Traktor 2 is a new “generation,” says Native Instruments, of its flagship DJ software, along with upgraded hardware interfaces. The upgrade is so capable, simply calling it a “DJ” product may be inadequate. Just as Ableton Live’s user base grew to incorporate DJs, Traktor’s capabilities move easily into live performance and remixing, too.

It’s still Traktor. But drawing on Traktor’s background, it’s Traktor as a DJ tool that, aside from just playing auto-beat-matched tracks, can transform into a sampling and remix tool with some far-out sonic effects, for a more dynamic live show.

However you classify yourself, the update promises both expanded usability and, for those who do want to go deeper, more extensive live sonic manipulation.

New features:

  • Redesigned UI you can actually see. NI calls it “high-visibility”; I’d call it “squint proof.” While I’ll need to use it first-hand, it may at last resolve one of Traktor’s most glaring deficiencies – that the UI was too darned hard to see.
  • Four sample decks and the Loop Recorder. I love Ableton, but too often users fail to limit the number of simultaneous samples. Four samples playing at once really is often more than enough, so the four-deck metaphor makes a lot of sense. Coupled with loop recording, you could forget that Traktor is marketing at DJs and have a pretty nice little looping program; I’d been tempted to test it as such to see how it stands up. For people who do call themselves “DJs,” meanwhile, it’s an opportunity to really set your live numbers apart.
  • Big, colorful wave views. High-resolution, color-coded waveforms (and lots of viewing options) let you focus on visual mixing with wave views. That should both please some digital die-hards and offend purists, so we’ll see how people comment online to this one. (Flame war, perhaps?) At the very least, it can make your workspace look nicer.
  • SoftSync. I’m looking into this, but NI says it’s a new automatic beat-matching mode that keeps multiple tracks in sync without “manipulating phase.”
  • New effects: Tape delay emulation, Bouncer (pitch delay) effects, and Ramp delay.

There’s a whole lot to the UI rebuild; it’s not only bigger, but cleaner, adds more waveform feedback, and tons of customization options, all intended, evidently, to make the UI easier to see and use.

Obligatory promo video (as with any manufacturer, put your hype-filtering glasses on … now!):

And Ean Golden over at DJ TechTools already has an in-depth walkthrough:

There’s also a great feature-by-feature walkthrough in the UI that rivals what you’ll find from Native Instruments site:
Traktor Pro 2 @ DJ Tech Tools

To me, the addition of sampler on all decks, a loop recorder, and extra effects make this the first DJ-dedicated tool you could really see as a live tool. For people coming to DJing from producer backgrounds, I think that’ll be welcome.

On the hardware side, the Audio 6 and Audio 10 represent big improvements, too:

  • More I/O: 6 or 10 inputs instead of 4 or 8 on the previous models. NI suggests you use the extra stereo in as a loop or sample in, an effect/send return, for an external mix, or other … stuff. Yeah, it’s handy to have.
  • 24-bit/96kHz Cirrus Logic converters, +12 dBu outs
  • Better LED indicators
  • New Direct Thru function patches an input directly to the output even without a computer connected. (Hmmm… handy if your computer crashes, huh?)

You also get a copy of Traktor LE 2, the new Traktor 2 version of their lightweight DJ tool.

There are loads of great interfaces out there for production and recording; what might appeal about the Audio DJ interface line is its live features – even if you’re more on the live PA / live electronics side than DJing per se.

Mac and Windows support; I’ll be curious if the unofficial / unsupported Linux drivers remain compatible, as there – with far fewer good choices – NI’s stuff tends to be a great choise. (I use an Audio Kontrol 1 right now with my Ubuntu setup, and get some fantastic low-latency performance.)

Even the audio interfaces get their own video:

And a bonus video of Traktor Scratch:

TRAKTOR PRO 2 – $229 / 199 EUR
TRAKTOR DUO 2 – $119 / 99 EUR

S4 users get the new Traktor for free; other upgrades available. On the interfaces:

TRAKTOR AUDIO PRO 6 $279/249 EUR (that’s the bargain, in my opinion)

Okay, now with your hype goggles off, let us know what you think.
Traktor Lineup Page

  • I've used Traktor and Traktor Scratch Pro for years. I recently moved to Serato's Itch using the Numark V7 as my controller (I have two).

    I like that they (NI) did colored wave forms. I think that's great for visual cues when mixing.

    That being said, I think TSP still falls down with beat grids. I don't see anywhere on this release where you can adjust the grid for tracks that variable tempos. Serato has that down and it is very well implemented.

    This is a major feature that should be included for Traktor.

    Secondly, the playlist management features still seem to be lacking. Serato's solution allows you to put songs in a Prepare playlist while you are playing for easy reference. it is akin to when we used to DJ with vinyl, taking the vinyl out of the crate and turning it diagnol for future play consideration in a set.

    Until Traktor has better playlist management and flexible beatgrids, its off the table for me.

