Beatmatching Lesson: An exercise in manual beat matching

How to use volume speed and timing controls on your controller?


There are a number of dj controller tools available to mix tunes on levels that are hard to fathom! Let’s first look at the volume controls. There are two volumes to worry about: Incoming (gain, or level) …gain is to get the income level about right. The gain is normally set at the top of the channel (long row vertical with one letter designated to each channel) the tune is being played on. You want to get in the incoming level about right where there is a little flicker where the peak is (as shown as the yellow flicker) high as possible …

all this means is that it’s balanced to the next tune as long as the levels on the next channel are exactly the same as the channel that you just programmed…first housekeeping, then creative volume control (line fader, various eq controls as well, base (or low) mid, and treble sometimes filter) with the crossfader is used as a quick switch but essentially the same kind of fader as the channel’s line fader…these all help you to balance the music when you are mixing it. When these creative knobs are set to 12:00 they are flat meaning they are not doing anything.

Speed controls are generally controlled by a pitch control using the tempo gauge. The jog wheels let you control by touching the edge, slowing it down and speeding up . This is a temporary speed to keep tunes in time with each other.


Timing controls are also very important and so lets look at the two main ones: queuing and phrasing. ..on cdj’s you find the spot on the song that you want and then set a que point number and hold the cue point and press the que button. So anytime your press the number just hold down the number and press play…on vinyl it is a little different..


You would just hold down the vinyl where you wanted to que up and then simply let go of it with the motor running underneath. We will discuss that a little bit later…So now what about phrasing? Phrasing is knowing where on the currently playing track to drop the new track in so everything is lined up nicely. The other thing we will discuss are the tricks you can play, dj effects, loops and queues you can use here is a sample of what a newbie will naturally have happen to them vs a dj who knows how to use the volume, speed , timing controls…

Let’s just assume I’m a dj and I am currently playing a tune on one channel and I want to mix in a nether tune. So load it up and I hit play…que up the other song at the beginning of the song…turn up the volume level timing and speed all seem off ..level is all the way high can’t really hear much so check the gain it may be too quiet…out of time and out of speed…not a good mix at all…ok so this time I will do it the way a DJ that knows what he is doing will do so you can see the difference, so let’s start our first tune. Make sure your volume is exactly where you want it and start by keeping your eq’s in flat position (not doing anything)..


make sure your cross fader is in the middle and make sure you queue up second song at the beginning of the song. Next you want to use the speed controls (tempo) to match the bpm to exactly the same or close to exact as the first song. Then you want to timing skill of waiting for the first song blend with second song at Bar 1. Make sure to adjust the gauge when necessary. Make sure the tunes are at the same speed. If it is already too loud in comparison to tune 1, lower the gain, especially if the beat has not started yet. So there you go …very very simple mix but notice the difference when the speed, timing and volume are controlled /sorted through so the tracks aren’t out of whack.


Don’t feel overwhelmed this is easier then it sounds…you will be counting consciously  and you are going to use it to dj and you are going to be 1000 times better then most dj’s out there. Every club dj knows this so do not overlook it. So..


What is a Bar?  A count of 1, 2, 3, 4.. and that is it!


What is a phrase? A phrase tends to be 8 blocks of 4 beats each


Put on any pop track and you will probably notice bars and phrases (8 bars within a phrase) …count out 1,2,3,4 …2,2,3,4…3,2,3,4…4,2,3,4 until you get to 8,2,3,4…when you get to the end of a 8 and right before coming back to 1, something major will happen, a beat may drop or a different part of the song will begin. So your intro may be 1 phrase then you may get into a verse which will also be 1 phrase, then build-up for 1 phrase then chorus of 1 phrase count, then possibly a post chorus for 1 phrase count. Then the song may shoot out a second verse at 1 phrase and the steps repeat. You may come across a middle section or bit which can go for 2 phrases or more which carry 16 bars or more.


Manual Beatmatching

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So now that you understand the most important part which is where to actually mix songs and the speed with which to do it. To get real confidence though, you will need to learn how to work on any gear at any moment and the only way to do this is to learn how to beat match manually before thinking about where the sync button is! This is not hard and should be looked at more like fun.

The objective is to make sure you hide the digital readings on two decks using a sticky note and get one tune to match the bpm of a second tune within 2 minutes. The easiest way is to set the tempo of the tune you are going to adjust at max so you can easily hear the difference of the two tunes. then you would adjust the tempo fader up and keep on adjusting until you hear the bpm’s match.


The tune you are adjusting should have a cue point (1) at the beginning of the tune. For this practice make sure the songs are similar and have bpms within 5 of each other to make it easier at first. Each tune needs to be loaded on a separate deck obviously. Line both at the beginning of a phrase or end of a break.

It really won’t matter where because this is not a timing exercise. Leave the tempo fader normal on one deck or tune. When you accelerate the other tempo fader you know for a fact that the bpm’s are not in sync which is why you preset it to max speed via tempo fader.  Once you learn how to perfectly beatmatch using this technique then you should have really advanced knowledge of how to feel the music and implement this knowledge on any kind of gear, especially club ready gear. This is really the only thing that you will need when you use club gear. Even though most gear has software that will line the beats close together automatically, sometimes this gear fails to do so and you will need to know and feel the music on the fly when this happens.