As comprehensively outed a few weeks back here on Digital DJ Tips, Native Instruments has a new product in its range: the Kontrol Z2 pro DJ mixer, which was officially launched today. 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..
While the mixer is laid out spaciously in a pretty classic “battle” style (think Rane’s Serato mixers), it is anything but traditional in its feature set. Here’s what it packs into its (rather understated) frame:
- “2+2” workflow. Two “standard” decks controller by the two line channels you see on the pictures, plus two Remix Deck channels (which can also be used for cues and effects), controlled by two rotary knobs
- 24-bit sound card with professional XLR & booth outputs. No pro mixer worth its salt would not have booth and balanced outs, and the 24-bit sound card means the mixer should deliver pristine digital sound, as well as, to be clear, to allow you to use this as a Traktor Scratch mixer with no extra sound interface
- Powered USB hub. This means that Kontrol X1s, Kontrol F1s etc can be plugged in direct to the mixer, with just the one USB lead going from the mixer to your computer
- Hardware filters, innovative software effects. While the two channel filters are hardware (ie they’ll work even with analogue inputs), the effects are software – you need Traktor running to use them. NI has created “workflow-based” effect groupings, or “Macro FX”, designed to give you what are effectively “effects presets” for various DJing situations (breakdowns, buildups etc). This is certainly Pioneer-esque
- Multi-coloured LED pads. Those Rane-esque pads down the left and right are for direct mixer control of Remix Decks and cue points
- Slip mode. NI is calling it “Flux mode”, but it’s the same thing as the “slip” button found on Pioneer and Denon CDJs and on the new Pioneer DDJ-SX Serato DJ controller. You engage it, scratch, cue and loop away, and when you disengage it, the track returns to where it would have been had you just let it play
- Frequently used Traktor functions in the “master” section. Traktor file browse, sync and quantise are in front of your fingers
- Microphone channel. Essential on a pro/club installation mixer, although EQ is limited to a single tone control
- Tight integration with CDJs. “HID technology delivers seamless integration with CDJs including enhanced visual and tactile control of key features”, says NI. Presumably this refers to track length, waveform and album art display on certain Pioneer CDJs with Traktor. But also it means you can use you CDJs as essentially Midi control decks for Traktor. We’re waiting for confirmation on exactly which models
Clearly the unit is meant as the ultimate mixer for Traktor no matter what your workflow, and so in the box you’ll find not only the Kontrol Z2 mixer but a copy of Traktor Scratch Pro 2 and a set of control CDs and control vinyl.
It looks unmistakably “Traktor” with the lights and the design of those knobs and buttons, yet NI has stepped up the quality from the plastic controllers it’s so far released.
Without Traktor, the Kontrol Z2 is a high-quality two channel battle mixer, complete with hardware filters and a decent sound card for incorporating digital sources. But with Traktor it becomes sort of like a cross between the Pioneer DJM-T1 Traktor mixer and the Pioneer DJM-850 (but a two-channel version, the extra two channels being “pseudo channels” for control of Traktor Remix Decks etc.). Whether it gets adopted by clubs as their standard mixer is not something I’d like to bet on, but it’s certainly a statement of intent from NI.
It would make a great touring mixer for Traktor DJs, and of course would also be the perfect vanity product for home digital DJs. Combine it with a couple of CDJ-2000s or some turntables, maybe a Kontrol F1 and /or a Kontrol X1, and you’ve got (at least what NI would consider to be) the ultimate digital DJing set-up.
The Traktor Kontrol Z2 is priced at US$899 / €799, and will go on sale on November 1.
• Full details on the Traktor Kontrol Z2 product page
• View our Traktor Kontrol Z2 Facebook photo gallery
• Read the official Traktor Kontrol Z2 press release
What are your thought on Native Instruments’s first attempt to muscle in on the DJ booth? Would you like to own this mixer? Any features you particularly like, or feel they’ve left off? And is it priced fairly? Please share your thoughts in the comments.