Traktor :: Beatgrid & Sync Properly w/ DJ Endo

03.08_endo_traktorscreenshotBeatgridding in Traktor
by Mike Henderson (aka DJ Endo)

Traktor Scratch Pro and Traktor Pro have proven to be the industry standard in DJ Software.  Traktor can help your DJ workflow tremendously depending on how much work you put into preparing your tracks.  Whether you are using Vinyl, CD’s, MIDI controllers, or even a mouse, Traktor has a very handy button called the “Sync” button.

03.11_traktor-phase-meter-pic2The Sync button matches the BPM (speed) of whichever deck you are playing to the Deck set as the “Master” Deck.   It will also match the “Phase” of both records, matching the downbeats of each track so they are hitting at the same time.  If used correctly, the sync feature will allow for perfectly beatmatched mixes every time, and will also allow for perfect loops and effects in Traktor.

03.08_endo_beatgridding_SyncButton_1The proper use of the Sync feature is commonly misunderstood in Traktor.  A common complaint with Traktor is “I press the sync button, and everything goes off.” This problem occurs because Traktor needs to know where the downbeats are in your tracks, as well as the speed (BPM) of your tracks. This is where beatgrids come into play. Beatgrids are the backbone of Traktor.

A Beatgrid is a series of Gridlines set across your tracks that mark the downbeats of your track, and tell Traktor the BPM of the track.

They are like Warp markers in Ableton Live, except setting a beatgrid in Traktor is much easier.  Once you set a beatgrid for your track, the BPM reading of your track will be accurate to the 1/1000th of a BPM, and if you are mixing it with another track that is beatgridded you can visually mix using Traktor’s Phase Meters.

Below is my method of beatgridding in Traktor. Some artists I’ve trained such as Victor Calderone, Dubfire and Nic Fanciulli use this method religiously for every track they play.

I would do all of your beatgrids in your headphones since the music is directly in your ear. I would also recommend doing beatgrids at home or on the flight to your gig, and not live at the gig.

Setting a Beatgrid in Traktor:

03.08-endo-beat-gridding-pic31) Make sure Traktor’s Auto Beatmarker function is turned on by going to Preferences / File Management / BPM Detection Range / and turning on the option “Set Beatgrid when detecting BPM Range”. With this option enabled, Traktor will automatically set a beat marker in your track where it thinks the first downbeat is located. You also might want to change the BPM detection range to the Tempo (BPM) range that you usually DJ at.

03.08-endo-beat-gridding-pic42) Next you want Traktor to analyze your new tracks when you load them into a Deck. You will turn on this option by going to the Traktor Preferences / File Management and turning on the option to “Analyze New Tracks when loading into Deck”.  So, when you load a track into a Deck in Traktor for the first time, Traktor will Analyze the gain, transients, and BPM – and with the Auto Grid function turned on, it will place a beatmarker where it thinks the first downbeat is in the track.

03.08-endo-beatgridding-pic5-OutputRouting3) To make sure you can hear Traktor’s Metronome over the track that you’re beatgridding, set Output routing to  “EXTERNAL” mode by going to the Traktor Preferences / Output routing and changing the output routing to “External”. Also make sure you have an output set for Deck A. For example, if you were using your built in output (Mac’s built in speakers or headphone output), I would set the output for Deck A to Output 1 and 2.

03.08-endo-beatgridding-pic6-Mousecontrol4) In the Traktor Preferences set the Mouse Control to “SNAP” mode by going to Preferences / Transport, and changing the Mouse Control Mode to “SNAP”. This will make it so you can click directly on the transients (kicks, snares etc) inside the track with your mouse. Also Make sure the option to Highlight Beatmarkers is turned on in Preferences / Global View Options

03.08-endo-beatgridding-pic8-TickButton5) The next thing you will want to do is turn the “Cue” button on for Deck A on Traktor’s Mixer, and also turn the tick button on in the Master Panel. This will make it so you can hear a metronome over the track loaded in Deck A.

