DJ 101: Laptop DJ Setup – Connections and Accessories


Before buying a laptop, think about the external hardware you’ll use. External ports can be a deciding factor; the correct amount and type of connectivity may affect which laptop you purchase. You will need a USB 2.0 port for the controller, a USB 2.0 or an FW400 port for the soundcard (this depends on if your controller has a soundcard), an FW800/E-Sata/USB 3.0 port for the external hard drive and possibly additional ports for powering other external devices or simply for a travel mouse. Whatever minimum memory and storage specifications are given for the software you choose, double it — especially if you plan to mix music videos.

You should use your performance laptop only for performance because once you’ve got it running and stabilized, there is no need to mess things up with outside programs, new untested configurations and so on. Programs don’t always play nicely together, and spinning at a club isn’t the best time to discover that.

The right accessories will ensure that your laptop setup runs flawlessly. A solid surge-protector strip should be in your bag because many DJ booths don’t have enough free outlets. Ground-lift adapters (outlet converters) are also necessary to have on hand in case a mysterious power hum appears — you never know how a club is wired. And carry gaffer tape to secure your cables that could be knocked out during an absentminded moment or by an overenthusiastic fan.

The right laptop stand will save space and your back from continuous hunching-over. The Stanton Uberstand ($100; folds up to the size of a record and flips into a three-tier stand to either slide over unmovable turntables or provide three levels (controller, soundcard, laptop) to make efficient use of space. A padded laptop bag big enough to hold everything is also essential. Manufacturers are tailoring bags to hardware/software setups.  If you fly, double-check the size restrictions for carry-ons; you surely do not want to check your laptop. When flying, be prepared to take out the laptop, controller and hard drive for separate scanning. Large electronic devices often trigger TSA scrutiny.