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How to Become a Hardware DJ – No Computer Involved

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On the professional DJ circuit, you will occasionally encounter a true purist.  Uninterested in the latest technology, these all-out old-school DJs prefer to rely on the hardware of years (and decades) gone by.

Truth is, putting on a live show without relying on a computer can be a hugely satisfying experience. It can also pave the way for the kinds of unique tracks, mixes and sets you simply cannot replicate with 21st century technology.

Plus, there are some who firmly believe that the dance music scenes of the 80s and 90s still are as good as it gets.

Should the mood take you, here is what you’ll need to make your next live set a genuine blast from the past:

  1. Drum machine / sequencer

First up, the classic drum machine spent decades at the heart of the live DJ experience, providing the beats that kept the whole show moving. A drum machine can be a standalone unit connected with the rest of your hardware, or integrated into another device like a keyboard or synthesizer. This was (and still is) the heart of the classic hardware DJ setup for thousands of top-level performers worldwide.

  1. Synthesiser

Synthesisers have fallen out of favour with many contemporary DJs, but are still instrumental (pun intended) on the global dance music scene. This is the tool that enables the DJ to freestyle over the beat, playing live keys with total creative freedom, or activating pre-set sounds and effects. The synthesiser was the sound of almost all popular dance music in the eighties and nineties, and still has its place on the circuit today.

  1. Sampler

The beauty of a classic sampler lies in its versatility. Designed to bring the gift of pre-recorded audio into your mixes, a sampler can be used to play back individual sounds, extensive loops or full tracks. Spoken lines and samples extracted directly from famous movies were also the mainstays for DJs using samplers in their live sets for decades. Once you get past the fairly steep initial learning curve, a sampler is just about as fun to play around with as a piece of DJ kit gets.

  1. Mixer

Last up, DJ mixers have always been an essential tool for all types of DJs. Even today, DJs working with the most advanced 21st century equipment continue to use mixers that are largely identical to those of years gone by. In fact, there are many who believe the industry-standard mixers of the eighties and nineties are impossible to improve upon. For all the sophistication of today’s most advanced mixers, DJs often prefer the ‘raw’ and ‘untainted’ feel of a simpler and more rugged mixer.

Experimenting with hardware DJing can be a rewarding experience, but may also call for a fairly extensive investment in the equipment required. If you would prefer to spread the costs of your next DJ hardware purchase over a series of affordable monthly repayments, why not consider a 0% DJ finance deal?


I'm a passionate full-time blogger. I love writing about startups, how they can access key resources, avoid legal mistakes, respond to questions from angel investors as well as the reality check for startups. Continue reading my articles for more insight.

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