Serato DJ Pitch ‘N Time Plug-In: How Well Does It Work?

Serato doesn’t have a booth at NAMM, opting instead to demo software at various other manufacturer’s booths that come with Serato DJ. At the Reloop booth, we got a chance to play around with a beta of the upcoming Serato DJ 1.6 that had the recently announced Pitch ‘N Time DJ plug-in installed. Does the algorithm really work, and how well? Watch our video inside.


Being able to increase or decrease the tempo of a track dramatically (beyond 10%) and still have useable audio is pretty rare in DJ software – especially with distinct melodies or tracks with vocals (like both songs used in the video). The algorithm seems pretty promising, and while mixing at 75-100% probably won’t ever be necessary / useful, it’s really more about having options in the +/-20-30% range.

We’re waiting until we get back to DJTT HQ to do a really good analysis of what this tool sounds like against Traktor, Virtual DJ, Cross, and other key locking algorithms – but the first tests are pretty promising. Be sure to watch all the above video to hear both examples in all of their forms and an A/B at the end.


Serato Audio Research was actually originally founded on the Pitch ‘N Time key locking algorithm, a utility that has continued to be built out as a studio-grade tool for all types of producers. According to the Serato crew we talked to, integrating it into their DJ softwares has been on the feature roadmap for a while, but because of the split code base between ITCH and SSL, they’ve waited until the grand unification of Serato DJ 1.6 to bring the tool to all potential users.

Here’s outgoing Serato CEO Sam Gribbin’s two cents on adding this new plug-in:

“Since Pitch ’n Time for Pro Tools launched nearly 15 years ago, it has been used on countless hit records and movie scores, and has set the standard for professional time stretching and pitch shifting. With all the under the hood work we’ve done on Serato DJ over the last few years, we’re now able to bring the award winning Pitch ’n Time algorithm to our DJ platform. This day marks literally years of planning, and we’re very excited to be showing DJs just how good time stretching can sound. This is a big step forward for DJs who are dedicated to sound quality.”

The plug-in will cost $29, and will be available to users when Serato DJ 1.6 is released in February.

key shiftingkeylockpitch 'n timepitch lockpro toolssam gribbinseratoserato DJtempo lock
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  • Doni

    Guys I just wanted to chime in here and say that this comparison doesn’t even begin to do justice to the improvement pitch n time brings. It is especially better for tracks that have sub bass. Whereas before, I couldn’t mix a track with sub bass more than +/-1 Bpm, now I can mix them +/- infinity Bpm. It’s really unlocked a lot of doors for me when mixing. Now I can do anything and everything with serato! Price tag was a bit stiff though I agree

  • CCM

    But Serato DJ is sh!t and they know it! Hence how when it was 1st released it was an expensive upgrade for Itch controllers… then to ease the stress on their customer services they decide to give it away for free. And now they charge to fix their below average pitch lock?
    Give it a month and this will probably be free!

  • JoeMammy

    Traktor users on here sound like evangelical Christians…they hate on Serato, belittle users, claim that “long ago” they’ve “seen the light” while we continue to throw our money at the feet of the pagan Serato gods. Nevermind I’ve been spinning for nearly 20 years (god I feel old) and was there trying to work Final Scratch and today am more than happy with my Rane 64 and would never go to anything else. Happier now with the Pitch N Time plug in, which yes, we’ve needed for a long, long time. $30 bucks is fair for the best keylock in the industry, but they would be classier if it was free especially for those of us paying steep pro prices for our equipment.

  • Kutmaster TeeOh

    What don’t people understand? Do you practice DJing and then go DJ for free? Did you get better and keep your prices the same?

    So why should a company, who put money and time into something, give it away for free? Especially when the software works just fine for millions of DJs. If you’re mixing 130 with 100, you need to work on your skills more than relying on the software. If you can’t swing $30 then you need to think of a new career.

    DJs are the FIRST ones to complain about not getting paid enough or janky promoters, but turnaround and b*tch about a $30 plugin or effects that aren’t MANDATORY. You’ll complain about being underpaid but then you want to be cheap about little things like this. IT’S $30 QUIT CRYING. If you’re a professional that doesn’t make pennies DJing, then you wouldn’t be complaining.

