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Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S4 review

Andrew Unsworth
4 Oct 2012
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
699
inc VAT

The Traktor Kontrol S4 integrates with Traktor Pro 2.5 extremely well, has excellent jog wheel response and works with external decks - it's a marvellous DJ controller

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Specifications

The Traktor Kontrol S4 is an incredibly versatile DJ MIDI controller that lets you mix and scratch tracks together, loop portions of a track, jump straight to specific part of a track using hot-cue buttons and even control the included Traktor Pro 2.5 software with timecode CDs and vinyl records. Indeed, the Kontrol S4 has enough features to make it the centrepiece of your setup and a replacement for older vinyl and CD-based setups.

Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S4

The Kontrol S4 has many elements, but the most eye-catching is the S4’s uncluttered and incredibly smooth fader area. There’s plenty of space between each fader, which means you can adjust track volumes without accidentally nudging other faders.

The faders are fairly smooth and have quite a heavy resistance. We’d have preferred smoother faders, but you can easily and quickly move them without impediment. Each channel fader has its own peak meter to show you a track’s level visually. The peak meters are pretty accurate and are a valuable and useful feature. With lesser controllers you must look at your software to check levels, which takes your focus away from your hardware. The Kontrol S4’s peak meters let you keep your attention on the job at hand.

Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S4

The Kontrol S4’s crossfader is great for mixing or scratching. There’s quite a bit of friction in comparison to scratch-oriented crossfaders such as Ecler’s Eternal crossfader or the DJM-T1’s crossfader, but we had no problems performing scratch techniques such as crabs and flares.

JOG WHEELS

Modern DJ controllers only need jog wheels to scratch, so if a controller has them they need to be good. Thankfully, the Kontrol S4’s jog wheels are excellent. Because NI manufactures the Traktor software as well as the Kontrol S4, the integration between both is extremely tight. This means that the jog wheels control Traktor using a special protocol rather than the older MIDI protocol, so moving the jog wheel has a near-instantaneous effect on a track.

This responsiveness means you can perform your scratches and beatjuggles naturally without having to compensate for any latency. You can also use the jog wheels to speed up and slow down tracks momentarily to synchronise them, and the very low latency and responsiveness helps here too.

Our only criticism is the size of the jog wheels. Larger jog wheels would let us perform scratches more naturally, but you do soon get used to the size and you can always attach a regular turntable or CDJ to the Kontrol S4 if you want to scratch on a larger platter.

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