If you’re a DJ, then you know that anything can happen when you’re playing at a party. That’s why it’s always important to have backup equipment on hand. In this blog post, we will discuss six pieces of backup DJ equipment that you should take with you to every party!
The best advice I can give is to look at your equipment as you set it up and think about what could happen if any single item failed during a gig.
- Would the party grind to a halt?
- Would the audience notice?
- Would that failure damage your reputation?
If the answer to any of those questions is ‘yes’, you need to bring a backup.
What is a backup?
A backup is an extra piece of equipment that you bring with you to a gig in case your primary piece of equipment fails.
It does not have to be an exact copy of the original item, but it needs to effectively perform the same job.
So, let’s look at some backup options…
Depending on what you use for your playout system, the backup options will vary.
The top of the list is music. Think about it – all your equipment is looking amazing, but you press play of the first song of the night and… nothing.
Sure, you can have a backup laptop or hard drive, but just make sure your entire music library is backed up, and somewhere safe.
Laptop and DJ Controller
A backup laptop is a great backup. It doesn’t have to be the exact same specifications but as long as it will run the software and play the music you should be fine. Just make sure you have a backup of at least your core music library, or the playlist for the next event.
There are some great, cheap DJ controllers available that can save the night if your main one fails. You can just keep it in a backpack and grab it out if needed.
Turntables and Mixer
If you use turntables, then you should have a backup mixer on hand. This is because if your mixer fails, you won’t be able to use your turntables. A backup mixer doesn’t have to be as good as your primary mixer, but it should have enough channels for your turntables and any other equipment you might be using.
If you use ‘real’ vinyl, then you may have to bring a backup record player. It’s hard to play a whole set with just one! Alternatively, you could bring a completely different system as a backup.
If you use Time-Coded Vinyl, don’t forget spares!
Just like with turntables, if you use CDJs you should have a backup mixer. The same rules apply as with the turntables and mixer; it doesn’t have to be as good as your primary mixer, but it should have enough channels for your CDJs and any other equipment you might be using.
You should also bring backup CDs or USBs in case your CDJs don’t work.
If you use a controller as your primary setup, then you should bring a backup controller. It doesn’t have to be the same model, but it should be able to control the software you’re using.
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Just as important as your playout system is the things that transmit the music to the crowd – your speakers! If you’re using active speakers, then you should have a backup power supply. If you’re using passive speakers, then you should have a backup amplifier.
Could you manage a night with just one speaker? Maybe. It’s not ideal but it is an option. Two is better, and three is ideal.
Headphones and Microphone
These may seem pretty trivial items, but they are essential for a DJ.
A backup pair of headphones is always a good idea, again, a cheaper alternative to your main pair is fine.
If you use an ‘all singing, all dancing’ wireless microphone system, you could buy a spare receiver. But do you really need it for one night? You could just keep a spare wired mic in your bag.
Now trust me on this one, lighting failure is not the end of the world (or party). Hopefully, your setup consists of more than one lighting fixture anyway, so if one fails you’ve still got others.
However, if you’re using moving head fixtures, then it’s worth considering a backup. These are more expensive than some other lights, so you may not want to buy a backup just for one night. But if you’re using them regularly, then it’s worth considering.
Have a think about the cheapest lighting setup you could get away with. Two or four LED Parcan lights might be all you need.
This is probably the most important piece of backup equipment you can have. Why? Because it’s where you control the party from!
If the booth breaks or you forget that one bolt that holds it all together, you’re going to have a tough night.
So, my advice is to have an alternative option. Most venues have a table suitable for your basic equipment. If you just keep a black cloth (even a tablecloth) handy you can manage without your booth for an evening.
Cables, cables, and more cables
Do not underestimate the importance of cables. And equally, their vulnerability to damage. Even if you get all your equipment and cables tested regularly (usually annually), you should visually check them before each gig. Why? Because it only takes one bad connection to ruin your night.
Regarding backups, figure out what is essential to have spares for. Things like your laptop, DJ controller and wireless microphone will probably have specific power supply cables that you can’t just buy from the local store. For these items, you should always have a replacement.
Some other equipment might be more generic, and you could get away with keeping a handful of cables that serve various lights or speakers, for example.
And that’s it! I hope this has been helpful and you never have to use your backup equipment. But if you do, at least you’ll be prepared!
Have a great gig! 🙂