I Wanna Be A DJ! Equipment Essentials: Media Players

I Wanna Be A DJ! Equipment Essentials: Media Players

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, DJs are now the new rock stars.  The DJ industry has seeped into every aspect of pop culture, and now learning to become a DJ has become what becoming a rock guitarist was in the 80’s.  From TV advertisements to reality shows, DJing has clawed its way into the mainstream and is here to stay.

Because of the rising popularity in EDM, the numbers of people wanting to learn the secret art-of-making-booties-shake is also on the rise.  From beatmatching (synchronizing different BPMs) to mixing (because when you just hit stop on one track and play on another, it’s called Paris Hiltoning), there is quite a lot to learn about this craft.  But most importantly, getting the right gear can save you a good deal of time and money.

Over six weeks, we’ll take a tour through the business, checking out all the major players in the DJ gear industry today.  We’ll be providing a comprehensive review of the major categories, from headphones to MIDI controllers. We will cover it all so you can make the most informed decision kitting out your DJ arsenal.

Catching up:

Week 1: All-In-One-Controllers

Week 2: DJ Software

And now, onto this week’s edition…

Week 3: Media Players

Whether you’re using Turntables, CDJs or a computer, you need a device to play your music when DJing.  Up until the last 10 years, turntables have been really the only choice for DJing.  Even today, many DJs prefer the feel of putting their hands on a piece of vinyl to control their music.  This method of DJing has been the traditional approach, and while it is still popular, the number of new DJs adopting this method is getting smaller every year.

The advent of new technology in the DJ industry has brought a number of exciting platforms for DJs to approach the art.  Now DJs can choose from several digital methods such as CDJs or computers to play.  Many of these new methods give DJs a great deal of power at their fingertips.   We will be discussing these different media players and how they can help you elevate your DJ game.



The original method of DJing has many benefits which are unrivaled by any other media player, and this is the reasons why many “vinyl purists” still make this their method of choice.

Turntables play vinyl records, and it is said that a record has a greater sonic range than a CD or piece of digital music.  Many say the bass is deeper on a record and that the actual pressing process provides some gentle compression, which gives the music a tonal quality that just isn’t present with a CD.

In addition to the sound quality, many people choose vinyl because it is a physical medium.  When you DJ using vinyl you can feel the record and you can see the grooves.  This tactile feature is almost the sole reason why many use turntables over other media player such as CDJs.tech12's

This does not mean that vinyl is without its limitations.  With vinyl, it is very important to take good care of your records.  I have many limited run records with scratches on them.  This breaks my heart because many of these records are rare gems that can never be replaced.  In stark contrast, you can never scratch an MP3 and you can probably even back it up just in case you lose your computer.

One other drawback is the availability of Technics turntables.  The Technics 1200 has been the most popular turntable of choice for DJs for over 30 years now.  Its direct drive motor design gave turntablists the ability to scratch and perform tricks that could not be done on other belt-drive turntables.  Recently, Technics made the decision to discontinue the 1200, and this has sent the prices of these through the roof, making them a collector’s item.  There are other turntable manufacturers on the market, but none that make the coveted 1200.



When I first started using CDJs, I used them as a way to DJ my produced songs the same day I made them.  It is very time and resource intensive to send your song to a vinyl press, just to get a test pressing that you may or may not approve of.  Being able to write a song today and perform it tonight gives producers and DJs the ability to finely tune their songs in a way not previously possible.  In addition to this, if you want to quickly give your music out, burning a CD is definitely easier than pressing vinyl.

When I first started using CDJs, their options and features were limited.  Most CDJs in the late 1990’s just had the main transport controls (Play, Stop, Pause Track Select) and also featured pitch faders just like a turntable.  Today, all of these features are found on every CDJ, and in addition to this, many new features have been added to give DJs more power in their sets.

Pioneer CDJ 2000 Nexus – The Pioneer CDJ 2000 Nexus is the top of the line CDJ and can be found in clubs around the world.  Many top level DJs have this in their contract as their media player of choice.  Its feature set has made the Pioneer CDJ 2000 Nexus the industry standard, and will probably remain so until Pioneer makes another version.SONY DSC

With the Pioneer CDJ 2000 Nexus, DJs have the ability to access their music in a variety of ways.  DJs can use CDs or insert a USB stick to the player and access their music using the browser found on the top of the player.  Users can also take it a step further and preformat playlists by using the proprietary Rekordbox software.  The LED screen is very easy to use and gives a visual readout of the song being played so that a DJ can anticipate what is about to happen in the song.

One other very significant feature found on the Pioneer CDJ 2000 Nexus is its ability to stream music from a wireless device.  If used with a Pioneer Nexus mixer, users can stream their music, removing the need for a USB stick.  This is a new feature, and I suspect you will see this technology in more DJ products in the future

Product Page                                                                                               Price: $1999.99

In the CDJ market, there are not a lot of major players selling units.  Over the last 10 years, Pioneer has single handedly dominated this market.  From the economy CDJ-400 to the flagship Nexus, Pioneer has filled the need for every price point.  That isn’t to say that there aren’t any choices.  I feel that both Gemini and Denon have made quality products over the last several years.  If you wanted to go the economy route, I might try checking out the Gemini CDJ-700 or the Denon SC2900.

Thanks for reading. Share this with your friends. And be sure to check back with us next Friday for Part IV of I Wanna Be a DJ!


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