Review & Video: Traktor Pro 2.5 & Traktor Kontrol F1

Review Summary:

More than ever, I do imagine this new update will fire up much angst in the “anti-sync” crowd. The Remix Decks really do point to Traktor Pro 2.5 as being more “performance DAW lite” than “purist DVS”. It’s pointing to a future where DJs are performing more in samples and pieces. This is still recognisably DJ software, though. For all the intricacies of the sample decks, what you do with them is instantaneous - it’s not recorded as a set of instructions for playback later. The F1, meanwhile, can be used as your only controller for both the Track Decks and the Remix Decks, with a useful overlay for the former workflow, and there’s even a Midi mode for mapping to other software entirely. Taken together, Traktor Pro 2.5 with the Kontrol F1 represent a bold move for Native Instruments, shifting the company’s DJ solution into a new space. This is definitely something to be commended.

Traktor Pro 2.5 & Traktor Kontrol F1
  • Traktor Pro 2.5 & Traktor Kontrol F1
  • Rating: 4
  • From: Native Instruments
  • Price: $249 (Price for F1 & Traktor Pro 2.5), $89 (Software only for non-Traktor users)
  • Reviewed by:
  • On June 11, 2012
  • Last modified:August 18, 2014
Releasing a new version of Traktor alongside accompanying hardware has given NI the chance to offer a greater leap forward for DJs in one go than just a hardware or a software

Releasing a new version of Traktor alongside accompanying hardware has given NI the chance to offer a greater leap forward for DJs in one go than just a hardware or a software

Review: Traktor Pro 2.5 & Traktor Kontrol F1

With the just-released 2.5 version of its popular Traktor Pro software, Native Instruments has added something it hopes will prove to be revolutionary: “Remix Decks”. Expanding on the “Sample Decks” added last year, the Remix Decks boldly set out to popularise the use of samples in DJing.

Almost simultaneously, the company has also released the Kontrol F1 hardware, designed to offer full control over the new Remix Decks. Together, the new hardware and software bring to Traktor DJing a workflow concept which, while familiar to those who know about Serato / Ableton’s The Bridge, looks set to introduce a whole new group of DJs to advanced sample use.

For this review we’ll look at the software first (including some non-Remix Deck new features), then move on to the Kontrol F1, before summarising our feelings on where this is all going in the conclusion. For the accompanying video, we consider how you may use the unit with other NI and non-NI hardware, and what you might choose to actually do with it – ie, what types of samples and workflows you may adopt.

Because this is a big article (necessarily, there’s much to talk about), we’ve prioritised what we’ve included. If there are aspects of the hardware or software we’ve not covered in enough depth for you, please feel free to ask in the comments: We’ll do our best to clarify. Let’s go…

Part 1: Traktor Pro 2.5

The Remix Decks: Ableton “Lite”, right there in Traktor…
The Remix Decks are the talk of the town with this update, and so that’s where we’ll start. Serato might have The Bridge – a capable but complex beast linking Serato Scratch Live with Ableton Live, which requires both programs to be running simultaneously on the same laptop – but Native Instruments has grabbed the idea, simplified it and, in one obvious way, improved it.

Two remix decks Traktor Pro 2.5

Most closely resembling a typical two Track Deck plus two Sample Deck layout from previous versions of Traktor, here is the software with two Track Decks and two Remix Decks.

Native has simplified it by narrowing the scope (Traktor Pro 2.5 only really taken the clip/scene idea from Ableton, and with only four-part polyphony per Remix Deck too; 16-track multi-tracking this ain’t).

This design limitation, though, has allowed NI’s engineers to bring all the audio slots in-house (no need to run and connect up a second piece of software), and crucially, to use colours to maintain some semblance of the immediacy of DJing. Just don’t expect to be able to use Traktor as a DAW with 2.5, as that’s not what it’s been designed as. This is still, primarily, DJ software.

One area where Traktor plus Remix Decks has improved on The Bridge is in allowing the DJ to scratch a whole sample project (or “Remix Set”). This intuitive feel of “playing” sample sets as complete tracks extends to saving and loading whole “Remix Sets”, significantly tidying up the concept.

The Remix Decks themselves look at first like the typical sample decks you might know from previous 2.x versions of Traktor. However, choose “Mixer” under the layout selector and you’ll see 16 sound banks in each sample slot, making for a total of 64 samples you can load into one deck. The samples can be either loop / sample files or sound clips imported in from other tunes you have playing. The rather restrictive length limitation has been removed too, so you can load full songs if you want to.

A Native Instruments video shows one possibility for using the decks with some guitar samples, but more likely they’re going to be used for loops to construct electronic music on-the-fly, to drop extra sounds over existing tunes and layer the elements live, or even for things like name drops or sets of vocal snippets that you particularly like to incorporate in your sets.