    I like the competition here – it only benefits customers, but I still think Serato is built with the work flow a DJ in mind moreso than Traktor.

    I think with the S4, NI is going to eat into the Ableton crowd a bit. It is a nice solution even with its deficiencies for certain features compared to Serato.

    Good stuff all around.

  • eL

    well promoted, NI. (as always)
    Other than the sample/loop recorder/player I see little news. I agree with rob, would have loved to see some other improvements… (Other than beatgrid, I hate to do controller mappings… why not such an nice editor like for the midi mappings???) Still remains to be seen if I can justify the upgrade price, I don't think so as I have it mostly synced to maschine or ableton…

  • Peter Kirn

    Well, no, that's fair — and actually, having these sampling and looping features and such is really kind of immaterial if you have Maschine or Live. So I do always see these features and wonder who will take advantage of them. I think the question is whether Traktor can do enough that you'd use it in place of those other tools, on one hand, or whether DJs will be brave enough to do more live looping when they can just (cough) play some beat-matched tracks.

    And far be it from me to criticize; another huge variable is whether that kind of experimentation will get you fired. 😉 (Hey, if you DO need someone to clear out a room, I could probably develop some techniques that would.)

    But I'm interested to hear – you do sync into Maschine and Live?

    The honest truth is, most people don't push the capabilities that way. So I'm always interested to hear about the people who are.

    And yes, they did a lot of promotion work. My editing philosophy this week seems to be pasting everything, so long as everyone has the stamina for it… 😉 

  • Julian

    Given how many people have been sold traktor scratch pro in recent months any word on the following. 

    1) will there be an upgrade option for owners of traktor scratch pro ?

    2) will you be able use the audio 4/8 with the new traktor

    Given I've only just bought the previous due to native instruments crushing proprietry nature I'd not be happy if no to the above

  • Peter Kirn

    1. Here's the pricing:

    Free for S4 owners. But Scratch isn't there, so I'm honestly confused what their price is. I think it's a safe bet to assume there will be an upgrade.

    2. Yes, of course.

  • Julian

    Thanks. I was the idiot who bought scratch pro the week before it went on sale at half price…   I wonder if there will be a native instrents customer service revamp to match 

  • I do hope they keep the Linux drivers working for those new interfaces. With decent Firewire becoming harder to find in new laptops, USB 2.0 is clearly becoming the way forward, at least for mobile interfaces, and the NI interfaces are some of the few USB 2.0 devices with solid Linux support.

  • Zac Kyoti

    @Peter: I'm one of the people syncing to Live and running Traktor's audio through it. I have mixed feelings about this update as it seems to be offering little that I don't already have with my current set up. Don't get me wrong, I think that it makes sense for NI to have developed this product – I wouldn't recommend the time I spent developing a working Traktor+Ableton bridge on one controller to anyone. I think TPro 2 will satisfy that basic idea right out of the box. That being said though, there's many aspects of TPro + Ableton that I can't live without, that TPro 2 doesn't provide. Send/return while mixing internally, full custom processing on channels and master, dummy clip fx automation on Traktor and Ableton channels, the list goes on.

    What I would have rather seen, to be honest, is A) Flexible beatgrids ala Itch – A must, IMHO. B) VST integration. C) Fixing some nasty bugs that have been present for far too long – though to be fair, some of those may be squashed in the new release, we'll see. The SoftSync idea is definitely a welcome addition.

  • strunkdts

    Virtual DJ, while being very "uncool" is a kick ass prog that had the jump on these guys way back.

    Still does.

  • Julian

    @zac.   Would love the details of that traktor bridge with ableton!   So you've got them both running through each other on the SAME computer?  Impressive.   Wish ableton and NI would provide some support in this ares and stop being such separatists 

  • Peter Kirn

    @strunkdts: Hey, I'm glad there's more than one DJ program! Care to tell us why you like Virtual DJ?

    @Zac: No, if that's what you want, this may well not be for you… 

  • l0rdr0ck

    I also run Traktor into Ableton.  Seems you were a little curious Peter so i can describe my setup. (Mac) 
    Korg Zero4, jackosx, ableton, traktor pro

    Traktor in External Mixer Mode
    (Ableton is working like a input matrix mixer, Zero4 is the surface and audio card)
    Traktor outputs to jack out 1-8
    Ableton input jack input 1-8
    Ableton output to Korg physical output
    I use IAC to sync.  I sync Live to Traktor.
    Each Traktor Deck A/B/C/D is a channel in Live.  

