How to Transport DJ Equipment: The Complete Guide

As a DJ, you are going to have a lot of equipment that you’ll need to bring with you to your gigs. The goal when transporting your gear is to keep it as safe as possible during transit.

To transport your DJ equipment, you’ll need a vehicle, hard or soft cases, cable organizers, and gaffer tape. If traveling abroad, you’ll want to bring power adapters. Make yourself a breakdown checklist to follow and tape down everything before you travel.

Let’s take a closer look at each piece of equipment and what you’ll need in order to transport it as safely as possible.

Get a Vehicle

It’s recommended that you get a large vehicle, preferably a minivan. If your equipment is smaller, it’s possible for you to use the trunk of your car.

minivans like this one are great for moving DJ equipment.

However, most mobile DJs will have a lot of bulky equipment that can ruin the gig if it gets damaged. It’s recommended that you invest in a minivan or utility van—something with enough space to transport all of your equipment without any worries.

Store Speakers in an Upright Position

Your speakers are one of the most important pieces of equipment you will own. You want them to be working properly no matter where you are.

They are also one of the most fragile pieces of gear you’ll have. One wrong bump in the road could ruin the delicate electronic parts inside your speakers. If any of the pieces break, you risk the quality of your sound.

store your dj speakers upright.

The best way to store speakers is in an upright position. If this isn’t possible for some reason, the other option is to store them in a face-up position.

Avoid storing them in a face-down position. This is because every bump in the road will cause downward pressure on the speakers. There are heavy parts on the inside that can cause the basket to warp.

If that happens, your sound will be off, and you won’t be able to perform at your best. Worse, the audience will likely hear the distortion.

When transporting your speakers, make sure you cover them and place a towel or a blanket under them. This is for two reasons. The first is to avoid scratching your equipment, but it will also provide a little extra cushion.

You want to keep your equipment covered. This will keep it out of sight from possible theft. You can find cases for your speakers online. You’ll want to find one that fits your equipment, and they may even have cases designed by your speaker brand.

Covers like this JBL bag offer your speakers a padded barrier to protect it from any accidents during transit.

Get a Hard or Soft Case for Your Controllers

You’re going to be spending a lot of money on your controller, so you’re going to want to protect it as much as possible.

The best way to do that is to purchase a case for it. You can go with one of two options: a soft case or a hard case.

Soft Cases

A soft case can provide decent protection for your controller as long as you aren’t planning to fly with it. These cases are usually lighter than hard cases, which make them ideal for short distances or simple road traveling.

As well as being lighter than hard cases, it is also possible to get them with a shoulder strap carrier to make them easier to transport.

Most soft cases you see will have padded interiors to keep things safe as well as pockets for wires and cables, such as this Gator Case.

Soft cases are also a great solution if you know the space in the booth is going to be tight and that you’ll have to take your controller out of the case as soon as you get there to set up.

Unlike a hard case, soft cases don’t typically allow you to access the ports of your controller. This means you’ll have to remove the controller from the case before you can use it. Most hard cases will usually allow you to use your equipment while it’s still inside.

Soft cases can be a cheaper option for your controller, but they don’t offer as much protection as the hard cases will and aren’t recommended for airplanes. When space at the venue is limited, they can be folded and packed away into much smaller spaces though!

Hard Cases

Hard cases (sometimes also known as flight cases) are going to be a lifesaver if you are a mobile DJ. They are perfect for air travel, but even if you aren’t flying to your gigs, you can still use these for your everyday use.

Often they come with soft padding to fit snugly around your DJ equipment. You won’t have to worry about your controller moving when it’s in a hard case, it will match the exact dimensions. They’re also ideal in case you forget to tie anything down before moving. If something falls on the controller’s hard case, it’s not likely going to cause any damage to the gear.

Most high-end controllers will have corresponding hard cases.

