Episode 1 – Technology advancements

Vinyl Emulation Software (Serato) and CD Player Technology (CDJs) – DJ equipment changes

Question: What equipment do you need to be a DJ?

Serato with Mac Laptop and CDJ
Serato with Mac Laptop and CDJ – New Technology

 

Over the past 4-5 years, the answer to that question has changed drastically. The correct answer used to be 2 turntables, needles and a mixer along with records but that is not what a DJ will tell you right now. Technology has changed this answer in the form of 2 things: Vinyl Emulation Software and CD Player Technology.

Now, a DJ might suggest you at least get a laptop computer along with Serato, Rekordbox, Torq, Final Scratch or some other form of Vinyl Emulation Software and DJ oriented CD players. What Vinyl Emulation software does is allow a DJ to use a digital form of a song like a MP3 or a WAV file the same way you would use a vinyl record. This software can eliminate the task of carrying heavy milk crates of records. Most DJs will say records have a warmer sound and feel to them. However, carrying a laptop computer and an external hard drive is a small price to pay to have an arsenal of songs with the equivalent of 50+ milk crates of records. You might not need that much music but it does add that diversity that is needed for a DJ. DJ Jazzy Jeff used to have to pay extra for all the crates of music he used to bring on the airplane when he would travel but not anymore. He said he’s saved so much money in extra baggage fees due to him not having to carry records.

Most Vinyl emulation software works with turntables and DJ oriented CD Players. As far as CD player technology goes, that has changed drastically. DJ oriented CD Players, now called CDJs, have the feel and sound of turntables now. Scratching can be done on advanced CDJs that even makes the finickiest Turntablist feel comfortable with them. No more replacing needles every so often. The newer CDJs even have special sound effects and also have sound looping and anti-skip features built into them. DJing has been make so much easier due to the advancements in CD player technology.

Turntables and a Mixer

Turntables and a Mixer - Original technology

Simply put… Before, to be a DJ, you needed 2 turntables, preferably Technics 1200, needles, a mixer and of course records. Now the preferable equipment to be a DJ is 2 CDJs ,a mixer and more than likely a laptop computer with vinyl emulation software running on it and an external hard drive for all of the music in digital format that you will be using. That is how Vinyl Emulation Software and CD player technology has changed the game!

If you have any discrepancies to what you just heard, comments on what you just heard or have new ideas on who or what changed hip hop and I will challenge your ideas too then send an email to patrick@patrickscientific.com

Until next time peace

Audio Verison as done originally on Strictly Hip Hop on WEAA 88.9 FM below.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/djarthurc Dj Arthur C

    Hey Patrick, whats up!! yes pretty much this summarizes everything up. Now on the side of technology, it has made everything waaaay too easy. Now you cant throw a cd without hitting a so called “DJ”, little kids with extra money in their pockets, who buy a laptop and get a piece of sofware, download a buch of mp3s and they go around clubs and venues yelling “Im a dj!!” playing for peanuts, and when we the people that have the djing as a way of living or part of our way of living going to look for work, we get declined because owners do not want to pay a reak dj fee and they prefer to save bucks by getting a laptop dj.
    This is just my concern about the whole technological advancements, inevitably, we have to deal with that. My 2 pennies here!!

  • http://www.djykcor.com DJ Ykcor

    I some what disagree with you Arthur. See, Yes technology has made it easier but if your a real DJ then your a real DJ regardless of software or hardware, and yes, Alot of the newer generation just picks up a labtop n goes to these bars/clubs n spins for next to nothin but the quality isnt the same and real clubs will pay for quality… You have to take into account that 90% of DJs are all the same these days, They all play the same shit so what makes one different from the other? That is my point…You have to seperate yourself from the rest and if you do that and do it well then you will get your worth in full! Theres plenty of DJs who get theres and why?, Cus they seperate themselves from the hurd! And yes, Theres is alot of them who play for peanuts but if everyone sounds the same then why pay the next man more money if thats the case?! Bottom line is… Make your own lane, Seperate yourself from the others and make yourself have value… Take a chance and play somethin different then the rest, Just find a nitch that others aint doin! If you look throughout history, All bigger DJs who are “ON” have there nitch and utilize that to the fullest, The rest behind them are ones tryin to be like them so whats the point?! Always remember that you are not a person, You are a product so you must market your product different from the rest if you want to be successful and stand out in this world of “A Dime A Dozen”…

  • DJ MelBoogie

    Yes Patrick – I like the piece :)

    Do remember (similar to DJ Arthur wrote) – you can have all the latest equipment, along with all the MP3s in the world, and still not be a “DJ”. I think what makes a DJ is great is the ability to know the music, read the crowd and actually invest time in developing the craft. My ten-cents!!! Hope you’re good homie!! Blessings from Toronto

  • http://illstreetgrooves.com dj RBI

    Pat, im gonl chime in on this a lil later when I grab some time. Great blog though, brotherman!

