Revealed: NI’s New Traktor Scratch Certified Mixer & DJ Controller

Traktor Kontrol

The new Traktor mixer from Native Instruments marks a new turn in Traktor hardware, and from what we can glean from today's teaser video, will provide competition to mixers from Pioneer, Rane and Allen & Heath for Traktor DJs.

Native Instruments is to launch its first DJ mixer, the Kontrol Z2. It will be both a Traktor Scratch certified mixer, and a Midi controller for the company's own Traktor software. As such it will be a rival to Pioneer's Traktor-certified mixers (especially the DJM-T1 and the DJM-900), and Rane's Serato Scratch Live mixers, the Sixty-One and Sixty-Two.

There was a teaser photo on Facebook yesterday, followed by a video today that all but gives the game away. We could be wrong about any of this, of course, so please watch the video (see the official video here), view our sequence of enhanced screen shots (in our photo gallery on Facebook) and share anything that corrects or adds to what we've worked out.

Just want to know the juicy details? then read on:

Main features of the mixer

Traktor mixer surface

The control surface of the Traktor Kontrol mixer, showing filters, effects, hot cues, four VU meters and a track browser among other clues as to its final spec (click to enlarge).

  1. Two-channel Traktor Scratch certified battle-style mixer - The unit is full-sized (you can see a Traktor Kontrol F1 elevated to be flush with it in the video), and thus let's guess its going to be metal (I've never seen a plastic full-sized mixer). Presumably it will be built to the same high standards as the rival units it thus completes with, namely the aforementioned Pioneer and Rane models. Of course it will need to have a built-in audio interface
  2. Two extra channels for Traktor - From the video there appear to be only two line/phono inputs on the back of the mixer, but there are clearly four VU meters (marked A,B,C and D - the latter two doubling up as masters). The video also shows two control decks (a Pioneer CDJ and a Technics) plus an F1, which is therefore controlling at least one of decks C & D. It is not clear whether these are integrated in to the mix via a soft-takeover style using the same two channel faders with layer buttons (there do seem to be layer buttons), or via some other method, such as dedicated rotaries. What it dos mean is that the audio interface will be at least eight-in
  3. A USB hub for integrating all your Traktor gear into one USB cable to your computer - The word "USB hub" is clearly visible on the back of the computer in one of the shots from the video
  4. Midi control over loops - There is two-digit LED feedback, similar to the S4. This is almost certainly feedback for the mixer's control over Traktor's software loops - indeed, the loop encoder is shown in use in the video
  5. Midi control over Traktor's effects engines - There are effects, but whether they're on-board (like the Pioneer DJM-900, for instance), or whether the unit simply offers Midi control over Traktor's effects, is unclear to our eyes
  6. Hot cues for each channel… but do these buttons do more? - There are four buttons down the left and right of each channel, similar to those on the Rane Sixty-Two or indeed on the Kontrol F1. These are sensibly going to be hot cues (I'm pretty sure they're being used as such in the video) but could also be sample trigger buttons and maybe even assignable as transport controls too. The fact that they are multi-colour suggest multi-use and some sample deck involvement, and the fact that there's a big "shift" button suggests comprehensive Midi control will be mapped across not just these but the majority of the mixer's knobs, buttons and faders
  7. Separate filters - There are clearly five rotaries above each line fader. Taking gain, hi, mid and lo out of the equation that leaves one, and taking into account that the lowest rotary is a little bigger than the rest (plus you can see an "F" under the knob in one of the shots from the video), we're outing this as a channel filter. But will they be hardware filters like the Vestax VCI-400, and thus usable with any inputs, or just software filters?
  8. Traktor library browser - There's a mid-central lone knob with a couple of buttons beneath it that are labelled with a single character; likely "1" & "2" or "A" and "B". We reckon this is a library browser for navigating and loading tracks in Traktor

Who's it for?

It looks like this is a mixer designed to cover bases with a number of types of user:

Traktor mixer with Technics 1210

The mixer alongside a Technics turntable: This is a mixer that digital turntablists have longed for for quite a while. (Click to enlarge.)

