Emergency DJ Set: Using Traktor’s Cruise Control + Fade Markers

A lot of DJs who are gigging regularly need to step away from the DJ booth – from making sure the bridal party is ready for their first dances, to using the bathroom during a lull in the dancefloor, to finding the promoter to make sure you’re getting paid. Even when you step away, it’s critical to make sure you’re covered – so today we explain one of the often overlooked features in Traktor, Cruise Control and Fade Markers. Read on!


Things are getting a little messy, you’re not sure what’s going on in the DJ booth and you need a break – it’s time to turn to the Emergency DJ set! To be honest though, I hope you never get to the stage of the poor guy (Greg Gillis, AKA Girl Talk – photo credit dpstyles) featured in the image at right. It’s more likely that the situation you are in is as follows

  • You’ve picked up a 4 hour long set in a bar
  • You are playing solo with no one qualified to step in while you grab a quick break

There are some tracks out there that I usually line up for this occasion, good 7 or 8 minute long mammoth tracks. But sometimes you need longer than that! I know, there’s not too many situations where you need that long away from the decks, but maybe you met someone special at the bar and you wouldn’t mind grabbing a quick drink with them? Alternately, you might need to go talk to the promoter, bridal party, club owner  for any number of reasons -so instead of rushing back to the decks, deploy your emergency DJ set!


You have a couple of options when it comes to an emergency set. You could have a prerecorded set, which you can then mix into your live set at any point. The disadvantage to this method is that you’ll need to have your pre-made ready for the type of crowd you’ll be encountering and what part of the night you’re in. Not always ideal!

Your other option is to create a playlist and use your software’s automix function – in Traktor, this is called Cruise Control!


Traktor’s sweet Cruise Control Feature is turned on via a little button (pictured at left) in the top right of your screen. Once activated, it will automatically play through the tracks in the currently selected playlist. How it mixes between tracks depends on a few different settings.

The parameters you need to think about when building an automated mix playlist for Cruise Control are automatic mixing length (crossfade timing) and where you want the mix to take place in a track (Fade Markers).


To set the auto-crossfade time, open up Traktor Preferences and head to the ‘Mixer‘ section. There you’ll find a ‘Crossfader‘ section – this is where you will set the auto crossfade time, which can range from 0 to 100 seconds.

This is the time that both tracks will be in the mix at the same time, or how long it takes to move from one track to the next. If you select a 60 second auto crossfade, it will take 30 seconds for the new track to come in and the following 30 seconds for the last track to fade out.

The style of music you are playing will determine what kind of crossfade you would like to implement. Maybe for Drum and Bass or Hip Hop, you might want an instant swap between tracks. For deep house, maybe a long smooth mix would be best. It’s your call, you’re the DJ.

(Additional Traktor Tip: Below the crossfade time, you can set the crossfade to be smooth or sharp. This typically is used to adjust the curve of a crossfader. A sharp fade means even the slightest move of the fader from an off position will instantly create full volume. A smooth fader creeps the volume in as you move it across, and will only reach maximum volume when set exactly in the centre between the two decks. This function does not currently operate in Cruise Control mode, which uses the line faders instead)


By default, Cruise Control uses the end of a track as the guide for initiating the crossfade. Taking our earlier example of 60 seconds, the crossfade will begin 60 seconds from the end of the track. If you have it set at 0 seconds, the new track will not begin playing until the track has reached its very end. Some tracks have a long silent audio tail, which might interfere with your Emergency Mix if you weren’t to set a different place to start your crossfade.

Using the Fade In and Fade Out markers, you are able to set at which point the auto crossfader will begin its work. These markers stand out from all others as they are orange in colour. They have a small flag at the top indicating whether it is an ‘In‘ or an ‘Out‘.

‘Fade Out’ Marker – Wherever you chose to place this marker; will be the point at which the next track in your playlist will begin to play and the volume faders begin to move – this marker is denoted by the flag sitting on the right of the marker.


‘Fade In’ Marker – When an auto crossfade begins, the next track in the mix will either begin at the start of the track or will jump to any ’Fade In‘ marker that has been placed in the track. As soon as the track starts up, the volume faders will also move; at the pace you have set in the ‘Crossfade timing‘ settings. This marker is denoted by its flag sitting to the left of the marker.