  • http://innasound.com Cool DJ Willie

    This is a good article explaining why the proliferation of horrible DJ’s are getting so many gigs. The idea of digging for unique records to play in the record store has gone by the way side. The notion of spending weeks crawling thru multiple record stores to find that one track to make your upcoming sets brilliant is ridiculous to many of the people who now have the option of the internet. at their disposal.

    As far as DJ’ing technology I personally use Ableton Live and Reason for my DJ sets now…..LIVE REMIXING

    • Patrick Scientific

      To Cool DJ Willie: I’ve seen an Ableton Live set before and I was a little disappointed at what was going on however I have to admit that the set was musically great. I have to agree that live remixing brings the game up even more. The live remixing in the set was great.

  • blunted

    I’m torn on this. I know many DJs in Philly… and while most of them are classically-trained (vinyl), many of them have moved to Serato as a way to lighten the load & make things easier. Of course, a young buck seeing a “big name” DJ using Serato is almost seen as a license to go that route from the beginning. Whether this is a good or a bad thing depends on who you talk to.

    Personally? I’m somewhat indifferent. While I’m a purist at heart, a good DJ will be a good DJ whether on vinyl or Serato, so it’s more about the skills than the method for me.

  • Dj sw3

    Great topic, I agree will one thing, just because you use serato or some other virtual Dj software, it doesn’t make u a Dj, it take alot of practice. Also some Dj are getting away from blending they are just slaming record on. To be a Dj is a art and it takes alot of practices.

  • Dj Earth 1ne

    Salute Pat!

    This article is very timely! I know some folks that are considering equipment right now….so I forwarded your blog to them. :-) GREAT BLOG!!

  • http://www.theshanonlee.com Shanon Lee

    @DJ MelBoogie I agree!!

  • DJ MIM

    Nice overview…

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion…and on board with DJ Ykcor’s comments. Some people “just play” music…and that doesn’t make them a DJ. You need to feel music and love music to really be successful in this game. If you want to play everything you can hear on the radio without mixing it up…then you aren’t in your own lane. What you use…hardware…software….doesn’t define you as a DJ.

  • http://wellandgoood.blogspot.com/ Underdog the DJ

    Funny thing is, wax still sells “out”. Dam the Fudgemonk sells out. Oddisee sells out…Money is made on all levels if you put out quality…Gentrification saving #DC nightlife is an interesting discussion topic too wouldn’t you agree?

  • http://www.djmarcx.com dj marc x

    I have to agree with blunted on that one!!!

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  • Aaron Simpson

    Great article. These kids are programmers not dj’s! they play the same song behind the same song. they lack creativity and originality. A real DJ knows every beat in every song he has or that is in his genre. he or she should be able to identify either the artist, producer, or label of any song he hears in his genre due to the time spent in distinguishing styles and working on his/her original dj style! they are just posuers!

  • Ronnie Don

    Pat! Whats good brother??? I have a few cents to add give me a few, my rant is going to take a while. PEACE!

  • DJ Miles Franklin

    Nice article,but I have to say “The Equipment doesn’t make the D.J”.. In the words of BDP” you got to have style learn to Original”(my philosophy).. Kinda like owning a pair of Air Jordans don’t make u a Hall of Fame Player… These young Cats have F’ed up the game… Low Ball Rates, Poor sound Quality, Identical Song selection. How do we (The Real DJs) press forward…? Answer”do what we been doing and be more acceptable to technological advances.. We need to form a DJ Union and start beating or putting pressure on Non union DJs…

  • DJ Kyle LaRue

    Nice piece, Patrick. The advances in technology do make for an interesting DJ landscape in the 21st Century. When I relocated to Orlando from Baltimore, my access to music, especially vinyl, was limited to say the least. Imagine a vinyl junkie forcing himself into a digital world, downloading from the Internet and burning CDs to keep in step. Ugh! Vinyl emulation software comes along and bridges both worlds. A real life saver in my situation. Over the years, I’ve seen DJs come up and “back-door” the art form. It’s frustrating and disrespectful because, as many of the other comments here have stated, promoters and club owners begin to believe that the DJ comes cheap. I am holding out hope that the fly-by-nighters who sidestep real skill for slamming hot songs with an air horn transition will be weeded out in the end.

    • Patrick Scientific

      To DJ Kyle LaRue: You and others have mentioned how people who hire DJs think it is cheap now due to the amount of new DJs that have come in the scene and have low balled prices. Technology is the only reason that this has happened. There are times when I’d DJ for free because I like to DJ but I hate when a cheezy DJ low balls on the price because they don’t know any better. I’ll pray with you my friend.

