If you’re looking for a responsive and tactile way to beat match by ear using a midi controller with no jog wheel, or you’re just not getting along with using a touch strip, then the method I have set up here will be just what you’re looking for. I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of this one already!
Why Manually Beat-match
Now there’s a number of reasons why you might want to manually beat-match by ear.
Sometimes a track you play just has not got the beat grid set up correctly and it goes out of sync. This often happens because it’s either not created by a computer, or it’s been sampled into your laptop from a vinyl record and as such may not be perfectly captured in time.
Or, if like me, you believe that the essence of DJ’ing, is beat matching two records together and you have more fun that way. Or you simply want to learn how to beach match, yet you don’t have turntables or jog wheels.
So long as you have a midi controller with an encoder on it, you can get something close to the feel of the ‘real thing’.
Now I know the newer X1 has a touch strip on it which can be used to beat match, but for those that just don’t feel that the touch strip is tactile, or satisfying enough to use for beat matching then the following is going to be perfect for you.
I personally don’t like using buttons to nudge the tempo of a track as it has never felt responsive or intuitive to me. Using an encoder for this, feels way closer to the real thing and in my opinion; feels like you have a little more control as you can turn the encoder either way. It’s quicker, more responsive and feels great!
This is so simple, anyone can do it. All you have to do is hold down shift and HotCue on your X1 controller to enter generic midi mapping mode. Then all the buttons and knobs are fair game for you to map to whatever you want.
- Inside of Traktor open up the controller manager inside the preferences and in the very top section called “Device Setup” select ‘Add…’ to load in another mapping
- Select ‘Generic Midi’
- Now in the lower half of the preferences pane, the “Assignment table”, select ‘Add In…’ to create a new command to map.
- Under the “Deck Common” you will find a command called ‘Jog Turn‘, select this.
- Select ‘Learn’ so that it turns yellow and then move the encoder that you want to use as your jog wheel. I picked the lower two large encoders.
- I started with the left one.
- You can now deselect “learn” but you need to make sure before you move on, that you select the correct ‘Assignment’ for it to control. So the left one for me, was set to deck A.
- You must also change the “Type of Controller” setting to be ‘encoder’.
Once you’ve set up the control for deck A, make sure that command is highlighted in the Assignment table and then hit “Duplicate”. This will do exactly as it says, and create another line below the one you just created.
You’ll now want to go into that command and change the “Deck A” to Deck B” and select “Learn” and move the encoder that you want to set to control that Jog wheel command.
Deselect learn when you’re done and close the preferences.
Now one more important thing:
Check to see if you have another “Generic midi” mapping in your list of devices in the ‘device set up section of the controller manager preferences pane. If you do and you’re not using it for anything, then you must change the in-port and out-port to “none”, otherwise you might end up with duplicate controls.
Don’t forget the pitch fader
It’s all well and good having the ability to nudge the track back and forth using the encoder, but if you don’t have a way to permanently adjust the pitch of a record, then you’ll be forever twisting the encoder to nudge the record forward or backwards.
So, you’re going to need to map another physical control to the “Tempo Adjust”.
I have a fader on a different controller set up to do this, but you can either choose the two large encoders that sit above the ones you just used for the jog turn, or you could even use a standard knob in the top half of the controller. Just use the above guidelines to map them, but be sure to select the right ‘type of controller’ in the mapping details section.
Type of Controller
Encoders – these are knobs that turn forever – if you use these for tempo adjust, you may have to play with the way it interacts and how sensitive it is.
Knob – these are the pots that have a limited turn point – which might work out better for your tempo adjust.
Button – these are obviously the buttons on any controller – You can certainly use these for the commands I outline in this post, but you’d need to make sure the ‘Interaction mode’ is set to “Hold”. Which means the command is only executed whilst you are ‘holding’ down the button.
So have fun with that, I know I did last night when I finally had the idea to set my controller up that way.