Traktor Kontrol F1 & Traktor Pro 2.5 Review
Overview: The Traktor Pro 2.5 software is the new and recently released update for Traktor Pro 2 that removes the popular Sample Deck feature and replaces them for the new Remix Decks which allow DJ’s to put on much more of a “live-performance” than ever before possible on a Traktor setup. The Traktor Kontrol F1 is the hardware that DJ’s will use to fully control and unlock the Remix Decks’ full potential when using it with the Traktor Pro 2.5 software. Traktor has now nicely integrated this new "performance DJ" style feature to run in perfect harmony with its hugely successful DJ software all in one neat little package. Check out our full HD-Video and written review inside.
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Review Video & Demo
Setup & First Impressions
The Traktor Pro 2.5 software is the new and recently released update for Traktor Pro 2 that removes the popular Sample Deck feature and replaces them for the new Remix Decks which allow DJ’s to put on much more of a “live-performance” than ever before possible on a Traktor setup. The Traktor Kontrol F1 is the hardware that DJ’s will use to fully control and unlock the Remix Decks’ full potential when using it with the Traktor Pro 2.5 software. Many users have already been performing with this style of DJ-ing using a combination of Serato with Ableton Live where DJ’s are able to DJ as normal, but then use a drum-pad style controller in order to control all of their loops, samples, and sounds in order to make a true live “creation-style” performance. Traktor has now nicely integrated this new performance DJ style feature to run in perfect harmony with its DJ software all in one neat little package.
This is almost like the bridge between the production world and the DJ world where users will now be able to DJ live, while also producing or creating grooves and sounds to mash together in a live setting. Most DJ’s may not be able to do such live performances as the learning curve is quite extensive, especially when trying to do it all live and incorporate it in your current DJ Set. This will take lots of planning and practice before a DJ has the confidence to do something like this on the stage. We will break down this review in terms of the Traktor Pro 2.5 software and then the Traktor Kontrol F1 Hardware.
Traktor 2.5 Software:
The Traktor Pro 2.5 software update is a nice welcomed update that lowers the price of Traktor Pro as a whole and also adds some cool features and updates. First of all, the main feature that is added to Traktor Pro 2.5 is the new Remix Decks. The Remix Decks essentially replace Traktor Sample Decks and allows DJs to use the Traktor Kontrol F1 to control loops, one-shot samples, and sounds to make creative “on-the-fly” mash-ups for their live DJ performance.
Each of the four decks in Traktor Pro 2.5 can be turned into Remix Decks. Each of these remix decks have four slots that can be played simultaneously while each of the four slots has a total of 16 different items (samples, loops, sounds) that can be programmed to them. The layout of the Traktor Pro 2.5 software matches the Traktor Kontrol F1 hardware perfectly. The four on-screen slots for each remix deck matches up perfectly with the color-coded buttons and pads on the Traktor Kontrol F1.
In total, there are 16 slots of sounds, samples, and loops that are available to the user via the pads on the F1, while the same 16-pads are layered to a total of four pages (selectable by pressing shift and moving the knob) meaning that each Remix deck can actually control up to 64 different sounds, grooves, samples, or loops. Each of the Remix decks can even play entire tracks if you like, so there is some cool versatility hidden within. The Sounds and clips that are played via the Remix decks also have the ability to be manipulated or “scratched” via a DVS system or controller, meaning that some DJ’s may see fit to change all of their decks to Remix Decks and still have all of the normal control that the user needs.
The Remix decks are a lot of fun to use and Traktor even gives you 1.4 Gigs of sounds, samples, and loops to get you started out on your path of digital performance. DJ’s can also add sounds, samples, and loops from currently playing tracks within software to the slots in the Remix Decks by a simple record and assign method in Traktor. Again, the learning curve may be steep for users who never made beats before, but it definitely will add a whole new dimension to anyone’s set… Hip-hop DJ’s included.
On a side note, the Traktor Kontrol F1 and the Remix decks are meant for live performances meaning you can’t really save your performance unless you do a simple record, but you won’t be able to full out produce music and edit as with the NI Maschine or other production software and hardware packages. The Traktor 2.5 Remix decks “workflow” (all of the placements of your sounds and loops) can all be saved so the user can recall all of the F1 presets that they were using last or would like to use this time.
The Traktor Pro 2.5 software update also has some nice improvements over the last Traktor Pro 2 that was released. The first improvement that I noticed while playing my normal DVS setup without any Remix decks was that the CPU usage meter was less than before. It seems that Traktor found a way to make this 2.5 update make better usage of processing power which is probably needed in order to make way for the complex Remix Decks. The other big update to the Traktor 2.5 is the new and more accurate Beatgrid. The Beatgrid is basically the BPM detection program in Traktor 2.5 and it seems a bit better than the last Beatgrid before the update.
