A modern DJ uses lots of different equipment to put on a show, but none of it is more recognizable than the turntable. Used one or two at a time, it's the most central part of your DJ setup. You also have the option of digital MIDI controllers, of course, but there's nothing that can quite match the subtle nuances of an analog turntable, from that familiar vibration under your fingers to the distinctive feel of the grooves in your records. Today's turntables use either direct or belt drive systems. Some DJs would argue about which is better than the other, but the truth is that quality depends more on the overall design of the turntable than it does on how it's driven—all of the turntables here can put out great sound, regardless of which setup they use. Motor power does matter, though, so if you need the turntable to start and stop on a dime, your best bet will be something with a strong motor like the Stanton STR8-150 or Vestax PDX-3000.
The next things to take a look at are the turntable's controls. They can be as simple or as complex as you need, starting from the basics like speed adjustment, tone arm height adjustment and traditional pitch controls. Some higher-end features you'll find on certain turntables can be things like DSP to control tempo without affecting the pitch, or torque control to adjust the responsiveness of the deck for scratching. Stanton's turntables are especially scratch-friendly, with straight tone arms to prevent skipping and stylus illuminators to let you see the record's surface even in dim light. In addition, check the outputs of any turntable you're considering to make sure it can connect the way you want it to. That can be analog phono, digital S/PDIF or even USB, depending on the model. You can plug the turntable into analog or digital equipment based on the connections it has available, or directly to a computer with a USB interface in order to rip your vinyl audio to MP3, WMA or other digital formats. Choosing a turntable can be fairly straightforward once you decide what you're looking for in one. Like anything else you would buy for your DJ booth, it's worth taking your time and reading up on all the options to be certain you're making the right decision for you.