beaTunes News

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

BPM: How Accurate is Accurate Enough?

TL;DR: Please participate in the poll!

One of the most popular features of beaTunes is the tempo estimator. That's the ability to analyze a track and show the track's tempo in beats per minute (BPM). Interestingly, it's not well understood how accurate this estimate has to be to be useful. A major issue here is that tempo estimates are used for all kinds of applications:

  • Beatmatching (electronic or vinyl)
  • Hobbyist playlist building
  • Running (usually constant tempo)
  • Indoor spinning classes (often dynamic, i.e. tracks with differing tempi)
  • General workout
  • Next track recommendation
  • Ballroom dancing
  • Browsing
  • Etc.

While some of these applications require just a general ballpark accuracy, say within 10%, others rely on more accurate estimates. So the answer to "Is it useful?" is a clear "It depends!". To give an example, DJ turntables often allow changing the pitch in a range from -8% to +8% (simply by spinning the vinyl faster or slower). Clearly an accuracy of less then 8% is not very useful, when you are DJing with turntables. But since you cannot tell your turntable to play a track at 125.123 BPM, an accuracy value with decimal places is not required either. All you need, is to quickly find a track that is similar in tempo to the one you are already playing, to match their beats manually. And you do that by using your ears and the pitch shift knob, not a high accuracy tempo number.

So what about you? What kind of accuracy do you need?

Please take part in our Twitter poll and feel free to comment below.




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