The wait is finally over! After what feels like an eternity, built up so well by Native Instruments, they have launched their Traktor DJ iPad App today. Here I will be taking a quick look at the App and at the bottom of the article will be posting some quick tips on getting set up and some issues as they arise.
We were all teased by the pictures of Richie Hawtin using an iPad, well here’s the official video of him using the new Traktor iPad App.
I downloaded the App as soon as I found out it was available, without even thinking about the $19.99 price bracket. After a very quick download, I was excited to open the app. Treated to a short demo video of the capabilities, I wanted to jump right in.
Tutorial Walk Through
After opening the App you see a bunch of ‘notifications’ in the top right, selecting these opens up a side bar, with a list of mini tutorials.
This lists various features, that are in a chronological order, working through them is something you feel like you want to skip and just get right into it. Even though most of these features are fairly intuitive to pick up anyway, I would contain your excitement and just work on through them. It will pay off in the end. They are very brief and you will be up and running in no time.
Some amazing features that are completely new to Traktor users and do not feature in the main Traktor Pro 2 programme are excellent touch screen related features.
The one that first jumps out to me is the Freeze function – This function allows you to ‘Freeze’ the wave form but allows the track to continue playing. Given the touch screen capabilities of the iPad, you are now introduced to a very visual and tactile way of triggering beats within the waveform that you have frozen, by simply tapping all over the waveform on screen. Then when you ‘unfreeze’ the track it continues playing from where you last pressed the screen.
The Effects – Again the tactile feel really allows for you to physically ‘play’ with your music. Using a similar interface as the korg or the touch OSC app, Traktor have introduced a touch screen X/Y style effects unit, including Delay, Flanger and Gater. (looko out for the drag down option in the effects for more hidden effects – Beatmasher 2 & Reverb) Using this is simple and the effects are great.
Filter – Aside from these above effects, we have the standard filter, again set in an X/Y grid, all of these have the option to lock the effect in place, meaning that wherever your finger leaves the screen is where the effect will stay. You can even close the filter window, leaving the filter on, but offering an extremely simple way of turning it of with a simple one touch; not requiring a cumbersome workflow to turn it off, which is amazing.
Touch Loops – Being able to pinch your loop smaller is a great feature. Each time you go for a pinch it halves the length of the loop, great for creating builds.
Beat Grid – On first impressions, I decided to use a non-standard pop song, that is not your typically computer generated audio, to test out the beat gridding qualities of the app. It seems that there is still work to be done with figuring out tracks that are a little awkward, there is no way to ‘stretch’ the grid that I can noticed yet, but if you are using a standard digitally produced track, then you shouldnt be having an issue. For tracks that do head off the grid now and again by changing tempo slightly, you have the option of live beat-gridding.
You simply hit the beatgrid button and and drag the waveform to line up with the grid.
Track Recommendation – The browser window for the track, activated by an upward swipe from the bottom, not only contains artwork and various track information, but will recommend a list of music for you that is of a similar in tempo and key (key detection has now been added to the new Traktor Pro 2.6.1). So finding that next suitable track has never been easier.
If you have no tracks on your iPad, you have no tracks in your Traktor DJ – Aside from this, with the newest release of Traktor 2.6.1 on February 20th, we now see that in order for Traktor Pro 2 to Sync with Traktor DJ on the iPad, you MUST use iTunes. It is through iTunes and Drop Box, that all the syncing happens!
So if like me, you haven’t been using iTunes to integrate your music collection with Traktor, now might be a time to start looking into that possibility. You will also be able to organize your playlists within the App, which will then sync back to Traktor, via DropBox.
Real World Use
So this App is a great idea and excitement was quite rightly built up. It’s an amazing toy and a much sought after iPad addition, but is it going to just be a fad, or will this truly become heavily used in real world applications?
As we see from the video, Richie has been using it live in a club, there are also option to connect this to an Audio 8 or other similar device through the iPad camera connection kit, opening this up into a whole new world of possibilities.
