The advantages of being a digital DJ (and playing with a USB controller) are many.
But does it beat DJing with vinyl? Or even DJing with CDs?
Many DJs I know refuse to even acknowledge digital DJing and look down their noses at it.
Some have referred to it as a disease and are disgusted by what they perceive as low quality compression leading to deejays increasing their volume levels to compensate.
I’m originally from a vinyl and CD mixing background and have had far more sets on real decks than anything else.
Over the past year or two I’ve been using a controller in certain venues and it’s been so convenient that I’ve got a bit too used to it!
It’s pretty important for me to explain why I think a digital DJ has more advantages and why it’ll end up taking over completely.
This can help some of you make choices in choosing your digital equipment when it comes to it.
Why digital DJing is great
1. It’s easy to transport
Rather than lugging crates of vinyl or CDs on public transport only to get some stolen or scratched later on you have a neat little gig bag to take with you.
The weight of your gear is manageable enough to carry on your shoulder (with the laptop included).
2. You can find your music instantly
Instead of scrabbling through your crate and having a panic attack when you can’t find what you need, finding music using a controller is easy.
You either scan your organised playlists, type in the name of a tune or search in your hard drive.
Whatever happens, the result is that you reach a wider selection of tunes at your fingertips in far less time.
3. You can carry as much music as you need
Any experienced DJ remembers a time when he or she either forgot the right music or simply didn’t bring a good selection for the crowd.
Reading and reacting to the crowd in the right way is what makes the best even better.
Having instant access to 100 times more tunes than you could possibly manage in non digital format boosts your confidence and ability to adapt to anyone.
Now you just have to get to know your tunes.
4. You can take it out afterwards
A bit like your new girlfriend, you can take your digital DJ controller gig bag out with you to a party or club.
How many after parties did I have to miss when I was lugging my 40kg vinyl and CD bag around in the old days? Too many.
At least with a controller you can have your cake and eat it.
5. Mixing is easier
I’ll get lynched for this, but it’s true; mixing is far easier using a USB controller.
Before, DJs would practice mixing for hours on end before even getting their ear in. The best DJs would practice for ages just beatmatching in their spare time.
Nowadays, a controller makes it all nice and easy, freeing up resources for you to concentrate on finding new tunes, live tune selection, reacting the right way and dropping effects.
6. You can set up anywhere
As long as you bring your cables with you, setting up is a doddle. Finding a flat spot for your laptop and controller and plugging them into any spare input in the main mixer takes 5 minutes.
When you play at smaller venues where the gear is crap this is a massive advantage. What if this club is cool but has dodgy pitch control? It’s happened to me. No worries, set up your kit in the corner and you’re away.
7. You can get the latest releases faster
This is a major factor in the growth of digital music: releases are out instantly on MP3, wave and flac. They don’t need to be pressed or printed.
To be a part of this, you can either get the digital file and burn it to CD (CD DJs) or use a controller. At least using a controller you don’t waste money and plastic on blank CDs.
8. You can still mix traditionally..kind of
What if I told you that you could get nearly all of this and still use vinyl or CD to make out you only play vinyl or CD? Yep, of course you can. That’s why timecoded vinyl and CDs were invented.
9. The effects and remixing are getting to be cool
With new controllers coming out all the time and more competition in the market place, the stuff we can do with them is only gonna get better every few years.
Already, we can more or less remix on the fly, drop samples, loops and apply effects.
In a few years, you’ll be making your own tunes and mashes all in the twist of your wrist.
There’s no way you’ll ever be able to do that with vinyl and CD unfortunately.
10. Everything’s going digital anyway
It’s true and we see this every time there are big changes in technology.
Did MP3 ever stop despite many attempts to hijack its growth? No.
Back in the 1920s, did music on the radio ever stop despite huge opposition from traditional live bands? No, it just got bigger.
Of course, so will digital.
Don’t fight it, just bend like a reed in the wind.