How To Be A DJ With A Laptop


I was wondering how to become a DJ with just a laptop. When I did my research, this is the information that led me in the right direction. 

So how does one become a DJ with a laptop? Some of it is obvious. DJ’s are everywhere. They’re at parties, at weddings, and other special events. Even if they’re more obscure, hidden away in a corner, the difference between a traditional DJ and a DJ with a laptop setup is clear. The traditional DJ can have a range of equipment including turntables, speakers, a mixer, vinyl records, and headphones. Compared to the complexity and cost of that traditional setup, a laptop is faster, easier, and more economical. Sometimes it’s also important to tap into multiple audio sources, faders, dials, and buttons.  

With more advanced options, it’s possible to accomplish that too. All a person really needs to get started is a laptop and the right DJ software, as well as the master control and repository of music. Once a person has purchased and setup the basic requirements of a DJ endeavor, it’s just a matter of developing a playlist of topical or thematic music. Additional audio equipment offers the bells and whistles, with all the extra functionality and features for connection with a laptop.  

These are the items needed: 

The Proper Software 

DJ software is designed to offer a level of control and flexible creativity. Some solutions are comprehensive, all-in-one solutions, while other laptop-and-software setups are designed to connect to existing DJ hardware. With so many options to choose from, it can be challenging to find a solution that is fast and effective, supporting the personalized musical mix and style of the DJ. Software offers the level of power that supports the needs of the DJ, no matter what his/her level of experience. 

DJs use software because it’s an essential advancement in their ability to perform, with innovation and creativity. With a range of custom options, the DJ software meets the needs of DJs and the audience for whom he/she is performing. Integrated DJ software supports technological innovation by revolutionizing the world of DJing. 

Serato DJ Pro: 

This DJ software solution was one of the first applications to be released more than ten years ago. It’s popular in the scratch-mixing community. There’s a free version, Serato DJ Lite, which supports a basic tutorial with limited features. Serato DJ Pro is the trusted and reliable option, which is why internationally renowned DJs and artists rely on it for their best performances. It’s a powerful and flexible software option, with support for more than 90 hardware solutions and the ability to stream millions of tracks.  

Rekordbox:  

With 4-deck capabilities, this music-management application features effects and loopers, as well as a myriad of options for hardware connection. It offers greater flexibility to support an ultimate DJ-on-the-go configuration. This free music management application offers options to prep and export the music library to USB. It’s the most stable DJ application with fast, high-quality sound. The multi-deck access supports professional remix options with features like Slicer, Hot Cues, and Slip Mode.  

Traktor Pro:  

This DJ software solution is one of the top options. It’s been around for more than 10 years, and it offers impressive 4-deck mixing. Traktor Pro offers a 30-minute demo version, but that’s hardly enough time to adequately test this DJ solution. It has a full FX Suite, with more than 40 high-grade effects, designed to be intuitive. The drag-and-drop Remix decks expand the realm of possibilities. Traktor Pro offers pro-grade audio, with seamless integration with TRAKTOR hardware.  

Mixx:  

This DJ software solution is compatible with Windows, Linux, and Mac, but it’s entirely free. It’s an open-source option, so it’s perfect for tech-savvy, programmer-DJ types. It’s not as feature-rich as some of the other applications, but it’s impossible to beat the price. Mixx allows a DJ to take the core-code music output to a whole new level. It’s everything you need to achieve a 4-deck DJing experience, with support for the preferred technique and mixing style.  

Virtual DJ Made Easy 

This DJ software is one of the most frequently downloaded DJ applications on Earth. It’s free for non-professional DJ use. This advanced DJ technology is easy to learn and use, with performance options for better mixes. It’s power and fully operational even without all the additional bells-and-whistles of DJ hardware. Virtual DJ is the perfect option for any level of DJ (beginner to pro).  

The Equipment to Connect 

A DJ laptop setup can encompass basic functional possibilities for the DJ experience. Whereas, in the past, a DJ may have used a mixer and turntables, DJs now have the option of a digital setup. It just makes sense to go digital because it’s cheaper, easier-to-setup and use, and it’s more accessible for newbies. New technological innovations support a lower barrier to entry, which opens the field. Nearly anyone can become a DJ with a laptop computer, and a few extra components. Even so, it’s still helps to have a few extra tips. So, here are the top recommendations and ideas for equipment to connect: laptop, sound system, controller, headphones, and cables. It’s everything a newbie needs to become a DJ.   

DJ Laptop Computer:  

The laptop is the driving force behind the DJ setup. It’s the central focus around which the software and additional external devices and functionality are designed, developed, and implemented. Whether it’s a Macbook or PC, the system needs a screen size and resolution to see and use the software functions, as well as a solid-state hard drive, bright screen, and a high-quality build. Popular brands include the MacBook Pro, Dell Inspiron, Lenovo, and Gigabyte.  

DJ Speakers & Sound System:  

The venue might have speakers and a complete sound system, but it’s always best to have a tried-and-true setup. There could be situations where the space doesn’t have a sound system or there are technical difficulties with the on-site system. The system could also be a low-quality system that won’t support a high-quality sound experience. With options for self-powered speakers, the sound system is easy to setup and use virtually anywhere. Popular sound systems are Mackie, JBL, EV, Bose, and B-52.  

