Traktor hits the tablet — Traktor DJ

This morning you wake up to a brand new age, a time where iOS DJing just got legitimised by one of the two key players in the industry. Not with a remote app, or a library app, but with a full-on balls out small screen translation of the big screen software. Yes dear reader, Native Instruments have created Traktor DJ, and it is everything you hoped it would be. We got a very exciting sneak peek just before NAMM and can now share what we know in full. Well almost. ;)

Firstly, the official words from the NI mothership:

Native Instruments Releases TRAKTOR DJ App Exclusively for iPad

Berlin, February 21, 2013 – Native Instruments today released TRAKTOR DJ – a unique, hands-on DJ app built from the ground up for iPad aimed at DJs of all levels from novices to touring professionals. Created by the same team behind the top-selling TRAKTOR brand, TRAKTOR DJ strikes a balance between instant, fun usability and advanced, professional features. TRAKTOR DJ allows users to intuitively access their music in a whole new way while also complementing the TRAKTOR family through bi-directional content synchronization with TRAKTOR PRO software.

TRAKTOR DJ puts the waveform in the center of user interaction, featuring two decks, each with dedicated 3-band EQ and filter sections, as well as 8 proven TRAKTOR effects. Utilizing familiar iOS Multi-Touch gestures like pinch and swipe, TRAKTOR DJ brings a professional quality mixing experience to iPad – equally suited to full performance or on-the-go set preparation. Users can intuitively manipulate waveforms by touch, “grabbing” their music with two fingers to instantly set a loop, perform scratches, mark cue points for live re-editing, and scrub, browse or navigate through tracks – the key functions of the TRAKTOR PRO 2 software, re-designed for touchscreen interaction.

TRAKTOR DJ introduces the completely new Freeze Mode, which lets users slice up a waveform into playable parts for on-the-fly remixing and entirely new musical performances. The app also allows users to create beat grids in real time, intuitively mapping out a song’s groove without having to stop the music. DJs are encouraged to discover the full extent of TRAKTOR DJ’s capabilities at their own speed via the Notification Center, which tracks the user’s progress through the app’s features and unobtrusively offers tips, tricks, and techniques from within the app.

With over a decade of technological refinement through the evolution of TRAKTOR, TRAKTOR DJ’s automatic tempo detection and sync engine are now accompanied by precise downbeat analysis. This makes beat mixing completely straightforward and frees users to creatively interact with their music via the touch interface. Full iTunes music library integration of TRAKTOR DJ means DJs can easily search their library for the next track. Unique to TRAKTOR DJ, the app introduces a recommendation engine that uses advanced tempo, key, and timbre detection algorithms. TRAKTOR DJ recommends compatible tracks from your iTunes library with the same tempo and harmonic structure in real time, facilitating smooth and ear-pleasing mixes for users of all levels. Both the advanced downbeat and key detection features will also be available to TRAKTOR PRO customers with a dedicated 2.6.1 software update.

Complementing the existing range of TRAKTOR products, TRAKTOR DJ bi-directionally syncs track settings and properties with TRAKTOR PRO 2. This gives DJs an ideal workflow for planning a set while on the move. Users can also transfer all their stored work in TRAKTOR PRO directly to TRAKTOR DJ – all beat grids, cue points, loops and BPM counts seamlessly transfer between iPad and TRAKTOR PRO 2 and back via a free Dropbox account.

Additionally, because of the powerful Core Audio engine built into iOS, TRAKTOR DJ also offers ultra-low latency playback, manipulation and recording while also supporting professional class compliant hardware audio interfaces, such as the TRAKTOR AUDIO 6 and 10, something currently not possible on any other mobile platform. DJs can connect these and other devices to their iPad using the iPad Camera Connection Kit™ for optimum audio quality and pre-listen and cue functionality, or to a splitter cable with dedicated cue and master controls. All of this allows TRAKTOR DJ users to easily record their mixes live on their iPad, or pump their music out to the house in the highest quality possible.