  • Make sure that you go into the Preferences > Loading > and Select “Activate Fade In & Fade Out Markers“
  • Make sure that all the tracks you choose are have a perfect beat grid set.
  • Make sure that snap and quantize are turned on during your Cruise Control session.
  • I would also suggest that you enable “Set Autogain when Loading Track“ for Cruise Control playlists – find this in Preferences > Mixer > Level.


I recommend selecting three or more tracks to use for your emergency set – once you have selected these tracks and positioned your relevant markers, place them in a Traktor playlist. Now, whenever you need to take a break at the decks, you can head over to the playlist, load and mix in the first track from that list, then activate the cruise button.

Personally, I would only ever use this in a restaurant or bar setting, or even a house party, but I would rarely imagine using it in a club. However, it is handy to have!

Have you ever used this function? Would you use this function, or are you totally against doing this as you find it is ‘cheating’? We would love to hear from you in the comments.

This article was originally published by Alan on Traktor Tips.

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  • Prog zia

    cool feature

  • Bernice

    I have tried this and traktor won’t recognize the fade in fade out even though I have activated it in preferences… am i missing something?

  • FuZionDCA

    Me & my fiancé are planning to use this feature for our wedding reception (Beats paying a Dj to play shite music).

    In learning how to use it, I’ve noticed something odd that I can’t get my head around.

    It seems that long cross fade times cause a lag in playing the next track. Anything beyond say 40-50 seconds & Traktor (Scratch Pro 2.6.5 in my case) ends up playing the next track 1 bar late, making the mix nasty sounding. Yes I can reduce the cross fade time.

    I’ve tried moving my fade in points both before & after the correct place, but it’s quite temperamental so not always predictable & therefore easy to solve.

    Shorter cross fades, seem fine but that loses some of the fun of the mix.

    Anyone else had this & if so, have you worked a way around it?

    • flowirin

      any progress on this?

  • ClrCreekRdr

    Great article. I wonder why people are so critical of the article. I for one appreciate the blog and the time taken to share this information. Thank you

  • Nobby Neil

    Used this function at a gig on new years eve to go for a pee just before the big event… Unfortunately, got chatting to an old girlfriend and lost track of the time so when I eventually made my way back to the decks, I found people ‘tutting’ and looking at their watches so on my return, one glance of the clock on my laptop (11:59) realised I was still in control and proceeded to bring in the new year in style with some nostalgic Big Ben bells and some ‘Auld Lang Syne’ that I had prepared…. booooooh yeaaaah!
    Unfortunately, my clock on my laptop was 3 minutes fast……….. Doh!!!

  • Matty Laugh

    I play a local bar a lot where i play from 4-5 hours depending how many people stay till last call or not and i’m also a cigarette smoker so thats a long time to be without one esp when sippin on some beers as well as holding going to the bathroom for the end of the night is no option. so i find this feature amazingly useful for these breaks i need. and last week when i used it came back in from my break dance floor was packed and i wasnt even on the decks (DJ MAGIC) haha

  • Traktor Tips

    Thanks to DJ Tech Tools for re-publishing my article!

  • Madden Wachsenhoff

    lol. Why not just program the entire set and sit at the bar and drink the night away?

  • Ricky Adams

    I use the cruise control and a program to stop sleep mode when lid is down on my mac air and it turns it into clever self mixing iPod I leave it running all day around house on AirPlay non stop tunes all day.
    Never really use it gigging.

  • Mickey Durivage

    This is a great tip. I usually use iTunes during the dinner portions of weddings which I’m not crazy about. Now I can set Traktor on cruise control.

  • benjaminwg

    They lose cred
    with any of those stupid features. Pre-recorded set is the only emergency mode
    you need if you get explosive diarrhea, or something. And there’s alway the benefit of having an assistent/record puller or partner. Pioneer is rapidly losing
    cred in my book with their dj destroying sync nonsense they’ve got now on the
    Nexus line. Lame. All Traktor needs is to fix their damn stacked layout and provide some waterfall vertical layout options. Improve the basics. Stop adding useless junk.

