The tantalising possibility of preparing my music on my iOS device ready to DJ with on my laptop was one of the reasons I decided to switch to Traktor for a while in my professional DJ gigs.
OK, the title’s just a bit misleading. I’ve been using Traktor in my job as a DJ tech writer and editor for nearly ten years, ever since a UK magazine I worked for (IDJ) asked me to review some early controllers that used it.
But back then the software I finally personally settled on for my first forays into digital DJing wasn’t Traktor, but Virtual DJ (parallel waveforms, y’see). Later, I used Serato ITCH for all my personal DJing gigs. But a couple of things have recently persuaded me to switch to Traktor for a while in my own DJing – for the first time.
DJ Jason Buckham playing a set from Ableton Live. But what’s the best way of playing back to back between Ableton Live and other DJ software?
Digital DJ Tips reader Biachi writes: “I am going to DJ duet with another musician that runs on Ableton Live. I want to get a DJ controller to go with my MacBook Pro and then be able to sync with Ableton Live. Basically we want to alternate our songs back and forth at shows and have both of our systems go to the PA.
Is it really possible to have any fun DJing on a device as small as an iPhone? We actually think it is, and Traktor DJ for iPhone is another big step towards the doubters realising this…
Just like when Pioneer put a big red sync button on a CDJ, I have to say I loved it when Native Instruments, as one of the “big three” DJ software companies, put a version of its software on the iOS platform. While those of us who “get it” can argue with detractors till we’re blue in the face that it’s actually great fun to DJ on an iPad or iPhone, now we simply have to say: “Well, Native’s designers obviously think iOS is a good platform for DJing, to have come out with Traktor DJ!”
Traktor DJ for iPad rethought the way people might like to DJ on a touchscreen device. Only the rather esoteric DJ Player has had the balls to do this before. This redefining of the workflow put clear blue sky between Traktor DJ and its only volume competitor (also excellent, but in a different way) – djay from Algoriddim. And now with Traktor DJ for iPhone (US$4.99, available from the iTunes store now), Native Instruments has brought this thinking to a device you can hold in two hands as if it were a games controller.
The new Vestax VCI-400TKT is basically the Vestax VCI-400 with a smart Traktor-centric faceplate and an optimised mapping, so those who want to use the VCI-400 with Traktor can now do so more easily out of the box.
The Vestax VCI-400 controller is on show at Musikmesse 2013 in three new editions, with faceplates and mappings for Traktor (VCI-400TKT), Deckadance (VCI-400DK) and djay (VCI-400djay).
The new editions match the Serato DJ Edition (VCI-400DJ) that was previously announced at the NAMM Show, and brings the total number of variants of this controller to five (or six if you include the DJTechTools version).
In this quirky product video, watch DJ Shiftee as he flies in to Berlin with Traktor DJ on the iPad and a boombox on wheels, and performs a mashup, before moving in to the club… and ending up busking!
The method behind the madness is to show multi-touch FX, freeze mode, a live mashup, using the software almost as a Maschine-style touchscreen pad controller, and potentially the most interesting use case: As a third deck for Traktor in a club.
The Numark M101USB is a traditional two-channel mixer, but the USB means you can also run two digital sources through it.
Digital DJ Tips reader Brad writes: “I’ve been in the market for a new set up to replace my current budget kit (Mixtrack). I stumbled upon this Numark M101USB two-channel mixer for cheap!
Can I use this mixer in combination with the Traktor Kontrol X1 (as I have no use for jogs) for a better yet cheaper alternative to my Mixtrack? Does USB mean that it can map to Traktor? And will I need a sound card?”
The Traktor Kontrol stand is designed to raise your X1 or F1 to the height of a standard DJ mixer, to make it fit perfectly next to the Traktor Kontrol Z2 mixer, and also to act as a hard protective case.
With the announcement yesterday by Native Instruments of the Traktor Kontrol Stand – a rather nifty, but not exactly cheap, die-cast aluminium raiser to lift the Traktor Kontrol X1 and Traktor Kontrol F1 controllers up to standard mixer height – we thought we’d scout around and see what else you can buy for US$60 (the Traktor Kontrol Stand will retail at US$59 from March 2013).
