The Best Traktor Mixers for 2018
Traktor Pro 3 – the greatest development not yet discovered.
As mentioned at post launch, Native Instruments’ launch of Traktor Pro 3 in it’s latest guise is awesome. Its used the world over by DJ’s who want extensive control over their music and the way they play. The current version of Traktor hosts 4 main decks to play with, which grow with the facility of remix stems and powerful looping capability. Traktor Pro 3 builds on this and has yet more features to get your teeth into. First of these is the sheer audio quality is now professional grade, with the most natural time stretching in a DJ software to date. Another monumental move is the addition of Haptic Drive; the technology which turns cue and loop markers into a physical feel on a spinning platter (available on Kontrol S4 Mk3). Native Instruments have also overhauled the Traktor user interface, into a much more intuitive, cleaner more modern guise making it easy to read the software at a glance than previous versions. Then theres new mixer FX. These are now designed with one-knob control in mind, making it easier than ever to mould those long mixes or add depth to those heavy drops. There are now eight extra effects and three filters, which can be assigned to each channel. Yes folks, this is in addition to Traktors world leading deck assignable FX. Yes, dear reader this Traktor Pro 3 is the most modular, the most customisable, the most modular and the most powerful. But a feature has been utterly and completely overlooked – even Native Instruments aren’t making enough of a big deal about it….
Scratch with any sound card
Yep, this means exactly what it says on the tin. Not only do the ‘usual’ Traktor Scratch certified mixers and soundcards worth with Traktor Pro 3, but now, pretty much anything with a sound card can be used with that magical static sound, that is DVS. So dear readers those mixers that have never seen a Traktor Certified badge, can now work effortlessly with your weapon of choice. This is a big, big deal because many DJ booths aren’t big enough to accommodate more than 1 rig, or the promoter struggled to get a particular model in. The new ‘Universal DVS’ will apply to these, and of course to the sound cards offering inputs and outputs can be configured with Traktor Pro 3. We will run you through the Traktor mixers in this post, many of them weren’t Traktor mixers until Pro 3 was announced!
Budget Traktor DVS Mixers
Theres a heap of amazing mixers out there – a couple of years ago, USB would be in the name to show off the latest and greatest technological feature, but now these unassuming USB sockets on the back of a mixer release something far, far greater. What’s more, is it doesn’t just apply to the mixers that cost a gazillion quid, that only Tiesto would use at his own birthday party. This USB connectivity is used for DVS (digital vinyl system) on mixers with Serato or Rekordbox certification. Now, thanks to the now universal Traktor Scratch appeal, these lower priced mixers can now be used with the Native Instruments software, making them even better value for money.
Pioneer DJM-250 mk2
This mixer from Pioneer DJ is a baby in the range if you look at its price. Don’t let this fool you, featuring the industry standard Pioneer build quality from front to back and a tank-like feel its a pleasure to mix on. The DJM250mk2 has a three band EQ on each channel with complete attenuation. Theres also the option to select between phono, line and laptop/USB for versatility, as well as an option for connecting an aux input or microphone. The DJM250mk2 features a Magvel contactless crossfader which can be switched between a caramel smooth mix and a sharp cut for those turntablists out there. FX wise the DJM250mk2 is a little thin with only a Filter on each channel but connectivity to Traktor Pro 3 will open up the FX and DVS to this already brilliant mixer.
Allen & Heath Xone:23C
Although the new Xone:96 is stealing the show right now with its gazillion sends and returns, the Xone:23C is nowhere near its shadow, winning people over looking for Allen & Heath quality at a great price. A&H released this for DJs looking for their first standalone DJ mixer with the robust sound of analogue with flexibility of a digital interface in there. It houses one of the legendary filters, and has a crossfader ready for that Innofader upgrade. The rotary knobs and faders a quality, resistive feel making this mixer really, really involving. Allen & Heath haven’t cut corners on their digital side with a sound card boasting 96khz to record at the best quality possible. X-Link is also featured on the Xone:23C for connectivity and expansion to controllers such as K2. Sure it doesn’t have a million in’s and out’s like it’s bigger brothers, but we think it makes a bloomin’ awesome mixer for Traktor Pro 3.
