Your Questions: Is It Still Worth Using Mixed In Key?

Mixed In Key ran away with the harmonic detection game for many years, but is it still worth the investment now that Traktor has key detection built in?

Mixed In Key ran away with the harmonic detection game for many years, but is it still worth the investment now that Traktor has key detection built in?

Digital DJ Tips reader Bass Action writes: "It is apparent that a vast portion of your fans, followers, and newsletter readers are Traktor users. Many of these users also used Mixed in Key or other various key detection software. I guess the obvious question is should we use Mixed in Key because it is more accurate versus using Traktor's key detection feature? I ask this because the key results differed after anaylsis by the two programs."

Digital DJ Tips says:

It is almost impossible to have an objective debate about key detection software, because everyone makes a convincing argument that theirs is best. Test show most of the big systems are pretty good, but none is perfect. What I like about using Mixed In Key is that it'll write to the comments as well as the (non-standard) key tag that is used by Traktor and other DJ software, which can allow you to sort by key in iTunes, and also potentially use key in other systems, like on CDJs from USB.

Mixed In Key has also attempted to introduce an "energy" rating system, but the jury's out as to how useful people find that. I personally don't really need to be told how dancefloor-friendly my tunes are, but some folk may find it useful.

If you only every do or will use Traktor, and you don't use iTunes extensively to sort your music, I'd say stick with Traktor's in-built key detection. (Virtual DJ has had key detection for ages, by the way.) But for the reasons I've outlined, I still prefer to use Mixed In Key, not least because I sometimes DJ with Serato too, which doesn't have key detection at all.

What do you use to analyse your tunes? Do you use Mixed In Key or do you use Traktor or something else? Please let us know in the comments.

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Comments

  1. I mainly use Traktor to detect the key, then if I feel that the key is off, I usually will manually find the right key using a musical keyboard.

  2. Aaron Tomlinson says:

    My main programs are Ableton and Serato. Neither have any key detection. I trust Mixed in Key with that. If i find myself dealing with a song that is harder for the software to detect then i can usually do a quick check on beatport, or find it using my piano. And i dont know where my DJ Sets would be without Platinum Notes. It more or less remasters every song i use and give them all a similar setting and effect so i dont have to even touch volume controls very much.

  3. i used mixed in key for quite some time, but after comparing the reliability of traktor, keyfinder and mik i decided that they are all about the same, with every program having it´s advantages in some fields. so i switched to keyfinder, as i also prefer the ability to write in different id3 fields – and the main reason not to use mik any more was, that it only can be used when you are online – what is difficult while travelling. (what most djs do a lot, i guess)

  4. I used Mixed in Key as I’m still running Traktor 2.1.3!!

  5. I bought MIK a month or so before NI released their Traktor update that included the new key-detection feature. I don’t use iTunes with Traktor, because I don’t feel that the intergration is good enough. When NI released the key-detection feature, I tried to upgrade but unfortunatly, my laptop is running Vista and is not compatible with the latest update. When I need more songs in my collection, I scan them in Mixed in Key first and then import them to Traktor and it’s nothing worse than that. One thing that I’ve notised is when I play with my DJ friends laptop with the latest update, MIK and Traktor don’t get the same results! Those two tracks MIK tell me I can play together, does not Traktor allow me. Strange…

  6. I analyze keys manually, by ear. I dig through my collection and pick out about 100 songs for a set, then I get out the guitar or keyboard and play along until I’ve figured out the key. It’s good practice as an instrumentalist, and it helps me gain a deeper knowledge of the tracks I’ll be choosing from in a set. I haven’t tested the accuracy of software, but I’ve heard they’re all about 25% accurate, not good enough for me. I’ll test out my collection with some software and post results later…

  7. mixing in key is a good thing and interesting concept. I guess really good for making that perfect mixtape or mashup. however knowing your music will be the best way to dj always. paying for mixed in key is an unnecessary expense when using traktor

  8. I use mixed-in-key and virtual DJ both to analyze my files I also use platinum notes to fine toon all my files for maximum sound.

  9. I prefer using mixed in key insted of traktor key detection because mix in key is more accurate in the key detection and sometimes the tracks have 2 key and MIK shows that.

  10. I use traktor for mixing, but still use Mixed in Key for keys detection. I start with it when I use to mix with Torq, but I kept it after (and even upgrade to the last version) when I go on Traktor, because it seems more accurate for keys (but not really sure about that), and mostly because the bpm is better with Mixed in Keys than traktor. For electro/house or every 4×4 beat genre there is no difference, but Mixed In Key find the BPM more accuratly when it’s about hip hop, dubstep, drum’n bass or every other genre with a “non 4×4″ beat.

    And also I sometime use Serato so it’s still better to have the key inside the mp3 files. And it’s also better (for the way I work) when I make some selection in the windows browser and need to see the key.

