Traktor DJ For iPad Review & Video Talkthrough

Review Summary:

Traktor DJ is different to a lot of other DJ apps available on iOS. The focus is on going beyond simple beatmatching, and so the software clears the usual controls out to the sides, to give the user a much more fun playing with the waveforms. It's certainly an immersive way to explore and play with music.

Traktor DJ for iPad
  • Traktor DJ for iPad
  • Rating: 5
  • From: Native Instruments
  • Price: $19.99
  • Reviewed by:
  • On February 21, 2013
  • Last modified:February 16, 2014
With Traktor DJ, Native Instruments has finally brought to market its vision of how DJing should be done on tablets.

With Traktor DJ, Native Instruments has finally brought to market its vision of how DJing should be done on tablets.

Review: Traktor DJ for iPad

Traktor has long been a firm favourite with digital DJs, including with about three-quarters of Digital DJ Tips readers. The desktop software offers a wealth of functionality and pushes the boundaries with things like its extensive effects and Remix Decks. Now, Traktor DJ has joined its bigger brother, bringing the world of Traktor to the iPad.

So what does the newest DJ app for the iPad (iPad 2 and upwards with iOS6, to be precise) look like, and what does it do differently from other iPad DJ apps in order to stand out from the crowd? Let's find out in our full Traktor DJ For iPad review and video talkthrough...

First impressions

As the app loads up for the first time, you are presented with a brief video of highlighted features giving you a taster of what's in store. Firstly, it's probably best that you put to one side the image of a DJ with two spinning turntables with pitch sliders and a mixer: As you explore Traktor DJ, that will only make you feel old! Traktor DJ re-imagines a DJ's job, with the waveforms centrestage. This is something that I've been keen on ever since first getting my hands on an iPad, and I was immediately approving of it here.

Traktor DJ - Waveform display

Super clear waveforms are central to Traktor DJ, and make much more sense than spinning turntable-type graphics to my mind.

Why? Because a horizontal waveform-based display makes much more sense than a vinyl/CDJ emulation when you try and DJ with an iOS device. The frequency colour-coded waveforms on Traktor DJ appear crisp, precise and almost hypnotic as they scroll across the screen; they've done an excellent job with them.

You do have a smaller overall waveform to show your progress through the track, plus you can use pinch gestures on this to zoom in and out of the main waveform for closer detail. This becomes particularly useful when setting one of the generous eight hot cue points - plenty of scope for you to set markers on the intro, first beat, vocals, breakdowns and outro, probably with a few to spare.

With the waveform as the main focus of the app, you quickly realise that most of the major functions have been ushered to the side. The main function buttons for each deck (Play, Loop, EQ and FX) are on the right-hand side, and unusually, the slimline crossfader also positioned (vertically) on the right. At first glance this may feel odd, but you soon realise that through the use of your right thumb you can load, play, loop and mix between tracks with ease. and of course, you are in reality mixing from the "top" waveform to the "bottom" one, so it makes sense in that way too.

Getting started

When the app is started for the first time, the music library on the device is automatically analysed. Depending on how many tracks you have and their format, this may take a little while. To get the best results from the app, I would recommend leaving this for a while to finish. While you're waiting, you could make a cup of tea and re-read this review, or alternatively, you could browse through the neat in-app tutorials (by clicking the "Information" icon at the top of the screen). Doing so displays a sidebar on the left with topics of interest, and screenshots with text to explain each feature.

Music Library display in Traktor DJ

One no doubt soon-to-be conrtoversial feature is that Traktor DJ provides you a list of recommended tracks for your mix, a system similar to Mixed In Key's 'energy level' idea.

If you haven't looked at the tutorials, a notification-style number will be displayed next to the Information icon, indicating that you have a few features left to read about - a neat idea. The in-app help is well presented, clear and concise so should be easy for anyone to follow and understand.

What happens during that analysis though? Well, the analysis detects the BPM, beatgrid and harmonic key for every track. Harmonic analysis is something new to DJ apps on iOS. The result is that every track has a BPM and key marker against it. This is used by the app when displaying a list of recommended tracks. The latest version (2.6.1) of Traktor Pro will also provide the same advanced key detection functionality. It's a bit confusing in the NI is using its own notation rather than "real" keys or the Camelot notation, but at least it's there.

