Your Questions: Why Is Sync A Dirty Word?

Oh really? Can the whole art of DJing really be reduced to this? Some would have you think so...

Oh really? Can the whole art of DJing really be reduced to this? Some would have you think so, as this example of the many "sync" memes circulating the internet indicates...

This weekend’s big question comes from member Tim Leavitt. He says: “I understand that getting two tracks totally locked in by ear is something that takes years of practice. And yet I can’t help but think that this problem is almost completely, automatically solved by the Sync button, with two properly beatgridded tracks.”

“To me, the tedious beatmatching step of DJing, which has absolutely no payoff to your audience, can be completely automated with a Sync button, whether it be via software like Traktor or Serato, or even now with Pioneer’s advanced CDJ players. This leaves you to focus more mental energy on the creative part of DJing, which is the whole point in the first place, is it not? And yet almost daily, I read disparaging comments from DJs I respect about sync button use.”

“Is there some vital part of beatmatching that will make me a better DJ that the sync button can’t do, besides mix two tracks that have variable BPMs or live drumming?”

Digital DJ Tips says:

Tim, you’re touching on a deep and sensitive topic for the DJ community, as we’ve all seen this debate probably from the moment beatsync was put into DJ software. What you’re mainly seeing out of the "opposition" are levels of fear and disgust on how one of the key skills of DJing has been made easier thanks to technology.

Back before Serato, Traktor, or even Final Scratch, DJing was more or less a home for those willing to put the time in to manually match beats as well as learn music and build a style and technique. In many ways, nothing has changed, except in most cases the software can help prevent you from trainwrecking the beats.

However, that’s all it can do. The software can’t tell you what tunes to play next, or when to drop in a new tune so things musically work together, or even how to tweak the volumes and EQs to make your blend smooth and seamless. All it can do is keep your beats together... most of the time.

You notice I said “most of the time”, because it’s the truth. Sync will fail, and every DJ who wants to use it must accept that. The reason it will fail is because not every piece of music we will use as DJs will ideally work in sync. For sync to be perfect, the music must be mathematically perfect with no factors that would deviate from the normal phrases of 32 beats.

If you look at disco from the 70s, there were no drum machines. It was all live drummers who didn’t make perfectly mathematical drum riffs that could blend seamlessly without some work by the DJ. A lot of old school house has issues with syncing mainly because they used analog machines to produce the music, often using analog samplers playing imperfect drum loops.

Now, I use sync and I love it. It’s been a wonder for me when I arrived at gigs that had no decent monitor, or a sound system that made live beatmatching a challenge. However, I’m honestly thankful I did learn to do things manually. That old school house mix I recently posted had to be done manually, not out of some “keepin’ it real” ethos or idea of “tradition”, but because much of that music doesn’t beatmap very well, thus making sync useless.

Personally, I think you do yourself a disservice by not pushing to learn to manually blend music, and you should take the time to craft that skill. The difference between “decent” and “great” is when you can go manually when you need, as opposed to skipping certain tracks because they won’t sync. I won’t tell anyone not to use sync, but I will tell everyone not to rely on it. A great DJ would never trap themselves by the limits of technology.

So practise, ask questions, even take some of our courses if you need deeper understanding. Eventually your ears will be trained to discern the kick drums and other rhythms, and you’ll get tempos matched up faster. Before you know it, you’ll be holding blends for several minutes with ease.

As for the opposition, ignore them. Focus on you, and make yourself a better DJ. The winners in this game are those who build scenes and sounds that bring in a large following.

• Want to know about our DJ courses? Find out more here.

Do you think "sync" is a dirty word? Do you rely on it totally? Or is it merely a tool that is useful, but not totally reliable? How would you advise Tim on better learning manual beatmatching? Please let us know in the comments.

Get access to all our free DJ training!

Join over 150,000 Digital DJ Tips members to get exclusive free DJ training videos, articles & resources plus twice-weekly emails with the best of our tutorials, reviews and DJ news. It’s free, and you can unsubscribe at any time!

Comments

  1. Ian Smith says:

    Great question. And I NEARLY asked the same question on the DJ Masterclass Webinar.

    It's snobbery and nonsense about "paying your dues" so far as I'm concerned. The same sort of snobbery that had people bitching I was "just a button pusher" when I switched from DJ to vinyl at Heaven because it gave a better sound.

    All that matters is the effect on the floor. I use Sync a lot myself. Yes, I can beat match and often do, but sync can save me a ton of time and free me up to do other stuff so if it works I use it. Never had any time for all the "men from the boys" nonsense that gets wrapped up in arguments trying to say Sync is terrible and shouldn't be used. The punters don't give a flying fuck how the sound is created, just that it's good.

    • Ian Smith says:

      Oops. Multitasking. Meant to say "when I switched from Vinyl to CD" not "when I switched from DJ to vinyl". Doh!

      • Gavyn Upham says:

        Ha ha! Maybe the snobbery comes from fear and insecurity - I suffered from both for years! When CDJ's came out I scoffed! Vinyl-only for me I would say (thinking that anyone who mattered actually gave a monkeys).

        Now well into my late 30's, I'm a much more confident person and don't worry what others think - I bought a cheap Numark controller because I had acquired so much music over the years as Mp3's etc and wanted to start playing around with it. I was stunned to find the 'Sync' function! Now I use it to bring the tunes into a same BPM super quick, but still drop it in manually and tweak it manually.

