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A Mixer, A Soundcard, A Controller: NI Traktor Kontrol Z2, Examined

No Comments 7 October 2012

A Mixer, A Soundcard, A Controller: NI Traktor Kontrol Z2, Examined

Native Instruments is continuing their hardware attack with a new device that combines three tools: controller, mixer, audio interface.

Those knobs and faders control software, as an integrated controller for Traktor, but internally, the Kontrol Z2 is also a mixer and computer soundcard. It’s geared primarily for Traktor users, of course, but with pricing under a grand and support for MIDI and audio with any software, it’ll be interesting to see if this sort of all-in-one design appeals to users of other DJ and performance tools.

The Z2 is unique in that it’s a 2+2 mixer. It’s not the first combined mixer/soundcard/controller, but the 2+2 configuration, and resulting price and size, may be a bit easier for a range of users to accommodate.

You can also compare NI’s offerings with Serato’s own, also announced this week. Serato/Pioneer give you four channels instead of two, and more deck controls – but that means larger, pricier hardware. And unlike Serato DJ, Traktor Pro will still work even if you don’t connect special, compatible hardware. So, while NI invests in integrated hardware, they don’t force you to use it.

By being both a mixer and a controller, says NI, the Z2 hardware allows you to mix analog and digital DJ techniques. They describe it as a “hub.” Other sound cards and mixers would do the same, to be sure, but here you get one that’s fully integrated with Traktor. And that means it could be time to clear the dust off some old decks or CDJs, with Traktor and the integrated controller handling the fancier computer DJ capabilities.

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