Loading a track
Choosing a track to load into the deck is a slick process. You can access the music library page in a number of ways: by taping on the music icon at the top right-hand side of the screen, by tapping on the artwork / track detail on either deck, or by swiping up from the bottom of the screen.

The music library is an area where the app improves on all other iOS DJ apps. Not only is there the usual slicing of your music library into playlist, artist, genre and so on, but as mentioned Traktor DJ also does some real-time analysis of the tracks you've got loaded and provides you with a list of recommended tracks which can match on compatible keys or similar BPM value. If you want a perfect match then both the key and BPM icons will be highlighted in green for easy identification. It would be nice to see some definable sorting available on the recommended tracks section, so that those with a best match are displayed at the top.

The other displays of your music (for example in a playlist) can be sorted in a number of ways including by harmonic key (that's the little music note icon) and BPM (that's the heart/pulse icon). You can also search for tracks in the music library as well as accessing previous recordings made within the app. This could be useful if you're interrupted during a mix session. You could easily come back to your recorded mix, load it into a deck and continue from where you left off, overdub FX or mix in further tracks over the top.

Adjusting the beatgrid
Once your tracks have been loaded into both decks, what's your next move? I found that my first task was to take a look at the beatgrid, most of the functionality in the app relies on the beatgrid so it's worth double checking.

Advanced features of Traktor DJ

Here, you can see adjustments being made to the beatgrid on deck A, while FX and EQ adjustments are being made on deck B.

On tracks with a solid beat throughout it was perfect every time. Adjusting the beatgrid is simple enough, tap on the lined button alongside "Sync" and you get a detailed waveform display and a clear beatgrid. If the grid is slightly out, you can correct it by pushing the waveform forward or back to your preference.

It's worth scrolling through the track to a few different points to ensure that your beat grid is near enough correct throughout. You can also adjust the BPM of the track on this screen, via half, double or tap-tempo buttons.

You can change the master tempo by pressing the BPM indicator in the top centre and using the circular dial which looks like it's been inspired by the early iPods. This will change the tempo for any track with the "Sync" button active (highlighted in green).

Note that Traktor DJ provides no "warping" or "elastic beatgridding" (like Ableton Live or Serato), and so it can't beatgrid with non electronic music (ie anything with a real drummer whose tempo varies slightly as they play). Worse, as the software has no tempo nudge, you can't "manually" beatmatch with it either - so at the moment, it's strictly for electronic music DJs (or DJs who don't want to beatmix, of course).

Cues and loops
Setting a cue point is simple too. By clicking on the flag button you can set (and delete) eight cue points, which are remembered every time the track is loaded. These cues are hot cues (so playback will start when you press any set cue point).

There is another button next to the flag, which has a frosty "Freeze" icon that stops the waveform scrolling. If this is enabled during playback you can play any segment of the waveform displayed, a bit like chopping it up into tiny pieces and playing back on a piano roll. The Freeze function can be used in Loop mode, allowing you to loop segments of your main loop all without losing a beat. It's a cousin of the Slicer functions on some Serato controllers, like the Novation Twitch and the Pioneer DDJ-SX. Remixing on the fly! It's all the rage, this "breaking from the timeline" idea in software DJing (see The One and forthcoming Virtual DJ 8), but Traktor DJ has actually got it to market. Top marks.

The loop functionality is simple; you can set a default loop length in the settings (accessed on the music library page) and you can adjust the length by swiping on the waveform. There is no way to set and store loop-in and loop-out points, so looping is all live and instant.

EQ, Filter and FX

Playing with FX on Traktor DJ

There is a generous X-Y FX control pad with a relatively modest eigh Traktor FX to choose from, which are of the expected high quality.

The EQ panel has a cool blue colour scheme and good wide sliders that have a visible trail to them, so you can quickly see where they are positioned. A quick tap on the centre line (not the slider) will return that EQ setting back to zero. The EQs are not full audio kill, but they are clear and responsive. You can also use a high-pass / low-pass filter on the same panel as EQ (accessed via the "Filter" tab). The central point on the X-Y filter pad is zero; sliding down to the left will leave you with just bass frequencies, while sliding up and right will give you just the highs. The filter can be locked in place using the Lock icon, this will also place a tiny button near the "Sync" button on the waveform view. This means you can quickly turn off that filter without needing to go back into the EQ page.