        The real beauty of the new controllers is, I think, the opportunities to get really creative in the mix. The features that are offered on both hardware and software are incredible.

        Knowing how to beatmatch is still is a must for me, just in case i get unexpected chances to mix on unfamiliar gear. BUT it is no longer (in my case) an issue of snobbery.

        Haters gonna hate. Screw em

    • Marco Solo says:

      I agree with the snobbery part, but please consider learning it. The skill you learn with being able to beatmatch is a soft skill, which means it can be used for other purposes. Training your ear and developing timing is a great skill to have no matter what you do in music.

      • Ian Smith says:

        I have learnt it (there was no Sync functionality around when I was a club DJ in the 90s). Like I said, using it saves me time.

        • Carl Goldsmith says:

          Here here Ian, I agree. I started Djing in the 80's and boy some of the gear I had to use was crap, but we managed to compensate, thanks to fingers, having to speed up or slow down tracks to get them to "Sync" as some of the pitch controllers and motors weren't accurate or reliable. I got a lot of negativity when I switched to cdj's in 1996, now everybody uses Cd's. People it's called evolution and technology. I use a Pioneer controller now and at first I never used the Sync button, but I do now, but don't rely on it. My biggest and best tool in my arsenal is??? My ears.

    • To me, "paying your dues" is more about flinging demos, networking, playing bad timeslots to empty rooms, trixies nagging you for requests, and even taking on the risks of throwing/promoting events.

  2. DJ Vintage says:

    The discussion whether it's a valid piece of technology to use or not is mute as far as I am concerned. Anybody not using available technology that eases things is stuck in a "the old days were better" rut, imho.

    I use calculators and spreadsheets all the time. But when push comes to shove, I do know how to add, distract, multiply and divide in my head or with the aid of a pen and a piece of paper. Lots of (predominantly younger) people have been raised with only calculators and spreadsheets and how to use them. If either is not available for any reason, it's end of business til technology is fixed. It's the limitation of technology D-Jam is talking about.

    Having the skills to do things manually allows you to move on where others stop, be more creative where others can't be (I think this track would be nice, but can't use it because it won't play sync well), do a live take-over in a line-up without dropping the music because you can manually beatmatch into the playing track from the guy/gal you are taking over from.

    Or when your laptop crashes and you have to switch to backup media-players without sync functionality (just about all of them), you can beat match manually and not be phased by it.

    So I fully agree that people dishing sync just because it's sync are silly. I do think that those that say that DJs who can ONLY use sync and don't know the manual art are behind the curve and lacking some essential skills do have a valid point though.

    • I'm with you on the only knowing sync point. I wouldn't pass up working with a dj who only uses sync. But doing things collaboratively with other Djs, like going back 2 back require an understanding of beatmatching.

      Part of my reluctance to using it are based in when I first adopted digital djing. The sync feature when software like Itch first debuted was ok at best and I fiound manual beatmatching more consistently returned better results.

      The kind of music you play also greatly influenced your reliance / adoption of using sync. I play a lot of old school hip hop, funk and soul. None of those genres are easily syncable and even the bpm analysis is often not accurate enough, even with the flexible beatgrid of Serato, manual beatmatching is necessary.
      Finally, I feel that having a good working knowledge of manual beatmatching allows for more creative mixing as many sync options out there even match the phrasing of tracks.

  3. Right with the commentators here so far.

    Personally I prefer a hybrid approach. I will hit sync to get the tracks on the same bpm. Then switch it off again. To mix. Just saves me the step of the course pitch adjustment. So I can concentrate on working the transition listening to both tracks and coming up with fx or loops etc to be more creative. Also I think it adds some fluidity to the mix.

    • Me too, I like the "tempo sync" functions that just save you matching BPMs, then I like to manually take it fro there, because given any two tracks (ad how they're EQed), the actual minutae of the "perfect" beatmix may be different (ie you knock out the bass, them mix with the snares aligned, etc), so you can "add groove" by actually having things deliberately slightly off "true". In other words, I find manual beatmixing more subtle and finer than doing it with locked beatgrids. But that's just me!

      • Charles Etsinger says:

        Ive taken the How To Digital DJ Fast class and the beatmaching section helped me enough to get that process down on similar BPM tracks. Transitions and mixing in key thats another story. I hear local dj's that live mix on the radio, i know they have the sync button on and I hear them slowing down the mixes or speeding them up to compensate them. It does not sound natural from song to song, as they try to mix genre to genre... Sync is not a save button by any means. The guy behind the decks still needs to make something of the music. Once I'm done with the masterclass i think i found my new start in the music world.

    • Sometimes I find myself changing the tempo on three or four tracks simultanously. With the key turned off and crossing over 20+ BPM, it can be a nice switch effect between genres and tempo. Would be much more tricky without sync....

  4. Deejay KoolBreeze says:

    I prefer to manually beatmatch, but I have taken to using the sync button to tighten up if my timing is slightly off (I find my jogwheels too sensitive for minor tweaks). It's a useful tool, but I think not learning to manually beatmatch is limiting yourself.