Scratch mixers. We don’t all scratch, but those that do, the mixer choice is important. This particular DJ style means you learn your mixers lines and layout, the same way Nicolas Cage learned the lines of Eleanor in ‘Gone in 60 Seconds’. There’s less strife with DJ mixers – promise! These mixers I feel need to be versatile so you, the DJ, can allow your scratch or battle routine to only be limited by your imagination. Therefore, the mixer needs to be capable of performing for you both inside and outside your comfort zone. Traktor 3 DVS capability on all of these mixers allows you to try a new meeting of hardware and software – who knows this could be the start of something real special. Or you may already be a fan of other Native Instruments DJ gear like Kontrol S4 or Kontrol X1. Traktor Pro 3 boasts an extremely powerful stem performance system with their software, too – so you can now use your favourite Scratch DJ mixer as a tool for sound launching, sampling and sequencing whilst scratching. Thats a lotta S’s!!
Reloop have been busy bees recently with the creation of the Kut battle mixer earlier this year. It’s a 2 channel digital battle mixer with all the 2018 scratch DJ needs, in a nostalgic design. Yes, it’s fully digital. The Kut contains an 8 x in and 6 x Out USB interface, so patching this through Traktor is now a reality. You can also use this to record your DJ set directly to your computer, if you wish. The Kut also benefits from ‘Dynamic FX’ – consisting of 7 effects including phase/flange, LPF/HPF filters, white noise and gate/crush. These are on generously sized rotary encoders so longer mixes are equally involving as live quick-remixing. The Mixer EQ section can be used in a classic or complete kill capacity, adding versatility. For those looking for a precise crossfader for scratching and beat juggling, the Kut delivers thanks to its supplied innoFADER. This is a non-contact fader which can be adjusted to suit your playing style. Of course a nostalgic mixer isn’t complete without hamster switch reverse function!
Traktor Kontrol Z2
Pretty obvious that Native Instrument’s Traktor Kontrol Z2 works with Traktor; clues in the title! However its always worth mentioning that this mixer will work fully with Traktor Pro 3, in 2 Channel DVS mode as standard, along with full control over two remix deck channels. The Z2 also has buttons and rotary encoders labelled accurately for control over Native Instruments Macro FX and flux mode. The Kontrol Z2 rolls comes equipped with innoFADERS as standard with a dedicated rotary encoder for crossfader curve adjust. Other nifty features include a dual USB hub, to make life easy when connecting other peripherals such as Kontrol F1 or Kontrol X1. Sure you may not be surprised the Kontrol Z2 has made the list, but its assuring to know this mixer was designed for a previous version of software yet works perfectly with a completely redesigned Traktor 3 ecosystem.
Ah the DJM-S9 – a hardened battle mixer mixer adored by DJ legends such as DJ Jazzy Jeff and A-Trak. Designed originally for the ever discerning Serato DJ Pro market, the DJM-S9 comes with capability to connect two laptops simultaneously, for b2b sets as well as fast changeovers and battle sets. The DJM-S9 features Pioneer DJ’s new Magvel Fader Pro crossfader – not only can you adjust curve and cut, but also resistance of the crossfader to suit your playing style. The focus is truly on those who like to get animated with their faders, as all secondary controls have been moved from the fader area to the front. The result is enough real estate without the fear of knocking any other controls by accident. This is quite the achievement for a mixer so complex in its ability – from transport control for navigating your library and loading tracks, easy looping, FX control of software (Edit: 2 sets! One per channel!) and a further 6 beat FX within the hardware itself. The DJM-S9 also has filters on both channels and FX paddles! If that wasn’t enough the DJM-S9 also has 16 full RGB performance pads which can be easily assigned to a plethora of modes including hot cue, roll, slicer, sampler, cue loop and sample loop.