  1. Scratch DJs - People have screamed for a Traktor-branded scratch mixer for eons, and this is it. Two channel, a simple layout, on-board Traktor Scratch sound card, and presumably faders that are both replaceable and high quality, it is clearly designed to challenge similar mixers from the likes or Rane and Pioneer
  2. Controllerists - With a combination of F1s and X1s added, while bypassing any decks, controllerists could set up a powerful, modular Traktor system based around this mixer. With lots of assignable buttons available, they could map and configure their own unique workflow in a way not possible with even the most flexible all-in-one DJ controllers. The USB hub means all this lot could be set up elegantly, and presumably even things like Maschine could be integrated
  3. Club DJs - Clubs could install this mixer along with a pair of CDJs, allowing "normal" DJing with the CDJs, but also allowing Traktor DJs to plug in and then commission the CDJs as controller with two-way HID integration. However, wouldn't it have been better to have the USB on the top, Pioneer style, for easy access? And in this user scenario, we'd want to see filters in the hardware if nothing else, as a straight mixer with no filters or FX in a club would be considered underpowered, especially against something relatively affordable such as the Pioneer DJM-850 (which also works as a Traktor sound card). We didn't spot any microphone inputs either, but surely they'll be there…

Conclusion

While this is quite a move for Native Instruments, away from small(ish), plastic, portable controllers into heavy, full-sized gear, it is a logical one, especially as the company clearly wishes to push Traktor Scratch as a viable alternative the Serato Scratch Live. But past that, it seems that in this product, Native Instruments has aimed to produce the perfect mixer for Traktor, that is also pretty good for use with other software or even just standalone.

Exactly how well the company has done this and how much success the mixer will bring them will depend upon how much of the goodness is simply Midi control over Traktor and how much is on-board - and of course what price it comes in at. My guess would be between $999 and $1299.

What do you think? Good move by Native Instruments? What features do you think have been included and left out? What would you like to see included on the mixer? Can Native move into mixer territory and rival Pioneer, Rane, Allen& Heath and the like? And did you spot anything in the video we didn't? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

• View our Facebook photo album of stills from the video

Comments

  1. Interesting move by NI, but can’t say I’m surprised. I don’t think it offers me anything as I am an internal mixer / controller user. Plus I am mobile so I won’t be lugging around a full size heavy mixer like this. Looks cool though.

    • Actually now I think about it a little more, I wish NI would just focus on making the remix decks usable in other midi controllers rather than releasing another mixer. The world is full of mixers already. Remix decks are unique but no one wants to get locked into NI’s platform.

      • Good point, but here I think they’re looking at getting some of Traktor’s features into mixers a DJ might find installed already in a club or venue. Plugging in to a mixer/CDJs and being able to DJ direct from Traktor will appeal to a lot of people.

    • seb rattansen says:

      I’m not sure why a club would choose this over the stock pioneer dim units…

  2. There seem to be at least two new effects, Bass-o-Matic and LaserSlicer which both have a little “M” in front of the name. Maybe this means that they actually work inside the mixer?

    • Michael Lawrence says:

      I noticed the new effects as well. I would assume these would be made available to regualar traktor users as well. Possibly a new update? but it is pretty soon…howeve rmaybe they might pair some new effects with the capability to map the remix decks to any controller?

    • Good spot – I wonder if these “switch on” in Traktor when it detects the mixer plugged in, or if they will indeed be available to all. And what are they anyway?

  3. SO. MUCH. WANT.

  4. Rob,

    Exactly what I was thinking. This is mainly a purchase for those that own CDJ’s or Vinyl and want to integrate Traktor into there setup.

    Looks amazing, but not for me. I want a new and improved controller.

    • Foldabledisco says:

      I also want a new controller with better faders, I trashed two S4’s in a year. Native has given me replacements but still…

      Thinking to go modular, then this could be a good investment.

  5. DJ Smasherelly says:

    Looks very interesting. I’ve held on to my Rane TTM56 for quite a few years now & it’s been around the world with me when I’ve toured with artists when I was using Serato. I’ve been using Traktor for a while now and had always wanted a mixer to compliment Scratch Pro. I was tempted by the Pioneer DJM T1 and also the Vestax PMC 05 Pro 4, but just held back. When the news of using the Pioneer DJM900 came I was excited by that and have used that in clubs since the summer.

    I look forward to hearing more about this mixer though, as I’d either buy this for home and touring use or get the DJM900 as thats what I’m seeing in the clubs and would make sense to practice on.

    Good move by NI though

    • I would guess the DJM900 is one of the mixer NI had in its sights when it designed this one.

      • I can’t imagine that being the case at all. The DJM-T1 for sure (as well as the TTM-56 and SixtyOne/SixtyTwo) but I can’t see anyone seriously in the market for a 4 channel Pioneer club mixer with built hardware EFX and filters buying one of these instead.

        • Yes, I take your point. I would imagine it’s only a matter of time before the four-channel version appears though, then things may get interesting. I agree that it seems this is more DJM-T1 territory, although it looks like it does a lot more than the DJM-T1. Maybe half-way between the two.

  6. The product itself looks to be of the high standard that Native are known for so all is looking promising. The incorporated functionality with Traktor will make this very appealing to people looking for an easy, all-in-one solution for use with their CDJ’s or Turntables. If I wasn’t such a Allen & Heath fan I would probably get one of these.

