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Do DJs Still Use Turntables? the Unfortunate Truth

By Ferdi Vol
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Aside from cool oversized sunglasses, one of the items most commonly associated with DJs and DJing overall are turntables. In fact, everybody and their mother has imitated turntable scratching in their life. If you are reading this article, something that you might be wondering is if DJs still use them to mix in real life. There has been a lot of technological innovations in the DJing world in the last 30 years that have really affected how turntables are used when DJing.

The answer is yes. Some DJs use turntables to mix, however, they have been slowly phased out as time has passed to the point where they are a rare sight in most modern clubs. This is because of the fact that turntables are much more cumbersome to use in general.

However, I do know some older DJs that still use them for various reasons, including nostalgia, not enough money to buy newer technology, among other reasons. If you want a brief overview you can watch the video below. If you want more information you can keep on reading for some more interesting information!

I personally know several DJs who have wanted to incorporate them into their live sets but have found them too tedious to use. If you want to know more about why DJs have stopped using turntables, especially EDM ones, please keep reading!

Technological Advancements Have Rendered the Turntable Obsolete

History and introduction of the CDJ

One of the most important moments in the history of DJing and music, in general, was the introduction of the CDJ. Before it, DJs either had to buy their own vinyl records or the venue that they played in had to provide them.

In other words, the musical catalog of a DJ was much more limited because you had to buy physical music and so some Djs had the tendency to play similar passages. The musical versatility of many DJs at the time depended partly on the depth of their pockets.

Technological advancements changed all that. With the introduction of the first CDJ in 1994 and the growth of the internet, it became much easier to move large amounts of music around, first with a CD, and then with a USB and SD card. Aside from that, the advent of websites like Napster meant that DJ didn’t need to purchase music anymore: everything can be found on the internet.

Maintenance

CDJs also do not need the upkeep and maintenance that is so crucial to keep a turntable working properly. Things like belts and motors could stop working at any time, which can be quite costly to replace, not to mention the catastrophe of them going bad in the middle of a set. CDJs in comparison do not have those problems, and they tend to be much more durable in general.

Different skills are needed

Also, Djing with turntables means that you are going to have to learn some things that you wouldn’t have to learn with CDJs. The first one is to calibrate your turntable. Depending on the turntable that you have, this can either be a piece of cake or a very frustrating endeavor. You cannot preset cue points either, and many other features that we have taken for granted in CDJs are not available in turntables.

Vinyl is hard to get and expensive

Another reason why turntable DJing isn’t very popular is the fact that getting vinyl records can be very difficult, especially if you do not live in a major city. Not only this, but the musical catalog is quite limited as I mentioned above, plus they can get expensive really quickly. The average vinyl record can go from 5 to 10 dollars apiece, and with that, you only get 2-4 songs at most. If you want to know more about why DJ equipment is so expensive you can read that article by clicking on the link.

Reasons Why DJs Choose Turntables over CDJs

The sound is different

However, even though turntables have a lot of disadvantages, there are a few DJs that still swear by them. Some of these DJs comment that the sound that vinyl produces is higher quality than sound recorded the digital way. While many experts aren’t completely sure about that, I do agree that sound coming off analog recordings does sound a little bit “warmer” or “fuller”.

Nostalgia

Also, there are some DJs that use turntables primarily for nostalgia. Many older DJs still have their old turntables stored away, and while some have moved away from them because of all the reasons that I mentioned above, some still pull them out once in a while and start DJing the old fashioned way, at least in their apartment. 

Meet in the middle with a DVS

Some of these older folks that prefer using turntables but still want to take advantage of technological innovations use DVS to get the best of both worlds. DVS is a type of software that connects a turntable with a computer. Essentially, it allows you to play digital music with a traditional turntable. There are a few older folks that prefer this method of playing music overplaying it on CDJs.

How to Switch from CDJs to Turntables

If you are reading this article, chances are that you are seriously interested in learning how to DJ in turntables. Getting somebody to teach you can be pretty hard, and while there are some youtube videos that will teach you some really useful tricks, the truth is that you are most likely going to have to learn through trial and error and playing on the turntable essentially. 

However, there are a few tips below that will help anybody become better a DJing with turntables. Again like most things in life, learning how to work the turntables requires some patience and some money obviously, but if you apply the tips below, I'm sure that you will learn in no time

Purchase the correct turntables

As I mentioned above, not every turntable is made equal. In fact, I would recommend that you avoid turntables that have too many features. When it comes to this, the simpler the better, at least when first starting out. Beginner turntables that I personally recommend include the Audio-Technica LP-120 and the Roland TT-99. They are both excellent choices because not only can you use vinyl on them, but you can also easily connect them to your computer on a pinch if you have a problem with the vinyl record being scratched or if you want to play music on your computer.

Tinker with DVS software & make sure you know what you are missing from CDJs

Another big tip is learning the nuts and bolts of the DVS software that you are thinking of using (if you are thinking of using one in the first place). Many of this software has built-in features that are catered to helping users play as smoothly as possible. Also, It’s really important that you learn which features you are losing in the transition from CDJs to turntables. Many DJs like using preset cue points on their CDJs and that is a feature that might not be available if you play with turntables.

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DJ Pro Tips is a website that has the goal to make you a better DJ by providing useful and accurate information.
About the Author
Ferdi Vol is a DJ for several years and is here to share his passion with you.
About Ferdi Vol
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