DJ Turntables

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Tommy_N, Apr 16, 2003.

  1. Tommy_N

    Tommy_N Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi all,

    I'm looking for a new record player and as my other thread I'm probably going to get a standard budget audiophile player.

    However,

    I've always had an interest in being a DJ and creating my own music. I appreciate the skill involved in making a good mix or techno music. I understand that the equipment is completely different but does anyone have any advice if I wanted professional equipment.

    I'd probably get something like a Technics SL-1200. Which is more than I wanted to spend, (especially if I'm going to make 2-3 mix cds and get bored [​IMG] ) I also assume I would need either 2 TTs and a mixer or I'd have to hook-up the TT to my computer and get some type of software.


    I looked into it a couple of years ago and it seemed that I would need to drop a $1k for a decent entry level system. Is this correct?

    Any ideas or links to related info?

    As always thanks for your help

    Tom
     
  2. James Nguyen

    James Nguyen Second Unit

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    1200s are pretty ubiqitous as the decks of choice for most serious DJs. Their reputation for quality makes them the de facto standard--many DJs cut their teeth on 1200s since many nightclubs and bars would have 1200s as part of their set of equipment that a DJ would have to use--so familiarity with the feel and nuances of the deck is of great benefit.

    Semi-correct regarding the required equipment to jump into DJing. A mixer is a must, minimum 2 channel, but the world of mixers has many many different configurations available out there. A second audio source is also a must, but musn't necessarily be a second turntable. Many starting DJs, due to budget constraints will use devices as simple as a simple CD discman--the end goal is still the same, using audio from two disparate sources and feeding them through a mixer for manipulation and creativity on the fly. If your budget could handle it, then two identical turntables would be ideal.

    Figure on the 1200s running around $450 on average new, give or take $50 or so as a deviation. Because there's so many 1200 owners out there, your ability to find used ones on ebay is probably quite good. A solid two channel mixer will end up falling into the $100 dollar range--with a bit of prudent price shopping, you should be able to get just under the $1000 threshold.

    With that said, there are lower end turntables that you could look at--if you do look at other models, at the very least, make sure they're direct drive and not belt driven models. Belt drives just can't take the strain over time that djing places on them. Other viable options that some use are the Vestax PDX-2000 (approx. $50 to $100 cheaper) or various models from Numark (that run $150 to $250 cheaper). I'm fairly new to vinyl, so I don't have much hands on experience with the Numarks, and my time spent with Vestax is less than an hour or so playing with them at a local music shop. Again, the 1200s are considered the golden standard.

    Good luck with it! [​IMG] DJing is quite addictive, albeit a rather expensive hobby.:T But you're a HTF member--you're likely accustomed to expensive hobbies. [​IMG]
     
  3. Jerome Grate

    Jerome Grate Cinematographer

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    I've been a DJ for close to 20 years, I have the Technics 1200s and they are the standard when doing the job. James is right, you can probably get them used for a good deal, these things are tough. As to mixers, I found Numark to be a good piece to use, no echo chamber or sampling capabilities to enhance the sound. A good d.j. can easily do an echo effect just by mixing the same records one beat behind each other. I would go turntables because of it's flexibility, you can stop and start at a point on the record, backspin, drag, speed up all with the use of a finger. I must admit I like the concept of using CDs and there are players that give you some of the same flexibility turntables give you, pitch control etc., and it's a lot less bulk to carry. Singles CDs are sold, and if you have a burner, you can maybe even (legally) download singles for a cheaper price and burn them. I have to also admit, those mixed tapes go out the window now that you can burn all your mixes on CDs, I still mix records occasionally when I go to my brother in law's house in Long Island, then I upload them on to my computer for CD burning. Definetly a really, really great hobby to get into. I can find vinyl used as little as .50, for older records. So many DJs converting to CDs are selling their albums which makes it a shopping haven. Goodluck, email me if you have any other questions.
     
  4. James Nguyen

    James Nguyen Second Unit

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    Jerome--
    You may want to check out the Pionner CDJ800s and CDJ1000s if you're interested in adding a CD based deck to the mix. Both are very friendly to vinyl DJs in that you can essentially perform any kind of scratch or spin on them that you can with vinyl-- much like the 1200s are the standard turntables, the Pioneers are increasingly coming the standard as far as CD based decks at the clubs.

    I'm a bit unique in that I moved in with some DJs a bit back, and they only used the CDJ1000s--so I learned first on CDs. Since I'll be moving out soon I've been looking into my own gear and have recently started playing around with vinyl a bit more. Once I've got my own place, I'm planning on picking up a couple 1200s of my own in addition to a single CDJ1000 for flexibility. The ease with which you can burn cds for use in your sets provides an enormous amount of flexibility in your music selection--lugging around a case of CDs is a whole lot easier than lugging around a case of vinyl too. [​IMG]

    I've heard the same comments regarding Numark, though I'm currently using a Pioneer 500 4 channel mixer at the house. Will need to do my homework a bit more closely for mixers when I'm looking for my own gear.
     
  5. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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  6. Keith M.

