DJ is an abbreviation of 'Disc Jockey' and can refer to anyone mixing music as a performance to an audience. This could be for TV or Radio, but the most common use of the term 'DJ' is in reference to someone performing to an audience in a nightclub.
Some DJ's like to accent the recorded music they're playing with effects, drum machines and synthesizers. There are 2 key ways of integrating these parts into a DJ setup: software & hardware.
Ableton Live is a music recording software package. It is very popular with DJs as it will instantly analyse any imported music and match the tempo of the audio to the specified tempo of the session. This makes it very easy to layer sections of audio or sequence beats and synthesizer parts and have them be in sync with the music.
The second option is to use a mixer like the Roland MX-1. This mixer will allow you to connect different pieces of hardware to your DJ setup. You may wish to add a drum machine such as the Roland TR-08 or TR-09, both of which are based on iconic drum machines that feature heavily in electro, techno and hip-hop music; or you could even add a synthesizer for additional synth lines, using drone sounds or creating tension by adding some filtered white noise swoops.
The Roland MX-1 also has an FX section which is unique to this mixer: effects can be sequenced to each step of a pattern/loop, so that once you have your tempo matched, the FX will not only be in sync with your audio, you can also specify which beats in the music will have an effect present, allowing you to be very creative with your mixes.
Whilst vinyl is where it all began for DJs, the majority of Pro DJ's now use computer based set ups purely out of ease. Most people these days buy their music in a digital format: software offers more functionality and DJ effects, whereas vinyl can be quite fragile and heavy to transport. You also can't check your Facebook messages on a turntable!
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