Perhaps you might want to put together your own wild edit intro to drop at a show, or kick back and sit at home making remixes of other tunes that you can then use in your sets. With mashups and re-edits increasingly defining the sounds of DJs who – let’s face it – increasingly have access to the same raw materials, the remix decks could have arrived at the right time for DJing.

As I touched on earlier, the best part for me is that you can easily save your Remix Deck set-up the same way you’d save a song in your library, negating the need to keep setting up your samples over and over at a show. Make a personal remix or some live performance set, then save your set-up as a “tune” that you can just drag into the Remix Deck.

One remix deck Traktor Pro 2.5

As we’ll find out, the Kontrol F1 can only control one “Remix Deck” simultaneously. If that’s enough for you, you may want to set Traktor up like this (three ‘normal’ decks and one Remix Deck).

Traktor Pro 2.5 comes with 1.4GB of samples in pre-prepared Remix Deck sets to get you going, but you can also capture from the loop recorder for true on-the-fly remixing.

You’re going to have to get your head around the options available to you for handling your samples, of course – if you don’t already have a handle on quantisation, trigger types, sync, keylock and FX routing in Traktor, these are now more crucial than ever, and it’s time to start learning…

Now, the Remix Decks are meant to be used with the new Kontrol F1 hardware that’s also just released. At the moment, the Kontrol F1 is actually completely necessary for hardware control of the Remix Decks, because they can’t be officially mapped to external Midi hardware at all (although it hasn’t stopped some people from hacking it).

While there has been word from Native Instruments that there will be updates down the road that will open up mapping these features to third-party hardware, as well as an improved Controller Editor, the company has claimed it wanted to first make F1 integration perfect first.

Nonetheless, this lack of mapping ability is currently an issue for me, and I suspect for other users too, who don’t want to revert to mouse and keyboard to access these features but equally don’t want to fork out for a Kontrol F1 either. Looks like F1-less DJs will just have to take take NI’s word and be patient for a future update.

Improved BPM detection
Of the other changes, the first I’d like to talk about is the improved BPM detection algorithm. I’m particularly happy about this one. I returned to Traktor recently (pre-2.5) after years DJing with Torq, and I did wonder how much I would have to work to get my flow back on track. From day one back on Traktor I had problems with BPM detection and beatmapping, and I found myself constantly tweaking and fixing my tunes.

In 2.5, the entire system has been rewritten for improved accuracy. The programmers apparently analysed thousands of tracks from various genres to get this one right, and so far I’m a believer. The programmers even added detection for tracks with variating tempo, so Traktor will detect the average BPM over the whole track. Not quite elastic beatgridding (Serato does it well, MixVibes and of course Ableton do it best), but getting there. Some good news for fans of classic disco and funk, then.

Better browser?
It seems to me that browsers in DJ software are destined to always be “works in progress”, and to be fair Native Instruments keeps on pushing to improve – which is just as well as historically I’ve always felt this to be a weaker area of the program.

Remix Sets

Sample sets, or ‘Remix Sets’, get treated like complete tracks and thus can be saved and loaded as such. Smart.

One great thing that I already mentioned is how you can save whole Remix Deck setups as single tracks in the library, which kind of makes up for some traditional shortcomings (biggest? No editing of ID3 tags when playing from iTunes playlists.)

The programmers have also set up the browser now so it won’t “reset” back to the beginning when you restart Traktor. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a pretty basic shortcoming and it’s great to see it improved. It’s nice to be able to work on a project such as a mix or even just organising your new tunes for a gig, and not have to go digging into your browser setup to find your stuff every time you start up Traktor.

So overall for the browser? Still a work in progress, but getting there.

A few shortcomings…
As I mentioned earlier it would be good to map controllers other than the Kontrol F1 to the Remix Decks. I’ll wait in good faith for an update with a better Controller Editor.

Xtreme mapping

Currently Mac only, third-party software Xtreme Mapping brings Traktor’s dated mapping section bang up to date. Shouldn’t really be necessary in mature software like this though.

I also wish they would make mapping quicker and easier. I again bring up Torq as an example. Love or hate it, I liked that I could easily right-click on an item, move a control item, and it’s mapped. I know Traktor’s inner workings with Midi are more in-depth, but I think they could do wonders if they made some step in simpler, more easier mapping for those who just need to get things working.

The Remix Decks haven’t done anything for Traktor’s generally acknowledged busy, real-estate intensive layout. Yes, you have the choice to choose different modes to maximise space, but it’s still pretty impossible to see both a decent chunk of your library and enough controls for meaningful four-deck DJing on a typical (1280 x 800) laptop screen.

