Who Is Aphex Twin?

“Forget all the equipment, forget the music, at the end of the day it’s just literally frequencies and their effects on your brain. That’s what’s everyone’s essentially after.”

Aphex Twin, born Richard David James, is an electronic music artist born August 18, 1971, who has come to be associated with genre descriptors such as IDM (intelligent dance music), ambient, techno, and overall “experimental” music.  He can be described in these ways, yes, but his resume goes on…he is also a record producer, composer, performer, remixer (sometimes for ca$h), DJ, and just an all round musical fellow who grew up dreaming of beats and tunes.

Richard D. James has been making groundbreaking tracks for decades now, and is generally considered on of the most important electronic music makers of all time and is loved by fans and musicians alike.  However, it would seem that Richard doesn’t take himself quite so seriously as an important musical figure, preferring to remain in relative obscurity and to troll as many people as he can.  Sometimes his music can even seem rather troll-like.  This, to some, gives him his particular charm… but can you really trust this face?

Of course not.  In any case, we figured, hey, let’s look at the convoluted history of the man behind the slightly off-putting visage. Who is this Aphex Twin guy, anyway?  He seems to not want to really be known at times, and other times he is hard to escape, but that only makes us wonder… Is he perhaps a Satan worshipper?  Your garden variety techno knob-twiddling dweeb?  Some kind of hacker dude?  A EDM bigshot like Hardwell?  An actual twin to a brother who died at birth?  Who??

Sweet Baby (Richard D.) James

Richard D. James grew up in Lanner, Cornwall, in the United Kingdom, but was born in Limerick, Ireland.  He has two older sisters, and his parents are Welsh.  While the demonic emblematic omnipresent face may suggest otherwise, the future AFX was a fairly contented child according to James himself, who was generally left to his own devices in this scenic area of England.  Let’s check it out for ourselves, shall we?

Left to explore the countryside and feeling apart from the wider world, Richard was a curious sort with an active imagination enjoyed doing his own thing.  These qualities remained with him into his adult life.

An 11-year-old Richard took an early interest in electronics and, after winning a competition in school where he farted around with a Sinclair ZX81 and got this machine to make some sort of “really weird noise” when the volume was cranked, even though it was apparently incapable of doing so.  This netted Richard 50 pounds, and his career in music was thus launched!  For anyone wanting to geek out a bit, here’s the “Grandaddy of Computers”.

Ah, that hit the spot.  Anywho, the story goes that Richard began composing and producing his own tracks early on, in his pre-teenage years, and, one the hormones were in full swing, he became a DJ and spun tracks in several locations around his neck of the woods, ie. the Shire Horse Inn in St. Ives, as well as the Bowgie Inn in Crantock, as well as at some local beaches.  Here is that very same Inn as seen through a very strange neon lens.  Could this be how Richard saw it? 

College Yrs

In college, his interest was electronics and engineering, which naturally connected him closer to the music he was already making.  At Cornwall College, where he studied in his late teens, Richard received a certificate for engineering.  He was known, according to one of his teachers, to wear headphones a lot, even during class.  Scrutinizing audio was obviously a primary concern for Richard.

Being in such an isolated part of the country, it was difficult for Richard to gain access to the types of music that interested him the most, namely techno, electronic shit, and the like.  This lead to him making tapes on his own of this type of music that was not common where he was from, so he could play it for friends and immerse himself in it fully.  While working as a DJ at the Bowgie pub, he met Grant Wilson-Claridge (the dude giving the finger above), who was also a DJ. 

“I’m just some irritating, lying, ginger kid from Cornwall who should have been locked up in some youth detention centre. I just managed to escape and blag it into music.” 

Grant was interested in what Richard was up to, and, after hearing some of his original material, encouraged Richard to make records with his involvement.  This got Richard more interested in vinyl, as he was now entering the world of record producing.  The two friends were beginning to create their own little world of unique electronic music in a more rural part of the United Kingdom.  Keeping it interesting, no doubt.

First Releases and Rephlex Records

If you’re a fan of Aphex Twin, you’ll know that his first release was called Analogue Bubblebath, released as a 12-inch in 1991 on Mighty Force Records.  Here he worked alongside Tom Middleton, AKA Schizophrenia, to produce the track En Trance To Exit.  A popular radio station in London, called Kiss FM, picked up the EP itself, which did help it to become a success.

Rephlex Records was founded in 1991 was Richard D. James and his friend Grant Wilson-Claridge, who both had a strong love of Acid – not the drug, but the musical genre – which was both much maligned and much loved by the people of Britain.  In fact, many people were wholly unfamiliar with it, and so Rephlex set out to expose this genre to new ears and change others’ minds about it.  Can you teach a farmer to dance?

Two Analogue Bubblebath’s were released between ’91 and ’93, with one credit to AFX and one with no name on it.  Another EP, released under the name Bradley’s Beat, also emerged, as did yet another of Richard’s monikers, Bradley Strider.  It was around this time that Richard went to Kingston Polytechnic to take a course in electronics, however, he was quickly being consumed by techno music and would soon focus on his career in music exclusively.

Alternate Egos and SAW 85-92

More alter egos surfaced at this time when Richard was staying in London, having left school – Blue Calx, The Dice Man, Polygon Window, Power-Pill… more tracks were created, found their way on to releases by Warp Records, as well as a number of compilations.  Meanwhile, Richard was seemingly without permanent residence, living in both an empty bank and near or actually on a roundabout in Elephant and Castle in South London.

“Well, I just bought a massive bank and I’ve moved into it on my own.” 

It was in 1992 that Aphex Twin started to really get the praise heaped upon him, with the release of Selected Ambient Works 85-92, which was his very first full length record under the Aphex Twin name.  It was sited as a landmark album for ambient music, and was seen by some critics as taking what Brian Eno had done for electronic music to the next level.  That said, although many consider this to be Aphex’s first big breakthrough album, it wasn’t the highest quality as it had been compiled on tape and lacked fidelity as a recording. 

But this didn’t stop 1992 from becoming Aphex Twin’s year.  This was also the year that Digeridoo came out, and enjoyed airplay on Kiss FM in London thanks to DJ colin Faver, and even charted on the UK Singles Chart coming in at #55.  As well, the now famous Pac-Man EP came out under the pseudonym Power-Pill, and Caustic Window released four Joyrex EPs.  These tracks seemed to hint at what drum and bass music would soon become, although Richard claimed that Digeridoo was designed to make obstinate ravers go home.   

