While you can always throw the iPod on shuffle to keep party guests entertained, the best house parties always have a DJ handcrafting the beats to get the booties shaking. However, hiring a DJ to play your party can be expensive. And besides, it's your shindig, why let someone else be the center of attention? So if you'd like to provide the soundtrack to your next banging house party, maybe it's time to invest in some basic DJ equipment. While this sort of gear can be expensive, there are a ton of entry-level options that'll allow you to test out your skills as a mix-master without breaking the bank. Here's the essential gear you need to start blasting some block-rockin' beats through your own home.
Sure, a lot of DJ equipment can be quite pricey, but the proliferation of smart phones and tablets has started to make the hobby far more accessible to the masses. Djay for the iPad and iPhone is a great entry-level solution for the wannabe-be DJ that doesn't want to blow a ton of dough on a new hobby. And for Android users, DJ Studio 3 is a great free app that will let you spin some tracks on your phone.
While these apps might be good intro-level solutions for the casual disc jockey, an enthusiast will tell you that there is no substitution for the real thing. Traktor, Ableton Live and Virtual DJ are all powerful pieces of software that will transform an ordinary laptop into a full-fledged DJ both, allowing you to splice your digital collection into a dance mix your party guests won't be able to resist. DJing is a game of timing, and every good DJ knows that there are no greater sins than letting the beat drop or forcing people to awkwardly change tempo mid-dance. A second soundcard on your laptop allows to you pre-listen to the next song and match the beats to the track blasting over the system, enabling you to seamlessly transition from one song to the next.
You'll want a pair of cans that completely cover your ears so that you can isolate your mix while you blast another set of beats to your audience. While good headphones can cost hundreds, and even thousands of dollars, you don't need to bankrupt yourself to get a good set. Since the headphones are there to let you preview upcoming tracks, supreme sound quality is less important than good sound isolation. Find something that's comfortable and provides a reasonable level of sound quality.
If you really want to step your game up, you're going to need to start spending the big bucks on equipment that can really blast some fat beats. Denon and Pioneer, both industry standards in the DJ world, have lines of quality gear, including mixers and headphones, which range from entry-level to the equipment used by pros. A lot of DJ equipment is made to be compatible with a specific software suite, like Virtual DJ or Traktor. So before you invest in an expensive audio controller, test out some software and pick one that you're comfortable with.
While many DJs have embraced the ease provided by digital music files, some still love the old-school sound of vinyl. If you decide you want to go down the vinyl route, make sure to get a DJ-grade turntable - because that dusty old record player your parents have in the attic isn't going to cut it. You'll want a turntable that allows you to control pitch and tempo, so that you can skewer the beat to keep your mix interesting. You'll also need a second turntable and a mixer, enabling you to cue up the next song and seamlessly transition it in.