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.

To encourage use of those Remix Decks (and upsell you on some hardware), NI is pitching the F1 as an integrated controller for the new loop- and sample-triggering features.

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:
www.native-instruments.com/traktor

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

The Remix Deck, close up. Yes, it’s influenced by Ableton Live – but as you can see, this is also a very different paradigm, instead working with samples and loops inside the DJ software. That’s closer to existing sample players in Traktor, and samplers in general, than Live’s Session View, and includes some independent controls. So, it’s a DJ paradigm – but is it a DJ paradigm shift?

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.

  • http://twitter.com/jordan314 jordan314

    I just ordered the S2 and am hoping I can use my MPD24 or Launchpad in place of the F1. Anyone have any experience with this?

    • http://clysuva.com/ Cly Suva

      The thing is… NI has locked away the Remix Deck functionality from regular mapping. You can’t map launchpad to remix decks. At this point in time, you can only use them with the F1 controller.

    • Mistapee

       There is a workaround to map the “locked away Remix Deck functionality” .
      You
      can download a Lemur – template from the Liine library…The guy who
      made it uses “mouse click emulation” to map the “Remix Decks” . The
      template worked out of the box (Mac) or needs to be tweaked (Win). It´s a
      shame NI don´t allow you to map your hardware to the decks.. All for
      the love of money…

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

      do you have a link to some better insructions?

    • Mistapee

       http://liine.net/en/community/user-library/view/255/

      Just for the interest…sorry for the delay….Have fun..

    • substrain

       Nope. NI didn’t lock down any functionality.

      “* The Kontrol F1 and Remix Decks were designed in tandem, much like the s4 and s4 version of Traktor software* Three different features that power the F1 have not been built into the mapping interface* There has not been a decision by NI to limit controller capacity in Traktor, and inclusion of these features is planed at some point”http://www.djtechtools.com/2012/05/01/traktor-2-5s-remix-decks-will-be-locked-to-all-controllers-except-the-kontrol-f1/

  • majonymus

    i dont care about the remix thing, but the improved bpm is a bless

    • Wallace Winfrey

      The improvements in BPM are completely overshadowed – IMO, anyway – by all the issues with beatmarkers and beatgridding in general. It might get the initial cue markers set correctly more frequently, but while working with 2.5 the other day I saw Traktor do something I’ve not seen it do before: it beat synced transients in beatless breakdowns, consistently, and inaccurately too, I might add, thus leading to the phrasing being seriously off once the beat kicked back in. I saw this happen with multiple tracks, and I’m not the only one: 
      http://www.native-instruments.com/forum/showthread.php?t=167870.
      Of course, this is not to mention the CPU spikes left & right, the audio crackles when engaging keylock/browsing FX, the multiple issues with dragging tracks to playlists, the disappearing waveform upon loading a file into a track deck, etc. etc.I understand that all of these are growing pains and besides the beat syncing during breakdowns, I can (mostly) live with it. If I might rant for a moment though, what really gets me is this: why does NI force me to buy a new, non-transferable Traktor Pro 2 license every time I decide to embrace one of their controllers? I own an S4, X1 and F1 now, and the acquisition of all of them required the purchase of a new T2 license, which I already owned. Yeah, that’s right – I currently own 4 Traktor Pro 2 licenses. Way to treat your loyal customers, NI.Re: the 2.5 update, I guess I’ll keep it running on the Boot Camp partition, I really dig the F1 and remix decks in general, just not at the aspect of what is for me, core Traktor functionality. On the working partition (aka, “OS X”), it’s back to 2.0.3, the last stable version of TP2 for me…

    • Wallace Winfrey

      Er, meant to say, “just not at the expense of what is for me, core Traktor functionality”

  • Bitter Pill

    A wealth of new features won’t change the fact that the majority of clubland will be completely oblivious to whatever is being launched from a clip scene or if its a track being mixed. Why the modern laptop DJ continues to where headphones I don’t know, the element of skill and risk is gone and replaced by bpm sync and pitch detection. 

