Beginner DJ? Where do you start?
The most common question to come in so far has to be... how do I start DJing? So here is some advice on how to approach this. Start by thinking about what format you wish to use. Do you want to scratch as well as mix? Do you want to pick up traditional DJ skills using turntables, CD or MP3 devices (most of these DJ skills are transferable between all devices)?
Today the Digital DJ is recognised as much as any conventional DJ so start by thinking what format you wish to use for your mixing, what format is your music in already, Vinyl, CD, MP3? Did you know you can mix your MP3's using most DJ devices today? In my tutorials I use a time coded vinyl system, this allows me to use vinyl's from normal turntables to communicate with my laptop which in turn plays music files as if they were played directly from the turntables. The records do nothing more than tell my computer at which point the needle is on the record and how it is moving at that point. The laptop is using that information to play the music file as if the needle on my turntable was playing it. There are many systems out there that use this technology so don't be fooled, shop around and you will find great deals. These systems are also available for CD devices too. Vinyl itself is still readily available, I have many friends who are not interested in mixing using any digital technology and still use original vinyl only.
Mixing without specific DJ equipment is also achievable by using computer programs, there are many of the market. However remember the more you move into a computer based system the less accessible your controls will be at any given time. What I mean by this is, the volume, gain, eq and crossfader are physical controls on your DJ mixer allowing you access to change all of them at the same time if you wished... this isn't so easily achieved with a mouse and keys! That said, there are controllers on the market to work with Ableton Live and other software packages so look at what's around before you buy. These controllers actually interact with programs giving you physical access to the programs controls, much like a DJ mixer.
The market for DJ equipment is booming, new products are constantly coming out. Ultimately this means that it would be unwise for me to advise you on any particular products if I wanted to remain an impartial adviser. Therefore I'm just going to tell you what you need! In order to mix you firstly need the ability to change the speed of your tracks. You also need volume controls for both your channels (tracks you are mixing), a crossfader is a good control to have but its not necessary as it really only automates the same actions you could do by sliding your volume faders in alternate directions at the same time. You do however need a cross fader for scratching, so bear that in mind! EQ controls are also very important, you can mix without them, but if you want your mixes to sound more professional then they are a must! These are the basics you need to consider when starting out. DJ skills are not developed over night! It will take time for you to learn to DJ properly so don't worry too much about what you might want in the future just concern yourself with trying it out first. There is tonnes of information on every essential DJ skill for download here so have a look around and see what suits you... and if you have any questions feel free to drop me an email