Native Instruments’ Traktor Kontrol D2 deck was all but revealed at WMC, but now we’re finding out more clearly how everything comes together.
And we know the price: the unit is US$499 (499€ / £429), even with that nice color display. (If NI is getting their part cost down, I wonder if we might soon see a display like this on a Maschine other than the Studio – which is great, since the Studio is kinda huge.)
That price is doubly impressive now that it includes TRAKTOR PRO 2. That’s an impressive deal for new users. (If you already own Traktor, though, you can’t resell it – it’s tied to the hardware. But still… now I’m curious what the upgrade path will be if there’s a new version of Traktor around the corner, and there’s reason to believe here there is.)
Availability date: 4th of May.
Mostly, none of the following should come as a surprise, even if we now get greater clarity:
One unit controls everything: transport controls, cue points, loops, Remix Decks. All of this is mapped in advance, as it should be, for Traktor.
“Stem Decks” are coming: yes, to support that new Stems format, you’ll have what NI calls “Stem Decks” in addition to the current Remix Decks. And they’re coming in summer. So, sounds like Traktor 3 is probably arriving in summer.
It’s a hub. There are two USB ports on the back for chaining, plus a power splitter so you can get enough electricity into your hardware from a single dongle.
It gets the whole workflow on your hardware. This to me is relevant. Right now, workflow in Traktor is a mishmash of keyboard shortcuts, tangled controller mappings, confusing dialog boxes full of preferences, and … sorry, weren’t we trying to accomplish some simple DJing here? It’s great that a robust community of serious DJs have hacked together custom solutions – and I hope that continues. It’s less great that Traktor often seems resistant to the things you want to do with it out of the box.
And that’s why the D2 is important – perhaps more than the gargantuan S8. The D2 gives you a single, consistent workflow for preparing tracks, making them sound correctly on the grid (as that automatic sync often isn’t as musical as your ears are), and when you are ready to play, browsing through tracks, cueing, and looping. When you want to get fancier, it also makes it far more comfortable to slice live or remix live.
We also get a first glimpse from NI what their Stems interface looks like. Looks good to me – and I’d love to see other developers on mobile and desktop come up with their own ideas.
Frankly, I can’t wait to get my hands on one. My current controller setup is … well, okay. But I have no question this would be better, and it still leaves things open for adding custom control via your own MIDI faderbox and the like if you want.
But while NI is showing two D2s with a mixer between – which makes loads of sense in some contexts – I think the perfect Traktor setup may soon be a D2 and almost nothing else. In your studio or on the go, that’s already a lot of power without having to deal with the computer interface.
And here’s a performance test, shot in Berlin’s Tresor. (Perfect setup: a couple of D2s and an Allen & Heath mixer. Perfect way to be in Tresor – with none of the actual people there, but you, and the sound turned down to a more reasonable 96 dB.)
Product site – unfortunately missing hard specs (like size/weight):
One other detail I notice: correction – they are bundling the software.
So, DJ competitors: your move. (Serato with a similar, svelte controller setup? I’d be interested. But they don’t have anything quite this simple yet.)