The real beat matching challenge for a DJ who wants to learn how to mix is what we’re going to discuss now:
Setting the speeds or tempos of the 2 tracks to the same level.
You’ve already got the hang of cueing the incoming record and you are now able to sync 2 records that are ALREADY set at the same tempo.
Now it’s time for the real deal of mixing vinyl: syncing the tempo of tracks of different speeds.
This is the meat and substance of creating a mix.
To know how to DJ and hold your own, knowing how to beat match with your ear is a minimum requirement.
Different track speeds to beat match
Nearly every time you want to to bring in a new record or CD, it will have a different tempo or speed (beats per minute) to the track that is currently playing.
This means that somehow, as well as cueing your incoming record properly, you’ll have to set both the tempos so the tracks are playing at identical speeds.
Let’s take a classic example. The record currently playing is at native tempo, 124BPM, and the record you want to play next has a BPM of 127.
That means you’re going to have to match the tempo in the incoming record to that of the record currently playing in order to have a seamless transition from one track to the other.
Why do this? So your mix sounds fluid, pro and the people dancing don’t stop or pause and walk off because you disrupted the mix.
Using Pitch Control for mixing
How do you use pitch control? By micro-modifying the level until the records sound in sync.
Pitch control is the sliding nob to the right of the record turntable.
If it is set to 0%, then it is set to native speed. Moving the slider down will increase the tempo, making the record faster and moving it up should make the record slower.
The faster record (127 BPM) that you want to play next now has to be matched to the slower record that is playing (124 BPM).
Match the BPM
To do this, you need to cue up your record, and see how it sounds at native speed first. Obviously, you’ll hear the two tracks synced well to begin with, only for them then to fall gradually out of sync.
On some records, it may take 30 seconds for the record to fall slightly out of sync which means that there is only a very slight difference in tempo between the two tracks.
Slow down the incoming tune
In this instance where one track is at 127BPM and the other at 124BPM, you’ll have to slow down the incoming record’s speed down to 124BPM in order to be in perfect sync with the outgoing record.
This is done by moving your pitch control upwards, away from you, thus decreasing its speed.
Once you’ve moved the pitch contrl, go back to your original cue point and try to match the records again.
If you hear the incoming record is still too fast, then you’ll have to adjust the pitch until its the same speed.
Keep repeating this action until you get the speeds the same and you hear the beats are well synchronised.
This is not the only beat matching technique but it’s how you can start to learn.
I can’t do it!
Only a fortunate few with a rare sharp ear are able to learn to beat match the first time they try it.
Most of you will find it pretty hard when you first begin. You may have difficulty telling which track is faster or slower and even when you do, you may find it impossible to set the tempo to match that of the current track.
Of course, you could well have a few frustrating moments or weeks even, when learning how to mix.