Technically it is possible to DJ just using a laptop and it’s a really handy option that means you don’t have to bring heavy CDJs, DJ Controllers or Vinyls to a party. Of course, there are some tips and tricks as well as advantages and disadvantages to this technique. In this article we reveal how to DJ with a laptop only.
How the Technique Works
Laptop DJing is a technique based purely on a computer and installed software. No third party mixing technologies are involved. DJs do all the virtual knob, slider and parameter tweaking using just a touchpad/mouse and a keyboard.
Virtual DJing software is usually constructed as a close replica of hardware decks. Although the layout is different across the programs, most of them consist of virtual turntables, a mixer, a waveform display, an effect box and a file section window.
The quality of your performance will depend on the technical specifications of your laptop. Choose a workstation with high CPU and RAM performance. An i5 CPU combined with 4GB RAM would be an absolute minimum.
The size of your song catalogue will depend on your laptop’s storage capacity. Nowadays laptops are generally equipped with 500GB-1TB. This is more than enough. A laptop with an SDD drive is much faster than one with an HDD solution. Always use an external audio interface to ensure good quality audio output.
If you are an absolute beginner Virtual DJ is a great option. The interface is clean, simple and easy to understand, covering just the basics.
Finally, if you are an experienced DJ with high expectations, or you like to have all the top features, then try out the Traktor PRO.
Where to Pay Attention
DJing is all about perfect timing and syncing. Achieving perfection on a laptop alone can be pretty challenging and requires careful preparation. Type in the proper track names, scan the tempos and keys, and cue the tracks before gigs.
Use shortcuts to avoid constantly moving the pointer on the track-pad. Memorize the shortcuts or print them out. It will save you a lot of time.
Pros and Cons of DJing with a Laptop
With no hardware set-up, laptop DJing is a much cheaper solution. All the expenses come from the costs of the laptop and chosen DJing software.
Another huge advantage is unlimited portability. You can carry your DJ booth with you wherever you go, making it the perfect solution for mobile DJs.
On the down side, virtual parameters are harder to tweak. The only way around this is to use a DJ controller, as all the virtual buttons and knobs are midi map-able.
A DJ with a laptop is a DJ without a safety net. You are purely dependent on your laptop. If your laptop crashes, you are set crashes as well.
To sum up, laptop DJing is a good option for beginners who want to discover the concept. Expert DJs with live gigs require hardware solutions or software-hardware set-ups.