Why do dJs still use turnetables today?

DJing went through an extreme transformation in the past couple of decades. This includes the arrival of robust DJ software, digital music files, and music streaming platforms. As well as smartphone apps that mirror the abilities of a DJ system. These allow DJing to be attainable to a wider audience. Additionally, they helped in reshaping the art form itself and redefining what it means to be a DJ.

           Although, this evolution does not signify the expiration of traditional turntable DJing. Just as digital photography did not eradicate film photography. How Kindle did not spell the conclusion of books. And how digital art has not removed the paintbrush. Turntable DJing has survived as a bright pursuit since the era of CDs accompanied by the digital DJing revolution in the 1990s.

           Still, you might ponder why anyone would still prefer to DJ with turntables and records in the 21st century. If you are a DJ who cannot yearn to master the art of turntable DJing, you are likely to already know the reasons why. And as you continue to read the list below, you might find yourself nodding in agreement. However, if you are still undecided, read on. You might find something within that sparks your interest.

Honoring Tradition: DJs Embrace Turntables to Relive the Authentic Past

Legendary Jeff Mills on Decks

If your dedication lies in the 60s Northern Sould, 70s rock, 80s house, or 90s hip-hop, you should note that DJs from those eras use turntables to spin those tracks. If recapturing those golden days is your goal as a DJ, it only makes sense to use the same equipment.  

This can also be applicable if you like to collect vintage music and enjoy performing for like-minded aficionados. It is a more immersive and genuine way to transport yourself back in time. The relevance of authenticity in conserving the past resonates with many. This is apparent in the growing interest in all things “vintage” and “analog”.      

Reconnecting with Simplicity: A Desire for a Pure Approach to DJing

Modern DJing is beyond doubt easier to master compared to the turntables and vinyl approach of the past times. Especially because it has synch, quantization, waveforms, beat grids, and other digital conveniences. However, some DJs feel that modern methods no longer have a certain essence along the way. 

There is a distinct sense of risk when you DJ with vinyl and turntables. Something that is not present in the digital realm. For example, you cannot directly press Ctrl + Z to undo a mistake on a turntable. Furthermore, having fewer features in your hands and fewer ways to create your distinctive sound can feel more empowering. Most especially to DJs who see the complete complexity of digital DJing as overwhelming rather than freeing. 

Standing Out from the Crowd: The Allure of Being a Vinyl DJ

According to a friend who works as a wedding planner, they hire two DJs for their clients. The first one is described as a “laptop DJ”. The second one is for clients who are willing to spend extra money for an authentic DJ experience. This is because the DJ still uses turntables, but still leaves a fantastic impact on all the clients. 

The Master Carl Cox during a vinyl set

     Understandably, that is not about the equipment, it is how you use it. This shows DJs with a crate of vinyl and two turntables someone whom clients are willing to pay a premium experience for. Therefore, choosing to become a “vinyl” DJ to be different from their digital counterparts and secure those desired gigs is a strategic business decision.

Curiosity About DJing’s Pre-Digital Era

DJs from this generation first started with turntables before shifting to CDJs, when they became available. Later on, laptops granted them to DJ with digital files, which was very revolutionary. Then controllers that united everything into a portable unit arrived. Finally, DJing on an iPad or smartphone became attainable.

However, it is also notable that many DJs begin by assessing with DJing apps on their smartphones. They became allured and eventually invested in a controller to use with their laptops. They would often upgrade to a more modern controller over time. After some time, they found out that club DJs utilize CDJs without laptops and dreamed of mastering that setup. They would even purchase CDJs for their home use. 

But the impressive part is that many of these DJs convey a desire to one day obtain turntables and learn the traditional way of DJing. In other words, they have a deep curiosity and respect for the roots of DJing. As well as aspiring to master it in its original form. Their journey drives back the path of DJs who grew up with turntables. Nonetheless, it is completely understandable. 

Embracing The Ultimate DJ Challenge

If you are looking for the ultimate challenge in the DJing world, look no further. Mastering beatmatching to perform sensational DJ sets while using a collection of vinyl records and two turntables is the answer. The question is, are you up for the challenge?

Unveiling the Art of Scratching with Turntables

It is worth noting that it is not necessary to have turntables for you to enter into the world of scratching. You can develop your scratching skills on any DJ equipment that has jog wheels. However, it is different if you have two 12” vinyl platters, a real needle, and slip mats on the groove. The tactile experience and sensation are quite different from scratching with a DV setup or controller. 

Using those types of equipment allows you to forgive minor needle skips, and configure the decks to mirror oversized jog wheels and the like. Mastering manual beatmatching with vinyl shows a formidable challenge. This is the same for scratching on a similar setup. Some people are willing to commit to learning the art of scratching. If you are one of those people, turntables are the only way to go.

Staying True to Tradition: The Never-Ending Turntable Journey          

A renowned UK DJ from the 1990s stated that he wants to transition to DJing with digital music files and software. However, preserving his trusty turntables is a must. The time has finally come for him to embrace the switch. However, there are still DJs who started with vinyl and continue to use it. They just do not see the need to switch. 

It is important to note that they are not restricted to a “dinosaurs” category. It just happens that a specific group of people willingly chooses to start their DJ careers with turntables and remain loyal to them.

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To clarify, we are not recommending that everyone should make a complete switch to turntable and vinyl DJing. At least not by a long shot. When you compare the pros and cons, it is apparent that the drawbacks far outweigh the benefits. Some of these are the limited features, cost and availability, the decline in industry standardization, the logistical challenge of moving gear, and the price of the equipment. 

Nonetheless, we do not want to discourage any aspiring DJs who have a passion for vinyl as well. Observing a vinyl DJ in their element is an experience that no one else can offer. There is an undefinable joy in DJing with vinyl records. You can only truly feel it once you have experienced it yourself. However, any form of DJing is still worth experiencing.

If you are contemplating this path, we recommend you set up a system that can cater to both real vinyl and your laptop. In today’s age, it is necessary to acquire a digital mixer that is compatible with your preferred software. In this way, you can smoothly switch between “modern” DJing and “classic” DJing. It is the best of both worlds.

Do you still have an affection for turntables and vinyl? Are you thinking about making the switch? Share your reasons and thoughts with us in the comments below.

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