Great bit of kit...but could have been excellent!
I had intended on purchasing a Z1 at BPM 2013, but got sidetracked by potential of the MK2 S2, so I put off buying the Z1 until I had weighed up the pro's and con's of each.
After some deliberation, I decided on the Z1, as it's primary function was to use with TraktorDJ on my iPad, plus I came round to the Z1/X1 setup.
Here's what you get in the box:
Kontrol Z1 unit.
USB to 30pin cable (Lightning equipped device owners will need a Lightning to 30 pin adapter)
Registration card (Registering enables you to get Traktor LE and a 50 Euro discount on Traktor Pro).
To give a fair review of this unit, it has to be considered from two perspectives. 1) Using it with an iDevice. 2) Using it with Traktor Pro. Lets look at using it with the iPad first.
So to make use of the Z1 with your iDevice, you will need the following: an iDevice, the TraktorDJ App, a Z1, and if like me, you bought a lightning equipped iDevice, a Lightning to 30 pin adapter. (Note: I did try a USB A to USB B adapter using my Lightning cable into the Z1 and it didn't work).
Plug in the Z1 power cable, plug in the USB to 30 pin connector (for lightning devices, you plug the 30 pin cable into the adapter, then the adapter in the iDevice) into your iDevice, plug in some speakers via the RCA on the Z1 and some headphones into the front of the Z1 (because of the way TraktorDJ works, headphones are really required, but I wouldn't not use them...just in case!).
When you plug the Z1 into your iDevice, you will be asked if you want to allow it to communicate with TraktorDJ...say Yes. TraktorDJ will automatically start and your off and running.
One thing to remember with the Z1 is that it is primarily a mixer, but in the last update to the app, NI did give it basic transport controls.
So what do we have available to us. Well, the main thing is dual output stereo audio, via the 30 pin. That means you have master and PFL audio channels both in stereo - no more splitter cable nonsense!
It also give you full control of each channels Gain, High/Mid/Low EQ's and volume as well as Crossfader, Cue Vol and Cue Mix, Master volume, 7 segment VU indicators, PFL buttons for each deck and two rotary knobs that control the Filters and FX (in the X Axis only), depending on the mode selected, of each deck.
Transport control is simply Play/Pause and is used by holding the MODE button whilst pressing the PFL button for the deck you wish to start/stop. An interesting aside, is that when you press the MODE button, the PFL button lights up for the decks that are playing - nice little touch.
The Z1 does charge your iDevice, but I have found on my iPad with Retina, that, even in Airplane mode, it maintains the charge level, it doesn't add to it. i.e if my charge is 90% when I plug the device in, it maintains the charge level at 90%.
What's it like with Traktor Pro...that is a very simple one to answer - It's plug and play (make sure you have the latest version though). It is a mixer when used with TP2...oh and the Filter/FX knobs only control the Filters in TP2. The basic transport controls (holding down MODE whilst pressing a decks PFL button) do work in TP2, but really you will need an additional controller, such as the X1 (which is what I will be ordering).
For me, the Z1/X1 combination is the ideal portable setup for Traktor Pro 2, as it gives you a mixer with soundcard and a control surface in two very cost effective units that have a small footprint.
There are always going to be things that I would like any device to have, and the Z1 is no exception. For me, I would have liked the unit to have two Play/Pause buttons, one each side of the crossfader, as well as a touch sensitive rotary encoder (as used on the X1 Mk2) that would allow me to browse tracks on my iPad, then load the selected track using the PFL buttons. Also, and this could be done in software, have the Filter/FX knobs control pitch bending (state would be something like Filter OFF/FX OFF, MODE button pressed, turn anti-clockwise to Push, clockwise to Pull).
Overall though it's a great piece of kit, that will form the basis of your modular, multi-platform system. I understand why NI stopped short of giving it features, such as I have mentioned above, as this would have given it a strange place in the product line-up...but would have made it a must have.
One last point, regarding the cases available. It looks like only the unit fits into the bags, so you'll still have to find something to put the cables and powerpack in.