• DJ J-Bish

    Why beat match songs over 30+ BPM’s away anyway, most tracks won’t sound studio playable and will sound funny when played. This may be a cool feature, but it’s uses contradict the whole concept of what “beat matching” is.

  • Ed Spencer

    I’d love to see how they all compare to the older Torq 2.x zPlane elastique algorithm as well as Mixvibe’s Cross/CrossDJ, TheOne.DJ, MegaSeg, MixMeister Fusion, dJay, and Flow. Why Torq? Because it would be a good way to identify how well they compare to another ‘add-on’ algorithm rather than one built into the software.

    I’d also like to see a comparison on the IOS side with Traktor DJ, dJay, vJay, Cross, and one or two others. For the IOS side I’d love to see that done on an iPad 2 since it’s the lowest end of the hardware available for those to run on. That would show not only how well they ‘hold’ but also how hard they tax the hardware in question.

  • freshfluke

    a) poor research – there are 2 different key lock modes in traktor.
    b) with “normal” mode on in traktor, there is barely a difference between ssl & traktor
    c) pitchntime is a paid plugin, while traktors keylock feature is free
    d) even your praised pitchntime sounds crappy already with 30/40% – who
    would actually want to do such extreme pitching in real life?

    overall:this article leaves valuable facts out. sad!

  • Will

    I’d be interested to see a comparison with hardware players such as the CDJ2000 (which I think sounds appalling)


    for VDJ best Keylock you need to enable “Advance” mode in options, and then you should make a video comparative again.

  • Rhakka

    Why is there never any test/info on key changing instead of key lock? If you’re OK with slowing down your track by 10%, why wouldn’t you be OK with changing the key by +/- 3 or so, keeping the same tempo that you started with?

    I mean, I guess there wouldn’t really be a fair comparison, since Serato doesn’t even have that feature, but Traktor and VDJ both have it and I use it quite often. Harmonic mixing FTW.

  • Mauri Moore

    OtsAV Dj key lock , the best one with no doubt .

  • chnage

    DJ Techtools, you dropped the ball here, sorry.
    How you could praise Pitch and Time so much is not understandable. Have you guys listened to the results using headphones? It is very obvious that kicks lose their transients. The whole audio sounds like a low bitrate mp3 audio.

    It may be okay for club environment (drunk audience) but other than that? I don’t think so.

    Just read here http://serato.com/forum/discussion/1218145#9429369

    Now that I’ve worked with the resulting audio files, I can confirm that
    No handle is right about transients: they are indeed tampered with, even
    at low PnT values. There is a level cut in the transients of bass
    drums, it can go as far as 6db. I can’t really hear it personally (ABX
    6/10), but it looks like some others can (we all have different ears…)

    Set a track at 0% pitch, and toggle PnT on and off. You can hear audible
    spectral artifacts when using Pitch n’ Time that are absent when using
    Serato’s normal keylock. (Listen for an “underwater” kind of sound,
    especially in the bass)


    Here’s a short audio demo: https://x.onehub.com/transfers/8xla4vgl (2.8MB AIFF)

    It’s a four-bar kick loop. There are 8 counts with no keylock, and 8 counts with PnT turned on. It alternates twice.

    This has not been my experience. To my ears, there’s a consistent
    qualitative difference, even with tracks with live instruments and very
    little frequency information below 100Hz. If I had to describe it, I’d
    say the attack of drums and transients is somewhat “smoothed out” by the
    PnT algorithm, and it has a lot of the characteristic underwater
    spectral artifacts of a low-bitrate MP3.

    I was playing a deep track the other day (Claptone – No Eyes) and
    thought how bad the mp3 was. It sounded like a 128 kbps file rather than
    the 320 kbps file i was playing.

    It turned out it was the P’n’T artifact :(

  • http://rustyryan.net/ RJ Ryan

    Mixxx 1.12.0 will release with the RubberBand algorithm for time stretching and pitch shifting (previously we were using SoundTouch). http://breakfastquay.com/rubberband/

    RubberBand has a command line tool you could use to test it out. It’s quite good.

  • http://www.mobiledjforums.com/ GroovinDJ

    You might like to try again with VDJ’s master tempo set to ‘advanced’ rather than ‘fast’. Makes a big difference.

  • Forevernow

    After a long time comparing the impact to overall audio quality in club environments using Traktor and high end equipment ( Bozak 10d2l mixer + high end stand alone DACs normally used in mastering environments), I now swear by not only disabling the keylock, but also do whatever i can to play the track at its original speed/pitch. If you listen carefully theres a distinct shift in audio quality when returning a track to its “zero” value, even if the BPM change is only minute ( +/- 0.03 of a bpm). The track suddenly “pops” out more clearly. For me this is more important than anything else. During the mix i may be slightly away from the zero point of the pitch fader, but some small changes to bring the track back to its intended speed are easy to achieve with midi commands.