03.09-endo-beatgridding-pic9-GridPanel6) Next open your “Grid” panel in Traktor by clicking on the Arrow beneath the “Active” button in Deck A, and then click on the “Grid” button to open the Grid panel.


03.08-endo-beatgridding-pic11-WhiteMarker7) Now, load a new, unanalyzed track into Deck A in Traktor. When Traktor is finished analyzing the track, you’ll notice a white marker in the Track. This is your auto-beat marker. You’ll also notice a series of evenly spaced white lines across the track. This is your beatgrid. Each of these white lines is where Traktor thinks the beats are in the track.

8) Zoom in as far as possible on the waveform by using the + and – buttons in the deck. Click on the top waveform (in the deck) and click on the first kick drum in the Track with your mouse. You can sample the kick drum by clicking the mouse button and holding it. It is best to set your grid markers on the first beat of a bar.

03.08-endo-beatgridding-pic12-4BeatLoop9) Once you’ve found the first kick drum, set a 4 beat loop starting at this point by clicking on the number “4″ beneath Deck A.

Now click on the play button and listen to how the Metronome lines up with the Track.

03.08-endo-beatgridding-pic13-MoveGridButtons10) While the loop is playing, you will want to shift the grid left and right with the top 2 MOVE GRID Buttons. This will shift the entire grid left and right. Keep moving the grid left and right until the metronome is perfectly in sync with your track. If you are new to doing beatgrids, I recommend shifting your grid far to the left and far to the right of the beat, so you can hear how it sounds when the tick is off beat, and then adjusting it back onto the beat – not unlike tuning a guitar. If you need to move the grid faster, you can hold the control button. In this step you are only using the TOP 2 Grid buttons. Do not touch the bottom 2 yet.

11) Now that you have the first 4 beats perfectly synchronized to your metronome, let the track play by clicking on the loop button (4). Now you are going to listen to see if the metronome stays on beat with the track as you skip forward in the track. If it does, then skip through the song by clicking on the waveform and listening at different points of the song to make sure its on beat, then skip to the end.

If the metronome is drifting off beat, listen to the track from the beginning and use the bottom 2 BPM INC / DEC buttons to make the grid lines closer or farther apart. This is also changing the BPM value. Usually for tracks you buy on Beatport you will not have to use the bottom 2 buttons. You will just need to shift the grid left and right, and maybe change the BPM from 127.999 to 128.000.

12) Now set a 4 beat loop at the end of the track, preferably on the last measure of the track that has percussion. Listen to how the metronome lines up with the last 4 beats. If it lines up perfectly, then you are done. If not, use the BPM INC/DEC buttons to compress and expand the grid until the metronome perfectly lines up with the last 4 beats. Now your BPM reading will be accurate to the 1/1000′th of a BPM. Usually if you’re BPM shows up as an even number like 128.000 this means that you don’t have to touch the bottom 2 grid buttons, and that you only need to shift the grid left and right.

endo-beatgridding-pic14-LOCK13) Once you are done, and the metronome perfectly lines up with the track from beginning to end, click on the LOCK button to save the beatgrid to the track. This will save the beatgrid to the tracks ID3 information and will make it so if you send the track to another Traktor user, they will have your beatgrid, cue points, and loops inside the track. If you do not click the lock Icon, Traktor will still remember your beatgrid in your Traktor collection, but will not write the beatgrid to the actual track.

Now that you have a beatgrid set, you can use Traktor’s SYNC button to keep all of your tracks perfectly synchronized, and they will never go off beat, and all of your loops, and effects will be perfectly on beat.

  • Loopscious
  • 3/8/2010

I am making the switch to traktor from ableton for DJing. My main question is how to beat grid if the track drifts. In ableton while warping is time consuming it’s really accurate. Do you ever use multiple beat grid markers? I have tried this and it sounds off, not fluid. I don’t want to have to warp tracks then export them then beat grid them… But for tough tracks it seems like this is the only answer? Any advice?? Thanks for the great post!

