Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol X1 Controller Review

By | Posted April 7, 2010


The Traktor Kontrol X1 is a device that allows DJs to control the Tracktor Software as well as other program such as Serato.  Rather than use your laptop and mouse, core functions of the software are controlled via the buttons and knobs on the X1.

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Staff Review

The Traktor X1 is a device that allows DJs to control the Tracktor Software as well as other program such as Serato. Rather than use your laptop and mouse, core functions of the software are controlled via the buttons and knobs on the X1.

First Impressions:
The Traktor X1 resembles a very large TV Remote Control. It has various different buttons and knobs, each labeled with a primary and secondary function. The device is relatively light but it feels extremely sturdy. When plugged into your laptop the buttons on the device light up in different colors which makes it look like a high tech control pad. It certainly turned a few heads when I started using it. Also worth noting is that the X1 also comes with a cutout that lays over the device and re-labels the buttons to correspond with functions on Serato.

For this review I am using the X1 along with an Acer AS1410 laptop, Traktor Pro Software, 2 Tech 1200s, and a Vestax Pro-5 mixer. The X1 can also be used with other software programs such as Serato. If you do not have your own decks, you have the option of using the X1 as a standalone with the software (using the software's internal mixer) or with any external mixer.

In my case installation was a breeze. I simply installed the drivers that came with the X1, plugged it into my laptop and it was ready to go. It took me about five minutes.

When I first heard of Native Instrument's Traktor X1 I was slightly confused as to how it would help me as a DJ. After all, I already had Traktor and it worked fine for me so why would I need an additional piece of hardware? After using it extensively I can say with confidence that it can be an extremely useful addition to any DJ setup that includes software like Traktor or Serato.

So what does it do? In short, nearly every function of the Traktor software can be controlled via the X1 In other words you no longer need to use your laptop to control Traktor. It may a little time to get used to, but the X1 gives actions like track browsing, looping, effects and cue points a much more tactical, hands-on feel in addition to making them vastly more convenient. Ill take each of these functions one by one and describe how the X1 improves them.

Track Browsing – the X1 has two knobs, one for each deck. Turning the knob allow your to browse through your track library. Push the knob and that track is now loaded on the corresponding deck. Want to expand the track library to full screen? No problem, just hold the shift button and hit the knob. Its that easy. No longer will you have to scroll through your library using a mouse. Just twist and click.

Cue Points / Track Browsing – The X1 allows you to assign up to 8 cue points per deck (16 total) to the buttons on the pad. This opens up a world of possibilities. Just check out this video of DJ Rafik to see whats possible. Basically you can use the cue points as a mini pad allowing you to jump from sample to sample with ease. Try that using the mouse on your laptop! The knobs I mentioned earlier also allow you to easily scan through tracks to find the spot you are looking for. Lastly, a beat +/- button allows you to jump back a set number of beats seamlessly! This is incredibly fun to use.

Effects: The X1 puts all of the effects within Traktor at your fingertips and gives you hands-on control of them. On the top of the unit there are 6 knobs, each of which can be assigned to a unique effect. Simply hold the corresponding button to trigger the effect and then twist the knob to tweak the effect. You can also assign a single effect to each set of three knobs, allowing you to use the knobs to control the advanced settings of the effect. This particular feature was difficult for me to figure out on my own but luckily Sonic Academy offers some helpful videos that teach you the tricks.

Looping: Another incredibly useful function, the looping knob allows you to set a loop, expand or contract it in size, and even assign the loop to a cue point for use later.

Lastly, you can also play, stop, sync, and pitch adjust tracks directly from the pad. This is great if you are using the X1 without a external controller like a turntable or CD system. In this case you can simply use the X1 to control both decks on the software.


As I mentioned earlier, when I first heard of the X1 I was unsure why I needed it. Now that I have used it for the past month I can confidently say that I now cannot live without it. Whether you are a turntable + software DJ or just a software DJ, the X1 adds a level of control to your mixes that was previously impossible. Mapping functions like looping and effects to physical buttons instead clicking on the a screen opens up a new world of possibilities for your mixes in addition to making the entire experience more fun and rewarding. This unit comes highly recommended for any DJ who is using a software system.

