Traktor faces Serious Competition

Traktor and Serato have been the leaders in the world of DVS (Digital Vinyl Systems) with other manufacturers creating devices that are designed to work with either Traktor or Serato products. More recently however, other big brands, such as Pioneer are now venturing deeper into their own versions of digital DJ software.

As the DJ Industry gains momentum it seems as though other DJ companies are starting to pull away from supporting these leaders and breaking into their own product lines. This is great for diversity, but what does it mean for Traktor?

Do DJ’s have too much Choice?

DJ Logos - traktortips.comAs my regular readers know, I started on belt driven turntables, followed by Technics, CDJ’s, then Traktor. It was a logical progression. The use of Computers in DJ’ing seemed the right step in the process of evolution, but what’s the next step? As technology progresses and also becomes cheaper, other manufacturers and software developers are stepping into the arena.

Traktor, quite rightly, launched the Traktor DJ App, and whilst this is a far cry from the days of turntables, it has been a highly adopted format for many DJ’s. As hardware develops, we are seeing smaller, lighter, more mobile setups. Screens are moving from the laptops to mobile devices and even to the hardware itself.

The product range for DJ equipment is immense. There are too many items to spit out in one breath, unlike back in the day, when you could quite easily, say, “Records, turntables, needles and mixer.

With so much gear around, how do we know what we should pick? What tools should we learn in order to become a DJ? This depends on what kind of DJ you want to be.

How to choose your Equipment

If you wanna be a bedroom DJ and stick to playing small house parties, then I feel you can choose whatever you like. But as for progressing up the chain, you might want to focus on what is currently industry standard, at least until you get a foothold in the industry. Once you’ve made a name for yourself, then you can use whatever equipment you like, in-fact you can demand that the club have this set up in your Contract Rider (if you’re special).

Pioneer might be a threat to Traktor

Pioneer seems to be moving away from Traktor. Their wise decision to support Traktor in the beginning, allowed them to maintain a following and also cleverly enabled them to use Traktors amazing marketing machine, driving customer awareness. As they progress though, they have developed their own software in Record Box and Remote Box.

Their 2013 release of the XDJ-R1 offers up some serious competition to Traktor and the Kontrol S4, let me explain why.

Currently you won’t find a decent club in the world without a pair of CDJ’s. The current circuit of Pro DJ’s use CDJ’s. They are certainly industry standard. Pioneer has been industry standard since the beginning and they’re not gonna give that position up to anyone. If you don’t know how to use CDJ’s you might be seriously limiting your chances of DJ’ing in a professional club. This is where the XDJ-R1 comes in.

Pioneer XDJ-R1

pioneer xdj-r1It has CDJ similarities, you can use it with CD’s, you can play from a USB, you can play wirelessly from a phone or tablet. If you have issues beat-matching, you can use a sync function (with recordbox analysed music). You can also control midi software, and whilst Pioneer doesn’t supply a Traktor Mapping, a quick google search will dig one up for you. You are also able to plug through some Turntables or other external input such as CDJ’s. Not only all of this, but it has XLR outs, a second Master Out, a Booth Out, synchronized effects, sampler, 3 hotcues, a built in soundcard. Not to forget the nice touch of multi headphones (1/8″ & 1/4″) and all for US$899/£849/CDN$949.

Whilst the Traktor Kontrol S4 at $100 cheaper does sport more channels and more sync functions, and, I would suggest, a smoother control interface between software and hardware, the XDJ-R1 is giving the Kontrol S4 a run for it’s money.

I would say that for those controller DJ’s that want to keep a foot in the realm of CDJ’s and their skills on par with many of the worlds best, then opting for the Pioneer CDJ might be an excellent choice.

Whilst I haven’t physically handled the XDJ-R1, or tested it with Traktor (I would be happy to review one if someone wants to send me one), I feel that it bridges the gap nicely between traditional DJ’ing and controllerism technology. Native Instruments are gonna have to step up their game in 2014 if they plan on selling their product line of S4’s.


The Pioneer XDJ-R1 was launched in the summer of 2013 and I am sure Pioneer are already working on a successor. As many of us felt let down by the Kontrol S4 mark 2 release, accompanied by the many issues people are facing with compatibility of various computer systems (such as the Mavericks debacle), I can certainly see more comfort being found in the migration away from computers in the DJ world.

It seems that pioneer are yet again ahead of the curve in some ways and by offering the best of both worlds, you have a choice to move straight onto your back up choice of CD’s or USB stick if the Traktor software fails. And with each deck having separate control options, you can set one deck to midi controlling traktor, whilst the other deck can be set to USB, Phono, or CD

If my Traktor Kontrol S4 Mark 1 stops working, my replacement will be the Pioneer XDJ-R1, or, it’s yet to be made, potential successor.

