DJ Tips & Tricks: Key Lock & Master Tempo

What is key lock?

Key lock is such a simple but useful feature for DJs to take advantage of. It’s built into all digital DJ software’s and all CDJ set ups. Watch the video below for an in depth look at what key lock is and how to activate it on your DJ equipment.

Serato DJ Users:

For Serato DJ users you can locate key lock within the software by looking for button that looks like a musical note situated to the top left of each player. Most controllers will also have an actual button for this feature too on the hardware. This will lock the track to its original key even when you change the tempo/pitch of the track.

serato dj key lock

This allows you to mix in key seamlessly and also avoid any strange changes in the pitch if you push the tempo of the track by a drastic amount. Just be careful however if you change the tempo too far the software will struggle to hold it in key. You will be fine if you’re only altering the track by up to 8%, beyond that you may start to lose the quality of the audio.

Rekordbox DJ Users:

For Rekordbox DJ users you can locate the key lock within the software too. Its labelled MT (short for Master Tempo). This is the same as key lock. When activated the button will show up red.

what is mt in rekordbox

Pioneer DJ Users:

For those using CDJs the key lock is located just above the tempo adjust. Its labelled master tempo and when active lights up red. It’s worth keeping the master tempo button on if you’re mixing in key.

what is master tempo on cdj

DVS Users:

If you’re a DJ that uses a DVS set up with CDJs make sure master tempo is off and key lock is turned on within the software instead. If you have master tempo activated when using DVS you won’t be able to adjust the bpm of the tracks within Serato DJ or any other DJ software.


Conclusion:

This isn’t a feature you must always use and have turned on however it will allow for much cleaner transitions when mixing in key. It will also avoid any weird pitch changes if you nudge the jog wheel while out loud in the mix. If there are vocals in the track too it will stop these vocals from sounding too un natural if you push the tempo of the track quite drastically. This feature is built into most DJ software’s and hardware but some are better at doing it than others. Turn it on within your software and see if it makes a difference to how your set sounds!