The Traktor Kontrol S4 MK2 is Native Instruments’ flagship 4-channel DJ controller that could open up a wide range of new possibilities for many DJs. It is the second iteration of the very successful Traktor Kontrol S4 Native Instruments released three years before it. This controller expands on the strengths of its predecessor and offers one of the best options in its class.
The Traktor software that the controllers have been designed for has significantly evolved since the first iteration was released and the second generation model has been upgraded so it would take advantage of all of them.
The first thing to assess when looking at a piece of equipment is usually its look and feel. In the case of the Traktor Kontrol S4 MK2 the build quality is great and the controller is a pleasure both to work with and to look at. One of the most important pieces of the puzzle here are the spinner jog wheels with their aircraft-grade aluminum face plates which handle very well as long as you are used to or ready to get used to their dimensions.
All the knobs, faders, buttons and pads handle smoothly and the layout is comfortable and easy to get accustomed to. The new RGB lit buttons are a welcome addition as they both feel and look great. The metal body feels pleasantly sturdy and keeping in mind Native Instruments’ track record, it should be very durable. Pair this with the relatively compact dimensions for a controller with 4 stereo channels and you get a piece of equipment that would be very suitable for lugging around to all kinds of gigs and would fit nicely in most DJ booths.
Of course, getting a case would be advisable as you would not be able to fit it into a regular-sized laptop bag like you could do with its smaller dual channel sibling – the S2.
Here is a quick video tutorial to show you how the Traktor Kontrol S4 MK2 works.
If you are getting a digital controller, one of the most important aspects of it would be the level of control it is actually going to provide you when you are DJing digitally, so the functions and options provided by the physical device and its software are of crucial importance. Starting with the mixer, the Traktor Kontrol S4 MK2 provides 4 stereo channels with three multi-band equalizer knob and an integrated filter knob each which provide a lot of control and possibilities. The high-definition jog wheels are precise and responsive and can be operated with a lot of flexibility depending on your current needs, including a great scratch mode.
On top of this, the controller comes with extremely functional Remix Decks that double as Track Decks with a nice loop recording function and pads to trigger tracks or actions. You can make full-blown remixes using the functionality and many DJs would use this to craft themed mixes and reuse classic drops over and over.
Despite the fact that the most advanced users might find the controls available a bit limited and might want to pair the Traktor with an additional assignable controller to be able to engage with a larger portion of the functionality available at the software level, most DJs will find exactly what they need already available. The onboard deck control could be used to trigger 8 different tracks without having to switch decks which would be more than enough in most regular DJing situations.
Another welcome addition is the Flux Mode button that opens the door to a more dynamic style of mixing that required using an additional midi controller or resorting to tweaking things from the software’s interface. The buttons are located quite conveniently right next to the jog-wheels. Besides the Flux Mode, the Preview button also got a bit of an overhaul which made using it less fidgety and confusing compared to the old version and adding some new options.
Inputs, Outputs and Sound
The S4 MK2 offers great sound quality and features Native Instruments’ renowned 24-bit/96kHz audio interface that provides both great sound quality and output levels. Keep in mind that there are two ways to power the controller – direct and over USB – and when you resort to the latter the quality of the sound might suffer due to insufficient power. This may lead to a bit of buzz in your outputs and dimmer lights, so if you are going to use this controller in any professional situation, you shouldn’t count on powering it over USB. Despite this small caveat, when drawing juice from a dedicated power supply, the Traktor handles and sounds great.
This nice piece of DJing equipment comes with a number of inputs and outputs that would allow it to function quite nicely both at home and at a real DJing situation. You have both TRS and RCA outputs, headphones output and have two additional audio inputs including a gain-adjusted one for a microphone. On top of this, the Traktor Kontrol S4 MK2 has MIDI in and out which would allow you to sync it to external synthesizers, sequencers, drum machines or external effects which could add a whole new layer to your DJ performances.
The Traktor Kontrol S4 MK2 is a powerful and versatile DJ Controller that can compete at the highest level. It has everything or most of the things a DJ would expect from a device like that, offers great build and sound quality and comes with great software that doesn’t require additional payments.