DJ Controller:  

The Controller is an alternative to CDs or vinyl records. It allows for easy manipulation of mixed music through encoders, knobs, touch strips, faders, buttons, and other controls. While a Controller is not absolutely required, it does support a level of control that’s not possible on its own. Some of the most well-known brands are Native Instruments, Numark, Pioneer Electronics, etc.  

DJ Headphones:  

Headphones are an important tool, used by DJs to mix tunes, as well as listen and cue. Every DJ has a favorite headphone preference, and it better be comfortable, flexible, and durable. A DJ wears headphones for long periods of time in all sorts of environments. Instead of selecting a consumer model, look for professional headphones for the best, most lasting results. Popular brands include Sennheiser, Sony, and Samson. But, there’s a wide range of options to chose from. 

Cables:  

The equipment won’t work very effectively if the right cables are not part of the setup. They aren’t elegant or glamorous, but they are essential. If the setup is not done correctly, it can cause damage to the system and to a person’s reputation. It’s a good idea to set up the system and make sure that everything works correctly before the event. Then, keep the cables organized and ready-for-use.  

The Playlists and Music 

 The playlist and music mix will depend on the venue and type of party to support. It can be fun to put together a playlist, but as a DJ, it’s important to consider the audience and what they will enjoy. Don’t just add 5 songs to a playlist and think that’s even remotely enough. Include a range of songs and musical offerings across genres and cultures. Also include the “just in case” mixes, for use in special requests, dedications, and other special musical tributes.  

Audience:  

How many people will be in attendance? Who will they be, and what type of music (genre) do they like? What is the general age of the group? Think about the length of the party, the demographics of the attendees, as well as the occasion. Then, be prepared with a mishmash of other musical offerings for special requests. A DJ finds ways to give the audience what they want, but also to stretch the listeners. A DJ introduces new variations on sounds and mixes. With the right playlists, a DJ facilitates greater engagement possibilities with the audience, but it’s also about having fun in an entertaining environment.  

Good Music (Quality Tunes): 

Every person has a slightly different opinion on what high-quality music is. Popular genres include hip-hop, dance-pop, pop-punk, modern R&B, etc. Do research in music history to learn which songs are considered high-quality, why, and how the combination of tunes can enhance a listening experience. Developing playlists of good music doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process that takes time and experience. By developing a following and learning what the audience wants, the “good music” playlists will continue to improve. It’s part of becoming a DJ expert.  

Variety Music (Quantity Tunes):  

With a digital collection, it’s possible to gather songs, albums, and music from hundreds of artists. Then, select the songs that most closely match the type of event, get-together, or party. The goal is to include music across a large swathe of music history. The playlists for an event should include the music designed for the target audience, but the DJ should be prepared with additional music to cover unique requirements.  

Balance:  

There needs to be a mix of different kinds of music, particularly for a diverse crowd or group of people. Include popular music and musicians, new discoveries, and even more obscure music. The balance will be different for each event, with a mix of popular and obscure music. Most DJs feature a greater number of popular, recognizable tunes for parties and social events. The audience enjoys songs they already know and love, so the higher percentage of tried-and-true music is essential. DJs tend to avoid playing Classical and other instrumental music.  

FAQ 

Does it make a difference in the price if the DJ if it’s a laptop computer versus a mixer?  

No, it does not make a difference, not unless the DJ has thousands of dollars of the best software available. Then he or she will have to factor in their cost. For most software, the price is the same. There’s more flexibility in the options for DJ software.  

Is it easier to have a laptop instead of a mixer and all the other gadgets?  

Laptops can store a lot of information. It will save time and is easier for the DJ. In general, a laptop also allows for easy setup, with greater flexibility in the playlists, music, mixes, etc. While some of the choices are a matter of personal preference, many DJs prefer the laptop and more high-tech digital solutions.  

Where can you download DJ music from?  

It’s important to have a lossless, high-quality sound for DJ services. So, instead of ripping tracks from CDs or downloading from other digital retailers like iTunes or Amazon, look for music in WAV or FLAC.  Bleep, Beatport, Download, Traxsource, or Boomkat are all options for accessing high-quality music formats. Soundcloud is also a source for downloading music that’s free.   

How do you organize DJ tracks?  

The Organization of DJ tracks is a way to engage with the music. Keep the files in one centrally located repository, and then organize them into folders based on genres, albums, artists, etc. that are easier to access. Some DJs also code or name the music based on recognize and searchable themes. Analyze and tag the files to make it easier to find and sort the files for use in playlists. Programs like MP3Tag (for PC) or MetaBliss) for Mac are options for adding and editing metadata or tags. Some DJ software also includes functionality for tagging and organizing the files.  

How and why do you backup DJ tracks?  

It’s important to backup files and drive images to prevent the loss of a DJ’s repository and playlists. Then, when there is corruption or data loss, it’s easy to restore the data and be up and running without disruption. Backups are important because it’s not a matter of if but rather when there will be a data corruption or loss. It’s important to protect against the loss of so much time, work, and developed resources. Popular options include a portable SanDisk USB drive, Dropbox cloud-based backup, or Super Duper bootable backup. 

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