Review: Native Instruments Kontrol Z1 for Traktor Pro + DJ

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If you thought that the Traktor DJ iOS app was only good for track preparation and amusing yourself on a boring flight, that was before the Kontrol Z1 made it much easier to perform seamless live mixes with proper headphone cueing from a mobile device. And don’t worry, it’s fully aligned with Traktor Pro and MIDI-compatible as well. Read on to see if this new slim controller is worth two bills to you.

Reviewed: Native Instruments Kontrol Z1
Price: $199, 199 € (available here
Available: Now
Ships with: Traktor LE 2, USB 2.0 cable, iOS 30-pin cable, e-voucher for $50/50 off of all downloadable software from the NI online shop.
Dimensions: 11.5 x 4.7 x 2 inches (29.4 x 12 x 5.2 cm)

The Good: Makes real-world performing with Traktor DJ delightfully attainable. Pairs up very well with Kontrol X1 and/or F1 for a lightweight, modular setup. Supplies power to iOS devices thorugh the AC adapter. Same high-quality sound that you always get from NI. MIDI compatible for other desktop software (not for other iOS apps).

The Bad: No option for 4-deck control. Does not include a full Traktor Pro license. A Lightning-compatible cable for the most recent iOS hardware is not included. No track browse/load functionality.

The Bottom Line: Native Instruments’ first foray into Traktor DJ control makes the iPad app a legit prospect for functional performances, and it works flawlessly with Traktor Pro as well. It only includes Traktor LE 2 software and works best with the desktop software when paired up with and X1, F1, or whatever other controllers you us. It’s not really a groundbreaker; it’s more of a ground solidifier for NI’s growing line.

WHAT YOU SEE IS MOSTLY WHAT YOU GET 

The Z1 next to our office Kontrol S2

More than a year after the Kontrol F1 tempted Traktor users with the prospect of hands-on Remix Deck mastery, Native Instruments has finally dropped the third in its triumvirate of slim DJ controllers, the Kontrol Z1. This is the two-channel mixer/MIDI controller version of the series, but unlike its Kontrol X1 and F1 siblings, the Z1 adds a couple of extra twists.

First, it includes a 2-channel soundcard, making it the only one of the series to pass audio, and it’s also the only one (so far) that can also control the Traktor DJ iOS app. While the Z1’s feature set is relatively simple, it gives you fine and smooth control over many of the crucial Traktor DJ mixing tasks for which touchscreen control may not be ideal.

The Kontrol Z1’s two-channel mixing layout gives you audio gain, center detented 3-band EQ, dedicated Filter/FX knob with center detent, and volume fader with LED level metering for each channel. The crossfader looks and feels identical to those on the Kontrol S4 and S2 units.

Its audio interface features include a Main output level knob for the volume of the unbalanced RCA stereo output on the back, and Cue Volume and Mix knobs for the 1/8-inch headphone jack in the front.

A and B buttons beneath the Cue Mix select the channels for cueing, and when used with the Mode button they also trigger play/pause for Decks A or B within Traktor desktop software (either Traktor Pro or the included Traktor LE 2). The Mode button is also used to toggle the Filter/FX knob between two filter modes in Traktor desktop software or between controller the Filter or an effect parameter in Trakto DJ. Lastly, the Mode button plus both Cues buttons can put the Z1 into MIDI mode for general MIDI use in third-party software on a computer (not an iOS device).

If you already know the NI Kontrol line of products, the look, feel, and sound of the Z1 should come as no surprise. It retains the same professionally-vetted components as the other Kontrol units, as well as the same dimensions and similar weight of the X1 and F1. You can use it with the previous controllers’ existing stands and cases, and it retains the travel-worthy toughness of build without a back-breaking weight.

While we don’t know for sure if the Z1’s soundcard uses the exact components of the NI Audio 2 interface, it sounded the same to us; it’s professional-grade for internal computer mixing purposes.

KONTROL Z1 WITH TRAKTOR PRO

If you already have Traktor Pro, you just need to make sure you have the latest update, download the driver if you’re on Windows (no Mac driver needed), and you’re good to go.

