For aspiring DJs who want to start spinning their digital tracks on vinyl and CD, TRAKTOR SCRATCH DUO is the complete solution that provides both the software and hardware to perfectly fuse the worlds of analog and digital DJing.
Traktor Scratch Duo Review
By: DJ BLAZE (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Native Instruments’ brand has proved to be a serious force time and time again when it comes to creating DJ software. We at DJbooth.net reviewed the NI flagship Audio 8 interface with the Traktor Scratch Pro setup earlier this year, so we thought it was only right for us to bring you the Audio 4 with the Traktor Scratch Duo setup. The objective is still the same as both setups will allow a user to connect analog or digital turntables to an interface which will interact with computer software for audio playback. In this case, the Traktor Scratch Duo system includes the Audio 4 as the interface and the Traktor Duo program is the software. The Duo system is about $270 cheaper than the Pro system (at retail), so naturally, we got many inquiries from DJ’s wondering if the Duo system was really good enough to handle most professional DJ needs. The difference between both setups on paper is that the Traktor Scratch Pro system can handle up to four Decks, while the Traktor Scratch Duo system can handle a maximum two decks. The Pro system also offers over twenty sound effects and the Duo system has only six plus filters. The Duo version doesn’t have the advanced send FX and EQ option features that the Pro setup has. There are a few other differences, but those are the most noticeable… In light of the major differences, it still looks as if most DJ’s will still be able to use the Duo software because the most important features still remain intact. Just like the Pro system, the Duo system also uses the time-coded CD’s and/or Vinyl Discs for playback control meaning superior timing and sound quality. The Software can also be used with a MIDI controller other than the Audio 4 interface that is included for playback and control. For the purposes of this review, we will be using the complete Traktor Scratch Duo system as it is packaged without outside MIDI mapping.
At first, the setup of the Traktor Scratch Duo system was a bit daunting. You are presented with a couple of Multi-core cables (with about 10 connectors each), a USB cable, the Audio 4 interface and a big poster-sized diagram on how to hook everything up to the mixer and computer. First, the DJ must setup the Traktor Duo software on the computer. The computer I am using has 4GB of RAM running Windows Vista with a quad core Intel processor. After the Software is installed; each Multi-core cable must be cabled to the color-coded section of the Audio 4 and then mated to a combination of the actual Deck and to the Mixer. For the testing, I used the Denon DN-S3700 CD/MIDI Turntables and the Korg KM-202 (2-Channel) mixer. Even with the quick setup guide it still took me a bit longer than I would have anticipated for my setup. Unfortunately, the guide doesn’t have a quick-setup section which shows a 2-channel mixer setup, so I had to hook everything up by way of trial and error. Fortunately for me, I actually had it setup correctly the first time. The initial setup for the Software will now take place as the USB cable from the Audio 4 interface is connected to the computer. During the initial setup, I selected the Audio 4 as the device and the time-coded CD with the external mixer option. Then I loaded up the included time-coded CD’s into the Denon DN-S3700’s. From there, the system was ready to use.
Playback – In order to play the files found on the computer, all the DJ has to do is drag and drop the desired track onto deck A (Left Deck) or deck B (Right Deck). Then press play on the CD deck and the track begins to play. It’s really that simple. You can also locate the track within the program and right click it which will bring up the option to Load A or Load B which will load Deck A and Deck B respectively. Once the track is in Absolute Time-Code control, whatever is done on the deck, will be done to the track. All of the Looping, Hot Cue, Platter Braking, Platter Reverse, Track Search, and Track Reset functions of the Denon DN-S3700s remained intact throughout audio file playback. The response time of the time-coded CD’s in conjunction with Traktor Scratch Duo is PERFECT right out of the box without any additional program setup. This system made Scratching, Juggling, and Drumming a breeze. I was pulling off very fast scratches and scribbles and performing very slow tears trying to listen out for any sound cracking or digital distortion and I was not able to hear any at all. Basically, whatever a DJ can do under analog circumstances, can now be done in the digital arena with Traktor Scratch Duo. The sound quality of the whole system was very, very good. I am no audiophile by any means, but everything sounded true to form.