There have been rumblings about increased CPU usage and glitches, dropouts etc with this new version over its predecessor, and there’s an acknowledged lag when playing MP3s in the remix decks (I am sure the latter will be fixed soon enough).

For my own testing, though, I loaded two full-length songs into Track Decks A and B and multiple samples into each of the Remix Decks (C & D). I turned them all on, played with effects, and moved faders and knobs, and did all I could to crash or grind down the software. I’m on a Windows 7 laptop, but one that’s a bit older now, and for me, it all performed beautifully.

Finally, and this is a small one, I will add that all my settings in 2.0 were wiped when I installed 2.5. I’ll forewarn everyone to back up their settings before installing the update. Maybe my bad, but I bet I wasn’t the only one.

Part 2: The Traktor Kontrol F1

Just like when the Kontrol S4 was released with the Sample Decks and Loop Recorder, the big new feature of Traktor Pro 2.5 – the Remix Decks – really make sense when combined with their intended hardware controller, the Kontrol F1.

Traktor Kontrol F1 in a DVS set-up

The Traktor Kontrol F1 in a DVS set-up. Like the X1, it’s designed to slip unobtrusively between mixer and decks.

The hardware is a similar size and shape as the Kontrol X1, and has simply one USB socket as its sole I/O. It’s designed to sit alongside your existing set-up solely to unlock the Remix Decks (although there is an overlay and user-editable mode that turns it into a controller for “normal” or “Track” decks).

It’s all standard NI in look, feel and construction quality. Plugged in, the red two-digit LED will feel familiar, the 16 multi-colour LED pads being bright enough (with two brightness settings) to induce an immediate “wow” factor when plugged in.

The first thing to note is that one Kontrol F1 controls one Remix Deck. Let’s remember how you’ll have Traktor set up: You’ll probably be DJing with two “Track Decks” and two “Remix Decks”. Each “Remix Deck” has four slots (like the sample decks of old) corresponding to the four faders and filters at the top of the F1.

The pads, meanwhile, control the 16 individual samples in each slot. (You can scroll down through four “pages” per channel, with a deft white line that moves horizontally up or down to indicate scrolling. I liked this.)

Now, while it is easy to switch your F1 between two (or indeed four) remix decks, it is not possible to control your Remix Decks simultaneously with one unit. A bit like controlling two deck layers with one set of transport controls, you’ll have to deftly swap layers to achieve something close to this.

Four remix decks Traktor Pro 2.5

Four remix decks Traktor Pro 2.5: Add four F1s, and you’ve got in theory got 16 parts to play with simultaneously! How practical this would be in real life is something I can’t even imagine, but I’d guess: Not very.

Of course, you could just buy a second F1, and I suspect that is what power users will do. If you were a total power user, and beatgridded EDM was the name of your game, a powered USB hub with two X1s and four F1s would give you transport and sample control over four remix decks for a complete sample-based performance. The mind boggles…

More likely, though, your transport will be handled by your existing Midi controller for all your decks, Track or Remix, as befits the paradigm of the F1 unlocking the internal elements of a “Remix Deck” that is treated as a single, complete track by your main DJ controller.

As such there are no dedicated transport controls on the F1 – but it does have individual mute/stop buttons for each of the four lines, which are right at the bottom of the unit. Having said that, the aforementioned controller or “User Map” mode is accessible by a simple two-key action and does lets you control the track decks, making this mode similar to the control set you’d get on an X1.

As this switching can be done “on the fly”, I can see the F1 appealing to minimalists or indeed to digital vinyl users, for roughly the same reason: one single slimline unit could control all of your Remix Decks as well as offer rudimentary transport controls.

Maybe NI was right to not open mapping up just yet…
Once you dig deeper into the features, you can sympathise with NI’s assertion that the hardware/software mapping of the F1 is too intricate to open up to everyone via the mapping configuration panel quite yet. For instance, you can map individual samples to colours on the F1, and these colours are reflected in the sample slots on screen. (Having colour sets for percussion, vocal, bass and stabs, for instance, would help you to keep everything visually organised.) You can also adjust individual sample pitch (speed), key, volumes (absolute and relative), quantising, type (one-shot, loop, single play) and a handful of other characteristics.

I guess NI decided that opening the ability to program all of this up to the masses was a step too far at launch, and even if you don’t agree, you can sympathise with such a position, especially when you consider the improvements needs in Traktor mapping in general.

Conclusion

More than ever, I do imagine this new update will fire up much angst in the “anti-sync” crowd. The Remix Decks really do point to Traktor Pro 2.5 as being more “performance DAW lite” than “purist DVS”. It’s pointing to a future where DJs are performing more in samples and pieces, using Traktor more in the way we see performers using Ableton Live.

