Adding pads to a digital DJ setup: here, the new Kontrol F1 hardware, with its colored matrix of pads, nestles in between more conventional mixers and decks. Image courtesy Native Instruments.

Native Instruments had already revealed that it would add new hands-on remixing capabilities to its flagship DJ hardware and software line. But today, we get to see precisely what form that will take, with a grid of light-up, colored pads that seek to make DJing with Traktor as much about remixing tracks as playing them.

Plenty of DJs and electronic musicians have been doing just that via a variety of methods. Some use samplers like the MPC, some hardware like Korg’s KAOSS line, some combine live and DJ sets in software like Ableton Live, and some even use custom creations built in tools like Max and NI’s own Reaktor. What sets Traktor Kontrol F1 apart is an approach that melds those sampling/remixing features with DJ-style decks, in something NI calls “Remix Decks.”

The function of the touch-sensitive, light-up LED colored pads is a bit different from similar offerings, as well. Any light-up grid of pads will recall hardware for Ableton Live and devices like the ground-breaking monome grid controller. As with the Ableton solutions, those F1 pads do indeed launch clips, as well as everything from full tracks to loops and one-shot samples (samples that play once without looping).

These triggers act as shortcuts, too, however, with settings like Punch mode, effects assignment, and sample muting mappable to the matrix of pads, too. There are 16 pads, as on iconic hardware like the MPC, but you can scroll through pages on an encoder. You can also trigger functions like Sync, Quantize, Sample Size, and Reverse. As such, the F1 is a bit like a compendium of everything we’ve seen in grid controllers. You could treat it like an MPC with more conventional samples, you could treat it like Ableton’s Session View of clips, or use it as a set of shortcut keys as we’ve seen in hardware like DJ Tech Tools’ MIDI Fighter – or some combination, or more than any of those things.

In case you don’t want to combine this with another controller – perhaps hoping to squeeze into cramped quarters in a DJ booth – there’s also a set of four volume faders and four filter knobs.

Kontrol F1 is both a software and hardware release – the controller, of course, but also accompanying (and bundled) Traktor Pro 2.5 software, whose new Remix Deck features will be available to all Traktor Pro users as a free update. Image courtesy Native Instruments.

The release today is also about new functionality in Traktor Pro software itself. Delivered in the 2.5 release, the new build packs up to 64 slots for samples – much as you’d find in a sampler or something like Ableton Live – right in the DJ tool. These samples then play on up to four decks. The “Remix Deck” is differentiated from a normal “Deck” in that it adds beat grids, BPM, and key information associated with those samples – again, a bit as you’d find in looping software. (I’d utter the word Ableton again, but it’s really Acid and Propellerheads’ REX that introduced that idea.)

Traktor Pro 2.5, showing off those new decks. Photo courtesy Native Instruments.

To me, it’s really the combination of those sampling-style functions with DJ-style decks that are interesting. The moment you bring the deck metaphor back, you’re re-entering a realm that’s more comfortable for DJs. On the other hand, all this remix business could finally bridge some of the gap between DJ software and production tools for producers who find themselves juggling both roles.

We won’t get shipping hardware until May 30, but I hope to talk to NI more about it before then. US$279 / 249 € is the full price. Given that comes with a full copy of Traktor Pro 2.5, I’m not sure if the software has become free or controllers are becoming standard dongles for software. There are also 4 GB of pre-remixed sound content to get you started. You existing users of the Pro hardware and software will get Traktor Pro 2.5 as a free update.

NI is assuming you’ll use this alongside a mixer or their own S4 and S2 controllers, but it’d be nice to try to only use this, I must admit. Oh, and there’s also a new bit of luggage for it for when you hit the road.

DMC champion (read: internationally-recognized) DJ Shiftee shows off the new instrument. I got to meet Shiftee through Dubspot, and the guy is an immensely-talented musician with an incredible sense of rhythm, as well as a supremely nice guy.

Now, I want someone standing behind me shouting me on as I work. It’d sound a little different.

“P.K.! P.K. here in X-Berg! Berlin, baby! It’s cold! It’s wet! You’ve got the granular reprocessor! You’re crunching up sensitive acoustic piano sounds! You’re making MeeBlip noises acid basslines, you’re coding now! You’re doing generative – what’s that? I think you’ve got a bug. You lost your 3D camera in your reactive Processing.

And now you’re blogging, blogging, go hit the spell check. Add in that Oxford Comma. My boys, Struck & White.

Publish that s***…”

www.native-instruments.com/f1

  • cooptrol

    I’m surprised on the variety of colours the pads can have. Nice LED roster underneath…

  • COOLOUT

    Peter, I’d gladly be your hype man. haha.

