Hybrid setup: Chris Liebing’s Traktor-Maschine combo


The war for your laptop screen rages on, with Pioneer DJ, Serato, and Native Instruments seemingly in a never ending skirmish, like something out of 1984. With Denon DJ now throwing their hat into the ring, it looks like the latest weapon of war is the ‘VIP endorsement’. The brands will be shoring up the support in the coming months, and for us, that means lots of cool videos of DJs and gear.

One thing you can be fairly sure of in all that, is the sight of a techno DJ using Traktor. NI hasn’t gone as far as cornering the market within the techno scene, but at the top, the list of Traktor users is long… and near the top is the smiley German face of Chris Liebing. Here… Look! Smiling!

Over the years, Chris has been one to push hard in the direction of digital DJing, and extending his setup to include more than just DJ gear. He’s used the hybrid hardware/software Maschine groovebox pretty much since it came out, and has now added the new Maschine Jam. I think it’s safe to say he’s a bit of a Native Instruments fanboy.

“I’ve been using the original MASCHINE in my performances for a long time,” Chris comments. “It sits front and center in my setup, allowing me to transform another producer’s song into something completely different by adding extra drums or spicing it up with some new percussion or melodic elements.”

NI has compiled this trio of videos to give you insight into the life and setup of the DJ/producer, and hopefully convince you to buy the stuff in the videos.

My thoughts

I have to say, I always enjoy watching interviews with Mr Liebing. Not only does the man beam with happiness at every moment, he seems like a jolly nice bloke and his enthusiasm and passion are infectious. The man is also a complete of a gear geek who gets as excited about a new toy as the rest of us do.

Adding the Maschine Jam to his setup seems like the logical thing to do. Even though the form-factor is similar to the Push, what you lose in control in some areas, you gain in others like with the touch faders. There’s some very clever workflow designs going on that are perfect for DJs.

Unlike Richie Hawtin (who doesn’t beatsync any part of his setup), Chris is happy automating the tempo of his sets. I don’t blame him. Beatmatching is fun, but it’s just an extra variable to if you want more than two tracks playing.

“I have no problem with syncing. For me, it’s more important what comes out of the speaker. And if I don’t have to worry too much about staying in sync with everything else all the time, I can use that time to be way more creative and do other things.”

Personally, I’m always fascinated by what people do to enhance their DJing further than two decks and a mixer. I enjoy some straight up ones and twos mixing on occasion, but I’m one of those people that have been enthralled by what Native Instruments have been trying to push in recent years. Bringing new things like Stems and Remix Decks (and the S8, I suppose) might have been a traumatic experience for Native Instruments, with some fairly big pushback on social media, but at least it’s something exciting. I feel like people need to understand that it might not be for everyone, but for those willing to unleash their imagination, there’s loads of options.

And it’s not just NI. Serato recently updated Serato DJ with both MIDI clock and Ableton Link. If you’re feeling particularly brave, there’s even a way to get a Raspberry Pi to work with Link. It’s definitely a DIY project, but you’ll be able to confidently add your old synths and grooveboxes to your setup!

Your thoughts

Have you tried adding something extra to your setup? If not, what’s putting you off?

Check out the landing page on the NI site to find out more about the gear Chris Liebing uses.