Traktor Kontrol F1 faders & filters

Traktor Kontrol F1 faders & filters: It’s designed for performance above all else, allowing Traktor users to use the software more in the way we see performers using Ableton Live.

Despite the beguiling colour coding and simplified workflow of the Remix Decks (at least, compared to Serato/Ableton Live’s The Bridge), using them is still going to require dedication from the DJ – constructing a useful Remix Set of your own is going to take time and effort. And what’s more, I feel that using favourite samples prepared beforehand in this way is itself probably going to prove easier than trying to remix on the fly – you’d be a braver man than me to try that in a live situation without a lot of practice.

This is still recognisably DJ software, though. For all the intricacies of the sample decks, what you do with them is instantaneous – it’s not recorded as a set of instructions for playback later, so there will be no going to a “sample performance editor” to perfect your amazing live performance for release or use down the line. (You could record your output, but that’d be just a single stereo recording, of course). What you do with these decks is played and “gone forever”. It’s a performance. It’s DJing.

I like how Traktor remains versatile. It can be used with two turntables and a mixer, or with one or several Midi controllers, or even just alone on a laptop. Two decks, four decks, Remix Decks – it’s all open to each and every DJ to make it their own. Having said that, Traktor has always appealed primarily to electronic music fans, and I can’t see either 2.5 or the F1 shifting that bias. This stuff makes most sense for loop-based, fixed tempo music. Electronic fare.

The F1, meanwhile, can be used as your only controller for both the Track Decks and the Remix Decks, with a useful overlay for the former workflow, and there’s even a Midi mode for mapping to other software entirely. Just like the X1 took on a life of its own after launch, with DJs putting it to all kinds of uses that nobody could have envisaged, I suspect the F1 will again grow into itself, with certain workflows becoming dominant and other ideas maybe ending up being non-starters. The beauty for NI is that it can now build on the platform with software and even firmware upgrades to suit how people end up using it.

As a product bridge between between NI’s own Maschine and the world of Traktor, Traktor Pro 2.5 and the Kontrol F1 fits the bill nicely. Let’s be honest, many DJs use Maschine as a glorified sample trigger device. This is going to appeal squarely to such people.

Taken together, Traktor Pro 2.5 with the Kontrol F1 represent a bold move for Native Instruments, shifting the company’s DJ solution into a new space. This is definitely something to be commended.

How much DJs choose to take the whole new set of possibilities offered to them to their hearts, and where they decide to run with it, are two things that remain to be seen. How DJs might slot the F1 into their set-ups, and what they might use them for, are what we discuss in the accompanying video.

Product Summary

Review Summary:

More than ever, I do imagine this new update will fire up much angst in the “anti-sync” crowd. The Remix Decks really do point to Traktor Pro 2.5 as being more “performance DAW lite” than “purist DVS”. It’s pointing to a future where DJs are performing more in samples and pieces. This is still recognisably DJ software, though. For all the intricacies of the sample decks, what you do with them is instantaneous - it’s not recorded as a set of instructions for playback later. The F1, meanwhile, can be used as your only controller for both the Track Decks and the Remix Decks, with a useful overlay for the former workflow, and there’s even a Midi mode for mapping to other software entirely. Taken together, Traktor Pro 2.5 with the Kontrol F1 represent a bold move for Native Instruments, shifting the company’s DJ solution into a new space. This is definitely something to be commended.

Traktor Pro 2.5 & Traktor Kontrol F1
  • Traktor Pro 2.5 & Traktor Kontrol F1
  • Rating: 4
  • From: Native Instruments
  • Price: $249 (Price for F1 & Traktor Pro 2.5), $89 (Software only for non-Traktor users)
  • Reviewed by:
  • On June 11, 2012
  • Last modified:August 18, 2014

Video Review

Instead of a demo of the F1 (regular readers will know we don’t generally demo gear; take your pick from the dozens of Traktor Kontrol F1 demos that are already on YouTube), or a feature talk-through (more our style, but we can’t better the excellent DubSpot Traktor Kontrol F1 talkthrough by Endo), we instead have chosen to use our video to talk about how you might practically include an F1 in your set-up with.

If you’re not sure how an F1 might fit into your set-up, or what you’d do with it, this may help you:

Brave new direction, or just doesn’t appeal to you? Are you going to be happy buying the hardware to unlock the software, or would you prefer to have the choice to use other hardware? If you’ve already upgraded, how does it perform on your system? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Comments

  1. Here you can find some Infos about mapping the Remix Decks to the Lemur App on the iPad!

    http://www.traktorbible.com/articles/remix-with-the-lemur.aspx
    http://www.traktorbible.com/articles/mapping-the-remix-decks.aspx

    • I am currently working on the next version of the Lemur template for the remix decks. The version I have now can also capture loops from any track deck to any cell of a remix deck.
      And setting the quant value is working now.

