Calibration - Forgot That!

In a standard Scratch Live set up, an analogue audio source (turnable / CDJ) sends the Scratch Live control signal into a Rane Scratch Live interface, where it is digitized, sent to the Scratch Live software and used to control playback of your digital music. 

It’s really important to calibrate your set up so the software can distinguish between what is heard as the control signal and what is recognized as background noise and ignored. 

If you haven’t correctly calibrated Scratch Live for your system and the environment you may run into a number of playback issues including glitchy/skipping playback and your tracks not playing at all. 

How does Scratch Live track the control vinyl?

There are two parts to the Scratch Live control signal: The directional tone, and the noise map. These two parts of the control signal perform two different functions in controlling Scratch Live:

  • The directional tone provides the current speed and direction of the record
  • The noise map tells the software precisely where on the record the needle is currently.

What's all this about Noise Thresholds?

It all sounds a bit scary but it's actually quite simple. The noise threshold in Scratch Live is the level, where anything below, is considered noise and is ignored by the software. Because a turntable stylus is so sensitive, it's going to pick up noise from the environment as well as the signal on the record. In a noisy party or banging club, the effects can be considerable. For this reason it's important to set this correctly.

Scopes? What the...

Those cheeky circles in the setup screen. The scope views on the setup screen in Scratch Live display the input signal as a phase diagram. Basically it's just a way of visualizing the quality of your control signal and how well Scratch Live is tracking it. The key factors to look at on the scope display are crisp clean lines, round shape, and the tracking percentage in the lower right corner. 

How to properly calibrate your setup

1) Turn the sound system up the level you will be playing at during your performance.

2) Play a track from an audio CD or from the other deck in internal mode.

3) Place the needle on the record but keep the turntable stopped.

4) Click and hold down the Estimate button for a few seconds - Scratch Live will estimate the optimal threshold setting for the current environment. Alternatively you can try manually moving the estimate slider to the right until you notice the number in theupper-right corner of the scope view stops fluctuating.

You should be at the best point for good tracking of the vinyl movement and ignoring noise.

5) Repeat this process for each deck. 

6) Once you have set the threshold, start both turntables. For optimal performance the inner ring should be as close to circular as possible. Use the scope zoom slider (1x to 16x) to zoom in or out as necessary. Use the scope L/R balance and P/A balance controls to adjust the shape of the inner ring. The number in the top left corner of the scope view gives the current absolute position within the control record or CD. The number in the top right corner is the current speed in RPM.

In the bottom left is the current threshold setting, and the number in the bottom right shows the percentage of readable signal – this number should be at least 85% when your system is calibrated properly.

If you still can't get a good tracking percentage and your scope views look weird you can take a look at our article on Diagnosing the Scope Views.

If you are still having trouble, make sure to get in touch with the Serato support team and open a Scratch Live help request.

Comments (24)

PMYSKO 9:19 PM - 28 September, 2012
Okay, I will be the first to admit it. I've never done this before and I must say the response and sound quality is much better than before.
Eduardo Serrano 9:33 PM - 28 September, 2012
Do I need to do this calibration for CD players? (Pioneer CDJ-900)
DJTNT84 10:07 PM - 28 September, 2012
Well written guide, thanks!
djmario 11:46 PM - 28 September, 2012
i am having trouble moving the l/r and pa balance is the a keyboard shortcut. canot seem to get it to move with my mouse
DJ ALLEYCAT210 12:10 AM - 29 September, 2012
wow i use to do it about 2 and a half years ago but i will from now on.
Jim Kelly 6:20 AM - 29 September, 2012
Yep, I ALWAYS do that....super important if you want to have precise vinyl control in loud environments.
DJ Curtis4real 12:07 PM - 29 September, 2012
Yes Eduardo you should do it. I use Denon 3700, and it works as advertised.
DJ Marty 2:02 PM - 29 September, 2012
Great post!
DJJUNE FROM DA BRONX 3:16 PM - 29 September, 2012
I Have To Say My Recording Sounds 10x Better ... Thanks
Wone2 3:25 PM - 29 September, 2012
This is really important, especially for scratching.
Do not skip this step if you want precision when moving your record!
Eduardo Serrano 5:21 PM - 29 September, 2012
@ DJ Curtis4Real - I tried to do the calibration last night at the club and I did not get any scopes on the setup screen. Any Ideas? I am using CDJ-900 players and not turntables. What could be wrong that was not detecting the input signal>]? Please advice.
Serato, Support
Matt P 11:52 PM - 30 September, 2012
Hi Eduardo Serrano,

You could not be seeing the scope because the signal is too hot, try adjusting the magnification.
Alternatively, i'd suggest you open a help thread on our forum and we can help you there.
Eduardo Serrano 12:03 AM - 1 October, 2012
Thank you Matt. I'll do that!
DJ AJ Slim 12:47 AM - 1 October, 2012
Ive done this before! but did not know i had to do it before every gig! Will definitely start doing that!
djmajestik 1:45 AM - 1 October, 2012
After setting everything by this guide the control record's speed played at 0% - and tried on several different MKII Technics decks and also on MAC & PC as well - is still fluctuating between -0.2-0.3% and +0.2-0.3%
Ever-since the 2.0 update came out (long ago)..
Why is that?
With CDJs this problem doesn't occur.

I use the latest version of serato software.
DJSyncere 12:10 PM - 1 October, 2012
Will this help the signal when there's a lot of vibration traveling through the decks from the club speakers. Or do I need a more sturdier table, better needles, better cases?
willie osberry 6:28 PM - 1 October, 2012
Do I need To Calibration The Pioneer cdj 350
ankit 10:30 PM - 9 October, 2012
Hi.. I use Internal Mode for playing my music on scratch live. mapped with a midi. Do i need to calibrate ??
Dj Khris 6:19 PM - 17 October, 2012
im guessing this will give the best results to people who use vinyl.... i never knew outside noise affected it... thanks!
deejdave 5:42 PM - 28 October, 2012
@ Eduardo the reason you are not seeing this is because the Pioneer CDJ-900's are native controllers using midi signal. You do not have to calibrate and luckily for you will have more precise control than anyone who does have to. Same goes for ankit NO you do NOT have to calibrate. Same goes for willie.............. are we catching the variable here?
Eduardo Serrano 2:11 AM - 15 November, 2012
Thank you very much deejdave
Dejaykev-n 8:47 AM - 3 September, 2013
Im a beginner so please help, i don't know why wen i calibrate the turntables (tecnichs by the way), the number always ends up at -72 so is it because there is no noise in the environment im at or im doing something wrong and the green circles do not appear i mean they do but they look really really small when im scratching some one help plz ?
dj ab guerrero 8:48 AM - 24 February, 2015
just got my rane 62 and technics 1200s.
one of the turntable sounds weird and the other one when i play the song id does not move i have them on REL mode any help?
Serato, Moderator
Samuel S 4:17 AM - 2 March, 2015
Hey dj ab guerrero,

I'd recommend getting in touch with support! is where to find help :)