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Creative Ways to Use Traktor Remix Decks Or Samples In A Real DJ Set

At its core, DJing is about playing great songs and transitioning between them smoothly. DJ software makers invent new features to set themselves apart, but sometimes it’s hard to tell how you would even use them! The Remix Decks are a prime example: great in concept, but practically speaking, most DJs don’t end up utilizing their potential in real sets. Today we will share six real ways that you can use the Remix Decks or the SP-6 sampler in Serato to spice up the mix without just adding fluff.

Here are 6 of my favorite ways to use samples or remix cells to add creativity in a real DJ set:

Kick, Snare Fills

  • It’s very hand to have a few punchy snares and kicks ready for break downs. I like to use these to drop in a quick break beat or create some improvised build up finesse.
  • By quantizing the remix cells and adding a little reverb or delay you can serve up a real tasty filler.

Hi Hat backing tracks

  • House music can almost always fit another hat groove, and  it’s nice to have a consistent part going over several tracks to make them consistent.
  • The back beat hat, and steady 909 ride are some of my favorite staples to bring in and out of the mix.

Low end support

  • Many great songs simply don’t have enough low-end for a big club, and turning up the bass is not a sufficient replacement for real frequencies.
  • In this case take a short kick loop from a song that you know works and keep it ready to layer under weaker tracks.

Keep a loop Going

  • No one actually plays 3 or 4 full songs at the same time – we just like to keep certain loops going. instead of looping a full deck, just copy that loop into a remix cell and bring it back in later.
  • It’s a waste of a good deck to just run a single loop – and this saves them for later use.

Effects Splash

  • We all like to add beat-masher builds and reverb swells to the mix. It adds dynamics, originality and more importantly – they are fun!
  • Put the final cherry on top by dropping a splash or white noise sample on the one after your effects build.

Extra Credit Bonus

  • Of course it would be remix not to mention the Midi Fighter Twister, which features an amazing Remix Deck sequencer.
  • This replaces running machine in the background and allows you to sequence drum patterns right inside of a remix deck.

Additional Reading and Resources

  • Alex

    When I use the remix deck like you have on my s4, I cannot get the effects working on this deck?? I have tried everything!

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  • ed

    what is downbeat ?

  • Fred

    Hi, is it possible, to get a copy of than remixset?

  • Michael Wachala

    Quick question about the “low end support” technique… will most kicks work well, or should I organize a remix set with kicks in certain keys… or is there another way regarding this that I’m not thinking of?

  • Nilesh Parmar

    I like the remix decks as punch sample shots and scratch samples too 🙂

  • KoenraadVDS

    I’ve been using the the remix decks for theatre/performance events. It’s fast and efficient to build them and you see the waveforms while playing. I used Ableton before but it had always been a hassle to set it up properly, because Ableton is build to be quantized/bpm locked. The remix decks samples can run independently and you can set volumes, which is a big deal. In ableton there is no way to adjust clip sample volume without warping the sample to the project bpm.

  • toddmichael

    Great post, Ean. Always appreciate your bits of wisdom. Keep’em coming. Quick question: what’s a good place to go for a sample pack similar to the one you used in this video? Are those directly from NI or did you get through Beatport or another shop? Appreciate the advice. Cheers brother.

  • Robert Cappitelli

    I personally love the remix decks and the F1’s. I use the x1, the z1 and two f1’s. I promise my sets fully deliver far beyond a two track mix. I think the features are amazing. I come from a two turntable, 3 channel mixer background, and evolved to ableton live pa sets. Now that I discovered these remix decks, my whole game changed. I use them as a sequencer and make my own samples and break sick tracks into pieces and mix them with other beats with FX on top. It is literally like creating your own tracks live. People love it, I love it, it is innovative and intuitive. My goal is to have another laptop running Maschine sync to traktor via midi to play riffs that I can evolve live.

    Don’t get me wrong I love the track decks on traktor as well, but to me that is just like only 2 samples slots, I have 128 with two remix decks. Imagine 4 remix decks.

  • Thank you for sharing the video, Ean. I’m not 100% convinced of the S8 though, since the device in itself is nothing I can carry around in all clubs etc. I’ve sold my S4 due to quality issues and during my very first hands-on tests of the S8 nothing really happened in regard to optimization of knobs etc.

    I’m looking forward how many other devices are going to support such a workflow natively in the future. For the time being I’ll stick to the F1 and my Midifighter.

