If you’ve gotten comfortable with a basic DJ setup and are looking to upgrade, there are a variety of turntables, mixers, controllers, and CDJs that can take your sound to the next level. Generally, intermediate DJ equipment packages offer improved sound quality, more modern features, and refined control over your tracks. You’ll pay a little more for better amplification and sturdier build hardware, but this equipment will also last longer than the entry-level options.
At I DJ Now, we’re not afraid to say that when it comes to DJing, music selection is far more important than the gear you’re using to play it. If you’re a talented selector and know how to read a room, it ultimately doesn’t matter if you’re controlling tracks with a tiny controller or a top-tier setup. However, that doesn’t mean that a high-quality turntable or mixer can’t make a difference in sound quality. If you’re serious about DJing at a professional level and can afford the initial investment, we recommend starting with one of these intermediate DJ equipment packages:
There’s still a certain stigma among veteran DJs when they see novices using newfangled controllers to trigger music, but this perception is changing fast. More and more DJs are using controllers in innovative ways, proving that creativity isn’t bound by a particular device. Talent is talent, and if you can move a crowd with a portable DJ controller and a laptop, then you’re a skilled DJ, plain and simple.
However, choosing a DJ controller can be overwhelming, since there are dozens of devices jockeying for your dollar. Not all controllers are created equal — build quality, mixing features, and input/output compatibility can vary wildly between brands, with many models feeling more like a toy than a real DJ tool. Our educated staff has done its best to carry a selection of quality controllers for every price range.
For the intermediate user, we highly recommend the Pioneer DDX-SX2 controller and flight case package. This all-in-one device offers a four-channel mixer (which can work as a standalone unit), sturdy aluminum jog wheels, special compatibility with Serato, and 16 multi-color performance pads for triggering samples and hot cues. If you’re looking for even more functionality, Numark’s NS7III has three LCD displays that show detailed, full-color waveforms and track information. No need to study your laptop screen like an accountant; just focus on the music and stay engaged with this powerful controller.
It’s not hard to hear the difference between entry-level and pro-grade turntables. If you’re going to take the classic DJ route and invest in two quality decks and a mixer, you should buy the real thing. Turntables offer a warm analog sound and tactile approach that can’t be had with DJ controllers, but they also force you to play whatever records you hauled to the gig that night. For some younger DJs, this is an annoying limitation, but it also makes you seriously consider every record in your bag.
Whatever your stance, turntables are definitely not going away anytime soon. It’s hard to beat the excitement and peril that turntable DJs (and by extension, the crowd) feel when riding the pitch control and cueing a new track like a tightrope act. The crowd feels it too, and if there’s a great DJ behind the decks, that uncertainty can elevate their set even more.
Intermediate DJs can’t go wrong with the Pioneer PLX-1000, which replicates the classic Technics SL-1200 design. This direct-drive turntable offers nuanced pitch control and more stability than an entry-level model, with sound quality that shines in a bedroom or a megaclub. We recommend pairing the PLX-1000 with Pioneer’s DJM-350, a robust two-channel mixer that includes a USB port for recording seamless mixes, as well as four propulsive effects like Crush and Jet.
For the best of both worlds, upgrade to the DJM-750 — a four-channel mixer with a USB soundcard that allows you to play vinyl and digital files simultaneously. Finally, complete your turntable setup with the Pioneer HDJ-2000MK2 headphones. These on-ear marvels offer incredible sound isolation, comfy memory foam construction, and impressive audio drivers that make it easy to distinguish the low end when mixing.
Finally, DJs embracing a modern approach to their craft may want to upgrade to a pro CDJ setup. These days, you’ll find a pair of CDJs in almost every nightclub, and it’s because they offer a winning combination of hands-on cueing and digital compatibility. The latest CDJs accept both CDs and USB sticks, which means you can carry your entire music library on one finger.
The gold standard for contemporary CDJs is the Pioneer CDJ-2000Nexus, which supports CD, USB, and SD cards, boasts a gorgeous LCD display, and even has wi-fi connectivity for transferring files in a pinch. It’s a serious piece of gear, but it also comes with a pretty serious price tag, so it may be not be within reach for some intermediate DJs.
In that case, we highly recommend Pioneer’s XDJ-1000, a fresh take on the CDJ that eliminates the CD player, but supports almost any device that can store digital files (i.e. USB, smartphone, laptop, tablet, etc). Unlike the Nexus, it also has a full-color touchscreen for beat syncing, hot cueing, and much more.
Ready to take your DJing to the next level? Check out our dj equipment packages for more!