  5. Robert Fung says:

    With today's technology and moving with the times. I feel that you don't have to use sync if using a controller with software. I had found it much harder to beat match on a controller than the good old vinyl decks. Those it make me a lesser DJ because I use this format... I really don't think so !!
    I have been through the ranks and always ask on what format does the club have. I am experienced enough to to use all. I do think it creates more bedroom DJ's but that was the case when the format changed to CDs. Let's face the question... Are you scared of technology or don't like change ??

  6. Toni Savolainen says:

    I know light jockeys that seem to find putting a rack together with ugly spotlights one of the most awesome things in their work. Similarly, it's not about music for everyone. It's also about skills and equipment porn. That's why we have Technics championships that aren't really that much about music. For crowd it's usually about music, but nowadays the show starts to become more important. Also, people buy pretty expensive hardware although some use only the very basic functions that you could do with a lot cheaper gear.

  7. DJ Mixing In Style says:

    When I'm using 2 decks I use manual beast matching, when I'm using 3 or 4 decks then I start using the sync button. It's harder to beatmatch with 3 or 4 on the go.

  8. I mix songs with vocals so cannot use sync. Am I right thinking its exclusively an EDM thing?

    I do use automix on VDJ and go dance with the people at times which earns me stares from the old crusty DJs but girls don`t mind so...

  9. Remember the main point of what I'm trying to push here. It's not about whether you use sync or not, but just to not limit yourself by that technology.

    I could barely use the sync when I made that recent old school house mix, and even on a trance mix I'm going to post next week I had to go manual with some of the blends. It's a wonderful tool, but it's not perfect.

    At this point in time with new breakthroughs like remix decks and stems, its pointless to think the old way of total manual is somehow the ideal. I just want many like Tim to understand the why it still good to know manual beat matching. You never know when that one tune you want to play some won't wont sync, and thus you can at least blend it manually, rather than skipping and going on to something easier. The difference between good and great.

    Besides, life isn't fun unless you challenge yourself.

  10. Jason Moore says:

    It takes 2-3 secs to listen and do the "mechanics" of manual beat mixing! Then you feel a few bars to see how tight you have it ! This gives you a feel of how far you can go and a heads up to how your gonna need to pitch. Or you don't have to do anything after the 2-3 secs of mechanics and just put it out there and feel as you go! This is all part of the bravado, the flair of TRUE Djing. You got nothing if you use a sync button. Nothing. I read a comment above where the "DJ" was saying he uses the sync button then goes out and dances with the crowd...I'm not gonna say "that's wrong" because it's not. What IS wrong is this guy putting DJ in front of his name. because this is where the disrespect towards TRUE DJs happens. You are not Djing if you push the sync button. If your car can park itself at the push of a button, and you push it, you are not parking the car, the car is parking itself. If you have a personal Chef and you ask them to prepare dinner for you, you are not doing the cooking and are not a Chef. If you have a personal driver and this driver drives you somewhere you are not driving and not a driver. If you push the sync button you are not DJing and your not a DJ. When you use the sync button you spin with training wheels on, you spin with a net. Can anyone else here remember riding your bike with training wheels? Remember the kid in the neighborhood who was using training wheels for years upon YEARS? Long after your training wheels were dead and gone this poor kid was still using them. But you know what? Eventually he got it! It took him a lot longer then everyone else but he got it! Now he's truly riding a bike! He's able to do bunny hops, endos, jump for length, jump for air, wheelies and freestyle moves! Anyone who uses a sync button when playing music is not a DJ. Not only are you not a DJ, your a full grown adult riding a bike with training wheels.

    • DJ = Jockey music, i.e. mix music in a flow acceptable to crowd. HOW you do it is irrelevant. How many people dance and have a good time is all that matters when considering the talent of a DJ. The crowd does not care if you use sync, automix or can whisper with turntables. In my experience I get the technical prowess chat from DJs who are known to empty dance floors or play the same stuff over and over. A real DJ is one who connects with his crowd and plays the music they need to hear or wanna hear, and I have never gotten snobbed by one of the these REAL DJs.

    • "Anyone who uses a sync button when playing music is not a DJ. Not only are you not a DJ, your a full grown adult riding a bike with training wheels."

      I have to respectfully disagree with this, Jason.

      Beatmixing is part of DJing with certain music styles and in certain scenes, but indie DJs often don't mix (they may "count", but mixes tend not to be beatmixed), there are millions of successful mobile DJs who don't beatmix, soundsystem culture was not based around beatmixing, etc. etc.

      My point is DJing is bigger than beatmixing, so the sync button argument logically only applies to certain types of DJ in certain scenes. To attempt to dictate who can and can't call themselves a DJ is possibly an inadvisable path to go down in any case, but to use whether or not they utilise this function as the deciding factor doesn't make sense to me.

      My definition of a DJ, for what it's worth, is someone who can consistently play the right tune, for right now, for the crowd in front of them. I've known many DJs do that with low technical skills, and conversely, technically perfect DJs who are terribly boring and bad at holding a crowd, which is why I struggle with your "rule".

      • Word!!!!

      • Yup

      • I totally agree with you Phil and DJ Kain. To get on the SYNC bandwagon....I use it when I just need to give my brain and body a break. Being a wedding and corporate function DJ requires me playing a minimum of 4 hours and up to 7 hours and a very wide range of genres. Mixing well between different genres for me is a wonderful challenge but my main focus is on the crowd. To those DJ's that like the Sync button, no problem, just make sure your priorities are straight. Who after all pays our fee, the people!