Easy setup
Eye-catching design
Easy to use and fun
takes the functions of the software and puts them at your fingertips for easy use

The included instructions could better explain how to use some of the features (i.e. advanced effects)
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Features & Specs

Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol X1 Features:
-Designed by the creators of Traktor for perfect software integration
-Plug and play - instant recognition by Traktor with no setup required
-Precision designed high-end buttons, knobs and encoders
-Software controlled backlit buttons for comprehensive visual feedback
-Lightweight, robust housing with slim, ultra-portable form factor - fits perfectly alongside a standard club mixer
-Super-intuitive loop and cue control section
-8 knobs and 8 buttons for simultaneous access to all effect parameters of both decks
-Push encoders for browsing and loading tracks to each deck instantly
-Expandable - connect two X1s to control four decks
-Compatible – incl. MIDI templates for controlling other DJ and performance software
-Seamlessly adjustable LED brightness adapts to any environment from bright daylight to the darkest club
-Button off glow for reading button labels in absolute darkness.
-All buttons feature backlights in multiple colors for ease of useFX buttons: orange. Transport buttons: blue MIDI mode: green. Shift + Hotcue buttons: white.
-Bi-directional communication with Traktor using NHL (Native Hardware Library). The NHL protocol features resolution that is almot 4 times that of regular MIDI
-Calibration wizard precisely and individually defines mid-point of each knob
-The controller is pre-mapped by the makers of Traktor, with the option to freely customize any individual part. Tweak the defaults or reconfigure the mapping entirely to your preferred workflow
-Included powerful MIDI configuration software provides templates for various applications and gives access to advanced features such as encoder step size, note up/down encoder messages and more
-Fully hot-pluggable in Traktor. The X1 runs the instant you connect it to your computer with Traktor running. If the USB connection is accidentally disconnected Traktor continues to play unaffected. Simply plug the X1 back in and it's good to go again.
-Dimensions: 4.7" (120 mm) x 2" (52 mm) x 11.5" (294 mm)
-Power Supply via USB 2.0 interface, 5V 500mA bus power. No additional power supply or battery is needed

Bi-directional communication with Traktor via Native Instruments’ high resolution protocol gives the hardware a smoother and more precise feel compared to regular MIDI controllers. All buttons and knobs have been pre-mapped for optimum Traktor use but can be re-configured in any way you like. Traktor Kontrol X1 can also be used as a MIDI controller for any software as well as expanded with a second unit to control four decks and four FX units.

The Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol X1's high-quality, back-lit LED buttons and push encoders are clearly arranged in distinct transport, browse, loop and effects sections. With enough room for convenient control of selecting, cueing, synching and pitching tracks, you always have the right music on hand. Eight knobs and eight buttons simultaneously control up to three effects on each deck, while the intuitive loop control section together with direct access to eight hotcues per track will have you remixing your music without interrupting the flow.

The Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol X1 comes with a powerful selection of software to get you mixing and making music straight out of the box. The included software consists of the following:
-Traktor LE makes it easy to mix your digital music files. This convenient DJ software offers two playback decks, a 2-channel mixer, and more.
-If you produce your own music, the included Kore Player offers 600 MB of production-ready sounds for use in any sequencer.

The Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol X1 stands out with exceptionally high quality workmanship. With meticulous attention to detail, the knobs and buttons have been designed for maximum accuracy and precision in both look and feel. With its slim, yet super-sturdy construction, the X1 is your companion in any DJing situation. The optional transport bag not only serves to securely transport the unit, but can be turned into a stand that puts X1 at exactly the same height as standard mixers and other DJ hardware.

Traktor Kontrol X1 features a total of 30 buttons, 4 push encoders and 8 knobs arranged in the following sections:
-Effects Section
-8 high resolution potentiometers and 8 buttons make up the effect section of Traktor Kontro. This section allows control of all the
parameters of 2 Traktor effect units simultaneously. In Chained mode, this means simultaneous control over 3 effects per deck. The
effects section buttons are programmed to give direct access to 3 of your favorite effect presets.
-Browse Section
-One push encoder per deck is dedicated to browsing through play lists and loading tracks. Simply turn the push encoder to find the track
you want, and push it to load it into the corresponding deck. Once the track is loaded the same encoders seek through the track, using
tempo sync'd beat jumps to remain in time.
-Loop Section
-This section allows for intuitive control of Traktor's loop function, giving clear visual feedback about the loop status via LEDs. The section
offers first level access to auto loops and manual loops as well as loop editing functions such as loop size and loop position, both coarse
and fine.
-Transport Section
-This section provides direct access to basic playback controls as well as shifted access to 8 secondary functions for each deck. All buttons
for industry standard workflows (Play, Sync, Cue + Cup) are located here. Switch to hotcue mode and you get another 16 buttons for
controlling the 8 hot cues or hot loops per track. Plus, the CUP button flashes in time with the deck's BPM as an added visual mix

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