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 MIDI controller pitch precision

If you manually beat match by ear, then fine pitch adjustment with a high resolution pitch slider on a MIDI/HID controller is very important.

Most older and/or cheap/budget MIDI controllers normally only have 128 steps to their pitch slider (7-bit.) At 6% pitch range, this will allow you to make adjustments of +/- 0.09%, which is precise enough in most cases for most users, but limits matching songs with wider variances in BPM.

At greater ranges, the precision is lost and precise matching will be very difficult or even impossible, resulting in you either being slightly too fast or too slow and the beats gradually drifting.

With 7-bit MIDI (128 steps):

  • At 8% pitch range, the adjustments increase to +/- 0.125%.
  • At 12%, the adjustments increase to +/- 0.19%.
  • At 34%, the adjustments are +/- 0.53%!

The 128 pitch steps is a limitation of 7-bit MIDI. VirtualDJ itself is able to perform much more precise adjustments.

By manufacturers using 14-bit MIDI or the USB HID (Human Interface Device) protocol (As used by USB mice and keyboards), this limitation can be overcome.

With 1024 steps, you can make +/- 0.02% adjustments at 12% pitch range, allowing very accurate beat matching. Even at 34% you can still make +/- 0.07% adjustments.

Here is a small selection of some controllers that have more than 128 steps for their pitch slider:

  • Vestax VCI-300 - MIDI, 1024 steps.
  • Denon DN-MC6000 - MIDI, 1024 steps.
  • Denon DN-HC4500/HC5000 - MIDI, 1024 steps.
  • Denon DN-S1200 - MIDI, 1024 steps.
  • Hercules DJ Console 4-Mx/4Set - MIDI, 256 steps.
  • Reloop DigitalJockey series - MIDI, 1024 steps.
  • Numark DMC-2 - HID, 1016 steps.
  • PCDJ DAC-3 - HID, 256 steps.

NOTE: Most mid/high end MIDI controllers (Numark, Denon, Pioneer, etc.) released within the last few years will normally have more than 128 steps. HID controllers will normally have a minimum of 256 steps. For confirmation, please check with the manufacturer before purchasing.

NOTE: If you are using timecode CD's or vinyl, the pitch precision will match the capabilities of the CD or record deck that you are using.

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