    • Cleberson Pertile

      explosive diarrhea LOL

    • flowirin

      sync is an awesome tool. saves precious seconds farting about getting things spot on, lets you be more creative. terrible tool if that’s all you know how to do, though

  • SjaakRake

    Back when I did commercial drive in gigs, we just had Paradise by the Dashboard Light for this.

    • Matty Laugh

      haha still use that one when i do top 40 and classics its paradise into a 6 minute O.A.R. song gives me perfect time to get another beer take a leak and have a cig break and maybe even grab a pretty girls number by the time im needed back haha

  • Alexander Wong

    I was doing a houseparty when the music couldn’t stop (dance floor was packed) and I HAD to leave. I had been holding it in too long and there was no more waiting time. The cruise control function saved me as well as a pre-recorded mix. I had a 10 minute quick mix of some songs I would never play in a set by themselves and used this as my “emergency” out. I also tossed in a track before and after that were about 5-7 minutes long each. Gave me almost 20 minutes to wait for the restroom, do my business, and even had time to grab a drink. I think this can be a lifesaver. I didn’t use the fade-in/out markers but that is going to be my new “out” for those little things in life. A TIP: have a few of these playlists or pre-recorded mixsets. One for each time slot you are playing. You don’t want to drop some 120 house tracks when your bumping 130 electro house. Be wise about your choice so you don’t kill the dance floor and come back to an empty floor.

  • Juan Carlos Huidobro III

    This is a great function to take advantage on nights where you are playing a venu with multiple DJs during that hectic few minutes where everyone is trying to plug in and move equipment etc. Allows you to free up your hands and pay attention to who’s unplugging what so your not left with that horrible moment where someone is trying to rush and get everything unplugged/plugged in and accidentally pulls the plug on your gear causing the always enjoyable SILENCE!
    Other than that it’s always a good idea to have a “back up plan” when playing out. Whether it’s a “set” on cruise control, a pre recorded set that fits the mood of the night, or your ipod with a recorded set or playlist ready to go. Shit happens in the booth and the more back ups you have the more enjoyable your “job” will be over the years.

  • Savi

    Love this function. I actually used it for the first time last night at a wedding I was DJing for. I needed to speak with the bridal party before their entrance, and I felt like I wasn’t rushed at all because I could rely on the feature.

  • zzzuperfly

    I tried those fade markers and forgot to deactivate the damn things and got the surprise of my life when traktor decided to change tune by itself – not for me – i run like crazy when the bathroom beckons

  • Toontown

    The How-To was good, but try to cut down on all this fluff in the first 250 words. It’s poorly written and cutes-y, just get to the good part. Either they’ll use these features or not. No need to sell people on it.

  • Guest

    Setting the fade in/our markers seems pointless. Even if you set it at a point where two songs happen to sound good together, it’s not going to sound the great for every track it’s mixed with. Plus, it adds more work to than just beatgridding your tracks…And if you really wanted it to sound good, you wouldn’t be putting it on “cruise” in the first place.

  • djartis

    I use these markers as reference points (without activating them). Since Im not a controllerist at all, preferring long transitions and playing/mixing most tracks basically from the very start to last beats, the colored cue points helps me “see” the structure of the song even more (besides the colored waveform itself). So I have the yellow load marker, then the blue cues where the vocal or instrumentation comes in, the white grid marker is where the main drum pattern starts, and finally the red fade in marker is usually where the bass comes, or how I call it “the all in” point. Very very helpful if you tend to play lots of new music, which you don’t know that well yet.. i can check these points quickly in headphones, and even mix “blindly” if i have to…

  • Justin

    All of the things out there to write about, and you really felt cruise control was pressing enough to right an article about?

    • JustinCase

      I thought it was a great article…. It’s true what they say…. you can’t please everyone.


    I like the feature…I use it at weddings for the slow songs

  • santi elena

    all the real pro just use a plastic bottle, tou don’t need that bullshit! fuck NI!!!!

  • Michael Hayden

    This is what I’ve been using Traktor for… Is there another way to use it?

    • Toontown

      Bravo… best comment on this article!

