What are the Different Types of DJ Equipment?

Paulla Estes

The thought of DJ equipment conjures up memories of the 1970s disco era, complete with record mixers and a mirrored disco ball. Many of us remember a local disk jockey (DJ) bringing his hodgepodge of DJ equipment to the high school gym for a dance or prom, or to the local American Legion for a wedding or Bar Mitzvah. Like most things, however, the equipment has grown and evolved to fit into the high tech world we know today. Gone are the manual flip switches and record changers. Today, one can find DJ equipment that includes just the basics, with a pair of compact disc (CD) decks and a set of speakers, or if money is no object, there are fancy, multi-level CD decks, surround sound amplifier and speaker systems, a professional quality mixer, top notch headphones, and of course, easy access mobile shelving and storage units for CDs.

DJs may have access to a recording booth to record music.
DJs may have access to a recording booth to record music.

Today, most DJ equipment is computerized, and some DJs agree that CD decks are becoming a thing of the past. In the same manner as the MP3 player and the iPod, music can now be played with the flip of a switch or the push of a button, without a CD, tape, or record in sight. Often, all that is needed is a computer. A mixer should be included in any set of equipment, because it will allow the sound being output, whether a speaking voice or a song, to play without a break. For instance, a mixer will switch from one song to the next without the momentary silence that usually indicates the end of the song.

DJs might copy files of their music to CDs for play and distribution.
DJs might copy files of their music to CDs for play and distribution.

A set of good quality headphones is a must in a set of DJ equipment. Most DJs find that a noisy DJ booth can make it difficult to hear the music being mixed. If no booth is available and the DJ finds herself and her equipment practically in the middle of the party or dance, hearing the music clearly is nearly impossible without headphones. The experts agree that headphones should be lightweight and have a closed back to help filter out background noise. Headphones should also have a wide frequency response.

DJs often work in dance clubs.
DJs often work in dance clubs.

The speakers or amplifier and speakers complete a set of DJ equipment, for they are responsible for carrying the music to the listeners. DJs should make sure that their speakers can handle the volume they plan to use and that the amplifier will properly amplify the signal coming from the computer or CD player. Most DJs who are serious about their music are more than willing to spend the money to purchase high quality equipment, since a DJ who pleases his listeners will be invited back again and again.

Mixing boards can be perceived as old fashioned in the DJ world.
Mixing boards can be perceived as old fashioned in the DJ world.

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