    I think Bob Moog said in an interview that he felt partly responsible for the shift in modern recording techniques away from performance and towards studio based knob twiddling, but that he hoped people would continue to use his instruments to perform and express themselves live. A sentiment I share. There will always be a place for the DJ, everybody needs to party, but seeing dudes flashing limbs wildly, fists punching air, on a $400 plastic midi controller kinda makes my comedown start prematurely! DJ’s should have to hold a licence before hitting a club, like a driving test, in which they can prove they can mix without sync turned on : ) God I am getting old/bitter 

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      I don’t disagree, but I think you have to parse all of these thoughts, as there’s actually a lot in what you’re saying. “Clubland” can mean almost anything… easyJet fans in Ibiza? Someone in a basement club in Wichita? A producer in a bedroom in Nairobi?

      And I think there are a number of issues even in the argument itself:
      1. Automatic versus manual beat matching: So, okay — because you’re not on turntables, beat matching and mixing aren’t things that you do entirely manually. On the other hand, I’d say that leads to the next issue:
      2. Controller moves that are just for show and have no real musical function: Harder problem to solve. Theoretically, the auto-pilot modes in (1) ought to make this more compelling, except:
      3. For some reason, some turntablist technique involved more actual instrumentalism than these systems that are more or less on auto-pilot. This is the one I’ve never fully understood, because, if I had to DJ just mixing automated tracks, I’d be so bored out of my mind I’d fall asleep. (That’s not even criticism – I’ve heard some people do it really well, and wondered how they kept away for hours at a time.) 
      4. Plastic MIDI controllers: Are you saying you’d want cheaper ($100? $50?) plastic controllers, or more expensive wooden and steel controllers, or neither? ;) Or maybe this is just about #1-3?

      In other words, it may not be being old and bitter – it may be the need to separate some concerns here.

    • mh

      Unfortunately, the bulk of controller product are cheap plastic things, arguably with the beginner in mind. How many controller equivalents are there the robust rane, vestax, and ecler mixers of past?

      To watch a great turntablist is to witness a visceral performance, and one in which there is a deep emotive synchronicity between man and machine.

      Most controllerist performances I see are man VS machine.

      The admission fee for controllerism is zero. The entry for being a turntablist is hours of practice a day for years. There are countless videos and peer support in this. This is not to discredit controllerists; it’s just one side of a double edged sword which we can observe going on:

      1. There is an ever expanding realm for sound parameter control. More parameters = more unique expression, one would think. This would imply a great variety of artists, all choosing to express in different ways

      2. However, this is a dilemma for manufacturers of controllerist products. There is no format and no meter. Most manufacturers seem to just follow the artists. More digital DJs? Make dj software controllers. The technology exists to make controllers which would rival turntables/mixer. But the price for this would be very high. Even worse is that because there is now greater potential for variety in artistic expression, there is just as great potential for less artists to be interested in using a specific machine – which could drive costs even higher. So then we get a polarized market between larger companies (which have resources and brilliant people to make great stuff) and smaller idealistic companies trying to make exclusive, high end products. The large companies mass manufacture cheapish, beginnerish plasticky things, and it the stability of the small companies is questionable.

      Finally there seems to be one overwhelming aspect of controller manufacturing that every company is blind to. Software! To make a great controller is not to just make some piece of hardware which can be arbitrarily assigned and then move on. There needs to be a fluidity between the user, the interface, and the software workflow. As the software evolves so should the controller’s behavior. It seems like most manufacturers make a million of some hardware, then bang out a few presets to get beginners going, and then hope that the customer base will do the rest of the work. Many frustrated customers do end up making and sharing their own templates/hacks – but often thats all it is. An obsolescent hack. Who is to blame the manufacturer for lack of software follow through when the market is such that every brand competes to make the cheapest product for general use?

      But thats probably the wrong question to ask, as my guess is the audience of this site does not reflect the consumer majority.

    • mh

      p.s. stewart walker is one of the greatest and most underrated techno producers out there today. it’s great to see NI promoting him….his live sets are outstanding and a short youtube video obviously does not do his music justice.

  • http://mrtunes.ca/ Mr. Tunes

    this stuff is certainly up for plenty of debate. sort of like how “should consumers be able to EQ music any way they see fit?”. by the same token, a DJ will be able to butcher a track beyond repair. however the opportunity for new sounds and combinations is great.

    the thing is: if you’re into this sort of thing, you’ve had access to this layout for ages. so a part of me wonders if this was sort of the only place for traktor to go, in order to differentiate themselves from the competition?

    to me, nothing will replace intimate knowledge of the music you want to play for people.  do they keys mix? is there flow? technology can’t replace that challenge, and if anything i wish they were trying to help improve that skill for people.

