Ready to get going on your adventures of spinning and scratching with the best DJ equipment for beginners? Just starting to learn how to be a DJ? We’re glad you’re here. At times while writing these guides, we like to reminisce on when we first started our DJ adventures and how it felt to be relatively new to the whole gear world. We first began with just one turntable, a mixer, and some records our parents bought us from a garage sale — we’ll be honest, it was harder than we thought it would be at first, however we’ve been hooked ever since. With this experience in mind, we wanted to create an all-inclusive guide on every piece of DJ gear you need to get going, as well as our favorite picks when it comes to highly reviewed models available in the market today. Our best DJ equipment guide did this as well; however, we’ve since had questions for a guide just on starting out, so here it is!
DJ Guide Contents
DJ gear setup guidelines
Before we get into our picks for the best DJ equipment for beginners, we’d like to highlight a few factors we want you to keep in mind while putting together a DJ setup. We’ll explain in detail what each “type of equipment” is in a few moments; however, let’s look into what type of DJ setup you want to build.
Nowadays, we have a few options when it comes to a DJ setup. The main question we’d first like to ask is: do you want a traditional and “classic” analog setup with two turntables, one mixer and additional accessories as your work station? We’re talking old-school DJ’s (it feels weird to call this ‘old-school’ we’ll be honest) scratching with two records and a mixer in between you to fade in and out of your mashups and scribbling. This is definitely considered “rare” nowadays, but still a legitimate (we’ll always back you up) direction for a DJ gear setup.
On the other hand, in this day and age with the advancement of technology and computers, we have what we call ‘digital DJ setups’. If you’re at the complete beginning stages of DJ’ing, we highly recommend at least a significant portion of your setup being digital. As we’ll explain below, DJ controllers have paved the way for us to control everything using a computer in every way possible. We can now control what turntables and a mixer used to provide in one piece of gear, some software, and a PC\Mac. This is definitely the most popular direction for a DJ beginner right now and one that we safely recommend the most — not because it’s necessarily our personal preference, but in all honesty, it’s time to be real and if you’re just starting out DJ’ing in this decade, you want to go with that the crowd is doing, especially if you’re going to be investing time into learning this amazing hobby (and profession).
Don’t get us wrong, ‘hybrid’ setups, which include both a turntable, perhaps a mixer, and a few DJ controllers are probably your best bet eventually. It’ll cost some more money and entail you have more gear in your station, but it’ll give you both analog and digital ‘feel’ and capabilities, allowing you to cover all of your bases at once to make sure you’re covered. We’ll leave it up to you when it comes to what direction you want and which gear you’d like to start collecting (we highlight all possibilities in this guide). Who knows, you can always start with a DJ controller, some software and a laptop for DJ’s or computer and add-on some analog gear later down the road, or vice versa.
The different types of DJ equipment
- Turntables: Record players have been around for centuries. When we think of the word ‘turntable’, pretty much all of us are aware of the image that pops up into our mind. Without turntables, a DJ isn’t a DJ. With that being said, it used to be quite odd if somebody considered themselves a ‘DJ’ and didn’t have records and a turntable in their setup. Nowadays with the widespread and evolution of the DJ game, not so much. We’ve been to some Vegas clubs to scope out what was being used and have seen popular EDM DJ’s have literally only a laptop (not sure how we feel about it — oh well, we’ll let them do them)! Others however still have a turntable or two in their repertoire. Regardless, turntables let us scratch, switch songs and albums, slow down tempos, change the pitch, and more. Even though laptop-only and digital-based setups for DJ’s are popular nowadays, we always recommend having at least one turntable in your DJ setup. It just makes sense and we have a hard time fathoming only using a laptop to play playlists as a “DJ”.
