NI Teases New Traktor Hardware; We Have Details



Stop it! Get your eyes off that screen!

We all know the problem: DJing with computers isn’t terribly practical without looking at the computer – a lot. Native Instruments’ Traktor S8, like Maschine before it, promised to liberate laptop users from that vacant computer stare. But it, and rival offerings, have a big problem: they’re back-breaking, checked luggage-triggering, tech rider-rewriting huge.

Well, you probably already worked out the S8 “flagship” wasn’t going to be the only hardware from NI to play with this concept. The question was, what would a “half-S8″ / “S8 mikro” / “S8 deck” look like.

If you happen to be a big fan of the artist Uner, and were staring at your screen to watch the NI live stream, you just got a glimpse of exactly what it’ll look like. Native Instruments handed over the new hardware to some of their artists with the cameras rolling live to the Web.

NI has also provided us, and a “handful” of outlets (TMZ, maybe?), with some details. What we know:

  • Portable, advanced touch-and-see control over TRAKTOR decks

  • Bright, full-color display reveals pop-up displays, views, and panels for track browsing, effect monitoring, live tweaking without reaching for the laptop

  • 4 touch-sensitive Remix Deck faders and knobs for full, 4-channel control over a Remix Deck

  • 8 color-coded pads to trigger samples, cue points, loops, or beat jumps

  • 14 touch-sensitive knobs and faders provide instant visual feedback on deck displays while browsing tracks, controlling effects, loops, and Remix Decks

  • Multi-purpose, LED-guided touch strip provides precision control over track position, pitch bend and more

  • Quick access to track BPM and Key as well as FX, Filter, and Remix Deck parameters

  • Customizable FX unit with over 30 studio quality effects plus Macro FX

  • 4 foldable rubber-padded feet elevate the unit to standard DJ hardware height

  • Integrated USB ports allow controller chaining and free up computer ports

  • Chain units with included NI Power Supply splitter cable and integrated USB ports

  • Portable, road-worthy construction ideal for long touring

The Kontrol S8, introduced in fall. Now, once again - but smaller. Photo courtesy Native Instruments.

The Kontrol S8, introduced in fall. Now, once again – but smaller. Photo courtesy Native Instruments.

I’ve been playing with the S8, and while I was skeptical about some aspects of it, using it has really impressed me. You can absolutely play without ever seeing the computer, certainly – and it is spectacularly good when it comes to things like playing with loops and sampling, even if you don’t get deep into Remix Decks. Now, having been looking at it and pondering what would come next, it’s also clear that you can’t just lop off a part of it and make usable hardware. NI also tells me that whatever they’re working on here is more sophisticated than just taking a hacksaw to an S8 prototype – and that’s a good thing.

So they’ve built something at least slightly different. Let’s read between the lines to work out what it might be. Some key takeaways here:

Mainly, you do get a display – so the key advantage of the S8, without an S8.

You also get all of the mixing, effects, cueing, looping, sampling, and Remix Deck controls. This also eliminates the need for the F1/Z1 combo I talked about earlier this week. That’s great. What will require careful observation of the spy photography is determining how they combined the deck controls of the S8 with the mixing controls while fitting a more compact space.

Also, note “decks,” plural. That makes sense: once you have a display, there’s no need for dedicated controls for each deck – meaning the S8′s big size is redundant for most of us, and this works just as well.

However, no mention of an audio interface. That’s okay, although I will say it’s one of the best unexpected features of the S8.

And it does sound like it’ll require an external power supply, although no complaints about that given you have a nice, bright display.

So, we know we’re getting a more portable unit. I’m surprised with how much I love the S8 – I’ll talk next week a bit about why it’s great if you’re in the studio or playing back to back.

But this is, of course, what a lot of us were waiting for: basically, a portable, control-everything device with a screen that frees us from the computer’s eerie glowing rectangle.

We’ll watch for pricing and availability, of course, and report back once we have one to test.

Now, the remaining questions are what updated Traktor software might go along with the hardware release, and if we’ll see things like tighter Traktor/Maschine integration – which would be a huge boon to hybrid live/DJ sets. Below, you can see the polite and measured way that NI customers typically ask for such things.

The post NI Teases New Traktor Hardware; We Have Details appeared first on Create Digital Music.

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