  • D.j. Trife

    Traktor’s key lock function works best when you move the key adjust knob. Move the key adjust knob when speeding up or slowing down a track and you’ll find that digitized splitting seems to go away and the original key comes back whether you speed up or slow down the track.

  • l3f

    An interesting topic for producers and djs alike, thanks ! I was kind of expecting a better overall performance from the most recent algorithms, as there is plenty of processing power to go round, but it seems there hasn’t been much of an evolution.

    Traktor’s keylock is not that bad but it does slightly deteriorate the signal, and it’s mostly better to have it off if scratch cueing or scratching in general. In the meantime, all those i7 and i5 beasts move just a little finger to run the application.

    You included a video of the cdj-800mk2, and I couldn’t help but check my 800mk1 (2003) key lock against traktor. It not only ‘digitizes’ way after 50%, it doesn’t seem to audibly affect the signal for +-10% or so. A comparison with some of the newer (or/and older) decks would also be interesting.

  • Rayalon

    CDJ 700? :)

  • Markku Uttula

    Since you mention Traktor’s “cut-off” @ 30%, I take it you were using the key lock engine in “Scratch”-mode? There is also a “no cut-off” mode called “Normal” (which, unlike the name suggests, is not the default setting) … the reasons for this selectable setting is that with full +-100% key lock, many scratching techniques no longer work the way you’d want.

    Any comments?

    • Andreas Skoglösa

      This is a very good point! Normal and Scratch sound nothing alike after 30%… With TRAKTOR set to Normal, it is really not far away from the sound of Serato in the above video (even at -50%).

      This should really be covered in an article that was written with the sole purpose of comparing the key lock feature between softwares. I also find it mind-boggeling that the default key lock algorithm in Serato was not put to the test!

      Poor research has left me more confused after reading this article than I was before.

      I suggest that before you do any follow up tests of further software, you start by correcting the test you have already carried out.

    • cyberfunk

      I’m referring to the old version of Traktor 3.4.1 only. I don’t use Traktor Pro as it’s missing a few key features from Traktor 3.4.1. NI abandoned the old Keylock architecture with the introduction of Traktor Pro which is why I haven’t updated.

      • Markku Uttula

        And I am referring to the version tested. I have absolutely no idea what Traktor 3.4.1 has to do with it?

    • Markku Uttula

      I posted a video using the same song, but with Traktor in “Normal”-mode. http://youtu.be/mi1fTwDrMPE

      Just so you know, I do think Serato’s payware plugin did indeed a better job overall. I am still happy with my Traktor ;)

  • http://youtube.com/medmanbr Elvis Amaral

    As a Traktor user i must to admit, traktor stabilizes the beats at the bpm changes, but the key sounds shit, virtual dj… the opposite, and serato stabilizes both, serato wins in this case

  • proben

    This is cool but how often do you really want to change the tempo by such large margins? It’s useful for doing the occasional trick mix or crazy mashup but it would drive me nuts to listen to a DJ who does this sort of thing regularly. Maybe it’s just a relic from the days of vinyl with no pitch lock but I would rarely even consider changing the tempo of any record by more than 5% while mixing, and usually try to stay within 3% — and I’m pretty sure all of these tools function almost transparently within those margins. Not completely transparently – in Traktor there seems to be a slight degradation of sound quality even from turning key lock on without even adjusting the tempo, but it’s so slight one would barely notice it in a club environment.

    • ithinkmynameismoose

      That was my first thought too. Traktor, for my purposes is much more than adequate. +or- 15% is usually the most I will change by (and that is the extreme) with 3-5 being about average and for that Traktor handles it perfectly and combining the superior interface with the not having to pay for key lock puts Traktor way ahead for me.

  • ioannis

    traktor has a key knob and you can fixe it from here if the other softwares dont have that key knob traktor wins

  • Mojaxx

    Serato’s implementation of P&T is indeed impressive, but unfortunately comes at the cost of massively increased CPU demand.

    Even on a powerful current machine, you’ll need to increase latency quite significantly in order to avoid clicks and pops when scratching or cue juggling quickly.

    Hopefully that will improve as they optimise it over time, but at the moment I tend to leave it switched off for gigs.

    • James Brian Thomaston

      The entire Serato DJ program is like that. I stopped using it because it ran double the cpu usage of Traktor, and add a flash encoder or streaming program, and scratching is almost impossible.

