Your First Day With: Traktor Pro 2

Your First Day With Traktor Pro 2

In this week's article, I walk you through your first day with Traktor Pro 2; getting it installed on your computer, connecting your DJ controller, and getting your music onto Traktor's library.

In the final instalment of our "Your First Day With..." series, we take a look at Native Instruments' Traktor, undoubtedly one of the most popular DJ apps today. Just like in the previous articles and videos, I'm going to walk you through your first encounter with the software; downloading and installing it on your computer, hooking up your DJ controller if you have one, and getting your music onto Traktor's library.

The many faces of Traktor

Like Serato DJ, Traktor comes in different flavours. Let's run them down so you can get a better idea:

Traktor Pro 2

Traktor Pro 2

Traktor Pro 2 is Native Instruments' flagship DJ software. A time-restricted demo of this is available at the Native Instruments website, letting you try it out for a few minutes before you have to restart it.

Traktor Pro 2 is Native Instruments' flagship DJ software. It's the present-day evolution of Traktor DJ Studio 3, which was discontinued in 2008. This is the software that comes bundled with Native Instruments' own Traktor Kontrol S4 and S2 controllers, and comes with all the bells and whistles like Remix Decks and mix recording.

Unlike Serato DJ, which has an ongoing list of licensed compatible controllers, and unlike Virtual DJ 8, which needs a specific licence in order to use it with any controller, Traktor Pro 2 works with any controller as long as it's Midi class-compliant, meaning you can make anything (even a guitar synth!) work with it, provided you can map it.

Traktor LE 2

Traktor LE 2

Traktor LE 2 is the "lite" version of Traktor Pro 2, and comes bundled with third-party controllers. You can only mix with two decks and three FX here, but it doesn't have a time restriction, unlike the demo version of Traktor Pro 2.

Traktor LE 2 is the "lite" version of Traktor Pro 2. It comes bundled with a small number of third-party DJ controllers (fewer than ever, actually), as well as Native Instruments' portable Traktor Kontrol Z1 mixer. While you can DJ properly with Traktor LE 2, there are certain limitations with the software, such as only being able to mix with two decks and three FX. For a comprehensive list of differences between Traktor LE 2 and Traktor Pro 2, check out this comparison chart.

Traktor Scratch Pro 2

Traktor Scratch Pro 2

Traktor Scratch Pro 2 is the DVS (digital vinyl system) version of Traktor Pro 2. If you want to use turntables or CDJs with Traktor, upgrade to this version.

Traktor Scratch Pro 2 is the DVS (digital vinyl system) version of Traktor Pro 2. It's identical to the flagship Traktor Pro 2, with the difference being this package includes two pieces of timecode vinyl and two pieces of timecode CDs for use with a pair of turntables or CDJs, respectively.

This is the version of Traktor that comes bundled with Native Instruments' Traktor Kontrol Z2 two-channel hardware mixer, as well as the company's Traktor Scratch A10 and A6 audio interfaces. Note that even if you've purchased a Traktor Kontrol S4 and have Traktor Pro 2 installed, you'll still need to pay for the US$99 upgrade to get Traktor Scratch Pro 2 and the timecode package. Also note that you can't use timecode vinyl/CDs with a Traktor Kontrol S2, as this controller doesn't have any phono/line inputs to plug your turntables or CD players in.

Traktor DJ

Traktor DJ

Traktor DJ is the iOS cousin of Traktor Pro 2, and is exclusive for use on iPads and iPhones only.

Traktor DJ is the iOS cousin of Traktor. Available on the iPad and iPhone, Traktor DJ isn't a direct port of its laptop counterparts as it has its own distinct feature set, but you can still use a Traktor Kontrol S4/S2 mk2 with it, as well as the Traktor Kontrol Z1 controller. For more information on Traktor DJ, check out our full review.