Outpouring and SAW Vol.2

1993 and 1994 were also big years for Richard in terms of creativity, with a formidable outpouring of songs that came out under his various guises, including Bradley’s Robot by Bradley Strider, the Quoth EP and Surfing on Sine Waves by Polygon Window, a couple of EPs by Caustic Window, a 3rd Analogue Bubblebath, the now-legendary “On” EP, and, as if that weren’t enough, Warp released Selected Ambient Works Volume II, which is an album that continues to inspire, amaze, and confuse as time goes on. 


Richard has credited the creation of these tracks to lucid dreaming and synaesthesia, which does make a lot of sense when you listen to them.  They are quite abstract as far as songs go, and extremely ambient, buoyant, and dreamlike.  They even messed with Gracenote, the worldwide music database that makes it its mission to catalogue tracks in the most detailed way possible.  Without simply stated titles, even Gracenote was given the slip on many of these tracks.  Following this Aphex Twin Classics and a 4th Analogue Bubblebath (he just loooves to bath in analogue with soap, doesn’t he?), as well as GAK. 1994 was, as mentioned, a big year for Richard creatively speaking, and this basically solidified him as not only a force to be reckoned with in the music industry, but a real gamechanger.

“There’s a lot of melancholy in my tracks.”

He Cares Because You Do

1995 was hot with anticipation.  Could Richard keep ’em coming?  Turns out, yes, yes he could and did.  …I Care Because You Do was the beginning of the scary sort of mocking play on Richard’s face that began adorning future works, as well as videos.  This one came in the form of a rather creepy looking painting on the album cover. 

The tracks on this album had been brewing over the past 5 years, but they were a major leap forward as far as Richard’s overall work was concerned.  They range in styles, with some of Richard’s most beautiful melodies and beats, not to mention the crowd pleasing Ventolin (above). 

Analogue synths were the instrument of choice here, and this was to be the last time that Richard was entirely dedicated to them.  Famed composer Philip Glass also makes an appearance around this time, creating a version of the album track Icct Hedral, which came out on Donkey Rhubarb.  1995 saw Richard also dip into a style called drill ‘n’ bass for a release called Hangable Auto Bulb EP.

“The best musicians or sound-artists are people who never considered themselves to be artists or musicians.” 

In The Jungle…

1996 saw further development of Richard’s musical approach, as he released the innovative Richard D. James album via Warp Records.  At this point, the beats became crazier, the synths became synthier, and the overall feel was that of a wild experiment, with moments of abandon balanced with moments of sublime melody, and then other seriously weird stuff thrown in just because.  Around this time, there was a proliferation of “jungle” music entering the zeitgeist, with even the likes of David Bowie beginning to toy with the genre (ie. Earthling at the beginning of ’97), not to mention The Prodigy and other lesser known acts like Omni Trio and Tango and Ratty.  Aphex Twin trumped them all with his self-addressing album, adding more speed and some aggression by way of full throttle beats and snare rushes that blurred past you as a listener tried to take stock of the music aurally. 

That said, this album was not the same as Atari Teenage Riot and it was not really designed for raves, but for headphones.  Whatever this album is, critics latched on and it was added to many best lists including all time best electronic albums list that continue to crop up.

Come To Daddy

Come To Daddy EP came out in ’97 and drew even more attention, as by now Richard was officially considered a genius in music circles and people were waiting to see what would be next.  He made a video with Chris Cunningham for the album’s first song and title track, Come To Daddy, featuring some rather disturbing stuff. 

At the same time, Richard has said that he thinks it’s basically just his version of bad death metal, saying it was basically the product of some drunken nights and joking around.  Still to this day, the song has its distinct fans who take the song a bit seriously, such as Dillinger Escape Plan who covered the track both on disc and live.

“Sometimes I just hit the keyboard in a way I’d like the rhythm of the tracks to sound.”

It was around now that Richard was starting to take less enjoyment out of the whole MTV thing and being famous, and started to creep back into his natural state, which seems to be one of relative obscurity.  But not before releasing Windowlicker in 1999, his hit video (again with Cunningham helming it) that features a very long limousine and some what-was-now archetypal creepiness from RDJ.


There was a slight pause of 2 years, and then in 2001 Aphex Twin came back with Drukqs, featuring heavy influence from John Cage and Erik Satie with experimental piano music combined with computers.  Ever perplexing, there were some tracks with titles written in Cornish, and this was a double album at that so it was somewhat hard for fans and critics to grasp what exactly Richard was going for here, except maybe to keep them on their toes with something completely unexpected.  Reviews for this album were mixed, but it was generally agreed upon that many of the tracks had merit at least in terms of melody.  All in all, it was not what you’d consider a “hit” album and maybe that’s how Richard wanted it.  The next time fans would hear from Richard was via his Rephlex Records label.



2005 was the year of the Analord, which came out in eleven EPs and brought Richard back to his AFX moniker.  Over the course of these albums, 42 tracks were released featuring both digital and analogue equipment, heavy on drum machines – in particular Roland machines such as the classic 808. 

But also weaving through the mix was a number of rare vintage synths and beat making machines, including Roland’s MC-4 and the TB-303 and then we can’t forget the Synton Fenix.  Tracks were pressed according to James’ specific tendencies at the time, going straight to vinyl, although he was convinced to also create a compilation on compact disc called Chosen Lords, featuring 10 tracks culled from these sessions.  An additional 20 tracks appeared on the Rephlex website in 2009 for download, beefing up the series significantly.

“I’m a really good hacker, but I’m not a sensible person.” 

The Tuss

In the years prior to Syro, which was released in 2014, Richard was busy being unfamous and trying to throw people off his trail by working under the name The Tuss, and having Grant Wilson-Claridge state that this was not Richard, but two other artists.  Later, it seemed that it was in fact Richard as both Brian and Karen Tregaskin used one of Richard’s rare synths – the Yamaha GX1.  Later, Richard finally admitted that he was The Tuss.  Coming up to 2014, Richard played a few select shows – one was a tribute to Krzysztof Penderecki, and another paid tribute to Steve Reich.

Syro, Soundcloud, and a blimp

With some interesting marketing in 2014 including a blimp and the dark web browser Tor, Aphex Twin finally came back with his first album since Drukqs, called Syro. 

