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DJ Scott Mad Flip

DJ Scott Mad Flip
October 5, 2011

NI Traktor Kontrol S2 Review



Oh, my what a difference a year makes for Native Instruments.  Almost a year ago we were all introduced to arguably the most anticipated Traktor dj controller to date, the Kontrol S4.  It combined Traktor Scratch, the X1, and dare I say Maschine (construction wise) into one complete package and made many djs, including myself, cheat on their turntables.  I officially made the switch by Thanksgiving after reconciling with my turntables.  Native Instruments will further tempt the purists by releasing it’s latest offering, the Kontrol S2.  We dropped some quick Hors d’oeuvres on you last month about the S2, and now we are lucky enough to have received an advance unit sent to our studios for a test drive.

Set Up

The Kontrol S2 comes will be shipping with the a newly updated Traktor Pro 2 which is convenient if you want to upgrade the the S4 in the future.  We got a sneak peak of it when we set-up the demo S2.  The most noticeable addition is the Kontrol S2 tab where your configuration can be changed to suit your playing style.  A little less is offered than from the S4 configuration tab, but can modify and change the way your controller works without losing all of the resolution offered by the native HID connection.  If you are new to Traktor you will be good with the default settings and probably pleased just having the ability to personalize them.  NI scores high again making it easy to plug and play and to tweak your controller to your liking to keep things fresh.

Layout

The S2 maintains the basic controller aesthetic we’ve been know to expect.  The transport section is below the jog wheels on both sides and consists of your shift, sync, cue, and play buttons.  Just above those are your 4 hot cue buttons, loop in/out buttons, and your loop scroll and loop select/enable knobs.  The jogs are very smooth and magnetically tracked to assimilate the weightiness of a turntable.  Thee are 4 effects rotaries on each side above the jogs used to control dry/wet and 3 parameters or separate effects depending on if you decide to control in an advanced or chained mode respectively.  The center mixing section is pretty standard with the cross fader, line faders, browse and load knob, and the single sample volume control knob above the sample select buttons.  It is very stream lined for an efficient work flow and I was very comfortable navigating the software during the performance.  It’s no mystery that I’m a fan of Native Instruments and Traktor being an S4 disciple, and the S2 maintains the quality, reliability, and accuracy of it’s older brother.

The Verdict

Everything about the Kontrol S2 from the controller layout, the software features, the physical size, and especially the price is a home run.  It may not have all of the functionality of the best, top shelf controllers out there, but it covers the basics and then some.  As I said before, not every dj needs four deck control, or the option to use it with time code with a DVS.  Think about where you see djs perform these days that isn’t a nightclub or a rave, like in coffee shops, mall boutiques, department stores, wine tastings, etc.  The S2 is perfect for such applications.  It is portable and stable, and it ships with Traktor Pro 2,  NI’s flagship dj software instead of a watered down version.  I definitely see controllers like the S2 becoming more prevalent in the market, which is great for we as consumers to have many affordable options to rock the party.  We have these in stock, shipping now, and you can get yours here.  Until next time, happy gigs!

Transcript:

Hey, what’s up? This is Scott Magno, DJ MadFlip, here with UniqueSquared.com. Today we are checking out the Native Instruments Kontrol S2.
Now, this is a fascinating controller from Native Instruments. Some of you guys might be familiar with the Kontrol S4. Let’s have a look at that first in comparison.
As you can see, the S2 is just a little bit smaller than the S4 but actually the jog wheels and the line faders are identical.
We went ahead and measured ourselves and they are absolutely identical. Some of the differences you’ll find, the outputs are pretty much the same, you’ve got balanced TRS and RCA.
Now you do have a booth output, you can select the RCAs to be a booth output. That did not exist on the S4, so cheers to Native Instruments for getting us that.
You also don’t have DVS support for this and you only have one TRS input, most of you guys are going to use that for a microphone.
So now on the front, we actually have an enable/disable button for that microphone, very convenient to have. Let’s check out the goods.
So in the transport section on the S2, it’s going to be pretty much the same except you’re going to have four hot cues on the S2 versus eight on the S4.
So the effects section on the S2, it looks identical but it’s just a little bit different. You’re going to have control over either, a chained effect, or an advanced effect on the S2.
Now, on the S4 you had control of four different effects in advance mode, you’re not able to do that on the S2. You also do not have a dedicated filter knob. So if you want to adjust the filter on each deck you just hit shift and you can use the gain to control the filter. That’s very nice.
Alright, so let’s talk about the decks, you’ve got control of two decks on the S2, whereas on the S4, you had 4.
You also have one sample channel on the S2, where you had control of two extra sample decks on the S4. But you still have control of eight different samples, whether it’s going to be on deck C or D, you have a total of eight on that one channel.
Overall the Kontrol S2 has everything that you need in a pro sense to be an awesome DJ.
I think one of the things that I like about it the most, is that I can get up and running, get in my mix, and do almost everything that I can do on the Kontrol S4 with the exception of two extra decks.
It doesn’t matter who you are out there, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced, or no matter what kind of DJ you are, the Kontrol S2 is going to be perfect for you.
If you have any other questions about this hit us up at UniqueSquared.com, follow us on our blog and also on Facebook and Twitter.
This is Scott Magno, DJ MadFlip. Be you, be unique, at UniqueSquared.com.

