Digital DJ Tips reader Rob S writes: “My mate is a pure CDJ guy, no interest in any other form of DJing. He absolutely slates anyone using software or syncing in any manner at all, yet happily uses the BPM readout and merely matches it up. My argument is matching BPMs by looking at the readout and simply adjusting the pitch to match is more or less the same thing, whereas he says syncing is cheating because there’s (usually) no need to nudge.
“Personally I can mix by ear (came up on vinyl and still practise occasionally) but nowadays tend to use software more than anything, sometimes sync, particularly if I’m experimenting and fudging elements of three or four songs together. What are your thoughts? Is syncing really so different from matching the readout and giving it a little nudge into touch?”
Digital DJ Tips says:
It’s like a carpenter saying you can’t use an electric drill to make a hole in a wall. New gear gets introduced. Rejecting it makes no sense. You should use technology to make your life easier.
That said, we are strong advocates of being able to manually do things. Syncing depends on beatgridding, and beatgridding depends on music style and software. The best software with the easiest music might get close to 100% accuracy, but more likely is between 65% and 80% accurate beatgrids, with manual correcting needed to get the grid right (assuming your software can do it right at all – Traktor and Rekordbox are no good with variable BPM music, for example.)
Whatever you do, you will always be left with a percentage of tracks that can’t be beatgridded correctly. Then there is matching tracks to other sources (CDJs, USB sticks, other DJs’ laptops, and so on), which sync buttons don’t help with. In all those cases you’ll be thankful of knowing how to do it manually.
So, I’ll second the notion that a DJ limited to only being able to do beatmatched transitions with sync has a severe disadvantage over DJs who can do it manually. I don’t go as far as saying that person is or isn’t a real DJ or other similar things though, because if you can only use sync, yet your music selection skills are such that you blow the roof of a place and rock the party, you are still a real DJ!
At the end of the day, beatmatching is technical skill that is way secondary to music selection. I would say use sync where you can as it will give you time to interact more with the crowd or explore other creative things to do, but make sure you can do it manually when the need arises.
What do you think? Is it worth learning to beatmatch manually? How important is beatmatching nowadays to the art of DJing? Is using CDJs and digital readouts cheating? Please share your thoughts below.