      • Gavyn Upham says:

        Jason - that's a bit harsh.

        Whether or not a DJ even attempts to beatmatch at all very much depends on the scene and the genre.

        Go to a roots/dub soundsystem night in Bristol, Manchester, Birmingham, London (to name but a few places) and the DJ will never beatmatch. It is ALL about the selection or tunes, the hype on the mic, the interaction with the crowd. The tunes get played right from the start, with the vocal intro, the rhythm and drums coming next and then the DROP of the organ-shaking bassline. You simply wouldn't want to beatmatch most of the time unless it's within the same riddim; the impact of each tune would be lost. Plus, you want to vary the BPM within the selection, a much slower tune has a huge impact after a quicker one.

        David Rodigan has (probably) never beatmatched a tune in his life, but his DJ sets blow up in the UK, USA, JA.

        It's all about the scene, the music and the vibes. I wouldn't want to be involved in a scene where certain skills were deemed as a must to be considered legit. It takes all sorts to make the world go round, and a place for them all within it. Bless

    • William Buttry says:

      Well I guess I am not a real Dj It is kinda hard to beat match country music and pop rock I use fades spin backs and drops on the one and sometimes I will even get on the mic and chat it up when going from lets say 65 bpm to 160 bpm.. Well what you consider a real dj and what others consider a real Dj are few and far between . I don't do EDM or trance or even house I do country and rock and pop only so I guess I gotta close down shop since I am not a real Dj. thank you for the encouragement puto.

  11. Can you really manually beatmatch properly on a DJ controller though? Mine don't seem to have the right pitch resolution response of something analog like a turntable or even a CDJ.

    • Jason Moore says:

      Yes you can Brian. As Professor Phil said, it's all the same. The "mechanics" are the same no matter what you use. However, you also have to train your ear. Your ear won't lie! It may get confused by a gremlin or a tricky 3rd every now and then but you can figure it out. I've been on a journey to learn how to spin on all available performing "platforms". Back in the day I cut teeth on vinyl. Then came the time to learned cds (on vinyl you can read/see how the actual groove is cut into the vinyl itself giving you insight of the track increasing your ability to really work it. This is knowledge completely lost on cds). Currently I'm attempting to learn the digital platform with the soothing words of Professor Phil attempting to keep my calm (you don't even know the "Shazam" rant I went on dude). I want to learn all platforms just to do it. To date all the "mechanics" are they same. Train your ear and you'll have something others don't and you may come to understand my back n forth with DJ Kain and Ian Smith. Learn it and serve it Brian!

  12. DJ Sure Shot says:

    I'm a new DJ with a modest little setup including a Numark IDJ Pro, djay2, an iPad Air and a single 4000watt PA system (for now) and when I was learning back in December, I made it a top priority to learn to beatmatch properly. Has this helped me? Immensely! Do I look down on those that only use the sync button or primarily use it? Never. For me though, the sync doesn't always get the music right where I want it, so I use multiple cue points and beatmatch accordingly. I agree with the poster that basically said it's good to know and use the technology in conjunction with old school technique. To each his own. I guess the end result (how the music plays) is what's important...

    • The foundation are your ears, everything else is tools used to nudge it to sound right to you and the crowd. For For example, no sync that I I know of can help you mixing a 3/4 into a 4/4 beat. Try to mix Golden Brown or maybe Take Five (that would be 5/4). No software can help you (yet).

  13. Personally, I feel a bit more connected to the music and the mix when I have to beatmatch it. I also still like to incorporate vinyl into my DJing so I don't really have an option. I don't necessarily have an issue with DJs using sync but I feel the technology has enabled laziness for many DJs. Yes, DJs could be using the extra time freed up from beatmatching to be more creative but a lot of them don't. There are some that do though and I've heard interesting things from them, no doubt.

    I also enjoy hearing the looseness of a DJ in the mix who is beat matching. I'm not talking about trainwrecks, just the nuances that remind me a human is creating something live. It's very similar to the reason I feel a lot of dance music being released is very bland at the moment. Tools like Ableton and freely accessible software have made the barrier to entry for production much lower so there is much more music coming from less experienced musicians as a result. It's nice that so many people are enjoying making music but the dumbing down and standardization of the tools can create an increasingly sterile artistic landscape. Almost all creative mediums face this dilemma with technology these days I suppose.

    • I agree with you on this J LaD, I like the "looseness" of manual beatmatching too, but DJing moves on and there are positive exciting developments (I love the idea of NI's Stems files) that will rely on sync but may not lead to laziness.

  14. Trevor Oxborrow says:

    My version of the "tempo/pitch slider sync button" says "Use these buttons if preparation done and time at the gig is better spent reading the crowd and refining the playlist" and "Use this slider if tracks not prepared in advance, or if technique is more important than the end result".