A video of visionary DJ Richie Hawtin’s first day with TRAKTOR DJ, in which he prepares a set and performs live with the app at BPM festival in Mexico, is available on YouTube at:
http://youtu.be/ScjJiGYawuM

The TRAKTOR DJ App is available for $ 19.99 / 17.99 € / 1700 ¥ from the App Store on iPad or at www.AppStore.com/TRAKTORDJ. TRAKTOR DJ officially supports iPad with Retina display, iPad mini and iPad 2, running iOS 6 and above.

Additional information on TRAKTOR DJ is available at:
www.native-instruments.com/traktordj

“Want to come to London to see something cool?” quoth Native Instruments some time before NAMM. This quite obviously a stupid question, that yielded a near immediate booking of train tickets to the Big Smoke. Asking ourselves what could possibly be so important that it required wheeling assorted members of the press (hi Mick off of DJ Mag) in front of it. The last time this happened was for Traktor Pro 1, so this must be special.

Z4? Well NI didn’t do it for the Z2 so that was discounted quickly. New S4? Possibly but not that worthy of a day out. I had my money (and still do) on a tabletop media player. All wrong. It was only on the way down that the penny dropped. The key was the guy doing the demo, and his heritage that garnered the attention of NI in the first place.

Anyone remember Attigo? This was the rather cool touch screen decks that displayed a whole waveform and was essentially the way forward for touch screen vinyl emulation. Sadly, it was a victim of the rampage of the digital age, in this case the iPad. But Attigo’s creator Scott Hobbs was duly snapped up by NI and set his brain to the task of creating cool stuff for NI. Traktor DJ is the culmination of his own experiences with Attigo as well as the collective hive mind of the NI lab rats.

Now this is nothing new. Apps like DJ Player and Touch DJ already ditch the visual turntable metaphor and instead concentrate on the waveform. But Traktor DJ does it in a way that makes still feel like Traktor. The link between the platforms is vital and cemented with the dropbox syncing that will allow Traktor DJ to not only be a full DJ app, but also be an on-the-go preparation machine — which is what most people speculated was happening when they saw Ritchie Hawtin sitting on the dock of the bay.

So what NI has delivered is all the skinny version of the full fat Traktor. It does not however feel like a compromise. My experience (that will appear soon) is that NI has spent A LOT of time and money making Traktor DJ into an app worthy of all DJs. Not only that, but they’ve added some important new features along the way too, features that improve the full fat package too.

In a nutshell, Traktor DJ is has 2 channels, FX, EQ, FX etc etc – all seriously optimised for touch screen operation. But it’s the smarter stuff that draws you in, such as the bang-on track analysis and track recommendations. It’s these things that help to make Traktor DJ totally engaging and ridiculously easy to use.

Traktor hits the tablet — Traktor DJ

We’ve got a first review coming right up so I’m not going to chew over the detail here. All I can say here is that this does not aim to replace the full sized Traktor, but to complement it. And for those looking to use a smaller version in certain situations, Traktor DJ  has everything you need. I can say this because I used it, so do try to contain the doubtless negativity based on the fact that it’s not on a turntable. Traktor DJ really works, but this is just version 1. It’s not perfect, but certainly has a solid future planned.

I feel it’s important to not look at what it doesn’t do, but to focus on what it does do. Again, this is V1 and has to start somewhere, so just because it’s missing every single nuance and key feature of Traktor (no remix decks does not equal epic fail) right now, it does not mean it is nonetheless capable.

What Traktor DJ does do is hone in on what a touch screen is about and really think about the way an iPad should be used. I absolutely love algoriddim’s djay because of its skeuomorphism and highly simplified approach to DJing. But that doesn’t always work for those who have never used turntables. Indeed a tiny wheel on a small screen isn’t necessarily the best way to control audio. What I take away from Traktor DJ is that it’s a genuine and highly focussed touch app rather than an approximation of a full application.

Mark this date in your calendar, because tablet DJing just got all the validation it ever needed. The question is how will our friends in Auckland respond?