  • Big Spender

    It’s not the most polished example but you can use the remix decks for set piece mashups too. I have remix sets consisting of samples like kicks and claps for when I am doing house/tech house sets but if I am playing a bit more mainstream something like this gets people going.

  • Guest

    It’s not the most polished example but you can use the remix decks for set piece mashups too. I have remix sets consisting of samples like kicks and claps for when I am doing house/tech house sets but if I am playing a bit more mainstream something like this gets people going.

  • smarticus

    I feel the best and unrealized use for the remix decks was a misual map of a set with locked cue points between songs .. however .. thats not how they work. mixes are hard to find = thats why everyone sounds like punchy robots all gizzed out nowadays. good luck. too many tools too many fools .. not enough grooves

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  • DJSteveLozzi

    Ean – thanks for the vid. Any chance of uploading the remix deck used in the tutorial? Thanks….

  • Vlad K

    As someone pointed above I want to highlight the important (to me) fact that all samples captured, sounds or loops you put in a remix deck slot end up in your library in the middle of your tracks… which is really annoying!! NI should maybe do something about that, and really split the two libraries, it shouldn’t be so complicated…
    On the other hand I think that the remix decks is a good entry point to the production so it should be considered as a good tool for beginning producers : if you don’t produce tracks and you want to give it a go you can make a few loops in a DAW and play them during your dj set, and it helps by “comparing” your loops with professonnal music (for example I made kick or bass loops in ableton and found it was not that easy to make them as punchy as the kicks or basses I hear in my favourite tracks) then it is a good exercise.
    Last but not least I think that it is the cheapest way to imitate the workflow of artist like Richie Hawtin or Dubfire. When I first noticed the way they play and wanted to imitate them I bought a novation launchpad and a nanokontrol II and I was able with some basic mapping to get the essential functions of the F1, at a lower price (and controlling 2 remix decks!) then I routed the remix decks C & D from the main outpu of my A6 to my micro input and BAM I have a 3 channel mixer controlling 4 decks! :p.
    All this to say that as Ean showed in the video if you use the remix decks cleverly it can be a good tool without having to buy a Maschine or other expensive device… Hope this can give some of you the envy to try them! 🙂

  • Bjørn Bjørnson

    Hey Ean, would you uplaod that great snare smaple from 5:00 in the video?

  • Tubab Lamin

    interested in Sequencing the remix decks in a Maschine mapping anyone know one? just know about a lemur ones

  • Tubab Lamin

    top notch advanced/current dj tutorial

  • DJ Possess

    I have a lot of custom remix sets and they are fun to play around with. But I admit, I don’t use them often in a live situation. Secondly, once I took the time to learn how to create remix sets on the fly from a song, I hated how Traktor threw all the bits of song parts into a folder without any sort of filing structure. Its hard to explain, but it was a mess and when I moved the files into one subfolder the remix deck set no longer worked.

    I haven’t read this article yet but just glancing at the video image I see the new S8 and already don’t like that. This isn’t my situation; I play w/ 2 Technics, and X1 and an F1.

    • mellonhead

      i totally agree about the library storage. my collection is a mess with all the remix peices! you could put your technics on either side of the s8. then you have all of the buttons and knobs + dvs + standalone computer optional mixer.

  • chris

    btw: maybe it will be possible, that the water buried places will be outside from the fishing and hummer grounds

  • Darken

    I think the remix decks are great, in a number of ways actually. I use traktor synced with Maschine, no Ableton or any other DAW involved, I think it’s somewhat pointless to use Maschine as a VST inside a daw like Ableton. Ableton’s sync with traktor is not even close to Maschines sync with traktor in terms of staying on beat consistently, I found the sync to also be much tighter/precise. Try disconnecting Maschines hardware while using Ableton, you will find yourself hitting traktors sync button more than you should.

    I hope you guys understand that traktor isn’t a DAW, you can’t expect a DJ software to also operate as a full fledged Digi workstation. The fact that traktor even offers clip launching of 64 slots is quite impressive. It was never meant to offer the quality of Ableton’s clip launching feature, I believe it was only implemented to offer Ableton’s most ‘easy’ concept, something that any traktor users can use. For some it’s also 1 less app to constantly switch to strictly for loops.

  • CUSP

    Let’s stop focusing on remix decks, and sample players, and focus more on what live production is and how to do it.

