As expected, Native Instruments has announced Traktor Kontrol S4, an all-in-one integrated hardware controller and software system for digital DJing. The hardware does look extensive. Highlights:

  • Integrated audio interface
  • Four-channel mixer section
  • Full support for looping, effects control, browsing for tracks in the library
  • Sample Decks, controlled from the hardware, allow beat-synced sample manipulation, with a live Loop Recorder for sampling an external audio input or resampling a mix from the DJ app
  • Multicolor backlighting and LED

The Kontrol S4 also promises better jog wheel support, using NI’s own electromagnetic technology to generate high-resolution touch information. (Unfortunately, NI uses their own proprietary NHL protocol; it’d be nice to make use of that control signal in other applications using something like OSC.) NI says they’ll also add external time-code control in a future update; for now, there’s not support for control vinyl for those who prefer conventional decks to jog wheels.

The bundle will cost you, at US$999/EUR899, but that includes the hardware controller and audio interface plus software. A hard road case will be available for US$189.

NI says both will ship this winter.

Traktor Kontrol S4 @ Native Instruments

After the jump, see the video – it’s nice to see our NYC neighbor and Dubspot faculty member DJ Shiftee, the 2009 DMC Champ. (Hmmm… we need some sort of Nerd music championship.) Even nicer: watching him live-remix the theme music from the game Tetris.

I’m curious to hear what you think, especially if you fall more in the DJ camp (though the DJ software is increasingly blurring with “live PA”-style performance tools, whatever label you may apply).

All images courtesy Native Instruments.

  • http://www.twitter.com/OSXyZ OSXyZ

    i don't mind the thing at all.

    but it's interesting to see how crammed the hardware is. which, for portability, isn't a bad look.

    but light tables are already on another level taking into mind what a 'dj is' besides someone who spins records.

    no different than the out-datedness of most of traditional instruments, what really turns me on is the paradigm in multi-touch and gestural technologies, not the virtualization of old hardware.

    but this is great for someone who's looking to drop a few pounds off their mobile dj set.up.

    -

    oS
    http://www.twitter.com/OSXyZ

  • TweakingKnobs

    Pretty fuckin cool…

  • http://www.myspace.com/gliiitches Leon Tricker

    With integrated hardware/software things (like this and Maschine) does the hardware then dictate what happens with the development of the software? Are NI saying with this that they'll never modify the look/layout of the Traktor interface? Closely integrated software and hardware is a good thing, but does it compromise the flexibility that computers should give you?

  • TweakingKnobs

    nope, they just release a new hardware version , duh!

  • Hortron

    "and you're still doing it in the style of a real dj so the crowd can follow along."

    because if you use this product…

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    @Leon: It's a good point. The flipside is, if you assume that part of what helps your mastery of software musically is the mastery of an unchanging physical interface, then is changing metaphors a good thing in the first place?

    @Hortron: well, I never liked phrases like "real DJ," period. And to the extent it means anything, no, this particular product doesn't determine that one way or another.

  • http://www.jorgebarrientos.com Jorge from Madrid

    @Peter & Leon

    Both of you have good points: I think we all agree that you have to get used to the layout and ergonomics of a certain instrument in order to master it (be it the guitar, piano or your Serato and turntables); but on the other side, dj decks are just a bunch of controls (buttons, plates, faders…) so now we're all excited about touchscreens and totally configurable enviroments with tailored macros, scripting…

    I think customization is both potentially powerful and a great time-waster if you fall into tweaking every default parameter so your rig is unique just for the sake of it. So maybe YES: we've got to create new layouts that doesn't necesarilly mirror real life devices and NO: we don't have to reinvent the wheel anytime we make a GUI.

    My question to all the experienced dj's out there is: is all this tweaking really going to entertain a crowd, or is it the music?. Don't get me wrong, i absolutely love tweaking filters myself but when most people hit the clubs, they want to hear "the real dj" instead of watch "the new Traktor routine". Digital djing is bluring the limit between "2 decks and a mixer into the computer" and a live, on the fly remixing set.

  • Oakey

    This "system" idea seems new for NI, but the hardware does pack a lot of function into that case. djtechtools.com has some more details about the jogs, faders and sampler.

    All said and done, the concept has a lot of potential.

  • http://www.soundcloud.com/micahjames Micah James

    This is all great but I think 1000 is too expensive for this type of control. I don't understand why there isn't another version that does not include the audio interface (for those of us that already own multiple audio interfaces from NI) as well as those that have shelled out money for the software. I have already spent 800 bucks between my audio interface, Tracktor Pro, and Tracktor Control.