  • I like (sarcastically) how they say that the audio10 is, "for PRO DJ's, and industry professionals…" and some of the DJ's I see in their promo video all use Serato SL. i use both tools and Ableton Live. What's key is if the feature set and price of the NI gear is right for what you want to do when compared to other systems integrated or not. My rule of thumb is that DJ's using CDJ's are all playing CD's usually mastered at 44.1k 16bit with freq range that is 2 Hz up to 22,050 Hz to the ear. Vinyl DJ's have been spinning at somewhere similar ranges but also at different types of ranges it seems depending on who mastered the vinyl. In the digital realm? these new audio interface offerings don't really make me interested in upgrading from the existing SL1 (DVS with similar software enhancements) or my back up Audio2/Midi setup with Traktor Pro. I can use any interface I already own that supports 24bit/192kHz like my Profire 610. I also don't see any digital i/o for going straight to a digital recording source so I don't think any of these new NI units are PRO. In terms of an integrated DVS system, Traktor does present a good choice when compared to SL1. What I'm more interested in learning is if they have improved the drag/lag in their DVS. I'm also finding the real reason why people use Traktor is not any of the advertised features in the videos but the mix SYNC and 4 decks. I personally like the effects and wish they would have external inputs route through their virtual mixer to use the effects. Now that would be PRO! I guess that's what the loop recorder could be used for.

  • Igor

    "Serato’s solution allows you to put songs in a Prepare playlist while you are playing for easy reference."

    Well, that's called the "preparation" playlist in traktor…

  • KH

    Disappointment here too- about missing flexible beatgrids.

    I've been using Traktor since 2003- and that's how long I've needed flexible beatgrids. Native Instruments has a long history of adding arcane bells & whistles, while ignoring improvements for basic DJ needs.

    The basic information about creating and working with beat grids has long been left to third parties to explain. Storing your waveforms reliably within the MP3 files and retaining your cue information was black magic for years, while NI added stuff like Icecast support, or the next dozen audio filters.

    Basic usability has been a mess- something they're apparently starting to care about. It's why Serato was able to come in and eat Traktor's lunch. 

    Native Instruments has a lot of bright people, but the product management has been a mess for years.

  • Leslie

    NanoStudio is THE only iPhone app that I keep on my iPad – simply brilliant …

  • Random Chance

    I don't care about Traktor (because I'm not a DJ nor do I pretend to be one), but from what I perceive of their development efforts as a user of most of NI's other products I have the feeling that they are concentrating more on consolidating, making durable, and fixing annoying bugs everywhere. The last few public betas of programs such as Battery, Massive, and recently FM8 are all about 64bit support and making sure they work really well in contemporary environments (like 64bit Mac OS). They listen to bug reports, but they have a much harder time listening to feature requests (I wonder if they've fixed the issuse with case sensitive file systems in Battery or if they even considered doing that, which BTW is not a problem limited to NI). What you get is stable and (for the most part) usable products that on the feature side reflect more what NI wants and less what everybody else wants. I've never associated NI and flexibility, granted there's Reaktor with it's Core engine, but that does not include FFT components which is strange to say the least, like providing you with a knife but not giving you a fork to eat your steak. So, I'm not surprised that this new version of Traktor disappoints a few people. Don't get your hopes up when it comes to NI, they're more the types that pleasantly surprise you when you least expect it.

  • i just wish it worked in wine traktor d.j. studio 3 does.

    I'd buy it in a sec.

    but at the pace mixxx is going, I'll probably have most of these features by next year for free anyway.

  • @strunkdts : I agree, the best DJ software, the most flexible, and which has by far the best tempo-detecting algorithm is Virtual DJ. Completely underrated software.

  • Dioxide

    Algoriddim Djay FTW. I don't see anything that appeals about the Traktor update.

  • phattfoniks

    @strunkdts :
    i own traktor and have timecoded records and a vci-100. i downloaded the demo of virtual dj after reading your comment and while the interface is abit tacky :O the beatmatching was really impressive! thanks for the heads up 🙂

  • Trust me, I've tried them all,  Virtual DJ's betmatching is "unbeatable". And you can customize the looks, there are hundreds of skins available.

  • strunkdts

    Sorry, just got back.
    YEP Virtual DJ gives up to 99 decks, beat detect is so so solid and spot on and was the first app to really nail it, Same with key detection too. HAs Traktor even got this? Plenty of room for samples, audio input,looping from 1 bar to 32, or is it 64? I cant remember.All the same shit as NI and Its only a fraction of the price. Its skinnable, merges seamlessly with interfaces and midi gear. I use an axiom to control the cross fader with the mod wheel, and trigger samples, punch in/out with the pads. Too easy.

    Did i mention its cheap?
    Im not a DJ, DJ, but i like to fang tunes at a party now n then and mash up my own stuff and this is too easy.

    And no, i dont work for them. Im just sick of NI gettin all the press.

    glad to help out.

  • Peter Kirn

    @strunkdts: Then sounds like a nice setup, especially with the sample triggering.

    Hey, I'm down to toss press at other developers, always. I can't always depend on hearing from them, so sometimes it's up to the users to remind me – especially if there's a significant update.

  • strunkdts

    actually i just had a look and Traktor is cheaper.

  • strunkdts

    yeah cool, peter. Im not hating on ya style. Not at all. NI make great stuff, they really do. But theres lots of other cats out there too.