Allow me to paint a picture of last week for you. I’m on a skype call with NI people, and was asked what I thought the next NI thing was going to be. To me, logic dictates that with the Kontrol S4 getting a little long in the tooth, a new remix deck workflow and a penchant for adding spangly buttons to everything would dictate that NI would redefine their high end controller offering. “You’re going in the wrong direction” said the smug smiling face filling my screen.
An email followed with a dropbox link… “SHIT! It’s a mixer!” spluttered I. After a heap of wildly wrong guesses and a few uncannily accurate ones, Native instruments have almost unveiled their next product offering. Again, I must point out that I know a lot about this, and will only steer you in the right direction. There’s still much to be announced that’s not in the video.
While it is a 2 channel mixer that I assume is Traktor certified, the +2 draws inspiration from controllers and gives you a further 2 channels to play with. Quite what they’re for or how they’ll work has yet to be seen. You can however see in the above screenshot that the hot cue buttons down the side also have C and A buttons, and I assume B and D on the right hand side too. It could just be for hot cues, so we’ll just have to see if all the mix controls can be used on all 4 channels.
Check the button in the 2+2 section – it’s marked LOOP and SIZE, so I think that’s on-mixer loop controls. But something called flux mode appears. What the hell is that? The dictionary defines flux as “continuous change”. Sounds like fun to me. If you watch the video closely, you’ll get a good idea. I also see S4-like LCD screens, presumably for loops.
I see a shift button, and given Traktor’s mapping abilities, I’d say that you’ll be able to map the crap out of this thing to suit your needs. I expect that whatever those controls do now are heavily optimised for the Traktor workflow, but that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t want to tweak them.
Rejoice! In these days of ultrabooks, USB ports are a precious commodity. And as this rear shows, NI have included one right into the mixer.
It looks very well thought out. Nice straight lines with just enough controls to do the job. I’m not sure what ever thing does – I’ll leave that to the rest of you. I’m sure some of you are already applying perspective in Photoshop to the above shots and making a faceplate layout. If not, get to it. But there does look to be a chunky filter knob right below the EQs with what look like buttons to match the ones over the hot cues.
One thing I’m not seeing is fader controls. We don’t see the whole front of the mixer but I assume they’ll be in there somewhere.
This won’t be especially obvious to everyone, but it looks like the Traktor brand ID is getting a shakeup too. Check the logo in the above picture.
What the video seems to tell us is this: We appear to have is a 2+2 channel Traktor certified MIDI mappable mixer, with onboard hot cues, some effect controls and some loop controls. It doesn’t seem to be an explosion in a knob factory like some mixers are, and instead will rely on external devices like the Kontrol F1 seen in the video for finer control of the rest of Traktor. NI have really gone for clean and lean in this mixer.
Putting on my industry hat for a moment – this is going to piss off Pioneer royally. This is more or less the same as their DJM-T1, and now that NI, the makers of Traktor, have come out with a Traktor mixer, which one do you think people are going to buy?
But what it also signals is that NI are coming after Rane and by definition Serato. The joy of all in one mixers is without bounds, and given that Rane’s Sixty One and Sixty Two don’t require an interface is a massive draw for potential buyers. And now there’s one huge reason Traktor sized reason not to buy a Rane mixer.
Now let’s propel our minds further on in the future. Given that NI have brought out a 2 channel mixer, the likelihood is that they’ll do a 4 channel one as well – right in Pioneer’s stronghold. Rane haven’t been that successful at replaceing Pioneer in the hearts and minds of mix DJs, but given Traktor’s greater market share for EDM types, it is possible that an NI 4 channel Traktor certified mixer could find the secret entrance to Pioneer’s club castle.
Sorry for being a little vague on some of the details. I’d rather steer you into discovering the details than simply spoon feeding you. This way, you’ll learn more. But there is more to be learned. Still no word on important details like full announcement on price, ETA etc. That’ll come with the full announcement, whenever that is. When is the BPM Show again?