Most major manufacturers today are struggling with every controller they release to ignite the market behind their Great New Idea. Unfortunately, most of their ideas are just copies of the other Great New Idea released six months earlier. Smaller, more boutique companies are able to push the envelope of design and functionality which the bigger guys can’t really risk.
I have generally complained about the lack of deep utility controllers available on the market and have expressed excitement at options like the Behringer DV-1 and the X1MK2. It turns out that I’m far from alone. Yesterday’s DJ TechTools announcement for the MIDI Fighter Twister (a name which I really hope they change) is the end result of a very successful design competition through their robust and creative community. DJTT has seen a lot of success over the years with their intuitive and elegantly designed MIDI Fighter and its various incarnations and have followed it up with a very deep utility controller in a similar design scheme.
The team at DJTechTools, unsurprisingly, needed to take it a step further. After the announcement last year that the MIDI Fighter 3D would be (somewhat controversially) integrated directly Traktor’s Remix decks, it is understandable that the Twister will be outfitted with some really interesting firmware to work alongside it. I could spend a few paragraphs explaining it but the video they put up does it pretty succinctly, so here’s what the guys from DJTT have to say.
What this all means
Tomash Ghz, a member of the DJ TechTools community, put up a post a few months ago explaining how to build a step sequencer directly into Traktor using MIDI clock syncing. The Master Clock, though, is notoriously untenable due to its own internal instability within Traktor. To get around this, the guys at DJTT have developed some firmware to tie everything directly into Traktor using what looks like simple MIDI signals within the individual decks. While up until now all the features they are using were already integrated into Traktor using the controller manager, they were rather difficult to take advantage of due to, well, the controller manager.
Sidenote: Tomash Ghz has spun this original project off into his own hardware at digitalwarrior.co
This whole idea raises an interesting question in my mind, though: will it be used? I think the remix decks have proven themselves to be a good idea without much adoption, but a lot of that is due to their frustrating limitations and the lack of improvisation which makes Traktor such a powerful DJ tool. The MIDI Fighter Twister’s firmware, however, looks to provide a method to perform interesting and exciting improvisational rhythmic sequences.
It’s hard to make a judgment regarding the power of the firmware or the access it will give the user to take advantage of the features of Traktor, which has historically been a pain in the ass to access. The initial layer looks pretty self-explanatory, but it is the features buried under that initial layer that are most compelling. My initial guess, after watching the video, is that the Twister is going to be a very compelling controller in and of itself (16 endless push encoders with LED rings and different colors? Definitely awesome). While DJTT will offer a variety of mappings for many different applications, the real excitement will rest with this added functionality in Traktor. As cool as it could be, though, I’m really curious to see if anyone will take advantage of it. Are Remix Decks being used this way by others? Would you be more likely to use Remix Decks with this functionality?