I've been lucky to be able to see some incredible DJ performances lately on Richie Hawtin's CNTRL Tour that featured Roland's AIRA TR-8 and Traktor. Using the TR-8 in a live performance looked pretty exciting, so after the shows I did some further research and learned to sync the two together. The TR-8 can add a new level of performance to DJ sets and gives users the ability to improvise and add percussion in real time. The good news is, it's fairly simply to sync the two together. Ready to get set up?
Here's what you'll need:
- Native Instruments Traktor Software
- A Roland TR-8
- A MIDI Interface (this could be the Audio 10)
- A MIDI or USB cable
To sync the TR-8 together with Traktor, you'll need to send a MIDI clock sync signal in Traktor to the TR-8. Start by connecting the Roland TR-8 to your computer by USB. Alternatively, you can connect it via MIDI to the MIDI Interface you are using (e.g., the Audio 10).
Set Up a Generic MIDI Device
In order to send MIDI Clock signal from Traktor, you will need to create a Generic MIDI Device in Traktor's Controller Manager.
Open Traktor's Preferences and then click on the Controller Manager.
In the Device section, click on Add then click Generic MIDI.
Setting Up the In/Out Ports
Set the In-Port to None and the Out-Port to the TR-8. The TR-8 should show up immediately in the list of devices if it is connected properly.
Sending MIDI Clock Signal
In Traktor's Preferences, navigate to the MIDI Clock panel and check the tick box next to Send MIDI Clock. Close the Preferences.
In the upper-left hand side of Traktor (the Global Section), click on the Metronome icon to open the Master Clock panel. If the Master Clock section is not visible, open the Preferences, navigate to the Global Settings and tick the box next to Show Global Section.
Activate the MIDI Clock Signal by pressing the Play/Pause button under the Send button. If you've followed the steps above, the TR-8 should start to play automatically when the Play/Pause button is pressed. Press the Play/Pause button again to stop the TR-8.
Loading Up a Track and Playing
Load up a track in Traktor, then press the Play/Pause button to start the TR-8. It should run perfectly in sync with your track!
Improvising with the TR-8
The possibilities for live performance with the TR-8 are really quite endless. If you're just getting started with incorporating the TR-8 into a DJ set, you could use it for some very simple percussive additions, such as claps, hi-hats, and toms. In a live performance, you'll likely want to use the TR-8 's Reverb and Delay to add effects to your drums.
Set Up for a Performance
To set up the TR-8 in a club, you'll need to connect the outputs of the TR-8 to the inputs (or auxiliary inputs) on a DJ mixer, or the inputs of a traditional mixer. Try to arrive a little early for sound check as you'll want to ensure there's a good balance between your tracks in your collection and the live drums from the TR-8. Prepare a few drum patterns in advance and make sure you take some time to prepare for the performance with your new setup. With a little practice, you'll be able to create magical sounding sets with Roland's TR-8 and Traktor.