This was followed by Computer Controlled Acoustic Instruments Pt2 EP, and then a flurry of random users on Soundcloud released tracks that seemed to be by Aphex Twin, but there was some confusion around this.  Eventually, it was clear that Richard was at it again, doing subversive things involving his music, his fans, and the internet.  His presence on Soundcloud gave way to previously unheard tracks, and entire unheard albums with Richard making brief but insightful comments along the way.  His Soundclouds were going down, and returning, with tracks popping up here and there under different accounts.  His fans seemed to be keeping pace with him quite admirably, despite the haphazardness of his online behaviour here.

In most recent years, Richard launched his online store featuring a slew of new tracks.


With Richard starting to play the odd show, and releasing more tracks, we may have entered a golden age of Richard’s music, with more of it now available directly from the artist himself.  Being the enigma that he is, it is difficult to say what will be next.

20 Best EDM DJs of All Time

best edm djs of all time

Martin Garrix, Avicii, Astrix, David Guetta, Infected Mushroom, Skrillex… We are all used to seeing these names on these kinds of lists.

Usually, that’s because of how much money they earn, or records they sell. It is time to see things from a new perspective.

Here is a list of the top 20 Djs worldwide, who are the most talked about according to social media and online searchers.


Shpongle is a psychedelic music project formed in 1996 in England. Members are Raja Ram and Simon Posford.

This duo is considered to be one of the ancestors of the psybient genre. It combines world music with ambient and psychedelic trance music.

Their tracks combine traditional music and sounds from all over the world and amazing female and male vocals with western synthesizer-based psychedelic music.

#19 – Steve Aoki

Steven Aoki mixes electro, dubstep and progressive house into his unique dance sound.

He was described by Eminem’s manager Paul Rosenberg as a genre defining the music that the globe needs more of.

#18 – GOA GIL

Gil was born in 1951 and was raised in San Rafael, California. He lived the birth of the hippie movement and the acid rock, and was involved with the freak collectives Family Dog and Sons.

He took off first to Amsterdam and then to India in 1969 and ended up settling in Goa.

#17 – Deadmau5

Joel Zimmerman’s alter-ego is almost as famous for his various takes on house music as for his online outbursts.


With a career as long as the history of psy-trance, this guy has been a star in the festival scene for years.

He played at the most important festivals in the world. He has a massive number of fans who love his full-on music of deep psychedelia.

#15 – Tiësto

Dj Tiesto or Micheil Verwest is still on top three decades later, he is today combining his old trance with a pop charm that has won him a new generation of fans.

Tiësto was top of Forbe’s world’s highest-earning Djs list.

#14 – DJ BLISS

DJ Bliss is among a small group of Emirati celebrities with the highest career growth and taking their talent internationally.

He has been able to establish himself as one of UAE’s most influential entertainers being the first Emirati DJ to go on tour.

#13 – Diplo

Best known for Major Lazer and Jack Ü alongside Skrillex, this guy spent the year of 2015 on top of festival lineups and global charts.

This year will certainly be no different, however it might be hard to make something more popular than Lean On.


One of the best makers of Psy-Trance music, AZAX SYNDROM (aka Regev Azaria), is easily one of the most influential artists today.

He creates his own music style, or as he calls it “Power Trance”.

#11 – Hardwell

Robbert van de Corput, or Hardwell was an early bloomer. He is one of the people who fell in love with the EDM music.

Hardwell’s was one of DJ Magazine’s Top 100 for 2 straight years, 2013 and 2014.

#10 – NEELIX

There’s only one obvious thing in the sound of Neelix: Relentless forward boost. Exactly how this boost is generated is not obvious at all – which makes it catchy in the most subliminal way possible.

Neelix nicely adds elements of Progressive Trance to Progressive House and Electro music.

#9 – Avicii

Wake Me Up made by Avicii in 2013 was for sure the song that made Avicii’s career take off. He’d sold 10M albums before the end of the year.

Since then, he has made himself as a real festival A-lister, riding high with his fellow Axwell Swedes and Alesso.


Elmar Ivatarov is one of the creators of the Vibe Tribe project. He has been making electronic-based music since he was only 13 years old.

He spent four whole years of experimentation of thorough learning which kick started his professional career as a Dj. A short while after, he started releasing tracks on different compilation releases.

#7 – Martin Garrix

This guy is easily a child prodigy of EDM. Martijn Garritsen was only 17 when Animals went international during February 2013.

#6 – Skrillex

In the 2000s, Sonny John Moore was making emo-rock music with From First to Last.

He may still look like a hardcore star, but it is clear that his electronic career has been way more successful. He is now into electronic dance music.


Danny Masseling is a Dutch hardcore producer and DJ. He was born on 20 June 1981.

He produces for various genres and subgenres under many aliases. He is also part of the following groups: Roland & Sherman (with Outblast), Masters Elite (with Catscan and Outblast) The Supreme Team (with Outblast, Tha Playah & Evil Activities) and Masters Elite (with Catscan and Outblast).

#4 – Calvin Harris

Calvin Harris is the next biggest thing from Scotland after whiskey. He has had one foot in the pop world and one in dance music since his start in 2007.


Raja Ram is an Australian musician. He left Australia in the 50s to start the hippie trail. He studied flute at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music and went to New York in 65 to study jazz.

He was a founder of the psychedelic rock band Quintessence in the 70s. He was also the co-founder of Shpongle. And he now plays solo and is one of the best Djs of the psytrance scene.

#3 – Infected Mushroom

Infected Mushroom is an Israeli musical duo formed in Haifa in 1996 by producers Amit Duvdevani and Erez Eisen. They produce and perform psychedelic music, psytrance and electronica.

They are one of the best-selling artists in the Israeli music history in terms of both international and domestic sales.

#2 – David Guetta

He has been in the electronic music industry since the 90s, but Guetta’s solo career went worldwide these last years.

Billboard declared his 2009 track When Love Takes Over, with Kelly Rowland, the best dance-pop duo of all time, in 2013.

#1 – Astrix

And the #1 Dj of our list is Avi Shmailov or Astrix! He is an Israeli trance music Dj specializing in full-on psy-trance.

He is a leading trance maker and DJ and he has been for more than a decade. He is carrying his message of beautiful emotional uplifting trance to the most well-known urban clubs, big festivals and underground events.

How To Build Your Music Library As A DJ


What is your first thought after hearing the words ‘Professional DJ’?  You’re absolutely right – an extensive music library that can bring the party no matter what the occasion. 

