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The Best DJ Set Up In 2024: All Types

Noah Feasey-Kemp

Noah Feasey-Kemp |

DJ setups have constantly evolved over the years. From the early inception of turntables to advanced AI-powered DJ software - DJs are spoilt for choice when it comes to setup variety.

While having this range of choices is good, it can also be daunting for new DJs. With such a huge amount of equipment available, the amount of choice can be overwhelming.

In this guide, I'll share some examples of DJ setups for a range of styles. From humble beginner setups to advanced club rigs - by the end of this guide you'll have a clear idea of what gear is the most suitable for you.

It's crucial to use the proper setup for your style and skill level. This guarantees that you have all the necessary tools to perform and improve as a DJ, without wasting time on unnecessary complexities.

If you're new to DJing, check out our Beginner DJ's Gear Guide!

Let's get stuck in!

TL;DR - DJ Setups#

  • This guide shows you the best DJ setups for a range of skills and budgets. Including beginner, mobile, professional, and software setups.

  • Thanks to affordable gear and software, you can start DJing for hardly any money.

  • Finding the right hardware and software is essential for a smooth DJ journey.

  • Using a hybrid live/studio setup gives you the most range and efficiency as a DJ.

Universal DJ Setup Equipment#

Universal DJ gear

Before looking at the specific setup types, let's look at a few pieces of kit that are basically essential in every kind of setup.

  • Speakers -

    speakers dj equipment

    Without speakers, you'll struggle to hear the music. Better speakers give higher audio quality, which can help you to hear the music in more detail, and mix more precisely. However, you can still get by on some low-cost models. You can find DJ speakers that are designed for this situation - some of them even come with cool lights!

  • Headphones -

    dj headphones

    If you're using any kind of DJ mixer or DJ controller, you're going to need some headphones. These let you prepare the next song through a private cue channel, so you can get the next song lined up and beat-matched without the audience hearing. You can use regular headphones, but you'll have a better experience with specific DJ headphones. These are designed to be more comfortable and are tuned for DJ setups.

  • Laptop/Computer - In most cases, you'll need some kind of computer to run a DJ setup. Even if you're planning on using CDJs, you'll need a computer to download and prepare tunes on your memory sticks. You'll need a decent laptop if you're planning on using DJ controllers, to make sure the software performs smoothly. The only case in which you won't need a PC is if you are mixing vinyl records - although they're still useful for recording. Learn How To DJ from a Laptop!

  • Stands/Booth/Desk -

    dj gear stands

    You'll need something to put your gear on, preferably something that is at the right height for you to stand at for hours on end - so you won't get neck pain and discomfort from hunching over. You can buy pro stands and booths if you have the cash, but in most cases, a desk or a DIY solution will do the trick.

  • Audio Interface/Recorder - Listening back to your mixes is one of the most effective ways of improving your skills. By listening to your sets, you can easily hear where you need to improve and start leveling up your skills. You can buy a nice DJ interface package, or use a separate recorder

  • Music - Of course, a DJ needs a large collection of music. DJ Pools are a great way to build your collection economically.

There are loads of other DJ accessories that can make a DJ's life easier. Check out our guide on the Best DJ Accessories for more information.

5 Types of DJ Setup - Beginner to Pro#

5 types of dj setup

DJ setups can come in an endless range of variations and styles. From basic controller setups to monstrous 8-deck, hybrid club systems. What DJs Need To Mix Music is an important topic to understand when you're making your setup.

This section explores 5 different setup types, which should cover all the bases. I'll explain what gear you'll need, the pros and cons, and a description for each setup type!

1. The Beginner's Budget-Friendly Setup#

If you're new to DJing, you can easily get started with a cost-effective beginner setup. This would typically be a basic controller plugged into your laptop, used to control DJ software.

This type of setup is the best place to start if you are completely new to DJing. You might not be sure that it's a hobby you'll stick with, so you don't want to splash out on expensive gear.

With this DJ equipment, the most expensive component will usually be the laptop/machine. You can get by with some cheap speakers and headphones to start with.

beginner dj setup real

Many DJ controllers in the budget category are pretty fun to play with and have everything that a beginner would need.

These days, you can find some really nice affordable, but high-quality controllers. Beginner DJs can get all the basics and a few bells and whistles for under $100. Of course, not all the gear in this range is going to be great, but there is some good stuff out there.

