There are actually several different setups you can have but what DJ equipment do I need in order to create your own DJ studio at home? As with many questions there is more than one answer. I will describe the most common as well as the latest types of setup that I have used and I have seen.
What DJ equipment do I need to start from nothing?
Starting from a completely clean slate there are going to be things that you absolutely need, things you would like to have and a few things that you do not really need at all. Let’s start with the most common setup DJ’s have which uses two turntables and a mixer. This is the easiest setup to start with as you can buy DJ Packages which come in exactly this form, two turntables and a mixer. Your first choice is going to be vinyl or CD/MP3 turntables as part of your DJ package.
If you buy a DJ package you should have everything you need to get started apart from a decent set of headphones which are essential. You should absolutely think about comfort when buying a pair of headphones. My old headphones had a sold piece of plastic right in the centre where the drivers were. After an hour or so of that pressed against your ears it would hurt quite a lot. When you need to practice a lot as a beginner you will spend a lot of time with headphones on and being uncomfortable is not going to help you practice.
You are going to need some space to set up your equipment, ideally permanently. You could keep boxing them away and getting them out on the kitchen table which might work for a while but sooner or later you will need a proper DJ console. This leads to the next question of which DJ Console is the best? This is also a choice based on budget and personal preference but in the above link you will find out which one I went for and why.
If you have a desk in your room you might be able to get away with that but to mix easily you will need a surface at the right height when you stand in front of it. If you try and use a desk and a chair then it is going to be at best awkward. Performing whilst sat down is just not the done thing so try to stand as you would in a club.
What DJ equipment do I need to be able to hear my mix out loud?
If you have a Hi-Fi already you should be able to take your mixers master out and put that through the aux on your Hi-Fi. This is what I have been doing for years. There is no need for a beginner DJ to spend a fortune on speakers, amps, XLR cables and all the rest. If you are a mobile DJ then eventually once you are ready to go out and do your first gig you will most likely need some equipment to take with you.
Parties, weddings etc usually have a DJ who will bring all of their own equipment such as speakers, amps, turntables as well as a lighting bar, disco lighting and lasers. For the bedroom DJ this is just not necessary at all to start with so save some money here and put it into a better DJ Package.
It is of course possible to listen to your mix in your headphones alone. By adjusting the headphones on the mixer you could allow both channels to play at 50%. This will allow you to hear both channels mixed in your headphones. Whilst not the best way it is effective.
Other less common DJ setups
Whilst slightly less common having four turntables and a mixer is still a popular choice. This can be 4 digital decks like the Pioneer CDJ range or it can be split with two vinyl turntables and two digital. You can even have a three and one combination split between vinyl or digital in either configuration. All of these options will of course need a four channel mixer and not the usual two channel mixer that you get in most standard DJ packages.
One thing to note with the new Denon DJ SC Prime setup is that the SC5000 decks have a feature called layer. This allows you to play two tracks simultaneously on the one deck. Each layer however needs one channel so you will need a 4 channel mixer like the Denon X1800 Prime mixer. That is a seriously cool feature giving you four turntables for the price of two. Now that is value for money.
Personally my preference is for two vinyl turntables, two CD/MP3 turntables and a four channel mixer but a recent setup I have seen online uses two or four iPads with a mixer. This is an interesting setup and not one I have used myself but it is certainly possible to perform a set using this setup. I would of course be interested in seeing any comments of DJ’s that have used this setup at least at home.
If you are starting out then you are most likely on a fixed budget just like I was many years ago. Best advice I can give is for you to find your nearest store and actually get your hands on some equipment. The sales reps should be able to walk you through the features and benefits of each model. Have a price range in mind or consider paying on finance. You can even use the stores to get the info you want and then make your purchase online but most places will price match anyway.
The setup you will need is probably the standard two decks and a mixer. Either both vinyl or both digital depending on what your preference is. I started with vinyl over 15 years ago but would make a different choice today which you can read about in vinyl or CD/MP3.