Solo DJ sets are great, but playing with another DJ can take performance to a whole new level. In this tutorial Dubspot’s DJ Endo shows you how to manually sync two instances of Traktor Pro for a double DJ setup.
Sync Two Instances of Traktor
A 2×4 DJ setup (two DJs, four decks) can be a lot of fun! You can mix tracks in and out more quickly, or you can layer sounds or loops over the other DJ’s tracks, or even get a bunch of simultaneous layers going for a frenzy of sound. But to keep everything from falling into cacophony, you’ll need to keep everything synced together so there are no trainwrecks when you begin to mix.
For digital DJs using Traktor Pro, there are a variety of way to sync two instances of Traktor together. In this first of a series of tutorials about getting Traktor in sync, Dubspot’s DJ Endo explains how to sync the Master Clocks in two copies of Traktor manually, without using a network connection. After this we’ll look at how with a MIDI cable or a network connection in future posts.
Syncing Two Traktor Systems Manually
The easiest way to sync two Traktor systems together is by manual sync.
To set this up, just set the Master Clock on each Traktor computer to the same BPM value, and then use the Master Clock Pitch Bend in Traktor to get the beats perfectly in sync. Simple!
This method is how a lot of digital DJs perform back to back with each other since it’s the easiest to set up and doesn’t require you to adjust any network settings between computers or connect any cables. Once you get both clocks perfectly in sync, both computers will be marching to the same beat and you can play together all night.
In fact, one advantage of this method is once you get the clocks perfectly matched, all other things being equal they will not go out of sync and the BPM won’t fluctuate at all. This can be a bit of a problem with the other sync methods that we will look at later, which use network or cable connections to transmit automatic BPM sync. However this can also be a disadvantage, because if you change the BPM on one computer, the two clocks will no longer be in sync and you will have to manually re-sync them.
Syncing The Master Clocks
Follow these steps to manually sync two Traktor computers using only Traktor’s Master Clock:
First, to see the Master Clock, go to the Traktor Preferences by clicking the little gear icon at the upper-right hand corner of the interface. Within the Preferences, go to the Global Settings tab and turn on the option Show Global Section. Then next to where it says Left, choose Master Clock.
You can also show the Master Clock by clicking on the metronome icon in the upper left hand side of the Traktor interface:
Now you should see Traktor’s Master Clock in the upper left-hand corner of the screen, showing a value in BPM. Let’s quickly look at the Master Clock and the different tools that we’ll be working with:
If the Master button is turned on (lit up orange as in this image), it means that the Master Clock is controlling Traktor’s Master Tempo. In this mode, if you press sync on one of the decks in Traktor, it will synchronize that deck’s BPM to the Master Clock.
The + and – buttons will increase or decrease the tempo of the Master Clock. The <| and |> buttons are the Master Clock Pitch Bend buttons, which will nudge the Master Clock forwards or backwards. Pushing these buttons is similar to nudging a turntable forwards or backwards, except that you are actually nudging up to 4 turntables at once! The Tick button here will play an audible metronome (a tick tock sound) along with Traktor’s clock. These are the controls that you can use to sync the computers together.
From here, now that the Master Clocks are running at the same speed, you need to get them exactly in sync. To do this, you can either play tracks on both computers and sync them together that way, or else turn on Traktor’s metronome tick to match the clocks together. It’s generally more convenient to simply start playing a track on one computer and then mix in on the second computer and get the sync lined up that way, you can do this right at the beginning of your set. In this case you’re just nudging the beats together just like you would with vinyl or CDs, but you will only need to do it once and then the Master Clocks on the two computers should run in sync after that. Remember, though, that using tracks to sync the Master Clocks is only an accurate method if both tracks you are using to sync are correctly beatgridded in Traktor. It’s more accurate to use the metronome to sync because you are using the same sound and same clock source on both computers, so it is very easy to hear when they are not lined up right. However you generally need to do this before your gig starts, and there isn’t always time. In any event let’s look at how to sync them up both ways.
Syncing With Music
First of all, you should put both computers in Master Clock mode: Auto is turned off, and you are setting Traktor’s Master Clock to be the tempo Master. If this is set correctly, your clock should look just like it did in the previous image (see above).
Now enter the same BPM in the Master Clock field on both computers by simply double-clicking on the BPM value and typing it in.
Now, push the “Sync” button and the “Quantize” (Q) button in Traktor so that the tracks will start in perfect time and perfectly on beat. I generally like to turn the “Snap” (S) button on as well so loops and cue points are perfectly snapped to the beat. That way, whenever I trigger a loop or jump to a cue point, Traktor will always keep the timing solid and prevent trainwrecking.
Next, push the play button on any of the decks that has a track loaded. The deck will now start in perfect timing with the Master Clock’s beat phase and BPM as long as Quantize is on.
Now use the left and right arrows in the Master Clock section to nudge the beats on one or the other computer until their metronomes are playing in perfect sync together.
Once you have the beats matched, all of the decks in Traktor will be in sync with each other and with your DJ partner’s computer. Your tracks should all sync up assuming the beatgrids are correct. If the beatgrid is a little off for some of your tracks, you can use the deck pitch bend buttons to nudge that deck forwards or backwards, without taking the Master Clocks out of sync. Just use the forward and back pitch bend buttons in the deck to nudge the track forwards or backwards.
Personally, I beatgrid every track I’m going to play with a metronome so I know that every track will be perfectly in sync once I have the Master clock synced. Beatgridding is the backbone of Traktor.
Syncing With The Metronome
Alternatively, if you have time before your gig starts or backstage to get your two computers in sync, just go ahead and use the metronome.
To sync with the metronome, you should first put both computers in Master Clock mode as before and then type the same BPM in the Master Clock field on both computers.
Then, click on the Tick button for both computers so you can hear the audible metronome click.
Once you have typed the BPM into both computers and turned both metronomes on, use the left and right arrows in the Master Clock section to nudge the beats on one or the other computer until their metronomes are playing in perfect sync together.
Once you have that done, turn sync on for every deck in Traktor on both computers so all the decks are synced to the Master Clock. (Use the Sync button in the top left corner of each deck to turn this on).
It also helps to turn the quantize setting Q on as well, so every song will start smoothly on its downbeat. Now once you start playing tracks, as long as the beatgrids are set correctly for your tracks, everything will play in perfect sync.
Now that your Master Clocks are matched and all of your decks are in sync mode, its time to throw down with your DJ partner and rock the house!
- Mike Henderson a.k.a. DJ Endo