If you want to be a scratch DJ, you need to invest in quality equipment. Finding the right gear for your needs and budget can be confusing. Here are some tips and useful information you need to know before purchasing a scratch DJ turntable setup.
What equipment do I need to start scratching?
Scratch DJ turntable setup: Essentials
- 2 x Direct Drive turntables
- Scratch Vinyl
- Digital Interface for DVS
- Control Vinyl
For scratching you will need a direct drive turntable with high torque. Cheap turntables with weaker motors will be harder to scratch with, and will break faster. When buying DJ turntables for scratching, quality should be top priority. A solid,well built DJ turntable will last many years. And if you should give up DJing in the future and want to sell your turntables, a high-end turntable will retain most of its value over time compared to the cheaper turntables, so a spending a little more on a quality turntable will be a better investment in the long run.
What is a Super OEM turntable?
The term “Super OEM” is something you will hear people talk about in relation to turntables. A Super OEM turntable is a turntable manufactured by a chinese company named Hanpin. Most new turntables on the market today are based on the Hanpin Super OEM models. When releasing their own models, brands take the Hanpin base model and upgrade parts, add features and create their own design before selling it under their own name. Many great turntables are Super OEMs, like the Stanton ST-150, which is based off the Hanpin DJ-5500 design.
Technics SL-1200 MK5
Technics are considered to be the industry standard. You will find them in all respectable venues around the world, and many DJs won’t even consider using any other brands. Technics turntables are built like tanks and are really durable. With proper care and service they will last a lifetime.
The Stanton STR-150 is another DJ favorite. It is a Super OEM turntable with the most features for the lowest cost. The straight tonearms skip less and are better suited for scratching than S-shaped tonearms. However, they wear down the vinyl quicker, and if you use a DVS-system control vinyl can easily be replaced. The Stanton STR8-150 also has independent start/brake time adjustment knobs. Some Super OEMs lack this feature. It also has a reverse option, pitch lock, 78 RPM speed, and two brakes, compared to other turntables with the brake only on one side.
Numark TTX-USB/Numark TTX-500
The Numark TTX-USB has higher torque than the Technics, and some DJs prefer the TTX for scratching and beat juggling. It has a built-in BPM counter, interchangeable S-shaped or straight tonearms, USB-connection. The pitch range can be adjusted from 8, 10, 20 and 50%. If you have your turntables in battle style, you have the option to move the pitch fader to a vertical position.
The TTX-500 is the TTX-USBs little brother, and is pretty much the exact same turntable with the same torque, but without the BPM-counter and USB-connection. If you can find a used pair of these, it will be the cheapest possible scratch DJ turntable setup you can get without sacrificing quality. Numark has a reputation in some circles to make lower quality equipment, but the TTX-USB is widely regarded as a great turntable among DJs and turntablists.
The Reloop RP800 is another super OEM turntable. One thing that makes these turntables unique is their built-in MIDI controls. You might not need this, but it is still a cool feature. Other features include the option to adjust the level of torque and a digital display for showing the pitch.
The Pioneer PLX-1000 is made to resist vibrations and improve sound quality. The gold-plated RCA jacks ensure low impedance. It is a Super OEM with a sunken platter, and it looks very good. The pitch range can be adjusted from 8,16, or 50 %, and has a “RESET” button to instantly reverts back to the fixed rotation speed at ±0%
The Vestax PDX-3000 MKII is the favorite turntable for many scratch DJs. It has a straight tonearm, a motor with powerful torque and a MIDI input, which is a pretty cool feature. This allows you to change the pitch range using a MIDI-keyboard instead of the pitch fader.
For scratching it is important to have a mixer with a sharp cut-in curve. This simply means that when you move the crossfader the other deck will play at full volume without having to move the crossfader all the way to the other side. A sharp fader curve makes techniques like the crab scratch easier to execute and allows for more complex scratching. A good mixer is essential to any scratch DJ turntable setup.
DJ Tech DIF-2S
This mixer is great for beginners and very affordable. It comes with a built-in innofader
, supports DVS and has a reverse option for hamster-style scratching. Pair this with a set of Numark TTXs and you have a really good scratch DJ turntable setup without breaking the bank.
This mixer is Mixars take on the 2-channel scratch mixer. It has a mini-innofader inside, switchable crossfader for hamster style, balanced XLR outputs, 1/4 and 1/8 headphones output and Mic/TRS input.
Reloop Reloop RMX-22I 2+1 Digital FX Mixer
The RMX-22I 2+1 Mixer from reloop is a mixer that will give you great value for your money. It comes with Instant Sound Color FX and an iPad split input on the back of the mixer enables connection to iPads, Android tablets or smartphones. The three-band EQ can be set to Kill mode or Classic mode, and the line- and crossfader curves are adjustable.
Mixers with built-in soundcard:
Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol Z2
The Traktor Kontrol Z2 comes with a mini innofader and is a very popular mixer among Traktor users. It has a built-in soundcard and supports timecode vinyl. You can control pre and post-fader effects with Macro FX , and use the pads for controlling cue points and loops.
Mixars Duo – 2 channel Serato Mixer
The Mixars Duo has a similar layout to the Traktor Kontrol Z2, but is made specifically for use with Serato DJ. It has pads for triggering samples,cue points and loops and has knobs for controlling Serato FX and knobs for using loop roll.