The FX panel (with orange colour scheme) appears from the left of the screen and gives you a decent sized X-Y control pad for your FX. There are three drop-down lists for the FX, but it seems that you can only apply one effect at a time. The three lists then could be set to whatever your top three most used FX are. As with the filter on the EQ panel, the FX can be locked in place leaving your fingers free to move onto something else within the app. Once again, if the effect is locked on, a small "FX" button appears alongside the "Sync" button - enabling a quick switch off when needed.

Other features
Traktor DJ provides splitter cable support which would give you a mono cue and mono master signal from the headphone jack (any in-app recording would also be in mono). It also supports USB audio sound cards; the press release specifically refers to Traktor Audio 6 and 10, which I didn't actually realise were USB class compliant. You can connect these via the Camera Connection Kit to give you a higher quality stereo cueing and stereo master output. I haven't got one of these interfaces but it would be interesting to hear if anyone has used these with their iPad.

I'll throw the gauntlet down here, though: NI is a big company and this is a big app. It would be good to see an Apple-approved audio interface (maybe also a dock?) from NI that negated the need to use the Camera Connection Kit hack, and that also allowed you to charge your iPad when using Traktor DJ. How about it, NI?

You can adjust the master volume using the little speaker icon near the top. From this menu you can also trigger the in-app recording and adjust cue volume and cue mix detail. The in-app recording is stored in wav format and can be downloaded to your desktop via the app file sharing functionality in iTunes.

Another trick up the sleeve of Native Instruments is to launch Traktor DJ in conjunction with the next version of the Traktor Pro software. This means that Traktor DJ has bi-directional synchronisation of beatgrids, cue points and BPM data. This is achieved via a free Dropbox account, configurable via the settings page. An iCloud option would certainly make sense here too.


Traktor DJ is different to a lot of other DJ apps available on iOS. The focus is on going beyond simple beatmatching, and so the software clears the usual controls out to the sides, to give the user a much more fun playing with the waveforms. It's certainly an immersive way to explore and play with music.

The design of the app demonstrates a lot of attention to detail. I particularly liked the comprehensive in-app tutorials which are informative but don't feel too technical, and the luxurious scrolling waveforms. The decision to have most major controls on the right-hand side means that you could perform most of those tasks (including loading a new track into a deck) with one hand, while the other could be holding the iPad . A casual flick of the thumb and a track from your library gets thrown into whichever deck you've chosen and you're ready to go.

Freeze slices with Traktor DJ

Freeze slicing is one of the big new functions, and it works within a loop as well.

The colour scheme also feels easy to look at - although I was dreaming about scrolling waveforms one evening last week after sustained use! Mixing between tracks without using the usual pitch controls takes a little getting used to, but there will be new DJs who know of nothing else but the Sync button anyway. As mentioned before though, it's a non-starter for funk, disco or any other music without a perfectly regimented beat.

The way Traktor DJ presents recommended tracks is clever, although you could easily find yourself blindly going down a "recommended" path when in fact perhaps you would be better off changing the pace completely. It is an incredibly useful feature though, and along with the harmonic analysis, is a first in an iOS DJ app. The "Freeze" functionality is brilliant fun, particularly effective when in loop mode. I'm looking forward to seeing what people get up to with this as it's another new feature that we haven't seen on iOS before.

With the synchronisation option between the app and Traktor Pro (via DropBox), the app could be used by DJs to do their beatgrid and cue point homework while on the move. Alternatively, if you're already a Traktor Pro user it would be a quick process to transfer your metadata across onto your iPad. Native Instruments has had the luxury of developing for the iPad unencumbered by the baggage it must feel when iterating the "main" Traktor app, and it's good to see that the company hasn't tried to cram too much in here at v1.0. No four decks support, no dozens of effects, no Remix decks...

By concentrating on some key features, Native Instruments now has the base to react slowly and deliberately as it develops the app, and Traktor DJ should be all the better for that. Also, it would be naive to think that the designers aren't rethinking Traktor on the PC and Mac too, and it will be interesting to see what v3 of Traktor brings for those platforms.

