Traktor Digital Decks: What Would They Be Like?

Traktor Kontrol X2

OK, so we've chopped up a pic of an S4 and stuck its decks beside the Z2 - but if Traktor digital decks are coming, what features would you like to see on them?

We think it's a fair bet that Native Instruments is thinking hard about releasing a digital deck / media player for Traktor. ("Kontrol X2?")

Why? Well, why release a mixer (the Kontrol Z2) that you currently need to use other manufacturers' decks to DJ with? Unless you're going to release a digital deck of your own, it doesn't make much sense. So if this is the case, what will a Native digital deck look like? And what functions will it have?

What might they be like?

We think these players will be full-sized (ie not "miniature" like the Denon DN-SC2000s, or indeed like our mock-up above), and at least as well made as Pioneer decks. But the more you think about it, the more the questions start coming:

  • Will the decks have rich, colour displays? The Pioneer CDJ-900nexus and other higher-end Pioneer decks have great interaction with Traktor. Will these go one better than that? I think Native Instruments will probably want to offer some exclusive stuff that the Pioneer models don't have
  • Will the decks have CD, USB, SD slots? If a manufacturer wanted any chance of getting its units into clubs, it might decide that it's worth having these things. I'd say USB and SD maybe, but CD? Probably not
  • Will iPad Traktor launch at the same time?. So what do we actually use our laptops for when we DJ? If our control surfaces of choice are good, then we use them as a display, and as storage for our media. And an iPad can do both of those things. So is Traktor coming for iPad? I'd say for sure. Thing is, if it ties in with a new ecosystem based around these "Kontrol X2" digital decks, maybe we're going to see this launched as well...
  • Will they need Traktor running at all?. Here's a crazy thought. What if they somehow have "Traktor inside"? What if you'll be able to prepare your cue points, beatgrid your tunes and so on, and then bring your music on USB, SD, phone or iPad and link up (wirelessly or not) with the units, which will have mini-computers inside "running" Traktor, and gorgeous displays complete with waveforms? What if they won't need the laptop at all, like Pioneer's rekordbox solution?
  • Will they have sync buttons? Of course they will...


Time will tell...

I think it is good to remember that Pioneer has a fantastic R&D department and is ahead in this game currently. Getting an alternative DJ booth-centred system up and running is something Native Instruments would, I am sure, be capable of, but it's no easy call. Denon, for instance, has done a great job with its Engine software and SC2900/SC3900 solution - but that's essentially an alternative take on CDJ/rekordbox.

But with Native coming at it with the platform of laptop/DJ software already established, it would be fasinating to see whether they'd tackle Pioneer head on, offering a robust but software/laptop/iPad based system instead - or some other hybrid nobody's yet thought of. Of course, we could be wrong - but with Pioneer making massive leaps in the capabilities of its gear, Native is surely planning something...

So will this happen? What do you think new Traktor digital decks might be called? And what features would you want to see on the decks? Please share your thoughts in the comments. We know the Native Instuments team reads the website, so maybe your ideas will end up being included...

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  1. I got a huge utopian feeling while reading this article, and now only hope that this "dream" will "come true" as soon as possible!

  2. I`d love it if they did. Everything seems geared towards all-in-one controllers these days which I`m not a big fan of. Much prefer a modular set up as above. I bought 2 Xone K2`s to go with my Denon DNX1600 Mixer and it all feels much more proffesional and robust. If NI brought these out..i`d be deffo in the market for a pair..

  3. Korporaal says:

    I think it would be a great opportunity for NI to do something like putting Traktor in a whole digital-system solution, with full functional displays etc. Cutting out the "middle man", in this case: the laptop/computer.

  4. Lord knows Behringer is turning their "brilliant" idea of the CMD series into a flop with the long delays and lack of info.

    I imagine if NI put out decks like this, then while more expensive, it would put that Behringer concept into the grave since you would be able to get all the components at higher quality with total Traktor integration.

  5. Joe Lanzon says:

    Must have ability for USB loading of tracks! Whoever gets that right on these controllers first WINS!

  6. I don't see anything wrong with the all-in-ones as long as they have full MIDI deck, USB, and and mixer capabilities.

    Look at the Pioneer DDJ-SX. I would love to see a Traktor-compatible version called the DDJ-TX. That board is amazing. My neighbor has one.

  7. DJ Forced Hand says:

    Whatever happens (in this theoretical new Digital Deck), it must have every feature the DDJ-SX has just to play in the same arena (which includes); Needle search, 2 channel synch play/scratch, Jog Wheel LEDs, and Velocity Sensitive color-changing pads without making the unit so inexpensive as to challenge their new Maschine Mikro Mk2 and F1... unless they want to integrate the F1 side-car option. If anything is holding N.I. back, it's how to deal with that... pricing.

