Walk into a club, and it seems far too often you’ll find a DJ operating Serato or Traktor with their laptop touchpad. At best, you might get a digital vinyl system that’s mostly spinning around and looking pretty. (Some people do amazing things with scratching; some love the feel of cueing on vinyl. Some don’t do much at all.) But at least digital DJs can’t say they don’t have options. Native Instruments’ Kontrol S2 is the latest entry, a two-deck version of their S4 we saw earlier. That hardware is impressive-looking, with unique electromagnetic technology that builds up greater resistance as you make bigger moves.
If that appealed to you, but you wanted a two-deck, two-channel mixer rather than four and four, the S2 should appeal. Native has also released a video with DJ and controllerist advocate Ean Golden showing off what it can do.
The S2 and S4 also sheds some bulk and weight – a marginal, not a radical amount, but enough to make a difference to those traveling. Compare the S4 to the S2 (S4 in parentheses):
Depth: 4.4cm (vs 5.2cm)
Height: 29.2cm (vs 32.2cm)
Width: 43.8cm (vs 50cm)
Weight: 2.7 kg (vs 3.4kg)
Of course, as I look at the amount of space Ean has on that table, it occurs to me that this remains the principle problem. We’ve seen some compact controllers, but they often don’t provide this kind of control. For cramped live situations, DJing can be tough. So that may mean either making tinier controllers or having DJs find a way to fight for more space and new performance venues.
What strikes me is that, in the time since the S4 came out, we’ve seen loads of other options – even one from Ean himself. And that’s a good thing: today’s Traktor user can choose from almost any imaginable hardware, and a few DIY options, for making a custom performance. I hope to see more DJs taking advantage of that. Some of our recent coverage:
Closest to the S4/S2:
Virtual DJ Controllers: New Hardware for Serato, Traktor from Pioneer, Numark”
Faderfox 4midiloop: True, Four-deck, Four-effect Traktor Control [lacks jog wheels, but you do get Faderfox's unparalleled quality and more mixing and fx controls - ideal if you want to use your own decks or jogs, too]
And we should note, while it’s a mixer rather than a controller, our friend Minus was all over A&H’s DB4 DJ mixer:
Allen & Heath Xone:DB4 DJ Mixer: Hands-on Preview with Ambivalent (Minus)
All of this means it’s a very good time to be doing creative, performance-oriented (“controllerist”) DJ sets. And frankly, if there’s not enough room at the club where you’re a patron or a player or both, maybe it’s time to go find some space and stretch out those controllerist arms of yours.
On that note, let’s look at some pretty photos of the S2, since NI obliged. (Hint to manufacturers: if you’re jealous of this kind of coverage, just send us some good pictures and videos, already. All tech journalists are biased by product makers actually sending stuff that’s easy for us to post! Mmmm… pictures.)