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Setting up a Portable DJ System in the Technology Age

Updated on June 29, 2014

Setting up a DJ System

Hi. My name is Deb. And I'm a DJ. Not a full-time DJ. But I am a former commercial radio announcer for a local radio station. I'm over 35 (don't ask my age), and I grew up in the days of turntables, analog mics, and tape recorders. Don't say, "What's that?!" I now own my own online internet radio station that is growing in popularity and features programming and music, as well as "live events" and cut-ins. I also write for the ABC "Shark Tank" podcasting blog.

I was recently in a local BBQ restaurant and on the back wall of the checkout, they had all these 45's taped to the wall. It reminded me of how my own house is decorated. I work my technology business from my house (like Steve Jobs and Amazon did when they started), and I decorate with the media I knew and loved as a child. I was talking to the restaurant owner about the record decore and she said that a young girl was in there the other day and she wanted to know what kind of cd's those were. I think she thought it was a new technology!

Are we actually to the day when young people think that the old technologies many of us knew and loved as a child are new technologies? Hardly! But it's funny to ponder that. The point is that young people don't really understand the old tech because they're too busy playing with the new tech. I'll write another article soon about the importance of hanging onto some of the old technologies. Because I believe we shouldn't deinvent anything---we might just need it someday!

What the heck is that?

Which Technology Should you Use?

So enough about old media. But what about starting a career as a party DJ? You could buy a couple of old turntables (these are selling new also on Amazon--see my links at the bottom) turntables have made somewhat of a comeback, largely due to the fact that people still like records to an extent.

But if you want to be considered "hip" and "in" the modern tech stuff, you'll want to do it another way. This involves getting the right equipment (some of which you may already have) to put together a more modern digital dj system. I explain how below. Keep reading.

Steps to a Great DJ Setup

If you want to set up a great dj system, here is all you really need:

  1. A sound source (such as either turntables, mp3 players, cd or dvd players, etc.) which you will play the music you want to dj on. You can choose to use the old way with turntables and hands-on analog mixers, or modern digital mixers, or some combination of the two. Either way, just make sure the quality you output is good, and that you have the capability to be creative in your production.
  2. A mixer- This mixer can be either analog (as stated above) or digital with software and a laptop to act as your go-between. Either way will work, as long as the mixer will serve as a good engineer for your sound source and output a good quality sound.
  3. A microphone- (If you want to talk, that is!) You'll need to invest a bit more in your mic than the other equipment because it's really the most important part, other than the sound source. Also save yourself some headaches, time, and trouble by making sure it will work well with the mixer you plan on using and has all the correct connections. There's nothing worse than going to your first DJ gig, only to find that your mic has phantom power but the mixer is a straight 1/8" line input. Oops! It always pays to think ahead and practice your show ahead of time. I have been in public performance and production for years and I have a degree in Radio-Television Production, so trust me when I say the "three P's" always work: PRE-PRODUCTION PLANNING! :)
  4. A great speaker system- Your location will probably have this already set up but again, make sure your system is compatible with it. Just one extra trip or a phone call to the manager of the facility can save you a lot of trouble in the long run.
  5. A good collection of music- This goes without saying, but find out before hand what type of music and entertainment you audience is wanting before getting to the location. Are they young or older? Rich doctors or gangstas? Things such as this will greatly determine whether you need to take the soundtrack of Doctor Zhivago or Dr. Dre and believe me, there IS a difference! LOL!
  6. Most of all, have fun! Mix it up! Be yourself. I practice every show or production I do before I do it, in the comfort of my own home. Yes, my home is a small version of Steven Spielberg's Hollywood production studio, granted. But you can do it too. Just set up your equipment and try out your program. And if no neighbors call the police, you've probably got it down!

Vote on Old or New Technologies

Which type of setup do you use in your DJ system?

See results

Calling All Dj's!

If you are already a DJ, working parties and such, we want to hear from you! Tell us what you think about which setup works best for you. Have you DJ'ed parties with standard turntable and mixer equipment? Or do you only want to use the latest digital setups for your gigs?

Let us know what you think so we can input this information into our tech brains and decide what we think. Because frankly, we like both!

I think it would be really cool if there could be a system that would combine the best of old with the best of the new--oh wait, I already designed one and I'm using it now!


One idea for a cool modern setup

Our Changing World

As most of you know by now, I write for Hubpages regularly but I also publish all over the web in many circles. I even have some celebrity clients. Here is my blog for the corporate website and business, a high-tech multimedia production biz which I plan to take global in 2015.

Also, view the video to your right, and judge for yourself which type of DJ equipment you should use for your own setup.

The advantages to the traditional method, which includes the use of standard turn tables and mixers, means more creative freedom. You can "scratch" easier by just using your hands, mix it up any way you want, and do whatever you feel will contribute to making it a better show.

Granted, you can do the same thing with digital equipment, using only your ipod, laptop, and digital mixer software, but the digital interface takes away slightly from the control and freedom you have to change at a moment's notice.

What do I use?

I have my own internet radio station, and do not DJ parties, but I use a standard pair of turntables and analog mixer and mic, but I also have mp3 players, digital mixer software, and laptops, tablets, etc. anytime I want to mix it up virtually with digital equipment. I find it refreshing to hang onto to the old while using the new technologies also. I appreciate the value of both and think that by utilizing all of the technologies you have at your disposal, you open up a lot more creative options.

View the video to the right and you'll see how one guy does it. He has a pretty good setup. But there are many options. Just do your research and then decide what's best for you!

About the Author

Deb Killion is a successful work-at-home entrepreneur, professional media content producer, blogger, and technology guru. She has a degree in Radio-TV Production and Performance and keeps up with the changing tech trends in the audio and video production field.

Copyright Notice

© 2014 Deborah L. Killion

Deb Killion is a well-known blogger and media content producer. All of her work including blog entries and posts are protected by copyright law. None of her work may be copied or reproduced in whole or in part without express written permission.


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