For example, if your controller is the Pioneer DJ 3BS, this Harmony hard case can be a perfect solution. It’s shaped to keep your controller snug, so it doesn’t move around during travel. It also is designed with a slide-out shelf for your laptop. This makes it easier during the setup and breakdown of your booth because you can leave your controller in the box.

The downside to hard cases is they’re usually heavier, and bulkier than soft cases. They can also be more expensive and take up a lot of booth space. However, they are the best option when flying with your DJ equipment, but on the other hand, airlines have weight restrictions on your luggage, so it could be costly if your cases end up weighing more than the limit.

The best thing to do is decide which method of travel you see yourself doing with your DJ equipment and make sure you get the right style case that works for that.

Store Your Headphones in a Case During Transit

Now, you might be wondering why you need to worry about your headphones. Can’t you just put them in a bag and that’s the end of that?

That is not recommended, actually. The best thing you can do for your headphones is to get a case for them that will keep them secure during travel.

A lot of this has to do with the cords and audio quality. You don’t want the cords on your headphones getting tangled because they were just tossed into a bag.

You also don’t want anything to damage the audio quality of your headphones. Same as with your speakers, you want to protect them because they help make your job as a DJ that much easier.

If you can remove the cords from your headphones, it’s recommended you do that before traveling. Purchase a case for your headphones that has a secure place for the cord in case it is removable.

If you’re traveling by plane or if you have a soft case for your headphones, you can try wrapping your headphones in bubble wrap to keep them safe.

Buy a Case for Your Mixer

You can find a variety of cases for your mixer online or in-store. Just like your controller, you’re going to want to find a case that keeps your mixer secure and safe from damage.

Also, like the controller, they have soft cases and hard cases available.

Soft Cases

Soft cases offer a similar level of protection to your mixer as they do to your controller. There is typically going to be a padded interior and pockets to hold any wires or cords you have. There are shoulder straps and handles to make traveling with these cases easier.

When choosing a mixer case, you want to pick one that fits your mixer perfectly. This will prevent the mixer from shifting inside the case and getting damaged that way.

An example of a decent soft case for mixers is this Gator Case. It is available in a variety of sizes so you can pick the best one for your mixer. Its padded interior will keep your mixer safe, and the shoulder straps will make it easy to move.

The biggest problem you’ll have with a soft case is that if anything heavy were to fall on top of the case, it would likely damage the gear inside. It’s also not recommended for storage in the hold of an airplane.

Hard Cases

These hard cases will work just like the hard cases for your controller. They are generally heavier and bulkier than soft cases. They’re also better when traveling by plane.

You’ll want to make sure that your case keeps your mixer tightly secure so that it doesn’t move around during the move.

The biggest problem with any hard case is the bulkiness of them. If your booth is small, you will likely not have the space for a hard case. Keep this in mind when shopping for the best case.

Your Turntables Should Travel in a Case

As with your speakers, your turntable is very delicate. The belt used on your turntable is fragile, and you want to make sure it remains protected throughout your travels.

Like your controller and your mixer, there are hard cases and soft cases available for your turntable. The hard cases and soft cases will have the same level of protection as with your mixer or controller.

The biggest thing you will need to remember when purchasing a case for your turntable are the needles. The needles that play on your vinyl will need to be transported separately. When choosing a case (whether it’s hard or soft), make sure there is a compartment that keeps the needles safe and secure.

Secure Your Lights and Cables

Your lights and cables will need to be transported carefully as well.

For lighting, you want to use similar guides like the ones mentioned above. Pack them in cases or boxes wrapped in bubble wrap to keep them from breaking during travel.

Cables can be tricky to travel with. As a DJ, you’ll have wires for everything, and you want to make sure they don’t get ruined during transit. Or mixed into a big mess that will waste time sorting out 🙂

It’s recommended that you wrap your cables in a circular shape, not in an 8-shape. Over time, twisting them in that 8-shape will damage the wires inside the cords and make them useless. In order to save money on cords, buying a cable organizing case could be a reasonable investment.

It’s important that regardless of having a case or not, make sure you label everything. This will save you time during setup and keeps you organized.

