Due to the limited (e.g. nonexistent) upgrade options, some existing Traktor Pro users have been on the sidelines, gazing longingly at the sample decks and loop recorder, waiting for an update that wasn't tied to a hardware unit that they might not want or need. Well, the wait is now over as Traktor Pro 2 has landed, bringing with it all of the S4's exclusives in addition to some new enhancements of its own. What notable new bits had the engineers over at Native Instruments managed to incorporate in the relatively short amount of time since the S4 was released?
When loading a track into Traktor Pro 2 for the first time, you'll immediately notice the most obvious of the many new changes to the user interface—colored waveforms. The waveform display now gives the DJ the ability to distinguish between low frequency content (like bass or kick drums) and high frequency content (snares or hi-hats) by color. This is probably the point at which the Serato users out there cry out and accuse Native Instruments of copying or just being late to the party, and with justification—Serato's had them for years. However while Serato's unchangeable many-colored implementation can get a bit distracting for some people, Traktor Pro 2 gives users the ability to tailor the waveform display to their taste by choosing between four color modes. These color modes range from monochromatic (X-Ray) to full color spectrum spanning (Ultraviolet), with a pair in between that use dark and light shades of a single color (Spectrum and Infrared). In addition, when a loop is active on a track, the waveform within that loop turns green—following the general Traktor color scheme of loops. Overall, this seemingly simple addition to Traktor gives it a more refined feel, and can help immensely when trying to quickly locate a kick, for example.
In addition to the colored waveforms, there are a few other GUI-centric upgrades in Traktor Pro 2. The beatgrid was on the receiving end of a pair of notable additions. Depending on your style of DJing, you can change the display of the beatgrid in the waveform to either be fully there or invisible, with two stops in between. Also, when you start working with beatgrids and attempting to place grid markers, you will notice that you can zoom in much further than in previous versions of Traktor—almost to the single sample level. A third UI upgrade that we didn't discuss in the S4 review is that you can change the layouts of the decks to show or hide as much detail as you want, choosing between five different layouts. With all of these layout and mode options to choose from, it's clear that Traktor Pro 2 is meant to cater to DJs of any variety.
Moving past the aesthetics of Traktor 2, what's new under the covers? Four new FX types, for starters. New to the party are two delays (Tape Delay and Ramp Delay) and two buffer-based effects (Bouncer and Auto-Bouncer). Given the huge amount of FX available in the original Pro, it's not entirely surprising that there are only four new additions, but at the same time it would have been nice to see a little bit more variety. The new effects are certainly unique, however, and we found they breathed new life into some stale material with them—they are definitely "new" sounding. You can also now setup the Traktor FX as send effects by using External Mixer mode and routing them directly to an input/output combination on your soundcard, which is really useful when playing with an external mixer that has the ability to interface with send FX.
There are a few other new features in Traktor that might be qualified as "the little things" that show the amount of thought that went into the revision. For example, there is a new preferences setting called "sync phase when exiting loop" that re-aligns a track to the other playing tracks when exiting a loop, which will save your hide after you've gone a bit crazy with micro looping. Speaking of track phase, there is an entirely new method of synchronizing tracks called temposync. This keeps the track tempos matched evenly, but allows you to shift the phase of the tracks back and forth. This can be helpful when using timecode vinyl or when playing a track that was analyzed incorrectly. Finally, we found it to be another nice touch that when dragging a loop from a track deck to a sample deck, the filter setting gets copied with the loop, allowing for a more seamless transition between the two decks.
At first glance, it may not seem like a huge leap from Traktor Pro to Traktor Pro 2. Outside of the new sample decks and loop recorder, the cosmetic changes and the new FX, there are not many alterations which would qualify as obvious. However, for those who aren't afraid to dig into a manual and explore the preferences menu, there is a huge amount of customization and refinement available in this new version. Native Instruments have been listening to their users and as a result many of the open ends of Traktor Pro have been made better. As with any new product, though, there have been a few wrinkles noted on the forums. If you want to check out the new features but still keep a road-ready version of Traktor active, there is good news: Traktor Pro 2 can be installed alongside the original, keeping both versions fully functional without any issue.
Ease of use: 4/5