Flashback to a simpler time, before plagues, and crazy politicians. September 2019, to be exact. We talked about screens on controllers, and, more specifically, how Traktor is missing a trick as far as functionality goes. The Traktor Kontrol S4 Mk3’s tiny screens were singled out as a missed opportunity. At the time, Traktor fan Joe Easton was working on extending the screen functionality and had just hit version 1.3.
Since then, Joe has kept up his work, as well as keeping in touch directly with Native Instruments about the project, and has just released version 2.0:
Browser can now be opened on a single deck by using the ‘view’ button
Full screen browser now opens using the ‘add to prep list’ button and is closed again using the ‘view’ button
‘Add to prep list’ button functions as normal with the full screen browser
Browser is now closed when loading a track
When full screen browser is opened, the lest screen with show the track list and the right screen will show the detailed track info as well as the album art
Arguably, Joe has been effectively doing NI’s work for them, making the S4’s screens work how they should have out of the box. Somehow, it feels a bit systemic of the issues Traktor is currently facing, and it saddens me. I’ve spent most of two decades as a Traktor user, and couldn’t imagine using anything else, which is why I’d also say that these sort of projects are part of what makes Traktor so great. You just don’t get this sort of customisability with any of the other DJ apps.
The project’s biggest hurdle is that it is working with very little screen real estate, limiting what can actually be displayed. Joe has mitigated this by adding contextual UI, like the browser, and making it aware of which deck layer is active. When you switch from deck A to deck C, turn on the browser, then switch back, it remembers which deck has the browser up.
This all pushes me to a certain conclusion: While the Traktor software has its issues, the real problems currently lie on the hardware side. Very little has been made of the haptic tech and clever jogs, those screens are just offensive honestly, and the S3 is just an odd product decision… almost an over-reaction to the whole mouth-frothing “OE NOES WHERE DE JOGZ?!” from the previous generation.
I am aware that there’s still a future for the software though, and if things pan out, it could signal a return to form for the product.
How would you like the screens on controllers to be used? Is there anything you think is missing from the functionality?