the art of getting two records to play at the same tempo
In order to match the beats of two records you must be able to distinguish which of the two records is playing faster than the other, then adjust them so that they are playing in time. At first this is a difficult skill to grasp and requires a lot of practice before you are able to beatmatch perfectly.
The aim of Beatmatching
By beatmatching you are looking to synchronise two records playing together so that both rhythms make musical sense when heard at the same time.
Cue'ing one record in time with another
Select two records with simple, clear beats and few other musical elements for practicing and set the mixer so that the first record is playing through your speakers, and the second is initially playing through your headphones. Start off by playing the first record alone, whilst finding the first beat of the second record. Once you have the first beat of the second record held in place, start it playing in time with the beat of the first record. If these records are playing at the same time they will sound in synch, if not they will drift apart. If the records are drifting apart they need adjusting, naturally the faster they are drifting the more adjustment they require.
How to tell which record is faster
Chances are when you try practicing the above, the two records will not be playing at the same speed and therefore require adjustments. The problem now is how to tell which record is playing faster than the other. This is probably the hardest part of beatmatching and requires a great deal of repetitive practice. Trust me there is no easy shortcut to gaining this skill, but some of the following may help:
- Listen and try to distinguish which record finishes its phrases first (see phrasematching)
- Concentrate solely on the main beat of the record (usually the kick-drum)
- Count the beats of the records in groups of four (e.g. 1,2,3,4 - 2,2,3,4 - 3,2,3,4 - 4,2,3,4)
- Use trial and error to guess which record is faster, then make adjustments
Adjusting a Records speed
Although the pitch control sets the speed that the music plays and keeps this constant, you have to find the correct pitch before you are able to get the records playing at the same speed. In order to find the correct pitch you will have to adjust the speed of the record either by hand, or more professionally by using just the pitch control itself.
Adjusting by Hand
Obviously there are two ways to adjust the speed of a record; speed it up or slow it down - the method you use depends upon whether a record is playing too fast or too slow. To speed up a record by hand you can either:
- Rotate the record players spindle between your finger and thumb, or
- Push on the edge of the records label and move it forward
In order to slow down a record you can perform one of the following:
- Brush the record players platter very gently with your fingers
- Squeeze the record players spindle between your finger and thumb, or
- Gently apply pressure to the label of the record
Adjustments with the Pitch Control
You may find it easier at first to find the correct speed by hand, but in order to get the seamless sounding mixes like those of professionals, you should use the following method. Using this method once you have initially placed the record on the platter of the record player, you should not have to touch the vinyl until you come to remove the record only because it has finished playing.
Assuming that a record is already playing through your speakers, you start by setting of the second record at zero on the pitch control. If the record is playing too slow, move the pitch control up to plus one. If it is still too slow, then move the pitch up to plus three. Now the record may become too fast, therefore you know that the correct pitch is somewhere between +1 and +3. So you adjust the pitch to plus two and if it begins to play a little slow, you know that the ideal pitch can be found somewhere between +2 and +3. Making these finer and finer adjustments you will be able to locate the correct pitch by narrowing down its possible location.