DJing w/ Friends – How to Sync 2 Traktor Systems w/ DJ Endo Pt 3: Networking 2 Macs

Solo DJ sets are great, but playing with another DJ can add a new dimension of interaction to your performance. In this tutorial Dubspot’s DJ Endo shows you how to sync two instances of Traktor Pro running Mac OS X over a network connection for a double DJ setup…

For digital DJs using Traktor Pro, there are a variety of way to sync two instances of Traktor together. In the first two parts of this tutorial series, Dubspot’s DJ Endo explained how to sync the Master Clocks in two copies of Traktor manually or with a MIDI cable, without using a network connection between the two computers. Now in part three we’ll look at how to set up automatic sync for two copies of Traktor running on Mac OS X and connecting via some kind of network: either Ethernet, Wi-Fi, or by using a computer-to-computer wireless connection.

Sync Two Instances of Traktor Over A Network

One question I frequently get asked in my work as a Native Instruments DJ product specialist is, “How can I sync my Traktor setup with another copy of Traktor?” While in the first two parts of this tutorial series we’ve looked at how to sync two Traktor systems manually or via a MIDI cable, now we’re going to learn how to sync two Macs together over a network connection.

I have helped a lot of DJs get this working but one of the most memorable moments for me came while helping Dubfire and Richie Hawtin set up multiple copies of Traktor synced together when they were prepping for a duo DJ gig at the Exit Festival in Serbia in 2009. We set the computers up at Richie’s studio in Berlin earlier that same day and networked them, trying to get them synced together, and ended up listening to trainwrecking metronomes for quite awhile before we got it right.

Once we did get everything working correctly, we left the computers on all the way from Berlin to Serbia, and when we got there Richie and Dubfire ended up playing an epic set on three DJ mixers and four Macs all perfectly in sync in front of 50,000 people! This is also the story of how they started using “Click-2-Click” as a name when they perform together.

This was especially memorable for me because they started their set with their metronomes completely out of sync, and then Richie hit the sync button on his copy of Traktor and the computers ‘magically’ synced to each other over the network while the crowd was listening…and it was all caught on video too! (Notice how you can see me in the background nearly having a heart attack hoping it works correctly!)

By following the steps in this tutorial, you’ll be able to sync two (or more) Mac-based Traktor systems together over any kind of connection. You can use wired Ethernet, Wi-Fi, or a computer-to-computer wireless connection. In all of these cases, the process is similar: first you need to establish the connection between the two Macs, and then once that’s working, the rest of the steps to sync the two copies of Traktor together are the same.

(Also, even though we are talking about Traktor here, just be aware that the same concept works if you want to sync together any music software that supports MIDI sync, including Ableton Live or Maschine for example.)

Establishing The Connection

So first we need to get your two Macs connected. There are three main ways you can do it:

Syncing over Ethernet: This is the simplest way to connect two Macs, and also gives the stablest sync. First just connect an Ethernet cable from the first computer (the tempo master) to the Ethernet port on the second computer (the tempo slave). Make sure Wi-Fi is turned off on both computers and that the Ethernet cable is plugged in tightly. (If you want to connect more than two computers over Ethernet, you can also use an Ethernet hub and plug an Ethernet cable from each computer into the Hub.)

Syncing over Wi-Fi: This method will work well if both computers are on a stable wireless network connection. However a lot of performance venues may have locked Wi-Fi networks that you can’t access, or no Wi-Fi at all. With that said though, if you want to sync two copies of Traktor over Wi-Fi, first just join the same Wi-Fi network

Syncing via a direct computer-to-computer wireless network connection: While Ethernet might be the most stable way to send MIDI between computers and Wi-Fi is also an option, let’s say you’re playing a party in the middle of the jungle, you don’t have an Ethernet cable, and there is no Wi-Fi either. (Not an uncommon situation in the underground music scene anyway right?) Don’t worry, you can still sync two Macs together by creating a computer-to-computer wireless connection. I’ve had good success with this method myself, it seems to work just as well as sending MIDI over Wi-Fi or Ethernet.

In order to set this up on your Mac, first you need to create a computer-to-computer network on one of the computers by clicking on the Airport icon towards the right-hand side of the menu bar at top, choose Create Network and then name your network:

Your Airport icon (in the top-right part of the menu bar) should now look like this:

Then on the second computer, you should be able to go under the Airport icon and find the new network as a choice to connect to (just look for the name you just created). Click to connect and then you’re ready to continue.

Getting Connected

Now follow these steps to establish a network MIDI connection between your two Macs.

1) On the computer that is going to be the tempo master, go to Applications > Utilities and open the Audio MIDI Setup utility:

When this is opened, go to the top menu and choose Window > Show MIDI Window:

2) In the MIDI Window here, double click on the Network icon to open the MIDI Network Setup window.

3) In the MIDI Network Setup window, you want to make a new MIDI Network by going to the My Sessions window and clicking on the + button. For easy reference, name the session “MIDI Clock” by clicking where it says “Session 1” and typing “MIDI Clock”. Make sure the checkbox for the session is checked (in the box at top left), and also make sure that the checkbox for Enabled is checked as well (towards the top right). Then at the bottom where it says “Who may connect to me” choose “Anyone.”

4) Now do the same thing on the computer that will be the tempo slave. Open the Audio MIDI Setup utility under Applications > Utilities, and then choose Window > Show MIDI Window.

5) Make a new MIDI network session on this computer as well by clicking on the + button and then renaming your session “MIDI Clock.” Make sure the checkbox is checked at top right and that the checkbox for “Enabled” is on at top left, and at the bottom where it says “Who may connect to me” choose “Anyone.”

