Traktor Kontrol S4 MK3: Hands on with the Reinvented Jog Wheel

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Traktor has been Native Instruments’ staple DJ product line for nearly 20 years now — it’s become an institution in the digital DJing world. The impact the software’s had on the DJ scene, as well as in shaping trends and developments, is undeniable.

In 2010 they released the Traktor Kontrol S4 MK1, a fully integrated 4-channel DJ controller — the first of many unique DJ controllers for Traktor. Fast forward to August this year, Traktor Kontrol S4 MK3 has been announced and once again, Native Instruments have produced what looks to be a game changer. NI have come up with a motorized jog wheel system – something DJs have been asking for since the dawn of digital DJing to emulate a traditional vinyl turntable setup. We got our hands on a pre-release unit this week and putting these platters through their paces was a revelation. The response on them is genuinely amazing.

The S4 MK3 features a solid Technics 1200 turntable-style torque engine for pitch bending and nudging, and when you place your hand on the jog, it gives you full control like you’ve got your hand on a record — great for cueing, scratching and mixing. In addition, NI’s new ‘Haptic Technology’ takes that traditional DJ feel and builds on it, providing subtle feedback via vibrations on the jog-wheels to indicate when crossing cue or loop points in your track. They also feature a spinning track direction display that runs around the perimeter of the jog to act as a track marker, as has become a standard on jog wheels in the last few years.

The hardware has a nice overall finish to it, the new faders feel smooth, and the physical matte black build looks and feels slick. And just like the other next-gen NI hardware, all the knobs and laser etched buttons give you a feeling of quality. The S4 MK3 has finally adopted some club standard features like relocating the cue and play buttons to mimic CDJs, and a great new FX section located under the EQs with 4 excellent sounding FX — great for mix transitions. The S4 also features Phono and Line Inputs so you can connect Turntables and/or CDJs and use it as a standalone mixer. This is a big one for many DJs who want to incorporate it into their existing gear, or for DJs looking to expand their set up in the future.

The 16 RGB performance pads are a welcome addition from the MK2, and keep it in line with current DJ controllers on the market. These are generally used for triggering cue and loop points, and triggering samples in Traktor remix decks or STEMS decks. You can even record 4 bar loops with samples you have loaded in your remix decks and tempo-sync them with your tracks, great for layering sounds over your tracks. The colour displays allow you to see waveform, looping, key and BPM information, track title, remaining track time, Stems, and Remix deck samples – all the info you need to stay focused your set rather than your laptop.

The S4 MK3 ticks all the boxes for a quality 4 channel DJ controller. The motorized jog wheels with the fantastic Haptic Feedback function bring an unparalleled physical interaction with the user, and really takes the S4 MK3 to a new level.  Highly recommended.

Traktor Kontrol S4 MK3 will be available from November 1, 2018

Distributed in Australia by CMI Music & Audio

Noisegate is an Australian based collective of working musicians, producers, DJ’s, and live audio professionals.

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