You’ll remember when Native Instruments caused a bit of a disturbance in the controllerist force, when they dropped the bombshell that their oh so on-trend 4×4 pad Kontrol F1 controller would be the only box that would be allowed to harness the power of their new Remix Deck workflow in Traktor 2.5. Well, for now anyway.
Purveyor of boutique controllers DJ Tech Tools weren’t best pleased with to hear this. A core element of the controllerist raison d’etre is being able to map any hardware to any software, and for NI to put a big stop sign in front of their new shiny ruffled more than a few feathers. DJTT’s MIDI Fighters are becoming a firm favourite with controllerists and the wider DJ scene too, but to have the Remix Decks closed off to their controller offering was essentially waving a red rag to a somewhat experienced bull. NI went as far as to joke about jobs being on offer for anyone who manages to open the closed door. The gauntlet was laid down, and DJTT rose to the challenge. In style.
The DJTT MIDI guys donned their white coats and got very intimate with the inner workings of the messaging going on between the Kontrol F1 and the Remix Decks. Bit by bit they managed to reverse engineer just how NI did it (HID apparently), and created new firmware for their MIDI Fighter 3D that mimics the F1 pads perfectly. But then they went a little further and added features like beat pulsing on the lights. They’re not messing about with this.
The great thing about this is that it’s all free. Obviously you’ll need to own a MIDI Fighter 3D, and you’ll need Traktor Pro 2.5 (which comes free with the Kontrol F1), but I’m sure most of you are already eligible for the free upgrade.
For the DJTT guys to discover and replicate the F1’s workflow so quickly and effectively should be applauded. But what will NI do about this? Will sales of F1s plummet at the expense of a quantum shift to MIDI Fighters? Can NI close down this jailbreak with a simple software upgrade? Or will NI as indicated simply headhunt the key players at DJTT?
It’s hard to tell what NI might make of this – I doubt however that they’re happy. But the silver lining on this particular cloud is that NI will have a heap of extra users helping to establish this new workflow, and not have to offer a moment of support to them either. And these users are most likely to be bleeding edge users, who will be only too happy to provide feedback to help make the Remix Decks even better.
But where does this leave the rest of the controller market? Given that the vast majorty of controllers simply aren’t programmed to accept the HSB colour values generated by the Remix Decks, and instead rely on RGB, the full spectrum of Remix Deck features aren’t likely to happen for a long time. It’ll be the next generation of controllers for sale that embrace RGB and HSB colour values that will begin to see Remix Decks and other new workflows enabled and advanced. It certainly makes better commercial sense to sell new controllers than prolong the life of old ones.
Whatever happens after this, it goes without saying that we’re all very deeply impressed with this DJTT project – NI however probably less so. MIDI Fighter 3D owners can have a dabble on the DJTT site.