Installation

Traktor Pro 2 Demo

For the purposes of this article, we'll assume that you're using Traktor Pro 2. If you don't have it, you can grab a time-restricted demo. Here's how:

  1. Open your browser and head to the Native Instruments website
  2. Click on the "Demo" button on the upper right of the screen.
  3. Enter you e-mail address and click "Get Download Link"
  4. Check your e-mail inbox for a message from Native Instruments and open it. If it's not there, look at your Bulk or Spam mail folder
Download Link

Open your e-mail inbox and look for a message from Native Instruments with a link; click on it to get to this page on their website where you can download a demo of Traktor Pro 2

  1. Click the link in the e-mail to go to the download page
  2. Download the installer
  3. Go to your Downloads folder and double click on "Traktor_2_XXX_Mac.dmg" (Traktor_2_XXX_PC.zip if you're on a PC). Follow the onscreen instructions to install it on your machine
  4. When the installation finishes, it'll ask you to Restart your computer. Go ahead and press the "Restart" button

Traktor Pro 2 Full

Pamphlet

If you bought a Traktor Kontrol S4 or S2, the download link and serial number for activating Traktor Pro 2 is located in a pamphlet on the right side of the box pictured here.

If you just bought a new Traktor Kontrol S4/S2, you should be able to find a voucher inside your product box with the serial number for Traktor Pro 2. Here's how to download and install it on your computer:

  1. Once you've opened your box, locate the piece of paper that contains your software serial number and download link. Do not throw this away!
  2. Open your browser, type in the link provided, then create your own account on the Native Instruments website. This will serve as a repository for all your NI-related serial numbers, downloads, and vouchers if any
  3. Once you've logged in, download your copy of Traktor Pro 2
  4. Go to your Downloads folder and double click on "Traktor_2_XXX_Mac.dmg" (Traktor_2_XXX_PC.zip if you're on a PC). Follow the onscreen instructions to install it on your machine
  5. When the installation finishes, it'll ask you to Restart your computer. Go ahead and press the "Restart" button

Traktor LE 2

If you bought a DJ controller that came bundled with Traktor LE 2, go ahead and install it according to your controller manufacturer's instructions located in the manual.

Running Traktor Pro 2 for the first time

Connecting your DJ controller

Connecting

Hook up your DJ controller to your computer using the supplied USB cable. Some controllers have a power switch while others don't, so check your user manual if you're unsure.

After you're done installing Traktor Pro 2, it's time to run it for the very first time. But before you do that, connect your DJ controller first if you're using one. Remember that Traktor Pro 2 doesn't need a controller connected in order to function properly.

  1. Connect your DJ controller using the supplied USB cable. Plug one end to your laptop’s USB port and the other in your controller’s
  2. If your controller comes with a power adapter and requires it for use, connect that as well to ensure proper functionality. When in doubt, consult your DJ controller’s manual
  3. If it hasn’t power up already, turn your controller on by pressing/flicking its switch. Again, consult your controller’s manual if you’re unsure how to do this
  4. If your controller has an onboard audio interface, connect your speaker leads to your controller's output jacks

Activating Traktor Pro 2

Service Center

Service Center is where you can activate your copy of Traktor Pro 2. It also doubles as an "updater" for your installed Native Instruments apps.

If your copy of Traktor Pro 2 came bundled with your Traktor Kontrol S4/S2, you'll have to activate it in order to use it beyond its time restriction. To do this, launch Traktor Pro 2:

  1. Go to your Applications folder (or on your Desktop if you're on a PC) and look for the Traktor icon. Double click it, and the program starts
  2. At the top of your screen, click "Help", then click "Launch Service Center"
  3. A new window called Service Center will launch. Enter your Native Instruments login details here like you did over at their website.
  4. Once you've logged into Service Center, you'll see that Traktor Pro 2 is unactivated. Type in the serial number found on the Traktor Pro 2 pamphlet that came with your controller in the empty fields
  5. Alternately, you can login to your account over at the Native Instruments website. Click on "My Account" on the upper right, then click "My products & serials"
  6. Scroll down until you see Traktor Pro 2, then copy paste the serial number to the empty fields in the Service Center app

Using the Set-up Wizard

Setup Wizard

Breeze through setting up your user interface and settings by using Traktor Pro 2's Setup Wizard. At the top of your screen, click "Help -> Start Setup Wizard" to launch it.

