Manually Adjust Beatgrid = Varying Tempo/Pitch

After spending MUCH TIME manually adjusting beat grids on A LOT of songs I was dismayed to find EP played back every one of them at a varying tempo as a result!! Disable “Key Lock” and it’s even more noticeable, as the pitch gets changed in portion the tempo.

I was not happy to (finally) get my tracks on to my brand new Prime 4 only to discover that none of my “warped” beat grids I had spent years adjusting in Serato survived the migration over to Engine Prime. I play classic Rock/Pop & Funk; there is almost no such thing as any material from that genre having a steady tempo. Many Effects sound stupid if the grids are off the actual beats, especially things like Echo. And forget Roll, it won’t even work.

It seems that Engine Prime is locking on the BPM value and playback is then determined by how many milliseconds is in between each Beat Marker to maintain that value, regardless if the Markers have been adjusted…If the Beat Marks are closer together the song is played faster, further apart and it gets played slower.

The Beat Marks in EP are “elastic” as to being able to adjust each and every one of them, (as opposed to Serato/RekordBox-you can only adjust/anchor the first beat) but then playback is faster or slower as EP tries to “push” the tack along to where there’s the same amount of time distance between each one.

Try this with Stevie Wonder’s Superstition. Just played straight you can tell the tempo changes in the song. I wish I could watch the expression on your faces as you try to adjust the Beat Markers as the song goes berserk, especially as you get closer to the end.

I know this isn’t the first time this has come up; it’s just that when it has it’s been buried in a paragraph. The purpose of this post is to put the issue as a topic, front and center. Many, many others have hit on it over the years in this Community. SonnySeven lists it as the main issue for abandoning EP and selling all his Denon gear, (see “Engine Prime 1.2 is here but it’s time to say goodbye”). THAT WAS ALMOST 1-1/2 AGO!! Denon acknowledges that this is a “known issue” but it’s still not fixed. I just downloaded 1.3.3 hoping that the “BPM Issue” is fixed. Well, it ain’t.

I hope Denon comes out with a new update that fixes this SOON. Until then, I suggest you “Reset” all of your manual adjustments to any track.

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But that’s normal, in old disco/funk songs for example, if you modifie yourself the tempo grid many times, it changes also the tempo. That is the case in rekordbox with dynamic sync

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I tackle this issue differently. Since every DJ program has it’s own/proprietary/different method of solving this problem and one method usually does not work on the other DJ programs, I decided I would “warp” my songs with varying tempos by processing them through Melodyne 4. It’s not cheap, but it works all around.

Good idea, melodyne is a very good software

No Marco, it is not normal. I’ve been “warping” Beat Grids since Serato 8, going on 5 years now and it’s worked flawlessly. Rekordbox is in my opinion the superior software but I decided to stick with Serato only and specifically because it’s easier to place beat markers exactly where I want them. I obviously wouldn’t have spent so much time doing this if it was normal for the tempo to be affected anywhere near the adverse way I’ve described above.

Long time Serato user here as well.

The difference in approach is

  1. EP fixes the track to one tempo. The Pitch algorithm is not near how it is compared to using Ableton + Complex Pro to do the same task. So you can hear the track speeding up and pitching as well if you warp in EP.

  2. Serato does not warp as such. When you place beat markers it only tells the software where the bpm changes are. So the track still plays at its normal pitch but you can see the tempo changing but everything still stays in time. It’s one of the reasons one can grid a transition track in Serato and not EP.

I’m playling a lot of classic rock, and believe it or not, a lot of traditional music. I have always been a Denon user, but now that I want to buy new equipment (Prime 4), this problem with dynamic beat-grid is getting very important to me. If this is not solved, I won’t buy the Prime 4.

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There’s a certain element, and they may well chip in later, with their 2 cents (and getting about 2cents change) who would say that If you can’t DJ without auto this, auto that, beat grids, bpms to 56 decimal places etc, then don’t be a DJ.

However, the feature should be made available to prime and the sooner the better in my opinion.

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Hi Stedwards. You’re right off course. But allow me to reply. When I started dj-ing, it was with vinyl. Not because it was cool, but because cd’s didn’t exist yet. And then, with the arrival of cd’s, I changed myself a home-cd player to get an autocue. Then there was the first good dj cd-player: the Denon 2000. I bought it. Then the Denon 2500 with the possibility to change the pitch without changing the key. I bought it. I played as a mobile dj about 60 times per year during 25 years. Festivals, some real bigs (at least once a year for 8000 persons). People like my style because of my unconventional style of music, and because of my technical capacities (beat-mixing of music that nobody beat-mixed). The last 10 years of my active carreer was off course on pioneer. And now, after a pauze of 10 years, this old man want to make some fun. I don’t want to go on the road again, every weekend. But I do like to play now and then on a festival, or for friends (who got old together with me and still like to party). So yes, if you can’t auto this and auto then, you are perhaps not a dj. But fact is that on pioneer you can use dynamic grids, and on Denon you can’t. That’s a pity. If some things get done automatically, this gives you the time to be creative with loops and effect. That’s all what I meant. And if you look to the suggestions for updates, about 20% here is about that (but explained in another manner). Looks like I’m not the only one with this question.

