on December 23, 2015
I have purchased 2 of these. The first one I purchased about 1 month before I picked up the second. Before I get to far into the review, a couple things you'll need to know:
1. This controller is designed to be used with STEM files and/or remix decks. Think of it like a vinyl turntable or a CD DJ turntable, except for use with STEMS and Traktor Remix decks. It can work with regular tracks, but functionality is limited. I'll go into more detail further on. If you don't plan on using Remix decks or Stem files, then this is probably not the controller you are looking for.
2. This controller does need a bit more overhead as far as processing power. Originally I was using a laptop for DJing, When I added the first D2 to my rig, the screen wasn't sharp(screen was fuzzy/ had some graphical artifacts, nothing major) and I started having issues with sound skipping when I changed effects. I replaced my laptop with a low end tower PC and the problems went away. If you are using a laptop, be warned, you may need to upgrade...
Now onto the review.
This controller is GREAT for it's intended purpose. When you load up a stem file, the screen will display the individual waveforms for the individual pieces of the track. This is great for seeing when parts come in and out of a track and make it easy to plan for mix in/mix out points. With the 4 sliders you can even introduce elements at your own pace. For a remix deck, you will see the names of 8 loops/one shots at a time(They line up with the performance buttons below) and the waveform of the currently selected/playing sample. You can scroll through the remix deck pages by pressing the center 2 buttons on the right of the screen. The knobs above the sliders and below the screen allow for control of filter for each individual lane, or the FX send percentage for each lane. That's right, you can control which parts of a stem/remix deck you apply effects to. The knobs at the top and buttons of the unit are FX controls, so turning them on/off, dry/wet control, and effect strength.
*Note* for a regular track, the filter/FX send knobs and buttons and sliders below the screen will not do anything. You may be able to remap them for that specific situation, but I have not personally tried that.
All of the sliders and knobs are touch sensitive and will change what the display shows you. If you have your hand on an effects knob, it will show you all the effects you currently have setup, whether they are on or off, and what value they are currently at. This is great for performances as you don't have to take your eyes off the controller while manipulating effects and such, you can keep your eyes on your controller and stay focused with what you are doing.
The controller will control one side of your decks with ease, IE. Decks A + C or B + D. You can switch sides, Deck A to B, but it will take a second or 2 for the controller display to update fully. However, switching decks on the same side is rapid with no delay. On top of that, you can track what is going on for both decks on the same side with the simple press of a button. So if you have a regular track on deck A and a remix deck on C, you can keep focus on the remix deck, while seeing how far you are in the song playing in Deck A and vice versa. You can also use the controller to browse through your music collection and load up tracks. Essentially with this unit, you almost don't need a computer screen!
The touch 'Stripe' below the performance pads has a couple different functions. It can be used as a needle drop while pressing down on the shift button, allowing you to quickly get to points on the track, as a nudge, for beatmatching, and while a track isn't playing, you 'can' scratch with it. I say can, because it is possible, but obviously nothing like a jog wheel. So would take a bit of practice if you wanted to use it in that way. Above the touch stripe, is a row of lights that will tell you different things based on the situation. If you are looking to do a needle drop, it will show you where the 'needle' currently is in regards to the whole track. For beatmaching, if you have beatgrids properly setup for the songs you are playing, it will show you how far off beat the track is in comparison to the track that is currently playing. If it is the master track it will give you a cue to where you are in the track.
The performance pads for a regular track or a stem track will function as cue points. You can have up to 8 cue points set for any given track, which should be more than enough for most purposes. If you have a cue point set, the pad will be blue, if not, it will not be lit. The first pad on the top left will be colored white as the first cue point and the 'start' of the track as far as Traktor is concerned.
Each unit will come with it's own power supply adapter, but also comes with a power splitter, so you can power 2 of these off of one power block so you don't use up too much space on a power strip. Each unit also has 2 usb ports on the back. For my setup i was able to daisy chain the USB hookups so I only used one USB slot on my computer. Another use for the USB ports is for flash drives/external hard drives. Any music on the USB device will show up in your Traktor's browser. This is handy if you keep your music for sets off the computer's main hard drive, or you have other people using your equipment, they can just load up a flash drive and pop it in when it is their turn to play. These are not however good for any high bandwidth use though, like plugging in another USB controller other than a D2, or possibly X1, F1, or Z1(I don't have any of these so can't say for sure). The USB ports aren't particularly fast, so if you use them, try it out before a performance. This unit does NOT have an audio interface, so you will still need that or a controller/mixer that offers that.
This unit is Expensive, 2 of these are close to the same price as an S8... But if you are like me, I still wanted a controller with jog wheels. These are a great accessory controller to add to your rig if you are looking to get into STEMs and to a lesser extent Remix decks and your current setup doesn't already have that functionality.
Regardless of price, I still love these units. I have been playing around with the first unit for about 1 and a half months and the second unit for about a week now and I'm still discovering new ways to use them. The picture I attached shows the size of these next to an S4 MK II so you can get some idea of scale, they were bigger than I originally thought, This also comes with the FULL version of Traktor Pro 2(product keys for download), so if you don't already have it, you will after you buy the unit. I look forward to all the options these will add to my sets, and already can barely pull myself away from playing with them!