The Z1 comes with a free license for Traktor LE 2 (not Pro, like the X1 and F1 did.), and it works exactly the same in Traktor Pro or Traktor LE 2.

The Z1 uses USB power when connected to a laptop; no need for the included AC adapter until you use it with Traktor DJ. With the unit plugged in and Traktor booted up, there are some sparse Kontrol Z1 settings available in Preferences, but using it is about as straightforward as you can get.

Unfortunately, the dual-purpose Filter/FX knobs on the Z1 only switch between two different filters when used with the desktop Traktor programs. We’d love it if the secondary mode took advantage of the Macro FX technology from the Z2 mixer, but we’ll just have to keep dreaming for now.

The two filters are a standard filter and a ladder filter, which sounds like it has a steeper cutoff curve and more resonance. You must have the On button illuminated to activate the filter. To switch modes, turn the filter off, press Mode (to illuminate the button) and turn the filter back on.

It would be nice if you could shift the layout over to controlling Decks C and D as well, but that’s not the case, at least for now. The Z1 is strictly a two-channel mixer.

Trying to DJ with only Kontrol Z1 and Traktor LE or Pro feels like a giant handicap for controllerists. Although it’s nice that you can initiate playback and track pause by holding Mode and pressing either the Cue A or B buttons, there’s just not enough you can do to feel in control of a set without regressing to a computer DJ’s stone-age tools: the mouse and keyboard.

Add a Kontrol X1 to the mix and things turn around drastically. The two units complement each other very well, each one handling crucial mixing tools that the other doesn’t. The Z1 is the kind of controller that many X1 fans have been hoping for since the X1 was released in 2009. We were able to hot swap an X1 to a laptop in the midst of using the Z1, and were able to use its effects, looping, browsing/loading, and other features along with the Z1 immediately – no set up required.

As many  readers have noted, it would be awesome if the Z1 had included a multi-port USB hub for other Kontrol units, even if the AC adapter was required.

KONTROL Z1 WITH TRAKTOR DJ

Traktor DJ, especially the higher-priced iPad version, had already stolen our hearts as a promising app for mixing and an immediately useful utility for track preparation that writes Traktor Pro-compatible metadata and syncs music to a Dropbox account.

With the Kontrol Z1 added, Traktor DJ becomes a legit tool for crafting credible live mixes. Of course it also gives you high-grade, two-channel audio, so you can monitor tracks in your headphones.

To use the Z1 with Traktor DJ, it requires the AC adapter for power, which cuts down on the possibility for use-it-anywhere portability, but it has the added advantage of supplying power to your iPad or iPhone. So at least you know you won’t drain the battery dry while performing.

NI includes a 30-pin adapter cable; if you have an iPad 4, iPad mini or iPhone 5, you’ll need to plug that into one of Apple’s Lightning to 30-pin Adapters –or one the third-party knock-offs — to use it. [Note: Native Instruments does not recommend the third-party knock-offs.] Let’s not automatically ding NI for not including a Lightning cable with the the Z1; it could very well be that Apple does not allow them to do so or wants an exorbitant licensing fee to do it. I guess you don’t bank more than a billion in cash by giving away your patented technology.

Traktor DJ on an iPad with the Kontrol Z1 manipulating both tracks.

With the Z1 plugged in, you can immediately launch Traktor DJ and start enjoying the advantages of external audio and tactile control. We tested the Z1/Traktor with an iPad 3, and there’s a sense of immediate gratification in being able to craft an iPad DJ set, where if someone were just listening and not watching, they’d never know you were using some a compact setup.

It required virtually no learning curve to walk the balancing act between using the touchscreen for track selection, cue points, and looping, while working the Z1’s familiar territory for EQing, fading and filter/FX control.

Traktor DJ’s integration with and response to the Z1 was extremely tight and glitch-free.

The use of the Filter/FX knob and the Mode button differs a bit with Traktor DJ. The On button is dimly backlit either blue (for the filter) or orange (for the FX) and when you press On to turn on the effect, the backlight brightens up. To switch modes, you hold down the Mode button and press On. The Filter/FX knob only controls the X-axis parameter of the filter and effects, which is the effects variation; the Y-axis controls the effects dry/wet mix, which you can tweak with your finger on the screen while you using the hardware knob.

