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New DJ technologies to help you build an empire

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Written by: Jake Gable

The art of being a successful DJ is a potent cocktail made up of many elements, including the ability to read a crowd, performing a steady and subtle rise in BPM, and mixing seamlessly between two – or more – tracks, but with the art of DJ’ing changing rapidly, which technologies will define the next era, and how can you take advantage of these to build your empire? Here are a few of the key technologies which look to surge in the coming years, and how mastering them, can help you build an empire.


These days, most DJing innovations are hardware based. The actual audio formats haven’t changed much, with MP3 now predominantly used over vinyl. But the new stem format is changing all of that. Essentially, an open file format that allows you to play, layer, and rearrange independent parts of a track via each musical element – for example, the drums, the melody, the bass etc. A highly popular new technology which helps DJs to mash-up tracks on the go, Stems can manipulate and layer the bass line of one track, the vocals from another and the hook from a third. It is a new format that brings all the best parts of production into a live DJ setting and is compatible across all kinds of gear.

The Traktor Kontrol S8

A brand new controller made up of four decks in one sleek unit, the S8 contains four assignable remix slots, and dedicated faders for each Stems (see above) element. Most DJ controllers still rely on the classic 2 turntable setup. But the Traktor Kontrol S8 has set aside the traditional look and pushed things into a whole new realm of creation. Fully linkable with CDJs, turntables and other controllers, the Kontrol S8 is plug-and-play ready to use with the Traktor Scratch Pro software.


The MODEL 1 mixer was designed by techno DJ Richie Hawtin and Andy Rigby Jones, former lead designer at Allen & Heath. They’re two of the most qualified people to make a top-notch mixer: a world-class DJ with decades of experience, and the designer behind the industry’s best mixers. The MODEL 1 gives you everything you need to deliver – 2 aux ports, dual headphone ports and cueing for b2b sets, high-pass and low-pass filters based on rotary mixers and precision sculpting EQs for cutting and boosting. The Model 1 also doubles as a capable studio mixer as well making it a versatile tool for the emerging community of DJs that also produce. Essentially, it is the first ever DJ mixer that isn’t just a mixer. It’s on par with high-quality studio mixing consoles—especially great if you are both DJing and using live instrumentation (or both at once).

Roland DJ-808

Roland’s new DJ-808 has history at its core. Drum machines have always been popular with DJs and so Roland decided to build a 4-track DJ mixer with a built-in sequencer that adds Roland’s recent TR-8 drum machine right inside the same unit. It even has vocal processing to give you a whole set of tools for playing and producing live. That means it’s fully compatible with Serato’s long list of powerful DJ gear and software. Make a loop with the decks, put a drum beat under it with the onboard drum sounds from Roland’s iconic line of drum machines, and you’re well on your way to a fully built track. But perhaps the best part about the 808 is the hi-fi audio quality, coming in at a fantastic 24 bits/96kHz.

Ableton Live

With many producers already using Ableton Live in the studio, it only makes sense that many opt for Ableton as a DJ software as well. If you are somebody who prefers to avoid using decks during live performances, then Ableton’s compatibility with gear, standalone functionality, and a fluid interface has made audio creation accessible to everyone. The warp function, clip launching, and compatible Ableton Push hardware have merged production and DJing into a tool that sits at the core of a ton of artists performance and production workflows.

Rekord Box

Perhaps the most well known modern technology for DJs is RekordBox; The digital version of writing all the BPMs and song keys on your vinyl sleeves. It lets you analyze tracks (bpm, key, etc.), save hot cues, and manage playlists before, during and after your performance. RekordBox is a natural extension of Pioneers line of CDJs and controllers that have also had a major impact on the way DJs play. Together with RekordBox, their line of hardware has opened up a bridge between the digital future of music and the turntable tradition that came before it. RekordBox is also free—making it an accessible option for DJs of all persuasions. Not only will analyzing your tracks precisely help keep you prepared for your gigs, but it allows you to prepare hot cues and loops in advance of playing, and staying in the right key – a perfect tool for mixing in acapellas to create mash-ups on the fly.

In order to build your empire, embracing the future – and the technologies that come with it – is an essential part of your career. The blurring of boundaries between producing, DJing, and playing live narrow all the time, with most of the emerging tools for DJs blending the studio with the stage. New technologies mean new possibilities and the only way to continue your evolution is via pushing your tools to their max. There is no shortage of opportunities for you to push your career into a new space, and build your empire in the process. It’s important to take the technical side seriously but remember that talent and a love for the craft are just as important. For some lighthearted DJ advice – check out some other tips given by the always-charismatic Dillon Francis below:



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