6) Once you’ve made the sessions and enabled them on both computers, you should see each other’s computers in the Directory window. Now you can connect by clicking on the name of the other person’s computer and then clicking Connect. The other computer’s name should now show up in your Participants window. Do this on both computers so each can see the other in the Participants list.

Now the two computers are able to send MIDI to each other!

Note that it’s important not to close this window during your performance or recording session. I recommend that you keep the MIDI Window in the Audio MIDI Setup application open on both computers throughout your entire DJ set, otherwise the connection might be lost.

Sending MIDI Between Two Copies of Traktor

1) To start sending MIDI from one Traktor system to another, you need to enable Traktor to send MIDI clock: go to Preferences > MIDI Clock and turn on (check) the option Send MIDI Clock.

2) Now to actually send the MIDI clock signal out of Traktor, we need to create a new MIDI device in Traktor. We can do this by going to Preferences > Controller Manager. To make a new device click the Add button under the device drop-down window, then choose Generic MIDI as shown in the image.

3) Now rename this device by clicking Edit > Edit Comment. For simplicity’s sake let’s rename the device “MIDI Clock.”

4) Next you need to choose what port to send the MIDI out through. Choose the device you created and named “MIDI Clock” as the Out-Port. Set the In-Port to None so you’re not receiving MIDI from anything else.

5) The next thing you need to do is go to each mapping in the Device drop-down menu and make sure none of your mappings are set to All Ports. Assign each mapping to that specific device it is supposed to work with. For example, if you’re using a mapping for your Maschine controller, set the In-Port to “Maschine” and the Out-Port to “Maschine.” The reason you need to do this is so that Traktor is not sending MIDI clock out of more than one device. This could cause the BPM value to be incorrectly doubled on the slave computer.

6) Now let’s go to the other computer, the tempo slave, and set Traktor up to receive the MIDI clock. On the slave computer, go to the Traktor Preferences > Controller Manager tab; now you need to make a new MIDI device to RECEIVE MIDI. You can do this by clicking on Add under the Device drop-down menu and choosing Generic MIDI.

7) Now name this new device by clicking Edit > Edit Comment. Once again for this example let’s name the device “MIDI Clock.”

8) Now set the In-Port and Out-Port for the new device. Since this is the slave computer, you’re going to be RECEIVING MIDI clock, so set your In-Port to the MIDI input of the interface or controller you’re using. As you see, in my case this is the Audio 8 DJ.

9) Now that you’ve established a MIDI connection from the tempo master computer to the tempo slave computer, you can start sending the MIDI clock signal from one to the other. To start sending MIDI clock, you need to click an option on Traktor’s Master Clock at the top left-hand corner of your screen. If you don’t see the Master Clock, you need to turn on the Global Section in Traktor by going to Preferences > Global Settings and check Show Global Section.

10) Now, to start sending clock out of the tempo master computer, go to the Master Clock section of Traktor and turn on the Play button under where it says Send (see image). Also make sure Auto is turned OFF since you’re going to be using the Master Clock to set the tempo and not a deck.

11) Now on the tempo slave computer, go to the Master Clock section and turn on the EXT button at left under Options. This tells Traktor to sync to an external (incoming) MIDI clock signal.

12) When you’re ready to sync up, push the Sync button in the Master Clock section of the MASTER computer. You should now see the BPM indicator in the Master Clock of the tempo slave computer start moving and sync up with the tempo master.

13) This will get your two computers to sync to the same tempo, but to get both computers PERFECTLY in sync there is one more part to this process. There is usually a little latency or time lag in this process of sending MIDI clock, so you need to turn the metronome on in both copies of Traktor and beatmatch the metronomes using the MIDI Clock Sending Offset bar in Traktor.

To do this, go to Traktor’s Master Clock section and turn on the “Tick” for both computers.

14) Then make sure that Traktor’s mixer section is showing on both computers: go to Preferences > Mixer and turn on the Filter, Key, Gain, Cue, Balance checkbox.

15) Now turn on the headphone button on Traktor’s mixer for one of the decks on each computer; this will send the metronome sound out of that channel.

For example, if I turn on the headphone button for Deck A, the metronome will play through whatever output I have set for Deck A. Do this on both computers so you can hear both metronomes together. Most likely the metronomes will be playing out of time with each other and you will hear a ‘flamming’ sound.

16) Now on the tempo master computer, go to the Traktor Preferences and click on the MIDI Clock tab. In the MIDI Clock tab, there is a slider that adjusts the Sending Offset.

You need to slide this back and forth until you can hear that both metronomes are ticking in sync. If it sounds like the two computers are completely out of sync, you might need to go back to step 12 of this tutorial and hit sync on the tempo master computer’s Master Clock to get everything back together. Then adjust the Sending Offset further until you find the right number that will keep the metronomes in sync without flamming.

Now that both of your computers are in sync, you’re ready to go. Just start playing tracks and everything should sync up automatically (as long as you’ve beatgridded your tracks correctly of course!).

If it sounds like the two computers are drifting out of sync during a performance, you can always go back to step 12 and click the sync button in the Master Clock on the tempo master computer. Also if a particular track you play sounds a bit out of sync, you might need to use the pitch bend buttons on Traktor’s decks to adjust the phase of that track so it matches your DJ partner.

Click here for part 1 of how to sync 2 Traktor systems w/ DJ Endo: Manual sync

Click here for part 2 of how to sync 2 Traktor systems w/ DJ Endo: Syncing with a MIDI cable

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. For more tutorials visit our blog homepage or our YouTube channel. For more info about me, check out Happy mixing. Peace! - Mike Henderson a.k.a. DJ Endo

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