Becoming a DJ is not easy. It takes a lot of hard work and a lot of practice. And more than the technical skills, it takes a lot of networking. That’s the hardest part for most DJs. The hate advertising themselves, they hate selling themselves, they hate sucking up to people. But all of that is necessary if you want to be a DJ.
That said, the biggest expense by far is the equipment. I’ve already written a post about the equipment you will need to become a DJ, but this time I want to focus in on the most important piece of equipment for a DJ: the turntable.
Now, I know you will say that turntables are obsolete and you don’t need them anymore these days. That is true. But I’m writing this for those traditionalists who still love to spin on actual record players. This is how most of the DJs who are currently in their 30s and 40s began and even many of the younger DJs got their start on real turntables, because they felt you should learn that way first, before moving on to digital DJing. I agree with that sentiment.
I know that these days everyone can just use a controller and it works great. Actually, it works better than turntables, let’s be honest. You don’t have to carry around a large, heavy record collection and you don’t have to worry about your records being scratched. You don’t need the additional equipment of having two turntables and then a mixer. You also don’t need to worry about needles and cartridges and all of that stuff. It’s just a lot easier. But is it as much fun?
Personally, I don’t think so. There’s nothing like getting a real record player and actually feeling the vinyl record under your fingers as you are scratching. I also love the act of swapping out records during my set. I don’t know, I think it just looks cooler than choosing the next song on a laptop.
I know most people don’t do that these days and there’s really no point in doing it, but it’s just a cooler way of DJing, isn’t it? I myself mostly use controllers these days, but I do love using turntable whenever I get the chance. I still practice a lot at home on turntables and I just love doing that.
The question is: which turntable do you want? There are so many different types on the market today, many of them very expensive and many with a ton of gimmicks. You can also get a lot of record player turntables that cost less than $100. Let’s address the gimmicky ones first.
You don’t need any of these gimmicks. You don’t need a record player that also plays CDs or radio or whatever. You don’t need one with internal speakers or anything else that adds weight and cost. You want a turntable that plays records and nothing else. Ideally you want a direct drive turntable, that has features like pitch control and different sliders that allow you more control over your spinning. You definitely want one that can play in reverse.
You can get really expensive ones like the Technics turntables, but a cheaper Audio Technica works just fine. These days when you have a a big gig, you probably use a controller anyway, so there is no point in getting really expensive turntables. They are more of a hobby nowadays. You use them mainly at home or at smaller gigs just for fun. For that, you don’t need the most expensive ones. You just need one that’s solid and that works and that doesn’t break down. And that’s what most of the Audio Technica turntables give you.
If you’re a DJ who wants to feel what it was like for us old folks, get yourself some cheap turntables. Cheap is the wrong word. Get yourself some inexpensive quality turntables. Then learn how to mix records on those and you’ll quickly see exactly what I’m talking about. It’s just so much more fun, isn’t it?