Monthly Archive for November, 2012

Face-lifted Technics 1200s and NI Traktor Kontrol Z2

I may not have mentioned it before, but Lufthansa destroyed my Technics 1200s on the return flight (business) back here from my last proper visit to Australia. Since then they have been sitting around for the last year in their flight cases in the same broken state. I couldn’t actually bring myself to fixing them as I was so upset that the turntables I have owned since I was a teenager were rendered unusable, and the  phoney insurance that Lufthansa has was refusing to cover the damage they did. Apparently, you are meant to check your belongings before leaving the airport, yes, that even covers electronics. So before you leave, you know, get out all your stuff, find a powerpoint and ensure that you are leaving with everything in working order.

Anyway, I am over that now, so I decided I needed a new project, nothing too killer, but something that would keep me busy for a bit of the colder season – and the turntables were the perfect project. The end result being something that I could once again use and have fun with…..over winter and for many more winters to come. I first had to determine what was broken and what wasn’t, this meant pulling them apart, piece by piece, and checking the components, both from an outward appearance as well as electronically. After labelling and boxing all the good components up to keep track for the rebuild, I went about getting all the new parts I needed. At the same time, I thought ‘why not give these puppies a new lease on life’ so instead of just replacing with the relevant Technics 1200 MK2 part, I would check for compatibility and replace with a different part from a later model 1200 that might have better features – such as the on/off switch, which has com from a Technics 1200 MK5. I then sent the deckplates in for professional painting because let’s admit it, even though I have loved these turntables for many, many years – they were looking a little rough around the edges.

Just this week I was wondering when I would hear back from the paintshop to let me know they were ready, and what do you know, they called. The decks are ready for their stickers, and then the final clearcoat over the lot. I guess you could say I am pretty excited. I am really looking forward to having these things back in working order and having the chance to once again get down on what it is and play them.

That leaves the air hanging with a question though…..aren’t all my records still in Australia? Well yes, yes they are, but never fear since there is such a thing as playing tunes with timecode records. this means that any music you own (well, almost any – remember that huge iTunes library that you legally acquired via iTunes? It is useless because it is DRM protected – you actually do not own the music, you are renting it long-term) can be played via programs such as Traktor Scratch or Serrato Scratch. I have already chosen to use Traktor scratch for  a number of reasons:

  1. Much more purpose built for electronic music
  2. Huge array of effects
  3. More saveable queue points
  4. NI (who makes Traktor) is based in Berlin
  5. A lot less expensive if you want one of the higher end systems
That brings up the all important question, what mixer would you like to go with that Sir? Since I will be playing digital music stored on a laptop via Traktor, it doesn’t make much sense to use a purely analog mxer anymore. I would prefer to use something that could control quite a lot of the operations within Traktor from the hardware itself. I was kicking the idea around of purchasing a Pioneer T1, since it was designed in conjunction with Native Instruments and can do the aforementioned, i.e. control quite a lot of the Traktor operations from the hardware, but it is very expensive for what it is, as well as the fact that I have heard of people having issues with the crossfader. Unless you’ve ever been a DJ, you may not understand, but the most important part of any DJ mixer is the crossfader, and I am not buying into something that will require regular repairs – no way.
Funnily enough, I heard on the grapevine that NI themselves were to be releasing a mixer of their very own in the not-too-distant-future. And they have done just that, the Z2.

Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol Z2 DJ Mixer and Controller

You can catch a teaser video of it here.

The Z2 looks, to all intents and purposes, like a high quality, 2-channel DJ mixer. And, it is. But, aside from providing a means of mixing two audio sources, it is designed (unsurprisingly) to integrate perfectly with Traktor 2.6. This comprehensive set of features makes the Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol Z2 the ideal hub of a DJ rig capable of playing from all major music mediums.

Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol Z2 DJ Mixer and Controller

The Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol Z2 is being dubbed as a 2+2 channel DJ mixer and audio interface. At its core is a premium 2-channel DJ mixer. This is constructed with an aircraft grade aluminium chassis, with a robust build that equips the unit perfectly for pro uses. The two channels have 3-band EQ and individual filters. All knobs are premium units, with accurate, high quality faders by Innofader.

Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol Z2 DJ Mixer and Controller

In terms of inputs, the Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol Z2 has four pairs of RCA inputs, such that the two channels can be switched between phono and line level inputs. A separate ‘booth’ output is equipped via a pair of balanced jack outputs, with main outputs via a choice of RCA connections or balanced XLRs.

So, the Z2 is a top quality DJ mixer. It is also a very high quality controller for Traktor, too. Aside from every controller operating its counterpart with the Traktor software package, the unit has eight brightly lit trigger buttons on either side. These are used to trigger samples from the remix decks within Traktor, or jump to cue points. Ideal for exploring the ‘controllerist’, live remix tendencies in you…

Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol Z2 DJ Mixer and Controller cuepoints

It also comes complete with Traktor Scratch 2.6 software and timecode discs, so that the package is ready to integrate with my existing set-up easily. Built into the unit is a 24-bit audio interface, meaning that it can be used simply as a controller and interface without the need for any decks at all, which although I may not use, is a ‘nice to have’ feature.

So there you have it, this will be the ‘new’ set-up based on very ‘old’ turntables. I’ll take some shots of the decks when I get them back and have put them back together, they should look hot!