Wedding?  Got it covered.  Night club?  No sweat.  House party?  Of course.  Bar mitzvah?  Uhh..yes?  Baby shower?  Err… yeah, yeah, I GOT you fam.  We’ll hit that infant with some deep bass.

how to build your music library dj

In order to always provide the right content to your audience, you should never stop digging around and finding new tracks to expand your playlist. 

Essentially, keeping current is your job.  You need to know about the mainstream, but also the underground, as well as the under underground, etc. 

Music is your middle name now that you’ve told a few people that you’re a “pro DJ”, and now they’re gonna expect you to be a pro or word’s gonna get out that this guy or gal says they’re a pro but they’re a total newb! 

So if you say you’re a pro, a huge-ass music library is like your bread and butter.  So what’s the best way for a pro DJ to build one?


Old & New – Building Your Music Library As A Pro DJ

Music is very spiritual, as well as very practical and functional.  If you know the right tracks to play, the people will respond by dancing and partying.  But, if you’re 6 months behind in terms of your playlist, you can make it obvious that you’re not down with the current sounds. 

Knowing what’s new and current is basically part of the job of a pro DJ.  Maybe you’re not into every style that becomes popular, but you need to at least brush up on it because you will get asked. 


In some cases, like weddings, people are gonna want the oldies…the classics! 

Sometimes people actually want to hear a certain song for a certain reason, and that song might not be for everyone, but it will please the people that requested it.  And its in your best interest to take certain requests.  

Oh yeah, and there’s someone else you might want to please, and that’s YOU.  You gotta get your kicks in every once in a while too, but timing is everything.  You don’t want to take someone else’s big moment and do something like this…

So, here we go with five ways to build your music library as a DJ

Stay Organized

As a DJ, your music library is going to get pretty frickin’ huge pretty frickin’ fast. 

And before you have like 100 000 tracks in your iTunes and they’re all over the place, you need to come up with a strategy, or a way to keep very organized. 

Since this is business, you don’t want to show signs of being a disorganized DJ, because that’s how you lose gigs.  

You also don’t want to show up and realize you don’t have a backup, which is why a good back up hard drive is crucial. 


Staying organized is different for everyone when it comes to how you organize it on your computer, or external drives. 

You can have playlists for certain artists, but, better yet, you might want several playlists that go according to the type of event you’re hitting up. Like Wedding Playlist #10 or something like that. 

Or, you can do it by venue.  Popeye’s Night Club Playlist #4, for example.

For certain venues that you play regular gigs at, you can have multiple playlists.  The point being – multiple playlists for multiple occasions, but super organized, and always back it up!

Stay Curious

Searching out certain kinds new music might almost seem counterproductive for a DJ.  Why?  Because new music isn’t always popular music. 

If you’re trolling around on Bandcamp, listening to some god forsaken genre that you’ll probably never use for any event ever, you could rightly wonder – what’s the point? 

Because if you’re not going to ever use it for your DJing, why would you bother spending time looking into it or listening to it?  Better to spend your time figuring out what your audience wants, right?  

If you’re a wedding DJ, you might have to get acquainted with stuff like this.

Now, hold on a sec. 

Remember that no journey is ever just a straight line, and if you don’t allow yourself to enjoy music you like sometimes to and make your own private mixes out of whatever you want, you’re just going to turn into a person that does a job that’s no more exciting than sitting at a desk all day. 

Just look at this guy!  Do you want to be like this guy?


Presumably you don’t want to turn your DJing gigs into some boring grind, right?  

Therefore, yes, put the time in to make professional DJ playlists that you know people will want to hear, but don’t hesitate to spend time on Soundcloud / Bandcamp / YouTube / whereever looking for bands that YOU like, and making playlists just for the fuck of it.  

The more varied your music library, the better, because you never know when you might have to bust out some funky shit at a wedding or something.

 Hashtags And Categorical Searches

If you’ve spent any amount of time on the internet, you ought to know about hashtags, and categorical searches.

Basically, as a DJ you need to get good at going online and navigating your way around in order to find what you want faster than the average bear. 

You type in a search term into Google, like “best dubstep songs 2018”, and you will no doubt be off down the rabbit hole, seeing what’s good. 

You might end up on Twitter, reading about some awesome new DJ. 

He or she is probably using hashtags, which might be how you found him, and then others are hash tagging so that once you’ve found him, you can find related content. 


The people out there who know how to use the internet know that if they hashtag their music with the right hashtags, the right people will find it, eg. you.  Conversely, you can draw people to your web pages using hashtags as well. 

Lots of popular platforms use hashtags, including Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and more.  In other words, the big guns.  The bottom line is that hashtags are a way to find stuff you like, and then even more stuff you like.  It can help people find you too!


With categorical searches, its much the same.  If you land on a website, or an article that is categorized that way, check their categories to see what is in the same vein as the first thing you looked for.  This is all very, very useful to the modern DJ.

Find Record Labels Online

One more way to grow your DJ music library is to check out various record labels.  Chances are, if you like one thing on that label, you’ll like another. 

In the EDM world, there are tons of record labels you can check out all over the world, so its hard to narrow it down to just, say, 5.  Our advice is to use the search engine method and type in “best EDM record labels 2018”. 

This will get you started with your quest. 


Or, if you hear of one in your travels, no doubt they are represented online and you can find their website with a quick search. 

Record labels always list their rosters on their websites, and from there you can either sample the music directly from the record label’s website, or you can hop over to YouTube or another audio / video platform to see what’s good.

Another quick tip here is to sort the YouTube info by date, to see what that label or artist has been up to lately.


Some dank ass labels to get you going: Firepower Records, Big Beat Records, Mad Decent, and Ultra Records

Shazam It!

The fifth and final tip we want to share on how you can build your music library as a DJ is to Shazam it! 

If you aren’t familiar with Shazam, its a smartphone app that lets you get the pertinent information about a track just by hearing it, including song name and artist. 

This is a quick and excellent method to find new and exciting music.  Have your phone handy, and you can be like “What dat?” and before you know it you’re on the trail of your new favorite artist. 

What Equipment Do I Need To DJ At A Club?

dj-at-a-club what equpment

As many other professions and hobbies, DJing requires some serious equipment and if you want to do this gig at the club level, you need to invest in getting reliable gear that will serve you well and that will not impose limits on your ability to perform.