    To that end, one of the reasons people are confused is because the Remix Decks are trying to be Maschine and not quite getting there. Until the Remix Decks are fully “Maschine capable” (at which point, they should be called the Maschine Decks) they will always be “Maschine Jr.”… and a little confusing.

    Grabbing a section of the live track as fill is important, so too is playing the occasional V.O. and or original backing fill, but these things need a little “massaging” and the Remix Decks fall down in this area… and are features in which Maschine (and others like the MPC) manages well. Setting, trimming, and adjusting gain on a sample is very important if you want to seamlessly integrate those samples (you just grabbed, or are playing live) into the mix. Right now, the Remix a Decks are still a bit crude in this area, and for that reason alone, many DJs who want to do live production forgo the Remix Decks for a more robust drum machine solution.

  • GoodBytes

    I’m yet to see a full set that has complete utilisation of remix decks? It’s like oh look at me on my remix decks: 3 min youtube clip.

    The tips in the article are good but real world usage is still negligible… It also seems to be geared towards slower music (house) when you start going 170bpm+ with lots of rapid fills and drops and fx there isn’t really any need to be adding anything else. At the most you could use it to drop an acapella.

  • Alex

    Sry but your examples are truly boring. Why ? Techno / House producers spend weeks to produce a track and you think you can just drop some samples on top and thats it ?! Then youre cool or what ? As a DJ you should better look out for greatly produced Tunes and dont waste your time with this kinda bullshit. For Hiphop it really makes sense, you can be really creative, why dont you show that Ean ? Oh I forgot … everybody wants to be a EDM star nowadays and DJTECHTOOLS wants to sell the S8.

    • there are lot’s of great opportunities for this style of djing in Trap and Hip Hop – they are just not genre’s I personally spend a lot of time in. You should make a video and share it with everyone!

      • Tubab Lamin

        Share the love!

      • Guest

        Great post, Ean. Always appreciate your bits of wisdom. Keep’em coming. Quick question: what’s a good place to go for a sample pack similar to the one you used in this video? Are those directly from NI or did you get through Beatport or another shop? Appreciate the advice. Cheers brother.

    • DJ Ollie

      Yea I thought it was pretty boring too, that’s why i’m always trying different ways of using the Remix decks…and I’ll be sure to take your advice and look out for greatly produced Tunes… I would love to see your take and example of how you use the Remix decks…

      Show and Prove.

  • DJ Ollie

    Just wanted to add another example of how I use the remix decks on my S4 mk2…

    • thenextgalaxy

      You’ve single handedly convinced me to go get an F1 and start playing around with remix decks. Unfortunately, I don’t really play a lot of EDM, dance or any such music and everything that I’ve seen about remix decks or the S8 seems to focus on that. I prefer music with vocals and that’s why I really can’t get into some genres.

      Good job and thanks for showing the remix decks with something other than EDM.

      Good post Ean.

  • DJ Ollie

    The Remix Decks is one of the main reasons why I made the switch from Serato to Traktor, because of the discontinuation of “The Bridge” (Ableton + Serato) project… Here’s a video of me using the remix decks w/ a custom mapping on the Maschine MK2… I also implemented the Loop Recorder from tone playing the cue points from a Track Deck to build up the background lead… There’s just so many possibilities now w/ the option to make the C & D decks either Remix Decks, Track decks or Live inputs (Maschine output or Live instrument like a keyboard or guitar) But I think it’s still relatively new to a lot of DJs and still waiting to see how creative DJs can be w/ these Remix decks…

    • CUSP

      Yes, but you’re really using Maschine, not the Remix Decks. I love Maschine and find the Remix Decks too limiting.

      • DJ Ollie

        I’m actually using the Maschine as a Midi controller custom mapped for the Remix Decks and Traktor.

        • CUSP

          Please tell me you don’t still do that. You know you can load all those Remix Deck sample packs into Maschine, only with more control and flexibility… right?

          • Chaser720

            How does running Maschine along with Traktor effect CPU load? I’m scared to even keep my Wifi on when DJing.

          • DJ Ollie

            Not too much more load is put on, that I can notice when using both programs, and my Latency buffer audio setting is 192 in Maschine at 48000Hz and 128 @ 48000Hz

          • Chaser720

            Gotcha. I’ve had load issues on my new MPB since I bought it. It runs but I don’t trust it to do too many things at once.

