To put it simply, unless you’re independently well off, you should probably aim for some of the lower priced DJ gear. Try to do a lot with a little, and see how far your motivation takes you. If you find that your motivation has taken you to the boundaries of your gears’ capabilities, then you know it’s time to upgrade. Frankly, I think that it tends to be overwhelming if you’re presented with too many features and options right off the bat, thus you’re liable to lose focus and/or interest. Of course, not everyone is like that, so you just need to make that decision for yourself. The rest of this article will be for people who, figuratively speaking, want to learn to crawl before they learn to run marathons.
Unless you’re planning on bringing your own PA system and lights to the places you play, you’ll be fine to start off with a DJ controller, some software and some headphones. First and foremost, when you do a net search for DJ controllers and you come up with a decent list, be sure to sort the list by price from lowest to highest so it’s easier to see what’s available in your price range (one of the greatest features of internet shopping, in my opinion). One of the cheapest yet reputable DJ controllers I know of is the Numark DJ 2 Go. Currently priced around $50-$70, the DJ 2 Go not only carries the well-known and respected Numark name, but also comes with Virtual DJ LE and is pre-mapped to work perfectly with the software. It features two platters, a crossfader, pitch and level controls and sync buttons among a number of other beneficial things.
Or, if you want something a little different, you could consider the ION Discover DJ which is currently priced around $60-$80. The Discover DJ controller has pitch and level controls like the DJ 2 Go, but also features bass and treble controls, platters that are double the size, and the Discover DJ offers you the ability to “scratch,” like you were using vinyl. It comes with MixVibes CROSS LE software which is also pre-mapped to the controller.
The software you should choose is really a matter of preference, but again, don’t aim too high when you first start out lest you get overwhelmed and lose interest. If learning all about your controller and software seems daunting, take it down a notch or two and work your way up.
As far as headphones go, you really should get a pair that’s comfortable, closed-back, and that has a ¼” plug. Ideally, you’ll also want to go for good-looking headphones (as DJing does have an element of image to it), and you’ll want ones with swiveling ear cups so you can monitor both the mix that the audience is hearing, and the next track you’re cueing up. Beyond those essential components, the DJing world is vast and full of loads of different types of gear, all with their individual pros and cons. Do your research, read reviews, even try the gear out (if you’re fortunate enough to have the opportunity), and your DJing career will expand and evolve in lots of exciting ways.