Just like regular instruments, DJ gear is increasingly available in a purpose-built version for kids. From mixers and controllers to complete sets, young’uns have more and more to choose from every day. So what are the perfect introductory bits of DJ kit? In this blog, I’m going to tell you what your pride and joy needs to take their first steps into the world of DJing!
My first DJ set
While most of us grew up singing along to analogue audio tapes, any seven-year-old these days can start their DJ career early (with a little help from their parents, of course). We’ve already established that there’s plenty of choice when it comes to DJ sets for children, but which one is best for your little Tiësto-to-be? Let’s look at the differences first. A DJ set generally includes a mixing desk with a tabletop CD or record player on either side. The fact that it’s made up of multiple components, however, also racks up the cost. A cheaper and easier way to learn the basics is a DJ controller, which is basically a smaller and sturdier yet complete set in one.
The Search for Music
Since we’re lucky enough to live in a technologically advanced era, we no longer have to lug around or deal with huge physical record collections to listen to lots of different tunes. Thanks to streaming services like YouTube and Spotify, stores like iTunes and Amazon Play, and the possibility to digitise vinyl records and CDs and convert them into MP3s, you literally have access to a worldwide collection of songs. While most DJ software knows its way around MP3s, it’s also becoming increasingly easier to play your tracks via music streaming services.
DJ Software to Play With
Now that we’re on the subject: DJ software isn’t always included with controllers and if it is, it’s often a basic version. Since you might want more options in the future, it’s worth looking into which software comes included and what it’s capable of. All you’ll need now is a laptop, tablet, or in some cases, a phone. Again, save yourself a load of disappointment and make sure to check which devices and operating systems the DJ controller you may have already shortlisted is compatible with.
What Kind of Set is Suitable for My Kid?
Now that you know the difference between a complete DJ set and a controller and what to take into account when it comes to building a music collection, it’s time to narrow down the selection and start making choices. Since every case is personal, feel free to deviate from any of the assumptions we’ve taken the liberty of making.
If you already have access to a large (digital) music collection full of MP3s or other audio files, a controller combined with music management software is a solid choice. Big names include Pioneer, Rekordbox, Serato and Native Instruments Traktor. If you’re okay to leave things in the hands of streaming services, go for (free) software that supports these like Algoriddim DJAY or Virtual DJ. If you have a particular controller in mind, check the specifications to see if the maker throws in any free software. Also, the software developers’ websites usually specify which hardware is compatible.
As soon as you’ve figured out how you’ll be playing your music, we can start looking at the right controller. First of all, make sure you buy a ‘standard’ complete DJ controller. These can be spotted by their platters (two circular spinning surfaces). In general, the higher the price tag, the more extensive the features and functions of a controller are and, once you know which software you want to use, the quest for the perfect controller becomes a lot easier. Dependable entry-level models are the Numark DJ2GO2 / Party Mix / Mixtrack, the iDance XD101, the Hercules DJ Control Series and the Behringer CMD Series. If you want something that’s a little more future-proof, we recommend the Pioneer DDJ-RB / DDJ-SB3 / DDJ-WeGO4, the Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S2 / S4, the Reloop Beatmix 2 / Beatmix 4 and the Denon MC4000 / MC6000. Keep in mind that these latter options are more expensive though.
When you want to set your offspring behind a pair of turntables, a number of accessories can’t be overlooked. Essential, of course, is a pair of headphones. Next to the fact that as a DJ you need to be able to clearly hear the transitions, we’re sure that mum and dad won’t mind a little peace and quiet every once in a while. If it’s okay for the music to blast through the house, we recommend a pair of speakers. Some controllers even have the ability to control music playback via speakers, while others have special speaker and/or headphone outputs. As such, it’s worth checking what kind of inputs and outputs are fitted to your controller. Other useful extras include a microphone, dust cover and flight case.
What was your first DJ set? And what would you have liked to see or do differently? Tell us all about it in the comment section below.