Digital music files such as MP3 are fast becoming the most popular format to store music. The ability to download files straight from the internet combined with the extremely small physical storage space required for thousands of tracks has revolutionised the way that DJ equipment is evolving.
A traditional DJ setup would consist of two turntables or two CD players and a mixer. Controllers replace these items by providing one physical control surface that integrates with your computer to allow the manipulation of digital music. The basic elements of a controller setup are the controller itself, an additional soundcard (if necessary) and your Mac or PC. The illustration below shows the setup for a Vestax VCI300mk2 with built in soundcard.
When choosing the right controller, the first thing that you need to take into consideration is your own computer. The system requirements will largely be dependant on the software you are using but pretty much any new PC or Mac bought these days should be able to handle any of the software on the market today. Whilst they don’t have to be amazingly well specified, we always recommend that you keep the computer in question as clear as possible of any superfluous programs, pictures or videos. When you’re using your DJ Software, try to have nothing else running in the background.
Next, consider which controller you may want to use. DJ Store has a full range of software controllers from the cheap but capable Hercules E2 to the mighty Numark N7 which you can find below. What you need will be largely dependant on what you plan on using the controller for. We always recommend stretching your budget as far as possible as it is likely to save you money in the long run.
Most controllers come with software included however be aware that whatever is bundled is likely to be an ‘LE’ or ‘Lite’ variant. For example, the Numark Omni Control comes with Native Instruments Traktor 3 LE. ‘LE’ or ‘Lite’ versions of software are basically stripped down variants of the full version. All the main functionality will remain intact to allow you to get whatever you need out of your controller however, you may find that with time, as your confidence and skills grow you require some of the features your version does not have. Most ‘LE’ or ‘Lite’ versions will allow you to upgrade to the full software at a later date for a significantly cheaper price than it would cost off the shelf.
The last major item to consider is the soundcard. All PCs have some form of soundcard built in however in almost every case, these will not be enough to allow you to DJ. To DJ, you need to be able to send a minimum of two outputs from your soundcard at any one time. One will be sent to your stereo or PA system for everyone to hear. The second output you will connect to your headphones so you can independently listen to the next track you plan on playing and get it ready. PC soundcards only allow one output and so are not suitable for purpose.
Some controllers such as the Hercules RMX and the Numark Omni Control have a soundcard built into them which makes things nice and easy. They will have an output in the back which you connect to your stereo or PA system and a headphone socket somewhere around the front to allow you to cue up new tracks. Other controllers such as Numark Mixtrack and Vestax VCI100 do not have the soundcard built into them. To get around this, you need to purchase an external multi-channel USB soundcard
Setting up these soundcards can be tricky and there isn’t a set of hard and fast rules on how to do it. In most circumstances these days, it is a simple case of plug-and-play – as soon as you connect your USB soundcard to your PC or Mac, it should be recognised. We always recommend going through the details instructions for both your soundcard and the software to ensure everything is setup correctly.
As always, we here at DJ Store are always here to help via Live Chat, email or by telephone if you need any further assistance or have any questions.
Controllers with built in Soundcards
Controllers requiring external Soundcards