This winter I found a sweet deal for 2 EKS XP5’s, this summer I scored a sweet deal at Native Instruments for Traktor Pro.
Sure, EKS’ MIDI driven DJ-controllers the XP5 and XP10 have been around for a while, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting them. I’ve been wanting a few of them ever since their release years ago, and recently I was able to buy them for a very nice price! (Thanks, internet.) Last month was Native Instruments’ “kickstart your summer”, which meant I could upgrade my Traktor DJ Studio 3 to Pro for next to nothing. 50% off for LE users, 65% for users of (the full) DJ Studio 1, 2 or 3.
I use my EKS XP5 controllers in two configurations, internal mixing using Traktor Pro and my M-audio X-Session-Pro for mixing and effects, and external mixing using Traktor Pro and a DJ mixer like one of the Pioneer DJM series and a KORG Nanokontrol for effects. Though, I prefer the second set-up; mixing externally, for it’s sound quality (endless debate about this subject, here), the feel of real hardware and the use of the mixer’s own built-in sound-effects. The effects supplied by the mixer itself also make up great for the lack of master effects in Traktor DJ Studio & Traktor Pro. EKS and Traktor Pro supply their one midi-configurations for the EKS XP5 (and XP10) for single or multiple XP controllers, but I prefer using yet another set-up by a Native Instruments forum user called lourma. I then edited the button-layout to match my demands and make it work like it did when I was using it to control Traktor DJ Studio 3.
The wheel to nudge and scratch the track works brilliantly in combination with Traktor’s midi capabilities. Allowing for all kinds of functions to be assigned to it using midi-pages like, effects, setting a high or low sensitivity for slight nudges or a hard backspin, and of course choosing the tracks from your library of music. I set loops using the controller and jump around the tracks using nothing but the XP5’s. Change the pitch, apply effects, it’s all possible combing Traktor Pro and the EKS XP5’s. However, the device does have it’s drawbacks. The buttons are a bit hard. But they don’t take much effort to be pressed, which makes up it. The controller is pretty lightweight, making it a no-go for a DJ who likes to play his or her tunes vigorously. All round it’s a bit on the small and light side of things, making it look less impressive than it really is. And last of all, the supplied USB cables are not the best around, one of them breaking after only a few months of use and only a few gigs where I used them. Not the biggest of issues, but having the cable break in the middle of my performance was very frustrating. (Which taught me the following, A-L-W-A-Y-S bring a spare pair of USB cables type A – B, male – male.)
The last months I’ve been using the XP5 controllers and Traktor many times for practice and gigs and they will be my main weapons of choice the following months during my performances in Japan. For now I can say that the combination of these machines and Traktor DJ Studio (3) or Traktor Pro produces a mixing powerhouse. Traktor has grew a lot in the transition from DJ Studio 3 to Traktor Pro in departments like effects and looks. The layout feels more intuitive and looks more tidy. Though I’d wish for the controllers to be a little bit more big and heavier. Not that I use them heavy-handedly, but because they look so fragile because of it. I’m guessing the Otus made up for this, but I’m not using the Otus, I’m using the way cheaper white XP5, two of em in fact. Which brings me to my final-final thought: Modding it, or building a heavy flight case to make up for the lack of weight. Browsing the web I found out that modding the device isn’t easy, which leaves me with finding or building flight cases for the devices. Anyone know any good ones?