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Hands-on with Traktor Kontrol X1 (photos)

Take a hands-on look at the Traktor Kontrol X1, a USB DJ software controller from Native Instruments.

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Donald Bell
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The Traktor Kontrol X1 is a $229 DJ package that bundles Native Instruments' Traktor LE DJ software with high quality, USB-powered controller hardware.
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The X1 stands about 1 inch tall by 4.75 inches wide by 11.5 inches long.
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Compared with similarly priced DJ bundles, such as M-Audio's X-Session Pro, Torq Conectiv, or Vestax Spin, the Kontrol X1 doesn't pitch itself as an all-in-one DJ solution. For example, crossfader and volume mixing controls are noticeably absent from the system, as well as any kind of integrated audio card.
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It doesn't get much simpler than this--just plug the X1 into your computer via USB, install the software, and you're ready to go.
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All of the buttons and dials on the controller correspond precisely with software actions you'll want handy, whether you're a newbie or true DJ hero. Since the hardware is customized by the company behind the software, no other piece of hardware on the market dovetails better with Traktor DJ software, regardless of what price range you're looking at.
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The effects section of the X1 uses a bank of four buttons and four knobs, mirrored for each deck. Each deck's effect bank is made up of three effects (delay, reverb, and filter) that can be activated independently using the lower three buttons and adjusted using the knobs found next to each button. Users who upgrade to professional version of Traktor DJ software can access additional effects and customize the bank with a supplied overlay template.
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The controls below the effects section operate each of the two decks. Predictable buttons for play, cue, skip, loop, sync, tempo, and pitch are included on each side. A shift button at the center of the X1 activates a secondary set of functions for each button, which are spelled out below the buttons and highlighted in gray. Most of the shift functions truly are secondary, but some DJs will probably whine that you need to hold shift to manually adjust tempo (auto-sync control, however, doesn't require a shift press).
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Native Instruments' Traktor LE software comes bundles with the Kontrol X1 hardware.

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