How To Use DJ Equipment

Your first step to being a successful DJ is learning how to use DJ equipment. DJing has many perks: the "cool" factor, great money, and a fun work environment are just a few. This will ensure that things run smoothly so you can make the most of your performance.

First, you'll need the following equipment:

  • Mixer
  • Turntables or CD/MP3 players
  • Slipmats
  • Amplifier
  • Speakers
  • Headphones
  • Records
  • RCA cables. 
  • Microphone
  • Cartridges/Needles
  1. Your general signal path should be as follows: turntables or cd/mp3 players > mixer > amp > speakers
  2. Turntables. Connect the turntable to a channel in the back of the mixer via the PHONO input. Make sure to hook up the ground connection which will eliminate hum. 45 rpm is for vinyl singles and 33 1/3 rpm is for EPs and LPs. Use the pitch slider to match the tempo of two or more songs, as in mash-ups or transitions. It is best to start with two identical records on each turntable, using the cross-fader to mix these together or switch back and forth. A club DJ will often keep the music going by transitioning between songs seamlessly. 
  3. Cartridges and needles. The cartridge holds the needle in place.  It is the box-shaped thing located at the end of the tone arm. To ensure optimal sound quality, and to prevent damage to your vinyl, make sure that the adjustable weight at the opposite end of the tone arm is enough so that the needle stays on the vinyl but doesn't skip when you back-cue. Take a close look at the point of contact between the needle and the turntable: if ONLY the needle is touching the vinyl, you have the adjusted the tone arm weight correctly. If the cartridge is also making contact with the vinyl, lower the amount of weight on the tone arm to raise it off the vinyl. (If your turntable didn't come with cartridges, or if you need a replacement, a quality and affordable model is the Shure M44G DJ Turntable Cartridge).
  4. CD/MP3 players. Connect the CD/Mp3 player to a channel in the back of the mixer via its LINE input. The CD/mp3 player is a better choice if you need portability and versatility with musical formats.  These have more features than the standard turntable, such as USB connectivity, a Cue function (which allows the DJ to mark a returning-point in a song), and LCD file display.
  5. Slipmats. These are vinyl-shaped felt discs that eliminate friction for scratching and back-cueing. 
  6. Mixer. This is the input for all of the DJ's musical sources. With the mixer you can control the volume of the entire mix or each individual source. Place the mixer in between your turntables or CD/mp3 players and switch between the left and right sources using the cross-fader. Use the volume meters to make sure the channel volumes are even.
  7. Microphone. Connect a microphone to the mixer through the MIC input. A good DJ talks to the crowd and gets them excited. 
  8. Headphones. Connect headphones via the dedicated headphone input. Use the cue to preview channels in your headphones before sending them to the master mix.
  9. Amp. Connect the mixer's Master Out to the amp's input via RCA cables. If you are using a stereo receiver, connect the mixer's Master Out to either the CD or the AUX input.
  10. Speakers. Connect these to the amp's output. 
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