  15. No Qualms says:

    Sync's for newbie's, full stop.
    If your beat grids are just a little bit off (and most of them are) you won't actually be in sync, and your mix will sound like shit.
    If your beat grids are perfect then you get that weird phasing on the kicks, and your mix will sound like shit.
    Mixes sound the best when both tracks are slightly off, but that differs for every track, so you have to do each mix by ear to get the best mix.
    It takes about 3 seconds to get the mix right, it's not really that hard. And it makes no difference if you have a fold back monitor or not, you have headphones.
    If you are using remix decks and sequencers then yes you need sync, but who really does this live at gigs 1% of DJ's. All of us mix one song into another, it's what we get paid to do, it's what punters want to hear.
    Just mix ya damn songs, and do it by ear, seriously!

  16. This is insane!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It takes a few hours to learn to beatmatch, max! Max! Why not practice it a little?

    • A few hours, define a few.....?

      • 2 hours. You practice a 1/2 hour a day for 4 days and you'll know how to beatmatch for at least 16 bars, 32 or more if it's newer EDM rather than oldschool house. This particular skill is so easy there's no excuse for not doing it, unless you are doing some epic multi-deck mix. Understanding when to mix a song in is the hard part but purely matching the beats takes, what, less than 2 hours to learn. This part isn't rocket science.

        • William Buttry says:

          I am not a EDM dj I play country rock pop and r&b so how do I beat match a song when the vocals come in in the second bar.

          • Quickly! :)

          • William Buttry says:

            yeah ok phil if u say so https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ch1WYOAUOF4 you are playing this song and you wanna bring in this song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nSTp-EAkCcs how would I do it fade in or drop on the one cause evidently beat matching is not possible cause the vocals start in about 5 seconds of the music and I cant loop it to the point that the song sounds like it is skipping to the crowd.

          • You line it up and drop it on the '1'. Drop that stuff on the 1 all night long. Still it's good to keep the BPMs similar so your dance floor doesn't get confused. lol Phil:)

          • William Buttry says:

            thats exactly what I do and I also do some fades along with a few scratches just wanted to get others opinons as to help me make sure I was bringing them in correctly . Here in southeast Missouri mostly it is all farmers and agriculture jobs around here and it is a mixed popules whites blacks Mexicans I try to satify all the needs in music not to many even cares about EDM dub house or anything like that and if they do it has not been brought to my attention yet been looking to see if I need to add anything to my playlist of course all the new releases from the pop rock country and R&B are updated as they come out through prime cuts and ITunes. If you folks have any ideas let me know .

    • William Buttry says:

      I have not figured it out as of yet myself either I can beat match the to of the same songs together that's easy but most of the music I play is full of vocals and you cant beat match vocals unless they are saying the same words at the same time So what do you suggest????????

  17. Trevor Oxborrow says:

    "True DJ"? Please define. An allegory for some assertions in this thread might be "Anyone driving a car with an automatic gearbox is not a true driver at all. You have to manually change gears and know how to use a clutch before you can call yourself a true driver." The question for drivers is "Did you get there, safely?". The question for DJ's is "Were all your customers satisfied?".

    • That is a great example Trevor about driving. It is one I used to use and very apt.

      Great questions at the end too. As if your job as a DJ is to entertain customer satisfaction and repeat business is everything.

  18. My take on this is that you have to learn to manually beat match. That way, you need not rely on sync and your skills are sharpened while you practice. However, on actual performance, you may choose to use sync or not. Your audience wouldn't mind.

  19. Carlos Cameron says:

    Well there must be a reason why 99 percent of digital gear has the sync function and in essence isn't a dj better when he knows how to use all the controls of his or hers program and hardware. Take time to learn manual beat matching for those songs that will not sync but leave the sync on and you actually won't need to use your other two hands lol. Gives you more time to perceive and deliver scratches and other effects. Sync is essential for digital djing. If u do not use sync you have not matriculated to a digital dj you will stil be a vinylist.

    • Hey, that would be a nice question: "Dear NI, why did you decide to put the sync feature in Traktor, and more importantly, why did you keep it?"

  20. Who makes Sync A Dirty Word? What is immoral about Sync? The topic sentence of this article should be, "Why some people do not use Sync?"
    There are group of jerks who also think if you're using Virtual DJ then you're not a true DJ.
    These excerpts will quench those jealous thinking: " choose to use sync or not. Your audience wouldn’t mind", “Were your customers satisfied?”, "the end result (how the music plays) is what’s important"
    ".. don’t give a flying @# how the sound is created, just that it’s good"
    Now I can go back DJing using the sync the party is on people are dancing.

  21. Stazbumpa says:

    When you rely on something it will, sooner or later, let you down. All DJs who play mixable/blendable music should learn to beat match by ear; your scope for music is broadened, you learn a more ingrained sense of rhythm and, when sync breaks or your beat grid is junk, you don't stand there looking stupid.

    I do not subscribe to the "sync is for noobs" school of thought, however putting in the time and effort to learn the non technological approach, I feel, does show a dedication to ones craft beyond taking the easy route routinely trod by the masses of people we're all trying to be better than.
    Trained ears do not blue screen or crash on you.

  22. OK
    adding my 2cents
    I build web pages (also do some dj'ing)
    but in my circles using a WYSIWYG editor such as Dreamweaver is considered not really webdesigning
    you gotta do it by code only (Learn HTML, JavaScript etc...)
    So Phil this site which is done using WordPress...... nope' you're not a web designer
    do we really care?????
    NOPE

    • No but I've repaired some dodgy JS, CSS and PHP over my time when something's broken on a weekend... 😀

    • I've been doing web design/development since the late 90s. I'd never fault someone for using a WYSIWYG editor, or just installing WordPress with a ready-made theme. I won't fault them if they make some money doing sites this way. The end goal is whether or not you can get the job done.