- Mixers: A mixer is the centerpiece of an analog DJ setup. They’re used for not only transitions between one song to another for a smooth and seamless ‘mix’ or ‘mashup’, but can also be used for quite a few ‘tweaks’ when it comes to your sounds and tracks. For one, you can integrate the ‘slider’ to scratch properly, but many others can use it to control volume levels, panning, FX, tone, and more. You also plug your DJ headphones into these (along with your speakers if you’re performing) to preview what’s coming up next. They lastly provide the ‘sound card’ or ‘interface’ to actually process the music you’re portraying to your audience. Many higher-end mixers come with better built-in sound cards with higher sample rates, but they can start to get costly. At the end of the day, mixers are able to connect to computers, so a hybrid setup with a mixer is always a possibility as well.
- Controllers: Enter the realm of a (slightly) new concept in the beginner DJ gear world — DJ controllers. Now having in mind what turntables and a mixer are, picture something that combines all of this into one and also allows you to control further features, customization and settings using a computer with software? DJ controllers do just this. Technically a MIDI controller for DJ’s, DJ controllers are amazing, all-in-one (most of them) pieces of DJ equipment that have brought us into the digital age today. There are many different DJ controllers for beginners out there that are worth looking at — they come in many different shapes, sizes, function, feels, personalities and more. Some are great for tweaking track settings, volume, panning, and more. Others can let you scratch on them using a “platter\jog-wheel” (replicated turntable) and literal digital audio track (without having to fuss with records), with others even coming with built-in drum pads to let you mess around with some sounds (again, directly from your computer). We did however find a few of our favorites to provide below.
- DJ Software: This is the backbone of a digital and hybrid setup. Once you hook up your controllers to your computer (typically via USB), your software will allow you to mix, edit, copy, cut, paste, add FX, mashup, change the tempo, organize files and playlists, scratch using MP3’s, and even assign sounds to your controller if it has MIDI functionality. Without viable DJ software, it’ll not only stunt your capabilities as a DJ with all of the gear you have but also make your work flow more difficult when it comes to getting into a rhythm. As compared to typical music software, there are only a handful of DJ software picks worth looking at, and today we’ve provided our favorite for you to grab. We highly recommend sticking with our choice since beginners will want to learn a new software from that scratch that’s actually worth investing time in for the future. We’ve lately seen some DJ’s start to run their entire setups using smart devices and DJ apps; however, it’s a bit more rare and we don’t recommend it when first starting out.
- Speakers: This is only important for those who intend on playing live and traveling with their DJ gear, playing gigs (whether it be weddings, bars, clubs, house parties and more), or setting up at a friend or band members house to practice or jam out. When looking at ‘DJ speakers’, you want to make sure they’re powerful enough that’s suitable for the environment you foresee yourself DJ’ing in. If you are indeed setting up a DJ corner at your house, studio or in a general smaller setting, you can probably get by with using speakers you already have or buying a pair of studio monitors; however, our recommendation below fits in the middle — a PA system that’s fine for homes and both portable and powerful enough to span across medium-sized DJ settings.
- DJ Headphones: Although speakers may be optional, DJ headphones are an absolute must, regardless if you’re practicing at home, a professional at a club in Vegas, or somewhere in the middle. Not only are headphones essential for hearing what we’re doing, but they allow us to hear what we do before we portray it to your audience. Ever see that image with a DJ holding one side of the headphones to their ear with their shoulder and the other half hanging by their neck? Aside from looking cool and like a ‘real DJ’, there’s a purpose! Typically with mixers, you can use the slider to direct where you want the sound to come out. Leaving it to an entire side while your track plays to your audience allows you to both hear what you have coming up next so you can time it correctly as well as the current track playing for a ‘proper mashup’ and track transition. DJ headphones are a staple-point of any setup, and we found a great pair below that’ll get beginners going.
- Cases and Mounts: Not only do we need a ‘table’ or some type of stand to keep our DJ gear all in one place while we use it, but also cases to keep all of this precious DJ equipment safe. This is critical for those who are traveling at gigs or even to other homes — we do not recommend simply placing your gear in the trunk or backseat without any sort of protection (yes, even shaky crates or wrapped in towels — trust us, we’ve tried it, and it’s not good). This aspect of beginners DJ equipment does start to get tricky because which case you are to buy will depend on not only how much gear you have (you may need a few different cases) but also what size they are. We give you a recommendation or two below but also suggest you buy all of your gear first before grabbing cases and mounts.
