The new flagship Pioneer CDJ2000Nexus is soon going to be released and one notable feature that’s going to be included on it for the first time ever is a SYNC button.  DJ controversy! I've never used CDJ's in my life and I don't think I'll be using the new 2000Nexus anytime soon either for many reasons (not that I wouldn't if I could), but does it spell the end when the industry standard in all clubs "seem" to be making it easier for any punter to beat mix by potentially just being able to hit a SYNC button? Well over at DJ works they kind of put it out there in a "this is what's happening,  discuss…" kind of way. DJ technology gone mad or just Pioneer keeping up with the times? 


My experience of the SYNC button (will it actually work?!)

Every time I've used a sync button it has never actually worked properly, so I just end up having to do it manually anyway. 

I've tried it in Traktor (in fact a few different versions as the software progressed) in none DVS mode and it seemed to screw my mixes up rather then speed up the process. Doing it manually was much quicker and allowed the tracks to actually remain locked without drift. When the sync button did actually work the tracks tended to heavily drift post mix. 

I've tried the instant sync on the Pacemaker too and again it screws it up. The few times when it did actually work there was always heavy drift post mix. I find it's much easier to cue and beat match manually on the Pacemaker which also results in much less artificial and/or real drift in the post mix. 

If the instant sync button was something that actually worked for me I would have no issue with it at all. But my experience of it is awful and it never worked so I don't use it for that specific reason. 

However from what I can gather it works for many other people without any issue at all, and good for them. 

Personally I'm of the opinion that learning to beat match is something that you should do if you have the opportunity to although it isn't in any way shape or form essential for the purposes of being a DJ to my mind. As many have said the process of manual beat matching it not the actual skill of DJing although at one time it was an essential key part of it mainly for the purposes being  able to seamlessly mix within the technological means that was available at the time for a particular DJ style. 

But look at it this way, one day there will be no direct drive vinyl turntables left that are affordable and the experience of beat matching will only be something for the privileged. I learnt a lot from learning to beat match by ear and once you get it down you can pretty much pick off beats near instantly.



The things boredom drives you to do... 

In fact once you get to know certain records like the back of your hand you don't even need to use headphones for actual beat matching in under one to two bars! As you'll already know the exact physical cue points under a target light on the familiar pieces of physical vinyl, and the actual BPM count to then be able to put the record in at what you roughly think the speed/tempo should be against the current record in play by making the main pitch adjustments first  (to ideally be just a touch slower then it should be rather then faster, I'll get to why in a minute). Then on the record coming in  I'd just set the low ends to maximum cut and have the mids and highs up to hear what I'm mixing on the main out.  Then you just let it roll and very quickly make the adjustments as its rolling with fine nudges over the vinyl record (and the usual varied pressured slow down touches on the platter strobe if necessary) assisted with firm spindle pushing/turning to smoothly speed it up without to much warping effect (as in the centre needle that holds the vinyl record in place on the vinyl turntable platter). At the same time you then gradually fade up and eventually bring in the low ends frequencies as required. The challenge there being when doing it like this in this slightly more extreme way out of boredom, its to make it sound as smooth and as free of warbling warp as possible whilst making the adjustments and pitching up accordingly without headphone monitors. I find It's much easier to smoothly do if you're going from a slightly slower speed to then adjust and pitch up accordingly. I only started doing this from being f'n bored of playing the same records all the time having done all the combinations I would like to do within the collection I had that I was gradually building at the time. There's only a very limited amount of creativity and variation you can explore on a two turntable vinyl setup if you're not scratch mixing for a hip-hop or a break beat style. I'm not a scratch DJ. This is also one of the main reason I found myself gradually moving over to a 4 track (equivalent to a 4 deck) setup in Ableton.



Will it ever click?

Most DJ's learning to beat match with vinyl aren't too bright, and I don't mean that in a nasty way. But turning the volume up on your headphones to near deafening volumes will not make the beats any easier to detect if you don't actually listen to the beats or understand the rhythmic patterns of faster drum beats of drum'n'bass or the drop beat/syncopated beats of breaks. But once you get it down its easy and near instant. Its even stranger that it can sometimes still involve people believing having the loudest possible headphone monitor output known to mankind at full blast will help them detect a straight forward four to the floor beat lock when they don't really get or fully understand what they should be listening for to begin with, and in some strange quirk having super dangerously loud headphone monitors puts them "in the zone" and strangely helps them perform a little better. I don't understand why this happens but it happens. I'd also have to question whether such individuals should actually be DJing to begin with if it never actually clicks or falls into place to continue to try to mix in the same way, in which case a sync button (on rigs where it actually works properly) will only mess DJ culture up even more so. 

Sure I like loud monitors too when needed and where applicable, but one of the main concerns for DJ's is getting conditions such as tinnitus. For those who could potentially acquire tinnitus just by how they mix, the sync button (when it actually works) can only be a good thing for the sake of preserving your actual hearing ability. 

Beat matching on vinyl record turntables  is very different from beat matching with Pioneer CDJ's, but that doesn't mean that I think that the process should be the same for reasons of progression. For a start there are a whole bunch of visual readouts to assist you when beat mixing on CDJ's although its still perfectly possible to do it entirely  by ear if you choose. The CDJ's don't use a spinning platter that responds to varying degrees of resistance and subtle nudges to mix nor do I think that it should. What would be the point of putting a spinning platter on a CDJ? In the purest sense doing so would just be an artificial and unnecessary means to control the mixing of music on a form of media that doesn't even really require it based on the technology it uses.