Monday, September 27, 2010

Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol X1 Effects Controller review

Overview:
The Traktor X1 is a device that allows DJs to control the Tracktor Software as well as other program such as Serato. Rather than use your laptop and mouse, core functions of the software are controlled via the buttons and knobs on the X1.

First Impressions:
The Traktor X1 resembles a very large TV Remote Control. It has various different buttons and knobs, each labeled with a primary and secondary function. The device is relatively light but it feels extremely sturdy. When plugged into your laptop the buttons on the device light up in different colors which makes it look like a high tech control pad. It certainly turned a few heads when I started using it. Also worth noting is that the X1 also comes with a cutout that lays over the device and re-labels the buttons to correspond with functions on Serato.

Setup:
For this review I am using the X1 along with an Acer AS1410 laptop, Traktor Pro Software, 2 Tech 1200s, and a Vestax Pro-5 mixer. The X1 can also be used with other software programs such as Serato. If you do not have your own decks, you have the option of using the X1 as a standalone with the software (using the software's internal mixer) or with any external mixer.

In my case installation was a breeze. I simply installed the drivers that came with the X1, plugged it into my laptop and it was ready to go. It took me about five minutes.


Features:
When I first heard of Native Instrument's Traktor X1 I was slightly confused as to how it would help me as a DJ. After all, I already had Traktor and it worked fine for me so why would I need an additional piece of hardware? After using it extensively I can say with confidence that it can be an extremely useful addition to any DJ setup that includes software like Traktor or Serato.

So what does it do? In short, nearly every function of the Traktor software can be controlled via the X1 In other words you no longer need to use your laptop to control Traktor. It may a little time to get used to, but the X1 gives actions like track browsing, looping, effects and cue points a much more tactical, hands-on feel in addition to making them vastly more convenient. Ill take each of these functions one by one and describe how the X1 improves them.

Track Browsing – the X1 has two knobs, one for each deck. Turning the knob allow your to browse through your track library. Push the knob and that track is now loaded on the corresponding deck. Want to expand the track library to full screen? No problem, just hold the shift button and hit the knob. It's that easy. No longer will you have to scroll through your library using a mouse. Just twist and click.

Cue Points / Track Browsing – The X1 allows you to assign up to 8 cue points per deck (16 total) to the buttons on the pad. This opens up a world of possibilities. Just check out this video of DJ Rafik to see whats possible. Basically you can use the cue points as a mini pad allowing you to jump from sample to sample with ease. Try that using the mouse on your laptop! The knobs I mentioned earlier also allow you to easily scan through tracks to find the spot you are looking for. Lastly, a beat +/- button allows you to jump back a set number of beats seamlessly! This is incredibly fun to use.

Effects: The X1 puts all of the effects within Traktor at your fingertips and gives you hands-on control of them. On the top of the unit there are 6 knobs, each of which can be assigned to a unique effect. Simply hold the corresponding button to trigger the effect and then twist the knob to tweak the effect. You can also assign a single effect to each set of three knobs, allowing you to use the knobs to control the advanced settings of the effect. This particular feature was difficult for me to figure out on my own but luckily Sonic Academy offers some helpful videos that teach you the tricks.

Looping: Another incredibly useful function, the looping knob allows you to set a loop, expand or contract it in size, and even assign the loop to a cue point for use later.

Lastly, you can also play, stop, sync, and pitch adjust tracks directly from the pad. This is great if you are using the X1 without a external controller like a turntable or CD system. In this case you can simply use the X1 to control both decks on the software.

Conclusion:
As I mentioned earlier, when I first heard of the X1 I was unsure why I needed it. Now that I have used it for the past month I can confidently say that I now cannot live without it. Whether you are a turntable + software DJ or just a software DJ, the X1 adds a level of control to your mixes that was previously impossible. Mapping functions like looping and effects to physical buttons instead clicking on the a screen opens up a new world of possibilities for your mixes in addition to making the entire experience more fun and rewarding. This unit comes highly recommended for any DJ who is using a software system.

Pros:
Easy setup
Eye-catching design
Easy to use and fun
Takes the functions of the software and puts them at your fingertips for easy use

Cons:
The included instructions could better explain how to use some of the features (i.e. advanced effects)

Buy Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol X1 DJ Controller on Amazon




Buy TRAKTOR KONTROL X1 Gig Bag on Amazon


1 comment:

  1. A great addition to your Maschine or Kontrol S4.

    ReplyDelete

Write some useful information, please, no spam...