At the time I moved from serato to engine via Lexicon, I also transitioned from basically not caring at all about my beatgrids (mixing by ear always) to being super accurate about them. The reason was that I started to get into lighting using soundswitch, a lighting solution which relies on beatgrid information to play lightshows. In this thread, I’d like to discuss my findings when creating and exporting flexible beatgrids with Lexicon.
First of all, Serato and Engine both interpret flexible beatgrids differently than Lexicon. In Lexicon, a new grid can start anywhere immediately, which makes sense from a music theory perspective. Sometimes an eight-note pause is just what you need.
Engine and Serato have a different problem though, they offer an autosync feature. And whether you use it or not, that feature needs defined behaviour when changing tempo. And that is not the case if the beat grid skips. So instead, engine and serato make sure that the downbeat always lands on a beat from a previous beat grid. If your grid in lexicon is shifted by an eight, that means the whole beat grid before that is adjusted to compensate for an eighth note, meaning it will go out of sync to the tune of an eight in the timespan between the last beat marker and the new one. This is unacceptable to most of us in a real world scenario.
So what do you need to do to avoid this behaviour? If you have a skip in the beatgrid (i.e. not just a tempo change at exactly the downbeat, but an actual pause or delay in the track)
- you beat grid your initial section as you would usually
- you place an auxiliary beat marker on the last correctly timed downbeat of the old beat grid. This marker effectively anchors the previous section
- you place a new beat marker on the first downbeat of the new grid and adjust the BPM of the new section, if necessary
- and crucially, you set the bpm of the auxiliary marker in such a way, that the next downbeat falls exactly on the new beat marker.
If you omit step 4, engine or serato may adjust the position of your new beat marker to fit on the grid, which is not what you want.
If you have a situation where there is no pause, i.e. the track just changes tempo at the downbeat, you can skip the auxiliary marker, but you always must make sure that your new beatmarker ideally lands on a downbeat of the old grid. This is the case for most tracks that are recorded live without a metronome. It may work with landing on any beat, this seems to sometimes not work for me, and I haven’t determined the exact circumstances yet. Also, I’m not sure how other DJ software handles this.
To this extent, I’d love if there was a button in lexicon that adjusts the tempo of the currently active section to satisfy step 4 automatically. Previously, I had to manually fiddle around with it to get it “as good as possible”. The errors you make can add up, unfortunately.