      Only thing I'd tell anyone wanting to get into this line of work is you will hit limits when you try to avoid coding. Eventually you get a client who wants something you can't do, and thus you either have to say "no" and end up losing the client to someone who can't, or you outsource that task and thus lose money.

      When I first encountered this websites, there were many rookies who used sync, and would speak of when they hit a song that doesn't beatmap well or doesn't sync well. They would skip playing that tune and not try. Not a good philosophy to live by, because it limits them, and thus competitors who took things to the next level will slide in and push them down the ladder.

      This is the same point I make here. Going from "good" to "great" is when you're able to turn the sync off for that one blend. When you're able to show up and play on whatever gear is in front of you. I always caveat these articles or postings telling of how I use sync, despite that I don't need to. I don't see anything wrong with it when you look at the grand scheme of a DJ set, or even the grand scheme of a blend. However, I don't think one should limit themselves technologically.

  23. Petri Laakso says:

    Beatgriding tracks (properly) is a hard work. Do that work and you have every right to use it.
    If you don't check or fix your beatgrids, then you are just lazy and the sync-haters are right.
    I'm using 2 channel controller with sync and i have sampler with pre-made loops (kick, hi hat, snare, clap and so on...) ready to synced anytime, so i can built my own versions / remixes on the fly.
    It's my way of playing now. I like it more than just basic manual mixing, witch became boring after 30 year of djing.

  24. Hey D-Jam,

    always interesting articles that you come up with.

    maybe the issue is not just the sync button, maybe the opposition is frustrated because, maybe, the new DJs around the block show, maybe, a lack of (understanding) phrasing, maybe mixing songs while both have, maybe, clashing keys in, maybe, their bass loops. or maybe both songs are in their chorus, with, maybe, different singing voices. maybe these new guys overuse FX, along with, maybe, wrong timing (maybe divided by two beats instead of triplets, you know) executed, maybe, on the third beat, or somewhere, maybe, between the third and the forth, and still, maybe, they’re fist pumping behind their, maybe, garden table with, maybe, a polka dot table cloth. maybe they’re playing big room house and, maybe, calling it deep, maybe, Detroit, techno. maybe they play just straight 80’s pop music, god forbid. maybe they use a microphone between each song to, maybe, announce the name of the next song and, maybe, the artist. maybe they show up with a 50$ silver box with, maybe, coloured plastic knobs and maybe faders and maybe they want to impress the girls with their new, pimped up Flybook, maybe with stickers. maybe the sound is lead into, maybe, a skytech 75 watt speaker. maybe continuous, maybe passive, maybe even 2. maybe these DJs even show up in local clubs and, maybe, train-wreck the whole night, maybe because it’s their second time, maybe, on CDJ100 mk2s, with, maybe, a Behringer PA mixer, maybe with 3 channels. Maybe they forgot to press the right button, maybe even to bring their head phones. maybe they play too hot and maybe they brought Berlin’s new wave, ambient euro electro dub, to a party in, maybe France, during, maybe, a salsa night. or maybe, just maybe, it’s because these new comers, these so called digital DJs, have the time of their live, entertaining a good crowd, that doesn't even care.

    i’m off, back to mixing, maybe I will use sync, maybe not.

    regards,

    King of Snake

    • Carlos Cameron says:

      Well said, As a new school dj i will head your warnings.

    • > "maybe the opposition is frustrated because, maybe, the new DJs around the block show,
      > maybe, a lack of (understanding) phrasing, maybe mixing songs while both have, maybe,
      > clashing keys in, maybe, their bass loops. or maybe both songs are in their chorus, with,
      > maybe, different singing voices.

      I would agree that some do...me included. It's why I nudge on those like Tim the "why" they should learn manual, and point out how much more there is to good blend than just the beatmatching.

      Believe me, I've heard many badly made mixes where the beats were in sync, but nothing else was. I've listened to old mixes of my own and can hear how I wasn't as good a blending in the past as I am now. The real push (and fight) would be on DJs to put some priority on learning these skills as opposed to just learning the basics, and then expelling all their energy into marketing.

      • Hi D-Jam,

        yes, next to the fact that it really sounds nice for the crowd, nothing (well..) beats the feeling when one is in flow with the music, for the very first time, playing/managing that perfect aligned, super smooth transition. That's the greatest breakthrough i ever experienced when i started DJing.. man i was hyped for a week!

        regards,

        King of Snake

  25. Jon Ramos says:

    First have to say that you are indeed a fool to rely on sync 100% of the time. Just as it's stated, not all music works with sync. That being said, look at sync as just one other button/function in your setup. It's all a matter of what kind of DJ you want to be and using the proper tools to accomplish that.

    Some people use the crossfader and some don't. Some use 2 channels, some use 4. Some people use filters/effects and some don't. Some people use loops, and some don't. Some use jogwheels, some don't. Etcetera. Figure out what your goal in DJing is and use the functions necessary to achieve that end.