    This is virtually the price of a new computer (okay not a mac but PC). Actually the lower end mac book pro can be bought at a little bit above this price.

    I am just a bit surprised with price point. LOL I am not usually cheap but really? :)

  • http://www.twitter.com/OSXyZ OSXyZ

    @jorge

    "time-waster…tweaking"… customization does take quite some time but at the end of the day it can account for creating what is uniquely an 'instrument', which is an extension of one's being, therefore, instrumental.

    since i've had the ohm64 i've taken advantage of native kontrol's templates, which has kept me from even needing a keyboard and has ushered me into a community of openSource creators of hardware/midi, scripts, and software. i feel more connected now than when i worked actively in the music industry.

    @tweakingKNobs LOL. true, new GUI, new Hardware = mo $$$.

    @Leon I use NI's Maschine and never bought an MPC b/c i started out using Battery. I'm finding new ways of using the Maschine with Vst's and scripts that give me options with my controllers. Loving going btwn Maschine for Live Sampling and the OHm for playing the keys and real time effects.

    I imagine some of the hardcore Traktor users will create their own scripts which will provide another approach toward the user's experience.

    All in all…music and technology is a blessing to be a part of this current time in history!!! The options are creating dialogue. Add imagination and followthrough and you've got innovation.

    The music industry could take a page from this blog! Thanks Pete

    -

    oS

    http://www.twitter.com/OSXyZ

  • Silenti

    Looks like a NI version of a VCI-100, or I guess actually the VCI-300 since it has a built-in audio interface.

    Maybe I'm missing something.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    @Silenti: No, you're right. Same basic concept, though with more controls and macros. I think the big question is whether they've made the jog wheels more useful, as that's one significant issue on the VCI.

  • J. Phoenix

    I was more excited by the Novation Dicers, for both price point and potential use. $1000 seems a bit pricey for a midi controller/software/soundcard interface.

    I do find it interesting how often DJ midi controllers are treated like 2nd class citizens–by audiences and peers. Turntables get respect; DJ midi controllers seem to elicit "well I bet that set you back a bit" responses.

    Conversely, I've been noticing a greater amount of attention paid to anyone remotely resembling a "Live PA" by virtue of one or more midi controllers or blinking boxes.

    This observation seems to hold true for the last two years, irrespective of whether the guy with the DJ midi console is doing some stellar work or the "Live PA" is just twisting a single knob that effects a completely pre-sequenced and recorded hour long set.

    Although, I recall setting up gear for a gig some years ago, and two chin strokers were very impressed by our MicroMoog and hardware sampler. But when we pulled out a laptop with Reason and an Oxygen 8 (used for live synth work), they turned to each other and said, "Oh, so that's how they do it all". You can't please anyone.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    @J. Phoenix – not sure what to say to that. I think the last line sums it up. ;)

  • Silenti

    I wonder if those soft-pads at the bottom are similar to the drum pads on the maschine. Ean Golden's [djtechtools.com] arcade-button mod for the VCI's really added to the fun of triggering. Those guys over there also do some really cool things with mappings and scripts.

    Most of the issues I've had and have heard of with trying to 'scratch' with these controllers is more to do with their much smaller diameter jog wheels compared to vinyl even on things with really nice encoders.

    Which is one reason why I tend to map them to control effects parameters rather than use them for their most obvious purpose.

    Anyway, like many have said, $1000 is a bit steep unless these things are built like tanks. One to keep an eye on though.

  • apoclypse

    The price is up there. I heard it was going to be about $700. I'm still getting it because I'm NI's dirt, skanky bitch, but its fairly expensive. I LOVE the flight case. Real nice. I love NI's hardware design, it has a very angular industrial look to it, but still sexy in a way. I can't wait to see what they are going to do with Kore 3.

    I was going to get a DJ controller anyway, I was thinking of the NS7 but, I'm not a fan of ITCH. At least here, NI isn;t giving you a cut down version of Traktor. Its traktor pro.

  • http://louddjs.com Lucid

    I'm a lot more impressed with the software than the controller. The loop bank section is something I emailed to NI a long time ago as something I'd like to see, and so I'm stoked. But the controller itself doesn't appear very game-changing to me. I hope the features appear in regular traktor pro.

  • http://soundcloud.com/donfuan donfuan

    my main problem with the thing: it is huge, and if you've dj'ed, you know place is scarce sometimes. And they can't hope that each club will get one, do they? So you'll haver to carry this monster around… Seems more like something to play at home with.

