Which Traktor Software is right for me?

Traktor Duo, Pro, LE or Scratch versions?

One thing that Traktor has going against it, is it’s confusing line of products, which at first glance appears to be difficult to decipher!  I want to try to take the confusion out of this and offer a little advice on the direction you should take when choosing a Traktor Product.

Scratch or not?

If you currently DJ using turntables or CDJ’s and you want to keep that feel, then you will need to make sure you have a ‘Scratch’ version of Traktor.  This will enable you to use both Vinyl and/or CD’s to control your music files and manipulate them in the same way you have been used to for so long.  You are however not limited to using only this option, as you can introduce midi controllers into the equation and expand your set up.

If you do not own turntables or CDJ’s and you wish to solely experiment with a Midi Controller style of DJ’ing then your product need not have the scratch functionality.  If you later decide that you would like to introduce turntables/CDJ’s then you can upgrade the program to a scratch version.

So you want to use your turntables/CDJ’s?

In order to use your turntables with the Traktor software you need to use the Native Instruments Audio Interfaces.  These units are high quality audio cards that plug into your laptop/desktop via USB and allow you to route the turntables into the program and out again through an audio DJ mixer.  Traktor supplies you with either time-coded vinyl or CD’s.  These play as normal on the relevant equipment and send an audio signal into the audio card, the card converts the signal into messages that controls the deck inside the Traktor program.  The audio from the program is then sent back out to the audio card where it processed and routed to the mixer.  This all happens in an instant with no delay.

‘No’ to turntables/CDJ’s…..

That’s OK, it’s not a bad thing, some die-hard fans may have something to say about it, but everyone is different and moving with the times certainly should not be frowned upon!  It’s the sound that comes out at the end that matters and not your choice of tool.  If an artist painted an amazing picture, would we ask what brush they used?

If you don’t plan on using an external mixer to route the sound and you plan to use the internal mixer provided within the software, then in order to mix the tracks together using headphones and the ‘cue’ function, you will still need a type of Audio interface; at the very least an ‘Audio 2 DJ‘.  The reason for this, is that you need 2 audio outputs – one for the master and one for the headphones.  Once the audio interface is installed, you can easily select the routing in the Traktor preferences and start mixing. (A video tutorial will be available on this soon).  Initially you can just use your mouse and the keyboard to control the faders and buttons on the screen.  You will undoubtedly want to incorporate a form of midi controller at some point, to make control more fluid and physical.

Two decks or Four? Your call

Now we have covered the initial hurdle, we need to think about how many decks we would like to use.  This is a simple choice between:

Scratch Duo or Scratch Pro (Audio interface included)


Duo or Pro (Audio interface not included)

There are big differences between the programs, please check the comparison charts below to see this in more detail.

The Audio Interfaces

You’re almost there – You may have even reached the decision as you have been working through, but if not, we just have to re-visit the audio card option.

Regardless of your control method you select – turntable, CDJ or Midi Controller -any setup that you wish to use an external DJ mixer for, requires an Audio interface.  This enables you to route each deck inside the Traktor program to a separate channel on the mixer.  If you have four decks, you will need the Audio 8 DJ and two decks will make use of the Audio 4 DJ.  (There are more in-depth differences between the two than simply this, please see the comparison chart below).

If you do not plan on using an external DJ mixer and you only wish to use two decks, then the Audio 2 DJ will suffice.  This unit basically splits your audio into 2 channels, one to your headphones and one to your main output.  All fades and the ‘cueing’ of tracks will take place internally within the program, using either the mouse and keyboard, and/or a midi controller.

Midi Controller

There are a number of midi controllers on the market, I have used the Behringer BCR 2000, the Allen & Heath Xone 1d, the Vestax VCI 100 and the Native Instruments X1, traktor specific midi controller.  All work very well and are customizable to your preferred settings and mapping orientations.  I currently use the X1 as I have found it suits my DJ style perfectly.  Some controllers come with a built-in mapping, which means you don’t have to fiddle around with any settings, allowing you to plug & play.

A quick mention of LE version

The LE version usually comes with different Traktor products to get you up and running.  If you were to purchase an X1 you would receive a copy of LE.  This is a great started program, but as you will see from the chart below there are limitations.

Hope I have helped!

I know that choosing a Traktor set up can be daunting at first, but I hope that I have at least given you enough information so you can make an educated selection of what set up will suit you.  My set up changes constantly depending on where I play and what mood I am in.  I currently own 2 x CDJ’s, 2 x Technics turntables, an audio mixer, Traktor Scratch Pro with an Audio 8 DJ and an X1 controller.  I mix it up between using everything all at once, to sometimes just the X1, an Audio 8 and a mixer (all with my laptop obviously).  I find that this set up is the most customizable and flexible.  You can go from club, to small lounge bar to multi computer set up all linked together and synced through a midi clock (something for a future blog/video tutorial).  The possibilities are endless.  Happy Traktor time!!


7 thoughts on “Which Traktor Software is right for me?

  1. Hello I’m brand new to all of this and I just bought a AudioTechnica Lp120.. a Traktor Kontrol F1.. and a Traktor Kontrol Z1.. I have speakers and a laptop Windows, 10…. I don’t Have A Sound Interface but my goal is to Spin and scratch and make use of all my stuff and the Z1 please help as I don’t know what I need to do next. I’m running Traktor LE and I’m considering either getting TRAK Pro or TRAK SCRATCH… thanks

  2. hello ! i sow that the tractor scratch pro 2 is the same price than the tractor scratch pro 2 ! and the last one bring the cds and the vinils. so i was planning to buy the scratch tractor pro 2, But my question is this: im not planning to use the cds or the vinils. i will use just a controller and my audio pro 2 from native instrument and different smalls mixer depends of the bar where i will be playing ! i will have any problem or limitation with the scratch pro ?? or i will need the tractor pro 2 ??

  3. Hey! Great post! But I’ve got two questions.

    Firstly, if I buy the scratch duo package for to get the audio 6, can i upgrade the software to scratch pro? I simply don’t need an audio 10.

    Second, do CDJs feel and operate the EXACT same with timecode CDs as they would with normal CDs and no interface? Cause the MIDI mapping for my CDJ 850s is kinda crap from what I can tell in the LE.

    Thanks so much for your time and wisdom!

    1. Hi Alex, thanks for your support. In answer to your questions, yes, you can upgrade from Duo or Duo 2 to TP2 – it is $139USD here is the link – http://www.native-instruments.com/#/en/products/dj/traktor-pro-2/?page=2234 (in the chose your option drop down, select “upgrade”)

      Also – the CD’s do feel exactly the same, whether using time code or normal CD’s. Works very well. I would try and pop into a store locally and try it out if possible, the one thing I might add, is that releasing the cue point might be a tiny bit delayed in some versions, but this seems to have been corrected in later versions and tapping the cue on the CDJ is very responsive nowadays.

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