Beatport Sync

Beatport Sync, now an easy, free way to play OGG/FLAC files, browse external drives, and cross-fade.

Beaport Sync is a free, DJ-friendly music player / librarian / mixing app for Windows and Mac. On its surface, it looks like a hook for online music store Beatport and a beginner-friendly DJ mixer (two tracks, auto tempo detection and time stretching, pitch control) — and it is that.

But aside from the ability to mix and cross-fade, Beatport Sync has some features Apple’s iTunes lacks, which makes it potentially worth a download for just about anyone. First, it has real file format support: MP3 / MP4 / AAC / WMA / WAV / AIFF / FLAC / OGG (plus audio CDs, of course). WMA, FLAC, and OGG are all missing in iTunes. Second, it has advanced meta-data editing and file browsing, making it useful for organizing your music collection. What I really like: not only can you backup your library to external media, but you can browse external media, too. It’s a reminder that iTunes remains pretty primitive for listening and organization — it’s added some decent features, but not so much for the desktop listening experience.

Those aren’t a huge deal on Windows or even Linux with various reliable alternative music players, but they’re big news on the iTunes-dominated Mac. Native Instruments tells CDM that they do expect even their die-hard Traktor users may want Beatport Sync as an organizing tool or basic player.

As far as DJ-style features, this player is pretty decent for a freebie:

  • Two-deck mixer with manual/automatic crossfader
  • Pitch control
  • Time-stretching and tempo detection, for smooth crossfades even if you don’t know what you’re doing (or you’re, say, folding laundry or cleaning your studio and want the software to DJ for you — it happens)
  • Rip and burn CDs
  • Access external devices for browsing and backup
  • iTunes library integration (no playback support for DRMed tracks, though meta-data will appear)

Metadata editing

Meta data editing is more advanced and less clunky than in iTunes.

I’ve been testing the release build since just before it came out, and I have to say, I like it. The player is largely no-nonsense, and in terms of format support and playback fidelity, it’s great. You also have the kind of hardware driver support you normally only get from a pro app. And the ability to browse through all your drives instantly is great.

I have just a few caveats for you. If you don’t like getting a music store advertised in your music player, be aware that Beatport is a prominent choice in the sidebar — and the only one. Of course, that’s not to say you can’t buy online music from Beatport rivals like Dance Tracks Digital, or your local record store for those who like physical media. While it’s an aesthetic complaint, you also get the blue and green Beatport colors, which look like they escaped from the local scuba shop. (Give us an alternative black skin, please!) Some might not like the hierarchical file navigation, though I actually do enjoy it. The one downside I did find significant is that there’s not much in the way of stream and radio support. Electronic-music centric Proton is there, if that’s all you want to listen to, but there’s no equivalent for the integrated Shoutcast support in players like Winamp and Songbird. (Hey, I want J-Pop followed by Turkish folk music, okay? Does that make me less of an electronica fan?)

Still, overall, it’s a great player. If you’re serious about your digital music collection, I’d say this is worth at least adding to your tool belt — and the price is right.

Beatport Sync [Native Instruments]

MediaMonkey Review: The Ultimate Music Player and Library Organizer for PC (though, on PC, no reason not to run both)

  • Whee, my first post here! I've been reading the blog for almost a year now, thanks for sharing all this goodness.

    Back on topic: Beatport Sync looks interesting. I suppose there's no MIDI support. It would be perfect if the faders could be mapped to an external controller. Ok, it's a basic program but still…

  • Definitely looks worthwhile trying!

  • Nope, no MIDI, nothing like that. Think music player more than even a basic DJ app. But there are cheap DJ tools out there if you want to go that route.

  • dead_red_eyes

    Hey Peter, wondering if you can help me out with something. I've been asked to DJ for a downtempo brunch at this cool place in town. I'm wondering what app will allow me to play my vinyl and iTunes with seamless integration. I don't know if Beaport Sync can do this or not. Got any ideas? Something free or cheap would be nice, also I'm running on a Macbook Pro 10.4.8. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

  • @dead_red_eyes: I would say Traktor 3 or Traktor Scratch. I'm not sure if they have demos, but my experience has been seamless. I don't know of any program that let's you use tracks with DRM though, which sucks….unless you know how to strip DRM or burn all your tracks to CDRs to bypass it. I grabbed Traktor 3 and a MIDI mixer the other day and it works better than I expected:

    Either way, let me know of you find a cool solution.

