Review: Traktor’s 12

DJ effects used to be the poor cousins of their studio counterparts – economizing on adjustability and quality for convenience’s sake.

Oh, how the tables have turned.

Traktor’s 12 is a fusion of Native Instruments’ three major areas of expertise – studio instruments and effects, DJing, and guitar effects chains. The resulting product is a collection of hands on and tweakable effects lifted from Traktor to be used in the studio or on the stage via Guitar Rig (or the free Guitar Rig Player).

DJ effects used to be the poor cousins of their studio counterparts… Oh, how the tables have turned.

Why bother with DJ effects when you probably already have go-to favourites for most, if not all ofthese module types? Well, firstly it’s important to make something clear. These are Native Instruments effects – the people that make some of the best sounding software on the market. The low price of the bundle and the simple controls perhaps leads one to assume that they’re not up to scratch, but that is absolutely not the case. Secondly, these effects are founded on their usefulness in performance; studio level audio quality is a pleasant side effect of the increasing power of computer music. The best sounds from Traktor’s 12 aren’t tweaked out with tentative adjustments, they’re bent, massaged, twisted and warped from furious hands on experiments; they beg for you to be rough with them just as much as they appreciate a soft touch.

This idea is echoed in the fact that there are just a handful of presets for each effect to show you the kind of things they can do, but with the simplicity of control and the dynamic nature of the effects they’re unlikely to take too much of your time. So, let’s look at the Dirty Dozen…

the best sounds from Traktor’s 12 aren’t tweaked out with tentative adjustments, they’re bent, massaged, twisted and warped from furious hands on experiments

The effects are as follows: Delay, Reverb, Lofi, Ring Mod, Formant Filter, Peak Filter, Beatmasher, Beat slicer, Gater, Reverse Grain, Transpose Stretch, and Mulholland Drive, an overdrive. All of them have a simple interface – there’s a wet/dry knob, and then three parameter controls which are unique to each device. Some of the controls have a button or two as well, but everything can be figured out by prodding until satisfied.

Digital Lo-Fi offers masses of scope to change the character of the sound, with a dialable smoothness filter affecting how the sound is aliased to allow you to create passable apings of classic crunch.

Ring Mod is perhaps the most pedestrian of the effects, as there’s not a great deal in the way of feathers in its cap – that said, it’s capable of some great Dalek sounds.

Traktor Delay has a handy ‘Freeze’ button which grabs a snapshot of the audio at the length specified on the rate dial and immediately switches over to it in a 100% wet loop (even if the effect is 100% dry, which allows you to use it as an interesting alternative to a beat repeater), and repeats ad infinitum with a gradually closing low pass filter – all the while editable with the onboard filter and by increasing the repeat rate. Think ‘loop roll’ that’s being filter swept.

There’s a freeze in Traktor Reverb, too, which loops a tiny section of the track based on the size dial, giving the effect of an infinite reverb tail. What’s more, altering the size of the effect after activating freeze resamples the already grabbed audio, so you can get interesting pitch effects with it as well.

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  • Dizzy

    this is the best review for this i have seen, excellent work!

    • Fantastic Tim

      agreed. one question: how many effects can you have in 1 rack?

      • Chris

        Thanks guys! Tim, good question. I don’t actually know! I can’t seem to find anywhere that says a limit, so perhaps it’s unlimited – I can tell you from personal experience that I’ve tested over 20 simultaneous effects before getting bored of adding them in – I can’t ever envisage a situation where I’ll need that many in one instance!

  • Guilty J

    Great review. I don’t know whether to get one of these or wait to see what the new Korg controllers are like, aaaaaah!

  • X44

    this looks sick! so can loop roll in ableton now?

  • Sam

    nice review, saw it on the native instruments facebook.

    • Nomis Yad

      same here. Great review, thanks!