  8. Traktor inside? Great idea. Sort of taking the darouter idea to the next level. I would certainly buy one if I could connect to the iPod, but only if it "held" the iPod or phone.

  9. Pro Audio & DJ Tutor says:

    I'm liking the mock up. I really like NI's modular approach to controllers so you can essentially build what you need

    • I think this is real possibility as it makes perfect sense for NI to complete its range of controllers. There is a real divide between folk on the value of adding jog wheels, but I think they will be needed to compliment there range of button and slider modules they currently have (even more so now the Z2 has been launched as this is targeted towards Scratch DJs). I'd like to see larger jogs and better quality buttons than they currently have on the S4 (which I own) and also some cue point pads as per Pioneer DDJSX. I personally use the S4 as it suits my needs (simple set up and easy to put away again as I have a family now and limited space) however I can definitely see the market for this type of thing.

  10. trashbaby says:

    I think maschine's total integration with Traktor will come first. I hope NI keeps it simple with a modular DJ deck. If they copied Stanton's SCS. D1, I'd be very happy. Price it around $449. I don't need a CD player only a midi controller. No built in soundcard. Tack an extra $150 for a good looking OLED screen.

    • Total integration will make a LOT of people happy! Myself included!

      I've got a workaround in place but a native and more stable solution would be much better.

    • DJ Forced Hand says:

      Right there with you on the Maschine (Mikro/Mk2) angle. Native Instruments has a product that should tie into their other gear and help DJs move from simply mixing tunes to mixing live tracks/ making their own backing beats with the tracks. I just don't comprehend how this wasn't done years ago.

  11. It'd be cool if they went this route, though I don't think it'd be for everyone.

    A lot of people already have a stable, well working modular setup; this would have to work better than, or have features that surpass, their current gear.

  12. Think back a bit guys...

    Pioneer brings out a mixer (DJM-T1)
    Native brings out the exact same spec of mixer for half the price (Z2)
    Pioneer reponds by re-pricing it's mixer back into the realms of reality.

    Could this be another salvo across the bow from NI? History about to repeat itself perhaps? Tantalising thought!

  13. Javi Garcia says:

    If it dose not include cd slot I will not get it!!

    • I native intruments is all about digital... cd is a whole new headache in a sense.... cant see them stepping on new ground.

      • I disagree. It'd surely be a case of switching the deck it's controlling to Live Input mode and playing. The fact that there are hundreds of CD decks on the market shows that the tech isn't that hard to implement.

    • they won't include a CD deck.
      Besides the fact that it goes against everything they represent...
      Costs aren't worth it.
      Manufacturing is a pain in the ass.
      Much bigger possibility of something failing and needing service.

  14. Anonymous says:

    It looks like they will be like a Xone K2 with jogwheels.

    Not sure why I'd buy a hardware mixer with the intent to control all-digital decks like an F1 or X1. Otherwise I can just use TTs or CDJs with mixers already integrated with Traktor. Or buy an S2 or S4 to mix digital decks exclusively.

    I guess if you're really into the whole 1:1 thing...

  15. 1)Traktor will be built in; the use of a pc or mac to run traktor will be optional on future all-in-one controllers, digital traktor decks and mixer.

    2)the option to midi-map or remap functions will still be possible.

    3)A waveform display on their next all-in-one controllers and digital decks to compete with what pioneer has to offer.

    4)the firmware of these stand alone units will be upgradeable.

    5)Other midi controllers can still be used with these standalone units

  16. When will people be happy? Really,Traktor won't be Traktor without a laptop so unless NI wants to develope a whole new system, I don't see any new non laptop solutions. And I don't think Traktor needs a deck controller. IMO the x1 is highly underrated. I don't even mind that there's no jog. When it all comes down to $$, getting 2 deck controllers and a z2 would be rediculous when an s4 is pretty much the same price as the mixer alone. The s4 is the perfect Traktor controller. /story

    • ..but what happens when you get problems with 1 of the jogs? the WHOLE unit has to go in for repair, where with an individual deck only the defective one needs be sent away, leaving you source just another deck & not a whole set-up :) But as if that would happen anyway - an s4 in a club -Pfffft! IMO the DDJ-SX has a better chance of making into the club just because of it's branding and how it actually resembles 2 CDJs & a mixer, where as the S4 looks like a toy due to its baby jog wheels.