          • CUSP

            I’ve never really noticed any problems using both Traktor and Maschine (nothing over 30% CPU), but then again I have an Early 2011 MacBook Pro with 8 gig of ram. I learned to turn off bluetooth and wifi when I DJ just in case I accidentally connect and someone sends me a text (or e-mail) and because some people like to hack.

          • DJ Ollie

            Yes I do know, sometimes I’ll use maschine software in the background and alternate between both Maschine and Traktor by pressing the Shift+Control button… Most of the time I use it only in Traktor to keep it simple…

          • CUSP

            Fair enough.

          • CUSP

            Oh… What does that alternate configuration look like?

          • DJ Ollie

            The software config. is just the 2 separate windows running, I usually have the Maschine window in the background and just use my MK2 hardware to reference to by switching back and forth to Traktor and Maschine… Sometimes I’ll sync up Maschine to Traktor depending if I’m using the sequencing in Maschine or using both apps for producing rather than DJing…

          • CUSP

            I’m thinking the new version of Maschine will reinforce this.

  • DJ Ollie

    The Remix Decks is one of the main reasons why I made the switch from Serato to Traktor, because of the discontinuation of “The Bridge” (Ableton + Serato) project… Here’s a video of me using the remix decks w/ a custom mapping on the Maschine MK2… I tried implementing the Loop Recorder w/ some cue point tone play from the Track decks…

  • Ben 360

    Great vid Ean!!! Keep teaching!

  • Maddox

    I was considering getting an F1 for a while, but ended up deciding not to because I didn’t think I would use the remix that much. What I want to do is set up my machine mikro in Live so I can bust out a finger drumming session in the middle of a set just to kinda throw people off. It seems like the remix decks are NI’s attempt to recreate Live, and they just haven’t quite accomplished that yet.

    • CUSP

      Just route Maschine through Traktor (primarily so you can record your Maschine fills through a Live Deck, but you can route it the other way too). There’s no reason to use Live if that’s all you want to do. There’s a DJTT article for doing just that.

    • Jay Dizzle

      I use the f1 for fx. Check out tekkens mapping of the f1

  • tony corless

    Thanks for the video. Anyone using the remix decks to fire off accapellas?

    • DJ Ollie

      Yes I’ll sometimes launch off an acapella and then scratch in instrumentals w/ both Decks A & B

    • Yes, that’s the main reason I’m using it for.

  • Dennis Olivieira

    Tnkx Ean for for the Remixdecks tips.

  • shufflesam

    This is like the third article I have read/watched on “how to actually utilize the remix decks.”
    Tbh, the fact that on a whole we are still trying to figure out how to implement the idea shows that there is a fundamental flaw in the system. Maybe it is the workflow, maybe it is limitations on how the samples can be used or maybe it is just to complex to be easily integrated to a live set. Im not sure what the problem is specifically. The bottom line is most people don’t use them at all or maybe just for dropping a few samples.
    I know that some people love the remix decks and use them almost exclusively, but this is not the norm. I personally am done trying to force something, that doesn’t work well, simply because it is there. I think the idea is a good starting point for something much more, like a sequencer deck with some capabilities brought over from maschine or maybe a plugin deck where you can set up some automations, or a deck for visualizers like serato video, or maybe something like the remix decks but more straight forward and easy to set up on the fly.
    Maybe the workflow on the s8 makes the remix decks super easy to use and manage, but I really do think the system is fundamentally flawed and no amount of changes to the hardware alone are going to fix that.

    • CUSP

      Yes, I think this is (unfortunately) one of the legacy pieces from the former Traktor project lead, making a power play to take over Maschine. The subsequent failure is still being supported, and it’s time to stick a fork in the Remix Decks and integrate Maschine properly. If Native Instruments doesn’t do this with Traktor soon, they will have proven too stupid to remain in business as this is clearly the better path to take… and they know better (because they already solved these problems with Maschine). Please, Native Instruments, take a hint. The people want Maschine integrated into Traktor, not a cut-down version incapable of being edited.

      Hands up for all the people who got Maschine (or a Mikro) because it was s better solution than getting an F1 to use with the Remix Decks.