It’s not that now we’ll actually prefer to perform with an iPad and Z1. You trade in a lot of possibilities for the extremely portable nature of such a setup. However you can still be very creative and come up with original transitions and live remixes. And for a DJ who supplements his income doing private parties, weddings, corporate events and the like — most of which doesn’t require any impressive controllerist gymnastics — the travel and setup for such gigs can get a whole lot easier, and with less expensive gear to worry about damaging or losing.

Although there is one complaint related to the iOS aspect of the Z1, which is that the 30-pin connector of the included cable did not lock into the iPad very well. It can be disconnected from a small, accidental bump.

[Note, July 15, 2013: As a controller, the Z1 currently only works with Traktor DJ. But it works as a soundcard for all iOS apps, including soft synths. You can choose the Z1 as your output for playing music, and we’ve even used it as a 2-output soundcard for headphone cueing in other DJ apps.] 

MIDI MODE

Z1’s Midi Mode in the Traktor Preferences

If you want to use the Z1 as a MIDI controller and/or audio interface for other software, you can just open up Ableton Live or whatever you have, and the Z1 should be recognizable and configurable from the jump. We were able to map it to Live 8 using the software’s MIDI map function with no problem.

There’s also an option for you to override Traktor’s default 1:1 mapping of the Z1 to Traktor and using is a mappable MIDI controller instead. Open Traktor, and in the Traktor Kontrol Z1 Preferences, make sure to check the box for “Enable MIDI mode via Mode + Via Cues A&B.” Then to enter MIDI mode, hold Mode and press both Cue A and B. After that, you’ll notice that the Z1’s controls don’t do anything in Traktor; they’re ready to be mapped to your liking. Hold Mode and press both Cue A and B to exit MIDI mode and go back to the Z1’s default control of Traktor.

An important additional note that NI asked us to add: the controller doesn’t send MIDI to other iOS applications. We suspect they want to keep their app the only one that can use this complete advanced solution for iOS DJing – reminiscent of Serato’s closed system of hardware/software. 

IS IT ZEE ONE FOR YOU?

There’s no doubt that Kontrol Z1 has filled a niche or two in the Native Instruments’ product universe. It instantly and exponentially multiplies the usefulness of Traktor DJ by supplying 2-channel audio, welcome hands-on control, and external power, and it pairs very nicely with the X1 and/or F1 for constructing a modular controller setup for Traktor Pro or LE.

Time will tell though if the Z1 is trying to be all things to all people a little too much. It can certainly be a boon to casual DJing dabblers having fun with their music on an iPad, but will they want to pay $199 to enhance a $19.99 app? On the other end of the spectrum, will higher-level DJs feel like paying for a product that is half soundcard when that soundcard may be too limited for their tastes?

The sweet spot seems to be the DJs who will use it equally for Traktor DJ and Traktor desktop. In both cases, the Z1 frees you up to potentially reduce your physical burden when carrying gear to a show, whether you’re going ultra-light with an iPad & Z1 or stepping up to an X1/Z1 combo with a small laptop.

My guess is that the Kontrol story doesn’t end with the Z1. It’s reception from NI customers may help to drive the direction of further development and further integration between Traktor DJ and Traktor Pro. At some point we’ll probably see an option for the iOS and desktop software to work together simultaneously, and a new hardware unit could mitigate the interworkings of this growing modular product ecosystem.

We’d love to hear what you think about the Kontrol Z1 in the comments section. Is this right for you, close but no cigar, or are you not at all interested and why? 

Markkus Rovito is the DJTT Technical Editor – have questions about the Z1 or want to see something reviewed on the site? Let him know in the comments below. 

  • Anastasios Athanasios Rellis

    Awesome Tool for all djs …lets make it more easy guys for us ..we are on 2016 !!!!!!! Vamoooooooooos Musicon !!!!!!!!