In use, I let Traktor re-analyze my entire collection with 2.5 as it replaces the old beatgrid for the new one. Also in use the new Traktor 2.5 was very stable. I had no issues with drop-outs, popping, or lag when using two remix decks with two Traktor Decks and effects. Others on the net have stated that they experienced issues with the new Traktor 2.5 software, but the way I spin, I haven’t noticed any issues in practice.
Finally, it’s worth pointing out that Native Instruments have not yet opened up the Remix Decks to be mappable to anything else except the Traktor Kontrol F1. If you download the Traktor 2.5 software with Remix decks, the user will only be able to take advantage of the functions when used with the F1. Native Instruments says that in the future they will allow controllers of all types to map to the Remix Deck features, but for now it’s the F1 only.
Traktor Kontrol F1 Hardware
The Traktor Kontrol F1 Hardware is very much like the Traktor Kontrol X1 in terms of size, construction, and build quality. The Traktor Kontrol F1 chassis is made up of mostly plastic with a sheet of metal on the face for durability similar to all Traktor Kontrol controllers. Like the Traktor Kontrol X1, the F1 is a fully MIDI-Mappable machine, meaning the DJ can switch this over to MIDI mode and program this unit to work with any DJ software out there, and the DJ also has the option to program it within Traktor to work as they wish if they don’t want to use the Remix Decks. By default, when the Traktor Kontrol F1 is put in MIDI mode while using Traktor, it will work as a supplemental controller for DVS style users which changes the functions of the pads to Hot Cues, Loops, and other controls, while changing the faders and knobs to effects style controls. There is a nice Overlay included for DJ’s who want to use the F1 for this purpose so the DJ will easily know which button does what function. This would be very good for DJ’s who only want to use the remix decks sometimes, while also being able to access their DVS style functions like loops and cue points using one device.
Please note that Each Traktor Kontrol F1 can only work one Remix Deck at a time. In order to access the other remix decks, the user must hold shift and turn the Page Knob in order to switch to the other remix decks. Super users will definitely want to buy at least two of these as even I found myself (a novice user) wishing I had another one at times to work two remix decks simultaneously.
Here is a quick breakdown (top-to-bottom) of what all the buttons, knobs, faders, and pads will do when using them with Remix Decks…
Filter Knobs – Used as High/Low Pass filters for each of the four Remix Slots in the active remix deck
Faders – Volume Faders to control each slot on the Remix Deck
Sync/Master – Set the Deck to Sync Mode or set as the MASTER BPM
Quant/Edit - Used to make the Remix Deck Quantized meaning everything done will remain in sync
Capture/Delete – Used to assign Loops/Samples/Sounds to one of the 16 Pads
Shift – Used for alternate button functions. Hold it down and press another button for use
Reverse/Color – Used to play the item in Reverse or to Change the color of the Pad
Type/Pitch – Used to change the playback type of the item (one-shot, loop, single play) and to change the pitch
Size/Speed – Used to change the size of the item in the pad, or change the speed/BPM of the item
Browse/MIDI – Used to browse through tracks or remix decks while MIDI button changes the F1 to a MIDI mappable controller.
Knob/Display – This knob is used to select options within the entire unit like changing the page of the pads, changing to the different Remix Decks, altering colors, speed, and pitch.
16-Pads – These sixteen pads have a soft rubbery feel to them but they have an audible click and they really invite users to use them as they feel very tactile and rewarding when used properly. These are the pads that the DJ uses to put on their performance. These will trigger the one-shot, samples, and single play items that you have stored on them within the software. They all have a backlit and there are lots of colors to choose from to program each pad to. The choice of color combinations used is up to the DJ.
Mute/Stop Buttons – The four buttons all the way at the bottom are used to stop or Mute the remix deck slot playback.
Conclusion / Recommended For
In Conclusion, The Traktor Kontrol F1 and Traktor Pro 2.5 are excellent updates to an already successful Digital DJ solution. The F1 and Pro 2.5 remix decks features now give the user the option to really perform live while using samples, loops, and cue points somewhat similar to how Serato and Ableton Live users have been doing for quite some time. The new workflow and Layout in Traktor for these Remix Decks matches up perfectly with the actual Traktor F1 hardware. The Remix decks are extremely fun to use no matter if you DJ hip-hop or EDM style music but the latter DJ’s will probably use this more as the BPM detection makes this a lot simpler when using it in that way.
