Are you interested in being a producer/DJ? Prepare to buy software and equipment which will help you learn and hone your skills in being one. Admittedly, these software and equipment can be very expensive, and at times incredibly so.
If you’re on a tight budget, do not fret. There are actually a number of great alternatives available at a lower price. In some cases, you can even get them for free. Today, we shall looking at some of these affordable alternatives that will help you get started as a producer or DJ.
Software is an important component There are actually plenty of choices available, depending on which option you choose to go with:
Option 1: Starter / LE versions
Most music software offer basic limited demos for trial purposes. For a limited period, like 30 days for example, you get to enjoy the full features of the software. Once the trial period expires, your access to the software’s full features will be restricted until you purchase it. Despite this, depending on the developer, you can do many things in the software’s starter/LE versions. Here are some of the notable ones to consider:
- Traktor: The good thing about this DJ software is that its demo version has no expiration. However, you are only allowed to have a maximum 30 minutes for each session. This may be too disruptive, but as a software you’ll be using to try out doing DJ work, that’s more than enough.
- Serato DJ: It offers an Intro software to try out the system. While this one provides fewer features than what the regular version offers, they are enough to get you started.
- VirtualDJ: This is a great option since this is being offered free if you will not be using any equipment such as a mixer, a controller, etc.
- Rekordbox DJ: It offers a 30-day period to try out the software. Beyond that period, you can no longer use its performance mode.
Option 2: Open source DJ software
If you are limited by what trial versions of software offer to you but cannot afford the full versions, using an open source software is something definitely worth checking out. For one, you get the full capabilities of the software, often at no cost at all. There is also no catch involved; the developers intended to make their software available to anyone. Notable examples include:
- xwax – a software for working with timecoded CDs/vinyl, currently running only on Linux. The only hardware needed other than a computer is an audio interface, turntables or CDJs. If you’re not keen on installing Linux, you can avail an alternative solution based on xwax called PiDeck.
- Mixxx – a multi-platform software that runs on Windows, OS X and Linux. It looks a lot like Traktor and lets you use controllers or CDJs/turntables.
Option 3: Buying used DJ software
Some software programs like Traktor, Serato, and Ableton allow the reselling of their licenses. This means you can buy a used copy with the used license and still be able to install and run the full version of the software.
In such cases, always make sure that the seller of the used software is a trustworthy seller through the amount of positive feedback received.
Option 4: Buying software on a discount
If you’ve decided to buy the software outright and want to get the best deal possible, be on the lookout for possible deals. It pays to know when these software manufacturers run their sales or promotions. Thanksgiving Black Friday/Cyber Monday period is one such period. They may also have seasonal promotions as well. Remember also to subscribe to their mailing lists and social media accounts so you will not miss out on any software offers. If you’re in no hurry to buy the software, it is best to hold off and wait for those occasions and save a lot in the process.
Unless you already have a decent sound card or audio hardware, you might want to invest in such equipment because of the following:
- On Windows, the drivers for built-in audio hardware often give low latency. This means there will be a noticeable slight delay that will make it very tricky to correct.
- The need for multiple audio outputs, not only for headphones and speakers, but also for CDJs/turntables with timecode control.
However, there are ways to get around the possible hardware expense involved if the following conditions are met:
- Your DJ controller might already include a suitable soundcard
- For Windows, using the ASIO4ALL driver may help fix those aforementioned latency issues to acceptable levels.
- In relation to the latency issues, another solution is to use a mono splitter cable which splits the stereo output into two mono outputs, one for headphone monitoring, one for the actual output.
If you will need to buy the hardware, you can opt to purchase a second-hand kit is still likely to work fine. Just remember to check that the software is compatible to your computer system and that you are buying your software from a trusted seller.
But depending on your setup, you can still use an unsupported hardware. For instance, the now unsupported Audio 2 DJ sells for about a quarter to a third the price of the current version. And if you’re just using a controller and computer alone and just need hardware to support your controller that does not have a timecode on it, the previous version will work fine while saving money in the process.
Also be on the lookout for special deals like huge discount offers. Take advantage of those bundled offers for various hardware, or may even include a software license discount too.
Contrary to popular belief, you actually do not need new, expensive headphone to DJ. You can actually get by with whatever you have lying around, especially if you’re practicing at home. If you will need to buy one, there are plenty of options around at lower price points, just to get started. If you opt for a more well-known brand Sony has the mid-range MDR-V55, as well the low budget Sony MDR-V150 ($25 on Amazon).
But don’t ignore the lesser known brands. For instance, Monoprice headphones work just as well and priced similarly to the MDR-V150. If you’re unsure about the quality or how they fare in the real world, check out places such as the DJ TechTools forums or the Head-Fi forums. Pretty sure, there are enthusiasts who have tried them out and are eager to share their feedback on them, positive or otherwise.
Source: DJ Tech Tools
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