Built in to the app is an audio splitter function, which will enable you to cue up tracks in your headphones if you are simply wanting to hook it up to a stereo system for a house party too. This means that by simply connecting a splitter cable that splits the left and right channels apart, you can hook the left channel up to a stereo and the right channel to your headphones. You could even have your passenger DJ a set on the way to a club in the car, all hooked up to the main stereos (with the right cables)
Time will tell if we might see this being used to DJ in Bars or Clubs as we move forward. I am looking forward to testing out the syncing issue with playlists and tracks. The App is not lacking too much functionality and in my opinion and a majority of simple mixes, even with some added flare of effects and EQ use can be executed quite simply. The App has clearly been thought out very well with usability in mind and I would be very tempted to try to DJ a full set (maybe in a small low key bar setting) using this App. For $19.99 you cant really go wrong. If you don’t use iTunes for your Dance music, then you’re not going to get too much fun out of it. If the playlist syncing function works as smoothly as I feel it will, I can see this being the best way to organize your set lists for any gig. You don’t need to pull out your laptop and open everything up. I know I’ll be making some use of this app for sure.
Hints and Tips on Getting Started
First off, it appears as if you need to have your DJ music physically ON your iPad before any syncing will occur. This means connecting your iPad and loading it up with the music you want to manipulate on your iPad. That music, it seems, must be from the same iTunes Library as the one synced with your Traktor Pro 2.6.1.
If like me, your computer has a couple of different accounts, one for personal use including syncing your iPhone, iPad and their various Apps and another for DJ’ing that has only Traktor and my DJ music on, then you face a small issue.
The issue being that you will now need to sync your iPad with a different iTunes account that doesn’t house all of your iPhone / iPad apps and information. So if you sync it to this fresh version of iTunes then you erase all your iPad, including the Traktor DJ App that you just installed.
If on the other hand your Traktor Pro 2.6.1 is installed into the same computer account as your fully functioning iTunes account, then simply loading in the tunes you want to your iPad should’t be a problem.
Once you’ve got around that little issue
On your computer (you need Traktor Pro 2.6.1) you will need to head into the new ‘Metadata Sync‘ page in the preferences.
If it says you need to install iTunes – then you need to update to the latest version of iTunes. Also, if you have not set up your iTunes directory in Traktor then you need to do the following:-
- Open up Traktor Prefs
- Click on ‘File Management’ page
- In the Directories section where it says iTunes Music Library, you want to click the ‘…!’ button at the end of the line
- Locate and click on your iTunes Music library XML. (This is likely to be in your Music > iTunes Folder and is most likely called ‘iTunes Music Library.xml’
Once you have iTunes connected, the next warning it may give you is “You Need to Set up Traktor DJ“.
Head over to your iPad –
- Open up Traktor DJ.
- Swipe up your browser, using the upwards swipe from the bottom bevel upwards
- You will see a small cog in the bottom left – this is your settings and
- Set up your DropBox Sync. If you already have a DropBox set up on your iPad, it’s just a matter of accepting that Traktor DJ will use it. If not – it’s time to set up a DropBox Account.
Once the two devices are set up properly, you will be presented with the words, ‘Active – Click to Sync‘ inside of the ‘Metadata Sync’ page inside Traktor Pro 2 Preferences. Click this button.
You will now be presented with an option:
- Keep the information on your Computer
- Overwrite your computer with what’s on Traktor DJ (iPad)
For me, I think it should be safe to say that the most likely choice here will be for you to ‘Keep’ the information stored on your Computer. That is unless you have not been using iTunes to manage music.
If you have not been using iTunes to manage your tracks, you will see that nothing really happens. To really see this App in it’s full glory, you are going to have to copy all your tracks into iTunes by dragging the folders over and load these tracks onto your iPad using iTunes to sync them. Obviously the the biggest iPad is only 128GB, so if you can’t fit your entire DJ Collection on your iPad, you will have to be selective as to what tracks you load onto it.
As we all start to figure this new App out, feel free to write any observations you have in the comments.
Recording a Mix
Since this article was published I have created a short article with video on how to record and also how to remove that recording from the iPad – You can watch the video here.