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10 gear essentials for DJs starting out in 2020

Everything you need from affordable headphones to the best speakers — we’ve got you covered

  • Rylee Chow
  • 3 April 2020

Since most of the world was forced into home-bound self-quarantine, the week on week confinement has given rise to a new form of boredom, but it has also spawned some genius creativity. For those who are fed up with Instagram challenges and repetitive hours on your Playstation, here’s an alternative solution for the musically inclined… or just have fidgety fingers — ever considered joining the ever-growing mass of DJs on the planet?

Whether you want to tick something off your bucket list or you’ve just finally realised that this is the perfect time to start something new, we’ve put together a list of ten essential, obvious and less-than-obvious choices for a home or bedroom studio setup that touches on affordable, professional and quality entry-level bits of gear that are available or can be shipped to Asia with ease.

1. Headphones: Audio Technica ATH PRO5X DJ Monitor Headphones

Audio Technica headphones have been gaining a lot of support due to their unique balance of sound and a relatively low price. The ATH PRO5X DJ Monitor Headphones entered the market as an entry-level product for DJs just starting out, selling at just under $70. The extra soft ear pads of this over-ear headphones allow you to stay comfy for hours without exhausting the ears and aren’t heavy on the neck either. A more than acceptable frequency range of 5 – 35,000 Hz makes these perfect for home, and if you’re the type to create more movement about yourself than necessary, worry not as these come with detachable and replaceable cables for you to let loose at home.

Product: Audio Technica ATH PRO5X DJ Monitor Headphones
Brand: Audio Technica
Buy them in Asia here

2. Turntables: Reloop RP 2000 MK2 DJ Turntable

Modelled off industry favourites Technics, Reloop turntables are getting talked about and are certainly starting to penetrate the market. It does justice to all the necessities a DJ needs, particularly in the form of a superior torque that generates a quick and precise response. The RP-2000 MK2 transfers its power directly to the drive hub instead of belt-driven, which reduces wow and flutter and enhances sound projecting accuracy. The newly sturdy housing design also offers a high shock-absorbing feature and avoids unwanted vibrations. It’s a simple interface for a newbie, but certainly does the job for a pro who wants to get a few recordings done at home with ease and without forking out too much. Classy, reliable and affordable.

Product: Reloop RP 2000 MK2 DJ Turntable
Brand: Reloop
Buy them in Asia here

3. Needles: Ortofon Concorde MKII DJ Cartridge & Stylus (twin pack)

This Concorde Generation series was released in 2018 in celebration of Ortofon’s 100th anniversary. The series includes five different styles which each focus on skills or formats such as scratching or digital, and the MKII DJ cartridge and stylus is considered the jack-of-all-trades. So you’re covered for all scenarios. A solid product that boasts outstanding groove handling and comes at a good price, it‘s flexible for all kinds of styles and easy to handle as the cantilever provides outstanding rigidity.

Product: Ortofon Concorde MKII DJ Cartridge & Stylus (twin pack)
Brand: Ortofon
Buy them in Asia here

4. CDJs: Pro DJ XDJ-700

Even though Pro DJ XDJ-700 is technically not a CDJ as it supports USB but not CDs, this player has everything from its elder brother XDJ-1000, but comes in a compact package that is size and weight friendly. In comparison to the lower end CDJ models like the 350 or 850, the XDJ-700 features a large responsive touch screen and slip mode and loop roll functions which make jamming at home a lot more fun and technical. For those who like to get really technical with the mixing can link up to three more players, either CDJ or XDJ formats. The only concern might be its lack of Traktor and Serato compatibility, but worry not, the next few items below should have you covered.

Product: Pioneer Pro DJ XDJ-700
Brand: Pioneer
Check the Pioneer site to find your local dealer to buy them in Asia

5. Mixer: Pioneer DJ DJM-250MK2

Most bedroom DJs torture themselves with a similar daily thought when gazing at their setup — "is it time yet to upgrade my mixer?" And honestly, if you are a strictly bedroom-bound DJ, you won't have that answer until you actually perform in a club or audiophile setting and really understand why club mixers are built with much more versatility. Perhaps sticking to and mastering the basics is what you need to hone first, and this is where the DJM-250MK2 can be of help. Don't count on top quality sound and warmth, but it functions perfectly well enough for beginners. It has a fantastic price point too for a well-sized two-channel mixer. It includes a USB driver that allows you to extend your console with two external controllers/turntables. It may not come with top-notch sound quality, but it's not like you're using a high fidelity audio system at home — the 250MK2 provides the same look, function and feel as those professional mixers that sell for over $700.

Product: Pioneer DJ DJM-250MK2
Brand: Pioneer
Check the Pioneer site to find your local dealer to buy them in Asia

6. Controller: Roland DJ-505

While Pioneer seems to be the go-to choice for controllers, and Denon is making big waves in the market as well, this unique controller Roland stands out with its drum soundbank and sequencer. The ‘TR-S’ drum machine offers the beats from Roland’s 909, 808 and 707, almost the same as its first-generation TR-8. For home use, the DJ-505 allows for a tonne more creativity for DJs who are producers and beat-makers as well. Anyone using this controller to its fullest potential would really be breaking the own barriers of originality, which is why it gets our nod. It’s Serato compatibility makes this controller a beast of fun and creativity — check out DJ Spinna jamming on the 505 below.