Before you can worry about how do I get a DJ gig in a club, you’ll want to have the right equipment. This allows you to be the best beginner you can possibly be.

When your local clubs advertise that they need a DJ, you’ll be ready and capable of providing good beats for the clubbers.

The way most people become great DJs with loads of bookings is through word of mouth. Don’t be the DJ that clubs bad-mouth because you didn’t practice and learn before getting the gig.

So let’s look at what you might need or want exactly, starting with the things you could not do without.

Turntables and/or Other Input Devices


No matter if you want to use vinyl, CDs, other digital turntables, a laptop or something exotic like a Kaossilator, input devices are your bread and butter.

You can’t play songs if you don’t have something to play them off of and your personal MP3 player will not be up to the task. You need at least two sources because you want to be able to mix.

You might want to go old-school with vinyl, but when you’re starting out, you’re not going to be able to purchase all the records you’ll need for your DJ career.

Think about building your record collection over time. For now, you’ll need to Have a turntable that can handle two CD decks.

It makes managing your music library much easier – especially when you’re carting all this equipment to clubs every night.

The surface of the controller will have knobs, buttons, faders, and pads that increase the level of control for your music.

You want to look cool dancing, and spinning your music, but you’ll have to learn how to use all the settings and functions before you bring yourself into a professional setting for gigs.

You’ll need to consider a few factors aside from knobs and buttons for accessing your menus, you’ll want a quality board that holds up to travel quite well. You will always be careful around your gear, but that might not be true of anyone who is touching your equipment. It needs to stand up to some abuse of the road.

Here is a clip of DJ Nick Kim keeping the party going.  Pay attention to his use of flanger.

Classic DJ Club Setup

The classic DJing setup includes two turntables that use vinyl and if you are serious about your art, that might be the best option.

If you think analogue sound is overrated and you don’t want to deal with the whole records and needles jumble, you can also get two CD decks.

No matter what route you take, you need to get equipment that would allow you the highest level of control and the highest sound quality so you will not be limited or crippled while mixing, scratching or performing.


So after you have your audio sources figured out, you need to be able to work with them and you need to be able to work with them easily, flexibly and reliably. So a good DJing mixer is an essential tool of the trade. 

It is going to be your command center, so the general rule is the more control, the better.

The most basic setup will include a two-channel mixer to connect two turntables to, but you might find that limiting as time goes and if you want to add more input devices, you will also need more channels to work with. stanton-m203-2-channel-mixer-buy

Another thing to consider is available effects and equalizer, options to expand with outboard, sound quality and build quality.

Don’t underestimate the last item on this list, because you are likely to be lugging that thing around from club to club and if that is the case, it should be able to withstand that.

Software and Apps

The powerful turntables and mixers need equally impressive apps and software to give you plenty of cool filters and effects for making your mixes. When you’re selecting your controller, make sure it’s one that you can operate as a new DJ.

As a newbie, you’ll want equipment that will grow as you do, but be easy to operate in the beginning.


Now this is something simple and small, but absolutely essential. No matter what you want to do exactly, the ability to listen to a different part of the mix than the one you are blasting through the PA is essential and should not be overlooked.   how-to-wear-dj-headphonesAt the club, you are going to be using your headphone all the time and you need a set that is going to be reliable, that is going to provide high quality and level and that is going to look good on you. Just make sure that you don’t compromise with anything else just for the look.

When it comes to different types of DJ equipment, you’ll want reliability, of course, but you’ll also want a pair of headphones that will move with you. As a DJ, you’ll be constantly on the move.

The set you purchase should have swivel ear pieces and those pieces should be covered with a foam that will be comfortable on your ears for hours.

The best headphones are ones that are going to isolate noise from what’s playing in the club versus what’s leaving the speakers. You’ll have less ear damage when you don’t have to listen on high volume just to hear past the noise of the club itself.

PA / Sound System

Now getting a sound system or a PA is not a small thing and it really depends on your budget and the desired gigs you are trying to get.

At most clubs, there will be a house PA that you will be able to connect your mixer to and you will not find yourself dragging your own PA to most clubs around the world.

Still, having your own sound system might provide you  with a level of freedom that you cannot get otherwise and you might also need one for your practice sessions as well.

Sound systems come in all shapes and sizes from large amplifiers and speaker stacks, to the simpler to use and move around powered speakers that have their own amps built in.

Having your own PA suitable for small or medium venues or rooms will allow you to get gigs you otherwise wouldn’t like house parties or other special occasions, but my advice would be to research the options before committing to a purchase.

Media Player

Making a choice among the many media players, controllers, and software apps comes down to personal preference, which is difficult for a beginner. Here are some things to consider when picking your club DJ setup.

First, you’re playing in dark clubs with spinning lights and insane noise. Your controller and media player should have large, bright buttons to help them to be seen in the dark.

Second, you’ll want a lock button for ejecting your CDs. There’s nothing worse than banging into the eject button. Your entire flow will be ruined and dancers will voice their disappointment as you try to fumble your way back to a good rhythm.

Third, have as many effects as possible. You may not use them all, but you’ll have them. Things like phase, echo, flanger, filter, pan, and transform will give you increased flexibility and a variety of sounds.

Lastly, consider whether you want a system that has data storage with removable memory cards. You might have a memory card for wave data storage or loop points cued up exactly where you need them.

Additional Tips

Hopefully, you already have a better idea about what you might need to get to start showcasing your DJing skills to the wide public, but let me share a few tips that might still help you out:

Find a way to test the equipment you want to buy first.

If you buy online, you’re going to have to trust other peoples’ reviews of that product, but we always recommend going to your local music store when possible.  

There are many options for all of the things you are going to need and it is important to get something that fits you. Finding a way to spend some time with a piece of gear you’re interested in before getting it is always a good idea. Test extensively as many options as you can.

Stay away from the DJ-in-a-box packages

If you are going to hit the clubs, you want to be professional and getting professional equipment is a must. Those types of packages are aimed at hobbyists and you’ll find them severely lacking as your skills start to get better.

Second-hand equipment will get you more bang for your buck

As mentioned already, getting professional grade equipment is a must if you want to be a professional and since it doesn’t come cheap, you can take a look at the second-hand market where you can get things at much lower prices.

But stick only to high quality models that were built to last and that were designed to take the punishment of constant use. Also make sure what you are getting works well and is in good condition.