The Akai AMX comes with Serato DJ included and supports timecode vinyl. It has a mini-innofader inside and has EQ and filter knobs. If you want to use timecode vinyl with serato, this is a great budget option.
Rane TTM 57MKII
The Rane TTM 57 MKII is a very popular scratch mixer. It comes with Ranes patented magnetic faders that are built to last, and handle heavy use. This mixer is guaranteed to last many years and comes with a built-in soundcard for Serato, RGB back-lit pads, AUX and USB input for use the SP-6 sampler, high/low-pass sweep filters and dedicated iZotope USB FX inserts for each deck.
The Rane Sixty-Two is a high-end battle mixer that is packed with great features. Magnetic crossfader with reverse option, 32-bit floating point audio processing sampled at 48 kHz, Internal Effects Engine with Filter, Flanger, Phaser, Echo, Robot and Reverb effects, and each of the USB ports support six stereo record and four stereo playback channels. You have control over 40 Serato DJ software controls, and two DJs can even share the mixer running different software.
Pioneer DJ DJM-S9 Battle Mixer
The DJM-S9 is the most popular 2-channel mixer in the turntablist scene right now. If you look at videos from Redbull threestyle you will notice that nearly every top-level scratch DJ is using this mixer. The Pioneer DJM-S9 comes with Pioneers magnetic crossfader, the MAGVEL FADER PRO. This mixer has 2 built-in USB soundcards and customizable FX button. With the style levers effects can be turned on and off quickly. The filter knobs can be used for high/low pass filters, or other Serato FX filters like dub echo, noise and pitch.
See DJ Shintaros routine using the DJM-S9 mixer:
A pair of good needles is essential in a scratch DJ setup. For scratching and turntablism you need sturdy needles that don’t skip while scratching or beat juggling.
The Shure M44-7 are classic scratch needles. They are loud, solid and made to last. The M44-7s are engineered for turntablists and designed not to skip. The Shure M44-7 needles have been used by many famous DJs all over the world, including Invisibl Skratch Piklz, X-Ececutioners and The Beat Junkies.
The Ortofon Qbert needle is made specifically for turntablists. It is engineered to trace the grooves of your records without skipping and provide great sound.
Thud Rumble Superseal – Skratchy Seal
Stay fresh with the Superseal. This is a classic scratch record containing all your favorite scratch samples.
DVS Interface / Soundcard
If you want to scratch with mp3s you will need a digital vinyl system (DVS). A DVS interface takes the signal from a noisemapped timecode vinyl and enables you to control digital files with your control vinyl records.
Rane SL 2
The Rane SL2 is a soundcard made for two deck mixing using timecode vinyl with Serato DJ. It has studio-grade phono preamps and 48kHz 24-bit audio processing for great sound quality, ASIO and Core Audio Drivers and built in galvanic isolation to eliminate noise from computer interference. It can be powered with USB or with an optional external power supply.
Denon DJ DS1
The Denon DJ DS1 is a DVS interface for Serato DJ. It has 2 sets of stereo RCA inputs and outputs for left and right decks, with studio-grade 24-bit digital to analog conversion.
Native Instruments Traktor Scratch A6
The Native Instruments Traktor Scratch A6 interface is made for use with Traktor Scratch and comes with the full version of Traktor Scratch Pro 2.5, with loop recorder included. With the 2 KHz native scratch timecode signal you get a tight vinyl response and high resolution with low latency.
If you have a mixer with an internal soundcard, or a DVS interface, you can use timecode vinyl on your scratch dj turntable setup to mix with digital files.
Serato Control Vinyl
Traktor Control Vinyl
For clean scratches, you need a good crossfader. If your mixers stock fader breaks or the cut-in curve is not sharp enough, you can always replace it with a crossfader better suited for scratching. Here are some options for good crossfaders for your scratch DJ turntable setup.
The InnoFader is a great crossfader found in many mixers. The cut-in is very sharp and can be adjusted to your liking. The InnoFader is also available for controllers.
This fader is a replacement fader for Rane and Pioneer mixers. It’s tough and durable, and it’s creators claim it is unbreakable.
Sennheiser HD25-1 II
These headphones are classic DJ headphones. They are lightweight, loud and offer great sound quality. The capsule is rotatable for one-ear listening. They block out external noise very well, and every part of the headphone is replaceable. So if anything breaks, it is easily replaced.
If you want to get more creative with your DJing, consider adding one of these products to your scratch DJ turntable setup.
Pioneer DDJ-SP1 Sample player
Adding the Pioneer DDJ-SP1 to your scratch DJ turntable setup will allow you to be more creative with mixing and effects. The SP1 sample player for Serato is a great way to add more flair to your DJ sets. With the SP1 you have sixteen performance pads that can be assigned different functions like loops, cue, roll, slicer and sampler. With the FX knobs you have full control over Serato effects.
If your turntables or mixer don’t have MIDI-pads, you can add a pair of Novation Dicers to your scratch DJ turntable setup. The Dicers are small USB-powered MIDI-devices that fit right onto your turntables and give you control over cue points and loops.
What does your scratch DJ turntable setup look like? Use the hashtag #DJlabsetup on Instagram for a chance to be featured on our page.