  • Wes Wunder

    But how does it handle SCRATCHING???

    • Kutmaster TeeOh

      If you’re using this with scratching, it’s pointless. It won’t allow the pitch changes so it’s better to turn it off (just like Key Lock) if you’re scratching.

      • DJ Wizz (Wizzu) - Belgium

        Wrong 🙂 PnT automatically disengages when you use the jogwheel while in vynil mode. Works like a charm with scratching.

  • Linz

    When Serato asked for money to upgrade the fx via the extension packs it rubbed me a little the wrong way but I understood.
    Paying for a proper functioning key lock (no matter how good it is) just seems skank.
    I’m very tempted to switch to Traktor. At least you just pay for major upgrades not every single feature.

    • jprime

      So essentially, with Traktor you are forced to pay for all the extras whether you want them or not, and that’s somehow better than only paying for the bits you’d like?

      • Linz

        I don’t think so. There Key Lock worked a lot better from the beginning in Traktor, I guess they didn’t count it as an extra “feature” to have it work well.
        … And Traktor’s a lot cheaper than Serato so you’re just getting a lot more bang for your buck. Wow, I’m normally the one defending Serato against Traktor users but now you have me sounding like an ad 🙂
        I’m just afraid that charging for every new “feature” in Serato is the start of a trend that makes me feel shat on by a company that I loved and supported since the SL1. Yeah, it’s a little bit emotional but when you compare that Traktor Scratch Pro w/ an audio 10 is $100 cheaper than an SL3 the maths doesn’t add up. Why pay more money to Serato to try and catch up to Traktor’s FX and I don’t think the maths adds up to paying for a quality key lock mode either. (I know the SL3 is made by Rane but the end user buys it as a package.) Again, just my opinion that I can’t shake. It feels skank.

        • Kutmaster TeeOh

          How is Traktor cheaper when Serato software is free? They only charge for plugins like this. 90% of the time the upgrades, changes are free. I’ve only CHOSEN to pay for the video plugin and an FX pack. Other than that it’s all been free. How many versions of Traktor are there? Like 6 and each one was a different price, even had to pay to upgrade one to another. Business is Business. These little things aren’t mandatory to buy, so I don’t see why people get bent out of shape. Especially considering the fact that Serato hasn’t done anything like this in years. If you’re DJing professionally, surely $30 isn’t a big deal. If you have a regular job and love DJing, $30 isn’t a big deal either. If the DJ is broke, they need to worry about something other than a DJ plugin.

          • bkbikenerd

            And I mean this very respectfully. Serato is not free it can only be used with Serato certified/licensed hardware. You are paying a licensing fee wether you know it or not. If you look at the DJM 900 serato / traktor version you will see the Serato version cost $200 more. There’s your licensing fee right there.

            I don’t care if Serato charges for some plugins as long as they are good you can chose to buy them or not. The same goes for Traktor’s new releases. I can chose to pay the $120 for the new version or not. In the case of RANE hardware, that stuff last forever so they will have to make the hardware obsolete to sell you knew hardware so that Serato can profit. We saw this happen with the SL1 and 57SL.

            Traktor at this point is cheaper in the shortrun. Meaning that if you buy a Traktor Scratch A6 you get a Traktor Pro license included with it for $300 which can be compared to an SL3 at $700. That means the Traktor solution comes in $400 cheaper for this example. If Traktor releases a new version of Traktor every 1.5years at $120 it will take about 5 years before the cost evens out between them.

            I think the real gripe here should be Serato promised the plugin around 2006 and they just got around to releasing it but, at $30 bucks I can’t complain of the price. I will say though that their original plugin was mediocre at best especially compared to Traktors built in plugin but was light on CPU usage which was good considering the processors of the time. Pitch N’ Time for Serato DJ is pretty CPU intensive.

