Kontrol S8: A Follow up with Native Instruments

NI Kontrol S8

We here at DJWORX pride ourselves on getting you, the reader, the DJ, all of the answers on new gear and software.  We try to guess at your questions and make sure we find the answers before you can ask them.  Usually, though, that requires us to have the gear in our hands to test out.  When we have a product like the Kontrol S8 that gets announced, every DJ has questions, and we can’t answer them until we get our hands on it and give it a serious run through.  But that doesn’t alleviate the questions you all have now.  So, we compiled a bunch from the comment threads and sent them over to NI directly.  Here are the answers we got.

Will the S8 APIs be open to third parties?  Will other manufacturers be able to use the screens and RGB LEDs?

There is currently no API available for the S8. Currently, MIDI Mode is the only way for third-party control from S8—this does not include control of the screens, but third parties can control the RGB LEDs in the same way as on the Traktor Kontrol F1, S4 MK2, and S2 MK2.

Will there be available MIDI Controller functionality while in stand-alone mode?

This is not possible because it is the NIHardwareService that performs all MIDI translations. The S8 hardware (and all of the TRAKTOR controllers) do not speak MIDI natively. Instead, they speak something we call “NHL” which is similar to HID. The purpose of the NIHardwareService running on the computer is to take the NHL data from the controller and either pass it on to the NI software (thus giving high-resolution control in the software) or re-interpret the NHL data and output MIDI to virtual MIDI ports in the operating system. So, when you enable MIDI Mode on the TRAKTOR controllers, you’re actually flipping a switch in the NIHardwareService that causes it to start converting NHL to MIDI. There is no in-built feature like this in the controllers’ firmware.

Are the filters on the mixer available when in stand-alone mode?  If so, are they the same filters as the Z2 or have they been improved?

Yes, they are available in standalone mode, and they are the same filter model as Z2.

How are the mic inputs routed to the mixer?  I can see the Mic 1 and 2 buttons under the Master Knob, but I can’t see how they hit different channels.  If I activate a mic do I get to control it with EQ, or do I need to route it through a virtual Traktor deck?

This is a two-part answer as the MIC buttons have two functions.

  • When you press and release a MIC button, it toggles the associated Mic Input (on the rear panel) on and off. The Mic will end up overriding the input on one of the mixer channels, meaning the mic will be controllable with the mixer channel including the Gain, EQ, Filter, Channel Volume, and Crossfader controls.
  • When you press and HOLD the MIC button, you can then change the channel assignment for the Mic. When you power-on the unit, MIC 1 is set to Channel C and MIC 2 is set to Channel D by default. If you hold MIC 1, you can then press the TRAKTOR Button to assign it to that channel—the valid assignments will be dim green. The TRAKTOR button that is off indicates that the other Mic is already assigned to that channel.

This system works in both standalone and in TRAKTOR modes. In standalone mode, the Mic will override the analog input of the channel (the Phono/Line input on the back panel). When in TRAKTOR mode, the Mic will cause the associated Deck to automatically switch to Live Input Deck, meaning that the Mic will go through TRAKTOR’s mixer including Gain, EQ, Filter, FX, Channel Volume, Crossfader, and also the Mix Recorder.

Turning the Mic off will cause the Deck to flip back to its previous flavor.

So those are the questions we have gotten thus far, and gotten answers on.  If you have more (serious) questions please don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments, and once we have a few I’ll send them over.  We’ll keep this article updated with whatever information NI will provide.