DJ Speakers and PA
Once you have your decks and your mixer set up, you’ll need to hook them up to a sound system. If you’re just practising at home, then using your headphones might be enough for you to get going. However, if you do want to spread the love a bit further then you’ll need to get yourself an amplifier.
As always, there are cheap and expensive ways of doing this…
Expensive Way: Buy yourself a PA system.
You can get a decent PA system that will do just fine for small parties or pubs for under a grand; if you plan on doing a lot of gigs at places that don’t have their own PA then this is a real no-brainer. If you own your own amplification, you’ll save a huge amount of money on gear rental; on the other hand, you’ll also need to have a car (or a friend with a car or van) to bring the stuff around with you.
The basic setup for getting your own PA will be – amplifier, 2x speakers, 2x speaker stands (optional, but advisable), 2x Neutrik connector cables.
Make sure your speakers match the amplifier; a 1000W amp might damage 200W speakers, and a 200W amp won’t be able to properly drive 100W speakers. The most important measurement to keep an eye on here is the RMS (root-mean-square) power output, not the peak power output. If you ask at your local store, the staff will be happy to advise you on which amplifier to put with which speakers.
Of course, you don’t have to stop at two speakers – you can also get monitoring wedges, bass bins, and a quadraphonic surround setup if you really want to. But it might be better to wait until you start earning some DJ cash first…
Cheap Way 1: Use your home stereo
Ok, this won’t really work for anything other than parties in your bedroom, but it might give you a feel for the process. You can connect your mixer output to the AUX IN of your home stereo/amplifier using a twin phono plug cable and listen to your decks through that. Definitely a practise solution.
Cheap Way 2: Use powered speakers
You can get speaker sets nowadays that come with their own subwoofer and power supply – these are often used as DVD/gaming sound systems for computers, but you can get sturdier versions that might work for small venues. Plug them in, connect your mixer output to the input for the speakers and off you go. If you’re using consumer-grade equipment here, don’t set the levels too high, as you might damage the speakers – if you start hearing distortion it means things are too loud and you need to back down a bit or you’ll risk permanently damaging the cones.
Again, this isn’t an ideal solution for taking on the road, but might be useful for getting started at home. Some DJs use powered speakers for monitoring purposes – the JBL EON PWD10 system is a feature of many DJ boxes.
Cheap Way 3: Use a venue’s system
If you have a pub or club near you, it might be worth asking the owner if you could use their PA to practise on. Clubs in particular tend to be empty during the day, so there’s no harm in chancing your arm to see if the manager might let you play around for a while. You might be surprised at how helpful people like this can be if you approach them with an honest, enthusiastic and no-pressure attitude – and establishing a relationship like this might be very helpful to your fledgling career a bit later on as well.
If the club’s owner sees that you have some potential, they might be willing to give you a start at some point further down the road…but don’t make a nuisance of yourself. If it’s clear that they don’t want you bothering them, then just try somewhere else, and maybe try a different approach. Different people respond in different ways, so it’s just a matter of being polite and seeing what works. But getting to know people and learning how to give a good impression of yourself are vital skills if you want to succeed as a DJ.