While we’ve all been salivating over new hardware releases, news on the next release of Traktor are still a tad thin on the ground. But to support the hardware PR, Native Instruments has pushed out some detail on the next release of Traktor. Traktor Pro 3 is here (well almost — it’s more an announcement of an announcement), and it’s a single all-encompassing one stop shop that rolls Traktor Scratch into a single version.

Details are slim — we have seen it, and some of the DJWORX team are part of the VIP team so have had a hand in shaping it a little. But here are the words ahead of the full September 25th announcement:

TRAKTOR PRO 3, the full version of which is included with both new hardware releases, is the most stable version of the software yet, and uses the new Elastique 3 time-stretching engine for noticeable audio improvements. The user interface has been redesigned with a sharper and flatter look for better readability in club environments, while the intuitive workflow, to which many performers have become accustomed, remains intact.

Several brand-new features have also been added: TRAKTOR PRO 3 now includes Mixer FX – one-knob effect and filter controls that can be assigned to each channel independently and used for big buildups and transitions. And DJs using an external mixer can now route unprocessed audio directly from TRAKTOR, thanks to a new mode that bypasses the software’s internal mixer. A full feature set will be announced on September 25. 

TRAKTOR PRO 3:

Two decades after TRAKTOR conquered the club, TRAKTOR PRO 3 brings punchier sound, powerful one-knob Mixer FX, and a sharper, clearer interface to the booth.Available October 18, 2018

99 USD, 99 EUR, 12800, YEN, 89 GBP, 149 AUD, 129 CAD, 799 CNY

Upgrade: 49 USD, 49 EUR, 6280 YEN, 44 GBP, 79 AUD, 69 CAD, 379 CNY

JUST TO CLARIFY THIS

Traktor Pro 3 is a progression of the current codebase, but named as v3 to underline the new wave of Traktor activity. It is not however the all new version alluded to in this previous announcement. That will come in the future.

But it’s more than just a number change — it looks quite different, and has a number of key additions that reflect in the new hardware. I suspect there are more changes under the hood that are apparent too.

TRAKTOR SCRATCH IS DEAD — LONG LIVE TRAKTOR

Now here’s a biggie, one that we had to push hard to get announced for this release — Traktor Scratch is officially rolled into Traktor Pro 3. This means… well let me post the official words that came our way to clarify the position:

Traktor Pro 3 will be ‘Scratch’ as standard and you can use any digital phono interface to work as Traktor Scratch, so rather than buying the UPG kit, you can use any digital interface which takes the signal from control vinyl etc.

So essentially if your system can see an audio interface, so can Traktor Pro 3, and you’ll be able to use it as a DVS interface with Traktor vinyl — without hacks, cracks, or any other backdoor tomfoolery. It just works.

This is huge news. The walls that divided are being pulled down, or at least doors are being knocked through those walls. We shall see if this means a return to the glory days of Traktor being the goto works-with-everything software, a crown that VirtualDJ currently wears.

MARK’S TAKE

Time for some honesty. Traktor has never been my cup of tea. I do appreciate the power that it has — the tinkerability has always been a key part for many people (including everyone else in Team DJWORX). But I’m more of a plug and play kind of guy. I don’t have the time to dabble like I used to before starting DJWORX, so the under the hood flexibility and potential power comes second to usability.

I need to be able to walk up to it, for it to immediately appeal and engage, and for it to just work. And for the longest time, Serato’s offerings have always appealed more. But having seen the new Traktor interface (sadly no play time yet), I’m immediately drawn to it, to the point where I want to install it and have a play. Being part of the VIP test team, others in DJWORX have played for a while now, but I’m not part of their secret club.

The interface doesn’t try to bamboozle with too many features on display at once. It is cleaner, simpler, and more accessible. Everything seems easier to locate and use. I no longer feel like I need to learn it, and can immediately use it. The power is there, but not smacking in the face.

The comment I’ve always made about Traktor is that it gives off an air of superiority, as if it deliberately sets out to make itself elite. It imbues a “you must be smart to use Traktor” vibe, and never really set out to be easy to use, and NI seems to have cultivated this feel too. That has clearly changed, and the combination of more accessible hardware and easier to use software should not only keep users in the Traktor fold, but also bring new users too. It’s certainly got me interested.

There’s a bigger picture being played out here, and we have to be careful about what we say for now. But needless to say that this the start of something good. Traktor is back (albeit it tentatively), but I feel that the best is yet to come. This however is a very good start.

DAN’S TAKE

Traktor Pro “three…ish”. So, it’s a big news day for Native Instruments, with loads of information that we can finally talk about. I’ve personally been roughly aware of the Traktor plans for a while, and have even been playing with a beta that would eventually become what NI have named Traktor Pro 3.

There isn’t a huge amount officially announced here, but there are a few takeaways which need dissecting. First is the most obvious: the new GUI. I’ve watched it mature via the beta updates, and have been happy with it overall. It still doesn’t support high density screens, but that’s a limitation of the graphics engine, and not something they can get round easily. It’s not really a huge issue with the new look, and I know that some of the design decisions were made to compensate.

It is very dark, though. And I hope that down the line, a ‘light mode’ will be made available for use outdoors. To be honest, it’s pretty much a universal issue with DJ apps, and if NI can get a light mode implemented soon, they’ll have an innovative head start.