  • http://louddjs.com Lucid

    @donfuan i gotta disagree here. this size of controller is pretty popular (ITCH? Torq? Xone 4D?). Not to mention full deck set-ups! Hell… even a couple record crates for an evening would crush it. Besides, the average club-goer will look at a Faderfox box or Pacemaker and think "is he texting?"

  • http://soundcloud.com/donfuan donfuan

    @Lucid well, usually there's already a mixer, 2 1210's, 2 CDJ's, and maybe place for a laptop. Where do you put it? ;)

  • jeal

    Hi,

    just make a big track and get famous, and you ll get the place you want to set up your material ;-)

  • http://www.jorgebarrientos.com Jorge from Madrid

    @ donfuan:

    Well, Numark NS7's are really great but twice the size. NI new surface is slightly bigger than a Vestax VC100.

    @OSXyZ

    I'm completely with you. I meant customization COULD be a time waster sometimes, but it's extremely powerful. I use it constantly with Ableton and Renoise, and it took me months to polish my Live template to control my whole set with a Trigger Finger. However, I think NI layout it's pretty strightforward for a start. DjTechTools.com is making a wonderful job sharing their new mappings, so everyone (including people like me, who doesn't use Traktor) could learn from their approach.

  • http://www.ilektron.com Mudo

    Turntable as a instrument = Turntablism.

    Controller as a instrument = Controllerism.

    Any "tool" (like turntable or controllers) as a instrument = Tooltablism.

    About touchscreens: I need haptic sense, sorry.

    About this new gear: Too price and all-in-one solution less flexible than "modular" options. I prefer modular over closed but it is useful for "closed" enviorements like dj club.

  • Aiek

    I think it's an interesting package. I'm not a DJ/Producer or anything, more of a 'bedroom fiddler with a bit of money to burn'.

    I currently own some 1200's, which are currently sitting in their cases for various reasons, and I'm wanting to make the move to digital at some point.

    While the $1k price tag may be steep for some, for someone who currently has NOTHING for a digital setup – this seems kind of appealing. You get Traktor, the hardware interface, an audio interface – all in a tight integrated unit that will 'just work' without needing to fuss around too much.

    I can see why it may be a bit of a sting for those who already have some of the individual bits and pieces already – and perhaps some cross-grade options might be nice to lower the price. But for someone that's been tooling around with 'maybe my next splurge will be….' – this is kind of tempting.

  • http://www.ftb.pl deSynth

    I do not like it, especially as I was looking forward more to the software than the hardware.

    Maschine integration anyone? I don't need the friggin controller nor the audio interface :|

  • lalaland

    I first was pleased about the sample deck, But: no loops/beat grid? How boring. (imitation of ssl? really?)

    I think those who use jogwheels need CDJs. Otherwise i see alot of people with those vestax & co. all-in-ones just using the autosync.

    You better make us traktor pro controllsters (yeah, totally to the blacklist) happier with a better (bigger!) (midi)control-windows or even a external editor…

    Can't believe serato is soon further with the bridge coming… Although im doing the traktor/able10 thing, switching (rarely) between them with bome's.. so no problem and both worlds..

  • lalaland

    oh yes deSynth, i'm with you, that would be candy too!

  • al

    64bit audio and midi drivers

    or when are they gonna get some sort of reaktor integration

    or even multi format audio in reaktor for modular dj live apps

  • James Husted

    I am wondering at this price point why didn't they go all the way and put the computer in it too. basically make the box a little bigger and give it a jack for a LCD monitor and hav it all in one package. PC motherboards are cheap and if the rig is dedicated to just running this one app then it would not need a killer PC. just have jacks for external keyboards,mice, monitors and hardrives. If you are going to tie the software to a control surface why not go all the way and tie it to the computer too.

  • Christian K.

    I've been wanting an integrated mixer + soundcard for awhile, to compact & simplify my setup. I thought the Korg Zero4 was great, but many suffered from a hiss problem (which I experienced first hand). The only other option I felt could fit the bill is the Allen & Heath 3D/4D, which is a great mixer, but a serious price jump.

  • http://twitter.com/3ZKL 3ZKL

    i have been a traktor user for many years now, doing a controller only setup with a non-NI soundcard, Xone 1D and UC-33 controllers, along with a standard 4-channel DJ mixer.

    this thing kills a few birds with one stone for me :

    #1 i need a new mixer / i dont want to carry a separate flight case with a mixer to gigs / i dont trust that the venue i play is going to have a decent mixer 99% of the time.

    #2 i need a better soundcard. the audio8 is 400$ on its own. . .

    #3 i dont want to fuss with a bunch of audio connections. this thing has power + USB + house sound. i can be setup/broken down in seconds rather than minutes. leaving me more time to play records and less time troubleshooting sketchy cables.

