Leaving the Traktor bandwagon
Any serious DJ has probably looked into one of the iterations of Traktor Pro from Native Instruments before. I mean, they are a serious company that make some serious gear and programs, from Traktor Pro 2 (TP3 now) to their renowned Maschine software and the accompanying hardware. I originally fell in love with the Kontrol Z2 mixer. it was a 2+2 channel mixer that I could start building my set up around, and build I did. I went through the DVS phase with it, then adopted an X1 MK2, eventually settling on a set of D2's for either side of it. The main problem I had however, wasn't just because the gear didn't have jogwheels, or the program had been receiving lackluster updates before the summer/fall of 2018, but a combination of both. After NAMM 2018, with nothing really coming out of the NI booth, I decided to leave their ecosystem. I was jumping ship.
After NAMM 2018, with nothing really coming out of the NI booth, I decided to leave their ecosystem. I was jumping ship.
I had long been an admirer of the pioneer gear, and I wanted something I could still play music on in the event of my laptop receiving catastrophic damage, being stolen, or otherwise incapable of playing music. The XDJ-700 with Pioneers DJM-450 seemed to fit the bill perfectly. You could link the two XDJ's together to share track and tempo information, as well as allowing you to need only one USB drive. Turns out the jogwheels were far too small for my liking, and mixed with the fact that I couldn't use the XP1 unit with them in standalone mode, I traded them in shortly after for the XDJ-1000 MK2's I currently use for weddings and special events. Much nicer than always needing to use the sync function as I did with the D2's in traktor. Nudging with a touchstrip just doesn't have the same feel as grabbing the spindle or platter of a turntable.
Right out of the gate, I noticed that Rekordbox wasn't like Traktor. It just didn't have that refined feel to it. The beat gridding was usually off, the search function wasn't as nice, and there was no way to get the camelot key to display. But it just felt nice knowing that I would be getting regular updates, and new bits added to the software (RB-DMX1 anyone?). I could live with the beatgrids being off, I mean, I hate the sync function, and I have proper sized jogwheels to back cue and get everything together nicely. Losing the camelot key sucks (mainly because I can't learn the circle of fifths for some reason) but it is far from the end of the world. In the mobile DJ business where weddings are commonplace, and club style events are not, song selection will typically trump whether or not two tracks are harmonically compatible.
Right out of the gate, I noticed that Rekordbox wasn't like Traktor.
One of the things I do wish that Pioneer would implement into Rekordbox, is Ableton link. I'm not a big proponent of using external equipment, but looking to the future, if I ever decided to, it would be much trickier to implement without this feature. They do have a sampler you can use to make a beat to transition from one track to another if you don't have a DJ edit with the intro and outro, at least that's what I use it for. You could also set it as the master for the tempo and keep everything in sync across your tracks if you're using a 4 channel mixer. The MIDI mapping capabilities are far behind what most Traktor users are used to, but you can still map out a controller that isn't natively supported, as long as you have the patience.
Being able to just plug a USB drive directly into my XDJ's is a HUGE bonus
Being able to just plug a USB drive directly into my XDJ's is a HUGE bonus for me as a wedding guy. I've had the bride or groom come up to me on multiple occasions and hand me a thumb drive with a song they either made, or did something with that they wanted played for their significant other. With only 2 USB ports on my Macbook, I needed to either pause the music/switch over to my Ipad (which is typically used in emergency situations only) while I load up the requested track, or turn them away. Now, I can just pop it into the unit without my music connected to it and cue it up. This allows everything to go much smoother, and keeps the happy couple, umm, well, happy. I could never do this with Traktor.
Having the option of adding lighting, lyric projection as well as modular set ups that have jog wheels are awesome features that NI simply doesn't have at the moment. Then you have the amount of supported gear for Pioneers software, making it that much more approachable for someone who already owns a controller. While which software to use is as widely debated as turntables or controllers, I like the Rekordbox atmosphere, especially with the possibility of being able to stream music directly into your sets looking very legitimate in the near future.