Best new DJ software controller 2023: Native Instruments Traktor X1 MK3 | Juno Daily

As 2023 draws to a close and we look ahead to 2024, we’re bringing you our picks of the best new gear this year, from drum machines to turntables.

Best new DJ software controller 2023: Native Instruments Traktor X1 MK3

You don’t often get DJ controllers which could be described as cult classics, but NI’s Traktor controllers are probably about as close as they come. The new Native Instruments Traktor X1 MK3 is the latest in a line of versatile devices which first appeared in 2009. Offered as a “decks and effects” MIDI controller for the Berlin brand’s Traktor software, the original X1 was picked up by forward-thinking DJs as a way to add more hands-on control and unlock new options while mixing.

The X1 MK3 is a beautifully manufactured bit of kit, in keeping with NI’s typical high standards. But aside from the classy looks and neat new features like customisable LED lighting to indicate the status of loops and decks, there’s a bit of a shift in design philosophy from the MK2 iteration. Gone is the touch strip controller (NI reckon not many people used it) and in come new OLED screens for better feedback, plus a dedicated mixer mode.

Like any modular, customisable controller, so much of the X1’s appeal comes down to how you set it up and approach using it. Used alongside a suitable mixer, it gives you four-deck control of Traktor. Set it up alongside decks or CDJs and it gives access to samples and looping. On the go, hook it up alongside a laptop and headphones to practise mixes or prep playlists.

The third incarnation of the X1 proves the most versatile so far. The new OLED screens give great visual feedback and help you avoid spending too much time staring at your laptop screen, while those lighting cues from the translucent case look great as well as being genuinely helpful to see when decks slip out of sync or a loop is active.

For those who value the customisability and the option to set your controller(s) up in a personalised manner, the X1 MK3 looks set to keep that cult classic status alive.

Read our full review here.

Greg Scarth

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