Controller Clinic #2: Traktor Kontrol S2 vs Denon DJ MC3000

Denon DJ MC3000

The Denon DJ MC3000: How does it compare to the Traktor Kontrol S2?

Reader Nhan Nguyen writes: "I am not too sure which controller to settle on. I've considered a few (I wanted the Pioneer ERGO-V but I've concluded it's too much of a toy). So it's now Traktor Kontrol S2 vs Denon DJ MC3000. I've got Traktor Pro 2 so I am only going to use Traktor Pro 2. The Kontrol S2 seems better designed, but the 3000 offers more. Which do you think is better?

Digital DJ Tips says:

They're both good controllers, and your choice is going to depend upon size, feel and features. The Kontrol S2 is bigger and being mainly plastic in construction, lighter than the Denon. It is designed to use Traktor Pro 2 in a certain way - with two decks plus limited use of the sample decks. There's absolutely no way to plug any external backup source into it, so should your computer crash, the music will go silent. Its jogs are high quality, but can't be "spun" (they stop as soon as you take your hand off them).Coming from Native Instruments, it is the best integrated with Traktor Pro 2 out of the two, having its own setup page in TP2's preferences. Unlike the S4, it has a booth output.

The Denon is the best made of the two, in professional steel with the very best quality controls. It is appreciably heavier, and much smaller. While not as cramped as the DN-MC6000, it is not for clumsy fingers. It can control either four decks OR two decks and the sample decks plus loop recorder of Traktor, so it packs in more functionality that the Kontrol S2, but at the expense of a complex workflow. you can plug two external sources in with rudimentary volume mixing but no EQs. It doesn't have a separate booth out.

Traktor Kontrol S2

The Traktor Kontrol S2: Has a booth output, but no external inputs for backup sources.

If you already have Traktor Pro 2, the Denon might be a better bet for you as you are paying for the software again when you buy the Kontrol S2. When you're deciding, weight up where you want to use it, how much space you'll have to set up, how you want to DJ (how important are sample decks? Will you ever want to use external sources, or four decks?) and of course whether you can stomach paying "again" for Traktor Pro 2.

Can you help Nhan to decide? Please feel free to add your advice for him in the comments below.

• Are you finding it hard to decide between two controllers? Try the Controller Clinic! Tell us what type of DJ you are and what's influencing your decision. We'll publish the most interesting questions we receive here. Remember you can also ask in the Digital DJ Gear section of our forum, or on our Facebook Page.

Comments

  1. I’d say, just based on the number of buttons and knobs, that the Denon looks a lot better purchase to me. I’m just looking at it and imagining the mapping possibilities.:)

  2. What about the way that they are powered I thought that the mc3000 needed external power where as the s2 didn’t. Also don’t forget the possibIlity of ean golden’s mapping for the s2 where you turn the jogs into fx controllers. I also think the s2 will probably have a larger user database.

    • People need to start learning how to map for themselves and stop relying on the tech tools mappings.

      • Cybertrash says:

        To be fair, Thomas has a point, a larger userbase will mean more support/mappings, not only from such soruces as DJTT, but also from users.

  3. Mapping the jog wheel FX is simple anyone can do it really.

    The worst part when I did it was getting the outputs (LEDs) working the way I wanted them to.

    Ofcourse there is other combos and “eastereggs” in the DJTT mapping to. Just saying, that jog effects are rather easy to map.

    I think the decition should be based on physical features rather then mappings. Just my opinion though. Pointing towards the Denon…
    However DJTT do a great job! So if you like what they do and want to start playing right away I suppose the S2 would be your pick!

  4. I’d consider the VCI-400, personally.

  5. dj distraction says:

    Just in case you’ll be doing video mixing later, MC3000 is the choice. It works with Virtual DJ.
    I have S4 but recently there is demand for video mixing especially in weddings & mobile DJing events, so, I’m really looking for a decent VDJ controller.
    (C’mon NI, give us those video mix feature!)

    • they rather put another 10 fx or other nonsens in T2 instead of video.

    • just get some vdj program and run it alongside, it does the exact same thing with more featuress

      • dj distraction says:

        Yeah, am using VDJ now, but I need a controller with good sound card.
        So, I’m really interested at MC3000.
        Currently, I’m using Hercules RMX, but I’m routing the sound output (both master & headphone) to Traktor Audio 6. Sounds good but both USB port of MBP are used up, I still USB port for external HDD. Tried using a powered USB hub, but either Traktor freezes or the audio gets distorted.