      • Fredco

        agree CUSP …
        I find Remix decks a kid’s toy compared to Maschine. If you’re at all serious about running tight loops with your tracks, don’t waste your time with Remix decks if you can use Maschine instead. For starters, the swing control on Maschine is crucial for matching the groove to tracks. This feature doesn’t exist on Remix decks. I could list a dozen other points where Remix decks are so limited by comparison to Maschine. Unfortunately, NI have backed Remix decks as the way to go … now pretty much set in stone for the next year or two with the advent of the S8 … While it would be heaven on a stick to see a tightly integrated Maschine deck scenario happening I doubt it will happen in a hurry if at all. To some extent NI seems to be at crossed purposes here and have opted to dumb down the concept for mass consumption. Pity it doesn’t groove …. pity the F1 has a HUGE bug with soft takeover issues on faders and pots (My F1 is in permanent MIDI mode for cue points and filters) … Maschine smokes F1/Remix in it’s ability to groove …

        • noxxi

          oh yeah, and try to control the leds using the HSB midi mode? it wont work, the F1 is incapable of receiving all of that midi at once, even though my push can receive even more midi just fine. i literally never use my f1 anymore, just keeping it in case they sort out how shit they are

    • Toontown

      I’ve seen plenty of demand for these kinds of tutorials, similar to “Can somebody show me how to use effects?” It’s led me to believe that there are flat out just uneducated DJs out there who need to be shown over and over. You sound like an experienced DJ. When you listen to a DJ mix, then listen to the original tracks used within that mix, you probably have the schema to pick it apart and figure out what the DJ did to get there. Not every DJ has this ability, so they need to be shown. To me, it’s extremely obvious how Remix Decks and effects work. But I don’t discount the fact that people still need to be taught. Also, never discount the fact that DJTT would produce something like this to move products.

  • yes..pinkpink whole live set is based and build from the remixdecks..since the F1 came out i thought they made it for this purpose 😛

  • lokey

    as far as i understand it, remix decks are basically just ableton clip slots, brought into the traktor context…with that in mind, there are plenty of examples of how to use this concept in a live setting. risers and vocal snippets, for example…

    • Chaser720

      Best advise I’ve read for building a remix decks was to cut samples out of track you’d never mix but like the sample.

  • Mel man

    Really nobody care about remix decks but people that play house music andnit easy to make that shit sound right with house music it’s the same thing going on in ever song

    • CUSP

      Oh no Sir, I’ve seen people go absolutely crazy at a show where s Hip Hop DJ played his drum machine over his mix. It’s stuff of legend. Every genre can use a live fill… it makes the night more special (at least if done right).

  • So to sum up the video: You can add drums to “remix”or add to 4-to-the-floor electronic music!
    Eventhou I enjoyed the video (thanks @ DJ Techtools for putting in the time and work)
    I’m still not sold AT ALL on the remix-decks or the S8 for that matter!
    => Seems like they are both only of use to / cater towards EDM DJs! 🙁 Would def. have preferred a controller without the screens and minifaders but with 7″inch or 9” platters (with a cue-indicator) instead! 😉

  • laviepure

    is it possible to record live instru and use the loop in the remix deck with the S8 ???

  • Hans Solo

    Chris Liebing mixes 3 or 4 tracks all the time 😛

  • Paco Loco

    Thanks for this article – I think it’s what a lot of people have been asking for. Native Instruments take note – this is the sort of thing you should be doing!!

  • guest111

    those 16 pads on the s8 are begging for step sequencer functionality

    • CUSP

      More so than simply buying Maschine 2 and getting sick-house with it? You know you can MIDI sync to Traktor, right?

      • guest11

        Sure, I love my maschine. I’m just saying that implementing the step sequencer that DJTT has on MF twister would be a killer feature for the S8.

        • CUSP

          I see where you’re going with this, and yeah, it is kinda’ nice to all-in-one your gear, but the Remix Deck isn’t equivalent to Maschine. I honestly think I’m missing nothing in the S8 because I have a Twitch and a Maschine Mikro.

  • I’ve been experimenting with using Maschine in my live sets in combination with two track decks. The one benefit I see from this is the ability to capture loops from tracks you’re playing. From my time with Maschine I only get so much utility out of adding extra percussion, so I definitely think I’m going to finally try out the Remix decks. Also it’s a heck of a lot easier to have everything in sync and routed. Still crossing my fingers though the guys at NI eventually add sequencing right in Traktor or figure out a way to integrate Maschine more seamlessly into Traktor.