Components

  • Laptop/PC - Nothing too fancy, just powerful enough to run free software like rekordbox/Virtual DJ etc.

  • A DJ controller - A cheap basic model will do. I'd suggest starting somewhere between $100-200, but even a sub $50 can do the trick if you're strapped for cash.

  • DJ software - A few DJ controllers come with a free download of their compatible software. Or you can use free software like Mixxx. You don't need to pay for expensive pro versions, the Lite/Free ones will do the trick.

  • Headphones - Some basic over-the-head headphones will work.

  • Speakers - Any speakers will do at this stage, and your money is probably better invested in a nicer controller rather than worrying about high-quality speakers (to an extent). You just need to have a good amount of bass, mids, and clear highs.

Pros

  • Good to learn on, and get a taste for club-grade tools.

  • Affordable DJ gear is good these days

  • Doesn't require much space

  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Some cheaper gear is low-quality and breaks easily

  • Limited performance options and effects

  • Not as flexible or future-proofed

  • Lower audio quality

2. The Intermediate Home Studio Setup#

intermediate home setup

If you've spent a bit more time DJing, and have got a taste for the art form, you're probably ready to invest money into a nicer home DJ setup. This setup level probably has the most choices and can be pretty confusing to know what to go with. Basically, you have a few different options here.

You could stick with the controller approach, and start upgrading your gear: buy better speakers, headphones, and a nicer controller. This is what a lot of intermediate DJs do.

intermediate home dj setup

But, if you have the money you could start building a nicer mixer-based DJ system. You can use this to connect a wider range of audio sources, like CDJs, vinyl turntables, a microphone, and even other gear like samplers and effects units. (See some of our Recommended DJ Mixer Models).

turntables and cdjs

Using a mixer-based setup gives you the most flexibility, although it comes at a higher price. A mixer-type setup would give you the most familiarity when it comes to DJing in professional environments like clubs and radio stations.

Components

  • A DJ Mixer - a 2-channel mixer is a good place to start, but buying a 4-channel is a better investment, and allows you to expand your setup down the line.

  • 2 x CDJs - If you're using a mixer, these are the type of gear to connect to it to play songs. There are hundreds of CDJ models out there, coming with a range of features and price tags. Do your research, but I'm a fan of Pioneer models thanks to their high quality, and the fact that most clubs use them so you'll be familiar.

  • (and/or) Turntables - If you're favoring a vinyl setup, you could get a pair of turntables instead of CDJs, although this is more of a niche type. Digital is more versatile and affordable than CDJs. If you have the cash, you could get 2 turntables, 2 CDJs, and a 4 channel mixer.

  • DJ Headphones - At this stage, it's worth buying some proper DJ headphones for a better experience.

  • USB Sticks - If you plan on mixing on CDJs, and in clubs, you're going to need a pair of USB drives to store your digital music library.

  • Better Speakers - You don't need to buy the best DJ speakers in the world, but having a nice pair is going to make a difference, and it makes the listening experience more enjoyable.

Pros

  • Versatility in music selection and playback formats (CDJs, vinyl, digital)

  • Higher quality sound and feel from equipment

  • Opportunity to develop more advanced DJing skills and mixing across multiple channels

  • Access to better effects and performance features

Cons

  • More expensive than a beginner setup

  • Requires more space and careful setup

  • Steeper learning curve for mastering the equipment and its features

3. The Mobile DJ Setup#

mobile dj setup

The mobile DJ setup is designed for DJs who perform at various venues like weddings, parties, and corporate events. This setup focuses on portability and flexibility, allowing the DJ to bring the party atmosphere anywhere.

Components

  • Portable PA System - Typically you'll be responsible for bringing the sound system to the event.

  • Wireless Microphones - These mics are useful for making announcements, letting people speeches, and crowd interaction.

  • DJ Controller or Compact Mixer - Transportability is key here, so you should favor a streamlined controller setup rather than a massive rig.

  • Laptop with DJ Software

  • Foldable DJ Booth or Table - Unless you want to sit on the floor to mix, you'll need some kind of foldable table. Flight cases are dual-purpose, letting you transport your gear safely, but also acting as a stand.

  • Lighting Equipment (optional) - Having a cool, beat-synced lighting rig will make the event more memorable, and help you to get more bookings.