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  • Brando Guerreri

    Im looking for a small travel mixer (would be excellent if it had 4 channels). I’m stuck between this and the xone:k2 :/
    Does anybody know any other small alternatives?

  • Mark Smith

    Any chance NI will make a component controller with an individual jog wheel from an S2/S4? Then you could mix and match the X1, Z1, F1, and ?1 in whatever order you would like and have the ultimate custom setup.

  • Rodrigo Torices

    Hi, I want to record a set with Traktor Pro (laptop), Kontrol X1 and Z1, but I can’t configure it, I don’t have line on the recording output, what can I do?

    • alim

      hey buddy did you end up figuring this out?

  • Wojtek

    Hey

    Sorry if someone ask that question but i cant find asnwer. Can i connect 2 z1 to MBP with Traktor Pro can control 4 decs?

  • Cody

    Does anyone know if you need the AC cord plugged in for using it with say a macbook or would it just run off USB if it’s not being used to charge iOS devices? I have too many cords already… -.-

    • Ginkgo

      Nope, it works great on BUS power alone. Good thing, too – the plug is big, considerably bulkier than an S4 plug.

  • mrbreakdown

    Worth the money if you will use it for both programs, great alternative to taking my z2 and turntables to an after show. Has great sound output as well!

  • honest-feedback

    further review would show that the z1 has kinks to work out. one huge such bug is the lack of working led meters for left and right channel gain indication. this absolutely does not work in ableton as of the present. what a huge oversight, and for some, will render this useless as an additional controller for ableton performers. when NI customer service was pressed, they returned with the answer that presently none of the z1’s functions are midi mappable at all, even in traktor…..really ? this response was probably outsourced and shows a lack knowledge by it’s employees as well as just generally being out of touch with their user base. almost was excited about the z1, but I’ll be returning it this week for a refund.

  • smutek

    @markkusrovito:disqus – you wrote: “Ships with: Traktor LE 2, USB 2.0 cable, iOS 30-pin cable, e-voucher for $50/50 off of all downloadable software from the NI online shop.”

    Curious where you got the information about the e-voucher. I just picked up a Z1 today and it’s currently sitting in my closet because it doesn’t work with Traktor Pro, only Traktor Pro 2 – and that’s a $90 upgrade.

    There’s serial numbers for Traktor 2 LE in the box, but definitely no e-voucher. Pretty frustrating, as I made the purchasing decision partially based off of the expectation of an e-voucher to put towards the upgrade to Traktor Pro 2.

    If possible, would you mind clarifying where you found this information and whether or not it is still accurate?

    Thanks in advance for any info.

    • smutek

      @markkus – never mind, found it on the product page on NI’s website. Dropped a line to their support, hopefully will hear back soon.

    • Ginkgo

      I got a paper e-voucher in the box with mine.

  • Quique dj

    A Lightning-compatible cable for the most recent iOS hardware is not included. 🙁

  • Eric

    the idea of controlling Deck C&D with the Mode button is GENIUS…I really wish NI make an update that makes this possible.

  • Eric

    the idea of controlling Deck C&D with the Mode button is GENIUS…I really wish NI make an update that makes this possible.

  • p.beatman

    I seem top be having problems with my Z1. The Cueing doesnt work when i use my macbook pro and the faders/eq’s dont respond when using my iPad 4… anyone, anyone? It DOES work as intended with my iPhone 4…

  • DJ Resistor

    Shoulda dropped the mic at “triumvirate”

  • Anonymous
  • Deslaw

    In the interest of portability, is there any possibility of powering this thing with an external battery pack? – the kind you would plug your cell phone in via USB?

  • Effex

    This device fits in perfectly in a long missing niche. For all, who do not mix with an external mixer, the Z1 fills the hole between two X1 or DN-SC2000’s like a charm.
    The soundquality from the in-built soundcard is as good as all NI sound devices. Crisp clear with no latencies at all. The usability with Traktor DJ is just a plus for me, gives more haptic feedback and less touchy glitches by accidently fingering a fader.
    The only con is the two deck limitation, but in midi mode, you can map it for four decks by shifting the layout. Not optimal, but a way to make it possible compared to a street price about 180 bucks. Imho it’s worth it.

