The Traktor Kontrol S4 and Traktor Kontrol S2 DJ controllers have been revised and updated, Native Instruments announced today. The “Mark 2” models of the Kontrol S4 and Kontrol S2 now have Traktor DJ iOS software compatibility, improved jogwheels, RGB buttons, and Flux mode, among other improvements.
The Traktor Kontrol S4 finally gets a booth output, and also features redesigned, chunkier filter knobs.
While both units are now mapped to work out of the box with Traktor DJ, they retain the exact same form factor as their predecessors; for instance, there is no type of iOS device stand or slot as with other iOS/friendly DJ controllers; you’re on your own working out how best to mount your iPad (or iPhone) to use with these. As before, both come with a full version of Traktor Pro 2.
Like the also just-announced iPhone 5S, here we have some technology that apart from a few cosmetic changes, is striking first and foremost for looking pretty much the same as the last versions. Those who were expecting a bold statement of intent (perhaps the dropping of jogwheels completely, for instance) may have felt initial disappointment – although those new aluminium jogwheels do look nice! But under the skin, it’s the subtle changes point to what direction we’re headed in here.
The main point is that as the only all-in-one controllers capable of controlling the late-to-the-party but dominant Traktor DJ iOS software, the new S2 and S4 (and especially the Kontrol S2) put a stamp of authenticity on iOS DJing, in the same way (rightly or wrongly) that Pioneer was judged to have put the stamp of authenticity on laptop DJing when it waded late into the controller market.
With a Kontrol S2, an iPad and a copy of Traktor DJ, there is now a professional, single-name hardware/software combination for iOS for the very first time. (The jury’s out on the iPhone in this analogy, granted.)
The other improvements count, too: Flux mode is a big one, and of course the catch-up Booth control on the S4 corrects a silly original omission – although bizarrely, while on the S2 the booth is switchable on the RCAs, on the S4 it appears to be on the TRS outputs. Adding a level of control over the Remix Decks is definitely a sweetener for those who fancy trying them but don’t want to invest in a Kontrol F1. I think it’s fair to say that the Remix Deck idea has yet to find its feet in the wider DJ community, and this won’t hurt its adoption.
Should you upgrade though? If you’re not interested in using an iOS device, and either already have a Kontrol F1 already or don’t want to use Remix decks at all, there’s not much to swing you over into getting an upgrade here. The original S2 and S4 proved themselves as roadworthy stalwarts, and here we have iteration, rather than revolution.
However, if you buy into the idea that you can DJ from laptop, iPad or iPhone depending on the occasion, and if the S2 (in particular) turns out to be as fun as I suspect it will be to DJ with using the iPad, these are certainly worth your consideration. And if you’ve been holding out for an upgrade, the Flux mode, RGB buttons for control of the Remix decks, and (in the case of the S4) arrival of a booth output should tick a few of your objection boxes. Time to sdave the pennies, though, as neither is what could be called cheap, especially of you have the misfortune of living outside of the US.
• The Traktor Kontrol S4 will cost US$799 / €799, with the Traktor Kontrol S2 at US$499 / €499. For more info visit the product pages on the Native Instruments website: Traktor Kontrol S2 / Traktor Kontrol S4.