Top Gifts for Beginner DJs

Count a few active DJs on your gift list this year? Or maybe you're the parent of a teenage music fan who's recently uttered those infamous words: "I want to be a DJ." Either way, we're here to help.

DJing as an art form incorporates a wide range of styles and approaches to music-making, from old school hip-hop producers spinning backbeats to technocrat EDM producers filling festivals to people just looking to throw a killer party. No matter what the DJ in your life aspires to become, our gift picks are sure to help them on their path and score some major points in the freshest gift category.

DJ Controllers

Today, many DJs spin with nothing more than the audio files on their laptop and a simple controller. Controllers are devices that allow DJs to mix and manipulate digital music files on their computer, tablet or smartphone. Two turntable setups laid the groundwork for DJing and are still widely used, but modern controllers provide an easy way to learn the principles and concepts of live DJing without investing in a huge amount of gear.

Some beginner controllers offer just the basic control over files on a computer, while more advanced options include an audio interface to mix in more external sources like turntables and CD players. Popular softwares like Rane Serato or Native Instruments Traktor even let DJs spin digital audio tracks using special records on a turntables.

For beginners just scratching the surface of the DJ game, we recommend something basic like a Numark Mixtrack. For something a little higher-end, Pioneer controllers are a fantastic choice that offer serious performance flexibility.

Cases and Bags for Laptops and Other Gear

Successful DJs are always on them on the move, sometimes playing multiple sets at different spots in a night. This makes portability absolutely crucial, and a good bag or case designed to fit an entire setup is something that every DJ needs. Most options will include a spot for a laptop along with a DJ controller, headphones and the other odds and ends needed to play a set.

While there are a lots of pro-level hard cases designed for specific pieces of equipment, a good all-purpose bag like those made by Mono provide plenty of space for all those DJ toys, with padding to protect them while moving around town.

Pad-based Software Controllers

Similar to the regular mixing controllers mentioned above, many DJs use pad-based systems to control music software on their laptops. With these devices, striking various pads during a set will cue and trigger new songs and starts, and this method has come to form a distinct and extremely active sub-section of the DJ performance world.

Popular choices include the Native Instruments Maschine as well as the long-running Akai MPC Series. There are also many devices designed specifically for popular Ableton Live software including the Novation Launchpad.

Small Drum Machines and Synths

DJs and electronic music producers love incorporating new sounds into their songs and mixes. In the past few years, makers like Korg have started releasing affordable, compact drum machines and synths that can easily add some vintage-sounding analog flair to any live rig.

Devices like the Korg Monotribe or Volca series are a ton of fun to play around with, and make a great gift for any musician interested in analog synthesis. These devices make excellent gifts for any music-maker, and DJs are no exception.

Headphones

Everybody needs a good set of headphones, but for DJs it is mission-critical. A solid pair of over-ear cans are an integral part of every DJ rig. These can last for years if treated well. There are plenty of great options from major DJ brands like Pioneer and Denon, but also very reliable options from recording brands like Shure and Audio-Technica.

Most DJs prefer large headphones with flexible parts that are easy to take on and off. Sometimes see DJ headphones with just one ear, but these are not as versatile or practical as conventional stereo headphones.

Other Things DJs Want:

  • Cables - Like other musicians that play live, DJs need cables to hook everything up. Most DJs rely on RCA stereo and XLR type cables.
  • Vocal Microphones - Every rig should have at least one mic. We recommend the tried and true Shure SM-58.
  • CDJs - A CDJ is a standalone CD and digital audio player that most of the world's major DJs use. They can get pricey, but there are basic versions available.
  • Reverb Gift Cards - Let them figure it all out.

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