5 Best Traktor DJ Controllers For 2021

Phil Morse | Read time: 3 mins
Native Instruments Traktor Traktor Pro 3
Last updated 4 April, 2021

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Looking to buy a Traktor controller or system, but not sure which to go for? In this article, I’ll explain to you what makes Traktor and Traktor controllers different from the pack, and then give you our five best DJ choices for Traktor for 2021, with both high-end and entry-level picks. Beginner or advanced, there is something for you in what follows.

What’s different about Traktor?

Traktor – or Traktor Pro 3, to give it its full, current title – was a DJ software platform long before the parent company, Native Instruments, made DJ hardware. That meant that DJs ended up using Traktor with all kinds of hardware, mixers and Midi interfaces. Even when Traktor-branded hardware began to appear, it tended to be more modular and idiosyncratic than hardware for most other software, reflecting the differing needs of its user base.

Nowadays Traktor has a number of well thought-of “standard” DJ controllers available for it made by the company, but also more modular solutions and an in-house digital vinyl (DVS) mixer solution too. It remains a favourite of many electronic music-based DJs and DJ/producers.

If you’re buying a Traktor controller or system in 2021, there is not a huge amount of choice, as current Traktor-branded gear is limited to a core of products. But even so there’s enough to choose from, so below we’ve listed our favourite Traktor controllers and set-up, and explained why we chose them..

5 Best Traktor DJ Controllers 2021

1. Traktor Kontrol S4 Mk3

Native Instruments’ third update to its flagship four-channel controller comes with motorised Haptic Drive jogwheels that are smooth, silent and feel fantastic to spin on.

It’s also got onboard effects and Mixer FX controls, onboard deck displays, and a streamlined performance pad section.

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If you want the ultimate control over Traktor in a unit that can also sit at the heart of a bigger DJ set-up, including offering the facility to plug in external turntables, media players and so on, this is it. A worthy update to the venerable Traktor Kontrol S4 line.

Price: US$999
More info: Traktor Kontrol S4 Mk3 review | See it on Amazon


2. Traktor Kontrol Z2 DVS (plus two turntables)

The Traktor Kontrol Z2 is a two-channel performance mixer designed specially for Traktor by Native Instruments.

It has a built-in audio interface and so can be used with an existing pair of turntables (or indeed media players) at the heart of a Traktor DVS system.

It has macro effects controls, built-in pads, is Midi mappable, and comes with Innofaders, so it would work well at the heart of a pro performance DJ system especially if you were interested in combining controllerism with turntablism.

Price: US$669
More info: Traktor Kontrol Z2 review | See it on Amazon


2. Traktor Kontrol S2 Mk3

The Traktor Kontrol S2 Mk3 doesn’t have the motorised jogs, onboard displays and comprehensive effects section of its bigger brother the Traktor Kontrol S4 Mk3, but it’s still a capable device that has the same excellent controls for Traktor Pro 3’s Mixer FX.

Read this next: 5 Best Rekordbox DJ Controllers For 2021

It also retains the streamlined performance pads layout and the overall look and feel of its bigger brother, making it a nice entry-level two-channel intro to the Traktor ecosystem. A solid choice for beginner DJs, and a good backup for gigging pros.

Price: US$288
More info: Traktor Kontrol S2 Mk3 review | See it on Amazon


4. Traktor Kontrol Z1 + Traktor Kontrol X1 MkII

The Traktor Kontrol Z1 is an ultra-compact two-channel software mixer, controller, and sound card – think of it as the “mixer” part of a “normal” controller, without the “decks”.

Meanwhile, the Traktor Kontrol X1 MkII is a “decks and effects” controller with the same long, thin shape, that lets you control two decks of the software along with loops, cues, effects and transport – it even has a touchstrip that can be used for “nudging” and so on.

Combine the two for a modular, portable DJ system that you could set up practically anywhere.

Price: US$219 (each – but look for bundle offers)
More info: Z1 review | X1 MkII review | Buy Kontrol Z1 | Buy Kontrol X1 MkII


5. Traktor Kontrol S3

And finally we have the Traktor Kontrol S3, designed to sit between the Traktor Kontrol S4 Mk3 and the Traktor Kontrol S2 Mk3.

While, just like the Kontrol S2 Mk3, it lacks the comprehensive effects of the Kontrol S4, it does get four channels, and an Aux input to make it more useful in pro situations.

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Whether you go for this will depend on whether you need the features I just mentioned over the S2, and whether or not it is really too big a leap for you to find the extra money for the S4 – because the S4 would be the better bet of the two for most DJs.

Price: US$549
More info: Traktor Kontrol S3 review | See it on Amazon

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