  • Anonymous

    I got my z1 the other day and I’d say this really shines where portability is a must. I had previously been using a korg nanokontrol as my portable mixing solution and a Launchpad(this to replace my APC40), really not ideal at all but I don’t DJ as much as I produce so I prefer to buy gear that can be used in the studio as well. This is my first ‘DJ only’ purchase and I love the fact that it can be used with traktor pro AND ableton AND traktor ipad. The setup keeps evolving, now I can just have the laptop, lp, z1 and ipad w/ lemur, really great control and still is portable.

  • Francois Swiss De Villiers

    Just want to know if the filters/eq’s are analogue or if they are controlling the digital eq’s in traktor.

  • Francois Swiss De Villiers

    Just want to know if the filters/eq’s are analogue or if they are controlling the digital eq’s in traktor.

    • Markkus Rovito

      Digital. They control Traktor’s internal filters/eqs.

  • Can the Z1 output audio from other apps, such as some of the soft synths available for iOS? Or strictly Traktor DJ?

    • Markkus Rovito

      Great question; sorry I didn’t answer in the review. I’ve been able to use it as a soundcard for all iOS apps, including soft synths. You can choose the Z1 as your output for playing music, and I’ve even used it as a 2-output soundcard for other DJ apps. As a controller, however, it only works with Traktor DJ.

  • Kase

    Cant this be used with traktor scratch and traditional turntable setup as a mini mixer? kinda like the old Slim Model Vestaxs? just curious

    • Markkus Rovito

      Yes. Totally works with Traktor Scratch. Thanks.

  • JC

    what happens if the phone rings?

    • Markkus Rovito

      If it rings, it rings. I recommend using Airplane Mode.

  • Anonymous

    This setup makes sense for a lot of people – it’s perfect for me.

    For the past three years, when I switched from Serato back to Traktor, my setup has been 2 1200’s, a Pioneer DJM500, Traktor, an audio 2dj, an X1 and my laptop. I mix with the mixer and control everything else inside Traktor with the X1. With the Audio 2 I’m able to use 2 channels on my Pioneer for Traktor, and 2 for good old fashioned vinyl. Really cool setup that didn’t break the bank because it leveraged my existing gear, you know?

    Now, however, I’ve just moved and, unfortunately, I am now *super* limited on space, so my mixer and my turntables are currently in storage – for probably about two years. So…. pairing my X1 up with a Z1 is a perfect solution for me right now. I can throw them on a shelf or in a closet when not in use, and when I want to use them I just plugin two USB cables and I’m all set.

    Seriously, I’m pretty stoked for this thing. It’s exactly what I need right now. I will say this, if I didn’t *already* own an X1 then it wouldn’t make nearly as much sense and I would definitely have my eyes on an S2 instead.

  • unforgiven

    More certified controllers pls. Vestax, needs Integration, and support for their controllers. Do lik3 the morular mixer, wouldnt it b easier to let controller manu make the controllers?

  • arby

    z1+ipad=hours of fun… plug it in, it works a treat, its not full traktor, but hey, you got one hell of a houseparty… if you want full bells n whistles get the s4+laptop out

  • Mojaxx

    Hi everyone, I’ve just posted a video walkthrough of the Kontrol Z1 to YouTube, using screen recordings on both my laptop and my iPad to demonstrate how simple the thing is to setup… Give it a watch if you fancy seeing it in action properly. Cheers!

  • butz

    why buy 3 * 200 $ stuff (or more) if you can have it in one item like the S2. And still, I sold my S4 – no trust since it broke and I got a new one. Sold it untouched. just in time before the droped the value.

  • Richard

    Please please help. I can’t get the thing on. On plugging-in a light goes on for a fraction of a second then all goes blank. Exactly the same thing with a new S4. Don’t ask why I got them both, but neither work. Gig tomorrow need one or the other working. What’s wrong???