Comments

  1. Tuomo says:

    Finally my prayers have been answered! Couldn’t afford the S4 but this one I will surely buy. Being a beginner DJ I guess losing the chance to control the 4 decks is not a major loss? Is it true that you assign the Gain-knob to work as a Filter-knob with the Shift-button? I hope so!

    1. Dr.fire.K says:

      Yes to the filter knobs. Just unpacked mine last night. Under preferences you can choose the knobs to be Gain (shift to filter) or Filter (shift to gain). NI should really make this more apparent. Lack of dedicated filters almost turned me off of it entirely.

  2. mario says:

    I want it because the following:

    - Audio Interfce Included
    - Traktor Pro Included
    - Enough cuantity of Sliders Knobs and Buttons (need more buttons? I already had the Kontrol X1 to complement)
    - The look and feel are really nice
    - But most of all…. The resolution is excelent (and there is no other controller can match its resolution)

    ASAP I will get it

  3. Lodewijk says:

    Hey, does someone know a flightcase with laptop stand for the s2? I wan’t to buy the s2 but only with a fitting case.

  4. Mark says:

    The Traktor s4 flight case will house this little puppy :)

  5. Croma says:

    Does anybody know if this thing will fit in any of the Mono Backpacks (365, Fly-By or Kondensor)?

    1. It will fit in the EFX 365.

      1. ivan says:

        is it a snug fit or? Just wondering if it will stick out at the top slightly or if i will fit in like a glove

  6. Zalien says:

    OK, I’m a bit of a novice who’s been working with a Numark OmniControl for the last two years and feel ready to up my game a bit – been getting to play in local clubs. Would replacing it with this give me a rise in sound quality, functionality and reliability? Also, there’s a nice wee fine pitch knob on the NOC that allows me to subtly edge up (or down) the BPM – does this have such a facility?

    1. The Kontrol S2 is an advanced controller in comparison to your Omni Control for certain. This and the S4 are the most accurate controllers for use with Traktor Pro and it’s abundance of features due to the NHL protocol which is 30 times more accurate than midi. Your pitch adjust and jog wheels allow you to match tracks accurately 1/100th beats per minute. It is definitely an upgrade, but definitely worth it.

      1. zalien says:

        Thanks for that djscottmadflip. However I’m still not sure about the Fine Pitch part of the question. If the only way to alter the BPM whilst a track is playing is to use the pitch slider, even when the pitch slider adjust is set to the minimum of 6% it still only allows an increase/decrease in increments of 0.17 of a beat – not very smooth. The dedicated Fine Pitch knob on the Numark OmniControl allows incremental increase/decrease of 0.01 of a beat. As I tend to play sets that build up smoothly over an hour with say about 14 tracks with BPMs ranging from 135 to 145 BPM, the fine pitch allows me to achieve a really smooth transition throughout tracks or at the breakdowns. I can’t see anything in the written specs for the S2 that makes me think it can mapped for this, however someone who has an S2 (maybe you have one?) might know. Originally my NOC Fine Pitch knob didn’t work and I couldn’t see anything in the mapping lists that would allow me to sort it or allocate the function to it. When my unit broke and I returned it under warranty it came back and the Fine Pitch knob worked. I’ve found it almost invaluable to the way I mix and play.

        For instance if you use the pitch slider to adjust the BPM, when the master/sync track swaps over and want to adjust the pitch of the current track it jumps back to the original BPM of that track – not clever at all.
        So after all that long-winded explanation I suppose I’m really just asking if one of the filter knobs on the S2 can be allocated to a Fine Pitch property.

        1. Zalien says:

          OK. Scrub the above questions. Native Instruments got back to me PDQ and sorted out all my issues. Full marks to them for being so fast and efficient. Got the S2 and it’s brilliant!