Using the SYNC button to DJ
Using the SYNC button is one of the biggest and most controversial debates in the DJ industry. We’re going to look at what SYNC actually is, why its so debated and give you our opinion on this feature.
Over the years as technology has advanced, manufacturers have made the most of the new technology available. As trends have changed turntables have given way to CDJ’s and a couple of years later the technology has advanced further and this gave way to DJ controllers. This has allowed manufacturers to create cheaper products for the marketplace packed full of features that CDJs or turntables don’t necessarily allow.
With this advance in technology has come the ability to sync two tracks together using the DJ software, and eventually hardware.
What is SYNC?
Sync aims to lock two tracks together, in time with one another, making the mixing process an easier task for DJs. Does this mean beat matching by ear is going to become a thing of the past?
For those DJ’s who have spent years, myself included, learning how to beat match two tracks carefully by ear and perfect their craft as a DJ can feel undermined by this new technology that aims to do this for you, which is what has caused this to become such a contentious subject
What do we think about the SYNC button?
Firstly I should mention, we are a DJ school. We teach people how to DJ, both in the form of online courses and one to one lessons at our studio. I myself started on turntables, moved to CDJs, then back to turntables with DVS, and now use controllers regularly.
We fully believe that to become a confident, strong and talented DJ you must learn to beat match by ear. You will then feel confident on any equipment, regardless of whether it has a SYNC button or not, because you’ve trained your ears to listen to music. To understand its structure, it’s melody and rhythm. There is no button or visual aid that tells you whether your mix sounds good and blends together. There is no visual or button that can teach you rhythm for doing things like hot cue play/finger drumming. By learning to beat match by ear you’re now in control of the music and the equipment, not the other way around.
Does the SYNC button always work?
Something else to watch out for is that for SYNC to truly work the software needs to have analysed the music correctly by applying the correct grid and BPM information. Believe it or not, it doesn’t always get it right! Therefore, you’re putting your trust in the machine, and not yourself. If the BPM and grid information is incorrect and you hit the SYNC button, the mix is 100% going to sound awful.
So in short, we truly believe that when learning to DJ, it is best ignoring the SYNC button. This is something we teach in all of our beginner DJ courses online, and our one to one courses in the studio. If you have a laptop screen, turn it away. If you have a BPM read out on your equipment then cover it up. We guarantee it will help you to become a better DJ in the long run.
So when should I use the SYNC button?
The SYNC button isn’t all bad news. Just like any technology it can be harnessed and used in a creative way. It’s a great way to create seamless transitions when mixing between genres that have huge differences in BPM’s. A lesson that is taught in our Advanced DJ Course for the Numark Mixtrack Pro 3. We also teach you how to do this without a SYNC button though also.
It can make your general mixing sound that much cleaner. Just remember a crowd cannot see the music they can only hear it. They want to hear the best version of that set possible and if the SYNC button helps you achieve that then surely it’s not a bad thing?
Remember, we listen to music, we don’t watch it. Train your ears first and foremost to be able to beat match and mix. Rely on what your ears hear, not what your eyes see! As soon as you start to rely on those visuals you will only ever be as good as that button or software. This will hinder your creative flow as you become a more confident DJ. That being said, don’t just shy away from the SYNC button totally. Once you are confident at beat matching by ear experiment using the SYNC button to add creativity to your mixing techniques. By speeding up the beat matching process you can now experiment with other mixing style and techniques.
Don’t get lazy and rely on something else to do the work for you. Make sure you are always in control of what you’re doing and most importantly…. HAVE FUN!
If you think you need to improve your beat matching by ear, check out our Online DJ Courses. All the beginner courses have multiple lessons on improving your beat matching by ear with foolproof techniques to make sure you get it right every time.