  6. Scratchaholic says:

    If you’re a scratchaholic like myself I would consider the S4 rather than the S2 or MC 3000. Eliot from innofader told me that NO innobender will be made for the S2, or MC 3000. Due to the crossfaders in both being mounted on the mother board. If you’re a scratcher, you know you’ll eventually break those faders!

    But if you’re not a scratcholic, then I would go for the MC3000. More functions!

  7. First of all, I suppose it is quite hard to compare controllers that belong to the same market segments, but where conceived following different principles. The Pioneer DDJ Ergo-V is an entry level one, it was conceived for total beginners who love getting something quite fancy but it is not a toy, it works quite well. I personally find it a good first step for those who would like to get a cdj later on. It is always a matter of personal needs when it comes to dj gears. First of all, a digital jockey should understand the software that satisfies his mixing style the most. For Example S2 and S4 are come only with Traktor, but some people might prefer Virtual Dj or other programs. The Denon comes with all major softwares and it has a more solid appeal. All Denon products distinguish themselves for this kind of image. The S2 costs around 572 euros, the MC 3000 around 550 they are not that cheap considering that the DDJ ERGO V can be found at 450 euros…It all depends on the dj’s needs, I think it’s quite pointless to say that this controller is better than the other one and so on. The choice of this important tool should depend only on what the user is going to do with it. They are all different!

    • Exactly Jayce, which is the whole point of this series: To point out strengths and weaknesses to help people pick what’s right for them.

      • djTdaddyBarlow says:

        I have a bit of a spinoff question. I have been “bedroom” dj’ing for just under 2 years now and that entire time I have become quite familiar with VDJ. Well a few months ago i bought an S2 however, but of course the S2 only uses Traktor and I knew that going in however I did not realize the softwares would be SOOO different. So I’m considering selling my S2 and getting a MC3000. Is it worth it?

  8. Mappings play an important role these days. S2 might get a slight start advantage in this respect, but the Denon unit will probably catch up and win in the long term, since it has more buttons for creative mappings. Both look solid to me. The only disadvantage I see with the Denon is that you’re not able to add effects to the microphone input or use the mic with the loop recorder. But still, between these two units, I prefer the Denon.

  9. So quick question…How does the MC3000 handle volume levels on decks C & D?

  10. Maybe the price can be a pro for the MC3000. Also the fact of you can use both traktor and VDJ is a must, but for me looking both at same time, the S2 gives me the feeling of a better quality build even if made of plastic… well we can’t have all, but at same time it’s more lighter to carry.

    Missing the booth on MC3000 is not good either, for dj’s that usually streams on i.e. ustream, livestream or even Mixlr having a booth out makes it very easy to setup with.

    I don’t use video mixing, so the perfect integration of traktor with the S2 sounds very good to me.

    Easy to see that my choice is the S2.

    But in the end Nhan, what best fits you from both should be your choice.

  11. PeteDaBeat says:

    @ DJ Distraction (hope he gets to read this) I’ve tried many ways to add USBs to my lappy and theres only 2 that dont mess up audio or traktor. 1 is to find the port replicator for your laptop. 2 is a PCMCIA or Express Card with extra USBs. That worked for 2 DNS12OOs as well as my USB Hard drive, USB midi interface, USB soundcard (yeah I know the Denons have sound built in) Point is all 5 of them wont work with USB hubs even powered. I got them all working using a PCMCIA card on my old Toshiba lappy. When I bought a newer one, I bought the express card with 4 USBs straight off.

    As for a comment for actual subject, I would recommend the Denon. Simply because I’ve bought several products made by them, including the DNSC2000 which is essentially half an MC3000. I have several midi controllers the SC2k (+ my DNS1200s) has the best build quality by miles. Easily bettering anything made by Pioneer I’ve ever used and equalling A & H. If your paying S2/MC3k money you want metal not plastic. AND unless your a bedroom DJ the S2 is useless. Lappys crash. Fact. The Denons inputs aint for record decks, nor even for CDJ mixing really. BUT if you are a gigging DJ you will always have a back up. Mr and Mrs Johnny Raver wont thank you for the long silences during your reboot! If you connected 2 CDjs or 2 rack CD decks you could actually mix using the single pot after all thats how all mixers started!

    • dj distraction says:

      Thanks PeteDaBeat!
      However, I don’t think Apple has port replicator for MacBook Pro. It doesn’t have PCMCIA neither.
      I was actually thinking of utilizing the FireWire port, maybe there are FireWire –> USB adaptor.