Keeping Equipment Safe

Hard cases for your equipment are always a good idea. The equipment should fit snugly inside a foam insert if possible.

Check with the manufacturer of your equipment to find hard cases that are made especially for that turntable or mixer.


After asking yourself, “What equipment do I need to be a DJ?” it’ll be a simple matter of making a list and doing your own research.

Whether it’s a microphone for talking to the crowd over a PA system, having the best turntables and software, or the best headphones for canceling club noise, you’ll have a basis for your search here.

Thanks for reading!

Your First Wedding DJ Gig – What Equipment Do You Need?


The combination of late nights and the occasional major technical blunder from time to time can be draining, so you have to have the right mindset and constitution for the job. The rewards, we think, justify becoming a wedding DJ

Becoming a Wedding DJ / Starting Your Own Business

One cool thing is that wedding DJs is that as a job they are ALWAYS in demand.  Hence, it’s not a bad idea to consider this as a legit business option.  In fact, it’s one of the coolest types of businesses I can think of.

And, if you make things easy by being a chill person and easy to work with and be around, you can get some on-the-job perks (*cough* free bar) as well as the gift that keeps on giving: more wedding DJ gigs. 


Just don’t charge too much, but also don’t sell yourself short, since you’re the one providing the equipment, and dedicating your time and presenting them with your particular skill set. 

The fun times are on you, my friend, so charge reasonably and you’ll be sure to get the gig.

But before you can get yourself that first wedding DJ gig, you need to know – what is your ideal DJ setup for weddings?

It can be overwhelming to think about in the beginning, but we’ll give you an elemental equipment checklist.  Well, as simple as we can make it, since you will be needing a few “little” things.

And so, here is a quick guide to your first wedding DJ setup, and everything you’ll need to DJ your first wedding!

Deck / Controller / Mixer


What Is A DJ Deck?

Let’s get this straight.  They’re sometimes called DJ decks, they’re sometimes called DJ controllers, and they are also called DJ mixers.  

These terms are generally referring to the same device, which is in integrated music player.  

Yes, just looking at the picture above, it does look like a shitshow of complicated equipment, and of course if you are just starting out what you do NOT want to see is something that has waaay too many buttons and switches.  

Before you say “F— this!  I’m going to become an accountant like my dad wants…” HOLD ON!  As crazy as this mixer looks, its not necessarily that complicated.  

Watch this video below which simplifies what these DJ mixers are all about, and we guarantee that things will make more sense shortly…

Ok, so assuming you watched that video above (you should it has great wedding DJ tips), let’s quickly recap some of the key takeaways of what you need to know as a beginner DJ who’s either just bought their first deck, or is considering it.

Basically, like Paul said, in the above example there are two decks, which each can play a cd.  You control the volumes of each with the volume switches, and really those are your main concerns to start out with.  

They also mentioned the AUX switch, which allows you to play stuff from your phone or computer.  So, as you can see, having a piece of equipment like this, which is able to play cds, is a great asset for a wedding DJ.

Software and controllers – Cheap and easy DJ setup

As much as old-school DJs rant about them, laptops have become basic equipment for many DJs.

Weddings are no exception, since a laptop running software is much more mobile to carry around than crates and crates of cd’s or vinyl records.

To use a laptop for your wedding gigs, you’ll need specific DJ software and a controller, a piece of gear that you plug to a computer to have a more hands-on control – like a DJ joystick, essentially!

Another good thing about software DJing is that you don’t necessarily need a mixer since you can mix inside your program.

Nowadays there’s a plethora of software applications for DJing.  Traktor and Serato are oldest players, but tons of other programs have appeared since they arrived on the scene.


Traktor is developed by german company Native Instruments. It’s a classic among DJ software and as such, it’s compatible with a lot of controllers.

Pcdj Dex 3

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Native Instruments Traktor Audio 2 Dj

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Serato Dj Software – Boxed Version

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Recently, Native Instruments introduced STEMS, a proprietary audio format that in the same file holds the different instruments of the track (Say drums, bass, keyboards and vocals).

This allows you to remix on the fly and gives DJing you a new horizon. When getting started on wedding gigs you may want to keep it simpler, but STEMS prove that Traktor is a great program that pushes the industry forward.

If you get started with Traktor for your wedding gigs, you know you’ll be working with industry-standard professional software.

Here’s a screenshot from Traktor:


Serato is another classic DJing application, heavily rooted on hip-hop and scratch tradition. It pioneered the digital vinyl system, where you can use a vinyl turntable to control tracks stored on your computer.

Fans swear by Serato because of its stability: Used as one of its selling points, the software is known to run day in and day out without hassle or problems.

This makes it a “rearguard” program: New functions usually aren’t added until the company is sure that stability won’t be compromised.

All in all Serato is a great choice and also offers a monthly subscription payment. Definitely check it out, whether it’s for starting your wedding DJ business or for stepping your DJing game up! 

Here’s a screenshot from Serato so you get the idea of how it looks.

Free DJ Software Options

Of course there are a few free options to check out: PCDJ Dex lets you mix in up to four decks and Mixxx lets you explore its code to achieve greater customization capabilities.  You can also opt for a paid version.

PC DEX in action.

Keep in mind that not every controller has a script for every DJing software (meaning that not all are compatible), so consider that when building your wedding dj setup!

Although the typical choice for the working laptop has always been Mac, PC’s have come a long way and provided you take care of it and keep Windows updates under control.

Keep in mind that the computer will likely be the center of your wedding DJ gear, so you need it to be up to the task! You should be getting at least an Intel i5 processor, preferably with an SSD drive.

Aside from a controller and software, you’ll need an audio interface, which basically takes sound in and out of your computer with better quality than your regular headphones jack.

Luckily, you don’t need much for DJing, just a main output that will go to the PA and a monitor output to pre-listen your next track on your headphones.

Also, some controllers also act as audio interfaces, which makes them ideal for a mobile DJ rig!

DJ Controllers

Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol Z1 DJ Mixing Interface

Pcdj Dex 3

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Native Instruments Traktor Audio 2 Dj

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Serato Dj Software – Boxed Version

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Korg Kaossdj Usb Dj Controller With Kaoss Fx

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Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol Z1 Dj Mixing Interface

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This is an entry level controller for Traktor Pro, which means that it will put you on your way to rocking the decks in no time and without much configuration process.

It includes audio interface capabilities so you can route your audio to your PA and your headphones directly from this gadget.

