Native Instruments has announced the Traktor X1 Mk3, which it is calling its “next-generation controller for modern DJs who want exceptional portability and powerful control – in a compact footprint that’s intuitive and easy to use”.
Essentially an update to the popular Traktor Kontrol X1 Mk2 modular Midi controller which is now 10 years old, the new unit is designed to offer enhanced control over Traktor software as part of a bigger DJ set-up – with audio interface, audio mixer and control decks as required to be added separately by the DJ.
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Improvements over the Traktor Kontrol X1 Mk2
The Traktor X1 Mk3 (note they’ve dropped the “Kontrol”) offers user-definable button colour coding, an additional button row, the return of four encoders, and easier customisation.
Here’s a list of what’s new:
- 5 ultra-sharp OLED displays – These provide the DJ with the most essential information like remaining time, track name, selected FX and FX parameters on the unit itself, saving the need to view the laptop so often
- Under-unit lighting – Doesn’t only make the unit look cool, but is designed to notify the user of things like when a track is about to run out or if it is stuck in a loop
- Built-in powered three-port USB hub – Designed to simplify daisy-chaining of X1s and to better integrate the X1s into a club-standard Pioneer CDJ setup, the unit provides a powered three-port USB hub on the rear of the device (so we are going to assume it requires plugging in rather than or as an option over taking its power from an attached laptop)
- User-definable button colours – These can be customised by the user to be able to better identify specific functions in the heat of the moment
- An additional button row – To further reduce the need to use the Shift button for secondary functions, the X1 Mk3 drops the Mk2’s touchstrip and uses the space to provide an additional row of performance buttons
- The return of four encoders – The Traktor team tells us that a key learning from the Kontrol X1 Mk2 was that users preferred to have a dedicated browse encoder per deck. The X1 Mk3 brings back this workflow
- Improved accessibility – As well as colour coding per button, the X1 Mk3 has six braille dots spread across the unit
- Easy customisation – One thing about this kind of modular controller is that DJs like to customise the functions. The Traktor team tells us they have added a “fully fledged customisation page which allows for easy adjustments of the X1’s mapping and includes presets which cover different use cases e.g. using the X1 MK3 as a mixer”
The Traktor X1 Mk3 is available 20 September at $299/€299/£259 from the Native Instruments store. For more info and to buy, head here.
We’ll be carrying a review of this unit in the coming weeks, but meanwhile here’s our initial thoughts:
- It’s a good upgrade – DJing with Traktor using this type of controller is a popular use case among Traktor DJs, much more than with other software, and so you’d expect Native Instruments to get such an upgrade right. This is a cool controller, especially with the USB hub, screens, lighting, customisation screen in the software, and additional controls
- You’ll know if you want this – This is a specialised unit, requiring you to understand how you wish to integrate it into a wider DJ set-up. Yes it can be used as a minimal DJ system (with the addition of an audio interface) but there are lots of other use cases too, as per with the previous X1 units. It’s unashamedly “niche”
- It is good news for Traktor users regardless – Whether or not this is the controller for you, the fact that Native Instruments has released hardware at all after such a long time is promising for a platform that has at times felt pretty neglected over the past few years
Learn to use Traktor like a pro: Traktor Made Easy
Traktor X1 Mk3 feature overview
Here’s a quick video running through the main new features listed above.
Watch out for our review soon, and let us know what you think in the comments.