  • Beatport? Music Player? Time stretching? Crossfader? Done. I do 95% of my record shopping on Beatport, it's the best shopping interface out there.

    Though I wish they would stock more funky house music. Everything's electro-centric on Beatport.

  • dead_red_eyes

    My choice would be Serato

    A cheaper alternative is M-Audio Torq

    These solutions use hardware breakout boxes for the audio.

    I've heard good things about the Native Instruments audio box that isused in conjunction with Traktor.

    If you're interested in software only and don't want to use an external audio box (i.e stereo headphone output) there is plenty of software out there.

    Traktor will work but it's not free.

    Pioneer also has a software solution that works nicely.

  • dead_red_eyes

    I have an audio interface with 8 ins/outs and 2 headphone jacks … so I'm covered there. I really just need a good software solution. All my iTunes songs are mp3 rips of my CD collection, plus a good amount of eMusic purchases … so there's no DRM involved. Guess I should check out Traktor, it seems that's what everyone uses.

  • dead_red_eyes

    I'm also wondering what kind of limitations the demo has :

    Honestly, I'm not a DJ … and will never be. This is a rare thing for me, so I don't see me spending $199 for 1 night of DJ work.

  • @dead_red_eyes: Yeah, it wouldn't be too cool if it cut out on you mid-set! I used to DJ using a laptop and 2 turntables many years ago. I wasn't trying to match the turntables to anything besides pitch & used the turntables to beat/pitch match to the the computer. Things have come a looooong way since then. If you can't find a good solution, just drop in the iTunes tracks during ambient sections if you can. Also: Sometimes software doesn't detect BPMs correctly. You can't always depend on it to accurate. You can end up with some train wrecks if you aren't careful.

  • Haha, I just booted up Beatport sync and I just noticed that the two demo songs they picked don't even sync together, since one's a dance track and the other's a hip hop track.

    So much for demoing their sync feature 🙂

    But I'm using this for just playing music anyway.

  • dead_red_eyes

    I'm not concerned with BPMs matching up or anything, I'm just playing some choice tracks for a couple of hours. I think that I'll just use Digital Performer with my iPod and turntable plugged into my interface, since I can't find a good solution.

    Thanks anyways tho guys.

  • Lester

    I may have missed it but I've noticed that Beatport Sync doesn't get CD track names from the internet the way iTunes does.

  • Iain

    Very nice. Can't wait to check it out tonight.

    mrcury wants MIDI. Me too. What I've not been able to find is an iTunes type audio player with MIDI. I'm a keyboard player and I want to use audio from my laptop as a virtual backup band. A parallel MIDI track that I could use to change the patches on my synths at the right time would be perfect.

    With the addition of MIDI, the possibilities are greatly extended.

  • tron

    Does anyone know why the OS X installer is asking for administrator privileges? I'm sure that it's not up to anything nefarious, but I would like to know what configuration changes it's making.

    Seems kind of bizarre that a simple music player needs administrator privileges.

  • @tron: OSX always asks me for a admin password when installing a 3rd party software. It's a security measure.

  • tron

    @flip: Thanks for the reply! I know it's a security measure. But, frankly, while I trust NI not to zombify my computer for use in a botnet or delete my files, I'm not sure I trust them not to install questionable system extensions or strew unidentifiable files all over the place.

    I dunno. Perhaps I'm asking for too much from software that I'm getting for free. But a nice simple app bundle in a .dmg isn't so hard, is it?

  • @tron: Well, you would probably be interested in this:….

    I use this to keep things locked down & monitored. You'd be surprised how many things happen behind the scenes without your knowledge. That said, I haven't had any alerts pop up with NI installs. I dig the "drop the app in the app folder" style installs too, but sometimes a program is a little more complex and needs to have elements in your application support folder, etc.

  • Sugarfoot

    Is it possible to use Sync to preview tracks with headphones?

  • Hey peeps,

    Can you help, ive just downloaded the Beatport Sync program but cant get it to play on my mac, any ideas?

  • Oh by the way, i have just been in the preferences and in the master section it says not connected in both the Left (Mono) and Right boxes. Is this where my problem is?

  • dreadies

    hey how you goin,

    i have the same prob as Dulz, i have have re installed flash player and messed around with the preferences and still nothin. whats goin on. help would be much appreciated.

  • Leigh

    If you haven't figured it out already go to Beatport Sync Preferences/Audio Set Up. For Audio Device select Built in Audio then select your Master sound accordingly.

  • Pingback: Beatport Sync - bringing djing to the masses | Jesse Brede()

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