I’ve been playing with the updated GUI for a few weeks, and my only bugbear with the changes is that the CUE/GRID/MOVE tabs were moved to the right of the advanced deck panel, which seems like a minor thing, but massively increases mouse movement when you’re gridding new tracks or making adjustments.

There’s the addition of Elastique 3 (from v2) for time stretching, which should handle huge tempo changes with very little artifacting in the music. It’d be nice if this allowed for variable tempo in tracks, but it’s not to be quite yet. NI have also added Mixer FX, which are basically Traktor’s answer to the Pioneer DJM color (sic) FX, which let you quickly switch between a few instant gratification effects that replace the filter knob. This is something I’m sure a lot of DJs will make use of.

One of the big points is that the upgrade cost will be fifty quid. Based on what’s been officially released here, it could look a bit disappointing with how much they’re asking to upgrade the software. Thinking back, we’ve had some pretty huge features launched in Traktor Pro 2 as free version updates. Remix Decks, Stems, and step sequencer to name a few. But… as we’ve discussed above, the big payoff is that Traktor Scratch is no more, or rather… it comes as standard in Traktor Pro 3. You’ll now be able to use Traktor DVS with any compatible audio interface. ANY. And this is pretty huge, for £50.

RAY’S TAKE

Oh man, it’s been so hard keeping my mouth shut about this (you did — well done -Ed). I’ve been on the closed beta since the beginning, following and taking part in the incredible amount of constructive back-and-forth on the secret portion of the NI forums. Because of this, and the fact that I’ve used Traktor since 2001, I’m a little closer to the whole thing than I perhaps should be in order to offer a truly unbiased opinion – but that’s why we all offer our individual perspectives here. It’s also not quite easy to give you the full extent of my thoughts, because I have been told things that can’t possibly make it onto the internet until NI decides it’s time. This is the trade-off, but I’ll happily take that over not being involved at all.

What I can tell you is that this version of Traktor is the result of a lot people with vastly different use cases working their asses off testing on countless different setups, and fighting hard to see their favourite features implemented. Every person reading this article right now is represented by someone in the closed beta circle. That someone may not necessarily have been me (because I’m a bit insane in regard to my workflow), but I assure you we’ve all been heard. Seeing all this happen makes me want to change NI’s #FutureOfSound to #WeGiveAShit. Because these guys really, really do. And if you’ve never managed anything of this magnitude in software development (I’ll wager most of you haven’t), you’re likely to underestimate how hard it is to try and prioritize so many user requests and open yourself to the community like they did. It takes serious cojones.

Still, whenever NI announces anything DJ – and yes, we all know it’s been a while, no need to beat the dead horse – a noticeable portion of our trolls users will go in the comments and say “NI hates turntablists”, “why doesn’t this new thing have jogs” and so on. I almost admire the persistence required to keep this nonsense up. It’s like you couldn’t DJ with Traktor using vinyl for the last TEN YEARS or something. Now this version comes out, and most of the users will work just as they have before. Because let’s face it: most people DJ on 2 decks. Maybe they’ll hit a hotcue here and there, set a loop. Maybe they’ll use a filter, maybe a simple delay. That’s it. I’ve yet to see another DJ use Stems or Ableton Link “in the wild”, even though those tools can really elevate your game and (like Remix Decks, which I actually see people use here and there) have been a part of Traktor for quite some time. This proves that the “aspirational” user base is a small one, and we should be happy we’re still on the radar at least in one place.

As Dan and Mark have said, Traktor Pro 3 is not a revolution. Cynics could (and probably will – this is the internet, after all) say that it’s as much of an upgrade as Serato DJ Pro was to Serato DJ. But that wouldn’t do it justice. It looks better and it sounds better. Élastique Pro 3 can easily compete with Pitch’n’Time, and one thing Traktor does better than any other DJ software is key control. We’ve been able to adjust the key in cent steps (a cent is 1/100th of a semitone) since day one, but now you have the same time-stretching algorithm from Maschine to make even drastic changes sound a lot less jarring than they normally would. With the right controller mapping, you can pitchbend a track smoothly and create a looped buildup/breakdown whenever you want, easily creating blends between tracks that would normally never go together in terms of harmonic mixing. The software also noticeably works better – the preferences window now pops up immediately, among other things.

Most importantly, however: Traktor will now support ANY audio interface for DVS functionality. This, ladies and gents, is a HUGE deal, and well worth the upgrade cost. I can’t stress this enough. You can pretty much use any mixer with Traktor now! I should point out what the difference is between a “scratch certified” and a regular interface/mixer. A certified unit will have all audio routings baked into the software config, giving you a plug-and-play experience. With a regular unit, you will have to go through the input/output channel settings manually. That’s literally the only difference. Setup takes a minute at best, and then you’ll be able to use whatever you can make work. At your own risk, yes – but I’ve been doing this with the Sixty-Four for five years, without a single hiccup. Now, there’s no need to whip out a hex editor every time a new update comes out – and isn’t that freakin’ cool.

Edit: one last thing about daytime/night skins. Keep in mind that both OSX and Windows 10 at the very least give you the option to invert the screen colours (on Windows, you can go a little bit deeper to compensate for various visual impairments). While that will mess with the general palette of the GUI, it will certainly make the dark parts bright – and if that’s what you need in an emergency, well, there’s your workaround.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Traktor Pro 3 is almost here. When it is, the team will be tearing it apart for you and reporting back on what they find. And for a change, this old Serato user will be giving a fresh perspective too. Can’t wait!