Since the welcome disappearance of CDs, along with the need to lug cases of them from gig to gig, a new question has arisen to match the new age of DJing: which is the best data storage format out there? There’s the pocket-sized SD card and the equally portable USB stick and the two are already battling it out for memory-based supremacy. Everyone has their own thoughts about who will win and the internet is filled with discussions and comment sections bristling with debate. But, is there actually such a thing as ‘the best USB stick’ or the ‘greatest SD card’ for DJs? In this blog, I’ll try to separate the fluff from the facts.

What's the Best USB Stick for Djs? And is it an SD Card?

USB Sticks: For the Raw DJ?

The easiest storage device to get your hands on is a USB stick. Usually no bigger than your thumb, these mini-memory sticks can literally be taken anywhere and, these days, can come with an immense amount of storage space. Great, but for Dj-proof-use, it’s better not to go too big. Players like the Pioneer CDJ and XDJ Series models can’t always handle sticks with gigantic memories unless it’s a specific kind of USB stick or they’re a made by a specific brand. To save any problems, it’s best to stick to something between 64GB to 128GB. This keeps your USB drive fast, gives the player an easier job when it comes to reading it and makes your set that bit smoother.

Disadvantages of USB Sticks for Djs

Do USB sticks even have disadvantages? Of course! Plug it in and it’s sticking out of the top of the controller, vulnerable to any club-goer with a few drinks in them that might nudge it while leaning over to make an unwelcome request, or thinks it would be hilarious to just pull it out. It happens more often than you think and can really mess with the flow of your set. Also, if you use a Denon Prime Series setup, the USB port is around the back; not the best when you haven’t got much room in the booth.

The Best USB Sticks for Djs?

So, what is the best USB stick for DJs? Well, a lot of people swear by the Corsair Survivor, a bar-bell of a USB stick that, thanks to the design of the casing, can take more than a few knocks and will even survive if something as big as a lorry happens to amble over it. While some consider the Survivor the holy grail of all USB sticks, it can be a little buggy when being read by a CDJ player. Then there’s SanDisc, offering the SanDisc Cruzer Ultra and SanDisc Extreme Pro. Both are considered top of the line and, while a little more vulnerable than the Survivor, are both incredibly fast. While more than a few Djs will stand by one of these suggestions, you can of course use whatever stick you want as long as it does what you want.

What's the Best USB Stick for Djs? And is it an SD Card?

The SD Card: For the Sensitive DJ?

The SD card may be the less-used contender when it comes to the DJ world but is well worth your consideration. Firstly, SD cards are faster and more reliable than USB sticks and often not that expensive. As with USB sticks, you need to make sure that the capacity of the SD card isn’t too high since, the larger the card capacity is, the harder your setup has to work to read and load tracks. Another big advantage of using an SD card is that once it’s slotted in, it’s kept safely locked in until it’s ejected. So, if it can be that much better, why isn’t everyone using an SD card?

Disadvantages of SD Cards for DJs

Many DJs shudder at the very thought of trusting an SD card with their carefully curated set simply because of the housing. The conveniently slim and compact format also makes it too easy to lose, costing a DJ more than just the amount they paid for the card. These cards can also break easily or the ‘locking’ mechanism can get jammed, just when it’s set to lock so that nobody, not even you can access it. As such, if you do opt for an SD card, it’s essential to get it a protective sleeve or a special case to store it in when it’s not being used.

SD Cards: What DJs Need to Know

If you’re not shuddering and find yourself seduced by the super-speeds that SD cards are capable of, there are a couple of things you should know before diving in. The best SD cards for Djs come with a minimum Class 10 classification or UHS-I Speed Class of 1. While these can be a little more expensive, they can be well worth it. They’re not only faster than standard but also way more reliable and, maybe the best possible card out there for DJs are the SanDisc Extreme Series cards. These cards are insanely fast and will last for years when properly cared for.

What's the Best USB Stick for Djs? And is it an SD Card?

Apples and Pears?

As you might have noticed, comparring USB sticks to SD cards is a bit like comparing apples and pears since both storage devices do pretty much the same things and both have their ups and downs. If you’re more of a bedroom DJ, then a USB stick will be more than enough for you. If you’re playing a lot of gigs, then an SD card might actually be the smartest choice as long as you make sure to take care of it. Weigh up your needs, wants and DJ-related-habits and pick what suits you best. If you’re a rough performer, then maybe it’s a good idea to keep your precious data stored on a USB stick that’s built like a tank. If you’re more careful but like things fast, then an SD card is an option. Whatever you go for, I can only hope that this blog has offered a little help in resolving what has become the modern dilemma for DJs all over.

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