The best DJ equipment for beginners
Turntable: Gemini TT-1100USB
Let’s talk turntables. First into our beginner DJ equipment picks, we have the highly rated Gemini TT-11000USB, a turntable that is considered one of the best due to its ability to bridge the vinyl and digital recording worlds to give us both that analog and digital feel, as well as its affordability on top of it all. The Gemini is a fully manual belt-drive DJ turntable with an aluminum platter and a sharp battle/club design. It also has fully adjustable counterweight and anti-skating controls for relatively stable stereo balance, as well as a MOTOR off/on button for slowed braking which helps for smoother braking of your vinyl. This turntable can handle 33/45/78 RPM vinyl with solid reverse playback capability if you’re fan of scratching while DJing or would like to keep that in your list of things to learn.
The TT-1100USB has the ability to be connected to a USB port on a PC or Mac, allowing users to transfer their vinyl collections into digital formats at a 44.1 kHz sampling rate and 16-bit depth – both of which are great for the price as well as perfect for those in need of a hybrid setup. If you’re looking to turn old school records into digital MP3 tracks and a turntable that blends it all together, the Gemini TT-1100USB will be the best option for you.
Turntable: Numark TTUSB
Here we have another one of our favorite beginner DJ turntables, the Numark TTUSB. This one is like our previous pick with simple plug-n-play capabilities via USB on both Mac and PC platforms. Like the Gemini previously discussed, the TTUSB provides you some good compatibility, as it also has the ability to blend your vinyl records into a digital collection which is why we consider it having a place on the list of the best beginners DJ gear. It is also equipped with an adjustable anti-skating control for better stereo balance while spinning and supports playback speeds of 33.33, and 45 RPM, while also coming with a +/-10% adjustable pitch control, and a 1/8” stereo mini-jack input connector to facilitate the transfer of cassette tapes into computer files – making this an ideal tool for archiving old recordings.
By simply exporting your analog music to popular digital formats like WAV or MP3, you can put your old records onto the top of your music library for an all-in-one organized access. The Numark TTUSB and Gemini are pretty comparable as they are similarly priced and both blend the vinyl and digital worlds together – choose whichever best fits your taste. We love them both since they aren’t exactly ‘RCA cable only old school turntables’ but at least come with USB compatibility for some modern capabilities while you learn how to DJ.
Mixer: Pyle PMX7BU
Next we will talk about the Pyle PMX7BU, a pretty basic DJ mixer that is fairly easy to learn on, which is why it is a pick for one of the best DJ equipment for beginners. The Pyle is a 3-channel DJ MP3 mixer featuring a built-in Bluetooth for wireless music streaming that works with virtually all devices – allowing you to stream from your device directly to the unit. The PMX7BU also comes equipped with 2 AUX inputs that can be easily combined or mixed with Bluetooth and MP3 devices. This features lets you plug any audio source (mic, phone, MP3 player, etc.) and combine it with your Bluetooth audio, USB flash MP3’s or any audio channel in your unit – the AUX inputs are also switchable between line level and phono input.
The Pyle has a built-in USB flash reader which lets you load your USB stick (or device) with songs and play them through the mixer in case you don’t want to use a computer just yet – simply just plug it in and have access to your entire library. The Pyle PMX7BU combines a very manageable price with a simplified design to make it one of the best beginner’s DJ equipment in the mixer world.
Mixer: Pioneer DJ DJM-250MK2
Now we will take a look at a mixer that is geared for those who want a more traditional and analog direction yet a pick for the best beginner’s DJ equipment that is on the entry-level side of usability. The brand Pioneer speaks for itself, as they are supported by most (if not every) professional DJ in the world — we’re not big into hyping up brand names but honestly this is a manufacturer that is synonymous with the word ‘DJ’.
