A bit of an open secret after leaks on various retail outlets’ pages over the last few weeks, but nonetheless, Native Instruments today officially announced the Traktor Kontrol X1 Mk 2, as the video above shows. The biggest change over the original is the addition of a touchstrip that lets you manipulate your music files without jogs, decks or CDJs (in a similar way to that pioneered by the Novation Twitch). The next most significant addition is the new Flux mode. This first appeared in Traktorland on the Kontrol Z2 mixer, and is similar to “slip” mode on Pioneer and Denon gear.
What’s new in the Traktor Kontrol X1 Mk 2
With the Kontrol X1 already a game-changing controller for all kinds of DJs, the Traktor Kontrol X1 Mk 2 looks to be ready to build on its predecessor’s runaway success, with the touchstrip being only the first of a number of improvements that don’t detract from the original purpose of this modular device: to offer control over transport, browsing, cues, sync, loops and effects in Traktor. A “decks and effects” controller, as Native Instruments likes to refer to it.
The same size as the original Kontrol X1 although with slightly updated styling (notably the new Traktor font and the shiny/matt parts on the top), the unit has some subtle control changes too in addition to the big news of the touchstrip.
The browse and loop knobs are apparently genuinely touch sensitive, so for instance as soon as you touch the library browse knob to select a track, Traktor knows and automatically switches to library mode. This is something I’ve not seen in production DJ gear before (although it has been promised for many of the controls on Numark’s forthcoming NS7 II).
The Traktor Kontrol X1 Mk 2 also swaps out the orange/blue LEDs of the original Kontrol X1 for more flexible full RGB colours, and double-digit (ie seven-segment) LED too, for better parameter feedback.
How the touchstrip works
The touchstrip, though, is the real pull. We’ve learned from Native Instruments that out of the box, it is mapped to let you nudge both decks at once, as it recognises two-finger touching. That means you can use the left-hand side of the touchstrip to nudge deck A, and the right-hand side to nudge deck B. This behaviour is apparently adjustable.
Just like jogwheels on such-equipped DJ controllers (and the touchstrips on the Novation Twitch), these “know” what state your deck is in, so they’ll let you “scratch” or scrub through a track when the deck is paused, but revert to nudge behaviour when it’s playing. They can also be used to control loops, and the effects, something we’ve been told is “especially awesome in Flux mode”. Flux mode, for the uninitiated, tells the software to effectively keep track of where a track would have played to had you not taken an action, so when you finish taking that action, it plays on from that point.
For instance, you may initiate some looping; in Flux mode, the track will carry on playing as if you had done nothing. This allows for extreme cue juggling and so on safe in the knowledge that you won’t lose your place in the track, or any ongoing beatmix.
First thoughts on the Traktor Kontrol X1 Mk 2
The Kontrol X1 ran away and became a pretty universal go-to controller for everyone from Traktor Scratch DJs using turntables or cheap CDJs who wanted control over simple stuff like library browsing and loops, to minimal techno bods who enjoyed rolling up in the DJ booth with a compact set-up comprising little more than a laptop, small sound card and X1.
Native Instruments obviously recognised this in the redesigning for Mk 2, because this unit can still fulfil all those purposes. Although DVS users won’t need the touchstrip for track manipulation, they can still use it for effects. But for those who are looking for the ultimate minimal DJ set-up, it just got much more useful, as touchstrips are actually pretty intuitive for track control, and if these are implemented anywhere near as well as those on the Novation Twitch, this controller just took a massive leap forwards.
Those who were expecting compatibility with Traktor DJ on the iPad will be disappointed though, as even were a mapping devised that made sense with that software, there is no provision for its attachment into a micro DJ system involving this and, say, the Traktor Kontrol Z1 mixer. Also note that, unlike the original Traktor Kontrol X1 (and Traktor Kontrol F1), this doesn’t come with a full version of Traktor Pro 2.x; you instead get a money-off e-voucher for a US$50/€50 reduction.
Overall, though, as a replacement for the venerable Traktor Kontrol X1, on paper this looks excellent. We’ll of course bring you a full review as soon as we can.
• Price US$229 / €199. Find out more about it and see some more pics here.
Are you excited by the new Traktor Kontrol X1 Mk 2? Does that touchstrip mean the slow death of the jogwheel (at least in NI’s world)? We’d love you to share your thoughts in the comments.