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Rating and Reviews: NI Traktor Kontrol S4 MK2

Connect your laptop to this industry-standard DJ controller, launch the bundled Traktor Pro 2 software, and you're ready to spin, mix and scratch on 4 decks.

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"Great Budget-Friendly Controller" submitted April 2, 2017

By Aaron Scantlin in Columbia, MO
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Musical Background: Spinning for friends, fam and small gatherings for about two years
Music Style: Hip-hop, trap, EDM, trance, house, vaporwave/vaportrap
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Overall: (Short version at bottom) I started dabbling with digital controllers using a Numark MixTrack Pro and, while it was a fun introduction, I pretty quickly ran into that model's limitations. I wanted something that would give me much more creative control over the decks and mixing without breaking the bank, and I found that compromise in the S4MK2. No, it doesn't have all the bells and whistles of something like the S8, and odds are you're not going to out-scratch someone using mechanical turntables, but what this controller DOES offer is robust and contained within a single unit. I won't touch on the specs specifically, just know that you'd be hard pressed to find another board with the same level of control and build quality. Functionality aside, this controller just looks nice too; there's something to be said about aesthetics. Add to this the fact that you've got a sound card baked right into the unit, comes with a bunch of free loops and samples, AND that it includes NI's Traktor Pro 2 software... again, it's not the creme de la creme by any stretch, but it's a great first controller (or an upgrade from an "I-really-should-have-just-gotten-the-nicer-one-first" board like I did.) Of course, nothing is perfect, and this unit does have its downsides. For one, you get just enough functionality out of the remix decks, stems, and sample recorder to get a taste for what's possible... if NI would only let you re-map some buttons! You can't really fault them for trying to introduce you to their software's features in a way that gets you primed to buy more of their hardware... I mean, you could buy the S8 if you wanted something that can really take advantage of all the Traktor Pro features out of the box. This is definitely a great choice for anyone looking to make a single purchase for a no-muss, no-fuss starter setup; grab a pair of headphones and your laptop, install the software and you're set to spin. This controller is definitely more geared toward those who are still early in their career and/or are working with a really limited budget. There's also something to say about NI products and the concept of vendor lock (i.e. what happens when a company makes products that only achieve optimum interoperability when coupled with other products from the same vendor.) Personally, I really enjoy how modular an NI digital DJ setup can be, but you need to be prepared to dedicate yourself to NI's hardware and software platform to take full advantage of everything. For better or worse, I usually refer to NI as the "Apple" of the digital DJ world... rock solid hardware, but undeniably only reaches its full potential when used with other products in the same family. With all that said, here's the condensed version: PROS: Awesome feature set and build quality for the money; software included with free updates; lots of free loops and samples; good balance of options and cost; can be added to down the road if you outgrow the S4's capabilities but want to stick in the realm of digital DJing (I highly suggest a pair of F1s for maximum customization... I will have a review for those up in the nearish future!) CONS: Hardware/Software doesn't integrate as well with non-NI products; some controller capabilities are intentionally gimped to entice you into buying other NI products; scratch abilities vastly outshined by mechanical turntables. Overall, I gotta give this product five stars; I personally think NI produces excellent hardware and software, and am perfectly okay with locking myself into the NI/Traktor ecosystem. The one experience I had with support was fine (license server wouldn't accept a key I received with the product), and I've happily dumped hundreds of hours into tooling around on this controller to hone my skill. Bottom line: is this your first controller? Or are you upgrading from a $100-$150 controller? Look no further because this will provide you with the best bang for your buck.
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"AWESOME!!!!" submitted August 15, 2014

By Tony B in Chicago, IN
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Sound
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Musical Background: Professional DJ, Video Producer & Motion Graphic Artist
Music Style: Old School House, Electro & Progressive House
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Overall: I recently purchased the Kontrol S4 MK2 and have loved every second using it. After starting on turntables back in the early 80s, this unit gives me the tools I need and more to unleash my creativity. I can do everything I use to do on a turntable and then some. I highly recommend this controller to both beginner and pros.
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