Digital DJ Tips reader Jona Menasso writes: "I was hoping you could help me deciding between the Traktor Kontrol S4 and the Vestax VCI-400. At the moment my choice would be the VCI-400 but maybe if you answer my two questions I can get a little more clarity. "Firstly, does the VCI-400 offer nearly the same integration with Traktor Pro 2 as the Kontrol S4 without the need of a complex mapping? (I am not a very good "mapper"). I ask this because that is the main catch in the S4 for me. Secondly, do you think the VCI-400 would last three years without failing? "If it helps, I am not a 'controllerist', and I am not going to bash and hit buttons, faders and knobs - at least not much! My mixing style is based on smooth transitions and incorporation of samples, one-shots and loops, mostly mixing house, prog, minimal and tech."
Digital DJ Tips says:
The answer is really quite simple. If you want the tightest possible, out-of-the-box integration between hardware and software, buy the S4. It (and its smaller brother the S2) has the tightest integration with Traktor of all, and these controllers are more likely to be "fixed" first when Traktor gets updated down the line (ie, NI will prepare the software to work with its own hardware flawlessly before release).
Everything else has compromises, either in performance (only the S2 and S4 have 100% perfect jogwheel performance with Traktor, although this is improving with third-party products), or ease of use (ie even with the most easy to set up non-Native Instruments controller, you'll still have hoops to jump through to get it to work close to perfectly with Traktor). However, if you're prepared to learn a little bit about Traktor's set-up and mapping, and aren't a DMC scratch DJ, many other controllers come into view, the VCI-400 being one of them. It is supplied with a Traktor mapping to get you going, and there are plenty of people coming up with their own out there too (try the Traktor Bible or DJ TechTools sites for examples).
And as regards longevity, while the Kontrol S4 is well made (albeit with lots of plastic), the VCI-400 is an all-metal workhorse. I wouldn't worry in the slightest about it not lasting the duration.
Have you considered these controllers? Which did you go for? Have you owned both? Which do you think is the best out of the two? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments.