Quick DJ Guide - How to Start DJing Immediately
If you just want to dip your toe in the fabulous waters of the DJ lifestyle, or if you need to play a DJ set as soon as possible, then the very easiest way to get started (presuming you already own a laptop) is with a software package such as Traktor DJ. Just install the program, open up some of your mp3s and start mixing...
You can also DJ using compact discs; this is in fact an extremely popular alternative to using vinyl and most venues will have basic CD mixing hardware in-house, so you won't need to bring your own gear. The problem with this is that you probably won't have any beat-matching facilities, so you'll just have to rely on your familiarity with the music to time your mix from one song to the next. If you're playing chart music in a pub, then you can probably get away with doing this. A serious dance club won't be so forgiving, however...!
Hercules Digital Scratch Control for Laptop DJs
The Secret of the Quick DJ Start - Laptop DJing
Ok, so it isn't exactly as glamorous as slinging the vinyl, but if you have a job to do and just want to put the songs out there so that people can have a good time, then you can use your laptop.
What Laptop Do I Need for DJing?
To be perfectly honest, if you have a laptop already, it's probably going to be able to run any DJ software perfectly - unless it's REALLY old. Even the very cheapest laptop that you can buy today will eat up DJ software with change to spare. All it needs to do is play two audio tracks simultaneously, which is no problem.
If you start adding in effects such as reverb, flange or phasing, then the CPU could start to work a bit, but anything in the post-Pentium 4 or AMD +2400 range should have no problems - though I would recommend having at least 512MB of RAM. Any Powerbook Mac will also have no problem running DJ software. If you really want to get the best possible PC laptop, then you can get a custom-built machine from an audio specialist such as Red Submarine. These are specifically designed to run audio applications and are rock solid for live performance - you can check them out over at Gear4music.
The Software DJ Advantage - Quick To Learn, Great Results
If your priority is to get DJing as quickly as possible, then what you need is a copy of Traktor from Native Instruments. This is the industry leader in DJ software, and you can use it to start to DJ quickly and easily.
Traktor uses digital audio files, such as mp3s, and mixes them together on-the-fly. You can create a playlist in advance by browsing through your mp3 collection and loading up the songs you want, and you can even set Traktor up to automatically beat and level match the entire playlist so you don't have to do a thing all night except wave your arms in the air and soak up the adulation.
You can change the order of the songs in the playlist at any time, and add or remove songs whenever you feel like it - and if a request comes in, you can add it quickly to the playlist so that it comes up next, and Traktor will blend it seamlessly in if you have it on automatic mode. This is the ultimate quick DJ solution, and although it won't win you any skill awards, you'll be able to have a great time without anyone knowing that the machine is doing most of the work.
Of course, you can also do some amazing things with Traktor if you have it on manual control, particularly if you have an external digital scratch controller. The picture above shows the Hercules MKII, but there are other options too - these have dual scratch pads that allow you to scratch the mp3s as if they were vinyl. Check out this page for some more Digital DJ information.