  17. I think it's the next logical step. A total press on and play, "club proof" controller with its own screen and a pc/mac inside running traktor, and nothing else. built in ssd, its own soundcard, usb/sd slots for external storage, pc/mac connectivity end extra compatible controllers, maybe cd drives and jogwheels to attract more "traditional" djs. pc/mac software to customise midi functions, with its own wifi and vga/hdmi ports for video...oh i forgot traktor doesnt do the year"you have to learn to crawl, before you learn to walk"

  18. Ruben daCosta says:

    I think everyone is thinking the same, all-in-one controllers has reached their climax with the release of the new Vestax, Numark and Pioneer controllers, so the modular way is the new path to go, and although both X1 and F1 are great modular controllers, I thing NI should build a multimedia controller, imagine a Numark NDX900 but with more buttons and knobs.

  19. I don't think this will come soon (or at all).

    There are some points I think you're missing or over-/underestimating.

    1.) There is no real "need" for this kind of thing. The X1/F1 combo is just fine for everybody who is mixing 2-4 decks and/or some sample decks. Everybody who likes to scratch will stick to timecode control anyways.

    2.) As someone mentioned above, having a mixer + 2 deck combo that basically copies the functionality of existing all-in-one controllers at a higher price point and probably is a lot bulkier/heavier doesn't really make much sense. While bringing a controller to a club might become more and more common, just bringing your own mixer to a club is rather unusual in most places (especially for newcomers that usually can be happy if they get to play at all, let alone demand different equipment than the stuff the club has installed...) and I don't wanna know what any sound guy would say if DJ nOObie turned up not only bringing his own mixer but a set of decks also, demanding he will play off of those and nothing else... 😉

    3.) Where the market for mixers with tight integration of DJ software is still pretty new and thus open to new entrants, they would be competing against an established solution in the player market that has gained a very strong position over the last decade - the pioneer CDJs. As long as any new deck doesn't feature the same variety of playback options (i.e. CD, USB, advanced HID control over Traktor as well as Serato) I see little chance that any club would bother installing them. Which will bring us back to the problem raised above (#2.)

    4.) When talking about "iPad Traktor" you forget one very important thing laptops are acutally used for: their processing power... And while tablets are becoming more and more powerful in that regard, I wouldn't wanna trust on an iPad to run 4 decks and heavy effects usage without crashing or considerable latency! And regarding using the iPad as screen: many people would agree that 13" isn't really much when using 4 decks (playback or remix), I doubt that 10" will be any better...

    5.) "Traktor inside" on the one hand sounds like a good and viable idea (as it basically is nothing but what pioneer already has with the CDJs and recordbox...), but on the other hand it is completetly off the path NI has been follwing until now (as someone mentioned above) and, while pioneer has proven this concept works for playback decks, and don't see how this should controlling additional sample decks or 2 decks with one controller as all other controllers can... (and if you had to buy 4 decks to control 4 decks in traktor, point #2 becomes even more relevant...

    TL;DR: there are a lot of technical as well as "logistical" issues to overcome here, as well as high entry barriers to the market, so I really don't see this happening...

    • I have to disagree on the comment regarding having built in Traktor, "as it basically is nothing but what pioneer already has with the CDJs and recordbox…"
      Traktor = Djing software
      Recordbox = Music Management

      Two separate things entirely, although I think I know what you were getting at

      • Is rekordbox not made by mixvibes? Without the 2 decks onscreen? So while its only for preparation its based on a cutdown version of a software thats not as popular as traktor.
        So im thinking analize your tunes on any version of traktor[bonus is that cue info is saved to the file in traktor],copy the tunes to hard drives or sticks and you have all your cue points loops etc etc.

    • DJ Forced Hand says:

      Agreed. What is the demand for modular Digital DJ decks when controllers are already made and less than the price of this unit plus two decks? People care about price-performance ratios and for those who want to go "Whole Hog", there are some REALLY nice All-in-one controllers that do much more than any Vinyl DVS solution can offer. The Z2 should have been at least a Z4 for all the people who want to use 4 turn-tables.

  20. oh man.. now i'm REEALLY confused as what to get next lol!! I was thinking DDJ-SX (probably like everyone else haha), but I know I want to start messing around with Maschine & I really like how NI has the additional units to complement the S4.. but I keep going back and forth between the S4 & DDJ-SX because I know what's possible with the S4 & the F1/X1, not to mention Ableton integration, and I am also going to be adding a single 1200/1210 to learn how to scratch on properly.. not sure if I'll run timecode or not (so I'll probably be asking on the forums what's possible & what's the pro's and con's of each). That said (and getting back to the point,lol) if NI released these, I'd probably get a pair over the DDJ-SX, just for the simple reason that I think having more controllers are more fun, and also because I have never been a fan off all-in-one systems, no matter what the product, like TV/DVD Combos and the like, for the simple reason if 1 part breaks, the whole thing's out of commission. Also, even though they are only mock-ups, I like the small profile & they look about the same size as the F1/X1 so it would all match, etc.. Maybe they could increase the jogs to the DDJ-SX size & ditch the CDJ-type platter for a capacitive one whle they are at it..Aaaaargghhh it's all too hard! Anyone got any advice?

