Your first party with Scratch Live


Learning the ropes

When preparing for your first gig with Scratch Live, the time you spend before the gig is going to pay dividends on the night. This is especially true for those of you who have only just purchased Serato Scratch Live but are already gigging DJs with experience in clubs. You will need to be familiar with the differences of using Scratch Live and the creative opportunities that are available to maximize your first gigs potential!  

This guide assumes you have already read the manual and have a library of music in Scratch Live. If you haven't done this yet, please do so before you proceed.

A great way to get to know Scratch Live is via the tooltips; click the (?) next to the Scratch Live logo to enable tooltips then hover over parts of the interface with your mouse cursor to get info about them.

The modes

Scratch Live uses 3 distinct modes for operation which are detailed in the manual. Most people start with Absolute mode since that is closest to "normal" vinyl. If you don’t want any chance of skipping while you scratch, change into relative mode. If you need to play a track and aren’t going to control it with a turntable, use internal mode.

Cue points  

Cue points are useful tools for helping you mix faster and more creatively. Go through your tracks and place markers at key points in the track: Where you usually cue from, mix into the next tune or scratch samples etc. If you DJ with doubles sometimes (same song on both decks) the markers can really add to your routines, and keep you oriented within the track.

Setup screen

It can’t be emphasized enough how important this screen is to the health of your Scratch Live. Learn it, re-read the manual section about it, and become comfortable with what it is used for. Once you’re familiar with it, setting up Scratch Live should take about as long as swapping carts with the previous DJ (unless you have to swap in your Rane hardware).

Some points to note are:

USB audio buffer size
This is the key setting as far as performance is concerned; a smaller buffer size (slider to the left) results in tighter record control. Gradually lower the setting, while mixing (and/or scratching) until you get a "stuttery" display or you reach the lowest setting possible. This setting should be established well in advance of your gig, and if you don’t feel confident that the setting is appropriate, then increase the buffer size one or two ms to be safe.

Auto fill overviews
If you’re playing tracks which you’ve just added to your library, and don’t have overviews built, this option will build them for you with "spare" cpu cycles. This will reduce the performance of Scratch Live if your CPU is already maxed.


This tab in the setup screen is where the DJ FX, SP-6 Sample player, SL3 Aux Deck, Serato Playlists, The Bridge and Serato Video plugins live. When you first open Scratch Live these plugins will be switched off (this is to help conserve CPU). If you are wanting to use any of these plugins you will have to turn them on here.


You must calibrate whenever you set up, and regularly with a permanent installation. The scope on your setup screen is an indispensable tool for checking your turntables and needles and to troubleshoot problems, check out this page for a selection of various scope signals and their likely causes.

The threshold value is the level below which Scratch Live ignores the input, this is to prevent external noise being interpreted as part of the control signal.

Building overviews

The overview of each track is stored within the file itself and provides an overall view of the track. If you’ve got one of those songs with 2 minutes of talking before the beat drops, look at the overview while you needle drop through.

It’s a good idea to analyze and build overviews for all your files before you play with them, it’s one less thing for your computer to be doing while you’re playing to an audience.

Unplug your Rane hardware, click the analyze button, and Scratch Live will work through your library building all the overviews. For further information, please check out the Preparing and Analyzing Your Files article.

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