      It is not reliable enough yet to make it available, but I see a good chance that I will manage to get it done.

      Then basically almost all remix decks features are available without the F1.

      And for the Xone:K2 a solution is in the make as well.
      If I got that working, the concept and tools I am programming can be used with any other MIDI controller.

      Rainer

  2. Just as update: it seems some guys over at DJTT hacked Traktor 2.5 Remix Decks to work with other controllers… especially the midi fighter 3d and there are supposed to be maps and instructions there.

    On the “real estate” issue…. I run Traktor on a dedicated Sony laptop with a 1920 resolution and have to say I would be lost on a smaller screen resolution

    • I agree, 1920 is a good base resolution.

      • Definately have to agree with the screen res.

        I used to use a lappy at 768 height and it was really cramped with my style of 4 full decks.

        Now that i have one at 1080 its way way way better…i can still see my tracklist and all 4 decks

  3. Kaan Baki says:

    My brother is planning to buy the F1 because he’d like to play along with me as I’m djing. He tried already playing drum while I was djing and I let him do solo’s between songs i had difficulties to mix, but it just didn’t feel right (especially with the volume of the drum and the speakers). So we wanted to go digital with it too. Do you think the f1 will fulfill our needs?

    • It would be interesting if you apply some tight quantisation, especially if you’re having timing problems together, because it might just “tighten things up” while at least leaving some of the expression intact. Definitely worth exploring.

  4. Martin D says:

    New beatgridding is just as cack as it was before. It still can’t properly grid all my early 90’s rave that is ripped from vinyl.

    • I will toss in that Torq didn’t do a good job beatgridding my 90s rave either.

      Most of the problem was poor production standards. They didn’t have DAWs to make it all solid and perfect. Plus many guys didn’t even stick to good musical time.

      When I made “Remembering the Rave (Part 1)” I had to do a lot of studio trickery to use sync with items, and even then go manual and ride the pitch with some.

  5. I’m running Traktor 2.5, a Mixtrack and an iPad, with two remix decks custom mapped to TouchOSC. I have to say its the most fun I’ve had DJing in a long time. I agree with this article about the browser though, it feels abit sluggish pulling samples out and loading them into the slots.

    • Dan, I would really like totally with you about your TouchOSC mappings. I’ve been wanting to do that for a while and just need some guidance on it. I’m somewhat torn about getting an F1 bc I feel I’d have to purchase 2 in order to get what I want out of them, but I think TouchOSC (or Lemur, though I have no experience with it) could fulfill the task if set up and mapped properly.

      So when you have the time, please send me a message so I can get my “Frankenstein” on.

  6. I have had the F1 since launch, it’s already hard to think of going back to the time before having it.

    I have noticed some general wonkiness when the software is in BEAT SYNC, but as long as the remix decks are in QUANTIZE everything should launch well. With the F1 I grab sections of songs live, implement them with my extra elements, bounce back and forth between the track and bang!! remix but not a distracting remix that stops the floor. The added elements to the songs, the crazy transitions that can occur, and how well the controller works with the software, I give the F1/Pro 2.5 package an 8 of 10. It’s next-level, somewhat there, but N.I. didn’t TOTALLY kill it.

    And the Anti-Sync crowd……yada, freaking, yada, Phil is just trying to stir the pot…..DJ’s that freak over sync need to get over themselves. I have beat matched manually since ’95, and you know what??? I am DONE, I have more things to think about as a next-gen dj (some people call me a button pusher, which is true, I use about 180 of em). It’s like having an automatic garage door opener installed in your house, but getting out and manually opening your door every day. When I DO need to manually beat mix, I still CAN. But whats the point anymore? Is that the last skill that us oldskools have to cling on to that seperates us from the guys that came in with the sync button already on? I think superior song selection and presentation is critical to the viewer, the audience, and the guys that book the venue.

    • No…you can blame me on that one. I wrote the commentary on how I can see this new thinking in remix decks and such as probably going to anger the anti-sync crowd. I wouldn’t be surprised if some will then speak of how Serato Scratch Live is “keepin it real” and the thing “real DJs” should use…yadda yadda yadda.

      I agree with you btw…as I imagine Phil would. The point to these comments and the way I worded things on Traktor Pro 2.5 is to pretty much send out the testament that DJing is evolving way beyond the old thinking. Either evolve with it or get lost in the past.