The DJM-250MK2 is a 2-channel mixer that offers straightforward controls and a clear layout – both of which are two key factors for the budding DJ. The DJM also comes with dedicated 3-band isolators to make scratching and mixing easier for the user. The clear layout of the mixer gives the DJ freedom to perform scratching techniques, while the “Magvel” faders ensure smooth control over long-term use. Each channel comes with their own “Sound Color FX Filter” to add more texture or resonance to your music.
The mixer also comes with a built-in sound card – simply connect the mixer to your Mac/PC and you’re ready to record or perform your mixes in a hybrid setup. The Pioneer DJM-250MK2 comes bundled with Rekordbox software so you don’t have to worry about purchasing additionally software when you get it, although we recommend our pick below, this can still get you going if you want to mess around before dedicating yourself to a permanent DJ software.
DJ Controller: Numark Party Mix
Now let’s get into some of our favorite DJ controllers in the market, starting our digital-based direction for those who’ve decided to do so. Coming up to the midway point in our guide, we have the Numark Party Mix, a bus-powered DJ controller that is known to be one of the best beginner’s DJ gear due to its simplified controls, plug-and-play features, and compatibility with all Mac/PC operating systems. The Numark is a DJ controller that has all the necessary controls for the common novice trying to learn how to spin, while also including coming with additives like a cool light show to take your party to the next level.
The Party Mix features 8 multi-function pads for looping and sampling (all controlled on the computer), backlit sync controls, and master and cueing audio controls – 4 pads on each side of the mixer which give you quick access to cues, effects, and samples. There are also built-in audio outputs so you can send your mix straight to your speakers without the purchase of any extra equipment. With the convenient plug-and-playability and lightweight design, the Numark can be taken anywhere — just keep this thing safe. Coming with features like a built-in light show and in our opinion all of the essential DJ controller functions to get started on your endeavors, the Numark Party Mix is designed to make things fun and easy for making that crowd bob their head.
DJ Controller: Hercules DJControl Instinct S
The Hercules DJControl Instinct S is another controller that is best suited for beginners, as it too has fun and easy-to-use features. The Instinct S is a 2-deck controller that has pressure-detecting jog turntables on each side and mixer controls in the center with individual deck controls on the left and right. The pressure-detecting jog wheels allow the user to perform scratching slightly as natural as it would be on an original vinyl record by pressing on the jog wheels. The Hercules has built-in audio outputs: 2 RCA outputs and a 1/8” headphone jack output for powered speakers when playing the mix, and a 1/8” headphone jack output for previewing tracks on headphones.
It also comes with the DJUICED 18° DJ software, which is an intuitive learning software that will help you match up your BPMs, pitches, and breakdowns — we wouldn’t consider it a great standalone software but it can be fun to use. The Hercules DJControl Instinct S makes for a choice as one of the best beginners DJ gear if you’re looking for a reasonable starter DJ controller.
Software: Serato DJ
Obtaining DJ software that a user is comfortable with is one of the most important aspects to a DJ’s learning and success, especially of course if you’re going the digital route. Serato DJ is our number one pick here. Let us explain however, it came close to us even mentioning Native Instruments in this guide. The common debate when it comes to DJ software (and gear, since N.I.’s controllers are only fully usable with their software) is the Traktor Pro vs. Serato DJ debate. It may very well come down to personal preference, but for us and honestly for the sake of this guide, N.I.’s gear is just way too expensive and we don’t like the fact that it’s only (at least, to its fullest functionality) made for their own gear which really limits our possibilities for mixing and matching controllers, tables and mixers. Anyways, Serato DJ combines reliability, straightforward features, and affordability. The easy to use features include mixing, blending and scratching, as well as 8 cue and loop points per track – this way you can customize where you want your buildups, drops or breakdowns.
It also has a useful ‘Sync’ function which locks your track onto the same bpm as the other track on the opposite deck. Serato DJ is also integrated with Pulselocker, iTunes and their crate storage system so it is rather easy to keep your music both organized and intuitive. Better yet, you can even sync up MP3’s and other file formats to your DJ controller’s platters, allowing us to scratch without needing even one record.