Notice that it doesn’t include jogwheels, which may look annoying for experienced folks but seems reasonable considering the price, compatibility and the presence of the audio interface.

Korg Kaoss DJ

Korg is known for offering budget-friendly solutions that work amazingly well. Small and cheap, the Korg Kaoss DJ is Traktor and Serato compatible. 

It comes with a kaoss pad, the classic korg tactile interface to add effects on the fly to your DJ set.

Coming with audio interface and hardware inputs (in the case you want to plug a phone or another audio source), the Kaoss DJ is perfect for a very mobile equipment DJ setup!


CDJs are another choice when it comes to DJing.  CDJs were originally meant to play CDs, working like the digital version of a turntable.

Nowadays, most modern CDJs can also read flash drives. This allows you to manipulate your digital tracks in the same way you physically manipulate vinyls on a turntable.  

Here are some samples of excellent CDJs you can get today, as shown on Amazon, made by Pioneer.

Pioneer DJ CDJ-2000NXS2 Professional Multi Player

Pcdj Dex 3

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Native Instruments Traktor Audio 2 Dj

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Serato Dj Software – Boxed Version

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Korg Kaossdj Usb Dj Controller With Kaoss Fx

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Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol Z1 Dj Mixing Interface

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Pioneer Xdj-700 Compact Digital Player Bundle With Djm-750 Mixer And Austin Bazaar Polishing Cloth

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Pioneer Dj Cdj-2000Nxs2 Professional Multi Player

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With a high quality sound card and a gorgeous tactile screen to search your best tracks on your collection, these babies feel –and hear! – like a charm.

The 2000NXS2 offer you a plethora of possibilities to take your DJ set to the next level. They can play SD cards, CD’s, flash drives and can work as controllers for DJ applications.

Offering a whopping 96khz sampling rate, you can take your digital audio quality to the next level to have the crowd in the palm of your hand.

Pioneer XDJ-700

Siblings to the bigger XDJ-1000, these babies sit on a more modest budget while still offering plenty of power. With a nice LCD touch screen, you’ll be capable of accessing your track collection in no time. Perfect for wedding DJ gigs and their occasional rush to find a specific track!

Also thanks to the Hot cue and Loops capabilities, you will be able to create loops on the fly!

Take a look at this walk-through of the CDJ-900NXS and you will see why a CDJ is an excellent piece of gear that you might like to acquire before hitting the wedding DJ gig circuit in your area.

Another pro of using CDJs is that they are very common on club set-ups, so if you decide to go down the CD way, you’ll have the necessary skills to command a club dancefloor.

Vinyl Turntables

One option, although it will result in carting crates of vinyl everywhere, is some sick vinyl turntables. 

Having vinyl as an option is becoming increasingly in-demand at weddings as vinyl itself is seeing a resurgence. 

Vinyl these days isn’t just seen as old school, but actually new and fresh and facing the future.     wedding-vinyl-turntable That said, you should know that bringing a vinyl turntable to your next wedding DJ gig doesn’t mean ripping grandma’s old record player out of the wall and throwing it in the van.  

These new vinyl turntables are definitely looking dope, but they can still play whatever vinyl you like, whether it be hip hop or some old dusty jazz record.

And remember, vinyl = high quality audio, and its going to impress the blatant audiophiles at the wedding, and its going to treat everyone else to higher quality audio whether they are are aware of it or not.  

Here’s a sample playlist featuring vinyl, so you can hear the transitions, but you won’t get the same quality, since this is obviously not being played on actual vinyl.

Vinyl Turntables = Cool Cache

Vinyl might not be every bride and groom’s go-to for music selection, but if you present them with some choice, you just know some people are going to say “Did you say vinyl?  That’s awesome!” 

So if you want to go hard into this wedding DJ thing, having some sick vinyl turntables at the ready can be a great option for certain types of weddings.    

Here’s a quick tip or two about DJing using turn tables at a wedding from DJ Bill Bara from Modern Era Weddings.

Keep in mind that only direct drive turntables can endure DJ performances, because the technology in belt drive turntables is not prepared to do scratch and move records.

Here are a few great direct drive turntables you can check out on Amazon that will get the party started.

Best Vinyl Turntables – Editor Picks

Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB Direct-Drive Professional Turntable

Pcdj Dex 3

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Native Instruments Traktor Audio 2 Dj

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Serato Dj Software – Boxed Version

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Korg Kaossdj Usb Dj Controller With Kaoss Fx

Buy On Amazon

Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol Z1 Dj Mixing Interface

Buy On Amazon

Pioneer Xdj-700 Compact Digital Player Bundle With Djm-750 Mixer And Austin Bazaar Polishing Cloth

Buy On Amazon

Pioneer Dj Cdj-2000Nxs2 Professional Multi Player

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Stanton T92 Mkii Usb Professional Direct Drive Dj Turntable With 300 Cartridge

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Audio-Technica At-Lp120-Usb Direct-Drive Professional Turntable (Usb & Analog), Silver

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Offering a nice Technics vibe at an affordable price range, the AT-LP120s feel solid and work greatly as gig turntables.

Turntables usually need a special “phono” input due to their low volume outputs. The AT-LP120 bypasses this hassle with an internal phono output, which lets you plug it to a regular RCA input.

Stanton T.92 USB Direct Drive Turntable

With a sturdy construction and with all the accessories you’ll need to start dropping tracks, the Stanton T92 is a solid choice for your wedding vinyl DJ setup.

Like the previous turntable, the Stanton comes with an USB cable that allows you to digitalize your vinyl tracks.

Speakers For Wedding DJing

Up next, we’re going to look at speakers, because you’re obviously going to need to get your hands on some good ones for your first wedding DJ gig. 

This may sound a tad obvious, but in order to output your music you will need speakers.     best-speaker-size-for-weddingIdeally a whole PA system is probably what you will be needing at some point, but some good speakers are a must-have to start out.  

You might luck out and they’ll offer to supply you with a PA / Sound System, but this is NOT something you should expect from anyone.  You and your company need to be responsible for bringing ALL the gear – that basically goes without saying.    

That said, think about it.  If you have a good PA system, that will have speakers, not to mention many of them come with a mixer and a microphone.  

Even if you aren’t required to do any MC’ing, someone is going to want to use a microphone at some point, and this means that having the whole PA set-up is kind of crucial.  Here are some of the best deals on PA / Sound Systems out there right now.