    • Anonymous

      this was happening to me until I installed the latest traktor

  • quasibinaer

    I bought a Z1 yesterday and have so far come to like it. Since DJing is nothing but a hobby for me, this is a good setup to either just play around (it takes my mind off of things) or maybe to entertain a few people at parties around town. I might add an X1 sometime in the future, but I´ll have to hone my skills with the Z1 first. For a relative beginner like me – who never used dedicated hardware before (cueing, jeez!) – it´s a big leap forward at an affordable price. NI did well, I think.

  • Squirrel Chucker

    Can you hook up a x1 and the z1 simultaneously to Traktor DJ on the ipad?

    • Andreas Bührer

      no, you can’t connect it 🙁 as explained the Z1 has no USB-Hub.

      • Squirrel Chucker

        Can’t you connect a hub to the ipad and both to the hub? Sorry if this has already been stated.

        • Andreas Bührer

          I don’t know. Maybe it will work, but it would be really cool to connect an X1mk2 and a Z1 to the Traktor DJ app 🙂

  • theJTrix

    I think it’s kind of odd that Traktor didn’t ship these units with a lightening cable, even after implying that the Traktor DJ iPhone app should be used with an iPhone 5 to maximize it’s screen size. I guess it’s better for me since I’m running the App off of an iPhone 4S.

    • Markkus Rovito

      Yeah, it kind of sucks, but my guess is that Apple will not allow NI to produce a Lightning cable. Apple puts lots of restrictions on its “partners” when it comes to Apple’s proprietary technology. In my opinion, it would be way more customer-friendly (and ultimately good for Apple) for NI to include a Lightning cable, but you know, Apple really likes your money.

  • Stewe

    I would probably use this for some FX mappings in combination with my Spectra. Preparing something similar for my MM-1 and Spectra combo 😉

  • Grant Reynolds

    love modular Controllerism.. it drives me nuts with everyone talking up the S2 or S4… there a fucking toy!!! Leave the Jog wheels to CDJS!! if you brought a “all in one” controller to a club gig where i live you would be the laughing stock of town and rightfully so.. “all in one” controllers are not meant for gigging..

    Modular controlism is about customisation and creating your own workflow. this controller is something I’ve been screaming for since the x1 came out, i can now ditch my audio 8 too! thank fuck for that!

    • DJ_ForcedHand

      There are some things a much more “complete” controller can do than this combined with an iPad or iPhone. I seriously doubt that anyone showing up to a gig with an all-in-one controller will be laughed at. Their abilities might be, but the gear is pretty real.

    • Anonymous

      I don’t personally use an S2 any longer, sold mine a while back (on CDJs now), but I politely disagree on your assessment here. I think the non-DJ, who expects to see spinning turntables (most folks still do, and you are playing for them, not other DJs) will look squinty-eyed even MORE at someone with a Z1 and an *iPad* than an S2/S4. Not the most solid of arguments, man. Controllers like an Ableton Push or some of the Livid stuff are pretty cool tho!

      • i own the things argued about

        but you’re there to play them music, not to make sure that the equipment you use is up to someone else’s standards(especially a non-dj). it’s about how you play the music and move the crowd, not what you’ve decided to play said music from. i agree with all sides of the argument, so idk why im replying anyways

    • Matterak

      S2/S4 aren’t toys Porter Robinson and Zedd both use S4’s and they don’t aren’t laughed at. They’re a couple of the biggest dj’s at present too. You are trying to pass of your perspective as one that is shared by everyone, and it’s not.

      S2/S4, modular, cdj’s are about personal preference and you really can’t dictate or make fun of people because they don’t have the same views as you.

      P.S. There aren’t any big names mocking people based on the gear they use, only the no-name/bedroom dj’s do this.

  • Dj Marcos Rodríguez

    Nowadays I have a S2 and I love it, but before I had a pair of DENON SC 2000, I think that the Z1 is the best alternative for the sc2000. That would be a nice little setup for traktor pro

  • tony13ny

    Even with good beat gridding, app seriously needs a “on the fly nudge” feature to adjust phase for tighter drums when mixing.

