Traktor DJ Studio 3
You can turn a Mac into a jukebox with iTunes, but if you want to beat-mix MP3s like a pro, try Traktor. Using the music already in your iTunes library (or any folder on a hard disk), a PowerBook with Traktor is the ultimate mobile DJ set-up.
The software can be used with your Mac’s built-in sound card but, for proper DJ mixing, you really need two sound cards – one for outputting the final mix to speakers, and the other to privately cue up the next track in your headphones. One solution is to connect your headphones to your Mac and use an external USB or FireWire sound interface to route the main output to amp and speakers.
Traktor 3 introduces a more professional on-screen interface with a new 4-channel mixer based on the popular Allen & Heath Xone:92 used in many leading clubs. It has all the usual crossfader, EQ, filter and volume controls along with new tempo-synched effects. Effects can now be inserted on each channel individually.
Each on-screen widget can be controlled with a mouse or activated using configurable hotkeys on the keyboard. For professional use, however, it’s recommended you connect a MIDI hardware controller. Unfortunately, there are still far too few Mac-compatible controllers on the market.
Alternatively you can use vinyl or CD decks as controllers but this requires the purchase of Stanton’s FinalScratch 2 hardware which costs more than £500. And besides, it misses the whole point of digital DJing.
The biggest new feature is the increase from two to four decks. This gives you greater creative freedom to drop in extra loops or sound effects. I found this really taxed the processor so you’ll need a recent G4 or, preferably, a G5 to avoid the interface becoming too sluggish.
One of the biggest problems with Traktor in the past has been its lack of support for music purchased online. Even in this latest version you still can’t play tracks purchased from the iTunes Music Store. Instead Native Instruments has joined forces with Beatport, embedding its dance music download store into the Traktor interface. Crucially, the quality is good, with music available in MP3, AAC and WAV formats. It’s not quite the iTunes Music Store and the range of tracks isn’t great but it’s an encouraging step in the right direction.
Traktor has long been the leading solution for DJing with your Mac. Its ability to beat-match tracks automatically at the touch of a button still continues to impress. Now, with the addition of an extra two decks and exciting special effects, Traktor has really broken the mould and embraced the full potential of the digital medium. There’s nothing else on the Mac, or any other platform, that comes close.