    • Josh Strand


  • Robert Wulfman

    Just put on a kraftwerk track, that should give you an extra 20 minutes or so.

  • Lauti

    this is too complex, I’ll just stick to wearing diapers

  • Laszlo Mag

    The guy in the picture looks like Villalobos 🙂

  • Collide

    4 hour set? I play 6 hour sets with CDJs.. I better run if I need to take a leak haha

    • Seth Alexander

      I can pee and smoke before the end of a 4 minute song now. Granted I do both simultaneously lol.

      • Collide

        Haha you smoke faaast man :p. Problem is, the venue I play at isn’t that big, so we don’t have a bathroom for the staff..

        Well, let’s say I feel lucky i’m a boy, the lines are much shorter there haha

  • Joshua Pfendler

    I want to be the guy in the picture. He DGAF and just wants to party.

  • Neo Zawadi Mochacha

    pre recorded mix works for me but thanks for this awesome tip off Alan

  • Andrew Northern

    I have a monthly on a patio that is just completely ape shit. About 200 people packed on a single patio with theater style decks. If i want to go pee i have to go out the emergency exit and pee in the alley.

    I can tell you one thing for sure. You learn real quick exactly how long time is when you have to pee like a racehorse and you are fighting a crowd to and from your decks in order to get back to get off another hot mix.

    • Aaron Mach

      Is this The Union you speak of? I couldn’t imagine fighting my way from the patio to the bathrooms and back in time to save the mix.

        • Tim Tilberg

          In Minneapolis? Lol. If so, cheers from a few miles away right now, and cheers from Duluth, typically. If not, carry on 🙂

          • Andrew Cizek

            Just moved up to Duluth a few months ago. Where’s the EDM scene around here? I’ve completely failed at finding it so far :c

          • Andrew Northern

            No this is in Kansas City. Sorry bro, hope you find some fun stuff up there too!

  • Stephen Dub Bub Almada

    this is the best tool to use when you have a 4hr set of top40 you dont want to play….. and the bar is across the club.

  • Sambo

    A function I already use when I need to go for a dump. Some things just shouldn’t be rushed.

  • Moonie

    Seriously ?

    ” but maybe you met someone special at the bar and you wouldn’t mind grabbing a quick drink with them?”

    If its a paid gig, you’re at work. Apart from bathroom breaks, your place is behind the decks.

    • Jade

      I think they were just messing around and bringing some life to the article, learn to not be so serious at times. Makes life much easier 🙂

      • moonie

        i’m a fairly light hearted sort, but it was just a filler article

        • Traktor Tips

          Thanks for the feedback….. my words are not likely to please everyone, sorry it had to be you this time! 😉

    • Justin Hay

      I have a 5-6 hour solo set this NYE dude . .. I take it that you didn’t read the beginning of this thread about the 4 hour set…? This will be invaluable to me for my Risk Assessment and Health and Safety Compliance blah. Sweet. Everyone is entitled to a break.

      • Justin Hay

        Oh and personally I work with Live Brass musicians and have to tinker with a gramaphone … So anything that makes life easier is most welcome… Ha ha!

  • edeoldi

    Alternatively, you could also mix and record 3-5 songs at home (with ideal settings) and play this short mix while stepping out for a few. 🙂 Daves the fade-in/fade-out markers and you’ll know exactly what will happen at each transition.

    • Jimmy Burn

      ean already mentioned this above duh

  • malzfreund

    you’ve mixed up the ‘fade in’ and ‘fade out’ markers in the blog entry. the ‘fade in’ marker is the one with the flag pointing left, the ‘fade out’ marker the one with the flag pointing right.

    • Spacecamp

      It’s correct now. Don’t mix these up when setting them, or else you’ll have a very stressful time getting it to work.

      • Traktor Tips

        Thanks for fixing this – it was correct in the original article!

  • dj chrome

    if u need to pee carry a plastc bottle #lol!

    • flowirin

      this one is more for the girls. there’s always a half hour queue

  • Steve

    Sweet, totally forgot that Traktor has an automix capability, will be handy next time I have to pee during a set. Wouldn’t use this at the end of the night though, once the crowd is packing the floor.