Traktor Kontrol S8: What We Know

A few weeks ago the DJ community got all worked up over some leaked images on an Amazon store of a new Native Instruments controller for Traktor called the Kontrol S8.  It sparked a lot of discussion, ranging from excitement to vitriol, but that’s just how the internet works.  NI hosted a private, exclusive party in Ibiza, for some reason not inviting us, to get opinions on the Kontrol S8 and how much of a game changer it is.  Unsurprisingly, they think it pretty much changes everything.  Unfortunately neither the video nor the press release provide us with any real information, but let’s just get to what they gave us.

Native Instruments reveals new TRAKTOR KONTROL S8 all-in-one DJ system

New video shares a first look at the forthcoming state-of-the-art TRAKTOR controller featuring renowned artists’ first reactions

Berlin, September 22, 2014 – Native Instruments today reveals its new flagship all-in-one DJ controller – TRAKTOR KONTROL S8. Shot on location in Ibiza, a new video features high profile artists offering their first impressions of TRAKTOR KONTROL S8 and serves as an enticing preview of the cutting-edge DJ controller.

Since the advent of digital audio, new technology has been a driving force in stimulating creativity in DJs and has challenged the limitations of previous mediums – transforming the art of DJing at an accelerated pace. Driven by this very spirit of creativity through innovation since first released in 2001, TRAKTOR again introduces inspiring new technology designed for the next generation of DJing.

TRAKTOR DJing software and hardware have successfully merged elements of live improvisation and DJ performance – redefining what it means to DJ. Empowering DJs to create their own signature style is what consistently fuels the TRAKTOR vision of digital DJing – and is the foundation of TRAKTOR KONTROL S8.

Full details to come soon.

Kontrol S8 — Game Changing?

The sentiment of the release and the video is that the S8 will change everything (just like everything else).  We don’t have a lot of official information to pass on, but combining this video with the leaked S8 images from Amazon we can at least piece together the core ideas.  The video does show those screens in action, at least momentarily, and from what we can see they look great but we won’t be able to judge before they are in front of us.  The idea, though, is to get away from the laptop and focus on the gear.  We have spent some time playing with the Numark NV, and I have spent a lot of time in front of all-in-one controllers like the SCS4, so we know what is needed to really give up the laptop as a whole.  And, honestly, it’s hard.  I’d actually be interested in putting aside the laptop, but replacing it with a remote app on my iPad for at least a little extra screen real estate.

The hardware, judging from the leaked pictures, is pretty straight forward.  It reminds me a lot of the ideas behind the Xone 4D, but taken to their logical conclusion, tied directly into Traktor.  While there are no jog wheels I can’t really see that being a huge issue, since I’m sure there’s an audio interface in there that will be Traktor Scratch Ready.  And then, really, it’s just a big mixer with some awesome deck and remix deck controls and beautiful screens.  This is probably the beginning of a steady trend with NI gear, with the Maschine Studio and the Kontrol S keyboards, and it will probably be included in all of their equipment.

The piece of this story that has me the most excited is the piece we know nothing about: software integration.  The hardware will be great, I’m sure, and hold up to NI’s already high standards for DJ gear, but their strength has always been their hooks in the software.  I’ve been very critical of that integration over the years, but considering this release will probably be handled very similarly to the S4, we should be seeing features unique to Traktor Pro 3 (or whatever they’ll call it) tied to the S8, and then a full Traktor release sometime in the next 6 months.  Needless to say, that part has me extremely excited.

What Do We Want to Know?

We know that the internet, once again, has not lied to us.  The pictures that were leaked on Amazon a few weeks ago have been shown to be pretty accurate, though we can’t speak to specifics since the video shows so little of the controller.  There are definitely screens, pads, and a mixer.  There are a number of questions still left unanswered, however, by this announcement that we will be keeping our ears to the ground for:

  • We’re assuming a release date will be scheduled before Nov 1, but we have no official word.
  • Will theS8 have access to Traktor DJ features that haven’t made it into Traktor Pro, like Freeze?
    • There is a Freeze button on the leaked pictures, so will it work with Traktor DJ?
  • Will it have a USB hub to further solidify the modular structure that NI has been pushing for Traktor?
  • Price?
  • What extra features will this be bringing to Traktor Pro 3?

Hopefully we get these answers soon, not to mention a few Kontrol S8’s to pass around to our guys and all have a go at it.  As a pretty loyal Traktor user, I can definitely see myself getting some pretty heavy use out of a piece of gear like this, but that will be for after the review.

Over To You

Now that we can open up a conversation about the Kontrol S8, what are your feelings about it? Are you ready for no jogs and no real pitch? Has NI managed to make sense of the remix decks or just made your DJ life more complex? Is this #TheFutureOfMusic or is NI generating a buzz and creating a niche in which to put an überkontroller?

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