Put Your Small Accessories in an Organizer Bag

A case like the ChromaCast Musician Bag has plenty of interior space for small accessories that you might have, such as chargers, flash drives, or external hard drives. Any spare parts you might have that you keep with you can also fit into this bag.

It offers a padded interior as well, so there is some level of protection in case you need to use this for a more fragile piece of equipment.

Back Up Your Music

Whether you are a traditional DJ using turntables and vinyl, or a digital DJ, you’ll want to protect your music when you travel.

For your vinyl and CDs, they have cases available to store them and keep them safe. They have similar makes and protections as the hard and soft cases for your other equipment.

If you are a digital DJ and keep your files on your computer, you’ll want to make sure you have a good case for your laptop.

If your music files are on an external hard drive or flash drives, make sure you backup your files. This is an important step to do before you travel anywhere. Without your music, you can’t do your job. You can backup your files on a cloud storage service, or on a separate external hard drive.

Either way, you need to protect your music just as much as any of your other pieces of equipment.

If You’re Traveling by Plane…

Your first question might be, can you take your DJ equipment on an airplane?

The short answer is yes, you can. There are things you’ll want to keep in mind.

First, if you are traveling abroad, no international gig should require you to travel with your own equipment, unless you are a mobile DJ.  

The next thing when traveling abroad is you’re going to want to make sure you’re authorized to be there. This means having a valid working visa. Even if you are playing for free, you need to have the appropriate documentation that states you can be there.

Now, the thing to keep in mind when traveling anywhere by plane is bringing your gear with you. This will require that you purchase extra protection for your equipment, such as hard cases.

It could also be expensive due to airline baggage fees. Most airlines require that checked bags be 50lbs (22.7kg) or lighter and must be within certain dimensions.

This is where it could be costly to fly with your DJ equipment. If your cases are bigger or heavier than the allowed weight, you’ll have to pay additional oversized fees on top of the checked bag fees you would already have to pay.

If you are traveling from the US to another country and are required to bring your own gear, chances are you’re going to need a universal adaptor. There are 13 different plug types used all around the world.

Bringing along a couple of universal adaptors like this one can be a lifesaver. Just make sure you check the voltage for your equipment to ensure you get the right one that won’t fry your electronics.

Prepare for Your Setup and Breakdown

Setting up and breaking down your equipment is time-consuming. You’ll want to make sure that you have a plan to make both processes run smoothly from start to finish.

Gig Prep

Backup all of your music. Once you have the backup, bring it with you. If it’s an external hard drive, you can try taping it to your laptop, so it doesn’t get lost.

If you don’t have an external hard drive, using a cloud service as your backup will help save you if something happens right before your gig starts.

When you load your gear into your vehicle, make sure everything is secured. Use bungee cords and tape to ensure that nothing moves in the back of your van or car. This will protect everything, especially if you are using soft cases.

Make a packing checklist. This is going to save you so much time in the long run, and you won’t have the added anxiety of potentially forgetting something, especially if your gig is too far away to go back for it.

Setup and During the Gig

When setting up, try to make sure your electronics are on stands and away from the lower areas of your booth. This will keep them safe from drinks falling, which is a very likely scenario.

It’s okay to be strict about your booth space. Your equipment is fragile, and protecting it from falling drinks or crowds is important.

Gaffer tape is something you should keep on hand as well for setup and during your gig. If something doesn’t feel secure, you can tape it down.

After Show Breakdown

Use your checklist to make sure you don’t forget to pack up any of your equipment. Commonly forgotten items are cables and chargers.

Make sure your equipment is stored in your vehicle just as securely as when you were leaving before the gig. This is important to remember because even though you’re exhausted from the gig and securing your gear adds more steps, this step needs to be done to protect your equipment.

Summary

There are a lot of ways transporting your gear can go wrong. However, now you have a complete guide on how to transport your DJ equipment as safely as possible. Wrecking or losing DJ gear can be expensive!!

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