music

a traditional vinyl record we all enjoy playing

vinyl record for a turntableA few months ago I wrote a post about turntable record players making a comeback. I got so much mail from my readers concerning this post. It’s weird, because the site isn’t really even about that topic, but it seems to have really hit a nerve with people.

Most of the messages I got were people telling me that they love vinyl. Like it does for me, it reminded them of their time growing up, listening to the dad’s record collection on his player. They want to relive those nostalgic feelings, but they don’t have a record player of their own and their dad’s has long ago disappeared. Sure, they could get music files that were taken from vinyl and recorded into the digital format, but it really is not the same.

In short, they want to buy a record player, but they had no idea where to get one. The really aren’t many stores selling turntables like this anymore. Most of the ones you buy are specifically tailored for DJs. DJ turntables can obviously be used to play records, but they have a lot of features that you don’t really need and are missing other features that you probably do want. You end up paying for a lot of things you don’t need and, of course, missing the features that you really could use.

a traditional vinyl record we all enjoy playingI actually thought the answer was obvious, but from all the messages it appears it wasn’t. And that answer is: buy online. Seriously, there are so many online stores that sell practically anything these days, that it seems like a no-brainer that they would also sell record players. A site like Amazon, has thousands available.

Now obviously, that presents a whole other problem. Of those thousands of record players available, which ones are actually any good and which are simply ripoffs? The truth is, the majority are cheap products coming from China. Some of them won’t work at all, but most will work for a while and then breakdown. Usually they will break right after the warranty period runs out.

So how do you avoid these crappy products? You do your research. You’ll find a ton of sites online that review the top record players and give you a list of the best ones. Not only do these reviews have a ton of information on each product, most of the sites also feature charts of the top turntables, so that you can see at a glance which one is best for you.

Check out the website I mentioned above, or do a quick search and find hundreds of similar ones. You may notice that most of them are written by a mentally challenged four-year-old. Or so it would seem. The one I mentioned is well-written and that’s why I mentioned it. So many of the other ones aren’t and their reviews are completely useless. They were clearly written by people who’ve never used the products themselves.

So there you have it. Online is the best place to buy record players, but you face the same dangers as you do with any other products online. A lot of them simply aren’t very good and it’s hard to tell which ones those are. Furthermore, the sites that claim to review those products have the same issues. Most of them are worthless as well.

So you first need to find a good review site (I helped you with that) and then you need to go find a place to purchase a record player that you decided on. If you do all of this correctly, will end up with a wonderful player that will help you enjoy your dad’s old vinyl collection or your new one. Alternatively, you could go to a store selling DJ equipment and pick up a turntable player favored by DJs. Either way, happy listening!

Womb Nightclub in Tokyo, Japan

International DJs like me, get a chance to travel all over the world doing what they love. We see great destinations, meet beautiful women and play music all along the way. It’s a great life and I try never to complain about it. That said I’m going to do just that here: I’m going to do some complaining. To make up for it, I’m also going to do some raving. In short, I’m going to list my favorite destinations for DJing and my absolute least favorite.

My number one favorite destination on earth for playing music is Tokyo. I just love the city and everything about it. I love the excellent food you get, I love the futuristic-looking buildings, I love the ancient-looking buildings and I love the way all of it melts together. I love the excellent transportation system, I love the friendly people, I love the nightlife. I love going out to clubs as a partygoer and I love playing them as a DJ. Nowhere on earth beats Tokyo.

Now, there are better destinations to party. Don’t get me wrong, though, Tokyo is great. The problem is that the Japanese people as a whole are pretty conservative and that there are very few international people in Tokyo, relatively speaking. If you’re totally into Asians, it’s a great destination to meet women; if not, you’re kind of screwed. They also love karaoke way too much. But if you’re a good singer, that works to your advantage. Nevertheless, because of those two points, I prefer cities like New York or Las Vegas for a great night out (find out where to see DJs in New York). But for a travel destination to play as a DJ, Tokyo is number one.

Of course, I love New York and Las Vegas and London and Paris and Berlin and all of these cities as a DJ, too (the top 5 clubs in Vegas). These are some of my other favorites. It should come as no surprise, that these are also my favorite cities in which to party. A night out in any one of these places is a wonderful experience, although all of them, except for Berlin, will set you back quite a lot of money. For that reason, I suppose Berlin is my favorite city for a night out. It has a strange nightlife, though, spread out all over the city and often hard to find the best place to go, but once you do, it’s a blast.

You may have noticed I left off Madrid. It’s true, Madrid has famous nightlife, but it shouldn’t be so famous. I think it’s only famous because the Spaniards enjoy going out so much, but the truth is, the clubs are pretty horrible and extremely overpriced. One bar closes after a few hours when a new one opens and you have to move there. You have to spend money everywhere.

