Evolution of DJ Equipment

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The Evolution of DJ Equipment.

So I’ve been wanting to DJ for over 10 years but for different reasons I couldn’t pursue my passion. One of the main reasons was equipment. I’m sure veteran DJs can attest to how much DJ tools have evolved! We are long gone from the days of carrying crates and relying solely on vinyl records to play a gig. However, there are still some DJs out there who will DJ a set using strictly vinyl records and what I mean by that is… no laptop is used for music files. The DJ is literally changing songs by changing vinyl records. Now that’s delivering the difference! While there are many djs who prefer to spin using vinyl turntables, at this point you may be hard pressed to find a dj not using her/his laptop complete with DJ software like Serato.

For me, I approached a well known DC DJ named Sixth Sense my freshman year at Howard University about mentoring & teaching me to DJ. He said to contact him when I’ve purchased equipment. This was understandable as I’m sure he wanted to make sure I was serious before he invested his time in a newbie. So I dipped into my summer savings to buy vinyl turntables. I spent a total of $350 on ebay to purchase two Numark turntables. I called him and began my lessons but not a month later CDJs became the norm amongst djs and venues. CDJs or cd decks were a more compact version of a turntable that accepted a cd just like a stereo. It had a jog wheel, about the size of a 45, that emulated a vinyl turntable that afforded the dj all the capabilities of playing on vinyl like scratching, backspin and reversing a track manually. So the crates turned into cd cases filled with cds that had mp3 files burned on them. The cdjs at that time could run you between $7-800 a piece. There’s no way I could afford them. A part of me felt like there was no way I would be able to pursue this passion and be a student athlete in college while working. So I put it down for a while.

Fast forward a few years. By now I still had my Numark turntables, a Vestax mixer, Sony DJ headphones and a laptop full of mp3 files. I still didn’t have the industry standard, CDJs, but the desire still ran deep. I just started collecting vinyl by purchasing them from record stores and acquiring promotional singles through my internship with the legendary Biz Markie. When I got my first “real job” out of school I took to Ebay again and bought my first pair of CDJs. Now living in Brooklyn, NY I thought, finally, I can do this! That is until Serato came onto the scene (insert sorrowful emoji here). Serato was this new, groundbreaking, DJ software that allowed a DJ to simply import her/his Mac or PC music library to the software. Serato came with 2 control vinyl records and 2 control CDs so you could use your vinyl turntables or CDJs. It also came with a box you connected to your mixer and turntables via RCA cords. The Serato box also came with a usb cord to connect to your computer. All of this allowed a DJ to essentially use their music library to DJ. So far the evolution is from the crates, to the CD case, to the laptop and 2 control vinyls or cds. Are you with me? Are you exhausted and broke yet? As you may be able to guess Serato software is not cheap. I don’t remember how much it was but all I knew is I didn’t have the money for it and once again I thought maybe I should just walk away from this. So again I had a seat and didn’t quit my day job just yet.

Through all that evolution I believe the DJ industry has finally settled on the Serato software as the standard.  As for me, I could finally afford to purchase the Serato software and Technics turntables.  I still have my Numarks but they are in need of repair. There is still more equipment evolution but I feel that we have reached a standard that is pretty commonplace and won’t change any time soon… that is, until it does… Stay tuned!

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