      • +1

        All with you on that! I think DJ’ing is going from “playing music” to performing! In my opinion (I produce) this is the future and I love it…. being able o use Traktor to make tracks in a set is amazing and gives us so many more options. I am working on using my tracks as samples and that way no set will ever be the same… its a performance.. there and then and that makes this so exciting… and can still ole skool DJ…. best of all worlds!

    • I completely agree… This new F1 makes me really excited, because I love the idea that DJ’ing is moving towards being a performer and not just a human jukebox. I have all respect to the old school and their perfection of keeping things beat matched whilst doing some pretty amazing stuff on just a CDJ and mixer (E.G: The DJ “Laid Back Luke,” go check out the amazing skills he has) however, the future of DJ’ing lies within the hands of the new crowd, who are experimenting with these types of new gadgets. I say there is no more time for focusing on beat matching primarily, it is time to hand that over to the computer, and this free’s you up to get down and dirty with all the creative tools now available.

      The old school is “hating” because they can see the power slipping through their fingers to the new gen.

      I am sick to death of seeing DJ’s like David Guetta, coming up on stage and pushing play on a pre-recorded set and jumping around the stage like Tom Cruise on Oprah’s interview couch. It’s time to use the new DJ gear as an instrument.

      • With DJs thinking thisway, we’ve got a very exciting future. Well spoken.

      • There are so many new ideas out there i.e. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0v7mTvJ8M4 Beatjazz and Audiocubes and new ways to use tablets and smartphones. I am ole skool… well was… and am just enjoying how much more creative and expressive I can be with the new “toys”.
        And honestly… scratch DJ’s have always used their turntables as instruments so this is not really that new… we just have a whole shipload of new stuff to work with.

  7. Phil,

    Good review and excellent video. I am thinking about getting an F1 and I like the idea of dropping samples in a compatible key.

    Forgive my lack of musical knowledge but how do you know what key you are currently playing in, does Traktor tell you this anywhere? I think if you play something that is in Am when pitched at 0, but then speed it up to if you to say +2 the key changes. At the moment I just use my ears when cueing to tell if something sounds right, but if I want to be samples in a compatible key I won’t know where to start.

    Apologies if this has been covered before.

    Ross

    • Never a problem to ask questions round here, Ross. Software has “keylock” which will lock the key where it is, meaning adjusting speed won’t adjust key. It saves you having to work it our manually (+/-6% is 1 semitone), although at the expense of sound quality (The further you move away from 0, the harder the keylock algorithm has to work, and so the higher the potential for reduction in sound quality).

  8. Hi, i have a question. I use a denon dj mc 3000, can i plug this F1 into my mixer or do i need a sound card?
    Thanks as always, Gustavo

  9. Im playing with this on a Eee PC amd e-350 1,6ghz cpu 4gb ram win7 and a 12.1″ screen with low res. But its no problem running the software at all. Even on battery only it works without crash or stutter. I havent tried before 2.5 so i dont know how it would work before update but i can say that it just works great on a lowpowered machine.

    Synchronising two songs is no problem, it just works great. Loops, effects, samples it all just works.

    • That’s good to know. It shows that CPU issues are patchy and that there may be other things other than straight PC power causing glitches for some people.

  10. reason808 says:

    I think elastic beatgridding would really make all these new features shine. I want to loop old soul records, hip-hop and disco. I think live remixes are most exciting when it’s an old song over a new beat.

    However I’m discovering (sadly) that most music before 2000 doesn’t have reliable beat grids. So I think four loops would get pretty chaotic quickly. Seems like I’d have a lot of grid prep work to avoid chaos That takes the ‘on the fly’ fun aspect out of it for me.

    I’m more of a “let the song play” DJ. I also have music production knowledge, so if I’m gonna spend time remixing, I’d rather do that full-on in Ableton/proTools. But if I could easily create seamless loops of old-school tracks within a DJ program, I’d go nuts! Doesn’t seem like Traktor is quite there yet.

    • “But if I could easily create seamless loops of old-school tracks within a DJ program, I’d go nuts!” – This is actually one of my biggest ideas too, I’d love to play an old school set with a few hundred of the biggest beats, bleeps and basslines from 87-93 all chopped up and ready to go…

      • Gotta agree with you +100 on that,I only play 87-92 stuff anyway,although i have found that the beatgridding in traktor up till now has been the main drawback for me.
        I like everything really tight & i just cannot face putting 8000+ tracks through ableton to warp then grid.
        Up to now i have been using tempo sync & manually adjusting pitch,but i think i am really gonna have to get over my ‘beatgridaphobia’ and get my grids supertight if i wanna take advantage of the remix decks potential.
        For the record i am propper old skool all the way,i started helping a wedding dj in 85,carrying the gear,slowly buying my own stuff,learnt to beatmatch,saved & got a set of technics,the rest is history.
        But i am not so blind that i cannot see that technology moves on & you gotta move with it or die.I have not been so excited about music & mixing for a long time,the creative possibilities are endless,further blurring the line between dj/producer/performer.I suppose how much or how little you use it is up to you..=)