    #4 i want the option for turntable or CD control. coming soon, yes. but it is not my bread and butter. just something nice to know is there if you want it. i dont really care about scratching. hell i dont even use the crossfader. but the option is nice.

    #4.5 i could care less about the jog wheels in general, but what i like here is that they have an intended purpose and were designed to work with the software. most of the jog wheels ive seen on controllers, the Xone 1D included, dont really work that well and i only find myself using it for the bare minimum (ie. simply browsing for tracks).

    #5 i dont like carrying around two controllers and a laptop stand. along with not wanting to carry around a separate flight case for a nice mixer, my controllers really shouldnt have to take the kind of abuse i give them. and while they are very useful, laptop stands are annoying! carrying one flight case means i can actually FLY with the thing and not have to worry about sketchy gear at my gig or breaking / losing something along the way.

    #6 and while this is listed as #6 it hits on one of the comments above about wasting a bunch of time screwing around with custom programming — IT WAS MEANT TO WORK WITH TRAKTOR OUT OF THE BOX. while there are some maps for the UC33 and Xone 1D now, there werent when i started using them years ago. now i have my own specific workflows with those pieces of gear that take forever to reprogram. in fact, i waited a long time before making the upgrade from Traktor 3 to Traktor Pro because it meant i had to redo ALL of my midi mappings and macros. ANNOYING! this thing is meant to work, the buttons are labeled, the lights work, it just does what you want. and if it doesnt THEN i can spend some time screwing around with custom macros.

    #7 this device will free up my other controllers and even my other soundcard to add Ableton Live into my sets without a whole lot of fuss. i am not going to be mad at that.

    so yes, if you have a setup you are happy with then this isnt for you. if you dont have anything, well this MIGHT NOT be the best place to start since there are much cheaper ways to get the same effect. but if you want the damn thing to just work and it is the right tool then its worth every cent.

    it might even be worth making the comparison between NI and Apple. . .you pay a premium price but the damn things work as you expect and NEED as a professional.

  • http://ifnotwhynot.me DJSDive

    The problem with OSC is that it stil requires that you define what messages you actually want to send. Aka there is still a layer missing if you want to make a real product. This seems to be what initially drew people to MIDI. Now since MIDI isn't cool anymore vendors rather go with proprietary protocols (especially at NI where they do not trust their end users to innovate seeing how they decided it would be smart to binary encode the MIDI mapping section in their config XML) on top of HID. I fear if we want open protocols, we have to make it easier for vendors to adopt them. And even then I fear we need something to beat them onto the golden path. Dunno what though :(

  • http://enigmafon.com enigmafon

    Native Instruments are way behind the curve and are a few years too late releasing this piece of hardware.

    Hardware DJ controllers are dead and obsolete, as more and more professional DJs are going the Ableton route, specially with the new iPad software being released that allows almost unlimited control of what can be done with Ableton Live.

  • VinylDestination

    Ni is releasing so much stuff that I can't keep up. I'm not feeling the $1000 price tag, but I wasn't feeling it when Maschine was announced as $600 which I got for $400. So hopefully I'll get it for a cheaper price.

    Would like Maschine to integrate with KS4 the way Maschine syncs with Traktor Pro. I love that the Audio Interface is included in the hardware since I haven't purchased Audio (2,4,8) DJ yet. So that comes in handy, but I understand that raises the price. Especially where other DJs already have an audio interface already.

    Only thing that sucks is that I manage to set up Maschine as a controller for TPro to my liking. So it will be another adjustment, but like KS4 regardless.

  • http://www.chromatouch.wordpress.com Leon Trimble

    i've used traktor since version 1.0 so this is a massive evolution. does it beat serato with built in ableton (max4)live loops and video? i'm becoming more av these days so i'm not sure. as a solid dj program it probably is better.

    i use the m-audio xponent with traktor pro and this looks like the NI beater of that, although not very far off. wonder if someone'll do a workable xponent mapping for the loop decks when it gets to the regular version?

  • ray

    ok kinda offtopic and stupid question but thought its a good place to ask you all

    i was wondering , when people spin like this

    do they have all the tracks on their laptop or on a ext hard disk,sorry for the noob question but i,m just curious

  • magoly

    @ray: You can have either or. But recommended is the internal harddrive. Simply one potential error less.

    It helps to have enough disc space. I put a 500gig drive in my macbook and traktor pro rocks just fine with my Numark Omni Control (pretty similar, but not as fancy as the Kontrol S4).

    cheers

  • Saner

    Can't wait for this thing. Already pre ordered.