Controller Clinic #17: Best Traktor Controller For Techno?

Phil Morse | Read time: 2 mins
Pro Traktor traktor controllers
Last updated 6 April, 2018

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Richie Hawtin
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’ve 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.”

“My worry is that it has been discontinued and therefore replacement parts may be hard to come by. Also I’m worried about Traktor 2.5 and future Traktor mapping. Also, would it be easy enough adding a Maschine or a Traktor Kontrol F1 or two to spice things up? Any advice would be greatly appreciated, also regarding any other controllers. PS experience tells me I’m fairly heavy-handed on my kit, and I do need to be able to lug it around too.”

Digital DJ Tips says:

If finding the best Traktor controller for techno DJing is your mission, I’d say the Xone:DX isn’t an obvious choice. If I were you, especially as it has been discontinued anyway, I’d look elsewhere. I’m assuming you want metal construction, so try the Denon DN-MC6000 or Vestax VCI-400 (also both high quality, but this time made for Traktor, or at least, not intended for Serato as the Xone:DX is). You can add a Kontrol F1 to any Traktor set-up, so no worries there.

Vestax VCI-400
The Vestax VCI-400: It’s got all the controls, but jogwheel performance for scratching with Traktor is not as good as the Serato equivalent (the VCI-380).

However, if you want to scratch with Traktor you have a problem. Only Native Instruments’s own controllers get scratch performance perfect with the software. In my experience, everyone else’s gear ranges from average to very good – but not perfect. If you want to scratch, then, you’re looking at the Traktor Kontrol S2 or Traktor Kontrol S4. Alternatively, you could going down the DVS route where you buy Traktor Scratch Pro and use existing decks, like Technics (for vinyl) or, say, Pioneer CDJ-850s for CDJ DJing. I suspect this isn’t going to be for you as you’re losing all the portability you rightly identify as being one of the major advantages of controllers.

Finally, if it doesn’t have to be Traktor, all Serato controllers I’ve ever tested have perfect scratch response. You could look at the Vestax VCI-380, for example, although you are more limited in the sampling/remixing side of things, as there’s no Kontrol F1/Remix Decks equivalent going on with Serato software.

I hope that gives you some stuff to think about – I’ll throw this over to the readers too!

So – over to you. What route should Dave go down? What did you choose if you were once in a similar position to him? I’d love you to share your advice with him in the comments.

James Hype Mixing Skills