  11. I’ve never used keys when mixing, probably never will. Does it really make much difference? Never used it with vinyl or CD and every performance was perfectly fine :)

    • I mixed for years with on Vinyl and CD. When I moved over to digital and started using mixed in key I thought it would be interesting to look back at some of my old mix tapes and see if the mixes / transitions from track to track were following the circle of 5ths methodology… I was glad to see that in 90% of my old mixes I was matching keys according to musical theory before any soft were existed to do the job and with out any formal musical training.
      I taught my self how to beat match and evidently I picked up key matching along the way.
      I’v been using MIK for a few years because it can save time finding the right track, it is no substitute for using your ears tho…. I was very happy to see both recordbox and traktor integrating key detection because it has taken a step out of the laborious tune preparation process.
      I still trust my ears more than any other peace of kit.

      • I did that too with a lot of my old recording both from live presentations in clubs, gigs, etc., and programmed mixtape sets. What I’ve found is that about only 70% of my live set mixes were in-key, whereas that rose to about 80% at pre-programmed mixtapes. I can think of a few reasons for this, but I also noticed that many (most) off-key mixes were rather good and energetic or surprising in some way despite, and that made me very pleased with my “old” DJing style to be honest.

        So, today I use MiK but I try not to overdo or place too much importance on key mixing, using it as an aid here and there but still focusing on other programing factors when playing. When I first discovered key mixing years ago I would be all over it all the time, but with time I guess I kinda incorporated it and loosened a lot, going back to my old mixing style. Technique is a slow evolving thing, and in the end we are what we are as far as music and DJing goes.

  12. Key mixing is very, very important. I know too many DJs that just don’t care, and to me, their sets sometimes sound horrible. My ears bleed when someone keeps both channel faders up for minutes although the tracks just don’t work together. Worse than shoddy beatmatching. However, I stopped using Mixed In Key.
    I gave up mixed in key when version 4.x constantly started nagging me about upgrading. It was horrible enough that you could only launch it with an active internet connection. After the upgrade nagging started, it basically became a very expensive piece of crapware which I have abandoned from my HD.
    I rather cope with Traktor’s built-in key detection, which is in my opinion less accurate than, say, Rapid Evolution, but more convenient.

    • I concur. It’s very misleading to have that “update available” prompt pop up.

      I’ll say this-I don’t care about accuracy in the analysis, neither in key nor tempo. I’m always making the final decision. And if an app gives me a guess, it’s typically off by a dominant or a division of the tempo. I can take it from there. I’d probably say the same about the energy analysis. It’s an interesting distinction which just lets me sort my files in a novel way, and that’s it. What I’ve heard, however, is that the analysis completely fails.

      I’m very skeptical of the quality check that MiK offers, it’s really just a volume check as far as I can tell. I would LOVE an app that 1) takes all of one’s divergent sources and 2) genuinely mentions whether there are new and available higher quality downloads for a track 3)replaces the file while keeping all its metadata intact. While we’re at it, it would be nice if it didn’t attack the .alc file that might be sitting next to it. I

      t’s not that I got mp3-happy back in the day, but I did ingest some music at lesser quality than other files. I might subscribe at least temporarily for the iTunes Match Service and replace everything that falls under their quality standards.

  13. I bought MIK before key detection was offered in Traktor and Rekordbox. Not sure if today I would buy it again knowing that there are other options available. Nevertheless, it’s still a good software and it includes some extra features, such as multiple key detection, energy levels, etc.. The bad thing about it is that it requires internet connection and the energy levels are not very accurate (I still prefer to use my hears…:)

  14. I think its been said that keymixing software is about 60% accurate at reporting keys with means it gets it wrong 40% of the time,so whilst its ok as a guide use your ears if you blindly mix by key beliving that its accurate 4 out of 10 mixes could sound horrible,plus you will not be training your ear to tell good mix from bad.Also the next tune you mix should not be chosen just because it key matches,there has to be more to it than that.

    • Actually the accuracy of software key detection to date is about 40% (http://www.djtechtools.com/2012/01/26/key-detection-software-showdown-2012-edition/)
      But, even if the detected key is wrong, the detected key is usually a compatible key to the exact one.
      e.g A Mayor instead of E Mayor, or even more common the compatible Mayor to a Minor Key. I found for my prefered Genre (Soulful and Deep House) you can rely to 95% on the dectected key.
      But, and thats a big but, you have to be consistent with your key detection. Some keys detected by Traktor and some by MiK dont deliver the 95% matches.

  15. Chuck "DJ Vintage" van Eekelen says:

    I agree with using any tool with caution. It’s a tool, something to help you. I am not a musician, so all this stuff with using keyboard and guitars to determine a key is not gonna help me.

    At the end of the day, my ears are the final judge. If it sounds off, it’s not happening.

    In vinyl days and pre-pitch lock CD days, having key detection didn’t help too much, as moving your pitch fader would change the key. So unless you had two tracks exactly identical in BPM, not much use.

