Native Instruments Traktor 2.5.1 Update: Using Pioneer CDJs As Soundcards and Controllers

Two of the industry leaders in DJ technology, Pioneer and Native Instruments, have recently begun working on some amazing new projects together. Pioneer is known for their high-end industry-standard DJ mixers and CD players, and Native Instruments for their DJ software, Traktor; now they have combined their technologies together to make DJ setups easier, more powerful and more FUN!

With Traktor 2.5.1, Traktor now features improved advanced HID support for CDJ 2000s and CDJ 900s. With the integration of Traktor and this new generation of CDJs, you can actually use each of these CD decks as a soundcard AND HID controller for Traktor! Using the CDJs as soundcards makes setup a breeze since you no longer have to unplug cables and make a mess. Using the CDJs as HID controllers for Traktor takes DJs away from their laptop screens and displays all of the relevant Traktor info on the CDJ display screens. This technology has actually been available since early 2010, but with this new Traktor version 2.5.1 it’s gotten a massive upgrade. Here’s how it all works.

Using the CDJ 2000 / CDJ 900 as an advanced HID controller

One of the best new features in Traktor 2.5.1 is the advanced HID functionality with the new Pioneer CDJ 900s and 2000s. Using a CDJ in HID mode is basically like using it as a MIDI controller for Traktor; almost every function on the CDJ works just like it would as if you were playing an actual CD, including instant LED feedback, but instead of controlling CD playback you are controlling the playback of audio files in Traktor instead.

If you’re using your CDJ 900 or 2000 to control Traktor in HID mode, you do not need to use the Traktor timecode CDs anymore. All of the deck functions in Traktor are controlled by the CDJ as if the CDJ was a MIDI controller, and the response time is really fast since there is no longer any need for the software to read and convert timecode audio.

Here are some of the improvements when using the CDJ 2000 and CDJ 900 in advanced HID control mode with the new Traktor update:

  1. You can now browse on the CDJ and you can scroll through your playlists and tracks directly on the CDJ’s display. While you’re browsing you can see all of your folders and tracks on the CDJ display, along with the folder icons. You can even open and close folders using the CDJ’s rotary encoder, saving you from having to look at the computer screen. While you’re browsing on one CDJ, the other CDJ will match the browser display so the same list will be displayed on both.
  2. You can now see album artwork on the CDJ display while you’re browsing and playing tracks.
  3. You can now view the waveform (stripe) of your track on the CDJ display, so you can see the entire track overview. Also, needle search works now so you can hold the platter and move your finger along the needle search bar to quickly go to a specific part of a track. While you’re playing the track you can see things such as elapsed time, remaining time, current pitch % and current BPM.
  4. You can view all of the hotcues and saved loops of your tracks on the waveform display. Also if you have hotcues set, it will light up the hotcue buttons on the CDJ and you can trigger your cue points directly on the CDJ.
  5. Looping has also been improved. The Loop In / Out buttons now function exactly like the original CDJ behavior, meaning you can set loops, edit them live and even save them. If you have a saved loop (hotloop), the hotcue buttons will light up green indicating it’s a hotloop. You can also erase hotcues by pushing the Rec/Call button and pushing the hotcue you want to delete. The CDJ Cue behavior is also now correct meaning you can set a “floating” hotcue with the “Cue” button on the CDJ, and jump back to the floating hotcue anytime by pressing the Cue button. Also there is now “latched playback” meaning you can play a track by holding cue and pushing the play button. If you trigger a loop in the deck, you will be able to see the loop in the waveform display on the CDJ.
  6. The seeking / search functions have been improved so you can hold the search button to scroll forwards and backwards in the track quickly. You can also hold the search button and move the jog wheel to search even more quickly through the track.
  7. You can now scratch in high resolution with the jog wheels.
  8. There are now autoloops that you can trigger on the CDJ, and you can select the length directly on the CDJ display.
  9. If the “track end warning” is blinking in Traktor, the CDJ will start blinking, telling you that the track is about to end.

With the new Traktor update, HID integration is plug and play with Traktor. All you have to do is connect the USB port on the back of the CDJ to your computer or USB hub, hit “link” on the CDJ, push the browse encoder to select “USB MIDI” and then turn the browse encoder to select which deck you want to control with the CD player. Traktor will then automatically load the mapping for the CDJ into the controller manager and you are ready to go!

Using the CDJ 2000s / CDJ 900s as soundcards:

Another great innovation, Pioneer has actually added a built-in USB soundcard to their newest generation of CD decks, which means you can actually use the CDJs themselves as soundcards for Traktor. This makes setting up at the club much easier because you can leave the opening DJ’s RCA cables plugged into the mixer, and not have to mess with their setup at all. All you do is connect the CDJ to your computer via USB. In Traktor’s audio device menu, you would select the Pioneer CDJ as your soundcard and the sound from Traktor will be routed into the mixer without having to unplug any RCA cables.