  • Loopscious
  • 3/8/2010

What do you do if the track bpm varies slightly at various points? I find that ableton warping, though time consuming, is much more accurate. Do you put down multiple grid markers as stretch etc from each? I don’t want to have to warp then export, then mp3, then grid – but I cannot figure out how to get the grid alone tight without the addition of ableton. Any help is appreciated!

  • Traktor Pro Video Tutorial :: How to Beat Grid | Dubspot Blog
  • 3/8/2010

[...] and our resident Traktor guru, Mike Henderson, aka DJ Endo, has created a video following up on his detailed blog entry posted earlier this year, covering beatgridding in Traktor Pro.  Mike has taught some of the best [...]

  • djproben
  • 3/8/2010

You should only warp the track if the tempo drift is some kind of recording error. Traktor unfortunately doesn’t deal with tracks that drift or have multiple tempos very elegantly at all. Best bet is to set two loops, one at each mixpoint, and find a tempo that sort of works for both. Or plan to cut into the intro (or out of the outro) rather than trying to mix it. Or if you get lucky there will be drift but you will find a section at the beginning and one at the end with the same BPM. Of course the ideal solution is for Traktor to allow mutliple BPM values to be set for different gridmarkers … maybe we’ll get that in an update.

  • Pete
  • 3/8/2010

Great tutorial. This was the first thing I learned years ago, i thought i had it perfect, but you just mentioned a few key points ive been leaving out. I dont use the metronome, but now will. And I always manually put the beatmarker on the second or third or fourth downbeat. Ill let Traktor do the work now. Thanks.

  • Shaun
  • 3/8/2010

Im having some issues with traktor beat briding. Ive watched your tutorial like a million times, but for some reason, on flac files, or recorded files @ any size, the grid is wacked.

Im setting the grid marker at the first beat, I loop the first 4 beats, shift the grid, sounds great, scroll to the end, I change the bpm to align and loop the end, but in the middle its off.. What does this mean?

Can i send you a file to fix, or what am I doing wrong here…

  • Traktor Pro Tutorials | Music News And Information
  • 3/8/2010
  • Traktor Pro Video Tutorial: ‘Load Markers’ + DJ Tips by DJ Endo | Dubspot Blog
  • 3/8/2010

[...] about how to use Traktor’s “Autogain” feature to match the volume of your tracks, how to set Beatgrids to make your beatmatching perfect in Traktor, and also how to Mix Harmonically to help you program [...]

  • :Dave Cox
  • 3/8/2010

Thanks for the help made me understand really easy is there any DVD that I can download or pay for

  • guillermo toro
  • 3/8/2010

Hi Endo,
This Beatgrid settings are only for Internal Mixing?, Mixing with Timecode Vinyl & CDs need Beatgrid?, am confused.

  • Video Tutorial: Using Traktor + Ableton to Beatgrid Disco, Live Drums (Unquantized Tracks) | Dubspot Blog
  • 3/8/2010

[...] 129.99 to 130 BPM). For more, please check out my previous article on how to beat grid in Traktor here. Also, here is a video I did on how to do beat grids in [...]

  • Tim Maguire
  • 3/8/2010

Thanks for the post. Everyone speaks about the syncing of Traktor to Machine/Ableton, from a hardwre or software standpoint, but they fail to mention that you also need all of your songs to be beat-grided.

Thanks for a straight forward way to beat grid.

  • Endo
  • 3/8/2010

@Loopscious – If the tracks BPM changes then you do have to warp them in Ableton, then beatgrid them after bouncing them in Ableton. I just did a video on how to do this:

However if the Tracks BPM is stable you only have to use one Grid marker

  • Endo
  • 3/8/2010

@Shaun – Beatgridding doesn’t work for tracks that change tempo. Thats probably why you’re experiencing this problem. Here is my workaround

  • Endo
  • 3/8/2010

@Dave Cox, we don’t have a DVD but we do have an online DJ Class using Traktor that you can sign up for here:

  • David
  • 3/8/2010

Great tutorial…How do you beat grid tracks that have long beat-less intros?

Thanks for the help. Can’t wait to get started.