How to Choose a Board for Your DJ Setup

Updated on July 20, 2021 | by James Stone

Whether you are a young go-getter inspired by some of the DJing bigwigs such as Marshmello or a seasoned veteran aspiring to hit the Billboard charts, knowing how to choose the right DJ setup can prove challenging.

With a lot of different options available on the market, being nitpicky about your setup preferences is a good trait. After all, knowing what kind of DJ equipment you want and where to look for it will take you places. However, nothing is ever black and white and there is no shame in admitting to — well, being uncertain.

For this reason, we have come up with a quick guide that will get you back on your DJing feet. And on that note, grab an energy drink while we touch on the subject of your DJ setup!

What to Keep in Mind When Choosing Your First DJ Setup

Depending on your budget and your aspirations, your needs and wants in the DJing world may not always align. If you are just looking to get started, a simple laptop coupled with the right software will suffice. Of course, your beginner DJ setup can be easily enhanced. For example, two turntables and a mixer make for an excellent expansion.

With that said, wanting to upgrade your first DJ setup beyond the bare necessities is common. For greater flexibility, you could consider adding a controller to your equipment. We will get to controller boards in a moment, but first, let us see what else you should keep in mind.

Generally speaking, an essential DJ setup comprises DJ software, headphones, a mixer, turntables, monitor speakers, vinyl records, or a laptop. It may sound overwhelming at first, but this is where the controller boards come into play.

What to Look Out for in Controller Boards

A controller board is an all-in-one device. If you do not wish to invest in a mixer and turntables separately, this is your go-to. Moreover, it is designed to support direct communication with your laptop, as it often comes with DJ software as well. In other words, controller boards are a wholesome solution to digitizing your DJ setup.

If you have certain ideas regarding turntables, there are plenty of controller boards to fit your mold. On the other hand, diverting your attention to the mixer is equally, if not more important when choosing a controller board. So what exactly should you look out for?

1. Channels

If you like to mix sounds from multiple sources, you would do well to go bigger. The minimum number of channels you should take into consideration is two.

2. Channel EQs

EQs are important for channel frequency bands. To adjust the lows, mids, and highs accordingly, you should see that the controller board’s mixer has three dedicated knobs.

3. Gain Controls

You need Gain controls to set up the channels’ levels. Preferably, each channel should have a separate Gain knob.

4. Level Meter

A strip of light that bounces to the beat of your track and shows its volume is a level meter. If the controller board comes with level meters for each channel — all the better. However, it is a must for the mixer’s main output.

5. Mixer Outputs

A headphone jack and master output should be present, but having other outputs, such as a recording output, helps too.

6. Inputs

The more inputs you have, the smoother your DJing sessions will be. While having a microphone input is not a necessity, it certainly makes a difference.

7. Sampler, FX, and BPM

Some of the best controller boards come with a lot of sound FX options and a built-in sampler. Moreover, their BPM helps you beat match your tracks efficiently.

All things considered, we would also like to remind you that preloaded DJ software is a welcome bonus that will further enhance your DJ setup. To that end, we hope that the ease of use will outweigh the convenience of the price range when choosing your next controller board.

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