Some of the best features on Serato DJ include virtual decks, colored waveforms, recording + sampler keys, and multiple FX support, but there are definitely way too many to name. You can also choose to add your MIDI controller if you’re feeling comfortable enough to take full control of the mixing experience. We linked you to a free trial if you’d like to test it out first before making the buy.
DJ Speakers: Rockville RSG12
What’s the best beginners DJ equipment without speakers to properly communicate your mixes and skills to your audience? Especially if you’re playing live. Here we feel some DJ speakers, the Rockville RSG12. The RSG12 is a 3-way carpeted passive loudspeaker that features some great quality sound for the price. They have a 12-inch low-frequency woofer, with 3 electronic piezo tweeters and 1 piezo compression horn tweeter that provide it with a full-range of sound. It will also produce a solid amount of power; 1000 Watts peak, 750 Watts program power, and 500 Watts RMS power – this speaker will provide more than enough power for beginners in small to medium-sized venues and settings. The Rockville RSG12 is rather durable too, as the cabinets are constructed with high-density materials, while still being light enough to travel with if you ever choose to do so.
The steel grill, pre-mounted rubber isolating feet and rugged black carpet will also protect the speaker from wear-and-tear everyday use. Lastly, this speaker model comes with 2 input connectors, 1/4” I/O and speak ON connection to allow the speaker to be integrated into most amplification systems without trouble. Supplying relatively reliable sound and durability, the Rockville RSG12 are a bargain for being some of the best starters DJ gear in the market today.
DJ Headphones: Sennheiser HD 8
Moving onto some of our favorite DJ headphones ever, we’ll take a look at the Sennheiser HD 8. The HD 8’s are closed DJ headphones that offer some high-end sound and features – making these a must to considered in the conversation of the best DJ gear for beginners who have a little more room in their budgets. The Sennheiser’s are designed with durable metal parts that are built to last during long mixing sessions. They also have an elliptical, circumaural design for solid comfort and reducing background noise to a minimum level – important when you’re going to be mixing in loud environments. The HD 8’s are capable of loud, high SPL (sound pressure level) suitable for noisy DJ environments, but the noise isolation of the closed-ear design helps reduce the need to max out the volume for crisper listening.
They also have what we feel is the most important aspect of headphones for DJ’s — swiveling ear cups – allowing users to pivot the headphones for easy one-ear monitoring on the deck to make sure we have an accurate sound when transitioning between songs. They can fold for easy storage as well. The Sennheiser HD 8 supplies some great sound reproduction across all ranges and have the needed DJ features we love in headphones, and because of this, they are our best bet for beginning DJ gear in the headphone section.
Cases and Mounts: Gator Cases EVA Series
Finally, we have some equipment cases to keep that precious (and of course, expensive) DJ gear safe, the EVA Series by Gator Cases. The first two we will talk about are both cases for DJ controllers. The Medium EVA DJ controller case is designed fit the average-sized controllers, tables and mixers (common models to compare are Pioneer DDJ-SR, DDJ-SB2, and Numark NV). It offers interior lined with foam padding so you don’t have to worry about your controller getting damaged when you travel.
It also has a lightweight construction and adjustable padded shoulder strap for optimal comfort when carrying. The Large EVA DJ controller case is a little more expensive, but has virtually the same features as the medium-sized bag. It is designed to fit larger and higher-end DJ gear (such as the Pioneer DDJ-RX/SX/SX2, Native Instruments Traktor S8, Numark Mixdeck Quad, and more).
The last case we really love by this brand is the Waterproof model, which is the priciest of the 3 cases. It is the most heavy-duty case they offer – specifically designed for the CDJ-2000 or the 2000 Nexus, and comes with ATA-3000 certification and a NK-7 resin shell for protection. It is also padlocked with easy release power-claw launches for easy opening and closing. We love Gator Cases EVA Series to fit your protection needs, but remember, cases and mounts will be subjective until you actually chose your beginner DJ equipment, so keep this one last to make sure they all fit.