Why it's Harder to Beatmatch in a Club

May 31, 2024
Written by
Buster Bennett
Why it's Harder to Beatmatch in a Club

Why it's Harder to Beatmatch in a Club

If you’re a new DJ embarking on your first live DJ performances you might struggle to beatmatch. Many DJs learn to mix at home or in a small music studio with clear acoustics on small speakers. However, the acoustics in real venues are vastly different to DJing in your bedroom, making beatmatching more difficult. This can cause anxiety for DJs at their first DJ gigs, but it’s a normal experience.

Here in this article, we seek to explain why you might find beatmatching in a big venue challenging and how to overcome beatmatching nerves with some helpful exercises.

Club Acoustics vs Studio Acoustics

There are some important differences between club and studio environments. Once you fully understand these differences you will see why beatmatching can be challenging at your gigs.

What Are Acoustics?

Acoustics describes the acoustic properties of a space. For example, if you play music in a large room at high volume levels the sound will bounce from wall to wall creating a series of echoes resulting in a muddy sound. In opposite, a small room with carpets, curtains and soft furnishings will have softer acoustics or a deader sound with little echo or reverberation.

Think of a large cathedral with big stone walls and towering rooms. Now imagine dropping a teaspoon, the result would be the sound of the impact reverberating around the hall. On a more homely scale, notice how the acoustics in your bathroom differ to those in your living room. If the bathroom is tiled and has no carpets or curtains you will hear your voice reverberate more compared to speaking in your living room.

The Studio Environment

If you have learned how to DJ at home or in a studio like LSA the acoustics will be easier. As the rooms are smaller than nightclubs there won’t be as much reverberation. You’ll also likely be using just monitor speakers rather than a large sound system coupled with two booth monitors. Overall, there will be less sound bouncing around the room and what does come out of the speaker will be absorbed by the soft furnishing in the room, or at least deflected and dispersed. Hearing your beatmatch clearly in a small studio or bedroom is much easier than at a large club.

The Club Environment

Often, clubs have a warehouse aesthetic with concrete floors, brick walls and high ceilings. Most large clubs will have no furniture and instead, just a large dancefloor with towering speaker stacks facing the audience. Some smaller venues might have seating and furnishings but most large clubs don’t have furnishings within the dancefloor arenas. Instead, the seating and furnishings might be within a separate bar or chill-out space.

The hard concrete or brick surfaces and lack of furnishing mean that sound will reverberate around the room. Simply put, the sound will travel from the speakers to the walls of the venue and then bounce or echo back across the dancefloor. These echos will muddy the sound making it harder for DJs to ascertain what is the track they are trying to beatmatch and what is the echo.

This confusion can be stressful, but club DJ booths have the solution. A professional DJ booth will have a deck stand with booth monitors on either side. These booth monitors are speakers that face the DJ directly. Their purpose is to enable the DJ to cut through the noise of the echoes and hear the music they are mixing directly without any delay. Coupled with the headphones, the booth monitors will solve the worst of the problem. Nowadays, DJs can also benefit from using the visuals on many modern DJ players that help DJs beatmatch by visually.

Empty Rooms vs Full Rooms

It’s worth mentioning that the acoustic properties of a club room will vary over the duration of the event. If you’re the warm-up DJ you will start with an empty room. Gradually, over the course of the event, the room will fill with people. As the room room fills, the acoustics will become less harsh and soften. This is because the bodies and clothes will absorb, deflect and disperse the sound. However, the audience may cause additional noise by talking and shouting as they enjoy the party.

Top Tip:

If you’re the warm-up DJ don’t play the music too loud too soon. Wait for the room to fill before increasing the volume. Clubbers who have just entered the venue will be more likely to gravitate to a room where their ears are not being attacked! Make sure the volume level is comfortable and your dancers can chat with their friends. Then as the party starts to increase in energy you can start increasing the volume. This will also give you the added tool of bumping the volume on the best drops.

Common Acoustic Situations

Every club and party is different and DJs will learn how to cope with various degrees of acoustic quality.

Small Bar

All DJ booths should have booth monitors but some low-budget small bars might not provide any. If you don’t have a booth monitor you might find it harder to monitor the sound and beatmatch. In this situation, you should use your headphones to determine the beatmatch rather than the sounds bouncing around the venue. Focus on the beatmatching solely in your headphones.

Large Club Room

In a large professional club room, you will have booth monitors on either side of the DJ decks or above you. They should be facing you. You will use these monitors and your headphones to beatmatch. The large speaker stacks for the audience will be facing away from you. You shouldn’t use that sound to beatmatch as there will be a delay. Try and ignore the sound coming from the main dancefloor and focus on your booth monitors and your headphones. Use the screens on the CDJs if you need help to beatmatch or use sync (the latter only if you have correctly beat-gridded your tracks.)

