What DJ Controllers Work with Traktor

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With over 20 controllers compatible with Traktor, how do you determine which works best for your DJing needs?

This article explores the key Native Instruments and third party controllers optimized for Traktor, how to configure mappings on them, and top considerations when selecting a hardware controller to match your budget, features and mixing preferences.

Let’s dive in to examine which controllers offer the best compatibility and customization for harnessing Traktor’s capabilities.

What DJ controllers work best with Traktor?

A visual spectrum of DJ controllers aligned in a symmetrical display, featuring prominent models like the Traktor Kontrol S4 MK3, Pioneer DDJ-SX3, and Denon MC7000 at the forefront. The image highlights the diverse landscape of Traktor-compatible controllers, including more budget-friendly options like the DDJ-SB3 and S2 MK3. This visual guide invites users to explore the rich variety of mapped and native Traktor controllers, catering to different preferences and budgets within the DJing community

The Traktor Kontrol S4 MK3, Pioneer DDJ-SX3 and Denon MC7000 are leading 4-deck controllers offering full internal mixing capabilities. Other quality options include the compact 2-deck DDJ-SB3 or versatile S2 MK3 for more affordable choices. We explore 19+ mapped and native Traktor controllers in-depth below.

Native Instruments Traktor Controllers

In a visually captivating scene, Native Instruments Traktor controllers, including the versatile S2, intuitive S4, and professional-grade S8, take center stage. The controllers are illuminated against a modern backdrop, symbolizing the synergy between technology and creativity. This image encapsulates the dynamic capabilities of Native Instruments Traktor controllers, each meticulously designed for DJs to unlock the full potential of Traktor's features. From precision scratching on the S2 to extensive remixing on the S8, this visual celebrates the diverse range of options for DJs seeking a seamless and immersive Traktor experience

Native Instruments, the company behind the Traktor DJ software, offers an extensive range of dedicated controllers that are designed to fully integrate with Traktor’s functions and workflow. Native Instruments controllers come pre-mapped to work flawlessly with Traktor and unlock all available features.

Some of the most popular Native Instruments Traktor controllers include the Traktor Kontrol S2, S3, S4, S5, and S8, as well as the all-in-one Traktor Kontrol D2. Each controller offers something different in terms of size, number of decks and software features supported.

The Traktor Kontrol S2 is a versatile 2-deck controller for Traktor. It offers high resolution jog wheels for precision scratching and Beatjump controls for skipping to a different part of the track easily. The S2 features internal sound cards with inputs for mics and external players, so no extra mixer or audio interface is required for playing your sets.

For DJs that want to jump up to a 4-channel controller, there is the Traktor Kontrol S4. It has an intuitive mixer section with dedicated EQ and filter knobs for each channel, as well as a suite of Flux mode effects and touch strip for dynamic performances. The Kontrol S4 can run 2 software decks simultaneously with a seamless workflow utilizing the 4 hardware channels.

At the top end, the Traktor Kontrol S8 offers a professional 4-deck controller designed for extensive remixing capabilities. It sports 32 RGB pads per deck for an elaborate live performance, alongside advanced macro FX control and swappable crossfader. The Kontrol S8 can mix all 4 software decks internally with detailed track browsing and information displays.

Third Party Controllers with Traktor Mapping

In a visually dynamic composition, a spectrum of third-party DJ controllers takes center stage, showcasing the diverse options for Traktor enthusiasts. The Pioneer DDJ-SB3, Numark Mixtrack Platinum, Denon MC7000, and Roland DJ-808 are highlighted, each representing a unique blend of features and affordability. The image captures the spirit of choice and flexibility, emphasizing the adaptability of third-party controllers with Traktor mappings. From entry-level options to advanced 4-deck controllers, this visual celebration encapsulates the richness of options available beyond Native Instruments' offerings, opening up a world of possibilities for DJs seeking personalized setups

In addition to the dedicated Native Instruments controllers, many third party DJ controllers can also be used with Traktor by installing user-generated controller mappings. These allow the controllers to communicate correctly with Traktor and customize what each knob, jog wheel, button or fader corresponds to.

Some examples of popular third party controllers that work well with Traktor mappings include:

  • Pioneer DDJ-SB2 – A versatile entry-level controller with transport and cue controls that can mix 2 decks
  • Pioneer DDJ-SB3 – A 2-deck controller with club-style layout and new FX fade feature
  • Pioneer DDJ-SX2/SX3 – 4-deck controllers with full capability to mix all decks internally
  • Numark Mixtrack Platinum – Affordable controller with touch-sensitive platters optimized for Traktor
  • Numark NS6II – 4-deck controller with dual USB ports for DJ handovers
  • Denon MC7000 – Metal-constructed 4-deck controller with dual-layer capability
  • Roland DJ-505 – 2-deck serato controller that can switch to Traktor via mappings
  • Roland DJ-808 – Standout controller with TR drum sounds and sequencing abilities

The advantage of third party controllers is that they offer more choice and can sometimes be cheaper than Native Instruments’ own brands. However, the trade-off is that setup requires downloading user-generated mappings and the integration experience may not be as seamless.