  • dialexomusic

    Hope there’ll be a 4-channel version for traktor pro 🙂 z4 or whatever.
    With a Z4, 2 X1 MK2 and 2 F1, this setup could be better than a s4, Well, I keep dreaming…

  • Matt

    is the processor and ram capabilities of an ipad reliable enough for actually using in a real life setting? i think the z1 and an x1 is a perfect mini set up for the gigs where you have minimal room, then an s4 or s2 for other gigs is obviously better!

    • Markkus Rovito

      I don’t know for sure, but the iPad 3 we used ran Traktor DJ very well for an extended period, with both tracks active with loops and effects, etc. Playback was smooth; no glitches. Personally though, I’d only use Traktor DJ for really casual settings. Even if the performance is good, it’s still more limited than I would like for anything where you think your reputation, future gigs, etc. are on the line.

  • Johnny Trung Nguyen

    I have and use the full spectrum from DJM-900 Nexus with CDJ-2000 Nexus, to DDJ-SX, to S4, and now Z1, X1, F1. They all have their place and are all priced appropriately for the different use cases they address.

    • sean

      is it possible to map TouchOSC on an ipad to control the remix decks in traktor with this new update?

      • sean

        2.6.2

        • Rotem Ayalon

          Yep.

  • Charlie

    I use it with f1 and xone k2 however, I mapped deck a + c but the UV meter seem to show an incorrect value (like if the track is played a bit too loud)

  • squadrondj

    I think the point of this is to give you options and not replace mainstream apps or work flow. When the X1 came out, I was skeptical at first but have come to rely on it. Not everyone has room for an s4 or s2 in their carry on bag. And frankly, I’m not letting my gear out of my sight. I am hoping that the z1 and the rumored x1 mk2 gives the portability and flexibility to gig anywhere anytime.

    Look at the evolution of djing – vinyl to cd to mp3/wav. We’ve gone from carrying crates and flight cases full of records to holding collections 10 times that on flash drives and sd cards that can be worn around our neck. Track availability went from crate diggers to mass public. We as djs define ourselves on how we put together music not how we deliver it.

    The z1 is an awesome first step to a larger world.

  • Papi

    if only the Z1 had Play/Cue buttons on both sides of the mixer, I’d get one to use with Traktor Pro… DJing with an I-Pad… oh paleeezz…

    • Markkus Rovito

      Ha-ha; that’s the same thing a lot of guys said about DJing with a laptop 10 years ago. For now, I still agree with you… for now.

  • Matty N

    I’ve got this, the X1 and the F1. For my workflow, that works really well. I’ve no worries about using this at a gig, because I’ve got all my needs covered.
    So far, the sound quality of the internal soundcard seems excellent, though I’ve not played in on a club system yet. Latency has not been a problem, as it has with the Audio 8 I own. In fact, CPU usage seems way down.
    So, so far so good!

    • Anonymous

      and the Z1?

      • Matty N

        Yeah, the Z1, x1 and F1.

  • Scott Frost

    Love the unit – would have prefered to have the 4 deck option – now with the leaked images of the X1 MK2 – maybe something else is comign down the pipe. Maybe the modular approach is better than the all in one approach. The only real competitor for NI in this area is Behringer. NAMM is not too far off maybe NI will have something else to surprise us.

  • S_Rig

    I honestly can’t find a reason for someone to own it. If one needs to combine it with an X1 to perform cost-wise you are at the 400 dollar area 100 less from an S2. I can’t think it will help a bedroom Dj or a Pro. Other than that really good article as always.

    • Cody

      some people like the small footprint of multiple portable devices vs one big clunky one

  • subtend

    Does the z1 work with traktors internal recorder or do you have to take a line out from the rca.also is the mixing in the box or external.i run a techno podcast and would really like if I could mix out of the box and record in

    • Matty N

      It works with the internal recorder because it’s using the internal mixer of traktor’s software. Works very nicely too.

    • Jay Dizzle

      If u use laptop with traktor PRO 2. Then yes.

  • weltraumpapst

    traktor DJ ipad and iphone are free in the app store right now!!

    • Hayden

      really wish i didn’t just pay $5 then …..