  11. I’m having real issues with the variable beatgridding with this new version. Tracks which I had gridded manually (and checked with a metronome) with the old version are completely out of time with tracks gridded with the new despite being the same tempo. When I manually beatmatch to get it spot on I notice that the phase meter is always out. To double check I had an identical track mapped with both the old & new version and synced both to play it was noticeably off. Is anyone else having issues with the beatgridding ? I hate to prospect of having to go and map my entire library again.

    • I put in bpm values manually and then it didnt work. So i had to analyze the track again and then it worked. Unfortunatelly this takes time. Took me some time to understand why it didnt match all of the sudden when it worked so good before.

  12. I can’t wait to get my hand on this a little later in the year once they work out all the little kinks in the software with 2.5.

    i do have a question though. the NI website says that the F1 can switch into midi mode while traktor is running. does this mean that if i map it in midi mode to control for deck d and/or some other functions, i can switch between controlling the remix deck with the F1 and using midi mode to control other functions that i map? if yes then will be seamless should i expect the program to freeze up or anything?

  13. Guillaume says:

    Hi everyone,
    For the moment I use traktor 2.5 with an external soundcard and a controller (M-Audio x-session Pro). I plan to buy a portable 4 decks controller including a soundcard for a good quality/price.
    I was thinking about the Kontrol F1 because of its unique avbility to fully control the remix decks.
    However, I see a major advantage with the Xone K2 from Allen & Heath : it has 3 knobs for each deck to control the low/medium/high knobs and a possibility to “kill” each if needed. It might sound anecdotical. It isn’t for me. So the remaining problem is….the Xone K2 can not be mapped with traktor 2.5 with full control of the remix decks.
    Or can it ? I am not a programming expert remember !
    Any comment, advice, solution ?
    Thanks
    Guillaume

    • Hi Guillaume,

      At the moment the remix decks are NOT fully (officially) mappable. You can only map 4 sample slots, which basically give you the same functionality that was there prior to the 2.5 version.

      You could map all the other functions of traktor on the K2 but since you are already planning on buying a portable controllable im not sure why you would need that.

      as phil said in the article NI will probably open up the remix decks to be mapped with other hardware at some point. but for now the remix decks can only be used to their full potential with the F1.

      that being said a few online communities have managed to map certain pieces of hardware to the remix decks. now im not sure if i would move to those instead of the F1 just yet only because the F1 is “official” but im sure there are brave souls out there who are jumping at the alternatives already!

    • The k2 cant be fully mapped (at least not yet). The f1 is using hid not midi. Ud be limited to using the top 4 samples with k2.

      There are some custom firmwares being developed by ppl to hack around this but i dont suspect it will be easy. Djtt and traktorbible have articles about doing it with a midifighter and lemur ipad.

      The other thing is that i dont think each sample slot has individual eq controls (i could be wrong). Just the deck level eq as usual.

  14. Hey Guys,

    I’m probably being silly here but I have a complete mind blank and can’t work it out.

    With my current setup I use external mixer mode. This mixer is only a 2 channel mixer (DJM-400). Therefore will I be able to implement the remix decks in to my setup to use deck C because as far as I can work out it won’t be possible unless I buy a four channel mixer.

    Thanks

  15. Nice vid phil.. Solid ideas about how to use this thing in diff ways

  16. “two X1s and four F1s would give you transport and sample control over four remix decks for a complete sample-based performance. The mind boggles…” Lol

  17. Master Sync – when djing I play a varied electronic set and use the sample decks to hit one shots to mix things up a bit. Since upgraded to V2.5 I have noticed that the sync controls seem to gone a bit crazy. I was playing house and triggered some samples and then went to play DnB and the track deck was locked at 128 bpm, in the end I turned the remix deck to a track deck and I could alter the bpm. What am I doing wrong?

    I have been thinking about it all day and I am going to buy the F1 and spend a month playing with it at home before using it out. The temptation to mash the buttons may get too much for me..

  18. Master Sync – when djing I play a varied electronic set and use the sample decks to hit one shots to mix things up a bit. Since upgraded to V2.5 I have noticed that the sync controls seem to gone a bit crazy. I was playing house and triggered some samples and then went to play DnB and the track deck was locked at 128 bpm, in the end I turned the remix deck to a track deck and I could alter the bpm. What am I doing wrong?