    The hardware does look nice, especially 2 of them together. The Remix Decks seem to be an Ableton influenced evolution of the sampler found in most DJ software. Launching multiple loops on one go is nice (anyone else notice the “dummy clips”), but I think the real innovation is timecode vinyl control of clips, which is something that Ableton Live’s API doesn’t allow yet. Aside from that, Ableton is of course 10x more powerful and flexible for “live remixing”.

    In TP 2.5 you can only launch 4 clips per deck at a time (compared to Ableton’s unlimited) and there’s no way to incorporate VST instruments or real sequencing. You couldn’t just take a song/loop and play a new bassline/melody or tap out a drum pattern. Well, I guess you could use the loop recorder and one shots for drums, but neither the hardware or sample decks have velocity. Hopefully at some point, NI will merge Traktor Pro with Maschine or provide something like The Bridge for both apps.  Perhaps they’ll make a Kontrol F2 or F1 Pro that has larger velocity sensitive pads and a Traktor Pro 3 that includes the sequencing side of Maschine.

    • Deecodameeko

       you can currently sync maschine with traktor….it’s pretty well integrated…for me though, the only other thing I’d love to see is the ability to route the decks from traktor to maschine groups where I can load any vst I want for effects, etc…that would be great but for now, maschine + traktor sync works pretty well for me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ted.pallas TJ Pallas

    Strunkstep?

    • Engine 9

      what is this Strunkstep?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001138444109 Mutis Mayfield

    It cames too later for controllerists (which are more near to ipad paradigm than tableism) and too early for turntablist/mixing djays which usually didn’t understant why they must produce anything if they can still mixing everything.

    I advice Scott Wardle sometime ago about most of these technologies (and maxforlive patch well done fruit of these talks). I also talked with monome users (and octinct devs) about dj/vj integration (without no much success). I also talked with Aaron Leese about Flyloops timecode support (which could be this NI concept at all).

    Well if you want to know my thoughts now for the future… TKRworks is in the way, algorridim is in the way, Denon (with the new 3900) is in the way, Bitwig (with linux support) is in the way… and of course iphone (as Core of) digital turntable (like synthstation) will be a true revolution. Of course Raspberry Pi alternative development will be very glad too…

    For NI controller, maybe I will buy one if they open the timecontrol to controllers. I didn’t want to carry a full 12″ turntable anytime more.

    jm2c

    • Beniii

      There are plenty of controllers you can use with traktor, its pretty open…

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001138444109 Mutis Mayfield

       I wanted to say “if they open the tomecode control for controllers (such Numark V7, Denon, Stanton… and without hybrid mode)”.

      The Deck control which is nowadays under timecode signal dependency.
      ;)

  • kent williams

    Looks cool. Know someone who was working on this project, and if he was involved, it will be interesting.

    My only worry about stuff like this is that even if great new hardware/software comes down the pipe, people will still use it to make boring music.

    • Richard

      Well of course. That’s hasn’t stopped them then and it won’t stop them now. Who cares though? Making music is all about having fun!

  • Adam Cahan

    jeauh my boys strunk & white! LOL.

  • Dogshoes

    This is just a more complex version of The Bridge.. Bad video too.. 

    • Guest

       I like it better than the bridge because it integrates better as one software which allows for less issues.

      Hopfeully Ableton will improve the bridge because it really lacks a good workflow, and major features.

      Pretty exciting to see the new software.  To me the the controller is not worth it, but is nice and portable

    • Beniii

      Agree with guest, i use the bridge and i believe this would be a whole lot more intergrated and work a LOT better thank 2 apps open at the same time…

      I picked up an s4 for very cheap recently, so im looking forward to this :D

  • Massive Double Facepalm

    awesome more tools for tools to totally fuck over a mix by thinking theyre actually creative producers n shit – theres so much good music out there that speaks for itself and only needs a monkey to layer and blend. Seriously, fuck this shit and the never ending legion of DJs. LOL – DJ’s – LOL

    • http://www.facebook.com/chromatouch Leon Trimble

      you don’t like creativity i take it…

  • Kassen

    Not sure how smart this Shiftee plug was; for Shiftee we can find a lot of videos online of him scratching vinyl and compared it to his intonation here.

  • Djmurattokat

    SUPERR GREATTTT

  • Regend

    no midi out? just USB? how do i control a MeeBlib with this or a hacked Monotron?

  • http://www.facebook.com/chromatouch Leon Trimble

    I like the look of the twitch. might not have enough buttons tho, altho it will be cool to map the apc40 for this… as for “normal” decks they all have beat grid/bpm/key info, is that what you meant?

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  • marcodm

    Ciao!
    I’m an happy owner of X1. I use it with Live, using the combination SHIFT+HOTCUE, it comes to green and i can use it like midi controller.
    Is it the same with F1? Is there a shortcut to midi function? Is every button available for configuration? Are colours usable for my own Ableton Live set?

    Thank you for your attention