    Where it's easy to pick on the sync button is this: beatmatching is the most basic of all DJ skills. Of course, all DJs are trying to mix beats in-sync. So if you demonstrate that all you want to do is mix A-to-B, of course the guys who do it manually every time will rip you apart. Sync lets you achieve a different end than just two beatmatched tunes. What are you doing with the EQ? Loops and effects? Of course, it takes time and practice to PROPERLY implement the other tools into your routine/workflow. So when someone is using sync and nothing else, sure it's really easy to pick on them because I'll bet the farm they are novices. Being new and made fun of is nothing new to ANY hobby. Deal with it. There are always haters, even when you're actually good. But you know what? The so-called "haters" have a point when your song selection is suspect, your phrasing is off, and you're running in the red, all while pumping your fist between Jesus poses. If you never progress, then we have a real problem.

    Additionally, it's a cop out to say, "as long as it sounds good". Guess what? Most of those tracks you're spinning sound perfectly fine when they left the studio, so why should anyone give you credit for playing them? Putting the sync argument to the side, what value are you providing the party/bar/club/event over playing tracks serially, without mixing. IMHO, "does it sounds good?" is the wrong question.

  26. I started my DJ career on Russco broadcast turntables...no pitch controls, just a choice, 33 or 45...that's it.
    Mixers of that time only had volume control and EQ...no crossfaders. I've watched things progress ever since.
    Without exception...I've also witnessed resistance to changes. It's easy to change things...transition and acceptance is the opportunity. It doesn't get any more old school than manual. Sync allows you to make the single most important decision a DJ makes...what comes next. That is unless you disregard your audience and play for yourself. Someone asked me a question once very early in my career... "who's party do you think this is"? It's not about you...deliver the best set you can every time!

  27. Nathan Bliss says:

    I do not know how to beat match by ear. Nobody taught me. I just learned the software and mixer on my own. I play the music I like which is mostly progressive, electro, house, bounce, etc 122-130 bpm. When I first started designing web sites all the coding was done by hand. When software like Dreamweaver came out many stated that web design was an art and everyone should learn to code by hand. They were wrong on that and DJ's that think using the sync button is wrong need to look to the future. It's basically a useless skill and in a few years everyone wlll be using a different solution to transition music. Although I am an amateur and hobbyist and mostly play at my own private events I have performed at some of the biggest clubs in Miami including Mokai, Grand Central and the Terrace at Space. Not one person knew I was using sync....or cared....they were too busy dancing!

  28. John Mitchell says:

    Why are we even having this discussion??? I have been a DJ for over 30 years. I started with turntables, then CDJs, and now the NS7. Whatever tool a DJ uses to get the crowd eating out of his or her hand is good. No matter what the tool! If it is the sync to do the trick, all is good. The crowd doesn't care and never has cared what a DJ uses. I personally do not always use the sync, Im oldschool, but I do not condemn those who do. For those who somehow want to preserve the old craft by saying you are not a real DJ if you use the sync button, GET OVER IT!!!! Love the art as it is presented at current.

  29. Kenny Schachat says:

    Perhaps the bigger question is: as a DJ, why do you care what other people think about whether or not you use "Sync"? This could be litmus test for your level of confidence in your abilities...

  30. Richard Bolt says:

    Should you learn to beatmatch without using Synch - yes, absolutely. It's a great skill to have.
    Do the people on the dance floor care if you are using Synch or not. Nope they don't

    When I first started DJing I used Synch, its a great tool for newbies to get the confidence behind the decks (it's a hell of a lot harder to DJ in a loud noisy dance club than it is at home).
    Once you've got your confidence up, I would suggest manually beathmatching - I no longer use Synch as I find it far more fun to beatmatch myself when I'm out playing at a club.

    I still use Synch for my podcasts though (don't want to do a 2 hour set and muck it up on the last track and have to start all over again).
    I spent 10 days this month in the top 10 overall podcasts on Podomatic using Synch in my sets - so obviously all those people who downloaded and played my sets don't give a toss that I was using it.
    And in the end, they're the only ones that matter !!

    • Gavyn Upham says:

      Really interesting Richard - the point about perfect beatmatching when recording! When you're playing our live nobody can rewind to check if that couple of seconds was a little bit out! It's funny that the time I feel the most pressure (and subsequently make the most glaring mistakes!) is when recording a mix. When I'm DJing in public and the vibe is good, it never seems to happen!

  31. Denis Gallagher says:

    Beat matching is a skill that you should absolutely learn but I agree with most, SYNC is there as an aid for easy transitioning. Having said that, adjusting the tempo slider is something you should do with every track, as SYNC could cause unwanted tempo errors if used improperly. If your tempo slider is clicked in the default position and you've just been using SYNC to match tempo, once you do go to move that tempo slider, you're going to experience a big tempo change as your software trues up the BPM from SYNC with its actual tempo as you adjust %-wise up and down (at least that's the case with my controller). Sounds like a technicality, but it can be a 1/2 second nightmare for perfectionists :)

  32. So I'm 25 and I gave birth to my 2nd baby girl in January (she's now 6 months old), my other daughter is 2 1/2. Needless to say, I've been VERY busy for 2 years and have neglected my urge to be creative. Last week I got desperate to do something creative and I had this great idea that I was going to DJ. I just jumped right in. With the SYNC option I was able to have instant results giving me a full, butterflies-wings feeling in my solar plexus. HOORAY! I ROCK! I was stoked and a week later I'm still using it. I want to learn to match beats manually, my husband is a drummer so I have a master teacher... but for now I just need to be creative and get into the groove. Thanks to the SYNC button I can do this without despairing that my mixes sound like shit. It's great for beginners... but I want to mix old school booty house (my husband was in the rave scene in Pittsburgh in the early 90's and loves Bad Boy Bill, DJ Dan, and Richard Vission) so I know I have a lot of studying to do. In the mean time, SYNC is for me.

