I'm interested in learning to DJ and have been looking up local DJ schools that I could learn at for fun (although I like the idea of doing the occasional gig every now and then too).

I'm really confused about what kind of gear a DJ uses. I always thought everything was mixed using vinyl... but now I'm under the impression that this doesn't have to be the case, and that you can use a 'controller' instead.

I don't understand how this would work, would you basically use a controller to mix tracks that you have saved on a computer? or do a lot of DJ's use a controller in combination with vinyl and CDs?

Just thought I'd do a bit of research into what equipment I might need before getting involved.

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    ...& what did that research show? – Tetsujin Aug 11 '19 at 13:04

There's no real answer to this. You could use vinyl records, or CDs, or audio files on a laptop with a DJ controller, or audio files controlled with time-coded vinyl, or instruments (drum machines, samplers and synths), or any combination of the above. What someone else uses shouldn't really influence your preference.

There are of course practical considerations that may influence your choice. Some of this gear can be very expensive (although there's a large second-hand market), some is easier to transport than others, and some types of music may be hard to find (or even unavailable) on vinyl or CD. And of course each method offers a different workflow and functionality that the others may not have, e.g. looping, scratching, automated syncing, visual cues for syncing, adding effects, fast switching between tracks, pre-programming certain aspects of the mix, ...

Before you invest a lot of money, you should probably take an introductory lesson at one of the local DJ schools you mentioned, and try different methods and see what you think will work best for you, and for the genre of music you want to play.

(Also, in my experience, online DJ-ing forums are full of highly opinionated beginners who don't really know what they're talking about, and there's a lot of misinformation out there. So take everything you read with a pinch of salt.)

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It's certainly not 'all vinyl' these days. Some use CDs. A whole lot just use a laptop computer, either with a simple playlist or with a hardware 'controller' that emulates the functions of a vinyl rig (and more).

And when a 'star DJ' appears at your club, it's very likely he's playing a completely pre-recorded set.

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