I’m on a mission to find out if it really matters what a DJ spins with. This topic has been going on every since I have been involved in the DJ scene in Detroit. Ten years ago the argument was about turntables vs. cd players, and now it has shifted to digital vinyl systems vs. midi controllers. With the portability and stability of digital vinyl solutions, actual vinyl recordings have found their place in home collections and only being rarely spun at underground events by local die-hards. New technology has made it so a turntable can control music on a laptop in real time. Perfect for scratch DJs that prefer the feel of vinyl. So why carry all those records right? Well now DJs are saying, why carry those turntables also? With a new portable midi controller coming out every few months, DJs have the ability to fit all their music and gear in one bag. Not using turntables is also way cheaper. No needles and less cables also. Amazing right? Here comes the argument. If you don’t use turntables in some way or fashion then you are not a real DJ and cannot mix without pushing the magical DJ button that mixes for you, hence making you a “microwave DJ”. Although it is true that new software will match BPMs for you if you prepare your tracks beforehand, it will not pick songs or mix them at the right point in the song for you. It also will not apply effects, adjust levels, fix itself when it decides to suck, or be creative. Being a good DJ requires way more then what type of equipment you have. If you can do all the things I described then you can be a great DJ no matter what you use. When it comes down to it the only people who care about the equipment are other DJs and older audiophiles. I DJ for young people all the time and the youth definitely couldn’t care less about what I’m using. The key with a laptop system is to not look like your checking your e-mail. In my opinion I think it is wise to use multiple types of systems to be able to adapt to any environment. I might want to use vinyl records at a smaller local venue, or use a midi controller at larger out of town gigs. No matter what you use just keep it creative and practice. Here’s two videos from opposite sides of the issue. The first is of Terrence Parker using vinyl and the scond is of Ean Golden of DJ Tech Tools with the Korg Nano Pad and Traktor.