We all knew they were coming, and when, and to some degree due to leaks, what. but today, NI has officially announced their updated Traktor Kontrol S2 and Kontrol S4 controllers. The key word here is “update”, something we’ll address later. First watch the dual demo from Mad Zach.
Here’s the official word from NI
Native Instruments announces updated TRAKTOR KONTROL S4 and S2 DJ systems, now also TRAKTOR DJ compatible
Berlin, September 12, 2013 – Native Instruments today announced new versions of both the industry-leading 4-channel DJ system TRAKTOR KONTROL S4 and its 2-channel counterpart, TRAKTOR KONTROL S2. The KONTROL S4 and S2 perfectly combine a premium DJ mixing interface, built-in 24 bit/96 kHz soundcard, and an intuitive interface into a powerful all-in-one DJ system engineered for seamless control of TRAKTOR software. Both units now offer an improved look and feel with added control over the latest TRAKTOR PRO 2 features. Furthermore, both the KONTROL S4 and S2 are now plug-and-play with TRAKTOR DJ – the world’s most successful DJ app for iPad and iPhone.
Trusted by countless professional DJs for its unparalleled creative possibilities and supreme work flow, TRAKTOR KONTROL S4 now features a sleek new design with 8 color-coded RGB buttons that trigger and identify loops, cue points, and samples for improved visual feedback. Also upgraded are high resolution jog-wheels which now feature aircraft-grade aluminum plates for increased durability and performance. The advanced Flux Mode feature is now instantly accessible on the KONTROL S4 and S2 via dedicated buttons on each deck, while TRAKTOR PRO 2’s Remix Decks controls can now be accessed directly from the units.
Built to the same professional standards as the TRAKTOR KONTROL S4, the KONTROL S2 has also been redesigned with RGB backlit buttons, reinforced knobs, and high-res jog wheels also with new aluminum plates. In addition to offering all core TRAKTOR PRO 2 controls, the KONTROL S2 is now plug-and-play with TRAKTOR DJ, delivering physical control for every function including cue points and Freeze Mode and thus yet again redefining on how to embrace integration between hard- and software. Its compact size, robust build, and innate TRAKTOR DJ integration make TRAKTOR KONTROL S2 the ideal choice for iOS-based DJ setups.
Both TRAKTOR KONTROL S4 and S2 include a full version of the flagship TRAKTOR PRO 2 with Remix Decks® software, opening up a wealth of creative possibilities. TRAKTOR PRO 2 offers powerful cue, loop, and sampling functions, a suite of over 30 effects, pro-grade EQs, and fluid playback control of up to 4 decks. DJs can instantly add live editing and sampling to their sets with the use of TRAKTOR’s Remix Decks. Eight Remix Deck slots can hold a total of up to 64 loops or one-shot samples and ready-made Remix Sets from renowned artists are available for instant use.
TRAKTOR KONTROL S4 and S2 also now boast flawless integration with the revolutionary TRAKTOR DJ app for iPad and iPhone. With a 2-channel mixer, 3-band equalizers, and eight professional effects, TRAKTOR DJ brings the quality of TRAKTOR PRO software to the compact and tactile iOS platform. Both units charge connected iOS devices when in use.
A video, in which controllerist Mad Zach performs a spectacular routine on both TRAKTOR KONTROL S4 and S2 with TRAKTOR PRO 2 and TRAKTOR DJ, is available on YouTube at:
TRAKTOR KONTROL S4 will be available at retailers worldwide and at the NI Online Shop for $799 / 799 € / 83,800 ¥.
TRAKTOR KONTROL S2 will be available at retailers worldwide and at the NI Online Shop for $499 / 499 € / 52,800 ¥.
So that’s a tidy update (not Mk2 you understand) to the existing models to incorporate the latest (Traktor DJ) and greatest (remix decks, flux mode etc) into their controller offerings. I know for a fact that… well I can feel a disturbance in the DJ force, as if a million voices all cried “is that it?”, which brings me to a little section I like to call…
Evolution vs Revolution
I did want to write an entire piece on this, and may still do so. But let’s address the undoubted of wave of meh that’s heading in the general direction of Berlin.
The DJ industry has been deluged with wave after wave of new tech — some good, some not so, but there has definitely been a seemingly unceasing wave of new stuff hitting us at a breathtaking pace. But the fledgling digital age has matured to a point where all the unpolished new controls and techniques that have been liberally shoehorned into the wave of new controllers need to be honed and polished. The revolution is over people, and it’s time for some natural selection to take place.
Let’s take the Kontrol S2 as an example. It’s clear that this is the Traktor DJ unit. Yes, it can be plugged into a laptop running full fat Traktor, but you simply don’t need to anymore. For a great many DJs, the capacity and capability of an iPad is more than enough to DJ with. To put this into context — bar the internal storage, the iPad is an extremely powerful computer, but it just doesn’t have a keyboard. In this day and age, those really are the only 2 distinctions. I’ve happily mixed with an iPhone powering a controller — there really is no technical reason not to, unless you absolutely must have all the music ever made at your disposal.
So the S2 is directly addressing the consumer/prosumer market that is a massive cash cow, and where all the new DJs currently reside. If it’s not for you, then that’s fine. But it is just as valid as using a laptop these days.
The S4 however is where I suspect the most disappointment will lie. As NI’s flagship controller, it doesn’t have the total wow factor that we’ve come to expect from NI. This is exactly what this section is about: Evolution. It is important to remember that the new Kontrol S4 does offer all the features of Traktor Pro 2, but perhaps not in the 4×4 pad and touch strip magic of the modular F1, X1 and Z1 series. But that is rather the point — these units keep the essentials simple, but if you want that advanced level of control, add a modular controller. Most users don’t need the full 16 pad magic. Hell, I suspect that most people don’t even touch remix decks at all.
EXCLUSIVE: In The Flesh
We have seen the new Kontrol S4 in the flesh, as the newly formed NI UK passed through the worxlab. We didn’t see it powered up, but rest assured that this is familiar NI hardware. Everything looks and feels great, the shiny surface isn’t too annoying, and the new wheels look and feel great. One of the original issues of the original S4, namely booth out has been addressed, but without powering it up, we couldn’t quite work out how the rear controls would work. I’m sure that will become apparent.
It’s designed to be precisely the same size as the original, so if you’re an existing user, your investment in bags and cases is safe. Outside of that, it’s hard to comment more without playing.
This is a great update that brings the stellar Kontrol S2 and S4 bang up to date with Traktor’s feature set. I don’t know if this enough of an update to have existing users reaching for eBay. But for new users, this gives them the full Traktor repertoire in a more compact iOS-centric 2 channel format, or a more expansive 4 channel format.
Release is imminent, with prices of $799/€799/¥83,800/£679 for the Kontrol S4, and the Kontrol S2 landing at $499/€499/¥52,800/£429. And you can see it for yourself at the BPM Show 2013 in a couple of days. DJ Shiftee will be on hand doing demo duties.