    I think that if they get the price right (sub £800) I think they could be on to a winner. The biggest problem at the moment is that too many companies are releasing equipment at such a high price point, the everyday working man struggles to purchase the product and resorts to either pirating the software or going to finance companies to get the funds.

    Native have got it right with the pricing of their scratch software packages, lets hope they do the same here.

  7. I’ve been more interested in this new kit announcement than the iPhone 5!

    Well done NI, this unit fills a big gap. I’ve always found the S4 too wide for scratchy DVS sessions, So pleased I didn’t drop dollar for the DJM-T1, it was always overpriced.

    +1 for modular possibilities and integrated hub and the vid suggests a new set of effects coming. Sweet.

  8. After reviewing the video and few times and looking at everyones screen shots, I’m glad NI is finally making a product like this. The USB hub is something I have been waiting to see in controllers, its a pain using external hubs and carrying extra cables. The only Im really disappointed with, is that made it a 2-channel mixer, I see they have some sort of soft-take over or knobs for the C&D, but I prefer some dedicated control for each channel. I’m sure that something, none laptop djs would prefer, especially if you’re trying to convert them over to traktor.

  9. Anyone notice that there doesn’t appear to be a laptop in his setup? They flash screen caps of a traktor deck with waveforms here and there, as usual on an NI video, but I’m trying to figure out how this is working. Perhaps he’s just running via the CDJ-2000 directly but I can’t see how you’d work with the timecode vinyl on his right side.

    A thing to think about also is going to be sound quality. Anyone notice how quiet and dull the output of their S2 is? (Most of you will say no since you rave about the SQ, hehe!) When I used to use one, I always outputted it into a Mackie 402-VLZ3 mixer before going out to the house system to get cleaner, louder output. I wonder if the same issue may persist here.

    A very mysterious product indeed. As always, thanks for bringing us this new product info so quickly, Phil!

  10. USB hub, thank god they listened.

  11. Aaaaayeaah! Exactly what i’m looking for, and that is connecting connecting turntables to traktor in a cool way and scratch some tunes

  12. Ryan Dejaegher says:

    USB hub is dope. However I think based on the price of the DJM T1 and S4 there’s no way this thing will be over $1000. I don’t know if anyone else noticed but something thats missing is the on buttons for the chained fx on the mixer (think of the X1). The mixer appears to only have one on button for Fx. This is also crazy speculation but the M could stand for Master, meaning it could be post fader (if that was the case i’d sell my DJM T1 in a heartbeat)

    Ryan

  13. Pedro Pulido says:

    I Agree with Phill, this is a product directed much more to clubs than the regular consumer. I don’t think there will be a lot of market for the bedroom or wedding DJ’s… but for clubs and bars, this seems like a nice alternative. Show up with your laptop, connect and away you go. Anyway, considering the financial capabilities of a club, it is hard to believe that they’ll pick this over an 800 or 900 pioneer mixer.
    A small minority of controllerists and scratch DJ is the most accurate target for such product.
    I Hope the future brings us a Traktor software for IOS and ANDROID portable systems and a better integration with hardware… unfortunatly that means the ipad and his brothers need to grow up a bit first.

    • Ryan Dejaegher says:

      If this is meant for club DJ’s then it would need to be an analog mixer capable of having regular CDJ’s or Serato users be able to hook up to it. Obviously the idea is that Traktor users would benefit the most from the plug and play setup.

      • Pedro Pulido says:

        If this is a “mixer” and not a controller, there is no reason for it not to have analog connections. my guess is, this is a hybrid, works as a traktor certified and as a regular mixer. we’ll just have to wait and see, but it doesn’t make any sense if it doesn’t work as a normal mixer. Even controllers such as the Vestax VCI-400 can already work as a mixer so i’m pretty sure this one will as well.

      • Exactly, that’s how we’re calling it. It’ll work for everyone, but clearly they’re going to go the extra mile to make it amazing for Traktor users.

    • “Traktor software for IOS and ANDROID portable systems”… we were talking about which of the big three will do this first… we think Atomix (Virtual DJ).

  14. Damn, my Denon DN-X1600 just got delivered yesterday. Maybe I’ll hold off on opening it till all the details are revealed.

  15. Only if they release a mixer/controller that is able to replace the xone 4D i’m turning my back on allen&heath.

  16. Alex Dj Majical says:

    Great news i’m on traktor scratch pro 1 with a rane ttm 56 and a mapping on my computer to replace the x1 and i need a good mixer for scratching on traktor with all these features as hotcues and effects, but my question is to know if this mixer will be ok with tsp1 because i think the second has too bugs

  17. For the longest i have been telling my boys that NI needs its own mixer. I wish it 4 ch. I guess they are going to do like the s4 & s2. Come whit the 2ch and then a 4ch.
    PS. GAME OVER.

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