DIY DJ setup?
I wanna get into DJing. Of course, I'm gonna need a turntable, an audio mixer, an amplifier, some headphones, and speakers.
One of my friends sent me a link to a DIY amplifier tutorial, and this is where I got the idea to have a DIY DJ setup. I have a few questions before I invest my time and money: Typically, which would be more reliable? Commercially bought equipment or DIY equipment? Which would be more cost effective? Any general pros and cons you can share with me?
I'm looking to save money, and have the ultimate DJ setup, and learn a little on the way. I have no prior experience in electronic DIY project, though I've always had an interest since a little kid.
DIY can't really compete with "made in China" when it comes to saving money. Especially with second hand "made in China". The $225 that I spent on a used Behringer EP2500 would barely buy a transformer and case for a DIY version. As for reliability, you're probably not as good at soldering as someone in China who does it 7 days a week... Sure, an experienced tech or DIYer could build something that is better and more reliable, but a significant cost.
And there's second hand stuff, some even made in USA, that's cheaper than building. Peavey, AB, etc amps. Biamp mixers (search for SCM), maybe Peavey. Be careful of really vintage mixers; some had horrible slide pots.
It could be reasonable to build a simple rotary mixer, styled like something from the '70s (10" wide with wood side panels). Steal circuits from the UREI 1620 service manual, use nice Alps pots. Or just salvage phono stages from scrapped stereo gear.
The standard DJ turntable is the Technics 1200; anything else will be a compromise. There are cheaper direct drive turntables which lack the torque to maintain speed while slip-cuing. Some are styled like the 1200, complete with pitch slider. Others had knobs or thumbwheels for pitch control.
Or just get a USB DJ controller for a laptop. That's going to be more cost-effective, and easier to carry. And your records can stay clean at home rather than being exposed to dust, dirt, spilled drinks, cigarette ash, dew, vomit etc at parties.
You still need headphones; the most cost-effective might be to get a pair of Peltor hearing protectors, and transplant the drivers from some average set of Koss 'phones inside. The Peltors will block out more outside noise than any normal headphones, unless you call David Clarke headsets normal.
Speakers... if you're playing parties, something that's efficient with 15" drivers will kick. 97 to 99 dB efficiency. It's like free amplifier power compared to home speakers which are often 10 dB or more less efficient. Used is probably the way to go, but watch for speakers which have been abused and blown, or badly repaired. You can DIY something decent using Eminence and maybe Selenium drivers and crossovers. Try MCM or Parts Express, Madisound, etc and see if they have kits. If you want to get more serious, add a pair of 15" or 18" subs; those should also be at least 97 dB efficient. Consider horn loaded or bandpass designs to get more efficiency. Check speakerplans for some tested designs (and a forum of users); there's also a manifold design described in a thread at audioasylum that sounds promising. Traditional ported designs can sound great, but tend to be at a disadvantage in size. Subs are driven with a separate ampifier, and an active crossover or speaker management processor. In a pinch, a car audio active crossover of reasonable quality should work.
search is your friend
Search the forums and you will find posts helping others with your aspirations. I used your term "DJ setup" and got good hits.
rebuilding used stuff is typically cheaper than starting new. Used DJ mixers typically have bad slide pots- buy one that has those pots commercially available. Having an online schematic and parts list is a plus- drawing it out yourself takes time. Speakers with blown drivers can be economic if the parts are commercially available. Brands with "mystery parts" are to be avoided. Dual CD setups are on closeout markdown now since real DJ's use computers as a sound source. Turntables aren't used anymore- too heavy to carry around LP's, too expensive, too fragiel. For home use, though, I love my LP's. I love the setup shown in my tag line, a lot of which came from a bar band tired of the road on craigslist. My 100 db@1W speakers can blast me out of the room with a 35 w/ch tube amp. Real disco nuts may like more, of course.
Typically most pros will tell you with a limited budget you need to go with used pro gear as it offers the most bang for the buck. You will definetly not get the "ultimate DJ setup" on a budget, but the good thing is ,the more business you get, the more money you will have to spend on newly aqquired equipment.
It all depends on how far you are willing to go with DIY equipment, I have some new pro stuff, some used( which you can pick up for great deals @ auctions!) and I make all my subs and mid /high boxes.
what style of DJing are you interested in?
if you like house music and want a rotary mixer, I suggest checking out a website...
search out "Bozure" -- it's a guy who is designing kits for DIY DJ mixers...
they sound good if you build them correctly...
comprable to the sounds of vintage Bozak or Urei units, generally
4642 asks the first good question, what sort of DJ are you going to be? Saying you want to get into DJing is like saying you want to get into cooking. DO you want to make gourmet meals or sling fried eggs and hashbrowns?
SOme DJs are "creating" music by mixing snippets of sounds and beat boxes and loops and what all. This is the sort of thing that goes on in dance clubs, the Disco. Then ther is the DJ like you;d hire for a wedding reception. That disc jockey is more like a live jukebox. He plays selections, songs, already recorded.
A real turntable can be used to scratch, but they make CD players that can scratch too these days, No broken stylus on those to slow you down. If you are going to be a song player, then why use vinyl at all? ANy subtle nuance of sound will be irrelevant to the dancers and drunks. CDs won;t skip and there's no phonocartridge to feed back. More and more DJs are going to MP3 players, and you can buy commercial DJ mixers with an MP3 dock.
Even more up to date is just use a lap top cpmputer. You can store your music on the hard drive, no records or CDs to haul around, and ther is DJ software if you want to get into beat matching and tempos.
DJ mixers are different from regular PA mixers. SOme have phono preamps, which PA mixers will lack. But DJ mixers will have crossfaders for segues between songs, and they will have a cue channel so you can get songs cued up, ready to start. ANother featuer many DJ mixers have is a ducker for the mic - turn on the mic, and it automatically drops the level of the music so you can talk over it. Of course you can use a regular PA mixer, many do, but the DJ mixer might be more convenient for you.
Your sound sources and mixer should suit your style, but whatever type you use, people need to hear you, so a power amp and speakers is part of the system. Stuff like Peavey is rugged and reliable, and easily serviced across the country. There are good deals to be had on used gear. And if you don;t have a lot of gigs booked, consider renting a DJ sound system. That will let you get some experience without tying up your investment, and you'll have a chance to get a better idea what you like or don;t like and what your needs might be.
if you are 100% new to DJing, I (personally) would skip the turntables and CD players all together, and just work on getting a laptop that has a moderately 'clean' OS install, and a midi controller, and a DVS, digital vinyl system... and get some WAV files or other high quality digital sources...
it's what's happening in the DJ world now, and has been the trend for over a decade now it seems...
if you decide you like DJing, and want to see what the deal is with old school style playback, then you can pick up some used 1200s and vinyl (or use your DVS -- something like Traktor or Serato, etc)....
would be my approach....
Do you know any DJs in your area?
alot of local level DJs, after knowing you for a bit, may be willing to
help out and show you their gear/let you play on it for a few beers or something....
PS, if you need advice on buying used gear, and what to look for/watch out for...
I would bet many here would be willing to offer advice and personal experiences...
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