  • emp

    I’d seriously read through the problem reports on NI forums before upgrading. There are droves of people reverting back to 2.1.3. Beat grids are off by .5 beat, S4 channel clip indicator no longer works, freezing, etc. It’s really concerning. 

  • wingnut

    i use some native instruments software, but i will never buy their controllers at any chance, all the N. I. controllers have a very short life span  like the core controller fiasco,i rather use something else. 

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

    yeah the major shift here is that the functionality of the software here is only properly controllable by buying the F1 controller made by native instruments. you cannot map the extra grid slots to regular mdi controllers, killing the creative controllerist community. it’s crap. not sure why there isn’t more fuss. there are some nice improvements, however and i might just go buy an f1 but i’d much prefer to map it out on my apc40 and use traktor for my live sets instead of ableton for a change. i’ve used traktor since version 1, (it let me become a dj) and i think it’s a cheap move.

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      There seems to be some incomplete information out there on this, but my understanding is that they’re not actually locking those slots to their own controller permanently.

      We’re awaiting a final, more official word from NI on this to CDM. They’ve made a statement to DJ TechTools which says, effectively, they do not plan for this functionality to be exclusive to the F1. But I wanted more detail; I’m awaiting on the final language and will post it once they approve it.

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

      *breathes sigh of relief* i really hope that’s true there’s a lot of cool stuff that can be done with traktor in terms of controllerism (namely in the mod functions) and it’d be a real shame if NI started scaring off manufacturing of cool controllers for traktor with this sort of silliness.

  • Mistapee

    There is a workaround to map the “locked away Remix Deck functionality” .
    You can download a Lemur – template from the Liine library…The guy who made it uses “mouse click emulation” to map the “Remix Decks” . The template worked out of the box (Mac) or needs to be tweaked (Win). It´s a shame NI don´t allow you to map your hardware to the decks.. All for the love of money…

  • Strunkdts

    LOL, DJs :)

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

    yeah the major shift here is that the functionality of the software here is only properly controllable by buying the F1 controller made by native instruments. you cannot map the extra grid slots to regular mdi controllers, killing the creative controllerist community. it’s crap. not sure why there isn’t more fuss. there are some nice improvements, however and i might just go buy an f1 but i’d much prefer to map it out on my apc40 and use traktor for my live sets instead of ableton for a change. i’ve used traktor since version 1, (it let me become a dj) and i think it’s a cheap move.

  • david

    it really interests me how/why people seem to be looking for “live” ways to control and present music that is usually created in a programmed rather than a live way. 

    it also seems that DJing is increasingly heading towards the direction of spontaneous sample-based music making, its own demise perhaps. if you watch videos such as this one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHPLFPMintM the artists are breaking down the original tracks so much that they “may as well” be making them from scratch. i like seeing this kid of stuff and respect the people who do it but personally don’t understand why you’d want to get on stage to build a track from a collection of other people’s sounds that weren’t designed to fit together. as an educated punter, i don’t really feel i know what skills I’m paying to see on stage…

    i can’t help but feel that Djing will become so undervalued as to be redundant, with the only skills left unautomated being record selection and programming. as a result, the emphasis will be on producers and people that make music, not DJs.

    • emp

      On the flip side, one can create their own tracks in say, Maschine, and incorporate them into the Remix slots. From that perspective, it’s a really compelling feature. Retain the essence of DJ’ing by exposing people to works they may not have ever known existed while at the same time keeping your own creativity flowing and incorporating the product of that creativity into your set. You get the best of both worlds by producing *and* DJ’ing – creating, sharing and educating. 

      I personally cannot wait to find out how NI plans to further integrate Maschine with Traktor.

  • OM3N

    made this with the traktor 2.5 & the S4 last night by using two samples and fx, pretty amazing creative tool when taken beyond just the basic mixing abilities. 

    http://soundcloud.com/om3n/whats-happening-is-real

  • Kabletx

    I trust NI’s intentions around the functionality of their hardware and software about as far as I can throw my Kore 2 box.

  • Traktorf1

    I agree with Bitter Pill on this one. 99.9% of the crowd will not know what you are doing with the Traktor F1 anyway. So you would need to have a extremely creative set to make them realize. 

    Still an impressive tool but it is what most Ableton and APC 40 users have been doing for the last 3 years or more. 

  • F1 Lover

    I just received my Traktor F1 in the mail over the weekend after checking this out and it is totally awesome. Thank you Createdigitalmusic.com