I get many questions from our readers asking for advice about how to choose the best DJ equipment and build their first home DJ setup. I don’t blame them, there is so much to choose from in the market.
Especially, beginner DJs don’t know what they need for their home setup and what features and specs their equipment should have.
First off, I recommend everybody to make wise decisions on their gear when purchasing, so that they don’t have to spend more in the future. What I mean is that your DJ software and hardware need to be more than the beginner level you’re at right now and you don’t end up upgrading it once your skills and experience advance.
In this article, I’ll explain you how to choose the components of your first DJ setup and buy them for $500, maybe even less, and why you should do it that way.
What Equipment Do You Need
I published a post about what you need to have for a digital DJ setup a little over 2 years ago, explaining the basic components. Now, I’ll show you how to build it with the most effective budget.
4 major parts of your DJ setup are your computer, DJ controller, speakers and headphones. There is also your DJ software which I didn’t mention here, because it’s included in your controller purchase. There is no additional cost for it unless you upgrade to full or pro version. You can very well perform with basic versions of whatever software included in the box though.
I assume everybody has either a desktop or laptop that can be used for DJ’ing. Even an iPad or iPhone do the job with compatible controllers and software. Therefore, I don’t include this in the budget. You can read this article about how to optimize your laptop computer for DJ’ing.
You can choose your desktop computer as the primary one at home and also install your DJ software on your laptop and make it mobile. There is no difference.
Now, let’s take a look at the other 3 pieces of DJ gear you need and my recommendations to you.
Your DJ Controller
In our $500 budget, I picked the best possible DJ controller with most features and specs for you and it’s Gemini G2V.
Why did I choose this controller ? Here are the reasons:
Gemini G2V is one of the best DJ controllers you can buy in the $250 price range. It surely is a pro-grade device.
What are the extras you get with G2V ? Let’s see:
Full-size Pitch Sliders: It comes with 100 mm sliders which is the professional length and provides ultra precision when beatmatching.
Volume VU-meters: You don’t usually see this feature in such a price range. G2V has both main and channel LED volume meters which give you visual feedback for adjusting gain between tracks.
Performance Pads: G2V has 8 performance pads on each deck enabling control of hot cues, auto loop, sample and loop roll on the fly.
FX / Loop / Sampler Controls: You’ll find these dedicated control buttons and knobs right above the performance pads.
Dual-zone Large Jog Wheels: They are touch-sensitive and easy to control, especially ideal for scratching.
24-bit High Resolution USB Audio Interface: Sound quality is essential and G2V provides it with a great built-in soundcard.
Pro level Audio Output: As seen in the above image, this controller comes with both balanced (XLR) and unbalanced (RCA) main output ports. This is important, because when it comes to professional DJ’ing, you’d definitely need them to connect to sound systems. It also shows us how advanced audio interface is. Balanced out is clearly a pro-level feature.
Booth Output: Another extra in this price category. You can connect your monitor speaker directly to it. It also has a dedicated level control knob.
Auxiliary Input: A “Must Have” feature ! It gives you the ability to connect an external device (a CD player or your iPod) in order to back up your system in case of a software failure. Best thing about this connection is that it goes straight thru. Even if your laptop is off, it’ll work.
You also have the option to use Gemini G2V with or without the external power adapter. Just connect it via USB and it’s on.
By the way, this controller comes with Virtual DJ LE in the box. If you upgrade to Pro, that would cost you about $130. It also has a Traktor mapping file available from the manufacturer. Details are on the product website.
All these extra features and functions I listed above rarely exist in a $250 DJ control device. So, if it’s time to choose for you, don’t hesitate to pick Gemini G2V. You can also visit the official product page for more information.
Sound is another big player in your DJ’ing journey. It needs to be clear, powerful and your speakers should be space-friendly when placing them on your desk.
I picked Mackie CR4 Creative Reference Multimedia Monitor Speakers which are about $150 a pair, because Mackie is one of the best makers of sound systems, there is 50 Watt power in these cabinets and they are small enough to fit anywhere.
These are the 4-inch version of CR series which is the dimension of the woofer. They are built in an all-wood cabinet, self-powered and come with all accessories you need. You definitely need self-amplified speakers so that there is no need for additional external sound processing.
As you can see in the image above, only one speaker is powered. This is the usual configuration for such audio components. CR4 gives you the ability to use both balanced (TRS) and unbalanced (RCA) input connections, a switch to choose speaker position, an illuminated volume knob and separate 1/8 inch headphone and auxiliary connection ports.
While connected to your computer, you can use the front ports for your headphones and an extra source like your smart phone to make these speakers multi-functional.
Mackie CR4 is a complete package including all cables necessary (1/8 inch to RCA for computer connection, 1/8 inch to 1/8 inch for external source to front input and 6-foot speaker to speaker cable) and two isolation pads that minimize bass buildup and vibration for your speakers. No additional cost for setting up your sound system.
You can obtain more information by visiting their official product page.
I’ve been using Sony headphones for many years and I can easily tell they have fantastic sound and last forever.
In our $500 budget (even less), my favorite pick is the Sony MDRV55 Extra Bass & DJ Headphones as the 4th component of your home DJ setup.
Why did I choose this pair ? Because:
First of all, please don’t fall for the appearance and looks of any headphones. They might be colorful, shiny, but not every headphone would give you the comfort as this pair of Sony does. Your DJ headphones have to be soft and flexible so that they don’t crush your ears and head after hours of DJ’ing.
Almost all headbands on Sony headphones are ultra flexible and easy to wear.
Nicely padded ear cups rotate, fold and are reversible for DJs to preview with ease. They also don’t break easily at the headband / ear cup connection point like other hard headphones. I ruined several before, because of stretching them too much. They just fall apart !
So, it’s Sony and it comes with an irresistible price tag of around $60. These headphones are also great for daily use.
I’m sure there are a lot more choices out there for your taste and budget. I tried to select the best among them with reasonable prices and most features possible for you.
I repeat again; Always think ahead and plan for future when you select your DJ gear so that you don’t need to upgrade your equipment by spending more.