  33. DJ Neon the Glowgobear says:

    As a two year veteran and I've only KNOWN Digital DJing, I can say there is this disconnect between those who have gone before and those of us who have only known Digital DJing. I commented to a fellow DJ who thought that a veteran CDJ moving into Digital DJing just doesn't have the "feel" of sliding into a new track. Well I would say that if you are doing your Digital DJing correctly, learning some of the advanced methods of both using the new hardware features and software features, we go through similar rituals by using our devices to the maximum. I'm constantly learning new ways and features of the software, maybe adding on some effects, this and that. SYNC helps move things along ESPECIALLY when I am pressed for time due to a change in song or the dreaded "bathroom break" but it's just a tool and you still have to sometimes adjust and compensate just like you do with other methods of laying a track down. When all is said and done, it all comes out the RCA jack. Why you care how it got there is snobbery. Enjoy the tunes. Just like some painters use acrylic and others might use spray paint, the end result is something that is pleasing to your audience, which I think we can all agree upon, should be our primary goal. If you can do that with CDjs, do it. If you can do that as a Digital DJ, do it. Give it 5 years and we will have a whole new round of DJ technologies available to us.

  34. Christopher Carter says:

    You can't use sync if you're mixing back to back with another DJ or DJs (unless you all put your music into one massive library (not practical) or maybe if you are all using Nexus CDJs). The need for two separate systems to mix back to back is the biggest drawback of digital DJing for me, but as long as there's space for two controllers then you can do it fine as long as everyone can beatmatch manually.

  35. Daz Harrison says:

    Its only "DJ's" that give a toss about sync or not. The crowd aren't standing there complaining because you clicked sync. Personally i just want people to enjoy the music and have a good time.Im pretty Sure thats why we are hired

  36. Eddy Fernandez says:

    I learned DJ-ing the 'old fashioned way' in the 90's using vinyl. After a break of DJ-ing for about 15 years I started again two years ago ... But then the 'modern way' using Traktor and ... Yes ... also using the sync button. My reason for that: 90% of my record get correctly synced, which gives me extra time to focus on other creative parts of DJ-ing. The 10% incorrect syncing (caused by old records, incorrect beatgridds, etc.) can be fixed with my 'classic vinyl mixing skills' without getting nervous. Why not use (new) technology if ot increases or supports (new) creative possibilities? The extra time the sync button ... or 'easy mixing' if you want to call it that ... provides me the option to use samplers, drumcomputers and other equipment, without having to worry if used records are (still) 'in sync'. To people who complain about the use of sync buttons I always say: "Beethoven was deaf when he created certain symphonies. Did that make him less of a musical genius? Salvador Dali used a completely different painting technique than Van Gogh. Did that make Dali a lesser creative artist?" DJ-ing to me is about creating musical art and the used technique is a free choice of the artist, since the art is created through his/her creative mind.

  37. Being quite young in the game (relatively to most of the commentators here..) I started my DJ'ing hobby-to-sidework life (hobby started when I was perhaps still a teenager with no equipment), due to the passion I had for mixing tunes but obviously with the very accesible Virtual DJ and Mixtrak (non pro!!!). Very quickly you realise how amazing the 'Sync' function is: i.e. to save you time to be more creative. Yes with new and perfectly Digital music it will work: but if you delve into classics, lets say you end up playing a small private/house party of some relative where the age group of the audience requires you to play them- you need manual skills! (and early on assuming one makes it a career, there will be gigs up for the taking where one might have to play different kinds of music that really isnt perfect as current house!). This is one very big reason why controllers with good jogwheels can help: you learn manual beatmatching and can manipulate with off beat syncing. More than just the 'having the ability to get you out of fire' bit; it will (if not already) give you a much deeper appreciation for the music you are playing with.

    Secondly, if you are wishing to graduate i.e. take it out of a hobby into the real world, getting your first club gig etc. it can be a liberating skill because you wont be married to simply your own controller all the time, in case you need to play with other equipment. Let me review this again from my opinion:

    1. All softwares have a slightly different method or options for Syncin' your tunes. Right down to the Nexus series CDJs! What I love (as Phil says all the time!) is the ability to tempo sync saving you time to get the pitch faders in the exact position. Beat Sync is brilliant in my use or opinion, when you're playing with 4 decks trying to Remix live (just because its immense fun!).

    2. Traktor: what I use predominantly has two sync modes (Tempo and beat as mentioned above), which again you should understand well because they each have their merits in different situations. Besides I firmly believe although we love one software for most of our work, we must be open to knowing others just in case and they all handle sync a bit different.

    So the manual way will help in all that, i.e. being open to use different equipment without a worry, having a great skill in your arsenal, have great fun doing it and appreciate the music which requires it. Still learning everyday here and love it.

    Happy DJ'in
    DJM

Have Your Say