    I still like MiK, if only because they do the Camelot Wheel notation (the traktor way is no good for me, as I have no clue nor do I really want to learn musical notes, if I had, I’d be playing piano now :-)).

    MixVibes had key detection too now and it offers the choice of traditional notation or the Camelot version. Not sure how good it is though.

    Greetinx,
    C.

  16. B.B. Koning says:

    I personally use Rapid Evolution. It’s free, and tests have shown that it is more accurate in some respects than MIK.

    Thus far it has not disappointed me. I am a little hesitant to upgrade to Traktor 2.6, because I don’t trust then key detection.

    I recommend RE.

  17. I was a little bit experimenting with the most common free key detector tool.

    Keyfinder – Rapid Evolution – Traktor – Rekordbox

    I have grouped the key tool in 3 Groups Traktor

    1. Keyfinder – Rekordbox
    2. Rapid Evolution – Traktor
    3. Traktor – Rekordbox
    Traktor was a little bit difficult becouse some time it has a strong thend one side next time to other.
    Remark Traktor Open Key the number is not as same as Camalot is shift eg -7 (1m is 8A)

    My personal preference is Rapid Evolution and Keyfinder. If the key is in this both tool the same then resoult will be also in other tool.

    The most common failure in the key Tool is not detecting correct scale Maior or Minor

    Greetinx
    frealy

  18. Lol i use my ear :D

  19. I’ve used Mixed in Key for a good couple of years now and generally I find it pretty good. Its not perfect but its a good starting point.

    Using Traktor (or any other software…) as well surely just confuses the issue?

    Once I’m in the general ball park with a selection of tracks or a mix, I used my ears. Mixed in Key does get it wrong. You’d be a fool to rely on it 100%

    Its good practise to give all your mixes a dry run on some decent speakers. NOT headphones. You’ll know then if you’ve nailed it.

  20. For the music I play (techno mainly) I find MiK and Traktor’s detection to give pretty much the same results. For example, out of a 100 track folder, 95 of the results were the same. In my situation, no reason to use both programs if they give the same results.

  21. For those with a little knowledge of music theorie (only the very basics are needed) and a instrument, here is a very good tutorial how to find the key by yourself:

    • DJ Vintage says:

      That is all good and fine if you add a handful of new tracks to your collection every week or so. But I would not like to go to the manual key finding hassle trying to run my full collection through it.

      Which isn’t to say that it is a good way to do it and it helps train your ears too!

      Greetinx.

  22. I use mixed in key even though I have the latest traktor software. Traktor never analyzed all of my music, only 25% of it. So i just integrated mixed in key with traktor. Works great and gives me interesting mixes like Benny benassi’s satisfaction and freak out by chic.

  23. I grew tired of MIK’s regular paid updates and the pop up reminders you can’t get rid of unless you pay up.

    Key Finder is free, faster, and doesnt require an internet connection to work.

    Camelot notation (10A etc) can be added to custom codes in Key Finder preferences. I understand the only MIk can offer this as standard as they bought the patent for it from the original creators.

  24. Cliff Whitney says:

    I use MIK to check my songs and label the comments section…
    And then let Traktor analyze the songs as I add them…
    I leave both key and comment fields side by side in traktors browser…
    I never rely 100% on the results…
    But I find that having the results gives me options…
    Using keys that match or compliment one another or energy builds….
    Something that could take a lifetime to check for each track…
    In the end I rely on my ears but am glad the tools are available as a reference….

  25. Here is a very comprehensive breakdown of the different results for various key detection tools: http://blog.dubspot.com/endo-harmonic-mixing-key-detection-analysis/

    Show that Mixed in Key and Rekordbox are leading, with Keyfinder and Algoriddim’s djay next. Traktor, interestingly, comes last.

  26. DJ Onda / Stefan Happer says:

    DJTechtools just did another comparison, this time with Mixed in Key 6 – it seems to beat every other tool out there.

    Unfortunately Traktor is one of the worst for key detection, with about half of the detected keys being wrong.

    http://www.djtechtools.com/2014/01/14/key-detection-software-comparison-2014-edition/

  27. 1 in 24 :)
    but is there a app that will arrange all my mp3’s in folders 1a 1b 2a 2b and so on in accordance to the camelot wheel after detecting the key?

    • Use smart playlists in iTunes or Serato

      • i found that i can detect the keys and add them to the comment id3 tag (over write) then in windows 7 i can “arange by : see more : comments” and also “group by comments” then i can just copy a group at a time and paste it to the correct folder.
        i need to make the camelot folders really but for now i have folders like Bbm, Abm, Ab, A. and so on. which is pretty much all i need, but i think i will sort them in to 1a 2A and so on later. I used key finder to batch detect and write the id3,
        just a word of warning for some reason windows had set a bunch of my mp3’s to read only so i spent a few hours detecting the keys and then when it was done i had A LOT of files that didnt get the key written to comments because of the read only attribute.

        i think if i had used MIK it would have made slightly less work for me. but key finder is free.

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