Tempomatching vs Phasematching vs Beatmatching: What’s the Difference?

Tempomatching vs Phasematching vs Beatmatching: What’s the Difference?

Are you a beginner DJ struggling to understand the difference between beatmatching, phasematching and tempomatching? You're not alone, this is one of the most common questions for new beginner DJs. We're here to help you understand the difference between the three.


Tempomatching for a digital DJ is easy. Just look at the BPM (Beats Per Minute) counter on your DJ software (or screen) and use the pitch fader to match the BPM of both tracks. That's it, you have matched the tempo! As long as the BPM is accurate this is a tempo match.

Here the tempo is mismatched (not matched) You can see one track is 123 BPM and the other is 128 BPM meaning the beats don't line up.
In this example you can see the temp is matched, both tracks have 123 BPM. The beats also fall into line and match if they start at the same time.

Consider this when tempomatching

How do you decide which BPM to use? Generally, the wisest option is to set the tempo (BPM) in the mid-ground between to the two tracks original BPM. For instance, let's say track A is originally 120 BPM and track B is originally 126 BPM the best place to match them would be in the middle, 123 BPM.

How much can you change the tempo (BPM) by?

With modern DJ software you can change the tempo (BPM) by up to 100% but that doesn't mean you should! You have to decide creatively what is acceptable but many DJs operate within just a few perfect of the original BPM. This is to ensure they don't warp the music and distort the sound to a noticeable degree. Also, if everyone is used to hearing a song at a certain tempo on the radio it might be strange for you to play it at a difference speed. However, you're the artist! You choose what you want to do.

*Please Note* If you're DJing with vinyl you won't have a screen! In this scenario you will need to determine the tempo yourself by pitch-shifting. This advanced skill can be learnt on our DJ course. Contact us for more information.

Phasematching (bar-matching)

Phasematching is to do with the beat pattern or drum pattern within the bar structure of the music. When a track is beat-matched it only means that the beats are aligned but doesn't talk about if the drum patterns are aligned in their intended sequence. Sometimes a DJ will achieve a beatmatch and tempomatch but not a phasematch. This can result in an ugly rhythm.

In order to achieve a phasematch the DJ must make sure they align the bar. A bar is four beats (in most EDM). Let's use House music as an example. In most house music tracks the first beat of the bar is a kick drum, the second is a kick drum and a snare drum layered on top of each other, the third is a kick drum and the forth is again a kick and snare drum layered on top of each other. Another way of thinking about this is simply numbering the beats 1, 2, 3 and 4. Make sure the numbers line up.

This image shows a tempomatch at 124 BPM for both tracks. It also shows that the beats are matched but if you look closely the phase is not matched. The red dotted lines represent the start of a bar (the first beat of the bar counted as '1') You can see they do not align in this example. Another way of looking at is is the pink waves which are Kick and Snare drums combined, they are on the 2nd and 4th beats of the bar. In this image they do not align.
This image shows a tempomatch at 124 BPM for both tracks and it also shows they are phasematched and beatmatched. This is a correct match using all three types of matching!
*Please Note* Don't get phasematching confused with phrasematching (with an R) because phrasematching describes aligning the musical phrases within a track. For example, a common musical phrase in House music is eight bars long. In order to phrasematch you must align both eight bar phrase start points in tack A and B. Please join our DJ course for more advice on phrasematching.


In it's basic understanding beatmatching refers to aligning the beats from two tracks. For this to happen you have to match the tempo and then align the beats either using sync or manually with the jog wheel.

This image shows a tempomatch but a beat mismatch. This is incorrect.
This image shows a correct tempomatch and beatmatch.

However, beatmatching is an umbrella term that DJs often use to combine all three types of matching describes in this article. If you want to correctly mix you need to make sure you match the tempo, hit play on the bar (phase) and then also align the beats using the jog wheel or with sync.

Make sure that the bars are aligned and the kick, snare and hats hit simultaneously on both tracks with no flanging, clipping or delays that result from a mismatch.

If your beats are not matched you can either use sync or manually adjust with the jog wheel. Some DJ controllers and decks will have a phase meter where you can see if your beats are aligned on the screen.

*Please Note* Phase meters can be wrong and depend on your track's beatgrid being set correctly. Because of this, all DJs need to be able to beatmatch without the aid of sync. Contact us for DJ lessons either in our studios or online.

Putting It All Together

The art of beatmatching is an vital skill for DJs to learn. The best way to learn how to beatmatch is by ear. This way, you won't need to rely on sync, a screen or a computer. Because all of those things can go wrong!

Learn how to tempomatch, beatmatch, phasematch and phrasematch by ear if you want to become a confident and professional DJ. Contact us for one-to-one DJ lessons and DJ courses in London, Manchester or Birmingham or online from anywhere in the world!

Images in this article are screen shots from Pioneer DJ's Rekordbox software.



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