    • DJ Forced Hand says:

      OK DJBK,

      I know this is a time filled with everyone wanting to sell you a solution for problems you didn't even know you had, but if you're thinking about getting a Maschine (or some other drum pad) for integration to your decks, you're better off getting one (and skipping a controller with trigger pads) because that's a unit that is expressly made for its' purpose (and has a more-than-fair-chance of being a Remix Deck controller in Traktor and Serato DJ too). Trigger pads (on DJ controllers) are nice, but they tend to be small and they don't usually come with a lot of drum sounds that you can use as your basslines. While the S2/S4 integration is seamless For Traktor, the one area that they fall down on is drum/trigger pads and that won't be an issue for long because both Serato and Native Instruments make their software "side car controller-capable." The DDJ-SX isn't a whole lot better (but it is) than the S4 because those pads (while velocity sensitive) don't measure up to to high quality drum pads on modern drum machines.

      The hard part is to avoid getting all wrapped up in the technology and focusing instead on what will help make your sets memorable and that all comes from within... the most important DJ tool, your mind. Sure, there's a minimum level of music and technology needed for that, but DJ equipment manufacturers are always willing to sell you something to "compliment your existing DJ gear" and iTunes just keeps on selling music. Most of the DJs (I know) buying new controllers aren't as concerned with having all the bells and whistles on the controller/mixer/all-in-one unit, they're more concerned about portability, ease of use and having all the basics covered, so take that to heart. Find something you love to play with (even if it has trigger/drum pads), something hopefully built-to-last and portable, because everyone is pretty much adding bells and whistles to a pretty-much perfected thing... the Digital DJ controller.

      • DJ Forced Hand says:

        Um... the "and skipping a controller with trigger pads" part wasn't quite clear... What I meant was "Opt instead for a controller you love even if it doesn't have trigger pads" because the Drum Pads are truly superior (in number, size and feel) to anything on a digital DJ controller. You'll still want to get something that plays back tracks like a pair of Turntables, CDJs or a digital controller for the DJing part.

      • Ah cheerz for that mate 😉 It has given me a lot to think about & as much as the DDJ-SX looks purdy and all, I think I will go the S4 route. I think you're right about having a dedicated drum-machine & it's something I definitely want to spend a bit of time with and the DDJ-SX probably wouldn't be able to satisfy my needs after a few weeks/ months of playing with it. My mixing style is pretty old-school based harmonic & key mxing with 2 decks & a mixer, maybe drop a few samples & play about with filters during a mix, maybe fire off a Beatgrid effect every now and then for build up, but it's about smoothness & making people not even realise that they're are listening o a mix..Smooo-o-o-th :) I got enough attention growing up that I don't need to 'blow everyone away' with Skrillex/DJTT button mashing in public :)
        Portability isn't an issue as it will just remain at home (ALL the clubs here in Perth, AUS rock CDJ 900's/1000's/2000's & that ant gonna change anytime soon - people forget that the club has about $6,000 tied up in decks & mixer, and no matter how succesful the club is, spending more $$ on equipment that can already do the job & is preferred by the 'Old Pros' (not THOSE old pros ;D ) that can guarantee a crowd every week.

  21. Forced-hand...what's your real name?

  22. All I want is the ability to play from a hard drive,hotcues automatic loop lenth selector,jog wheels that work well and a nice big screen with readable text size without having to pay the pioneer price.So please NI bring something like this out.

  23. actually, after thinking about it for a while, I don't think they will release any decks.. I think their reasoning behind releasing the X2 was as a compliment to their time-code software. My 2c :)

  24. You people have it all wrong.
    The Z2 is not designed to go against pioneers T1.
    The Z2 is to compete with RANE!!!!!!

    Rane makes a killing selling all the Serato mixers.
    Every DJ using SSL automatically switches to Traktor Scratch IF they get a Z2.

    Traktor doesn't need a CDJ type deck, it needs a modular controller type deck but not full on CDJ. Clubs will not put a unit in place that doesn't have CD capabilities because every DJ wants something else. Clubs will stick with Pioneer or Denon + Technics but they may switch to a Z2.

  25. @Phil is this just pure speculation or have you heard something on the grapevine?
    If just wild speculation can I suggest something like a tardis to get me from one gig to another quickly and without wear and tear on my car not to mention the fuel saving. 😉

  26. Z2 - "Z4" 4 channels, so you could EQ control the additional sample/remix decks. Docking system for Android tablets, so you could use the screen for Traktor 😀 But this is either impossible or far, far, far away future technology.

  27. Maybe instead of it being called an X2 it could be called an S1?

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