I accept that in the internet age, the English language is an abused resource, and at the same time an ever-evolving fluid device. But there’s one thing that makes me shudder, and that’s the random use of the word “hack”. To me a hack is tampering with something to make it do what it shouldn’t, generally in a computer sense. But a recipe is not a hack. New ways of wearing hats are not hacks. These are ideas.

So please forgive the clickbait tactic of using “hack” in the headline. But in this instance, it’s the correct context.

Think all the way back to 2014. It was the year of the built-in screen. At first there was the Numark NV with Serato, but Traktor wasn’t far behind with the Kontrol S8 and its tight browser and deck mirroring with the Traktor Scratch Pro 2 software.

Four years later, NI followed up with the Kontrol S4 Mk3, which returned jog wheels to their spot on the controller, and relegated the screens to a smaller space to make room. For a lot of people, this felt a bit of a step back, mainly due to the complete lack of on-controller browser view, but also because of the much smaller screen.

But Traktor is nothing if not hackable, including the controller screen layouts. With this in mind, Traktor fan Joe Easton set about bending the small screen real estate to his will, adding information like the phase meters, scrolling wave forms, jog wheel LED track end warning, and yes… on-controller playlist browsing. It’s a near-total overhaul, maximising what information those screens provide.

Traktor Kontrol S4 MK3 screen hack (1)

The biggest change is the return of scrolling waveforms and a browser view, but there’s also a phase meter as well as Camelot key information, and platter LED feedback similar to CDJs.

Probably one of the most useful things about this mod is that it’s non-destructive. You can roll back to the original setup with a simple folder renaming. And inside the folder is a settings file, which gives you customisable options for how the display is used.

I mean, just look at this list of features…

  • Tempo Display – including colour change when tempo is at 0%
  • Artist Display when holding shift
  • Sync Display – BPM box will turn green when sync is enabled
  • Waveform – size has been increased and colours have been changed to allow you to easily determine lows, mids and highs (similar to spectrum)
  • Background Header colour – The screen header background will change colour depending on which deck is selected
  • Phase Meter
  • BPM box displays as red to indicate deck BPM does not match master BPM
  • BPM box now as a dim green when BPM is within 0.05 of the master BPM or if sync is enabled
  • BPM box now displays as bright green to indicate which deck is the master
  • Tempo box now displays as a dim blue when tempo is not within +/- 0.05%
  • Key lock indicator visible as black dot
  • Key box now displays key changes (when applicable, to 0dp) A feature that has since been added in the new Traktor beta!
  • Loop box now flashes when the deck is in an active loop
  • Phase meter size increase
  • Phase meter precision increase
  • Waveform flashing when track end warning enabled
  • Version displayed by holding shift on empty track deck.
  • Settings file added (located at: qml/Screens/Defines/Settings.qml)
  • Customisable waveform colours (editable in settings)
  • Camelot Key (toggleable in settings)
  • BPM box now displays Master BPM or BPM difference when holding shift (toggleable in settings)
  • When holding shift the BPM box will turn green when the deck BPM matches the master
  • Tempo fader now enabled when holding shift to allow you to match the BPM using the BPM difference function (this setting changes the function of the controller, if needed, I can set this to toggleable in settings)
  • Elapsed time now added (disabled by default and toggleable in settings)
  • Non selected time setting displayed when holding shift
  • Waveform track end warning now toggleable in settings (enabled by default)
  • Active loop flashing colour now toggleable (in settings)
  • Change the LED and artist/title box colour for each deck
  • Change the LED colour of each mixer FX and filter
  • Change the colour of the phase meter for each deck
  • Setting to toggle tempo being enabled when holding shift now available
  • Waveform colour for each deck can now be modified in the settings file
  • Option in settings to display additional info in tempo box when holding shift
  • Option in settings to show the pitch fader range when holding shift
  • Option in settings to show the tempo change needed to match the master decks BPM when holding shift
  • Browser added – including header and footer showing browser information (artist data displayed by holding shift)
  • Moving Waveforms added
  • Option in settings to change browser font size
  • Option in settings to chance waveform zoom
  • Option in settings to hide stripe (small waveform)
  • Beats box added
  • Option in settings to alternate beats box values
  • Added colour coded track/artist text in browser (red = not analysed, yellow = already played, green = loaded to deck)
  • Added colour coded BPM text in browser (red = not analysed, yellow = over higher % value, green, within lower % value. (% percentage values are determined in the settings file, default value for green is 3%, default value for yellow is 12%) (I think)

There’s also a constant cycle of updates, with the latest releases launching on Joe’s Patreon page, with a view to releasing older versions more publicly as time goes on. Here’s what was in v1.2:

  • Added Browser header (Browser tree information and deck letter).
  • Added Browser footer (Sort info, preview player and track number).
  • Colour Coded artist/title text in browser (green for loaded to deck, yellow for previously played, red for not analysed/no BPM and white for everything else).
  • Colour Coded BPM text in browser (green for within 3% of the master deck’s BPM, yellow for over 12% from master BPM, red for no BPM and white for everything else).
  • Colour BPM text toggle-able in settings.
  • Green and red BPM text values are modifiable in settings.
  • Browser font size option added to settings.
  • Option to not show artist info in browser whilst holding shift now in settings.
  • Beatgrids have been fixed.
  • Option to hide stripe when in full waveform mode now in settings.

With the mod now hovering on 1.3, there’s still more to be done.

Traktor Kontrol S4 MK3 screen hack (2)

What I’d like to see

I think the biggest thing missing from the mod is a specific ‘beatmatch’ mode, which has all the mixing aids disabled in one go. Right now, elements like the phase meter and BPM can’t be completely hidden. If the settings file was as flexible as Traktor itself, you could set it up for purist mixing. I’d like to see this as a separate settings file you can just quickly swap out.

Want to find out more about the development? Check out Joe’s Github page, or the official NI forums post.


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