Gettin’ Down on all fours
No, filthy mind. Getting down like James Brown! 4-deck mixers are certainly the way to go if you you’re ever coming equipped with more than just a couple of CDJs or turntables. If its a combination of the above, the four channel mixer category has a wide range to choose from. The mixers come geared for heavier use than the usual, bumper packed with features which are both inviting and easy to use. The Traktor Pro 3 DVS feature means you can use timecode on Traktor with all of these mixers, too!
Allen & Heath Xone 96
It’s been 15 years… 15 years!! Since the Xone:92 was released. Back in June the Xone-96 was released – with all the loved analogue features now with the addition of a Dual 32-bit USB sound card (24 Channels @ 96kHz). The Traktor certification exists straight out of the box and can be used with a pair of laptops – for b2b DJ sets and easy transitions. This mixer is multi-multi faceted. From the plethora of send/returns, sharp 4 band EQ and the world famous full Xone:VCF filters with crunch harmonic distortion (lovely). The Xone:96 doesn’t just let you connect the usual CDJs and Turntables for DVS/analogue use, but it invites you to use this as the hub of your operation – Drum Machines? Easy. Synths? No problem. FX pedals and units? De Nada. Theres two additional FX sends as well as two more stereo input channels like the 92, but these now feature a 3-band parametric EQ and two auxiliary stereo return channels. Oh, not to mention the separate master insert for the outboard hardware.
To the Quattro! Life on Mars is to blame for that thought – sorry! Mixars, owned by the mighty speaker manufacturer RCF, is a lesser known but very capable mixer in its own right – especially for its price. It’s the larger brother of the two channel DUO (easy names, eh!) and has 16 RGB pads which can be used for cue points and sampling, a fully fledged FX section with 14 effects and a further four colour FX: Noise, Gate, Crush, Filter. The Layout lends itself perfectly for b2b DJ sets thanks to the symmetrical layout of Pads and dual transport controls for library and loop selection. The Soundcard on this Quattro is 24-bit and also has 2 dedicated microphone inputs, as well as a hardware send-return for the connection of your preferred FX unit. We like its fully metal build quality, and the input channels have been printed upside down on the back of the mixer making it a doddle to read in a dark club if needing to hot-swap any connections. Currently shipping for those Serato DVS fans, the Mixars Quattro now works with Traktor 3.
The DJM-900NXS2, ladies and gentlemen. This is technically the fourth guise of the DJM-900 and just gets better and better! The DJM-900NXS2 is the club favourite, thanks to its studio quality 64-bit processing, dual USB connectivity and harmonious connectivity to the rest of the NXS range such as CDJ900NXS and CDJ2000NXS2. There are also some world firsts on this Pioneer DJ mixer. First of these is the USB send/return which facilitates the connectivity of iPad apps for FX – so if you have a favourite fx emulator or pedal app, you can now patch this in through to further morph your sound. This USB socket is also extremely handy to use with Pioneer DJ’s own iOS app, DJM-REC which allows you to direct record a DJ set directly onto your device. This FX send/return can also be switched over to 1/4” jack for analog FX units such as RMX1000. Note – previous versions of the 900 wouldn’t allow this as a standalone fx send – you’d have to route the inbuilt FX control to your send/return. Thanks to the fact this is now a separate feature, the Pioneer FX are fully at your disposal. Combine this with the plethora of FX within Traktor 3, you’ve got a serious sound morphing weapon in the DJ booth.
So there you have it folks, our rundown of what this Traktor news means to the DJ mixers out on the market right now. Big thanks to Native Instruments for bringing this to the masses; DJ mixers are kinda personal – different setups create different levels of involvement in how we deliver our music. Now we can embrace the sheer power of Traktor 3 – whichever mixer you like, for the Music In You.