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