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Thread: Beat matching by ear

  1. #1
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    Beat matching by ear

    Hi there,

    I've been DJ'ing for a while now and have always used a controller, so I've been biased to beatmatching using the Waveform and beatcount for guidance and then doing small adjustments where the grid is wrong.

    I've just a session practicing by ear and I can occasionally get it right every now and again but I'm always roughly .1 bpm off the playing track. Is this an indicator I need more practice? Just as I know .1 is almost nill difference and an easy correction with the jog as you bring it in but wanted to see if anyone else is able to consistently get it spot on.

    Cheers.

  2. #2
    Moderator pete's Avatar
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    Technically impossible to be 100% at 100% of the time (especially using oldschool equipment like turntables).
    If it sounds correct and you are able to adjust on the fly quickly, then its all good.
    0.1% on a 120bpm track is 0.12 beats off every minute - therefore negligible. But your ears are the judge.
    Remember that most mix CDs (even back in the day) were studio produced to sound perfectly mixed.
    Beatmatching is like riding a bike. When you have the practical side locked down you can pull it off well under any circumstances, but there is no such thing as too much practice.
    bored, curious, deaf or just bad taste in music?
    finally a mix by me
    and what's this, another shoddy mix...another dull mix

  3. #3
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    If you listen to any old live vinyl mixes, even from top DJs, there's always the occasional bit of off mixing. If you were old enough to go raving/clubbing before the advent of the digital era then you'll remember there was always the odd galloping transition where the DJ either messed up or needed to change between tracks that it wasn't feasible to tempo match. (Although back in the day DJ's were more reknown for the music they had and played than their skills at mixing).

    With Vinyl the key thing to remember was that you won't get an exact tempo lock and you don't have any software quantizing the beats together. The tracks will drift slowly out of sync and you'll need to react accordingly. At one stage I owned a pair of cheap Numark belt drives. They did not hold pitch well at all, so if I was doing a mix my hands were literally constantly making adjustments to the decks.

    I've never tried to do it the oldschool way with a controller though. If it is slightly off, I press the sync button !

  4. #4
    I eat Spam Manu's Avatar
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    thread moved to beginners

  5. #5
    Moderator pete's Avatar
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    here's a video that shows Jeff Mills, arguably one of the finest techno DJs, with tons of experience, on 3 decks.

    this was held up as one of the most technically amazing mixes back in the day. You can hear tons of beatmatching "errors", and most DJs, even today would be hard pressed to match the skills on display.

    bored, curious, deaf or just bad taste in music?
    finally a mix by me
    and what's this, another shoddy mix...another dull mix

  6. #6
    Junior Member BDC's Avatar
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    Trust your ears NOT the BPM counter or beat grid visuals.

    DJF thread -Beat-Matching-No-Visuals
    Unforgiving, unrelenting, unrecoverable double beats!

    Once the wife and kid are asleep... the DJ awakens

  7. #7
    I eat Spam Manu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pete View Post
    Technically impossible to be 100% at 100% of the time (especially using oldschool equipment like turntables).
    Debatable

    I have that Daft Punk 10 minutes of funk record, and used to mash that with some old acid remix of Hithouse's Jack to the sound of the underground. I have successfully matched both records, locked for 10 minutes without touching anything.

    That's on 2 x 1210 Technics, I was not able to do that on numark and Stanton decks. I was actually impressed by how it would stay perfectly locked for the whole 10 minutes.

    You're right saying that it is impossible to be 100% at all times, but I have seen quite a few DJs who do it like breathing. To me it's that small window of being below 3 milliseconds of being beatmatched, and keep it there. Most people will not detect if it's 0.03 percent off, especially those who are not trained DJs.

    On the other hand, doing that on CDJs is a lot easier.

    Side note, I don't use anything autosync or automix, it bores me to hell and back, and removes the swing and groove element that you get with beatmatching. Many kids these days use their eyes to beatmatch, when it's the ears that should be doing the job...
    Last edited by Manu; 09-21-2019 at 10:56 AM.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by manu View Post
    old acid remix of hithouse's jack to the sound of the underground.
    [ot] love that track <3 8) [/ot]

  9. #9
    I eat Spam Manu's Avatar
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    Here's a slice of old school, right back to when DJs had no choice but to beatmatch by ear.


  10. #10
    I am a SUPER lazy DJ that is to say I rarely practice at home anymore I just listen to tracks, make playlists etc before I play. If I have time I will play for a couple of hours at home to warm up before I go to the gig. Then, at the gig, I'm usually doing the sound system or have some other responsibility to distract me from DJing.

    Because of this, my mixing/beatmatching at the gig is admittedly not always as good as it should be.

    That said, if I have gotten some sleep, and am in the zone.. I can get it right on, or as close to right on as matters, most of the time.. let's say 75-80% of the time.

    When I used to practice more and keep up my chops I could do better than that.

    So yea, it is totally possible to do it, and not that hard, but you have to do it and do it a lot, then it becomes second nature.
    I have friends who dj who pretty much never screw up.

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