  • Jay Dizzle

    I took the z1, x1 and f1 + macbookpro to a gig. All fitted perfectly in my UDG Traktor bag. I’m happy to say that I’m very pleased. It’s all you need. I have the X1 midimode mapped for track preparation and the F1 for effects (tekkens f1 mapping).
    You could map the z1s midimode to deck c & d, I think. But not tried it yet.
    I recommend the setup for djs that desire light travel equipment.

    A great review from djtechtools

    • Anonymous

      A great review indeed. Quick q, Jay: How do you nudge tracks without jogs? Pitchbend somehow? (Asking in case you play a track with tempo changes or is non-quantized.) Curious on how that’s handled.

      • Jay Dizzle

        Assuming you’re using Traktor pro 2 on a laptop with x1& z1. Then you would pitch bend with the x1 controller.
        If you was using the z1 with Traktor DJ on iPad. It’s important to get beat grids aligned(prepared). Although pitchbend works the same way as aligning the grid on Traktor DJ. Just move the track left(-) or right(+) with your finger when in beatgrid. There is a button next to sync on each deck. Just press to enter gridmode. From there you can adjust on the fly. Hope I explained well 🙂

        • Anonymous

          That makes a lot of sense. Thanks for the great explanation, Jay.

  • Anonymous

    A fantastically well-written review (as usual) on a product that is grasping at straws at best. I argue an S2 is MORE portable than a Z1+X1+F1. And does anyone who is NOT a DJ really want to go see someone perform on an iPad?

    • passing by

      A decade ago, people used to say they couldn’t produce anything decent without an e-mu sampler and real mixing consoles and were laughing at me when i was all like ‘hey cubase is cool” , Dj’s were arguing you couldn’t mix anything of value without a pair of technics and so on…

      I would go to see Djs performing with coffee machines as long as they music is good… Not to mention fixing a dude bouncing his head while waving his arms in the air behind a desk isn’t exactly what i’m up to while I dance, but thats probably just me…

    • Dan White

      I could see how it’s more portable if you want jogwheels – otherwise, that’s completely wasted space!

      • Anonymous

        Well, I guess portability to me is also easy quick setup/teardown and simplicity too, not several cables, controllers, usb hub, hub power, rca to 1/4 or rca to XLR adapters/cables (if needed) etc.

        • Markkus Rovito

          Yeah, I guess CDJs that live in the club are the most portable setup of all! I might go that way too if I felt like buying CDJs to practice with at home, but I don’t.

    • Markkus Rovito

      Thanks for the props, andreimatei. If you want to get really into the details, the size and weight of a Z1/X1/F1 combo are a little less than the S2, but the cable management could be pretty annoying, so that may make it less practical. I really want one of these units to have a USB hub, but the X1 MkII leaked images only show 1 USB port.

      • Jay Dizzle

        Like i posted. Get all i need to a gig in The udg traktor bag. Not The trolley bag. The small one 🙂

      • Anonymous

        Spot on. You got me thinking, would a USB hub even work with an iPad? Regardless, I think 1 hub, 1 power cord, 3 usb cables, 3 cases, etc. is all more complex to set up than 1 S2 and a laptop (which you probably often need to have with you anyway). The S2 is so light and fits in a backpack.

        • the guy from above

          you’re not remembering that only the z1 will work on the ipad my dude. i also imagine that someone bring all three of the kontrol 1 series is going to be mixing in a different style than someone on an s2 for example.

          • Anonymous

            Ah, yeah, I didn’t realize that. Makes sense.

          • Anonymous

            You are totally right. Spaced out on that!

        • Markkus Rovito

          Right now, the Z1 is the only hardware to work with Traktor DJ, so I was talking about a USB hub for laptop use. And I’m not sure a hub would work on the iPad, anyway. But in the case of a modular z1/F1/X1 setup, I think you’d probably ditch the cases and just throw them all in the same DJ bag, like Jay Dizzle does with his UDG bag. I still use the S2 or S4 with secondary controllers for now, but I’m intrigued by where NI is going with this.

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