It might not be a bad idea, once you secure the gig and know who you’re dealing with, to ask if there is anything you should not bring, because they might not want you to bring every piece of gear imaginable, but we suggest you be able to bring whatever is needed at the drop of a hat.

Speakers are one of those key pieces of gear that you cannot be caught dead without.  

We will go into more detail about speakers in another post, but for now, let’s just quickly talk about the size of speakers any wedding DJ will need to rock the party.

Find The Appropriate Speaker Size For Your Wedding Or Event

Ceremony/Reception – 50-75 people

              • 50-100W System

We recommend: Namsung’s Dual LU43PB 100 Watt 3-way Indoor/Outdoor Speakers in Black (Pair)


Cheap, resistant, nice audio quality, great for your first wedding DJ PA!

Ceremony/Reception – 75-150 people

              • 200W to 400W System

We recommend: Seismic Audio – FL-15MP – Pro Audio PA/DJ 15″ Monitor – 100% Birch Plywood – 400 Watts RMS each

Solid construction and big volume. If you want to step up your wedding DJ setup, these are a nice way to go.

15 inch woofer guarantees a nice bass response. Since they are active, you don’t need a separate power amplifier to make them sound.

Ceremony/Reception – 150-300 people

              • 300W – 600W System

We recommend: PylePro PASC12 600 Watt 12” Two-Way Stage Monitor Speaker System

PylePro PASC12 600 Watt 12'' Two-Way Stage Monitor Speaker System

With a slightly more modest 12 inch woofer, these may not offer such a big bass response, but they can be used alongside a specialized sub low speaker.

Being passive, you’ll need an amplifier, which is a separate piece of gear but almost always guarantees more and better sound.

Wedding Lighting & FX

If you want to really hype people up and get them in the partying mood, think about lighting and some special effects.  

Each of these really deserve their own post, but, suffice it to say, you will probably be expected to have at least a mirror ball kicking around in your truck somewhere.  

It all depends on the type of wedding you’re DJing, and whether you are required to go classy, or full on get-down-get-funky party mode.  

Here are, at least, a few ideas for cool lights you could have on hand should the need arises.


A good wedding DJ set needs to have a large, engaging, and wide-ranging collection of music pieces.

If you want to keep your audience entertained, it is mandatory to engage them through the right tunes for the occasion, and this applies for every DJ.  

Remember, this isn’t about you taking over the party with your tastes.  

You’ll get more work the more you try to figure out what kind of music they want to hear.  

Here is a typical 2016 wedding playlist to get you in the mainstream mood.

Adjusting to all these changing tastes in music is a challenge to any wedding DJ, and so you need to be ready with iPods, iPhones, hard drives, vinyl, and much more, because as you seek out various wedding DJ gigs, you just know that everyone is going to want different songs played in different ways, in different formats.  

And then other people will have no clue what they want and expect you to know everything there is to know about music.  So be ready!

In terms of tune-age, you should focus mainly on the safe bets, such as 80s, 90s or top 40 hits, especially with some disco and familiar dance tunes, for when the ambient gets a bit of loudmouthed later.

Choosing a list of songs that the guests can also drunkenly sing along to never fails.  People kind of like this…

Or maybe like this…

Alrighty folks, that’s going to do it for now.

 If you are just getting geared up to go into the wedding DJ business, and you have yet to work your first gig, this article should give you a lot to think about.  

Hope this helped!

The Best DJ Record Needle For Turntable Scratching With Vinyl

shr-m44-7 review

First of all, you need high quality sound. It’s quite probable that you already know that different needles can sound quite different and that’s often due to their frequency characteristics.

At the end of the day, DJs are artists and choosing your palette is your personal prerogative. Just be mindful of the options. The frequency range might be a matter of choice, but as far as the output levels are concerned, you usually want something capable of higher volumes for your scratching needs.

For our DJ scratching needles, we also need to look into durability, serviceability and price. As mentioned already, scratching is a demanding activity for both for your needles and your records. So you need a needle that would provide reasonable durability for both itself and your valuable vinyl.

Some needles might last longer, but wear your grooves faster while others might act the opposite way. It’s up to you to decide what is more important and which one you are willing to change more often. Additionally some needles are easier to bend while carrying around, setting up or operating than others, so their maintenance would be more difficult and they would be less reliable. And of course there is the price factor which doesn’t really require deeper examination.

So we know basically what we’re talking about, now let’s look at some of the best models available on the market.

Shure M44-7shr-m44-7 review

Many DJs consider this their go-to scratching needle and it surely has it’s merits and is a product that has been held in high regard since the 90s. These needles sound nice, track well and don’t wear out your records too much. It’s an industry standard already and hits all the right spots for a huge number of DJs. Additionally, it has a really loud output, it’s stable in the grove, perfect on the backspin and robust in general.

Here’s how the Shure M44-7 sounds in action…classic.

If you have to look for any shortcomings you might find that the spherical head might miss some of the finest details, especially at the highest frequencies, but that’s a pretty common trade-off when dealing with scratching needles and pretty much a non-issue in that context. Additionally, this is not a very expensive needle and proves to be great value for money.

up next…

Shure Whitelabelshure whlb whitelabel turntable scratch needle for dj

Now this is another classic product from Shure with a bit of a cult following that might be a great asset to any DJ. And on top of this, it looks cool and is one of the most recognizable cartages out there. It sounds great, tracks well, preserves your records and can handle the backspins, but it’s more of an all-rounder than a specialist and its output levels are actually lower.

So if you want a versatile needle that can handle scratching as well as other things, the Whitelabel might be what you need, but if you want a needle that excels at it, you would be better of with something else.

up next…

Ortofon Q-Bert Scratchqbertortofon2

This is a great needle that’s geared towards scratching in particular. This is a very stable needle with a very nicely colored frequency range with a midrange accent that some DJs really love. As a needle that has been designed specifically for that purpose, it handles backspins with perfection, stays in the groove and its slim design allows the DJ to see more of their vinyl which might actually be a killer feature. And, besides being functional, the looks of this needle are unique, memorable and attractive.

Ortofon’s Scratch series has a few other models like the enigmatic Concorde and they are all great, but also cost a bit more than the rest. Additionally, they might put a little bit more wear on your records than the M44-7s and their stylus is easier to bend while carrying around. Still, if you are willing to spent a bit more, this might be the best option available.

Thanks for reading!