The professional mobile Dj market has undergone some serious changes in the last few years. New technologies for storing and playing music have removed the need for having to carry physical media such as cd’s or vinyl to a gig. These newer media units play digital music files from various sources, be it separate hard disk (hdd), laptop, usb/sd, or directly from a newer media type mobile phone.
These media players come in many forms, from the basic file player ( often now built directly into mixers and some active speakers ) , up to the professional range of media controllers which feature turntable style control wheels, effects sections, multi-track control, and visual interface either to a laptop, ipad, or to a standard monitor or tv display. These systems run through dedicated software such as Serato or Traktor which allow 4 channel mixing, and library based control of your music collection. For the more traditional Dj, there are still plenty of options. CD player based units, with many of the media player features onboard, are offered by many of the manufacturers, from the classic split controller and twin player units, to the standalone jog wheel based units which vary in features and cost, with flagship models from Denon and Pioneer having reached almost legendary status amongst the club and live performance community.
For those using separate players, a mixer is still the centre piece of the setup,and like all performance equipment, these have embraced technology in both features and design. Mixers cover an enormous range of price points depending on build quality, features and intended usage. A simple well made 2 channel ‘bedroom’ mixer can be had for under £100 these days, and they are popular as ever with beginners or those on restricted budgets, while midrange units from £300 bring in more channels and features such as mp3 recording and playback, and bluetooth receivers for streaming audio directly.
High end mixing controllers for the serious home user, mobile Dj and club installation sit at the top of the market. In a segment ruled by quality of both sound output and physical build, these £600 + units have long life internals, features to control equipment directly such as remote triggering and programmable midi pads, multi channel outputs and digital inputs, and full system equalisation control.
As with all electronics, the prices rise as the design quality and feature set becomes larger, with multi channels, built in effects and visual displays being incorporated on the more expensive units.
A good mixer is nothing without good headphones for monitoring. Dj headphones differ in design from normal units, as they have to compensate for the external volume levels, often bass heavy source music, and the physical demands required of them in use, which can be single handed, shoulder rested, and all manner of twists they endure during a set. The professional manufacturers all offer Dj specific headphones, and these should not be confused with standard consumer ‘listening’ units, which are just not up to the task.
Dj specific audio systems, designed for easy transport, constant usage at volume, with good bass response and top end clarity are essential for a professional set up. Active systems, which feature onboard amplifiers and high power handling in a convenient package, or the more traditional passive setup of speakers and separate amplifier are available in a wide selection of styles and power outputs to suit all levels of performance and budgetary requirements. Speakers for mobile Dj usage usually start at 12” for the more basic units, and jump to 15” woofer size for the more professional systems, with construction being either traditional wood enclosure or the more modern poly resin style.
Separate subwoofers are available to compliment these systems, and are also available in both passive and active variants. These can really step up a mid-level speaker system as the main speakers no longer have to produce the really low end frequencies, taking the stress off them when used at high volume.
Lighting and atmospheric effects aimed at the mobile Dj market have also moved with the times, and many are now made from lightweight materials, and feature long life LED lamp systems over the traditional bulb, which drastically reduces power consumption, heat output, and the availability of multi colour from a single unit. They are complemented by efficient and affordable fog and haze machines to give you a real show based system, and are supported by fixed height or adjustable stands or portable booth style units.
In addition to the core equipment available is a wide selection of accessories in order to get you either up and running or for expansion purposes. Cables for speaker systems and power distribution, stands for speakers and lights, cables and adapters for audio equipment hookup, and cases and bags for music media storage, and for equipment protection and transportation. Cases are often overlooked, but professional audio equipment is a substantial outlay and investment, and protecting it during the rigours of weekly usage is possibly the best and most sensible part of that investment you can make.