Features come and features go. As upgrades go, Traktor 2.5 has plenty to recommend it – plus, it’s free for current Traktor 2 users, meaning you probably don’t need anyone’s advice to try it out. So, then, the question is: will tools mean that the DJ gigs you hear be any different? There’s nothing wrong with DJs who simply smoothly mix records, whether on vinyl or digital. But that doesn’t stop music fans from sometimes longing for more of a performance.
Traktor 2.5 is clearly focused around those “live” features – remixing music rather than just beat-matching and playing. As such, there’s clear influence from Ableton Live, but also from drum machines and sample instruments. What’s new, in a nutshell:
- Remix Decks, like banks in a sampler or software tools like Ableton Live’s Session View, trigger loops and one-shots. The notion: really work with samples and snippets instead of just playing whole tracks as-is. And significantly, you can capture these on the fly, and – unlike Ableton Live – you can scratch them with jog wheels or vinyl/CD timecode. The Decks also contain their own independent tempo, transport, and sync controls.
- Per-slot Controls. Also unlike Live and many other sample-triggering tools, each slot is independent – so you can route separately through effects, punch-switch between loops, and set individual transport, sync, and even quantize tools.
- Smarter beat detection and analysis. A lot of current Traktor users are paying more attention to this one – tempo tap, detection, and analysis, and grid features have been improved. Automatic detection is better, says NI, but so, too, are manual options for setting your own grids.
- Save “Remix Sets” to have your Remix Decks ready to go for performances, all with an improved browser.
- Improved hardware integration on the CDJs, S2/S4.
Traktor Kontrol F1 hardware is due this week, with integrated tactile control, though mapping features for third-party hardware is also improved.
At top, you can see what happens when Stewart Walker plays it live in a fairly reasonable demo of what it does, though I’m hopeful for a broad range of applications.
NI is also including 1.4 GB of artist content to get you jump-started with Remix Decks.
More information from the source:
What Others Are Saying
Traktor Pro 2.5 Free Upgrade Available Now [DJWorx, formerly Skratchworx]
Chris and Jared take on the new products for DJWorx, pointing in particular to improved timecode, beat grid and analysis, and – something you might easily miss – better browser management, atop the obvious Remix Decks tool. Chris Cartledge predicts nothing less than a full paradigm shift:
Time will tell how much I love 2.5, and I’m just as eager to see how other developers take to the implementations as I am to get to grips with it myself. What Traktor is potentially doing here is revolutionising the DJ software market, and I don’t say that lightly; a lot of developments have led to it (Ableton Live’s workflow contribution is pretty obvious), but there’s finally a true paradigm shift emerging away from the classic ‘wheels of steel’ mode of DJing, and the onus is on developers everywhere to help facilitate a new era of DJ performance.
One concern: the new sample approach could mean that DJs who have worked out elaborate mappings and sample workflows will have to take a step backward to adapt. Speaking of which…
DJ TechTools also has a feature-by-feature look at the new version. And, crucially, they suggest this so that you maintain your existing settings – perfect if you do need to upgrade:
1. Open Traktor Preferences
2. Click the “Export” button
3. Check everything you want to save!
4. Export away.
Traktor Pro 2.5 Free Upgrade Available Now [Dan White for DJ TechTools]
Hope For DJ Evolution
A good party with some good dancing is a good thing, whether or not there’s a whole lot of live manipulation going on. But as I see these tools – and as I talk to virtually every developer of DJ tools – I also hope for more experimentation. The turntable tradition and the hip-hop tradition found ways of making vinyl decks instruments. Oddly, the results in today’s digital world can be conflicted. When you see a DJ billed as “live PA” or “live,” it very often simply means someone using Ableton Live, literally – and then, very often simply using Live’s Session View as a way of storing and playing back complete, beat-matched tracks rather than doing live manipulation. In many contexts, this is perfectly acceptable, but it reduces the level of surprise, the sense that a musical performance is an ephemeral creation. You may lose the sense that if you weren’t there, you would have missed something.
This sentiment is perhaps best reserved for a separate editorial, but looking at Traktor 2.5, you do see one of the major players in the DJ scene taking a major step into a new direction. Streamlined mapping workflows on one hand, combined with Remix Decks on the other, offer the chance for some DJs to make dynamic new kinds of performances. Yes, there’s influence from Ableton Live, but the ability to “scratch” and jog the samples in new ways, as well as to treat each remixable “slot” separately from the others, offers some different working methods. There’s also the simple fact that, for the community of DJs comfortable with Traktor, manipulating samples is only going to happen within their tool of choice.
I’ll say this – talking to Native Instruments and their competitors, these days I’m not only looking at what the tool does. I’m curious what artists are doing with it. That should make the next months interesting, as DJs begin to get their hands on Traktor 2.5.
Of course, some of those artists are our readers, so I do encourage you to let us know what you think – and, for users of other tools (Serato, Ableton, FL Studio, Csound, a couple of Kaoss Pads, a modded Commodore 64 … two cassette Walkman players, a mixer, and a circuit-bent amp) how your working method compares in your tool of choice.
Updated: Remix Decks and Custom Controllers
If you want to use the Remix Decks with a controller other than NI’s own F1, you have some limitations: not all of the slots are currently accessible by third-party controllers. That story broke on DJ TechTools:
Traktor’s 2.5 Remix Decks will have Limited Controller Function.. For Now (Updated)
However, NI tells DJ TechTools (and confirms to CDM) that this is not the long-term plan. We’re awaiting an official statement by NI so we can reproduce specifics; we’ll run this as a separate story, since obviously many CDM readers are keenly interested in using their own controllers – either their controller hardware of choice or something they build themselves.