Pros

  • Highly portable and adaptable to different venues

  • Generally easy to set up and dismantle

  • Capable of handling a variety of events and audience sizes

Cons

  • Sound and lighting equipment may be less powerful than stationary setups

  • More wear and tear on equipment due to constant transportation

  • Balancing the need for portability with quality can be challenging

4. The Club DJ Setup#

club dj setup

The club DJ setup is the pinnacle of professional DJ equipment, designed for use in clubs, festivals, and large venues. It offers the best in sound quality, durability, and performance capabilities.

The specific gear and setup will vary on what type of DJs are booked, and what setups you want to offer. But generally, this will involve a high-quality 4-channel mixer with plenty of effects, 2 or 4 CDJs, and sometimes two turntables.

club dj setup

Sometimes you'll see a club rocking a high-end all-in-one controller, but mixer-based setups are more professional and versatile.

The club will also want a quality sound system, but this type of gear is too complicated to discuss here. DJs normally bring their own headphones, although it's worth having a spare pair just in case.

You could also consider investing in streaming and video recording gear to expand your media production capabilities.

Components

  • High-End Mixers (like Pioneer DJM-900NXS2)

  • Top-Tier CDJs (like Pioneer CDJ-3000)

  • Professional Turntables for vinyl DJs (like Technics 1200)

  • High-Quality Monitor Speakers - Aside from the front-of-house speakers for the audience, depending on the size of the club you'll want some decent monitor speakers for the DJ.

  • Effect Processors and Samplers - Having some extra gear can make for more engaging performances, please DJs, and give your club a better reputation.

Pros

  • Unmatched sound quality and build

  • Extensive features for creative mixing and effects

  • Industry-standard equipment, familiar in professional DJ booths worldwide

Cons

  • Very expensive

  • Requires a significant amount of space & skill to set up

  • Complexity can be intimidating for less experienced DJs

5. The Software Only Setup (Or Hybrid)#

dj studio carousel new

Thanks to DJ software like DJ.Studio, a software-only setup is now completely viable as a method of creating high-quality DJ mixes.

This type of setup isn't designed for live performances, instead being a powerful method of creating mixes from your studio or at home.

Rather than using decks to record a mix live, DJs can now craft the perfect mix using DJ.Studio's unique editing timeline and smart features - this is the ultimate DAW for DJs.

editing a mix with DJ studio

The workflow is simple:

  1. Open DJ.Studio

  2. Import your music - You can drop files in, or connect to your other DJ software libraries like rekordbox, VirtualDJ, Traktor, and iTunes. It even has a YouTube mode for working with music on Spotify, YouTube, and Beatport.

  3. Create the track order (or use the automixer to automatically harmonically mix and beat match your songs)

  4. Refine your mix on the timeline - the editor interface lets you customize your mix in endless detail, adding loops, samples, effects, and custom transitions. You can achieve much cleaner and more expressive mixes in comparison to live mixing, thanks to the ability to refine your mixes over time.

  5. Export your Mix - DJ.Studio records your finished mix at up to 10x speed, saving you a huge amount of time. This can be rendered to a WAV, MP3, or video. You can also export this as a DJ set file and import it into your live mixing software, creating a hybrid live/studio setup.

dj studio playlist creator software

This only demonstrates some of DJ.Studio's vast feature set, so make sure you explore the rest of this website for more information.

Components

  • A laptop/PC

  • Speakers or headphones

  • DJ.Studio Software - Other DJ software isn't designed for use without controllers and other gear, but DJ.Studio is made to be used with just a mouse and keyboard.

Pros

  • Mix anywhere in the world - just bring a laptop!

  • Much more affordable, and no expensive gear is required

  • Create higher quality mixes by refining them over time

  • No mistakes when recording mixes

  • Increase your creative output, thus reaching, and potentially monetization. (Learn How To Monetize your DJ Mixes)

  • Integrates seamlessly with live mixing workflows, making it the perfect preparation tool

Cons

  • Not suitable for live performances (unless you're miming...)

  • Lacks the hands-on feel of controllers and decks

  • May be unfamiliar for some DJs

Finally...#

club dj setup 2

You now know all the best types of DJ set ups. Any of the above setups will give you what you need to mix, just pick whichever is most suitable for your situation, budget, and skill level.

Using a hybrid setup that involves both gear and software is the most flexible approach these days. Taking advantage of studio and live software gives you more experimentation power, faster mix production, and an advantage over other DJs.

Get stuck in today, and start making mixes for free from your laptop with DJ.Studio's free 14-day trial!

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