Easily connect and configure your controller by using Traktor Pro 2's built-in Set-up Wizard.

  1. At the top of Traktor's main screen, click "Help", then click "Start Setup Wizard"
  2. You'll see this screen, and since we've already connected your controller, go ahead and click Next
  3. Follow the onscreen instructions and answer the questions for each step. This will help you get your DJ controller setup properly, particularly if you're using a third-party controller or other Midi device
  4. Close the Setup Wizard by clicking "Finish" at the very end

In use

With Traktor Pro 2 installed and activated, plus your controller hooked up to your computer, it's time to get cracking! You can probably already see a few demo tracks in Traktor's browser window, so go ahead and drop them onto either of the virtual decks, hit "Play" on your controller, and get spinning!

But what about your songs, how come you don't see them in your browser window? That's because we still have to get your music library onto it. Here's how.

Getting your music onto Traktor Pro 2

Music Library

There are three ways to get your music onto Traktor's library: Traktor's browser window, the iTunes tree, and dragging & dropping from a Finder/Windows Explorer window.

Let's get your music onto Traktor's library. Just like in the previous two articles, there are three ways to do this: You can drag and drop from within Traktor's browser, from the iTunes section within Traktor, or by dragging a song from the Finder window (Mac) or Windows Explorer (PC).

  1. Browser – On the lower left side of the screen you’ll see a window with a list of folders (eg Track Collection, Playlists, Explorer etc.). This is the browser list, and clicking on any of these folders populates the window in the middle of Traktor's screen with songs that are contained within that folder. This lists all the audio files that Traktor sees on your hard drive. Try clicking Explorer -> Music Folders to see songs you have in your hard drive's "Music" folder
  2. iTunes - Near the bottom of the browser you’ll find a folder called iTunes. This is where all the playlists and music you have stored in iTunes resides, which is good news if that’s what you use to organise your music because you can just choose songs from this list as if you were picking within iTunes
  3. Drag & drop – You can also just drag a song from your hard drive (Finder for the Mac, Windows Explorer for the PC) onto any of the virtual decks located at the top of the Serato DJ screen

Now that your songs are in Traktor, you should consider analysing them ahead of time. Analysing your tracks enables Traktor to calculate BPM, auto-create beatgrids, and set other attributes and metadata to your music for you. Analysing tracks prior to a DJ set is an essential part of preparation, and one that also saves CPU power as opposed to analysing your songs "on the fly" as you're DJing, particularly with less powerful laptops.

To analyse your songs, highlight the tracks that you'd want analysed, then right-click and choose "Analyze (Async)". A new window pops up, just click OK for now. You'll return to the main Traktor screen and see a progress bar at the bottom of the main interface, letting you know how much longer analysis will take.

Your first mix

Mixer

You can mix "In The Box" without a DJ controller using Traktor's built-in mixer. If you don't see it, just switch layouts using the drop-down menu on the upper right of the screen and choose "Mixer".

Let’s play some tunes! Drag a song from the browser window onto the left virtual deck of Traktor. You’ll see the song’s name appear on the deck, and you’ll see a waveform appear in the middle of the screen. Move your controller’s crossfader to the left, make sure the volume fader is all the way up, and hit the play button on your controller. You should be hearing the song playing back through your speakers.

Do the same thing for the right deck: Drag a song from your browser onto it to load. With the left deck playing, move the crossfader all the way to the right; notice how the volume of the song that’s currently playing begins to dip until it’s silent. With your right volume fader all the way up, hit the play button on the right deck of your controller. You’re now playing the song that you’ve loaded onto the right virtual deck after you faded out from the song on the left: In other words, you’ve just executed your first mix!

Beyond beginners

Kontrol X1 mk2

There's so much you can do with Traktor, and there are also a ton of ways to interact and take control of it.

Now that we've gone through basic set-up procedures and getting your music into Traktor's library, here are a couple of more advanced tutorials from our archives to keep you going:

Conclusion

At this point, you've installed Traktor Pro 2 on your computer, you've activated it (or at least have tried it for the maximum of its time restriction, if you're on a demo), and you've connected your DJ controller. You also have your music library within Traktor Pro 2, and have executed your first mix. Congratulations on getting this far!

