Modern technology has enabled DJs to use various equipment to control music and software on a laptop. But it is possible to be a DJ without a laptop at all.
In this guide, we outline some of the options available to show you how to DJ without a laptop.
Modern DJ Decks
Modern DJ decks are very innovative gadgets used by DJs worldwide which do not require the use of laptops. The days of the laptop DJ are vanishing with the introduction of modern DJ Decks. The Pioneer CDJ-3000 is a very popular example of a modern DJ deck that is equipped with a large number of features. This system also includes a screen for a better DJ experience. The screen holds all the information required, making it very easy for the DJ to play and mix music. Although this system can be used with a laptop, some DJs prefer not using them as all information can easily be accessed from the screen in the system.
All-in-One DJ Controller
One of the most obvious laptop-DJ alternatives is an all-in-one DJ controller. They combine dual decks, mixer and in-built screen, everything you need to DJ, without the need of a laptop.
One of the best examples of such a DJ device is the Pioneer XDJ-RX2. Although there are a lot of such devices that can vary in price and features, the RX2 is one of the best. The system is backed by software that helps DJs perform their mixing activities very easily without having to use laptops.
DJing With Tablets and Smartphones
As an alternative to a laptop, DJs can comfortably use smartphones and tablets. There are a number of DJ software apps available in the app stores, including from some well-known DJ software companies.
A larger tablet, such as the 12.9-inch Apple iPad Pro would be more suitable for playing a DJ gig than the smaller screen found in most smartphones, but either option is possible.
As the music library is stored on the tablet/smartphone, you may choose to invest in a larger storage option. It is also worth opting for a tablet with the best possible specs you can afford to ensure smooth operation during your set.
> Read: 5 Best IOS and Android DJ Controllers <
Brief History of DJ Equipment
The ‘classic’ DJ setup consisted a pair of vinyl turntables, a mixer and a pair of headphones.
With the invention of CDJs – a digital CD-player version of the turntable – DJs welcomed a more technological format, meaning slightly less weight to carry to a venue. CDs are lighter than vinyl records, and more tracks could be held per disc.
Then came the option to plug a USB drive into the CDJs as an optional alternative to the CD. Again, even less to carry.
> Read: Beginners Guide to DJ Equipment <
Once the CDJs could be connected to a laptop, the DJ could carry their entire music catalogue on one device and have more tools in the DJ software that was installed.
DJ Controllers combined the features of CDJs and a mixer in one. The most popular requiring just a laptop to be plugged in, with no CD or USB input.
Somewhere along the way came the introduction of Time-Code vinyl. A special, coded vinyl can be used on turntables, which can be read by the DJ software in a laptop, giving DJs the feel of the vinyl setup, but with just one vinyl per deck.
All of the above-mentioned options are available today, with some other variations, meaning a DJ can use whatever equipment they decide; modern, classic and everything in between.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
You do not need to have a laptop to DJ. The original DJ setup was a pair of turntables and a mixer.
Most modern setups use a laptop, with a DJ controller or CDJs, but it is becoming more popular to omit a laptop completely. All-in-one controllers are a great option for this.
You can DJ with just a laptop. You would need a DJ software that supports this, but it is certainly possible.
The laptop holds the music library and the software. The DJ would control the software using either a mouse and/or the keyboard for the mixing functions. Most DJ software has shortcuts - dedicated buttons on the laptop's keyboard that trigger certain commands.
Read: How to DJ With a Laptop
DJs use laptops for convenience and functionality. As technology has advanced, the functions and effects a DJ can perform have increased.
A DJ can hold a complete music library and their laptop, whereas USB drives may only hold enough for a single set.
DJ software is getting better each year, giving DJs more and more tools to improve their mixes.
IF you do want to DJ with a laptop, we recommend the Apple MacBook Pro, 16-inch (2019).
It has a 16-inch LED, backlit display; 512 GB SSD; 16 GB RAM; 2.6GHz processor and up to 11 hours of battery life.
Read: Best MacBook for DJing
DJs have a number of sources for music. They can purchase from regular online music stores such as Apple Music and Amazon Music.
There are also DJ-focused music download sites, like Beatport, Juno Download and Soundcloud.
One of the favourite options are Record Pools - sites that a DJ can subscribe to and either have a number of tracks sent to each week/month, or they can download as many tracks as they like as long as they are subscribed. These include BPM Supreme, DJ City, Digital DJ Pool and Promo Only.
More DJs are choosing to perform at events without relying on a laptop screen. As technology advances, there are more options on the market to DJ without a laptop at all.
There are many debates that with the introduction of modern technologies the art of real DJ has vanished.