Because while the Traktor Kontrol Stand will no doubt be the answer to some DJs’ prayer (especially as it “converts” into a hard case for the X1/F1 when not in use), it turns out that from speakers to DJ controllers, headphones to gig bags, US$60 can go a long way in these frugal times…
There are no details at all about the app yet, save for a picture of Richie Hawtin using an Pad on a yacht or something, posted on the Traktor Facebook Page alongside the words “Richie Hawtin (official page) gets first touch on the upcoming Native Instruments iPad app.”
Richie Hawtin DJing techno using Traktor – but what controller would be best for a techno DJ coming to the platform for the first time?
Digital DJ Tips reader Dave writes: “I’m been a trad DJ for donkeys but for various reasons have decided to go digital, so I’m looking for the best Traktor controller for techno DJing. This where the problems start. I mostly play techno. Being able to scratch would be an added bonus but not essential. My main requirements are using the Traktor software, with the ability of delving into controllerism.
“The only controller that has caught my attention is the Allen and Heath Xone:DX, as it looks tough as nails, has replaceable components, is relatively easily transported, has a decent sound card, has XLR, booth out and phono inputs.
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?
Two Pioneer CDJ-350s and a DJM-400 mixer: This set-up can work fine with Traktor without the need for a separate audio interface.
Digital DJ Tips reader Jon writes: “I have made the transition from the Traktor Kontrol S4 to two Pioneer CDJ-350s and a DJM-400 mixer. I would like to integrate Traktor into my sets, but I’m a little unsure of what audio interface to purchase.
“I will not be using any extra hardware; only what I mentioned previously. I’ve been told so many different things, from not needing any interface at all, to needing Traktor Scratch not Pro. Also, the cheaper, the better, so any help with would be much appreciated. Thanks!”
The Traktor Kontrol F1 is a cool way of incorporating samples into your DJ set, but it goes deeper than that – and if you’re not quite ready for its “Remix Decks” workflow, there are cheaper ways to get going.
Digital DJ Tips reader Dave writes: “I’ve recently been looking at controllers like the Traktor Kontrol F1 and other similar controllers hoping to understand how they all work. The reason being is that I want to start using drum samples etc in my mixing to make it sound a bit more personalised, but as I’m sure you know they’re not cheap!
“I was wondering if you knew of any alternatives to the F1 or even if I can use my current set up (Mixtrack Pro) just to get a feel of how to incorporate sample an loops into my mixing.”
Heading straight into Pioneer and Allen & Heath territory, the Kontrol Z2 is designed for the DJ booth, with a high-quality sound card, Innofaders, aluminium construction and standard profile sizing to fit flush with other pro gear..
The first DJ controller to be bundled with Serato DJ in the box will be called the Pioneer DDJ-SX, launched to coincide with the software on November 1. Meanwhile, the software will be made available to users of current Serato ITCH controllers in a rolling programme throughout winter.
Adding an Allen & Heath K2 to your set-up would give you extra controls. Pic: Traktor Bible
Digital DJ Tips reader Perry writes: “I use Traktor Pro 2 to DJ with, alongside my Kontrol S2 controller and laptop, and while DJing I find it hard to easily vary the effects I can use. If I’m honest, the S2 just doesn’t give me enough options for controlling effects within Traktor.
“So I am writing to you today to asking if there are any external controller units that integrate with Traktor and allow for you to have more control over what you are doing?”
We have a winner! Thank you to everyone for taking part in our survey and draw.
A week or so ago we asked you to take part in a quick survey of your musical tastes, gear, DJing aspirations and so on. We wanted to know a bit more about you to help us to serve you better, and Native Instruments kindly donated $2000-worth of prizes for a draw.
Well, nearly 5,000 of you completed the survey, and today it is our pleasure to announce the winner of our top prize of a Traktor Kontrol S4 with a Traktor Kontrol F1 too.