I know, you have a deep interest in being a DJ and learning how to.
Maybe, you already started holding it from one end and trying to figure out which way to go.
This brings a lot of questions to your mind like ” How will I get a setup” , ” Which controller should I choose” or “Do I need a controller, can I just DJ with my laptop ?”.
Let me tell you a bit about the last question, is it possible to DJ and mix without a controller, just a laptop ?
The answer is, technically yes and practically no. Why do I say that, let me explain.
You can control a DJ software fully with your keyboard and mouse. All virtual buttons and knobs on your software are MIDI mappable and can be configured manually in most software.
You can choose to apply some of them with your keyboard and some with your mouse.
As long as you know how to reach MIDI settings on your software or access the mapping file, you can always alter and change which keyboard buttons command what function on the software.
Needless to say, you REALLY need to be familiar with the mapping layout on your keyboard. Your fingers should find the right button with your eyes closed.
Everything is fine on the technical side up to this point.
Now, let’s take a look at how things work in practice.
By experience, I can easily say “What makes a real DJ is the equipment he or she uses”.
Your DJ performance directly depends on the quality and feel of the gear your hands are on. Buttons, knobs, jogwheels and the faders play a big role on how you mix.
Even though keyboard and mouse, or the touchpad on your laptop do the job, it’s never like turning the volume on with the fader or scratching with jogwheel.
Imagine yourself beatmatching manually while mixing into the next song. How can you easily adjust the tempo without a slider on a DJ controller ?
Or, fading the volume between tracks without a crossfader ?
I hear you saying “You are right, but I don’t have a big budget for fancy DJ equipment and I’m dying to learn it”.
So, I recommend you this. Prepare your setup depending on what DJ’ing is for you.
If it’s just a hobby and no more than being a bedroom DJ, you can very well use your laptop and a free, fully featured software like Mixxx to mix songs. In that case, do not expect too much in terms of variety and functionality.
If it is one more step up and you’re willing to spend some, but not too much, then go for a nice budget controller like Numark Mixtrack or Hercules DJ Control Instinct.
These are just examples and ideal for home use.
For our readers with higher budgets and passion for being a real pro DJ, you can choose higher level controllers by visiting our DJ equipment section.