Overall, Traktor DJ definitely springs more than a few pleasant surprises and thankfully gives us a fresh look at how DJing could be achieved on an iPad. Because you can get started in moments and instantly mix harmonically between tracks, I believe it will be popular with DJs of all abilities, and of course could well be the stepping stone for new DJs from iOS towards a full Traktor Pro set-up.


Review Summary:

Traktor DJ is different to a lot of other DJ apps available on iOS. The focus is on going beyond simple beatmatching, and so the software clears the usual controls out to the sides, to give the user a much more fun playing with the waveforms. It's certainly an immersive way to explore and play with music.

Traktor DJ for iPad

  • Traktor DJ for iPad
  • Rating: 5
  • From: Native Instruments
  • Price: $19.99
  • Reviewed by:
  • On February 21, 2013
  • Last modified:February 16, 2014

Video Review

Do you use Traktor Pro, and if so will you be adding Traktor DJ as your iOS companion software? How do you feel about the lack of pitch control? Do you like the idea of the Freeze feature? What about the next track recommendation engine? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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  1. John Rodriguez says:


    - Can you seek through a track with gestures while the track is playing in order to set cue points?

    - What are the crossfader curve options? One thing I can't stand with Traktor's internal mixer is the lack of a dipped crossfader, and in general is one of my grips with IOS DJ apps where you're forced to mix with the crossfader.

    - Any plans for an iPhone version?


    Lack of nudge is very disappointing, even for an electronic dj. I consider it a must have.

    • Hi John,

      Yes, you can seek through the track - by moving the little red bar on the smaller waveform you can go to a totally different place. From there you could set a cue point, or you can tap on the large waveform and the track will jump (on beat) to that location. I'm just posting a video on youtube now, there's a little example on there where I've done exactly that.

      There are no crossfader curve options at the moment. The settings for the app are pretty basic.

      I'd say that NI have done a cracking job cramming as much into this app as they have done, with the limited space of an iPad screen without it feeling clutttered, confused or plain messy. Perhaps a step onto a smaller device maybe a little too claustrophobic for those nice big waveforms.

      Agree with you on the nudge, but I worked around it by ensuring my beatgrids were on point where I needed them to be (you can adjust on the fly, but it may sound a little odd if you move the grid too far). Also, through use of loops you can sort of get at least one small section to play in a neatly quantised fashion. Admittedly, I wont be using this to play a deep funk set.

      • Have a question friend
        They say that we need to check the beat grid over time in the track and correct the loose beats but when I correct the grid in the middle of the song I'm changing the beat grid in the beginning of the track and that is a problem maybe you can help out thx in advanced

    • I agree - lack of nudge or pitch bend is a deal breaker for me. otherwise it looks great.

    • chris brown says:

      key detection!!!!! c'mon the ipad cant have that first. when will i see that in tracktor pro 2...i paid like 80 more bucks then that app and i dont get key detect

  2. Being version 1 it lays a very solid start! I like it!

  3. why they now show scratch?

  4. Foldable Disco says:

    Key detection? Huh... When are they going to put that in Traktor Pro?

  5. Is it possible to use a controller with this app like the vestax spin 2?

    • No Midi implementation yet, if/when that comes I expect it may follow the same product lines as the full version of Traktor.

      What's more interesting is that NI specifically mention cueing on Audio 6 / 10 soundcards, both of which can be used for DVS. I wonder if DVS control will make an appearance on Traktor DJ in the future?

  6. I'd imagine nudge would come in the next update, but you can Tap the BPM in or change the tempo simply enough.

  7. Thanks for the review! The Traktor Audio 2 interface is class compliant as well if I'm not mistaken. Can anyone verify that it works? I'd like to know before I purchase a camera connection kit.

  8. I would go for this if it had nudge too.

    Even better, I would definitely go for it if I could use an external controller with an ipad. This could be the ideal solution.

    Is this possible with any tablet apps?

  9. Hi folks,

    Does it support an "external mixer" mode via the headphone splitter cable? I don't want to mix within the software, I just want to use it as a pair of decks with bonus effects. All mixing done on a proper mixer!


    • no, not yet.

      but rumors say it's coming in an update.