Outdoor Music Festival

In the case of outdoor music festivals, there will be no back wall. The sound will simply travel from the speaker stacks into the distance. This means you are unlikely to hear an echo, or if you do there will be large delays between the original sound and the echo of the sound. You have to use your booth monitors and headphones to beatmatch, same as any other club. You might be surprised it’s quite often fairly quiet on large music festival stages. It will be louder on the other side of the speaker stacks!

This would also be the case for boat parties where the main speakers are facing the ocean. We have a residency with Ibiza Boat Club for LSA DJ Course graduates playing every Friday in Ibiza. Click here to find out more!

Top Tip:

If you’re struggling to beatmatch the best thing is to rely on the headphones and ignore everything else. Your headphones will always be the same despite the change in environment. They are the one constant.

Headphones & Monitoring

Cheap headphones won’t cut it. If you want to DJ at professional venues and music festivals you must invest in a quality pair of DJ headphones. We recommend the Sennheiser HD25s for their durability and sound quality. They represent excellent value for months and their lightweight design makes them easy to wear.

There are various ways to monitor the beatmatch using modern industry-standard DJ mixers, booths and headphones. We recommend that you try all the various options and combinations to work out what works best for you. If you’re struggling to hear at a DJ gig try switching to another method.

Double Cue

If you want to simply hear both tracks in your headphones press both the corresponding cue buttons on the mixer for the channels you are using. You will hear them as if the faders were both in the up position. If you want to hear them equally with no EQ choose the Pre-EQ setting rather than Post-EQ, if it’s available.

Cue and Master Cue

Some DJs will prepare to Cue the track they are about to mix in and listen to the track playing to the audience using the Master Cue. Using this system you can also use the headphone mix dial to change the volume balance of both streams of sound in your headphones.

Split Cue

If you select the Split Cue option your headphones will air the sound of each channel on separate sides, right or left. One track will come out of the left ear cup and the other track will come out of the right ear cup.

Beatmatching with the Screen

If you have correctly beat-gridded all your tracks you may wish to instead beatmatch using the grids (phase meters) on the CDJs. However, the grid will only show if your decks are connected. If there is no working link between the players you won’t be able to use Sync or the phase meters.


DJs can choose to use sync to beatmatch their tracks together. The sync technology will only work correctly if your tracks have been beat-gridded. We recommend that you learn how to professionally beatgrid all your tracks so that you always have the sync option when needed.

Even if you don’t use Sync it’s still a great safety net. We all have our off-days and sometimes it’s helpful to be able to press sync and enjoy the moment and focus on the performance.

Beatmatching Exercises

The best way to overcome anxiety related to beatmatching is to practice. However, the way you practice is crucial. Follow these useful beatmatching exercises to improve your beatmatching accuracy in all acoustic environments.

Jog Wheel Exercise 1

Select two house tracks with repetitive beat intros. Match the BPM on both tracks. Play both tracks aloud simultaneously. Now spin the jog wheel to wreck the beatmatch, cover the phase meter and try to fix it with the wheel. When you think you’ve got the beatmatch back uncover the screen to check. Repeat this exercise multiple times. Once this exercise becomes easier try to use different genres with more challenging rhythms and tempos.

Jog Wheel Exercise 2

Load and beatmatch two tracks as with Jog Wheel Exercise 1. This time, change the EQ levels and try and beatmatch. For example, try and beatmatch them with only the high frequencies. Now try with only the Low and the Mid frequencies. Notice how this forces you to listen to different types of sound. Repeat this exercise multiple times with different combinations of EQ levels.

Jog Wheel Exercise 3

Select two easy repetitive tracks. Use different BPMs, start with three BPMs apart, for example, 120BPM and 123BPM. Now play both tracks simultaneously and notice how they drift apart. Use the jog wheel repetitively to keep them in sync. I liken this exercise to ‘keepy-uppy’ with a football. It will increase your beatmatching dexterity and accuracy in the situation where tracks are drifting.


The ultimate beatmatching practice is pitch-shifting. Using the pitch to beatmatch is an alternative to using the jog wheel. DJs who know how to pitch-shift will be able to determine the BPM and synchronise the beats without the screen. This is how vinyl DJs beatmatch without the aid of a computer. You can learn how to pitch-shift on our Advanced DJ Course.

A Note About Earplugs

It’s important to remind you all that if you’re DJing in loud venues you need to invest in a good pair of earplugs. Earplugs will protect your hearing from damage and are vital to avoid tinnitus. We recommend investing in a pair of fitted earplugs from ACS. You can also get a discount from the Musicians Union (UK). Click here for more information.


Beatmatching in clubs and bars can be challenging, even for experienced DJs. The solution is to understand the acoustic properties of various spaces where you might find yourself DJing. You then need to know how to correctly use a professional sound system, your DJ equipment and headphones to accurately monitor your beatmatching. Thirdly, you should be practicing your beatmatching skills to improve the accuracy of your mixing and your overall confidence as a DJ.

Click here if you'd like to learn more about one-to-one DJ tuition and how you can improve your beatmatching.

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