  • DJ PHELONEOUS

    Anyone can “DJ” using all this technology…. Not everyone can rock 2 turntables, a mixer, needles and records… End Of Story.

    • Patrick Scientific

      To DJ PHELONEOUS: Well said!!! To take it even further not everyone has the records to do it either.

  • http://www.djsparkx.com Dj Sparkx

    I always hoped that the Fly-by-night djs would eventually disappear, but jus as fast as 1 disappears another 2 will make their entrance. Alot of times i dont even think promoters listen enough to notice the difference in quality of the cheap djs vs. the djs who know their value. Some of these promoters only care that music is on and dont realize the lack in talent. The fly-by-night cheap dj eventually under cuts djs above him with his cheap/free price tag.

    Vicious cycle is created. Fly-by-night dj destroys party quality with lack of talent or know how, ppl dont have a good time, less ppl come out to promoters events, promoter making less money, promoter spends less b/c he making less, continues to book cheap dj, party quality continues to decline… And so on — game is being destroyed.

  • DJ PHELONEOUS

    @Patrick… you would never guess how many kids have came in the studio and were like “wow you have real records” now that is just a shame, I have a kid who wants to getdown with the bumsquad djz and wants me to sponsor him and i gave him two records and said let me see what you can do, he said he didnt want to be a bum anymore lol.

  • http://www.twitter.com/wisemath Wise Math

    Lemme just add to this all late and say I saw Jazzy Jeff in L.A. rock Serato and each DJ Premier gig I’ve been to, he’s using Serato. It’s not what you use, it’s how you use it. Madlib makes beat son a SP-303 and 404 and sometimes the dope but limited SP1200. Primo still uses his MPC60 although it’s mad outdated.

    It’s all in the person behind the hardware.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1225260016 Gerard Miller

    Speaking as a young cat, I’ve always wanted to DJ, but felt like I needed an apprenticeship or mentorship from a real master. I’m a live musician, dancer and poet, and I carry that idea of stewardship into most of the work I get involved in. i love music, i LIVE music, but this is a whole other beast. i have a pair of cheap ION tables and a mixer i picked up at FYE and i’ve been trying my hand, but I feel like an idiot because i have no training. is there some Real DJ 101 thing, or is someone in the Bmore area willing to show me the ropes? pls hit me on FB, skype: yellowfeather17

    • Patrick Scientific

      I can say that if you decide to make a commitment to seriously trying to learn to be a DJ then your equipment can’t be cheap. No disrespect intended but I’ve never heard any DJ using ION equipment. It is not a cheap start up cost. Good turntables help your skills get better. You can get a cheaper mixer if necessary. Once this is done then you can go about finding someone to help you develop as a DJ. There are some instructional DVDs out there. DJ Shortee has one out there and it seems pretty good. Watching DMC contests (I have about 15 on VHS) are also a way to see everything you can possibly do with turntables and CDJs. If you feel like you don’t want to continue then you can sell good equipment but I’m unsure if you can even give away cheap equipment. Consider Vinyl emulation software also… Its everywhere and many people us it. Good luck.

    • Anonymous

      Type your reply…I can say that if you decide to make a commitment to seriously trying to learn to be a DJ then your equipment can’t be cheap. No disrespect intended but I’ve never heard any DJ using ION equipment. It is not a cheap start up cost. Good turntables help your skills get better. You can get a cheaper mixer if necessary. Once this is done then you can go about finding someone to help you develop as a DJ. There are some instructional DVDs out there. DJ Shortee has one out there and it seems pretty good. Watching DMC contests (I have about 15 on VHS) are also a way to see everything you can possibly do with turntables and CDJs. If you feel like you don’t want to continue then you can sell good equipment but I’m unsure if you can even give away cheap equipment. Consider Vinyl emulation software also… Its everywhere and many people us it. Good luck.

  • Mrkay7

    i’m not really liking this new fangled stuff..it’s like cheating to me..i miss seeing the dj dig in the crates to find a record.i like hearing the pops in the record and seeing where the groove was worn out from the cutting and scratching..i understand the economics of it and the advancement but i love the old school..some of these cats use bpm counters to do blends ..no bueno

    • Anonymous

      MrKay7: I feel you on that. It is always good to go to an all vinyl
      event when they happen. Some of the new DJs are left out but that is
      where they get to see where things came from and then they can respect
      and possibly understand the old school DJs when they talk about what
      they did back in the day! They might even understand why old school
      DJs call it cheating. Technology doesn’t go backwards but every once
      in a while it is good to see where DJing came from to appreciate where
      it is now. Great post.

      Quoting Disqus :