To get the best performance out of this setup, you will want to download and install the following:

  1. The latest version of Traktor, which you can download from the Service Center or from the Native Instruments website under Support – Downloads – Updates.
  2. The latest drivers and firmware for the CDJ 2000s or CDJ 900s. You can download the 2000 drivers and firmware here and the 900 Drivers and firmware here.

If you’re looking to use two or more CDJs as soundcards at the same time, which you will need to do in order to cue and mix properly,  you will need to download the CDJ Aggregator tool as well. This allows you to take two or more soundcards (each CDJ is actually a separate soundcard) and combining them so they appear as one soundcard to Traktor. (It is necessary to do this because Traktor can only recognize one soundcard at a time.) You can download the CDJ Aggregator tool here (click link to download zipfile); when you run it, here’s what you’ll see:

Once you’ve run the CDJ Aggregator tool, the two CDJs together will now show up as a single soundcard in Traktor called “Pioneer CDJ.” If you want to use both of them together (and normally you would), be sure to select this entry in the Traktor preferences and not the individual CD players.

You can configure the routing of the CDJs in Traktor’s preferences in the output routing section like this:

Now you can use your CDJs as your Traktor soundcard and as HID controllers. This means no more staring into the computer screen and no more cable messes in the DJ booth! Happy mixing everyone!

DJ Endo a.k.a. Mike Henderson is a DJ product specialist for Native Instruments and lives in New York City. Listen to his mixes on SoundCloud. Keep up with him on Twitter and Facebook.

Digital DJing with Traktor Pro 2 Program

The definition of DJing has changed dramatically in the last decade. Laptops, controllers, and software have emerged alongside more traditional turntables and CDJs, smashing the barrier to entry. In today’s digital age, anyone can become a DJ. To reflect this renaissance, Dubspot has created the Digital DJing with Traktor program. In both our physical and online schools, students will learn how to DJ entirely with Traktor’s cutting-edge technology. An emphasis will be placed on the concepts of DJing rather than simply learning how to use the software.

What’s Included:

  • Digital DJing w/ Traktor Pro 2 Level 1: Introduction to DJing
  • Digital DJing w/ Traktor Pro 2 Level 2: Phrase Mixing
  • Digital DJing w/ Traktor Pro 2 Level 3: Beyond The Beatmatch

Starting with a historical overview, students will learn the fundamental concepts of the DJ via Traktor’s intuitive interface. They will then begin to delve into the vast array of new possibilities offered by this groundbreaking software, presenting their work along the way. Students will leave with finished DJ mixes, a thorough exploration of DJing with Traktor, and a skill set and knowledge base perfect for further development.

NI’s Kontrol F1 + Traktor Pro 2.5 Update – Overview + Video Tutorial w/ DJ Endo

DJ Extensive Program

Immerse yourself in the complete art of DJing from beatmatching to stage presence. Whether you’re a beginner in search of the fundamentals or a seasoned pro looking to take your talent to the next level, our curriculum is designed to accommodate all skill levels and styles of music. This comprehensive DJ program covers everything from basic mixing to advanced digital DJing. Learn more about our DJ courses and programs.

DJ Shiftee on Native Instruments Kontrol F1

What’s Included:

  • DJ Level 1: Rookie Sessions | Essentials I
  • DJ Level 2: Phrase Mixing | Essentials II
  • DJ Level 3: Beyond The Blend | Intermediate Skills
  • DJ Level 4: Preparation | DJ Psychology
  • DJ Level 5: Classroom to the Club | Advanced Techniques I
  • DJ Level 6: Club to the World | Advanced Techniques II

“I love the class, and the content! Shiftee and Endo are very funny, and very clear, so the material is easy and fun to follow! I wish my college teachers were more like these two!” – Leandro Martinez, Chicago IL

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  • Pioneer DJM-900nexus Mixer: Better Integration with Traktor – Overview by DJ Endo | Dubspot Blog
  • 7/27/2012

[...] you do not need to use a Scratch version of Traktor since the newer generation of CDJs act as a controller for Traktor in Advanced HID Mode without using timecode. Using these newer CDJs in this mode with Traktor is ideal, especially when [...]

  • Controlling Traktor w/ Pioneer CDJ2000s Pt 1- Dubspot Video Tutorial w/ DJ Endo | Dubspot Blog
  • 7/27/2012

[...] information on the new integration of Pioneer CDJs and Native Instruments’ Traktor, check out DJ Endo’s previous post that outlines all the features available with this powerful integrated [...]