  • Oddie O’Phyle

    i’m a traktor user and i personally don’t use the keylock feature. i find that it makes a clean vocal track (especially dnb or hiphop) sound over processed and reverbed. i wouldn’t mind checking out P’n’T for a while, just to see how well the algorithm compares.

  • KIO

    This seems to be an appropriate post where I can add this tip for DJ’s that want to learn to beat match by ear, but never mixed in the pre-digital age: turn of key lock!

    Here’s why: when during beatmatching you temporarily speed up or slow down the ‘record’ to keep it in phase with the playing track, with key lock disengaged, you will actually hear the key of your ‘record’ pitch up or down. This key shift was the main (or was it the only) thing that I (unconsciously) was listening to to judge if I slowed or speeded the record enough to keep it in phase.

    Fast forward into to digital age and I still enjoy beatmatching by ear (pointless as it may be), but I really had to get used to not hearing the key shift. In fact, it confused me for a while and actually gave me the idea I had lost my beat matching ‘skill’. Then I realised the key lock issue and now when I turn it off during beat matching it makes everything much easier.

    Naturally before actually mixing in the record I turn key lock on again (and sometimes forget to :)), so the records mix harmonically.


    • LoopCat

      Nice tip

    • Steve Francesco

      Hear hear (no pun intended) This is something I also found as well coming from turntables although I generally leave it off both in software and hardware as there is a noticeable quality difference when you turn keylock on if you are dropping / pushing more than 2 or 3 % so unless its really necessary (at which stage I’ll transpose anyhow) I prefer to do without.

      Also leaving Keylock off tends to hone your sensitivity skills a little more as you can’t be pulling or pushing the platter by any large degree or you (and the crowd) will noticeable hear it – you learn to be gentle with the platter and ride the pitch more to get everything much more “in-line” during the mix.

  • RBX

    Nice comparison, however using house music doesn’t really put a keylock algorithm to the test as the beats an melody are easy for the computer to predict/interpolate. I would love to see a comparison using funk for instance. I often found when playing funk or other music with live instruments or samples, they keylock would already start to fall apart after -6%. I would love to see how the P’n’t and the others hold up.

  • Fede

    I would be interested in the scratch detection capability too. I own Traktor Scratch Pro and, IMHO, this function is unusable. For scratch DJ who like to scratch in the next song I think that the Traktor keylock is simply unusable. (yes, I’ve selected scratch detection mode.)

  • cyberfunk

    After all these years Traktor 3.4.1 Phase Voc algorithm still holds it’s own against the new Serato pitch ‘n’ time. I still get excellent results with Keylock engaged up to 50% up and down. Plus the old version of Traktor has multiple column sorting! I can’t find another DJ program that offers that basic feature. Serato needs to include their new algorithm as a standard feature and stop nickle and dime-ing their customers.

    • Dan White

      I actually don’t have a Traktor 3.4.1 version installed any more. Any chance you could upload a video or audio sample?

      • cyberfunk

        Dan here is an audio demo http://www16.zippyshare.com/v/24795844/file.html I started the track pitched up to 50% with Traktor 3.4.1 set to 100% pitch range using the Phase Voc algorithm. I was off by a little regarding pitching down. The furthest I got was -30% before the key drops off. Still that’s pretty impressive for an older program and the newer Zplane algorithms in Traktor Pro, Algoriddim DJay, Deckadance, MixVibes Cross etc. don’t come close to the clarity and range of the Phase Voc algorithm in Traktor 3.4.1. It seems that the new Serato Pitch ‘N’ Time algorithm may be a solid competitor although I have not yet demoed it in person listening for sonic clarity via a good set of headphones.

    • ShadowVariable

      holy shit I’ve been wondering about this for ages, I started using VDJ and it had the multiple column sorting which was awesome, and when I started using Traktor I looked for it for a long time until I eventually gave up…

  • Chris

    I would really hope serato’s keylock outperforms the competition seeing as how they are the only ones charging for this feature separately :S

    • killmedj

      the reason I switched from Serato to Traktor was because of the poor key lock functionality. it used to start gargling at -/+10% !

    • stefanhapper

      Yes, would have been good to mention in the article that Serato’s Pitch ‘N Time comes at an extra cost. But is indeed impressive and for many probably worth the money.

  • taz

    why no deckadance from image line

    • Dan White

      We decided to focus on the most popular softwares for now, but I’ll do a quick test of Mixvibes, Deckadance, and any others that come up in these comments tomorrow! :)

      • andretti

        I would like it also compared with the “normal” Serato DJ Key lock function.

        I’m using it always and seems/sounds fine to me.

  • enorjy

    mixvibes might have been a good one to throw in there

    • Tony

      +1 for Mixvibes