic play style of analog records and turntables using CDs. Some models also allow playing music from USB memory. It is the mainstream equipment widely adopted in many clubs and stages.

CD-Js can be broadly categorized into models capable of scratching (scratchable) and models not capable of scratching (non-scratchable). Scratch-capable models tend to be relatively more expensive, but recently, more affordable models that support scratching have also emerged. However, considering the quality of features like sensing capabilities, those who are serious about scratching might prefer to choose a slightly more expensive model to minimize the risk of having to replace it. Even for those who are focused on mixing, having the ability to perform scratch play enhances cueing (preparing the start of a track), so it’s recommended to check whether the model allows scratch play when making a selection.

DJ Controller

The DJ controller enables DJs to perform without the need for turntables or mixers. With just a computer and the appropriate software installed, DJing becomes accessible to individuals who may have otherwise been discouraged by the initial investment in traditional equipment. DJ controllers have garnered attention due to their ease of use.

Analog Player

An analog player is used for playing analog records. The popularity of analog has been experiencing a revival lately. For DJing purposes, the player is also known as a turntable, and its structure for rotating the records differs from that of turntables used for listening. Additionally, analog players come equipped with features like speed adjustment sliders.

Recommended Mixer for Beginners Starting DJing

If you’re using a recent DJ controller or an all-in-one player with a built-in mixer for DJing, you won’t need a separate mixer. However, if you’re using CD-Js or turntables, a mixer is an essential item. Having a separate mixer also allows for easy expansion with samplers, effects, and other accessories, making it a useful addition to your setup.

Recommended Headphones for Beginners Starting DJing

It’s good to have headphones with high-quality sound for monitoring. They can also be useful for composition work in digital music production (DTM). Here are some recommended headphone options. As the performance and price vary, choosing one that fits your budget initially is a good approach.

Recommended Equipment “Speakers” for Beginners Starting DJing

When it comes to speakers, there’s a wide range of options, from portable ones suitable for outdoor use to professional-grade audio equipment that meets the needs of sound engineers. If you’re planning to do DJ performances, it’s essential to have monitor speakers with a flat sound profile, rather than regular speakers used for casual music listening.

Recommended Equipment “Audio Interface” for Beginners Starting DJing

While not a mandatory item for DJing, an audio interface proves useful for live streaming and recording DJ performances on a computer.


First, decide on the style you want to pursue and gather the necessary equipment; then, you can start right away. The key points to consider when starting as a DJ are:

  1. Determine your preferred style.
  2. Acquire the appropriate equipment for your chosen style.
  3. Once you’ve made up your mind, start practicing immediately.

By following these steps, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a DJ. Regarding equipment, Sound House, a major online retailer specializing in DJ gear, offers relatively affordable options. It’s also worth checking out Amazon and Rakuten for deals, but consider visiting Sound House last for a final comparison.

DJing may initially seem daunting, but once you have the necessary equipment, starting is surprisingly straightforward. Begin before your enthusiasm wanes and master high-quality plays that set you apart from your rivals!

Reference article

Author: DJ SORA

Thank you for being a part of DJ Sora's blog, where I share my passion for DJ, Music Production, and writing. Your support means the world to me. Stay tuned for more exciting updates and content! Let's keep the beats and words flowing together!

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