Files and Folders – All files and folders found on the computer can be loaded into the Traktor Duo program for playback. Even IPOD’s connected to the computer can be accessible and played back through the program. In order for the program to learn the BPM and wave data of the track, it must go through the “Analyze” processes that can either be done as each track is used (takes a few seconds) or can be done to the entire library at the time of discovery. After the songs in the library are analyzed, they can now be perfectly beat-matched with one another while mixing by engaging the Sync-Lock function. The program can now also arrange all tracks in BPM ranges for easy track-to-track mixing. To add folders to the library, the user only has to browse for the main music folder and all of the subfolders will automatically be entered into the library. There are a total of 12 hotkey type file buttons in the program which can be used to store playlists or other configurations of music that the DJ is regularly using.
Software Layout/Usability – The Software layout of Traktor Duo is the same as Traktor Pro which is very similar to most of the other DJ software suites out on the market today. Deck A controls and current track data is found on the top-left which corresponds to the First deck which is usually found on Channel one of the mixer (LEFT deck). Deck B controls and current track data is found on the top-right which corresponds to the second deck which is usually found on Channel two of the mixer (Right deck). The tracks can be dragged and dropped onto the area of the deck that we want the track to play on. Under the Deck controls are the twelve hotkey folder buttons. At the bottom left panel there is a file-tree navigational area which shows a breakdown of folders (playlists can also be saved here). In the huge right panel lies the tracklist of the corresponding folder which is being navigated from the left panel. Tracks can be navigated by artist folder, track name, file name, album folder, and by many other attributes. The track list can be customized to show the attributes in any order desired, such as file name first and artist name second.
Effects, Loop, etc – There are six effects found in Traktor Duo which are tempo-synched filter, delay, flanger, reverb, beatmasher, and gater. Each deck has its own effects panel which can be used to chain together up to three effects which are selected from the drop-down arrow. Each effect has a digital knob to change the saturation of the effect. Each deck has its own Loop section built in. Here the DJ can set Loop start/stop points and trim/grow loops on the fly. I did not personally use this section as the on-board Denon DN-S3700’s Loop function remained operational.
There are many other options and preferences that can be set within the Traktor software, but it would take me all day to explain it all. Some other standout functions are the Crate Flick that allows users to browse through the track collection by flipping through the cover art, and the software is compatible with many other popular MIDI controllers on the market today. Native Instruments also constantly provides downloadable updates to the software to add MIDI control for other devices.
Conclusion (Recommended For):
The Traktor Scratch Duo system is an excellent setup for any DJ who is still waiting to use software as a control medium for analog decks. The setup wasn’t too bad and everything worked just as it was supposed to. I never had the program freeze, nor did it freeze my decks. The total retail price of this system was cheaper than any other analog to digital kit that is currently out on the market today. The Time-coded playback worked flawlessly during intense scratching, juggling, and beat-making routines. The sound was rich and full and played just as good as the source material could allow. Personally, I didn’t have any issues with this setup whatsoever, because it was perfect for my current system components. Some DJ’s will want more than the six effects provided, but since I used Traktor Scratch Duo in conjunction with the Korg KM-202 mixer (integrated Kaoss pad); all of the mixer effects still remain functional and can be coupled with the effects found in the software. Other DJ’s will want to use four decks for mixing, but for my Hip-Hop and scratching purposes, this was a non-issue. Overall, I highly recommend the Traktor Scratch Duo system to all DJ’s of all Genres. From beginners to professionals, anyone can use this software to get into the analog to digital realm.
-All-in-one Package includes everything necessary for Analog to Digital Playback
-Excellent Playback/Scratching/Time-Code Capabilities
-Great Sound Quality
Cons (All cons are addressed in Traktor Scratch Pro version):
-Only Two Decks Supported
-Only 6 Built-in Effects