Elevate your Mix….
Is the message teasing you from the Native Instruments’ website which, if like us, you’ve been eagerly checking on a near daily basis in case any more morsels of information should be released. Well be teased no more as we have a the brand spanking new Traktor right here, and we’ve given it the full once over – and we like it!
Exciting as this launch is, especially for long time Traktor Pro users, the release is a mixture of new features and an amalgamation with the dedicated S4 version, which already carried some of the new features in Traktor Pro 2. So original Pro users will be salivating at the prospect of things like sample/loop decks and a loop recorder, while S4 users get less new tricks (but the trade off being a free upgrade). In addition to the sample and loop decks, Traktor have introduced what they are calling TruWave coloured waveforms. This has been a much requested feature in Traktor, and something users of other software have enjoyed for some time. The other main addition everyone will be keen to enjoy are the new effects. Traktor has long been the standout DJ platform when it comes to effects, so the addition of both Tape delay and Bouncer to the ranks will really bolster this reputation, and of course, we give them the full treatment in the video in this very article.
Simplicity and Control
These are the two buzz words that Native Instruments have been attaching to Traktor 2 and largely this seems to be in relation to the new coloured waveforms which give a visual reference for a sounds frequency (bass or hi-end for example) as well as the audio peaks as before. This is handy for those that are used to mixing using the visual reference, classic ‘by-ear’ mixers and sync button mashers will just have something nice to look at, but a worthy addition none the less. Track browsing, sync and layouts have all been bought up to S4 speed and the overall look and feel is now a more solid and coherent collection of Traktor technology.
For owners of previous versions of Traktor, this really is the biggie. Sample decks break open the creative constraints imposed by ‘regular’ deck mixing. Sampling and looping isn’t anything new in itself, but the implementation in Traktor Pro 2 is what really takes it out of the novelty and into a new realm. All four decks can be converted in to sample decks or live inputs, each sample deck allows up for four loops to be stored and triggered either as a one shot or a loop. The software comes bundled with a selection of samples from Loopmasters to get you going and are a collection of individual song parts purposely made for dropping into a sample deck and creating something new on the fly. With just four samples, perhaps a drum loop, bass line, lead and a vocal you can build and create tracks and remixes seamlessly and effortlessly, imagine what you can do with eight, twelve or even sixteen!
“Traktor without a controller is like a bike without tyres, it’ll do the same job, but it’s way less fun and it doesn’t look right either.”
Each sample bank has its own filter and volume controls and can be toggled between loop and one shot giving a good amount of flexibility between MPC style ‘drumming’ and sequencer style layering. Loops can also be extracted from the currently playing track on the go meaning you can create interesting mix variations limited only by your imagination. For our money, it is this feature which poses the biggest potential change and benefit to DJing in general. We’ve always extended sections or played back samples over and over, even with vinyl, but with the new multi sample approach complex musical passages can be built up and performed in a live manner truly bringing the wall between DJing and production down to significantly lower levels.
The loop recorder takes this concept one further by allowing external sounds – including vocals – to be introduced, effectively meaning with this software you can use it as a sample instrument for a whole performance without even using regular tracks, just everything built up on the go – it’s a true performance tool. I can only hope that people start to think outside of the typical DJ model and start to realise its true potential, if anyone still thinks that DJing has to be just going back and forth between tracks, you are very wrong.
The jewel for many in Traktor’s crown has always been the effects, we might wager that the sample decks now vie for this title with equal gusto, but with some new weapons in its arsenal, the fight isn’t quite over yet. Four new effects land in this version namely Tape Delay, Ramp Delay, Bouncer and Auto Bouncer. Each of these gets a demonstration in the video review in this article, and will give you a much better idea of its capabilities than words ever can, but lets just say that they are up to the usual high standards you would expect from one of the biggest music software publishers in the market right now.
Of course, mixing effects with sample decks is where things can really kick off, and we expect a whole new breed of loop based DJs to emerg exploiting just that, perhaps post ‘Controllerism’ we might have ‘Loopism’ and ‘Loopists’. You heard it here first.
Interface and Useablity
This second iteration of Traktor pro sees Native Instruments further honing in on the ideal interface and user experience. Particular attention has been paid to integrating Traktor Pro 2 with the wide range of controllers available and, unsurprisingly, their own devices are extremely well catered for. Using Traktor Pro 2 with the control S4 is just a dream come true, and if the video reports are anything to go by, the X1 users will be having a great time too. Traktor without a controller is like a bike without tyres, it’ll do the same job, but it’s way less fun and it doesn’t look right either. If you are unsure which one suits you best, that’s beyond the scope of this review, but the complete experience of the S4 is ideal for new users, and advanced users might enjoy the flexibility, price and scalability of the X1.
Traktor Pro 2 is available now for $229 / 199 EUR