          • Linz

            No, you’re right, they hadn’t done anything like this… until recently and now there’s a plethora of “extras” you can buy such as 3 or 4 “extra” effect ‘packs’ and a working key lock function.
            I think where most people are getting bent out of shape is that a working key lock function, no matter how well it works, doesn’t seem like an “extra” it seems like a part of the software that’s been fixed to work well. I cringe to think what they’re going to be charging for next.

        • Kutmaster TeeOh

          I bought an SL1 and never paid for anything else until 6 years later when I got video and recently some FX. The ones in the software were fine, I just wanted to try the other ones out. So in 10 years I haven’t paid for any software upgrades including the new Serato DJ. Keylock has worked just fine but if I want it $30 over the last 11 years isn’t something to whine about. How much money has your equipment made you over the years? If it isn’t more than you spent, then the company isn’t the problem.

    • Kutmaster TeeOh

      What don’t people understand? Do you practice DJing and then go DJ for free? Did you get better and keep your prices the same? So why should a company put money and time into something then give it away for free. Especially when the software works just fine for millions of DJs. It’s only $30. If you can’t swing that then you need to think of a new career.

  • killmedj

    Shouldn’t a state of the art “Key Lock” algorithm be an integral part of any digital DJ setup?
    Making people pay for an upgrade that should already be integrated into the program seems cynical to me.
    It was one of the primary reasons I moved to Traktor in the first place. The Key Lock has always been tight.

    • Linz

      Agreed. An improved key lock that works well after +/- 4% for $30. Bloody hard to swallow. I’m loosing a lot of love for Serato right now.

      • Viktor

        I don’t even understand why people buy serato over traktor… it’s a game that traktor won..long time ago.. any friends (professional djs = who earn their living form djing) have more complaints about serato.. actually none of them really complained about traktor.. so wtf are you waiting for?? 😀 go buy a copy of traktor…it works with virtually any interface (even serato dedicated controllers).

        • Kutmaster TeeOh

          Because Serato is simple and some DJs like simple. Especially the ones who spend more time practicing on decks than midi mapping. Some DJs like to spin videos. Some don’t need all that extra that Traktor has. Traktor is EDM based. All about mashing buttons and twisting knobs. No prob with that. Serato has that too. Don’t know who your friends are that are complaining about Serato but they must either not know the software or Traktor suits them better. When you strip it down, they do the same things. Allows you to DJ. Serato has tricks to it that I give tutorials on (stuff like mixing 6 tracks at once or creating different FX). I’ve got both setups, I tour, and battle… nothing I do on Traktor can’t be done on Serato. And i really push the limits. You can compare Electronic DJs to Hiphop and see the need for different tools. To each his/her own.

        • Linz

          I tried Traktor and preferred the simplicity of Serato. I feel that you get so much more bang for your buck from Traktor though so I may give it another go.

        • DJ Wizz (Wizzu) - Belgium

          > I don’t even understand why people buy serato over traktor…

          Mostly library management. That’s Traktor’s Achille’s heel. It’s awful. Downright unusable for me. I would have switched to Traktor is it was not for the amateurish library management.

      • Kutmaster TeeOh

        How long have you been DJing? If you can’t spend $30 you have bigger problems. Not to mention it isn’t mandatory.

        • Linz

          Ummm… I’ve been dj’ing since 1996. It’s not about whether I can afford $30. It’s that fact that Serato is starting to nickel & dime it’s customers which I don’t like. It’s already a more expensive product when you compare it to buying and SL3 or an Audio 10 (with Traktor.) I don’t think they need to be charging us for “extras” such as a robust fx section (like Traktor already has) or a key lock that works. That’s all.

    • Linz

      Agreed. An improved key lock that works well after +/- 4% for $30. Bloody hard to swallow. I’m loosing a lot of love for Serato right now.

    • Linz

      Agreed. An improved key lock that works well after +/- 4% for $30. Bloody hard to swallow. I’m loosing a lot of love for Serato right now.

    • Kutmaster TeeOh

      If the key lock is the reason you switched, you need tighten up your mixing more than relying on the software.