      • 1. Enable split output.
        2. Crossfader over to deck A
        3 Cue mix over to the left
        4 Enable monitoring on deck B

        Now as long as you don't touch the crossfader, you've got one deck in one ear, & the other deck in the other ear. Make up an appropriate lead & plug in to two channels of your mixer.

  10. I would go nuts if they could import locally stored Spotify tracks (i.e. by "starring" them).

  11. Bill Greenberg says:

    Does it have Cruise like Traktor Pro? Useful for dinner hour and pee breaks just in case.

    • No, it doesn't.

      • Bill Greenberg says:

        Bummer. As a newbie, when playing out (which I've done just a handful of times now) I also like to stack up some songs in advance and stay ahead of the game. That way there's no panic about what to play next! Always have at least a few more songs picked out that I can always rearrange as necessary. Looks like this isn't for that kind of DJ'ing, which is disappointing because I really love my iPad Mini and the looks of this app.

    • Come on man! Wise up!!!!! Simply mix up some longer sets in advance, and then just play them as long tracks. I have a couple of "pee break" tunes, and because, like you, I don't play out much (read .... I only get small gigs!), I even have hour song sets pre-recorded, which I use when the floor or party is empty. That way I can eat and drink too!

      This applies to all dj gear - nothing to do with Traktor DJ.....

  12. I'd like to hear more about the metadata syncing. From what I've read so far I'd need to sync my ipad with my dj laptop to make full use of it. At the moment I use my ipad with my day to day laptop and sync books, movies etc if I were to sync it with my dj laptop I'd lose all the files I'd already sync'd.

    Sent from my iPad :)

  13. Looks really cool and some competition for Algoriddim djay.
    I am wondering: How and what type of sound card can you hook up to your iPad to have this app play this out (rather than using a split output)? Use the 1/8" (3.5mm) output on the iPad or is there a solution with the 16pin connector?

  14. As soon as it will have the midi implementation, I will buy it! Want to use it with a controller.

  15. David Hopton says:

    Do I have to have my entire library on my iPad for traktor DJ app to work effectively or can I move playlists on and off the iPad without mucking up the library on the traktor app!

  16. I just read the knowledge base at NI. I certainly do not like that you have to use iTunes and USB connections. Is there no way to just use dropbox? I already have my entire music collection on SugarSync too. I do not want to have so many accounts. My biggest question is Do the libraries sync INCLUDING playlists and can I make playlist changes, that is my Traktor playlists. I do not like having to open iTunes while I am DJing to make a playlist change when I most often make them while I work. So tedious to have to use Itunes in advance or make notes for later. I am sending them (NI) an email now to ask.
    Do I sound like I am complaining? I am not! These are all good advancements and keeping me with Traktor :) I am a satisfied customer

  17. Great review.

    Can it do Beatgridding? It will be awesome to beatgrid some new tracks when I don't have to sit in front of my laptop.

  18. Chuck "DJ Vintage" van Eekelen says:

    I'll be trying it with my Mackie DL1608 mixer soon, should work (DJ Player works great in it).

    And did someone say docking station?

    You might want to check out the Alesis IO Dock, not real cheap, but has all the bits and pieces you'd need I think. Would be interesting to see if you can use both the master outs and the headphone out.


  19. If you play out on a contoller or DVS, why would you want to show up with an iPad. I think that just gives digital DJing the worst name, prob even more than the dreaded sync button.
    I was really hoping that the software was like Pioneer's RekordBox software. NI needs to make that solution.

  20. Mr stifffy says:

    Has anyone tried it on the ipad 1 yet?? really curious because it says it only works on ipad 2 and up so I don't want to waste money if it wont work at all.

  21. Hope they update soon! Want to use midi on this... Alot! What are your thoughts on types of controller? What would be best? Hopefully something like the idj pro!

  22. It DOES store loop points - the 8 Cue points can be either a single cure point or a loop (in + out). So you can have any combination of 8 loops / cuepoints stored.

  23. I've been messing about with this program for a week or so - definitely the best iPad DJ app I've used, however the big stumbling block for me for playing out is being unable to charge the iPad2 while using the Camera kit or equivalent to connect to an external sound card. I have no problem driving my soundcard using a USB hub but I need to be able to play for about 5 hours and this is pushing it. I can't find any reliable connectors which allow charge and separate data connection - any ideas? If they'd implemented multiroute audio that would have been OK because I have a lead that works (using the IPad dock sound which is just about acceptable in the bar I play in). I can do this with DJay but I find that app a bit limiting.

