Let’s face it: a lot of people ignore the four-deck features of Traktor. But for those who exploit that power, and who are willing to invest in a high-end, boutique design, here’s the controller for you.
Faderfox has long been respected for making boutique-quality MIDI controllers for DJing and Ableton Live performance. The previous Faderfox line, though, was restricted to compact devices focused on one task.
Now, enter a small-batch controller for simultaneous four-deck DJ control, specifically in Native Instruments’ Traktor Pro. While NI’s own Traktor Kontrol S4 has a “4″ in it, it doesn’t actually allow the simultaneous use of four decks without switching, preferring instead to reserve that space for jog wheels.
The 4midiloop is a different animal: no jog wheels, just an array of dedicated controls for all four decks and all four effects slots, a strong dose of German and Swiss aircraft engineering. (Really.) The resulting design, contained in a housing machined from a single piece of recycled aluminum, and built to exacting specifications from heavy components, is something unique. It’s all in a layout worthy of a 747 cockpit. And yes, unlike previous Faderfox hardware which had MIDI-only connections and required separate power, the new device is powered entirely by USB with USB communication with the computer.
Features, in a nutshell (see the full specs on their site):
- 47 potentiometers for effects, nine rubber encoders for browsing, seek/scratch, 152 LEDs, and 166 push buttons. (Damn.) Four faders, “pro” crossfader. See the layout in action.
- Ready-to use with Traktor Pro 1.2.4 and later on Mac and Windows.
- 3.6 kg, even with all that metal.
- USB class-compliant and bus-powered.
You pay for that quality – 1300EUR. Then again, count up the number of encoders and buttons, and that isn’t outrageous for a boutique-quality item. Preorder starts this month, shipping in October.
Here’s a quick preview, as well as a conversation with designer Mathias of Faderfox. I like that Mathias is opinionated about what a DJ controller should be – working with DJ Mole – and what his ideas reveal about the possibilities of different workflows and controllers, even as an alternative to NI’s “official” vision with the S4.
CDM: Let’s compare this to something like the Traktor Kontrol S4. Aside from the obvious lack of the jog wheels, where does the 4midiloop fit in – how does it differentiate itself?
Mathias: The difference to all available 4-deck-controllers is the fact that you have all possible controls for all 4 decks and 4 fx slots on the 4midiloop. So there are no limits and no necessary shift-switchings like on the other devices.
The S4 is a 4-deck-mix-controller with capability to control 2 fx slots and deck function of only 2 decks (simultaneously).
And of course these jogwheels — which I hate and which are unnecessary for techno and similar styles (my opinion).’
I simply use encoders for seek/scratch functions… it saves so much space…
4midiloop has no audio capability (on board soundcard) because my experience is that users mostly prefer to use their individual favorite sound card to have the perfect sound and latency.
The 4midiloop has more mixer controls: 4-band-EQ, key control, kill-buttons for each eq band, filter on/off, key
lock, 4 fx assign keys, cross-fader assign keys, dedicated master section and maybe the world’s best faders (Eclectic Breaks – Pro X Fade)
What would a typical setup look like with the 4midiloop?
You need only:
- laptop (MacBook recommended)
- A soundcard (simple NI Audio 2 DJ)
- NI Audio 8 DJ + turntable if you want to control by timecode vinyl
(scratch system, see youtube video)
No external power supplies! It’s completely USB-powered.
You don’t need any additional control gear because it’s an absolutely complete device. So you will find more and more new possibilities in Traktor Pro through this no-limit-controller, and the easy access to all possible functions in Traktor.
BTW, it’s no problem to reassign all controls (there are also shift functions on each control). So you can also use new functions in later versions of Traktor Pro, like the sample decks, etc. which will be taken over from the S4 in the future.
Regarding price: of course, it’s quite expensive, like other good mixer gear too (see Pioneer, Allen&Heath, etc.) But note that you get a handmade device which is produced in very
small lots in Germany/Switzerland. And there is no plastic (except the knobs)…
We working on a second version (black faceplate with gray buttons).
Here’s the video from January with DJ Mole:
And a high-res gallery: