When vinyl comes into discussion, you might think ‘vintage’, ‘old school’, possibly ‘outdated’.
They’re all accurate but that’s only because vinyl DJing is the source of the art.
Modern DJs today don’t really have to learn to mix tracks from vinyl records.
But, there’s something romantic about developing a dedication to the art by trying to go back to the grassroots and actually experiencing it.
Here I give you the five reasons why I think every aspiring DJ should learn to use vinyl records whether or not they intend to use it during gigs.
You Learn to HEAR The Music
There’s a reason why DJ’s of yesterday strived to improve technology and equipment.
Vinyl records are unforgiving.
More accurately the turntables for such records are antiquated and therefore can be inaccurate or unstable.
Of course, it’s a challenge anyone will find exciting at first.
However, it gets less welcome when you’re trying to impress a large (and hopefully paying) audience.
So how do you achieve a perfect vinyl mix?
You need to learn to listen to music all the time and make sure everything is fine.
Your ears are always accurate so you have to develop the skill if you want to be a good DJ way back.
Going by this theory, if you think your mix doesn’t sound right, it probably doesn’t sound right.
You have to trust that instinct even if you’re mostly using electronic equipment.
Despite the advertised accuracy and efficiency of audio processing software, they are not an overall solution.
Sometimes sync buttons can fail and matching BPMs doesn’t always mean the mix sounds great.
Some tracks don’t also go well with each other and you have to learn to pick out those that really match.
So literally the most important skill you need as a DJ – hearing – can only be learned by using vinyl records.
You Learn the Basic DJing Foundations:
Touch, Scratch and Back Cue
I didn’t know I wanted to be a DJ when I first started to mix music.
Instead, I had a breakthrough moment that made me realize that DJing was for me.
That was when I learned to back cue.
Rotating the record backward's showed me where the bass, snare, hi-hat, percussion and kick drum were in the track.
Then I learned to scratch – also a unique experience.
Knowing I can manipulate the music just by turning the record back and forth is an empowering feeling.
If you want to get technical, I mean mixing and transition techniques when I say control.
The feeling of touching a vinyl record and being able to create mixes out of it is a very different feeling from doing mixes using only software.
You can say it is like an intimate experience that every DJ should have with the source of the art.
You Become Selective
Nowadays, it’s so easy to download music that most newbies make the mistake of using anything they come across for sets.
Coupled with automated software, you can easily sync up tracks and make mixes among any combination of songs.
Vinyl records long ago are limited and fairly expensive in their time.
Your record box is also another limitation.
Thus, you develop a certain taste in tracks you think will satisfy the crowd.
Being selective is an advantage because you create a unique selection.
Since every person has a distinct taste, you automatically create music combinations that are distinct as well.
Another advantage of being selective is you become more critical about your sets.
You spend more time personalizing so you unconsciously familiarize yourself with all your track selections.
Know About Sound Quality
This is not going to be a comparison between analog and digital music.
Playing vinyl records give off analog sounds that have a very distinct quality to them.
The distinctness can even go so far as every record is different even if they are the same album.
To give you an idea, a record that was not pressed well usually sounds lighter and thinner than it should be.
This is also a similar characteristic among compressed digital music as opposed to uncompressed.
Studying analog sound allows you to study the foundations of music and let you distinguish good from bad ones instinctively.
It Shows Your Commitment
Yep, I am going to discuss this.
Learning to DJ with vinyl is like going back to the basics first when all modern technology is still not present.
Apart from the typical mindset that it’s not really necessary, you are also required to spend hundreds of hours to learn the skill.
Additionally, turntables are also expensive and literally heavy.
Lugging around this stuff can take a toll on you physically.
It’s true that vinyl DJing might seem like a blast from the past for aspiring artists.
To be honest, learning to DJ with vinyl is more of an enthusiasts want, plus a little bit of that cool factor (at least for me).
But, think of the advantages.
Trust me here.
Learning vinyl DJing will give you very useful skills that will make you a better artist.