    I have been thinking about it all day and I am going to buy the F1 and spend a month playing with it at home before using it out. The temptation to mash the buttons may get too much for me…

  19. Master Sync – when djing I play a varied electronic set and use the sample decks to hit one shots to mix things up a bit. Since upgraded to V2.5 I have noticed that the sync controls seem to gone a bit crazy. I was playing house and triggered some samples and then went to play DnB and the track deck was locked at 128 bpm, in the end I turned the remix deck to a track deck and I could alter the bpm. What am I doing wrong?

    • Are you set to a MASTER SYNC or is Traktor set to AUTO which will allow the master to chase to the next playing deck?

      If you are chasing, you may need to just un-sync, re-sync. This should lock the deck in at the new bpm. When I go for a tempo change I usually will
      1. unsync the track that starts the tempo change.
      2. Once I am on the deck with the new tempo, disengage all sync’d decks and set the deck with the new tempo as MASTER.
      3. Lock in sync on the decks again.

      • ive noticed that if you have manally put in BPM it doesnt work if you dont analyze the track again. Dont know if that is the case here but that solved it for me.

      • Thanks for that tip D.N.A, the un-sync / re-sync worked, although I don’t get why when the old version worked so well, we have to go through all that just to get a sample / loop to sync in time.

  20. Has anyone else noticed a mild resistance in the faders of the F1? I picked mine up at launch and have been having a great time with it, but the faders have a mild “grit” to them which has made me suspicious that perhaps I should return it. Has anyone else had this issue?

  21. I am using the 2.5 with my denon mc6000 with some personalized mapping and OMW it rocks Im loving it, thinking bout adding the F1 to the mix for some more flexibility but really happy NI finally expanded on the need for more sample slots and decks.
    And guys ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS have a backup of mapping and settings pref to backups on 2 sep machines, I learnt this the hard way years ago lol.
    Once again thanks Phil for all the hard work an effort you put into bringing us all the up to date news.

  22. Hi I have a question. I have an Audio 8 dj card and a Behringer VMX200 mixer. I got a F1 for a present.

    I have problems with channels. In Traktor 2.5 the only solution i can find is to swap channels A to C or B to D. I cant use all 4 at the same time. Do i need 2 change my old VMX mixer?

  23. hand of god says:

    I’m very interested on getting my hands on an F1. Will I be able to use it along side my Hercules RMX controller?, and I’m currently useing vertual dj , can I mapp my controller RMX to Traktor 2.5?

    • Yes to both.

      • hand of god says:

        Thank u phil ,u the man!!!! I bought your” learn to” videos n they r very helpfull. As a new dj I’m finding that all what’s out there to learn is sometimes overwelming, but you are makein it a hell of a lot easier 4 me , so I wanna thank you 4 that.
        Till my next question,
        Dj hand of god

  24. Hy !

    I realy like and use traktor mapping mode !
    It is more complex, but also I can do complex mappings.

    This is what I think about this and I disagree beside your opinion.
    Otherwise goog review !
    Cheers !

  25. I have been salivating at the thought of getting 2 of these to go with my S4 since i 1st saw it. Now I’m new to DJ’ing…..but I love everything about the creativeness of this art…..and this piece of hardware is amazing. I ESPECIALLY love Phil’s idea about taking bits of favorite parts of diff records and putting them on the buttons in diff musical keys! That’s exactly along the lines of what I was thinking when I saw it. Even though I’m fairly new to DJ’ing I’ve used the remix decks a lot in diff creative ways…..did a remix of a track called “in the air”, which I’ve posted in the “mixes” forum, that I’m especially fond of. Can’t wait to get my hands on this. My S4 allows me to do a lot with just full control over 4 samples, as I experienced with my “in the air” remix…..but using the F1 opens up a new UNIVERSE of possibilities. I think some artists have already released some “stems” sets of their records……I hope this catches on! So many vocals, beats, and rhythms I want to have completely divided from the track they’re part of! I’m already there man….I want one

  26. Hey Phil,

    Great review, glad you addressed the possible usages of the kit as opposed to just repeating product specs and mappings. I am actually quite intrigued by your proposition at the end of the video regarding creating sets for each key of favourite bits and breaks and vocals. I wondered if you had pursued this approach and what your thoughts were?

    • A few DJs I know have, they say basically it’s great as long as you’re aware there’s a max length for samples, so you can’t use whole songs.

  27. stryker242 says:

    I have a traktor kontrol s2. How do I connect the F1 to the s2?

  28. Brett Pyers says:

    Do i need more than a 2 channel sound interface to add the F1 to my setup if id be using decks 3 and 4 for the remix decks?

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