    Keith M. Second Unit

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    Being a former professional club dj,having produced numerous commercial mix cds and competing in the DMC dj competition, I would only recommend the Technics 1200 series turntables. Doing all the turntablist tricks puts alot of wear and tear on the turntables and the 1200s are the ONLY tables to handle it all. Ive mixed on numerous brands, but they just never have the precision and feel of a 1200. Also, the stylis you choose is VERY important. If you are going to be scratching, go with Concord Blue. The Shure brand tracks fairly well, but not great for scratching and very fast cueing in a live setting...

    I started back in the 80s when Numark and Rane were the kings of mixers. Since then, they have fallen into the entry level and dont hold up very well. The quality of their crossfaders is poor. Today, I would say that Pioneer and Vestax are the kings of high quality mixers. If you are more into tricks and scratching, go with the Vestax. If you are more interested in producing mix tapes, go for Pioneer. The Vestax is tailored for a scratch dj w/ hamster switch adjustable x-fade. And the pioneers are for the bedroom producer djs with all the effects built in.

    For cds, Pioneer CDJ units are the best. I had a pair of CDJ900s. They were awsome. So close to a 1200 it was scarry. The only problem was we had to suspend them on rubber bands during gigs because the bass would cause skips on occassion, which can be a disaster when blending beats. They offered built in looping/sampling and bi-directional cueing much like a turntable. Also they are way over-priced!! Buy them used!!

    Hope this all helps...
     
  7. Tommy_N

    Tommy_N Stunt Coordinator

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    Wow, Thanks for all the great responses.

    I have a couple more questions.

    How necessary are two sources and a mixer? Are there any good software programs that I could use instead? Years ago I saw some high end software for musicians. I know you can add numerous tracks but can you manipulate the music the same way?

    Are there any good web sites that sell DJ equipment or have more info on mixers?

    I assume I can use the same equipment to play regular records albeit the sound quality won't be as good as an audiophile set-up. How much damage does stopping, dragging scratching do to the record? I assume it can't be good.

    Thanks again

    Tom
     
  8. James Nguyen

    James Nguyen Second Unit

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    Well, regarding needing two decks / audio sources--it all boils down to what you're trying to achieve. If you're interested in making some remixes here and there and maybe doing production work on your own music along with it, sure, you could go part software route. (Though the last time I took a look, nothing really overwhelmed me in the DJ software realm--then again, my search was fairly curosry). I see this as more along the lines of an audio producer--not a DJ.

    DJs typically see themselves less as "guys who just play records at parties" but more as musicians in their own right, artisans who craft music by taking two possibly disparate songs, albums and melding them together. They're the guys and gals who keep the party going and the people's spirts up.

    If those are the aspects of djing that you're more interested in, then two audio sources, preferably two turntables (either vinyl or CD) are essentially required. In a pinch, outside sources are useable, but in an ideal world, things like discmen, laptops w/ mp3 playlists, etc. would be secondary devices with your turntables being your primary sources. To a dj, their decks are like their babies. [​IMG]

    Their may be a balance somewhere in between that is right for you, but it's impossible to wager a guess without knowing what precisely you're looking to do or what motivates your interest. As a relative newcomer to the game though, I will say that it ends up being quite infectous, especially if you're a music lover.
     
  9. Tom Moran

    Tom Moran Agent

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    There is a lot of decent software that simulates the two deck setup and/or allows mixing but this is obviously very limiting for any sort of performance and more suited to production.

    I would suggest starting out with a pioneer CDJ player, a cheaper basic CD player and a 1200 or a slightly cheaper TT such as vestax, numark or gemini. This way you can learn with decent stuff and upgrade if you get serious but you are not limited to buying just Vinyl or just CD's.

    It is easier to find some stuff on CD and often cheaper but having a deck and some vinyl gives you the option of buying the unique records that most dance/techno artists put out with rare remixes and stuff like instrumental versions of the song that are great for DJ'ing.

    With all due respect to others here you simply cannot "scratch" on a CD in exactly the same way you scratch on vinyl, regardless of which CD player you use. This is like saying that acoustic and electric guitars can produce the same sounds because they are both guitars...

    For inspriation pick up the DVD of a movie called "Scratch". The skills of the DJ's featured and the story it tells are a must have for any aspiring DJ.

    Tom
     
  10. James Nguyen

    James Nguyen Second Unit

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    Re: scratchability of the CD decks--I never claimed it was purely like vinyl--but it is quite awfully close w/ the advent of the CDJ1000s/800s. Zero latency, immediate response, ability to specify pressure sensitivity on the platters--you're good to go for anything from simple baby scratches to crab scratches to standard backspins.

    Vinyl still has a certain...indescribable sound to it when scratching that's just "warmer" to my ears, but in a loud club environment with bass thumping and crowds all around you, I and other dj friends of mine can't tell when the djs are using cd decks vs vinyl (since it's fairly common these days to see both side by side).

    Don't know the state of drives from just 2, 3 years ago, but having played w/ the CDJ1000s side by side with 1200s, close your eyes and it's awfully, awfully close.

    To each his own though, it all boils down to the music in the end. I'm fond of both units, they both have served me well--and I'll be buying my own when I move out and no longer have decks down the hall I can play with any hour of the day.

    Do check out the video demo here though.. http://www.musiccentre.co.uk/dj/pion...er_cdj1000.htm
     
  11. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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