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Buying Guide: Ableton Live Performance DJ Gear
More than just spinning tracks, live DJ performance is all about using the stage as a studio: triggering samples and loops, manipulating effects in real time, and creating/remixing music on the fly. With the release of Ableton Live 9 and the Ableton Push controller, live performance DJs have access to more sophisticated tools than ever.

But you'll need more than just a laptop running Ableton for your live performance DJ setup. We've put together this buying guide to help you find the right MIDI controller, audio interface, headphones, PA speakers, subwoofers, and even DJ lighting. Just add your creativity (and a few cables), and you'll be on your way to rockin' the party.
Ableton Live Software
More than just a powerful sequencer, sampler, and arranger, Ableton Live has quickly emerged as the go-to software for live DJ performance. Today's forward-thinking DJs are taking advantage of the non-linear approach to live performance with Live's ability to trigger an unlimited number of songs, samples, loops and effects with the push of a button. Like every popular DJ software, Ableton Live automatically tempo-matches your tunes -- allowing you to focus on selecting songs, calling up loops, and remixing on the fly all while bringing the house down.

Interested in learning Live without the lofty price tag? Ableton offers a stripped-down "lite" version called Ableton Live 9 Intro. While this Intro version has a limited feature set and lacks the "cue out" capability necessary for live DJ performance, it's a solid and inexpensive way to start learning the software.
  Ableton Live 9 Music Production Software
or 4 payments of $124.75
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  Ableton Live 9 Suite Music Production Software
or 4 payments of $174.75
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  Ableton Live 9 Intro Music Production Software
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Learn more about Ableton Live 9 »
MIDI Controllers for Ableton Live
Designed with a grid of pads that mirrors the Ableton clip arranger, these USB MIDI controllers can trigger loops and songs, adjust filters, and navigate the Ableton interface without a mouse or keyboard. Plug one of these controllers into a laptop running Ableton Live to put your own unique fingerprint on your DJ performance.

The Ableton Push controller, a collaboration between Ableton and Akai Professional, integrates tightly with Live's non-linear workflow with 64 pressure-sensitive drum pads, a pitch bend module, illuminated touchstrip, and practical navigation tools. Play chords on the Push grid, trigger drums, step sequence beats, and navigate loops with visual feedback from the color-changing pads and four-line LCD display.
  Ableton Push Controller for Ableton Live
or 4 payments of $149.75
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  Novation Launchpad S Ableton Live Controller
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  Behringer CMD LC-1 DJ Controller
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Audio Interfaces for Live DJ Performance
To deliver the most pristine sound possible from a laptop running Ableton, you'll want to plug it into a high-quality audio interface. But not just any interface -- an interface capable of outputting at least two discrete stereo signals. That means you'll need an interface that receives 4 channels of output from your computer: 2 channels for the PA, and a separate 2 channels for your headphones.

Why 4 channels of output? Well, live performance DJs use what's known a "cue out." This second stereo output allows the DJ to listen to the next song, match its tempo and prepare to drop it into the main mix without disturbing the audio output of the current song -- you don't want people to hear you line up your next track, right? Multiple outputs let you dedicate one main mix to the house, and one "cue" mix just for you.
  Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 USB Audio Interface
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$152.95
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  PreSonus AudioBox 44VSL USB Audio Interface
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$239.95
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  Apogee Quartet USB Audio Interface
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$1,229.00
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DJ Headphones
You'll need headphones to cue up your next track. But what's so special about DJ headphones? For starters, DJ headphones have large, circumaural, over-the-ear earcups to help isolate you from outside noise. The earcups also swivel 180 degrees, so you can wear them one-sided when you want to hear what the audience hears. Look for features like a detachable, replaceable cable and a 1/4" to 1/8" adapter, and specs like a wide frequency response and high output.
  Numark Red Wave DJ Headphones
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$67.95
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  Shure SRH750DJ Professional DJ Headphones
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  Pioneer HDJ-1000 Stereo Headphones
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  Pioneer HDJ-2000 Reference DJ Headphones
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Powered PA Speakers
After the laptop, software, controller, audio interface, all the technology you use to DJ a party amounts to little if you're not pumping your music through PA speakers that faithfully recreate and enhance the sound of your mixes. Active, powered PA speakers with built-in amplifiers minimize the amount of gear you need to lug around. Check out the lightweight QSC K12, which includes DEEP processing to bring more bass out of your music, or consider the Mackie Thump TH15A with its large 15" woofer for supreme low-end response.
  QSC K12 2-Way Powered Speaker (1000 Watts, 1x12")
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$764.95
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  Mackie Thump TH15A 2-Way Active Loudspeaker (400 Watts, 1x15")
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$269.95
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or 4 payments of $75.00
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  JBL EON 515XT Powered 2-Way Loudspeaker (625 Watts, 1x15")
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Powered Subwoofers
While not every gig requires a subwoofer, you and your audience will appreciate the deep bass that these dedicated low-frequency speakers provide. Since lower frequencies require more energy than higher frequencies, choose a sub with a higher wattage than your main full-range speakers. These powered subwoofers require no external power amps or crossovers -- just daisy-chain your sub from one of your main speakers' "thru" outputs.
  Electro-Voice ELX118P Live X Powered Subwoofer (700 Watts, 1x18")
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$519.95
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DJ Lighting
No party is complete without a killer lighting rig. DJ lighting allows you to dynamically change the vibe of the room, creating an environment suitable for a world-class booty shakin' contest. Drench your room in rich, vibrant color with the Chauvet 4BAR system and display endless shapes, patterns, and colors with the MotionDrape LED wall. Be sure to pick up the Chauvet H1300 Fog Machine to greatly enhance the effects of your lighting and create the ultimate dance atmosphere.
  Chauvet 4BAR LED Lighting System
or 4 payments of $100.00
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  Grundorf G-Series Lycra Facade
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  Chauvet MotionDrape LED Stage Effect Light
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$539.95
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