Controller Clinic #36: How Can I DJ With Traktor, CDJs and USBs?

Phil Morse | Read time: 2 mins
cdjs rekordbox Traktor USBs
Last updated 6 August, 2017


The Pioneer XDJ-R1 can work with Rekordbox / USBs, Traktor, and your reader's existing turntables... is it the perfect digital/analogue hybrid?
The Pioneer XDJ-R1 can work with Rekordbox / USBs, Traktor, and our reader’s existing turntables… is it the perfect digital / analogue hybrid?

Reader Rich writes: “I’ve been reading a lot of Digital DJ Tips as I finally feel the need to move away from 1210s and CDJs. My current CDJs only play audio CDs, not USBs. At present, most clubs (and other mates’ houses) I play in have USB-enabled CDJs. I’d like to do the same and ditch the audio CDs, but it would mean I’d have to upgrade my CDJs at considerable expense with very little benefit.

“What I’d instead like to do is try to bridge the gap towards DJing with Traktor, while still being able to use USB sticks on my new set-up as well as on the club CDJs. Hopefully then I could just buy / replace one or two items (e.g. mixer / controller) which would be much cheaper and more forward thinking. Do you know if there are any products that would fit my criteria?”

Digital DJ Tips says:

Traktor relies on a laptop and music stored on your hard drive. It’s not designed to work with preparing music on USB and then playing from CDJs. However, it will play nicely with certain higher-end Pioneer CDJs and mixers, so you can plug your laptop into that gear and control Traktor using it. You could of course also use Traktor Scratch (digital vinyl system) to achieve the same end.

However, I’m getting the impression you like the idea of playing with digital DJing gear at home, and also being able to prep your music on USB sticks and DJ as you always have (CDJs and a mixer), just using USB and not real CDs, when you’re “out”.

If so, one solution may be the Pioneer XDJ-R1. This unit has CDJs built in, will also work with USBs and Pioneer’s own rekordbox software (meaning you can prep to play out on modern Pioneer CDJs), and Pioneer has Traktor mappings on its website so you can use Traktor with it too, using it effectively as a controller. It even has twin phono ins for adding your record decks.

There’s a third-party piece of software called Rekord Buddy that can help you keep your libraries in sync for working in both pieces of software (Traktor and rekordbox), so it could prove quite a neat solution.

How would you advise Rich? If you’ve found a way to DJ in all of these ways, please feel free to explain how you’ve managed to combine USB/CDJ DJing and using software and laptops below.

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