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Saturday, 27 October 2007

Why do you have to do this NI???


Unfortunately, my love for Gmail is not extending to the new version of Traktor right now - NI have just updated Traktor to version 3.3. There's a few good improvements in there - for me, the biggest improvements are the fact that I can now show the name of the mix in the track info header, along with the new system information that now runs across the top of the window (and shows information like the current amount of CPU usage, battery remaining, and the status of your Midi/soundcard interfaces - along with a nice big clock, something I've been wanting for a long time in T3). I was getting really excited about the fact that NI had updated the effects though, and of course, as soon as I got my grubby mitts on the update, that's what I dived straight into.

After realizing that NI had swapped all the MIDI assignments around for the effects knobs (so knob 4 became knob 1, knob 3 became knob 2 etc) and reassigning everything on my UC33e (why they did this was beyond me, it wasn't hard to fix, but I can see it confusing a lot of people that have already got their MIDI controllers all assigned), I started to have a play.

My first impressions of the T2 filters was that they had much more impact than the previous version, and I liked the resonance that they now had - it seemed a lot less 'squeaky' and more like an analogue filter - they really reminded me of the hardware filters that Morillo uses. Again, NI confused me by switching the knobs for low and high on the filter - the way they had it before meant that the low-pass filter was on a fader that I moved up to take out the bass, and the high pass was on a pot, which I turned town to take out the treble. This really worked well for me, and I got a lot of response out of this setup. Now it's the other way round - except the fader needs to be at the top (the opposite setup to all the other effects, meaning there's a lot of fiddling before switching effects) to allow the sound through, and I move it down to engage the filter, which feels a bit flabby and unresponsive. The same with the low-pass filter now on the pot - there seems to be a certain amount of 'bounce' in the feeling of it, which just doesn't feel right at all.

Next I tried the Xone:92 emulation filters. These have now been split up into seperate effects to free up another knob (which they've put effect timing on - far superior to the tap button you needed to use before, and allows you to just increase or decrease the timing - in sync with the master clock - of the effect). Also, it seems that you can no longer assign the wet/dry of these effects to the motion of the crossfader - I only use this very occasionally, but it's a really cool effect when you do. The splitting of these effects seems to make sense, and they now sound a lot more like the filter effects on a Pioneer DJM600 mixer - lots of resonance, and really nice to play with. Again though, they seem to take a lot of setting up before you can use them - I thought this release was supposed to be centred on the ergonomics of the effects section? They seem to be so much more fiddly now!

Reverb was next to try. The reverb in Traktor 3.2 was difficult to set up, and hard to take the playing track out of without it sounding messy. On the other hand, it was powerful, and with a bit of tweaking, you could create some truly huge reverbs - great in buildups and breakdowns alike. The new reverb is completely the opposite - it has a nice tail-out effect, and it's much easier to take the playing track out of it without it sounding pants. Unfortunately, it's truly wimpy, and barely worth using. I managed to get a reverb tail that was about 5 seconds long at best. Meh.

I'd left the delay effect till last, as this is one of my favorites. At first, I couldn't work out how to get a delay that lasted more than 3 seconds - you need to start with the amount down, the feedback up, timing set to 1, 2, or 4 beats and the frequency set to the middle. Bring up the amount knob, and to get a long delay, hit the freeze button. Again, all very long-winded for something that I could set up within a couple of seconds in the previous version. Another really annoying thing is that the effect is set to on as you select it - meaning that if your track is playing it completely cuts out for however many beats you've sent in your timing - how to make yourself look really foolish in 1 easy step. The other annoying thing is that the effect carries on even after you've turned it off - you need to turn the amount knob down to get rid of it. NI says that this is to stop the 'dead end' tailoff that you get in 3.2, but I just find it confusing. If you turn an effect off, you expect to not get any sound from it. Several times I've tried using the delay effect, and got the most horrible sound from it - something akin to backspinning a turntable with a strangled cat - not good, and definitely not what I was aiming for. Also, increasing or decreasing the timing of the delay also changes the pitch, which sounds ridiculous! On top of all this, to hold a delay (ie. make it run forever) you have to hit the freeze button - before you just turned the amount knob all the way to 100% - one more exasperating step in an already overly-convoluted process.

A lot of people have already reported problems with the beatmasher effect, and I rarely use this, so I didn't even bother trying it.

The master tempo nudging seems to be a good idea if you have 2 or more tracks running in sync and you want to get them to the same tempo as a turntable/CD player. However, it seems to have been added at the expense of functionality within the whole master/slave timing functionality - trying to swap a master timing signal from a deck to the master clock results in the master clock being out of phase - a big step backwards in my book.

Unfortunately all the cons of this release have definitely outweighed the pros, and I've ended up rolling my version back to 3.2 - at least I know what's going on with it, and the effects are predictable. 3.3 feels like it's never been tested in the field by real DJs! You can see what NI are trying to do with the effects, but there's too many bugs and inconsistencies to be able to use it live right now.

6 comments:

  1. simon-dj@hotmail.comOctober 27, 2007

    lmao, nice one.

    "something akin to backspinning a turntable with a strangled cat"

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  2. I'm having the same issue with the delay... what was once my favorite effect, I can't even use now.. Is there a way to import the old effect into the new system?

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  3. @Brad:
    If only there was mate, I'd be using it in a second! Until then, I'm stuck using 3.2 - the delay effect and the fact that the pitch changes when you move the pitch fader more than +/-30% when you have the key lock are stopping me from being able to use this new version live.

    I'm currently looking into how viable it would be to route Traktor through Ableton though, that way I could bypass the Traktor effects completely, and have them set up exactly as I want them in Ableton.

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  4. I ma absolutelly with you, I was happy customer with 3.2, I coud put my hands on the efects without fear what I'll get... I decided to buy tractor scratch and TS3 upgrade coz my final scratch broke down and is not going to be repared... So I did... but:o(((( now I am pissed of with these efects changes and I can't switch back to 3.2 coz I prefere vinyl control of the decks... The only thing I wish them to do is make possibelity to choose the way of each efect oepration... inside of preferances should be chack box for each efect with posibelity to switch it to the new/old operation mode... Hope they will do that soon, coz right now I am using traktor only for pitching track to the right speed hwcih is not what I bought it for.

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  5. @k.seek:
    It's a shame that NI saw fit to alienate a lot of their customers in this way. It seems that a lot of the Scratch users who never used Studio before 3.3 are happy with the effects, but mainly because they've not used the 3.2 ones. I've been pestering NI like crazy to at least give us the option between the old style/new style effects, but nobody seems to be listening.

    The sad thing is that the new delay is more versatile than the old 3.2 delay, the problem is it's also much harder to use and get reliable results. I'm the same as you - with 3.2 I can set up my delay and get the sound I want out of it without even looking at the screen. Not so with 3.3 - usually by the time I've got everything set up in such a way that it's not going to award me with some godawful noise, the moment I actually wanted to use it for has passed. This is simply not acceptable in a real-time audio application like Traktor.

    These last few weeks I've actually been playing with a friend's Serato setup, and I have to admit, I can see why so many people are going crazy for it - it just does exactly what it's supposed to, nothing more, nothing less. If it had 4 decks and was easier to use without turntables, I'd be all over it like a bad smell.

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  6. to tell the truth, I am thinking about serato more and more... it doesnt have so many cool features as traktor has, but less is more in some ways, and up to that I can see that they are pretty still in the functions they give to they users... If there is not going to be some response from NI support with the reaction to our wishes, I'll tell them definetly good bye... And that is something I never thought would happen...

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