I was felt like I was being herded around and ripped off at every step. I had some fun nights in Madrid, but I consider it one of the most overrated party destinations on earth. Playing Madrid as a DJ, however, can be quite great. The city attracts so many beautiful women, on top of the gorgeous locals, and being a DJ in the city attracts those women to you. Enough said.

Naturally, I should mention Ibiza. This is another one of the top destinations in which to DJ. If you get a chance to spin music in one of the famous clubs here, jump on it. The same goes for other tropical places in Europe, like the Greek Islands.

Speaking of tropical places let’s head back to Asia and to Bangkok. For a night out, the city is absolutely horrible. It’s another overrated one. It actual costs far more than it should, surprisingly, but what’s worse is that none of the clubs are really any fun. The music is far too fast and too loud and the crowds consist of Thai couples and hookers.

If you go to the bars that only attract foreigners, you’ll have a good time, but you’ll pay even more for it. And you’ll be dodging hookers all night. Apart from the working girls, there’s really no difference between those bars and ones back in the West, except the ones in the West are better.

Womb Nightclub in Tokyo, Japan
Club Womb in Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan

As a DJ, Bangkok is all right to play, but I generally prefer to stay away. In Asia, Tokyo is the best city and Seoul follows after that. Hong Kong is also a great destination but I think that will change as China takes over more and more. Chinese clubs are horrendous, and China’s one of the worst places to play in Asia. The only real exception is Shanghai and a few of its clubs.

I realize this list is far from extensive, but those are the places that popped into my head first. Someday, I’ll sit down to write a much longer and more detailed list, but for now just remember which cities you’ll definitely want to accept gigs in and which ones you’ll want to avoid. Of course, if you’ve never been, you might want to accept a gig there anyway, just for the travel experience. Oh, and a tip for saving money: always travel with a hammock. Read this post to learn why.

Breaking into DJing is difficult. Whenever somebody asks me how to become a DJ, I make sure to make clear just how hard that path will be. It will take hours of practice to get good enough to play in clubs—and not good clubs mind you—and once you’re in those clubs, it will take years before you get into the good ones. But more than the time, probably the most prohibitive aspect of breaking into the industry is the equipment cost.

DJ equipment
A common DJ setup

That’s why it’s absolutely vital you do your research and you buy all the correct equipment from the beginning. You don’t want to have to buy things again, because you bought something substandard. You also don’t want to end up buying superfluous equipment. So make sure you buy exactly what you need and only what you need right from the beginning. Here’s a quick rundown of the essentials every DJ will need:

 

Input Devices

You’ll need a minimum of two input devices: either two turntables, two CD decks or whatever. You can get more but you need at least two to mix tunes.

 

A Mixer

You’ll need a mixer with at least two input channels, so that you can mix your two input devices into each other.

 

Headphones

Without headphones, you can’t DJ. You need them to hear the next to you will be mixing into the current one, to cue it up and to do all this without everyone else hearing it. Make sure you get a good pair of headphones with a good sound quality.

 

A Sound System

By sound system, I mean speakers and an amplifier. You will need these for obvious reasons. These days many people opt for powered speakers, which could save some money and is also easier to transport. Personally I prefer a separate amplifier, but this is just a matter of personal preference. Do what is right for you.

And that’s it (although I might add a microphone to the list, if you do any singing as a DJ and a hammock if you need to travel a lot and are on a budget). That’s really all the equipment you need. Of course, just this equipment will run you quite a bit of money. That’s what I would say don’t discount secondhand equipment. If you can find good quality stuff that’s been used but not abused, go for it. It’s a great way to save some money.

One thing you want to avoid in your quest to save money, though, are the boxed sets. You know the ones: DJ in a box, DJ kit, etc.. Stay away from these. They’re often substandard quality and they don’t always include all of the equipment you’ll need. I can also pretty much guarantee that you have to replace everything as you get better and demand more from your set up.

As for brands, Pioneer and Technics are probably two of the best. These are also the two that I would recommend buying secondhand, since they’re built to last and there’s not a huge chance you’re buying crap. If you can’t afford the best equipment, I suppose you have to buy something cheaper. Just know that you’ll probably want to upgrade eventually so it does make sense to buy the best from the beginning. Of course, that’s only possible if you have the money to spend. There you have it: that’s the equipment you need and a few tips for getting it. The rest is up to you. Make sure you do plenty of research and know exactly what you’re getting and why you’re getting it. And once you have it play some music. Then play some more music and then some more. Never stop practicing…