The Pros & Cons of going totally digital DJ

Ok, just recently I finally bit the bullet and bought a second laptop, yanked my duel CD player out of the box, and left all but a few select CD's home safe n sound, and went totally digital in my DJ set up.

So far, so good. But there are a few minor headaches.

Good stuff: No more CD's, period. Oh sure I still carry a small box of assorted essentials in but never really touch them anymore. My last wedding I never even opened the CD box.

Having a 2nd laptop also allows for far more options in cuing songs, setting samples and loops, etc. I always hated getting a good loop going behind a track and having to quit it early to cue up my next song.

I can also have a bit more fun with my sound bites; I can play one song, have my second cued up and ready to go, and still mix in some goofy sound effect or what have you if I feel the urge.

Also, taking my duel CD player OUT of my rig has made things a lot lighter; just one less piece of equpiment to carry.

There are a few downsides to it, though.

First up: I notice its taking me a little LONGER to set up...now I have TWO laptops to wire up, connect external drives, USB cords, line outs, etc...it becomes this rats nest of wires and cords all snaking around the table and unless its done neatly looks a total mess, plus you have to be REAL careful so that the cords dont get yanked accidently, which of course shuts down your music mid-song.

Still, I'm working the kinks out of the set up; picked up a few new rack cases (thanks Greggie C!) and with some custom improvisation made a pretty decent set up where both laptops are elevated up enough to work on without having to bend over all night.

Now if I could JUST get my stupid DAC controller to work on ONE of them...

All in all no regrets. I dont miss CD's one bit frankly, but I was never into all those mixing effects like some of you guys are anyway. I'm content enough to do simple beat matching, loop mixes & samples etc.

Laptops are getting better and better and more affordable each year. If teh one you are using now is "good enough," why NOT make the investment in a higher end model and run TWO?

Plus, with the newer model I bought handling all my OTHER programs quite easily, I delegated my old model to JUST "DJ" status and deleted a bunch of other programs OFF of it, which made PCDJ FX run a lot more smoothly than it had been recently.

Obviously the guys here who write & create this site are all DJ's and I know of others who at least check this site out from time to time, so I offer this feedback to any who were possibly thinking of taking the all digital plunge as well.

Musician's Friend is the #1 supplier of musical equipment through their awesome catalog and website. They've been around forever so go look. We get paid if you buy something so take a look and anyway we don't charge for the blog right so... have you seen our Google ADS? LOL! just kidding...no..no...seriously...did you see them?


  1. Here's a couple things that I found that really helped me make the digital transition.

    1. DJ ONLY Components - I know this is a pain in the ass but I actually have a separate mouse, keyboard, and external hard drive that are strictly for the DJ set-up. I have everything wired in to a USB hub/ dual fan cooling unit. In my case this is built in to a rack shelf for my laptop, but before I had this piece I built it into an old CD case, mounting everything with industrial velcro. I bought doubles of all of the connecting wires and used one of those plastic spiral organizers to bind them together. This meant a single usb plug in and a single power adaptor plug-in, which leads me to....

    2. BUY EXTRA POWER SUPPLIES AND LEAVE THEM WITH YOUR RIG! I can't tell you how useless a laptop is for DJ'ing when it has no AC power. It will neve make it through the rigors of a 4hr gig without at least some hiccups functioning off the battery alone. It is too easy with a laptop to leave a power supply behind so buy and extra for each laptop and leave them with your rack case.

    3. Flash drive emergency set - I created an emergency set of mp3's on a 1 GB flash card, containing music which will get me through almost any standard party. I ripped everything to a SINGLE MIXED TRACK at 128 in mono so the files "light". Not ideal but in an emergency I can use this flash card to finish a gig should my external drive act funky. I have an mp3 player which can read the flash card and play the playlist straight through. Just in case.

    4. A portable possibly MP3 capable) CD player is a must along with either the mobile beat collection, or DJ Tools, or The Platinum Series, or some facsimile of them. I have one bag that NEVER leaves the van. It has a small powered (50watt) 2 channel mixer, old 1/4" mic, 2 portable CD players and my personal selections for an "essential collection" (50 discs) that include DJ J's Ceremony Tools, Smooth Jazz Vol 1., DJ J's Dinner Tools, Greggie Tools Vol.1, Mobile Beat 1-24, and a few other mP3 CD's to round things out. I had a small pair of 8" pro speakers but they were stolen last summer! (pissed me off!) cables and such. This one bag would let me "save the day" if a DJ emergency ever arose in my general area. The point being that in the case of total computer failure I can still keep rolling.

    The 100% Digital Plunge is very liberating. Once the set-up impact is minimized through some careful pre-planning and some semi-permanent installation it's AWESOME. Now if they'll develop affordable amps that weigh 5lbs and crank 2400watts with 5 pound folding speakers that deliver wireless surround sound for less than $250 a piece I'll be in DJ Heaven!
    Great Post DJ Maul...THIS IS EXACTLY WHY WE MISSED YOU! Glad to have you back!

  2. Great follow up J, in fact you should add it to the original post.

    I have an extra power supply for one laptop and now come to think of it its downstairs somewhere and SHOULD be in my rig, LOL.

    Good to be back, sorry its just life has been busy, ya know?


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