The Traktor 2.5 update gives users a better beatgrid for BPM detection and I’ve experienced less CPU usage than before. If DJ’s aren’t into using the Remix Decks, then the F1 can double as a full out MIDI controller that can be mapped how the DJ wants. On the downside, the Traktor Kontrol F1 can only be used with one Remix deck at a time, and the Remix deck features themselves can only be mapped to the F1 (for now). If Traktor is your DJ software of choice and you want to incorporate more Live-style drum-pad remixing and playback, then the Traktor Kontrol F1 is going to be perfect for you…I will recommend the Traktor Kontrol F1 for anyone who wants to get into the “Live” form of production remixing or for any DVS user who wants a new MIDI-controller to work some of the other functions in DJ software that they may not have control over.
Pros & Cons
- Traktor 2.5 Remix Decks Are Fun for Live Performances!
- Traktor Remix Decks Workflow Can be saved for Future Use
- Traktor Pro 2.5 Update Slightly More Stable (Less CPU usage) & Better Beatgrid
- Traktor Kontrol F1 can be Custom Mapped as a MIDI controller to any software
- Traktor Kontrol F1 only Controls One Remix Deck At a time
- Remix Decks Can Only Be Mapped to the F1 (for now)
Features & Specs
Remix Decks are the latest TRAKTOR innovation, letting you select from up to 64 loops and one-shot samples per deck. Any of the four decks in TRAKTOR PRO 2.5 can be switched to be a Remix Deck
Each Remix Deck offers four different Slots (columns), ideal for arranging sounds and loops by instrument groups e.g. different drum, bass, percussion loops. Play one sound per column - a total of four samples at any one time.
Use loops from the included sound content or import any loops and sounds of your own
Develop your own unique trademark sound and build a personal arsenal of sounds by live-capturing your favorite loops while DJing
A NEW WAY TO PERFORM
The stylish multi-color pads and ergonomic faders make TRAKTOR KONTROL F1 the ultimate controller for a Remix Deck. Any sound or loop can be assigned a specific RGB color, either in the software or via the controller
A Remix Set™ is the combination of 64 loops and one-shot samples and their respective beat grids and BPMs - stored and loaded just like a regular track in the browser
Control the entire Remix Deck via Native Scratch timecode control with vinyl or CDs - or scratch using the TRAKTOR KONTROL S4/S2 jog wheels. Each Remix Deck has its own transport, sync, and tempo master controls
To add more flavor, you can choose which slots are fed through TRAKTOR’s FX units, or even play samples in reverse
The Punch mode allows for instant switching between different loops in one instrument group, in perfect phase - switch from one drum loop to the next exactly on the 2 and 4 snares
Additionally, the Remix Deck quantize can be set to different values for full control of the musical phrasing
IMPROVED BPM DETECTION
Rewritten tempo detection for improved accuracy, developed from analysing thousands of tracks from various genres
New “downbeat” auto-detection improves auto-beat-gridding and phase recognition
Convenient analysis options when importing files to your collection - set the tempo range by BPM
Much improved BPM detection on tracks with variable tempo, (such as “live” drummer genres) - now detects average BPM
Rewritten Tempo-Tap – instant and simple realignment anytime your tracks drifts away from the grid over time
Manually adjusted grids, (and all BPM-locked tracks) keep their position and tempo from previous versions
NEW BROWSER FEATURES
All contents and settings of a Remix Deck can be saved and reloaded as “Remix Sets”, managed in the Browser as a single entry
Sounds and loops are contained in the Remix Sets’ .trak format for super-convenient file handling across computers
The state of browser tree is recalled from previous session when starting TRAKTOR
Importing another collection now preserves favorites
Now features Jogweel and Joglight advanced HID integration for Pioneer CDJ-2000, CDJ-900 and CDJ-400
S4/S2 Sample Deck slot functionality is now mapped to Remix Deck functionality
The S4 channel filter curves have been shaped for smoother transitions around the neutral position
System Requirements, Dimensions and Power Supply
Windows 7 (latest Service Pack, 32/64 Bit), 2 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD Athlon 64 X2, 2 GB RAM (4 GB recommended)
Mac OS X 10.6 or 10.7 (latest update), Intel Core 2 Duo, 2 GB RAM (4 GB recommended)
General: Monitor with 1024 x 768 screen resolution, USB 2.0, 1 GB free disc space, high-speed internet required
Dimensions: 4.7" (120 mm) x 2" (52 mm) x 11.5" (294 mm)
Weight: 1.6 lb (730 grams)
Power Supply via USB 2.0 interface, 5V 500mA bus power.
No additional power supply or battery is needed.
Purchase the Traktor Kontrol F1 & Traktor Pro 2.5
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