Best DJ Equipment for Beginners

November 7, 2021

We surveyed experienced DJs about the best, most reliable equipment for DJs who are getting started. These eight essential pieces of DJ equipment will help set you up and grow your business!

So you want to become a DJ. There’s definitely an allure to being the person who selects the tunes that make an occasion memorable—whether it’s a wedding, retirement party, or a late-night warehouse rave. Yet you’ll need more than great taste in music to become a successful DJ.

As you travel between venues, you’ll encounter a variety of situations—from small rooms with bad acoustics to remote venues without a Wi-Fi signal to be found. That means having a playlist on your smartphone won’t quite cut it.

So what do you actually need? We surveyed experienced DJs about the best, most reliable equipment for DJs who are getting started. These essential pieces of DJ equipment for beginners will help set you up.

If you lean strongly toward any of the equipment in the article or want to vote for a favorite we didn’t mention, be sure to tell us in the survey!

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Speakers

Let’s be real: sometimes, people only book a DJ because they expect you to come with a better sound system than they have on their laptop.

While some clients may be willing to rent high-end speakers to fill their venue with sound, speakers are essential DJ equipment so that you can show up prepared for any situation.

Readers’ picks:

QSC K10.2 10” 2-Way 2000 Watt Powered Speaker: $749.99
QSC K12.2 12” 2-Way 2000 Watt Powered Speaker: $799.99

The experts surveyed spoke highly of QSC speakers for a few reasons:

  • These are the best consumer speakers available in their price range
  • QSC speakers produce high-quality sound
  • Don’t fiddle with copper wire—use these speakers’ straightforward inputs
  • They’re also incredibly durable, and should last you for years to come

Browse QSC products by venue type and look for speakers with features that best suit your needs, including pole mounts and carrying cases.

If you want your audience to feel the bass, you’ll need a subwoofer, too.

Turntables

These days, there are plenty of DJs who make playlists on Spotify and iTunes. But that’s no fun, is it?

Even in the days of MP3s and MIDI, many professional DJs assemble a collection of vinyl records that they can switch and scratch on-demand to create custom sounds. Investing in a pair of turntables means you can practice the most fundamental DJing skill: mixing tracks and matching tempos. Modern turntables are USB compatible and should work well with the rest of your DJ equipment.

Readers’ picks:

Audio-Technica AT-LP120 USB Turntable: $299
Pyle PLTTB3U Belt Drive USB Turntable: $99.01

Controller

A controller is a piece of hardware that makes it possible to manipulate inputted sound (from your laptop or turntable) through looping, fading, and more.

With your laptop or turntable plugged into a controller, you’ll be able to manipulate sounds to make your mark on beloved tracks and cult bangers alike.

Once you master it, a controller adds considerably to your arsenal of effects.

Pioneer is one of the most trusted names in the DJ controller business. Their easy-to-use controllers make it intuitive to master a range of effects and begin customizing tracks to fit a crowd’s specific vibe.

If you’re buying your first DJ turntable, consider purchasing it from Technics. This was the top recommended brand from the survey. Technics are the original standard turntable for the professional DJ and produce premium sound.

For a beginner DJ controller, the experts surveyed recommended the following:

Pioneer DDJ-SR2: $699

This is the industry standard 2-Channel DJ controller. It has all the tools of a professional controller, but a lower price tag. Plus, it’s easy to use.

Pioneer DDJ-SB3: $249

This mid-range model provides more features than the outdated SB2 and is known for its ease of use.

If you want to spend a little more for more features, they recommend you check out:

Pioneer XDJ-RX2: $999

Ready to go all in? This high-end controller has all the essential buttons and controls that you need to achieve the same effects as the professionals.

DJ software

Software isn’t physical equipment per se, but we don’t want to omit this potentially important piece of your basic DJ setup.

You can get away with nothing but a laptop and controller. But DJ software designed to interface with a controller can provide a much wider array of effects. It’s also much easier to use your controller when it’s hooked up to appropriate software.

Professional DJs recommend the following programs:

Serato DJ Pro: $9.99/month

This globally recognized DJ software is compatible with over 90 pieces of hardware. The interface includes sampling, effects, recording, cue points and more and give you access to millions of streaming tracks.

Virtual DJ: $19.99/month

Virtual DJ’s claim to fame is its stem separation capabilities, allowing you to isolate and mix in track components, from vocals and instruments to kick drums and hihats. It has audio, video and karaoke formats so you can adapt to the demands of just about any gig!

Beyond these two DJ software programs, you’ll eventually discover a whole world of apps designed specifically for DJs.

Headphones

Another must-have as you’re building up your DJ gear is a great pair of headphones. A common question from beginner DJs is why DJs only use their headphones briefly. Without going into the specifics, it’s to help cue the next song and beat match. The more you know!

Readers’ picks:

Pioneer Pro DJ Headphones: $369
Sennheiser Pro Audio Headphones: $149.95

Laptop

Modern DJing means more than just spinning vinyls and using analog equipment. You need to be just as versed in the digital world. You’ll also need a fully stocked music library for the moment when an audience member inevitably requests a track that you don’t have on vinyl.

Invest in an industrial laptop with adequate storage space and RAM for music and mixing software.

Readers’ picks:

MacBook Pro 13-inch: $1299
Microsoft Surface Pro 7: $599

Cases

Your laptop, controller, and mixing table are all high-end, expensive equipment. Don’t carry them around in a cardboard box!

Invest in padded cases for your essentials.

Readers’ picks:

Gator Cases G-Club Controller Backpack: $259.99
Truman Vinyl Record Carrying Bag: $40.98

Lighting equipment

DJing is primarily focused on audio, but your performances need a visual aspect as well. Having a versatile lighting setup can take your sets to a higher level and give audiences a memorable experience. A good lighting setup should be able to cover an entire room and be easy to set up, break down, and carry away.

Readers’ picks:

Chauvet DJ 4BAR Lighting System: $299.99
Chauvet DJ GigBar 2 Lighting System: $549.99

Protect your DJ business with insurance

Your new DJ job isn’t all fun and parties—you take on risk as a DJ. In fact, the fun and partying directly contribute to that risk! Whether you dream of becoming the next big club DJ or looking to DJ weddings and events as a side hustle, DJ insurance helps to protect your business so you can just worry about creating the perfect set.

Most DJs need general liability insurance, which protects you against claims of property damage or bodily injury. If someone injures themselves around your equipment or the venue you’re working gets damaged, you could end up being held liable. Having coverage for those kinds of incidents can save you DJing business serious money in the long run.

In addition, someone could easily spill their drink on your new controller. That’s why we recommend equipment insurance, which can provide coverage for damage or loss of business assets including your new DJ equipment.

We covered all the essential items you need to get started as a professional DJ. Did we miss anything? Let us know your thoughts!

Written on November 17, 2020 | Last updated: November 7, 2021

Our editorial content is intended for informational purposes only and is not written by a licensed insurance agent. Terms and conditions for rate and coverage may vary by class of business and state.