Sham Decks, err, I mean Stem Decks Launched by NI

Maybe I’m an old man, that just doesn’t get it, but after downloading the new update of Native Instrument’s Traktor with the addition of the vaguely anticipated ‘Stem Decks’, I was instantly hit with laughter.

Is that it?” I thought.

Ok, I admit, I don’t own a Kontrol D2 or a Kontrol S8, which have a fancy display that show’s us a little more of a visual breakdown of each ‘layer’ or ‘stem’ of the newly broken down track. However, I doubt that these screens add much more to the experience, to make any additional impact that would make me use this new feature.

I have an Kontrol F1, which I plugged into to Traktor as it’s supposed to control the Stem decks. The first thing I noticed is that you can not ‘Start’ or ‘Stop’ the deck with the F1. One must hit the play button on the software to start playback (or I guess another controller). Despite this, fanphoto-1.jpgcy stuff began to happen when I pressed play. The 4 columns of the F1 began to jump up and down like a graphic equalizer, which roused my excitement a tiny amount.

The far left column was a pretty purple and the 2nd column along; red, then green, then yellow. However, other than the levels of each column, there is very little control one has over the playback of the stems.

You are not able to independently control the stems, other than filter, volume and mute. The track plays through just as a normal track, except now instead of using the bass, mid and treble pots on a mixer, the whole thing has been made more complex, yet admittedly, pretty.

This is nothing special and nothing that you can’t do with some basic EQ’ing.

This is a completely laughable invention that is a step backwards from the remix decks.

Remix Decks are extremely flexible and intuitive, yet the hype surrounding the stem decks is just that; hype!

I will not be delving any deeper into this ‘fisher-price-esque’ insult to the world of music and will continue to use my bass mid and treble pots to achieve the sound I need. As the old quote says, “If it aint broke, don’t fix it.”

Will native Instruments be bringing out a new odd shaped, yet more functional ‘wheel’ in the future?