Do you own an XDJ-R1? How do you use it? Or do you feel like me and are considering a move to Pioneer? Let us know in the comments below, I’d love to hear some feedback!

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17 thoughts on “Traktor faces Serious Competition

  1. The reason I moved to the S4 from CDJs is because with CDJs there was always some important functionality lacking that seemed to be introduced in the next version. Most notably even the 1000 MK3s had no HID or MIDI control so after spending an obscene amount of money the only way to upgrade was to buy 2000s. Upgrading software or even a controller is one thing, but Pioneer stuff is just too expensive to upgrade, so what you get has got to last a long time in terms of functionality and not just build quality, to be worth the price. The problem is, the landscape is changing quickly so it doesn’t add up unless you’re made of money (or you’re running a club where the you’re making money off of the use of the equipment).

    I do prefer the feel and layout of CDJs over NI equipment (especially the buttons — I don’t like rubbery buttons), Traktor Pro has WAY more features (and much better wave display) than any CDJ on its own and now that I’m over the learning curve, not having to waste time burning CDs or worrying about what tracks to put on a disc (or even USB stick) means I can focus on making playlists and finding ways to tag tracks to organize and get the most out of my music collection. Plus as the software gets upgraded I get more features without having to change hardware.

    Tablets are going to need a ton more storage space before they’re a viable option for me – also I’d need one run the full version of Traktor Pro in order not to be a downgrade. You can get a Core i5 laptop with 750GB of HDD space and maybe even a full HD screen for less than the cost of an iPad, so I just don’t see the point.

    In conclusion, once again Pioneer has made a product that promises to show the way to the future, but isn’t quite there yet. The risk is you having to shell out more cash before the end of its lifetime when you either need more channels/features or because it isn’t upwardly compatible. At least with this one, it seems like new .tsi files (and whatever the equivalent is for other DJ software) will help extend its lifetime, but be sure you’re really happy with two channels and no remix/sample decks.

    1. Some great points there Chris, all of which make lots of sense, thanks. I will say one thing though. Recently I have been dimming my screen out whilst mixing to take myself back to the music and have noticed how it improves not only your ear, but your actual knowledge of the track and your mixing skills.
      We have been slowly conditioned to look at waves, which is great to see what the track does, or what’s coming up, BUT, this seems to reduce the need for you to ‘know’ your music and increases our reliance on ‘looking’ at music.
      I really enjoy getting away from the visual aspect of DJ’ing and immersing myself back into the true essence of why I personally got into DJ’ing 20 years ago. The reality IS it’s the music that got me into this stuff, but now, it seems that it’s the toys and gadgets that attracts people, not the music.
      Whilst I am obviously a huge fan of traktor and the S4, I would like to see a move away from the need to use a computer for DJ’ing. Perhaps if I were able to turn on the S4 which had a small crate display screen and a ‘time remaining’ counter for each track and connect my cdj or vinyl turntables, and just play some music without my laptop, I’d be happy.

  2. Hi I use traktor s4 mk1 and love it but the pioneer xdj-r1 does look sweet will upgrade to the xdj-r1 when my s4 has ended its life?I hope that it last for a while yet its only 18 months old

    1. Yeah, I agree, a long life would be the best thing! Not sure how old mine is, cos I got mine used! It’s getting a little worn!

  3. Great comments, There will always be people who want to choose something different hence why there is so much choice which keeps the software/hardware companies coming up with new ideas. I think the days of the laptop/macbook are numbered with the choice of tablets/mobiles and the power they have (My iPhone as more power than this desktop I’m using to write this) having tried the R1 its a great piece of kit the screen are a bit small when you come from a laptop screen. The RecordBox software needs an update not because it does not work but visually it needs updating it looks very dated. I could go on but I will stop and save my little fingers. 🙂

    1. Thanks Phil, yes, the R1 is exciting to me, would love to have a go on it sometime soon. The thought of not using a laptop is beginning to really appeal to me. Whilst the newest S4 does connect to the ipad or iPhone, I’d rather play wireless or bluetooth, without the need to even pull my phone from it’s pocket. A little like the R1.

    1. This is true – if you want to use Traktor with this set up and add effects, you could maybe use your phone or iPad to control the effects or remix decks. You always have your phone , right!?

    1. Just my own personal viewpoint – whilst I might receive affiliate recognition from links, it’s pennies, so that’s not the reason for doing it! This is my honest opinion of the way things are going. Thanks for your comment!
      It’s more of a review/opinion than an ad. 😉

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