Great sounding key lock plugin for Serato DJ, but for a fee of US$29, it would have been nice to see pitch shift in there too (to alter the key without affecting tempo). Still, if you mix harmonically and use Serato DJ, it’s pretty much an essential extra purchase.
First Impressions / Setting up
In February, Serato caused quite a stir in its fan base with the announcement of Serato DJ 1.6, which among many improvements and changes (including the effective amalgamation of Serato Scratch Live into the new, unified platform), made available Serato’s industry standard Pitch ’n Time plugin for the software. Pitch ‘n Time allows radical tempo changes while preserving a song’s key at the highest quality possible.
“But isn’t that already there in Serato DJ with keylock?” you might well ask. Well, yes and no. You see, in the late 90s, Serato was known as Serato Audio Research, and focused mainly on one product: Pitch ’n Time. Still in use today in many audio post-production facilities and recording studios, Pitch ’n Time is a plugin for production software Pro Tools that allows you to manipulate a piece of audio’s tempo without altering its pitch and vice versa. (It’s quite easy to see how this app could set the foundation for what would be Serato Audio Research’s game-changing foray into the world of digital DJing…)
Fast forward to 2014, and things have come full circle. Because while Serato DJ has a basic keylock feature, it struggles at drastic pitch changes, and lacks the bells and whistles of Pitch ‘n Time. With the arrival of Pitch ’n Time for Serato DJ, long-time Serato users have finally got what many have asked for all this time: The industry standard key manipulation software, right there in Serato DJ, for the in-app purchase price of US$29.
After installing the plugin, Pitch ’n Time is enabled in the Setup menu under the Expansion Packs tab. Tick the box, and Pitch ‘n Time replaces the standard keylock on Serato DJ. That’s all there is to it, and the effect it has on the overall quality of your audio is staggering.
We took a track with a lot of harmonic content (Kung Fu by Ash) then slowed it down with and without Pitch ’n Time just to hear the difference. You can find both samples below, I think it’s pretty easy to guess which one has Pitch ‘n Time on it and which doesn’t. But just to make things a little more interesting, we also slowed down the same track using the latest version of Traktor. Take a listen:
It’s a virtual no-brainer to buy Serato Pitch ’n Time. Whether or not you agree with the company’s decision to charge for it, think about it this way: You’re basically getting industry-grade time stretching software previously costing hundreds of dollars for a fraction of the price. While it would have been nice to have a knob to change key without pitch added to the software (after all, both Traktor and Virtual DJ have this), a hint on the Serato forum by a staff member seems to indicate this is coming.
I’m a club and mobile DJ, and I’m really impressed with this plugin and what it can do for cross-genres DJs like myself who rely on big pitch changes in their sets and enjoy the creative potential of tight, great sounding harmonic mixing. If this sounds like you, Pitch ‘n Time comes highly recommended.