In DJ industry, music started to become digital in 1980’s especially after the arrival of personal computers for home and small business uses. The club-standard digital DJ equipments were established by Pioneer with CDJ series. They are essentially CD players with interface that works and looks and like turntable. It still allows us pitch bend and scratch. CDJ is becoming more sophisticated and we are now able to use various features, such as automated beat-matching, better displays, linking, USB port and hot cues. In fact, many professionals travel around the world with only headphones and USB flash drives.
This way, they will be able to rely on CDJ on clubs and because models are uniform, they can get familiarized very easily. They could practice at home and get great results. There are many CDJ models in the market. The more expensive models can be more than $4,000 each, but we could get cheaper ones if we choose older and low-end models. Newer CDJ models have no CD players and they rely only on files from USB. If we have more money to spare, we could also choose CDJ models with bigger, touchscreen display. DJ should purchase CDJ because it is installed in many clubs and they are industry standard.
By using CDJ, professionals are able to travel light and their music can be stored on the pen drive. It is possible for them to get great sound with CDJ and if there’s a problem with the hardware, it is easy to repair it. CDJ is also reliable and very robust. However, we should be aware that CDJ has small displays, so we should get used with the interface. Compared to high-end DJ controller, CDJ usually provides less control over our mix. It should be noted that two CDJs are needed and we also need to purchase a mixer. Another digital alternative for DJs is DJ controllers and they are a consequence for the prevalence of laptops and other mobile devices.
With DJ controllers, professionals are able to keep up with technological developments. DJ controllers are essentially based on a laptop that runs dedicated DJ software, especially Traktor Pro or Serato. A controller is also needed to add, mix and match effects. For the whole setup to work properly, we need a 4-channel sound card. With four audio channels, we should be able to use two for headphones and two for music signal.
In general, a DJ controller is more affordable than a dedicated a CDJ setup, but we need to have a proper laptop with good audio output. With DJ controller, we are able to control our mixes and sets. Unfortunately, using DJ controller can be a little but tricky, because we need to carry our gear. It is unlikely we will be able to borrow a DJ controller at the club. With laptops, we should be able to have great overview of our music collection. We could be able to get maximum control over our mix. Buying a DJ controller is generally cheaper and we are able to get latest software updates to improve our productivity.