Given Serato's somewhat open approach to allowing third-party manufacturers to develop deeply integrated hardware controllers for Serato DJ, it is fair to say that they have stolen a lot of Native Instruments' thunder in recent years.
However anyone who may have written off Traktor as yesterday's news, or thinks they may be falling behind the pace now being set by the Serato crew, would be absolutely wrong because Native Instruments have been kicking up a silent revolution of late on quite a few fronts.
The main beneficiaries this time, from this rear guard pincer movement, are their loyal Traktor users. Hot off the back of the news of NI's new multi-track file format Stems, which in itself is creating serious waves across the dance music industry, is the word of a brand-new controller that not only works seamlessly with the Stems format, but also solves the single biggest problem with other controllers like the Traktor Kontrol S8: portability.
The Traktor Kontrol D2 is exactly what club DJs have been waiting for since the release of the Kontrol S8, a compact version which is an almost exact replica of the deck section of the S8 without the mixer section.
It means that this controller can easily be transported between gigs and will fit into cramped DJ booths, making it possibly the perfect travelling companion for club DJs who use Traktor to perform their sets.
While the mixer section might be missing, all of the important bits from the deck sections are present and correct, making this a seriously feature-packed controller with a very small footprint.
The Traktor Kontrol D2 is the next in a rather proud succession of compact controllers from Native Instruments, such as the F1 and X1, and while there are some familiar features and controls from these controllers found on the surface of the D2, this is a quantum leap ahead from its predecessors in terms of features and workflow.
The most striking feature of the Traktor Kontrol D2 is without doubt the LCD screen, which looks positively massive in such a small controller and has allowed Native Instruments to create an uninterrupted workflow that is very intuitive.
Track browsing and loading is a snap. The touch-sensitive controls activate corresponding Traktor views and functions on the screen, making the D2 incredibly user-friendly as well as ensuring the absolute minimum amount of time and fuss when using this controller.
This means the more advanced features are far more likely to be used by DJs while under the pressure that comes with sets in front of large crowds and live internet broadcasts. Tracks released using Native Instruments' new Stems format will load with their four individual tracks displayed on the LCD display of the Traktor Kontrol D2, ready for instant remixing and tweaking.
Existing Traktor features such as remix decks are also catered for by eight trigger-style pads at the bottom of the control surface, above a touch-sensitive strip controller and transport buttons.
For club DJs who regard Traktor as their weapon of choice when it comes to rocking club dancefloors the Traktor Kontrol D2 is a no-brainer purchase. It manages to strike the perfect balance between portability and features, and even has four decks.
For DJs who don’t mind about size, and have the space for a complete system, pairing the Traktor Kontrol D2 with the Traktor Kontrol Z1 mixer would create the perfect ultra Traktor control system that is fully loaded with every control parameter that one would ever need.
The Traktor Kontrol D2 is an awesome controller that is sure to be popping up in the biggest and coolest DJ booths around the world this summer and for many years to come.
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