With the upcoming release of the video game DJ Hero set to retread the path of the Guitar Hero phenomenon, you can bet on seeing a surge in amateur DJing. But unlike guitars, most people are pretty clueless when it comes to DJ tools. Strings, frets, and whammy bars are one thing, but crossfaders, EQ kills, and cue points are a different beast.
Local music stores have been doing a brisk business selling electric guitars and drum sets to ambitious Guitar Hero and Rock Band prodigies, but the game-to-reality upgrade path for DJ Hero isn't as cut and dry. Two turntables and a mixing deck is a nice start, but most DJ Hero graduates will want to launch samples, create loops, and see their music library in the familiar context of a laptop screen.
Fortunately, digital DJ rigs have really hit their stride in recent years, offering tons of cool features at increasingly affordable prices. Some of these digital systems are meant to retrofit analog turntables, while others replace turntables altogether using jog wheels or imitation vinyl.
Hit up our slideshow for our top digital DJ picks.