      • Sem

        Wtf dude is your father the owner of Serato or does your wife work with Serato that you wanna bite people’s heads off cause they have a problem with Serato or better still are you the secret police Serato sent to monitor what people say about their software. Jeez dude get a life. If people have a problem with Serato that their choice you can’t keep monitoring every post people make bashing the software with the hopes of replying that just plain silly and if you wanna prove me right then reply to me as well and I will know you’re truly a silly chap. Ba k to the matter I don’t think people should have to pay for stuff like this it should come as a free upgrade after all some Serato controllers are pretty expensive and besides it makes the company look better for responding to their customers.

        • Kutmaster TeeOh

          Nope, I just like to put out facts when people are complaining about a software that works wonderfully. If chumps like you want to complain about something so minor as $30 then you need to setup your marketing so you can get booked, then you can afford $30. People like you always complaining about adding some feature and yet don’t want to pay for it. What company works for free? Would you? Did you increase your DJ prices as you got better? So why should Serato give away stuff for free. They work just like everyone else. The key lock has worked well enough for millions of DJs but when they do update it, you people still complaining. No one is MAKING you buy it. If you are crying about $30 then perhaps quit or switch software. Then again, if this is a feature you MUST have and have to rely on, then perhaps you need to work on your skill more than b*tching about what the company does as if you tears will change it.

          • Linz

            Shucks, I didn’t realize this article was about my dj’ing skill 🙂
            $30 here for key lock, $25 (or whatever it is) for this FX expansion pack and another $25 for that FX expansion pack. To buy the complete Serato is getting a bit silly. I guess what it boils down to is the fact that Traktor is now such a better deal for users than Serato is. I’m going to seriously look into switching to it because I’d rather just buy the complete software from Traktor and be done with it.

  • UGH

    But wait.. I thought Serato already had Key lock? Oh that’s right, it did. It was just broken in every single Serato release since always. Glad our customer service cries have finally been answered with a pay-for plugin solution. When will this company have any shame?

    • elev8d

      Key lock works just fine for me in Serato Scratch Live and has always worked fine for me and I’ve been using it with MixedinKey since 2006.

    • Kutmaster TeeOh

      The only ones who complain about the key lock are the ones trying to jump 10+ bpm. If you have to jump that far, either you don’t have enough music or your rushing to change BPM. If you hate it so much, use another software.

      • UGH

        That’s why i’m up 12, and down 1.. because everyone shares your view, right? You know absolutely zero about my music, or my job. Nor are you in a position to ‘tell’ me about either. Furthermore Serato user licenses are built into the cost of our controllers. If i’m forced to pay for something, it could at least work. Try some logic next time; If you possess any.

      • DJ Wizz (Wizzu) - Belgium

        > The only ones who complain about the key lock are the ones trying to jump 10+ bpm

        Wrong, wrong, wrong. I never went beyond +-/3% and was very bothered by the standard keylock, -1.5% was enough to put me off with many tracks.

        I guess your ears are not sensitive to the specific artifacts introduced by the standard Serato keylock. Mine are. Terribly so. I’m glad they finally released PnT.

  • ME

    i hate serato they fucking make people pay for every update ,,,the other day i payed for a shitty new effects and now this? and also the sync does not work as weel as traktor… for real this as become an amateur dj software … just update and dont make us pay you serato millionaires…. finally what good is this for !!! i can’t see a real difference on the video …29 f**k off to you serato (You’re just lucky to have pioneer by your side)

    • DefKone

      I’m pretty sure that the 1.6 update is free, and you aren’t required to buy this “expansion”

      As for it being “amateur” dj software, the software is only as good as the person using it.

      • Marco Hooghuis

        The update is free, but the ‘plugin’ isn’t:

        “The plug-in will cost $29, and will be available to users when Serato DJ 1.6 is released in February.”

    • HiMyNameIsRight. UMustBeWrong

      There is a CLEAR difference between the two. I mean NIGHT & DAY. The fact that you missed that supports the fact you have no idea what you are talking about. JUST UPDATE & don’t make us pay? Yeah Put in countless hours doing what WE ask you guys to do and when you get it done you will NOT be compensated for it………….. sorry! Lastly the SYNC only works well if you prepare your music properly……………… enough said there.