This week's video

• That brings our "Your First Day With..." mini-series to an end. I hope it helped walk you through your first encounter with your DJ software of choice, and I also hope that it encouraged you to try out other DJ software in the market as well! One of the best ways to heighten your DJ skills and overall appreciation for DJing is to get out of your comfort zone (whether it's software you've been using for a long time, or a controller that you've mastered) and enter uncharted territory. Like they say, you truly find yourself when you "get lost" in an effort to learn more!

Check out the other parts in this series:

Did you encounter any problems getting Traktor Pro 2 up and running? We’d like to know if we missed anything, so go ahead and let us know in the comments below.

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Comments

  1. About loading a collection into traktor 2... I've got a huge collection (90k) and every time I start-up Traktor Pro, it takes about 45 minutes to load all tracks. During those 45 minutes I can't do anything with the program. Just waiting... Anybody who experiences this too?

    • Traktor does a "quick analyze" (not sure what the actual term for it is) if you go into your hard drive and open a folder to play music out of. Try making a playlist in Traktor and dragging all of your tracks in there. Traktor will just open the playlist and you'll be ready to go without waiting.

    • I had the same problem as well (but not nearly as much music). There's an option in the settings that will stop Traktor from automatically loading all of your music tracks. Then do like what the CHAS3R said and manage your Collections through playlists or through iTunes.

  2. Missing images on the article

  3. Hi Phil - Please could you guys do one for Mixvibes Cross and their various apps (they've even got an Android platform) - I think it's an excellent DJ product - be nice to see it get a similar article alongside the other products

  4. This series was brilliant and brought back memories.

  5. I love my s4 mk2 and traktor but the only thing i did not like about the upgrade was i also has to upgrade my windows from vista to 7 for it all to work.

  6. Michael Grulich says:

    Who needs 90.000 songs in his dj set?
    By the way it works with itunes as well or you can choose any song you want from your collection anywhere and drop it easily into the player of traktor..
    😉

  7. One thing Traktor Pro should disable by default is "Load into a playing deck."

    Also, why not go for round 2 with: Deckadance 2, TheOneDJ, and Mixxx?

  8. Try setting up different playlists with your collection. When people spin vinyl they usually go through their collection the night before and prepare their set by picking out records for the set. Do the same thing with Traktor. After many years of djing, I am now realizing the importance of playlists. Look at a playlist the same way you would a regular track, by the waveform. Build your playlists the same way. This is an underrated part of djing.

  9. Traktor is by far the daddy of all dj software, due to the sound it gives and it's flexibility , if you have a large library of songs (15k+) it can take over a day to analyse ensure you do this before you are going to use traktor as it is impossible to use whilst performing tasks as with checking the consistency do this well before gigs...

  10. Great article and really useful. I have a question though: I bought a Kontrol S2 with Traktor Pro 2 last year. It's great. But I want to be able to use timecode vinyl/cds when I play out, simply by plugging my laptop into a friend's decks/CDJ system. So, I was going to buy the $99 upgrade to Scratch Pro 2 to allow me to do this: use timecode when out, but just the S2 as a midi controller at home. However, NI have told me that Scratch WON'T work with my S2 (only the S4), and their website implies the same thing. Does anyone know why this is? I'm wracking my brains, and am thinking that the people at NI don't actually grasp what I'm asking them. In this article, it is suggested that the problem is that "you can’t use timecode vinyl/CDs with a Traktor Kontrol S2, as this controller doesn’t have any phono/line inputs to plug your turntables or CD players in". But this is doesn't matter to me: I don't own CDJs or decks any more; I just use my S2 at home on its own as a midi-controller. I just want to be sure that if I upgrade to Scratch to allow me to play out on other people's decks with their audio interfaces it will still work when I get home and want to plug Scratch into my S2. Can anyone help?

  11. Can anyone help..I need to know if bundled Full Traktor pro 2 software will allow you yo use 3rd party hardware?

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