Tablets have been appearing in the DJ bags of many in recent years, due to their lightweight portability, and also because of their wireless connectivity and tactile approach for hands on control. There are many apps out there that can be paired up with Traktor to control set features or even user mappable controls. I have reviewed some of these in the past, including touch OSC and Maago (links below), but this time, I wanted to take a look a dedicated effects app: TKFX.
The app is FREE, which is awesome, however there are many features that are locked to the free user. The level of access you have at what I will term ‘teaser’ mode, is enough however to get a feel of the app and to tempt you in to the various upgrades.
What does TKFX do?
When fully upgraded ($6 in total) the app, in essence, is a complete control surface for ALL effects in Traktor. This is a HUGE help in adding extra control to your DJ set up, if you are limited with your current midi controller.
If you are used to having control for just two effects units in Traktor and have always wanted to use four, then this app will help you do that easily.
TKFX has the option to quickly select the following:
- Which deck to apply effects to.
- Which effect unit to control.
- Which effect to load into the effect unit.
- Turning each effect unit on/off.
- Switching between group and single mode.
- Controlling all effects parameters including dry / wet and freeze functions.
The app has pretty much everything covered, including some extra features.
A Deeper Look at the Controls
Starting with the left side of the page, at the top we see the ‘Bank’ section. This is a clever function that allows users to program and easily switch between four effects banks. So not only can you have four effects units, you can pre-load each bank with four effects, meaning you can easily switch between 16 pre-set effects units.
I can then move to effects bank two and set four completely different effects units.
This is awesome to speed up the navigation of effects and allows you to completely switch out all four effects units at the touch of a button.
The FX Unit Select area allows you to switch between controlling each effect unit.
Below that, users are able to change the effect unit mode between Single and Group. You are then able to quickly select the type of effect you would like loaded into the unit, or indeed, each group effect. This beats using the drop down or the shift function on your controller to locate the desired effect.
The nature of an X-Y grid means that you can control two parameters at once, using the x-axis as one control and the y-axis as another. You can assign the effect parameters to each axis, but as many effects have three parameters, you are missing the ability to control the third.
This can be remedied by quickly selecting the third parameter and setting it to the desired level before switching back to the main parameters you prefer to control for the desired effect.
When the unit is in ‘group’ mode the parameter buttons switch to the main parameter for each effect. This is duplicated in the line below so you are able to assign two of the group effects to the x-y grid. This does somewhat limit the ability to control three effects in group mode, but switching between parameters is super fast and easy.
The final row is dedicated to the FX functions when in single effects mode, or the effect on/off buttons when in group mode.
The top section includes ‘Deck Select‘ and ‘Deck Effects Select‘. These eight buttons are dedicated to turning on the effect units at the deck level and basically replace the familiar effect select buttons inside of Traktor.
Also on the top section is a sync button, which syncs up the effect timing when you set up midi send inside of Traktor, keeping the timed effects in time with the beat.
Down the right side of the display are controls for the Dry/Wet and a cool ‘Release‘ function.
For those that have not yet experimented with effects, the dry/wet, is the term given to how much effect is currently active. If the sound is ‘Dry‘, then there is no effect present. If the sound is ‘Wet‘ then the effect is in full effect. The Dry/Wet slider on the TKFX app is sticky, meaning it stays wherever you leave it, which I feel is the right thing to do. You can change the level of dry/wet at the same time as playing on the X-Y grid, which is also a nice feature.
The ‘Release‘ function is a nifty feature that kicks in when you take your finger off the X-Y grid. If the ‘Release‘ is all the way down, the dry/wet level drops to zero immediately, meaning that effect switches off at the same time you release it. With the release turned up, the effect slowly fades away after you release your finger from the X-Y pad. This is great to add a tail to the effect and mimics the action of slowly turning down the dry/wet knob.
Below these controls is the ‘HOLD’ button. This simply allows you to hold the effect in place, as if you haven’t removed your finger from the X-Y pad. This is exactly the same as the Traktor DJ App’s FX lock.
Using the App
So now we’ve broken down the controls, the big question is, how does this app perform in real time use?
I’ve taken the app for an extensive spin around the block and it is a hell of a lot of fun. It certainly adds an extra element to your ability to control effects. Jumping between effects is extremely easy and with the ability to select effects from a list using a touch screen interface definitely speeds things up.
The X-Y grid is amazing fun and obviously very easy to use. Being able to control two effect parameters with one finger frees up your other hand for other important DJ tasks.
When using group effects it is also fantastic to control two effects with just one finger, whereas before you would need to use two hands. If you keep your effect controls accessible on your hardware controller, you do have the option of controlling the third parameter of effect with your free hand, opening up the ability to affect three different effects at once.
One problem that I have noticed is that when switching from controlling one effect to another, the previous effect shuts off, meaning that you can not affect two effects units at the same time. This might be a deal breaker for the hard-core effects users, but for the majority managing one effect unit at a time is enough.
Setting Up the TKFX App
There’s very little in the way of instructions within the app itself, meaning that you have to head over the the TKFX site. Once there you simply have to head to the downloads section and grab the tsi file and the TKFX Link app. This app is similar to the touch osc bridge app that allows your iPad to communicate with your computer.
Connecting the two is super simple:
- Download and open the TKFX link app on your computer.
- Open the TKFX app on your iPad and head to Menu. (make sure you’re on the same network)
- From the menu select ‘Links’.
- Select the computer that you just downloaded the Link app onto.
Once this is done you simply need to import the TKFX tsi file into Traktor and you’re good to go. If you’re not sure how to do this there are instructions on the TKFX site, or similar instructions for loading tsi’s right here on traktortips.
- Having a separate effects controller means you can free up other hardware controls for other potential uses.
- Being wireless keeps valuable USB ports available.
- Using an XY grid is fun.
- Easy to set up.
- Quicker effects selection and navigation.
- Added functionality of effects banks.
- Added functionality of the ‘release‘ function.
- Inability to move between effects units without the effect shutting off.
- Not having full control over all three effects at once in group mode.
- You need an iPad or an Android device with a big screen.