      • Kutmaster TeeOh

        Yea, another person complaining about being charged but wants to be paid to DJ. Yet, doesn’t know how to run the software as is.

    • Kutmaster TeeOh

      Serato has always been free but charged for this new software upgrade. Other than that, the video plugin is the only thing the charged for. Yet another thing Traktor can’t accomplish. If you are actually DJing and getting paid, $30 isn’t a big deal for something your feel you need to have. If you don’t need it, don’t buy it. Just like Traktor coming out with controller after controller after controller. No one is making you buy effects. If the ones built in aren’t enough, that’s on you. Many people perform just fine with all the extra.

      • UGH

        Serato is NOT free. I repeat, Serato is NOT free. Serato is the government subsidy of DJ software and the cost is passed to us via the hardware cost. Say it with me now; subsidies are not free. I repeat, Subsidies are NOT free.

        • Kutmaster TeeOh

          lol, right. So I guess you are charged to download serato every time. I guess every single update in the last 8 years has a price tag on it. Traktor does the exact same thing. You buy a product, you get the software. VDJ too. Spin+ and many others. Difference in some companies is you buy the software separate or in a bundle. Get over it. No one is making you buy anything. Get off your “big corporate scheme” crap and get on the decks. You’re busy talking as if you’re words will make them change their minds. Business is business. Don’t like it? Quit DJing.

          • UGH

            ‘You’re busy talking as if you’re words will make them change their minds.’

            And yet here you are, talking as if you’ll change mine..

            ‘Business is business. Don’t like it? Quit DJing.’

            This is my perspective. Don’t like it? Quit reading.

          • Kutmaster TeeOh

            It’s a discussion. You’re getting offensive about it when it’s really not serious in the least. You make statements that aren’t true then get bent out of shape when someone says otherwise. Keep in mind YOU commented on MY post. Your “perspective” has no foundation other than “the big companies out to rob me”. Grow up.

    • GeorgeThoms

      wait, complaining about amateur software while complaining about SYNC? BAH HA HA HA HA HA
      Here is an idea. Load two songs in two decks. turn the brightness all the way down on your laptop, dont use the sync buttons at all and tell me which software is better!?!?!?!?

      Real DJ’s can play on anything. ANYTHING!

      Serato is lucky to have RANE on their side.

      complaining about Sync…… Come on, give me a break, Rook.


    Midi Out would’ve been nice instead of this plugin. Seems nice but I’m good with key lock.

  • Roguesy

    Pitch & Time is going to be awesome to remix all different songs into a Detroit GHETTO TECH set.

  • Roguesy

    Anyone know what the first track played in the video is?

    • Dan White

      It’s “white noise” by Disclosure – not sure if it was a remix or not, though.

      • Rob Byles

        It’s the original, for sure.

        • Dan White

          You’re right. I was in a NAMM daze.

          • DJ_ForcedHand

            It almost sounds like you were one of the Vietnam vets talking about the conflict over there. I hope you didn’t suffer post-traumatic stress disorder… and great, now I have Paul Hardcastle – 19 stuck in my head.

      • Roguesy

        Thanks a bunch. Never heard of them. The video is awesome. Featuring my old Detroit stomping grounds.

        • Dan White

          Yeah, they’re incredible live as well – if you ever get a chance, see them!

      • Guest

        I think it’s the Hudson Mohawk remix

    • Fraa

      Disclosure Ft. AlunaGeorge – White Noise

  • djfreesoul

    Being able to mix between 140bpm dubstep/electro and 100bpm oldschool disco has never been more promising. But… why? 🙂

  • Ryan Supak

    Sounds good. Does the algorithm only do something when Key Lock is on, or does it have a refining effect on “varispeed” interpolation as well?

    Thanks, rs

  • T'CharleS

    Can’t wait to try it out on all sorts of music and see if it does a better job than elastique-based algorithms!