  12. Indeed, the lack of input through for backup situations could be a problem, unless you’re playing in clubs where you can have a cd ready for any emergency. This is more important for professional use than the booth output, so Denon is better in this respect. As for the S2, sure it integrates better with Traktor, because of default mappings, but due to its limited features, you’ll want to create your own mappings. That’s when you start thinking that getting Denon might be a better idea…

  13. Khemfusion says:

    The MC3000 has 4 in 4 out SC right?

    If thats the case then i would go with the Denon, if you are djing at a party with other djs its nice to have the possibility to run cdjs through the software, it means you wont have to bring another mixer…..i do it all the time with my audio 8!!! The S2 is more of an instrument (like the twitch) its great but not exactly for beginners in my opinion.

    Hope this helps!

  14. Can anyone comment on the out-of-box experience of the MC3000 with Traktor Pro 2? I have a time-sensitive dilemma that involves the two controllers in this article. I want the MC3000 because of its touted build quality and backup input but it seems like every website doesn’t have it in stock/has it backordered. If everything works, I’d be more willing to take the plunge. I would like this reassurance because I’ve had a bad experience with Stanton’s SC System 3. Even after upgrading to Traktor Pro 2, I still cannot use effects and cue points.
    The Best Buy here did have the Kontrol S2 so I went ahead and purchased that in the meantime to try it out — it was $600. I pulled it out the box, used Traktor’s setup wizard, and I was up and running just like that. This is what I mean when I say everything works (effects, filters, samples, cue points, etc).
    Now, I have a choice between purchasing the Kontrol S2 online for $500 (that would give me 100 back) or purchasing the MC3000 for $600 and waiting for an arbitrary amount of time for it to arrive.

    • Kontrol S2 is best for out-of-the-box use, MC3000 marginally less so. But with a bit of effort both (and the SC System 3) can work fine with Traktor. I recommend the Traktor Bible book for learning the ins and outs. If you want it to “just work”, the S2 is best (or any Serato ITCH controller…).

      • Phil, you’ve used both the MC3000 and SC System 3. Are you saying that getting up and running with both require the same amount of effort? I would like to think that that’s not true. I tried every preset in DaRouter and none allowed me to use all three parts of the controller (SCS.3m and 2 SCS.3d’s) in any functional way with Traktor Pro 2. With some effort I can try to get it to work but I really see that as a hindrance to what I bought the controller for — to mix. Can you tell me what doesn’t work with the MC3000 and Traktor Pro 2 combo? Can I expect the track to play when I press the play button, effect to be applied when I turn the knob, etc.? This kind of information would be very helpful considering the controller is not carried in any store around where I live.

      • No, the SCS.3 is deliberately “difficult” because it’s designed to be configured in several ways. It is for power users in that respect. The MC3000 is less so and *should* work fine out of the box in most circumstances – but all DJ controllers are potentially tricky. Of the three, the *most* plug ‘n’ play is the S2 because it is made by the same people who make Traktor and so has simplified set-up.

  15. Tristan w says:

    Quick question can you use the mic input as back up by running a iPod/iPhone thru it. Because as I understand it the mic can work without the computer.

  16. It’s not advisable to plug line inputs into mic sockets, and without checking this I also guess it wouldn’t work, as mic inputs need amplification which requires power.

  17. Tristan w says:

    Thanks for the quick response. Had a feeling that it was unlikely to work but was grasping at straws as I really keen on this unit (new toy) especially at the new price however having no back up at bar gigs etc has kinda of put me off. Love the site by the way.

  18. lordamercy says:

    I play at quite a few different bar venues and not having an audio through on my S2 has never been a problem. I plug into the venues mixer and use another channel for my ipod or leave ze venues cdj in and leave a cd in there. No audio through no problem for me. What is a problem I tested the S2 and 3k side by side. The Denon mapping felt rough and the S2 felt sweet. If a big store can’t get their Denon running nice with traktor I bet its a lot of work to get it to run how u want it to run. All this plastic buiild quality talk is nonsense as well the S2 feels nice and inspires confidence, also ze sound card is spot on

  19. deadrat6 says:

    I was wondering if I should get the MC-3000 or the Kontrol S2. I plan to use Traktor Pro 2 to DJ, but I also plan to produce with Ableton Live. Build and sound quality are also important to me. It is also important that they are intuitive to use. Thanks ahead of time.

  20. I find that the MC-3000 has a more natural flow on the faders than the Kontrol S2. Anyone else experience this?

  21. i have both of them///the sound of the mc 3000 is a little better tham s2 and also headphones volume in the s2 is very low..the denon mc 3000 has very good headphones volume.

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