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I agree with the above posts. I too started DJ-ing back in '89 on vinyl. Yes, I’m three million years old now. I also had a manual gearbox car then. I now have an automatic car and if I can use the Sync function then I will BUT I can always fall back on manual beat mixing a record should I need to, just like I can manually change gears on a car if I need to!

If the function is there then it should work, that’s what it’s there for, but if it doesn’t I can always fix the problem quickly myself anyway. It’s all about the music, the setlist, the fun you have and therefore give to your audience whilst DJ-ing right? The audience couldn’t give two hoots if you are manually beat mixing or not, are they having a good time? Then you have done your job, simple as that. Here ends this edition of ‘My Two Cents’ :wink:

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Trying to manually grid some old disco tracks has been driving me insane!! Just as the OP has already stated, you can go through the entire track, but when you start to reach the end of the track, it starts speeding up & going haywire!! This is honestly the absolute worst implementation of bpm analyses / adjustment I have EVER used. Even when trying to place a manual downbeat marker, the damn thing jumps to the nearest beat marker anyways, so what the point? I am sooo hating Engine Prime right now, I almost regret buying the P4! Denon please sort this out! I’m so frustrated - I wanna throw my mac against the wall!

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I know I’m late to the party here, but I only recently got Prime hardware and began using the Engine Prime software.

Last night I went through one track, manually adding anchors and adjusting the grid in /out when it drifted.

It must’ve taken me at least 30 minutes to get through the entire track. The problem is, I have thousands of tracks in my library that would need the grid adjusting in this way.

It’s just not practical to sit and spend months or years manually adjusting grids on thousands of tracks.

Why is the software not capable of placing anchors and adjusting the grid of variable tempo tracks on its own, without intervention?

Ableton Live has been doing it for years, and better still, actually adjusting the audio to fit a steady grid - not adjusting the grid to fit the audio. So clearly it’s something that computers are good at, and would be a huge time saver.

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We just have to remember transitions and mixes… So the track doesnt get stretched to a fixed grid :slightly_smiling_face:

What @Engell said.

and for more details about what he means by that, have a look at this video where I show and explain how it works.

Oh wow, the Denon method sounds awful!

I haven’t actually transferred the track I gridded to my Prime 4 yet, and listened to how it sounds, but I certainly don’t want it to play back like that.

And, no, I’m not going to buy your software.

[UIPDATE] I just listened back to the track I worked on, and it sounds OK. As your video was made last year, I can only assume that it’s now outdated and EP no longer behaves in that way.

You would have of said that about denon even if it was the greatest method. You always blacken denon and everything I think

No, not true at all. If it gave good results, I would say it gave good results.

Why would I even consider buying and using Denon kit if I “always blacken denon”?

I’ve just bought a Prime 4 and I love it. My Denon kit goes back all the way to twin CD rackmount players, which I still have.

If I find issues with hardware or software, I will mention it (as I would with any manufacturer). It’s called constructive criticism. I want the products to be better, because I like them.

Noticed the same as well. I think they did something to the time stretching thing, which i assume was responsible for the pitching up and down when a non quantised track is warped in Engine Prime. It sounds normal now, no weirdness.

You will get faster at it depending on what your desired outcome is.

Eg

  • if you want every beat to land on a grid, you will spend more time massaging the track

vs

  • If you only want to tighten up your likely mix in and mix out points

I have tried Rekordbox’s Dynamic beat-gridding which is meant to automatically analyse and grid non quantised tracks, it struggles (putting it mildly) as well.

This takes time as well in my own experience. I’m using Live 10. You still have to drag warp markers manually.

The closest i have seen to been able to guess and fix a track to steady tempo automatically is Melodyne

Someone also mentioned another program Mixmeister but i have no experience with it.

I do have the full blown Ableton Live Suite here, and have no issues running tracks through it if I really do need them locked down to a steady BPM. I quite enjoy it actually!

There are very few cases though where I would deem it necessary to warp a track, as I’m quite happy to DJ “on the fly”, coming from the days of vinyl.

Most of the DJ work I get doesn’t require me to mix anyway, so I often don’t bother. I’ve done many gigs where I’ve not mixed a single track.

It would just be nice to have some DJ software that was actually good at warping, and could do it automatically.

I agree.

Could this be something for “Machine Learning”, Cloud based and Crowd sourced data (open source -usable across all dj software)?

Rekordbox introduced a flavour of it, using it to speed up library analysis eg if everyone uploads their library data into the cloud, say i have tracks that i have manually gridded included, if another use has the same track instead of doing the real time grid analysis on the local machine, the data is pulled from the cloud.