Digital DJing is essentially the reproduction of an analogue DJ set-up using digital components. These digital components are: a laptop, DJ software, MIDI controller, sound card and MP3 music files. There are numerous alternatives, across a wide range of budgets, to choose from, but the key to your digital set-up is to understand which products best fit your needs.
To Apple Mac or Not
If your budget can stretch to include an Apple Mac Book, then I would strongly advise that you get one. You need a stable operating platform, and it’s widely agreed that the most stable belongs to Macs. At the very least you’ll need a laptop with a dual-core processor, as the last thing you want is to be in the middle of a killer mix and your entire system to freeze. Having said that, PCs are robust machines, easier to upgrade and, if you’re on a budget, are a really good alternative.
Whichever laptop you decide on, I suggest you check out the forums of the software programs you are considering buying. That way you’ll find out how current DJs are using their programs, rather than relying on manufacturers’ performance specifications.
Choosing your DJing Software
Once you have chosen your laptop, you need to decide on software. Firstly, there are the computer-based, virtual DJ software packages, such as Traktor Pro and Serato ITCH, both of which are controlled with dedicated MIDI controllers.
These programs work by transferring digital music files ‘(e.g. MP3s and WAVs) to virtual turntables, which are then manipulated with the use of the MIDI controller. Audio output is achieved via the sound card.
This type of set up will most likely appeal to new DJs who do not already own vinyl or CD turntables, or those who are restricted in terms of space.