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]

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