  24. I just bought this, and am really looking forward to using it in a live setting as my third/fourth deck.

    While I can see how midi implementation might be nice in the future I'm pretty happy with the app right now (I have enough midi capable things) though I'd love for it to tell me the track quality and to be able to view the grids in Spectrum rather than the default NI coloring.

  25. Having spent a few months working on DJ by Algoriddim, should I focus on mastering this, or does Traktor provide a real step up? Which is more intuitive? Also, does the key matching work in much the same way as mixed in key, ie allow moving up or down, or just simply provide a match?

  26. Ash ( looking into the dj scene ) says:

    Hey this may sound a bit of a noob question but I'm really thinking of getting into the dj scene but I have a question :) I'm thinking of buying sum CDJ 350 decks and a DJM 350 or 250 mixer now my question is would I be able to connect them to this software on the ipad like you can connect traktor software using a laptop my worry is my laptop being to slow to cope haha does that make sense to anyone thanks for reading :)

  27. StoneCut says:

    I think there's a market for different iOS DJ apps at the same time. While I love Gabor's dedication, innovation and hard work on DJ Player I have not been really happy with a single mix I made with it. Mind you, I have no USB audio card, no controller, no DVS setup etc. I'm actually trying to make a point out of DJing *only* with the iPad. Other people would certainly come to different conclusions. Anyway ...

    Yes - DVS, external audio and all that are truly impressive technical feats (and I used a DVS system for many years myself) but the original 'revolutionary' idea of DJ Player was that it didn't try to emulate two decks (like DJay) on the screen thereby making the most of the touch device that the iPad really is. This basic principle doesn't seem very important anymore. Why would I have an expensive touch device only to control it with an external device that eats power again?

    Same goes for the Sync debate. Why would I want to do all that manually if the software already calculated the BPMs and knows everything about the structure anyway? Yes, I did that manualy for 20+ years and wow am I glad I don't have to do such mind-numbingly stupid tasks anymore and actually do more mixing/thinking/dancing/whatever again. Learning to beatmatch is useful, yes, but it's in no way an art form unless you want to be a Hip Hop DJ and scratch. For a club DJ? boooring.

    So for the being I kept on using Meta.Dj despite it being seemingly abandoned and riddled with curious bugs but it got the work done. Do your beatgridding homework and do good mixes everytime. Even without cueing! But I still hated it because of the lack of support and trying to sell me sample packs and not getting a 2-deck mode.

    So there is TraktorDJ ... What can I say? Here's the software that's just PERFECT for ME, even this first version. It utilizes the technology we have to its fullest, freeing me from boring tasks (apart from proper prepping, the new 'beatmatching'). Your mileage may vary but this is my opinion on what I think of the current leading DJ products.

    • How does the BPM analysis fare within the Traktor app?

      I play UK garage mostly and have found both Djay and DJ Player to put the incorrect BPM's in for some of my tracks. I've gone down the tap route but find that they quickly go out of sync.

      I'm interested in buying this but I don't want to fork out another £14 if it's going to produce the same results....

  28. Hi, just wondering if anyone had tried any alternative usb sound cards beside the ones from NI, do they work fine? Just to have some more options.

  29. Josue Macias says:

    Is there any way to use it as my main 2 decks, plus the traktor F1 for the remix decks with a lap top?

  30. i have moved the mix set wav file to my desktop, so now how do i delete the wav file from my ipad 2?

  31. Having the same problem... how do you delete recordings?

  32. Maddy4Muzik says:

    I analyzed and set all my tracks in Traktor Scratch Pro 2.62 Desktop version. But When I copy those music to my iPod & load in Traktor, then I can't find all the saved keys for each song. My iPod starts to re analyze the tracks one by one which is not viable for my 3000 Tracks worth 22 days of play :( Any reply with the proper solution will be appreciated, Thanks in advance.

  33. Splitter cable from NI I brought so plug into iPad headphones other end one to headphone other to monitors how do u use 2krk monitors with the cable when there's only one wire out to monitors also I have NI traktor dj 2 original sound card can you use that sorry for asking but I'm new to this latests djing on a iPad sarga.

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