Configuring Third Party Controllers

In a detailed scene, a DJ engages with the Traktor software, configuring a third-party controller for optimal performance. The image captures the hands-on adjustments, including fine-tuning jog wheel sensitivity, reassigning transport controls, and customizing hot cue placements within the Traktor Controller Manager interface. This visual encapsulates the meticulous process of harmonizing hardware and software, highlighting the user's dedication to tailoring the third-party controller to their specific preferences. The hands-on approach reflects the commitment to achieving an immersive and personalized Traktor DJing experience, showcasing the versatility and adaptability of third-party controllers within the Traktor ecosystem

Using most third party controllers with Traktor requires downloading and installing the controller mapping files, which can be found on the Native Instruments website or various user forums.

Once mappings are installed, some adjustments may need to be made in Traktor’s Controller Manager for optimum performance:

  • Jog wheel sensitivity can be changed so that scratching feels natural.
  • Transport controls like cue, play, sync buttons can be reassigned if needed.
  • Hot cue and sampler buttons may need customizing to preferred placements.
  • Effects controls can be mapped to knobs or pads depending on hardware available.
  • Each mixer channel can have Traktor deck assignments set correctly.

Due to variations in hardware controls, third party mappings are not always complete one-to-one matches for DJ software features. There may be compromises or limitations with certain controllers. Hence Traktor users may wish to browse through different mappings first to gauge hardware-software compatibility before purchasing any controller.

Key Considerations When Choosing a Controller

In a visually engaging scene, a DJ is immersed in the decision-making process of choosing the perfect Traktor controller. The image features a diverse array of controllers, symbolizing key considerations such as the number of decks needed, type of mixing desired, built-in audio interfaces versus external options, form factor, portability, and budget constraints. The collage reflects the comprehensive evaluation DJs undertake when selecting DJ gear, highlighting the importance of finding a balance between functionality, portability, and affordability. This visual guide captures the essence of the DJ's journey in making informed decisions to enhance their Traktor DJing experience

With the wide selection of controllers available for Traktor, it is worth examining a few key factors when deciding on which suits your DJing needs best:

Number of Decks Needed

Traktor Pro software can run up to 4 decks with Remix Decks, which plays one-shot samples. Consider what mixing style suits your needs – 2 traditional decks, 4 decks for layering tracks or extras for samples. This affects how many channels / decks your controller requires.

For example, 2-deck controllers like the Pioneer DDJ-SB3 or Traktor S2 may be adequate for mixing purposes. But for adding acapellas, the extra deck flexibility of a 4-deck controller like the Denon MC7000 allows that convenience.

Type of Mixing: 2-Channel vs 4-Channel

While the Traktor software itself allows 4 channel mixing, not all controllers can fully mix 4 tracks internally. Some controllers are designed for 2-channel stereo output mixing only, without individual channel-per-deck control.

Check if the controller offers true dedicated mixer channels for all running decks, with EQs and filters per channel. This avoids needing an external mixer for track layering.

Built-In Audio Interface vs External

An audio interface handles all the inputs and outputs from a DJ controller setup, including microphone inputs for MCs to talk over your mix.

Controllers with a built-in audio interface like Traktor S2 or S4 do not require a separate mixer or sound card. The inputs and outputs are handled directly within the controller for simplicity. External audio interfaces would introduce additional cables and possible audio latency issues too.

Form Factor and Portability

DJ gear can be moved around frequently from gig to gig. If portability is a priority, consider more compact controllers that fit into backpacks like the DDJ-SB3 or Traktor S2 MK3.

Larger controllers generally offer more features and controls, but will be bulkier. Heavy metal constructions also improve durability but contribute to weight. So assess if you mainly play club gigs or multi-day festivals.

Budget and Pricing

There is an enormous range when it comes to how much DJ gear costs. Consider what fits best within your budget constraints.

For example, while feature-packed flagship controllers like the Pioneer DDJ-1000 or Traktor S4 MK3 offer extensive capabilities, an affordable controller like the Numark Mixtrack Platinum may suffice for bedroom DJs. Second hand controllers are also an option to obtain quality gear at discounted prices.

Carefully examine what features are must-haves versus nice-to-haves. Paying too much for functions you realistically won’t use regularly may not be prudent. Equally, not having enough channels, effects controls, or mixer flexibility could hamper creative freedom.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Traktor supports an extensive range of controllers including dedicated options from Native Instruments and third-party brands with user mappings. Carefully assess your budget, mixing requirements and priorities first when deciding on a Traktor controller. Models like the Traktor Kontrol S2 MK3, Pioneer DDJ-SB3 and Numark NS6II offer quality solutions at different price points. Finding one that suits your needs ensures you can unlock the full potential of Traktor for creative DJ performances.

Dominic

Dominic is the chief editor of the Burton Acoustix blog which writes about acoustics and soundproofing to help readers with their queries and questions they might have with regard to improving any sound or noise issues that they faced in their life.