Samurai mythology is riddled with serpentine goddesses, encounters with the spirit world, and tales of profound transformation. Take the Tokyo Tea for example. With shots of vodka, white rum, triple sec, half a gin, one and a half Midori and sweet and sours, this momma transforms even the most disciplined soul into a right little beastie. Transformation of your MP3 collection however, is better achieved with the likes of Native Instrument’s quite fantastic MP3 mixer and loopfarmer, the trusty Traktor 2.0.
What It Is, What It Is
Traktor 2 emulates the features of a traditional hardware audio mixer, allowing you to apply a complex array of mixing techniques to that MP3 collection threatening to swallow your hard drive. Line up your tracks on either side of the screen, load them onto your ‘decks’, loop sections, shift pitch or tempo, apply filtering, equalisation, ‘scratch’ the files back and forwards, and crossfade or mix your tracks together. Cueing tracks works by sending a mono signal out thereby freeing the left or right channel for pre-listening to tracks being lined up, or can work in stereo if you have a soundcard that can handle this. ( The Traktor site has extensive info about how best to set this up ). Software mixers have their limitations, but this one integrates easily with traditional hardware mixers, so you can connect a standard mixer to your computer and use most of it’s functions on your MP3 files. Software also offers a whole smorgasbord of possibilities that hardware can’t touch, and Traktor explores some of these solidly.
Waveform Displays – soundwave displays of each track allow anticipation of upcoming sound changes. Loops and cue points can also be seen easily and adapted to suit. Something simple, but it really makes your job easier.
Tempo Detection – Traktor can accurately analyse and detect the BPM of each song, allowing for easy synching.
Looping – This is my favourite aspect of Traktor, and the most immediately fun – up to ten tempo-precise loops can be set on the fly, and these can be stretched or shrunk, or shifted along the timeline backwards and forwards, allowing endless ways to stretch breaks for as long as you want them to be. Fluid.
Cue Points – Save up to 10 cue points for each track and jump to these whenever you want.
Equalizer – A 3-band DJ (-24db/+12db) with kill switches (to -80db), punch-in and mute buttons, +/-12 db input gain and auto-gain, a crossfader and a cue mix section with separate headphone mix.
High-end filters – easy control of cutoff, width, and resonance.
Database functions – manage and archive tens of thousands of tracks with powerful naming, sorting and searching tools that allow you to access and load tracks lightning fast.
Keyboard triggering – assign over 400 functions to whatever keyboard shortcuts u want.
Mix recording – either as an audio file, or as a small file which records your knob movements etc and can be easily sent to friends or collaborators.
Mix Audio CDs – ( including visual waveforms of your CD track ) along with MP3s on the PC & Mac OS X versions.
If Traktors already playin with digital files, why shouldn’t it include a range of simple FX such as delay or reverb, distortion, and access other ways of processing the sounds as well as mixing them?
Starting A Traktor
You’re gonna need US$199 ( see www.native-instruments.com ). And you’re gonna need a computer.
Mac Minimum: OS 9.2 and higher or OS X (incl. 10.1, 10.2), G3 500 MHz, 128 MB RAM
Mac Recommended: OS X (incl. 10.1, 10.2), G4 733 MHz, 512 MB RAM, multi-channel soundcard (minimum 4 mono or 2 stereo outputs)
PC Minimum: Windows 98/2000/ME/XP, Pentium III 500 MHz, 128 MB RAM
PC Recommended: Windows XP, Pentium III 700 MHz, 256 MB RAM, multi-channel soundcard (minimum 4 mono or 2 stereo outputs)
Traktor feels like it’s trying to very much emulate a traditional mixer, and only beginning to expand the possibilities of mixing to take advantage of the totally crazy and flexible audio manipulation processes available to modern computers. If you’re going to use a computer to mix music, you may as well enjoy what the computer s capable of rather than pretend it has to be something else. That said, Traktor is rock solid at what it does, has all the smoothness and quality you’d expect from Native Instruments, is getting plenty of rave reviews from professional Djs over the globe, and I’ve yet to see an article claiming there’s a better MP3 mixer out there.