If you have mostly been tuning your skills at home or performing in venues that have their own PA systems, then there’s a pretty solid chance that you’ve built your basic skills without needing to invest in speakers.
However, there are limits to the gigs you can land and the recording you can manage without investing in speakers—and they are an investment. The right monitors during a mixing session lets you hear the full range of your mix with the kind of fidelity home systems just can’t manage, and a trustworthy set of party speakers will empower you to provide your own amplification, opening up even more possible performance venues.
Speaker Quality and Venue
If you’re mostly playing private parties or setting up for outdoor barbecues, then a basic set of bookshelf speakers from a major brand with a deep reputation is enough to ensure your audience will have a good time. As you expand, though, it’s important to remember that there’s a maximum performance level you can coax out of your speakers, so upgrading your DJ controller without upgrading your speaker support means not really getting an upgrade.
As you build your equipment, the best way to keep everything balanced is to invest in a speaker and amplification setup that allows you to get the most out of your other components. Whenever you upgrade a piece like an amplifier, receiver, or controller, schedule a speaker upgrade to keep pace, too. As your equipment expands, moving into self-powered portable speaker systems also provides you with opportunities to play bigger venues with more versatility.
When shopping for speakers, you want to make sure you have the right power for the venues you play, so whether you are running power and sound through a receiver and amplification system or you elect to go for self-powered units, you have the power you need. As your gigs get larger in scope, it’s easy to move upward, and this keeps the pace of your upgrades balanced.
Monitors vs. Speakers
If you’re preparing your own mixes for distribution, then part of your speaker investment should include a good set of studio monitors. Monitors are different from regular speakers, and they don’t necessarily translate into useful additions to your gig bag, but they provide a quality and depth of sound that makes them essential when you are putting together any kind of polished and finalized audio project.
The first place to start your speaker collection is always a good set of headphones, but when you’re getting ready to start doing parties and recording projects, investing in professional-quality DJ speakers is essential. Without them, the only path forward is through venues with their own systems, and that really limits the number of available gigs for any DJ.