Product: Roland DJ-505
Brand: Roland
Buy them in Asia here

7. Camera for Live Streaming: Zoom Q2N

Now couldn’t be a better time to make an attempt at Internet fame through live streaming the most epic DJ set. Or maybe you just want to share good music with your friends online from your home studio. Either way, you’re going to need a reliable video camera that offers both exceptional video and audio quality. The Zoom Q2N, a handy video recorder, combines excellent 4K video quality with its outstanding built-in X/Y microphones, capable of recording up to 24-bit/96kHz. For those who prefer to split their audio and video for cleaner recordings, the Q2N can take SD/SDHC/SDXC storage cards of up to 128 GB, and archive your audio in WAV format and 24-bit/96 kHz resolution, as well as MPEG-4 format for video. While the audience can enjoy the amazing real-time of quality, the 1.12 ounces (~32g) weight also provides the essential portability for users on the go. The camera features a 150-degree wide-angle lens that supports your filming at home, club or concert—with Zoom Q2N, streaming on Facebook, YouTube, Twitch and other social platforms handier than ever before.

Product: Zoom Q2N
Brand: Zoom
Buy them in Asia here

8. Studio Monitors: ADAM A7X 2-Way 7″ Nearfield Active Studio Monitor Speaker

A good pair of studio monitors is a game-changer for those taking their craft seriously. The common go-to choice for most home users is the KRK ROKIT 8, priced at a fair 300 dollars a speaker. But our pick for this list is the best seller from British maker Adam Professional Audio, the A7X 2-Way 7″ Nearfield Active Studio Monitor Speakers. With the help of X-ART folded-ribbon tweeter, the A7X serves ultra-low distortion and response up to 50kHz, resulting in its iconic transparent and high-definition sound. The advancements of the A7X allows response as low as 42Hz, making it an advisable choice for your home setup. Which leads us back to that never-ending thought of upgrading — you won’t need to upgrade these, maybe only expand the size of your system, when using the A7X series. Moreover, if you’re using your DJ space as a production studio space, these speakers are your ultimate choice. They don’t come cheap, but they sure are worth every dollar. If you are looking at a quality budget option, it’s worth checking out the Tannoy Reveal 402 for a comfy $100 each, that will deliver a promising sound for your home-style space.

Product: ADAM A7X 2-Way 7″ Nearfield Active Studio Monitor Speaker
Brand: ADAM
Buy them in Asia here

[Image from studiocare]

9. Cables & Accessories: Decksaver covers & Belkin 12-Outlet Surge Protector

If you have been following the list, your tabletop should be decked out with the best gear to hone your skills as a DJ. It is, however, extremely vital to ensure your expenditure is sustainable for a long time by taking care of your goods. Decksaver provides transparent covers that are made of polycarbonate, bringing extra protection to your gears from dust and accidental damages. Put it this way; these covers look cool enough for you to want to use and actually care about your gear when your partner or flatmate has had enough of you playing for too long or too loud. The brand's ever-growing catalogue currently supports more than 117 models of DJ related products, including controllers, mixers, CDJs and turntables.

What most won't tell you about protecting your gear, is when it's come to the power source and routing. The 12-Outlet Surge Protector from Belkin is another reliable accessory you should have. Surge protector secures your loaded workstations from any potential voltage spikes, which would ruin your priceless moments. The power filtration on this surge protector could further reduce electromagnetic and radio interference, and blocking unwanted line noises, not that you would notice these with your Adam A7X speakers in the room.

Product: Decksaver covers & Belkin 12-Outlet Surge Protector
Brand: Decksaver and Belkin
Buy them in Asia here (decksaver) and here (Surge protector)

10. Ear Plugs (for when you finally leave the house to a club or festival): Earasers Musicians Plugs

We want you to be prepared for home, as well as for when it's time to get back out of the house and dance till sunrise at your favourite club or festival. And guess what? Asian philosophies tell us that health is also our greatest wealth. So when the time comes, make sure you have a pair of earplugs handy for safeguarding those ears you'll need to use to mix at home. The Earasers Musicians Plugs is one of the top picks for DJs. Using the "V filter Technology" from the brand provides effective 19db protection and responds with a flat frequency. With these plugs you can work or play safely and enjoyably. These are the multiple-use type, not the disposable kind, and are also easy to clean on the soft silicone surface (which also prevents sweat and dirt build-ups). They also use "Smart Seal Technology" allowing them to be custom-fit to the shape of your canals, and not an irritating earpiece.

Product: Earasers Musicians Plugs
Brand: Earasers
Buy them in Asia here

[Image from sleep & sound]

Check out these major music shop retailers in Asia for more options:

BANGKOK CT music shop
JAKARTA Melodia Music

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